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Q&A: Real Estate in Ethiopia – Opportunities for U.S. Diaspora Investors

The ET Real Estate and Home Expo, an annual event bringing together top local and international home developers held its 6th edition at the Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, January 01, 2024, (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: February 7th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – In Ethiopia, the demand for housing continues to surge, offering significant investment prospects for the private sector, including the Diaspora. This was evident at the recent 6th Annual Real Estate and Home Expo in Addis Ababa. The event attracted over 2000 participants, comprising developers, homeowners, buyers, sellers, and various stakeholders from diverse sectors.

Tadias Magazine reached out to learn more and explore the opportunities and growth potential showcased at the ET Real Estate and Home Expo.

Nigist Berta serves as the PR Manager at 251 Communications, an Addis Ababa-based Public Relations firm responsible for organizing the annual real estate expo:

TADIAS: For diaspora investors in the U.S. considering the Ethiopian real estate market, how would you describe the unique opportunities and potential for growth showcased at the ET Real Estate and Home Expo?

Nigist Berta: The ET Real Estate and Home Expo served as an exclusive platform, providing diaspora investors with a captivating insight into the burgeoning opportunities within Ethiopia’s dynamic real estate market. The event meticulously curated a diverse array of projects, encompassing everything from innovative residential developments to promising commercial ventures. This carefully curated showcase was instrumental in bringing to the forefront the robust growth potential inherent in Ethiopia’s real estate sector.

The Expo distinguished itself by placing a spotlight on key elements essential for future-forward investments. It emphasized a commitment to modern infrastructure, showcasing projects that incorporated cutting-edge architectural designs and sustainable practices. This thematic focus not only aligned with global standards but also underscored the Ethiopian real estate market’s evolution towards sustainability and innovation.

In essence, the ET Real Estate and Home Expo went beyond being a mere exhibition; it emerged as a catalyst for diaspora investors, offering them a distinctive chance to actively participate in and contribute to Ethiopia’s ever-expanding real estate narrative. This immersive experience not only showcased the present vibrancy of the sector but also hinted at its future potential, positioning Ethiopia as an attractive destination for diaspora investments in the realm of real estate.

Image courtesy of 251 Communications

TADIAS: What message would you like to convey to potential investors and stakeholders interested in participating or exploring opportunities within Ethiopia’s dynamic real estate sector?

Nigist: To potential investors and stakeholders keen on exploring Ethiopia’s dynamic real estate sector, we would emphasize the resilience and innovation witnessed at the ET Real Estate and Home Expo. The sector not only promises solid returns but also serves as a catalyst for economic development. Investing in Ethiopian real estate presents an opportunity to be part of a transformative journey, contributing to the country’s growth story while benefiting from a burgeoning market.

The 6th edition of the annual real estate and home expo showcased a wide range of real estate properties, services, developers, and financial institutions to potential home seekers.(Photo courtesy of 251 Communications)

TADIAS: The ET Real Estate and Home Expo, organized by 251 Communications, has once again achieved success. Congratulations on this accomplishment. Please tell us more about how this annual event contributes to bridging the gap between developers, homeowners, buyers, sellers, and the broader business community, including the Diaspora?

Nigist: The success of the ET Real Estate and Home Expo is indeed a testament to 251 Communications and Marketing. This annual event serves as a pivotal platform, facilitating meaningful connections and collaborations within the real estate ecosystem. By bringing together developers, homeowners, buyers, sellers, and the broader business community, including the Diaspora, the Expo fosters an environment conducive to networking and knowledge exchange. It plays a crucial role in bridging gaps, creating synergy, and enhancing the overall growth of Ethiopia’s real estate sector. For the Diaspora, it provides a direct avenue to engage with key stakeholders, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

Thank you once again for your interest, and I look forward to any further collaboration.

TADIAS: Thank you, Nigist. We appreciate the insights into the sector’s growth potential and the abundant opportunities available in Ethiopia’s real estate market for U.S. Diaspora investors. We look forward to the next Expo.

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Q&A: Helen Amelga, US-Ethiopia Launcher at Taptap Send

"Taptap Send is an app that lets people send money back home quickly and at very low prices," says Helen Amelga, the company's US-Ethiopia Launcher. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: January 20th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — In the following interview Helen Amelga, the US-Ethiopia Launcher at Taptap Send, explains the newly launched mobile money transfer service, which is considered the first app-based platform to specifically focus on remittances from the Diaspora to people back home.

Helen, whom we have previously featured in Tadias for her public service work in the Ethiopian American community, was most recently the Deputy Area Director at Office of Councilmember Kevin de Leon in Los Angeles, California.

Helen Amelga, the US-Ethiopia Launcher at Taptap Send. (Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: Helen, thank you for your time and congratulations on your new position as Taptap Send’s US representative for Ethiopia.

Helen Amelga: Hi Liben, thank you for having me back. It is always a pleasure to chat with the Tadias team.

TADIAS: How are you enjoying your transition from public service to business? What are some of the rewards and challenges?

Helen: I always try to focus my work through a lens of service. From my positions working in local government here in California, to the work I do through the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, the focus is always on serving my community. My work as US-Ethiopia Launcher at Taptap Send is an extension of that service. Through this role I am able to apply my skill set to serve Ethiopians not only in the diaspora, but those directly on the continent as well.

The work is incredibly rewarding, through connecting people to remittance services I am able to help folks get money to loved ones back home, and beyond the individual, I get to help the larger Ethiopian economy. It’s a win win.

TADIAS: Please tell us about Taptap Send and its recently launched mobile money transfer service to Ethiopia. How does it work?

Helen: Taptap Send is an app that lets people send money back home to Africa and Asia quickly and at very low prices. Since launching in summer 2018, we’ve already moved tens of millions of dollars and reached tens of thousands of customers. We just raised $65 million in a Series B funding. We’re live in the UK, EU, US and Canada, and we support payments into Ethiopia and 21 other countries with more countries launching soon.

How it works is simple, a user in the US just needs to download the Taptap Send app from the Apple Store or Google Play, upload their bank or debit card details, then select a recipient in Ethiopia. The recipient does not need a Taptap Send account. Select a dollar amount and hit send. You’re done! The funds will be deposited directly into your loved ones account that day.

TADIAS: Taptap Send is also the first platform to specifically focus on Remittances from the Diaspora to people back home. How does it differ from other money transfer companies and what are the benefits for us here in the Diaspora?

Helen: Great question. Here at Taptap Send we believe in impact first. We exclusively pursue products and strategies that are in the interests of our customers and the communities we serve, while recognizing the tradeoffs this implies.

Direct benefits to Diaspora are that we offer a great exchange rate and same day transfers at no fee. The app provides quick and easy access to sending money quite literally at the tap of a finger. Many of us have been in a situation where a loved one has an emergency back home, whether it be medical or elsewhere, and we need to get them money fast. Taptap Send gives us the power to get that funds there quickly just by using our phone. No need to go into a bank or brick and mortar institution.

Sending money legally also grows the Ethiopian economy which has been experiencing a cash shortage for some time now.

TADIAS: What are the various financial institutions you are working with in Ethiopia?

Helen: We provide Bank transfers to Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Dashen bank. Mobile money transfers can be made to Amole and HelloCash, both of which provide cash out options at their local service centers. We will expand to include Telebirr mobile wallet in the coming weeks.

E-wallets in particular are great because the recipients can use their wallet to fund transfers, pay bills and pay diverse merchants without needing to cash out. Taptap Send in partnership with these services is revolutionizing the way we send and spend money.

TADIAS: Do people in the U.S. need an account in Ethiopia to send money?

Helen: Nope, all they need is the Taptap Send app and a debit card.

TADIAS: According to a press release from the company “the UN has set a goal for remittance pricing and commissions to be no higher for any company than 3% of the total sent. Taptap Send says that it’s the only company in the space that has publicly committed to that goal.” Please tell our audience about that goal and the various fees involved in sending and receiving money?

Helen: Our CEO put it best:

Cross-border payments are not only a large market — $540B through formal channels alone, with the informal sector estimated to be almost as large — but are also the central source of capital for low and middle income countries: remittance inflows exceeded foreign direct investment plus official development assistance by in 2020. And they’re growing quickly: more than 7x since 2000. So it should come as no surprise that the United Nations included lowering the price of remittances to 3% as a top-level indicator to “reduce inequality” among their Sustainable Development Goals. The cost of global remittances is simply that important to the reduction in inequality. We’re proud to be the only remittance company (of which we’re aware) that has publicly committed to hitting that goal.”

(Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: Given that remittance is an important source of income for Ethiopia and the limitations involved in terms of mobile wallets services outside of major cities, what are your goals in terms of expanding services to the wider population?

Helen: Excellent question. Our goal is to expand our reach to Ethiopians in every corridor. It’s all about creating access and equity. We are currently working on growing our network to partner with banks throughout Ethiopia.

TADIAS: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our audience?

Helen: Don’t just take my word for it, download and use the app yourself. Leave a review and let us know what you think. I am also happy to connect with folks directly and answer any questions.

TADIAS: Thank you again, Helen, and best wishes from all of us at Tadias.

Helen: Thanks Liben! It’s always a pleasure talking with you. Until next time.

You can learn more at

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In U.S Ethiopian American Voters Send Biden a Message, Flipping Virginia Red

Just as they did in 2008 when Ethiopian American voters helped to flip Virginia for the Democrats, The Washington Post reports that this year the community swung for Republican candidates sending a message to the Biden administration about its rather belligerent and failed foreign policy towards Ethiopia. (Photo: Protesters rallied outside of the White House on Nov. 8 to denounce President Biden's approach to the conflict in Ethiopia/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Why some Ethiopian voters in Virginia swung for Youngkin — and how it may spell trouble for Democrats elsewhere

Girma Makonnen had long considered himself a loyal Democrat. Since emigrating from Ethiopia and then settling in Northern Virginia more than two decades ago, he donated, phone-banked and door-knocked for a long list of liberal candidates.

Except this year, when the 52-year-old voted for Glenn Youngkin — and other Republicans down the ticket.

“The Democratic Party right now is the Biden administration, and they blindsided us on foreign policy,” said Makonnen, an engineer who lives in Ashburn. “We were Democrats because we believed in the system. But everybody in the Ethiopian community is feeling the pain of neglect.”

Like him, some Ethiopian Americans in Virginia heeded calls to cast a vote for the GOP at the polls earlier this month amid a coordinated effort to express disapproval with how President Biden has handled growing conflict in the East African nation.

Those involved in the effort support Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago but has since led the country into an escalating civil war, vowing to “bury this enemy with our blood and bones.”

Leaders of the effort say that by authorizing sanctions on Ethiopia and cutting off trade benefits, Biden has effectively empowered the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a repressive regime that led the country before Abiy.

And with seemingly no response to their concerns from the White House, organizers said, Abiy supporters in Virginia took their message to the polls — despite, or perhaps because of, the Ethiopian community’s long allegiance with Democrats.

“The government’s approach is so illogical at this point that we have to show we are disappointed in an area that can potentially hurt the Democratic Party,” said Mesfin Tegenu, chairman of the American-Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC).

Organizers with the group said they put out mass messaging on social media, canvassed at Ethiopian Orthodox churches and restaurants in the D.C. suburbs, and texted thousands of people in hopes of rallying community members to vote for Youngkin.

Whether it made a difference in the election is difficult, if not outright impossible, to quantify. Although the Northern Virginia suburbs are home to one of the largest Ethiopian communities in the country, there is little data on how it functions as a voting bloc — or how members of the Ethiopian diaspora voted in Youngkin’s narrow victory over former governor Terry McAuliffe (D) earlier this month.

Virginia is home to about 30,000 immigrants from Ethiopia — about 1 in 8 of all Ethiopians nationwide, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute. Fairfax County and Alexandria have some of the highest concentrations of Ethiopians in the country.

A look at heavily East African precincts in the area, including those in Woodbridge and West End Alexandria, does not show a strong swing to Youngkin compared with previous years or other precincts in heavily blue Northern Virginia.

Still, community leaders from across the political spectrum — including some who campaigned for McAuliffe — say it was impossible to ignore an unprecedented set of rumblings, one that may offer a warning to Democratic campaigns elsewhere.

“It was pretty widespread,” said Bert Bayou, an Ethiopian American who helped canvass for McAuliffe as the vice president of Unite Here Local 23. “Ethiopians felt betrayed by the U.S., but specifically by the party.”

Read more »

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Meron Hadero Becomes 1st Ethiopian Author to Win Prestigious AKO Caine Prize

Meron Hadero's winning short story is about an Ethiopian boy called Getu, who has to navigate the fraught power dynamics of NGOs and foreign aid in Addis Ababa. It impressed the judges who found it "utterly without self-pity" and said it "turns the lens" on the usual clichés. The author was born in Ethiopia and raised in the US by parents who are both medical doctors. Her sister is the singer Meklit Hadero. (BBC News)

BBC News

AKO Caine Prize: Meron Hadero named first Ethiopian winner

“I’m absolutely thrilled, I’m in shock – being shortlisted in itself was a huge honour,” she told the BBC.

Her winning short story is about an Ethiopian boy called Getu, who has to navigate the fraught power dynamics of NGOs and foreign aid in Addis Ababa.

It impressed the judges who found it “utterly without self-pity” and said it “turns the lens” on the usual clichés.

Hadero will take home £10,000 ($13,000) in prize money.

The author was born in Ethiopia and raised in the US by parents who are both medical doctors. Her sister is the singer Meklit Hadero, whose support was “absolutely essential” to her success, Hadero says.

She says stories of “refugees, immigrants and those at risk of being displaced” are always the “entry-point emotionally” to her work.

“With The Street Sweep, he has that threat looming. He’s facing losing his ancestral home, and that’s the real driver of the story that makes him take charge and try to re-write that outcome that seems kind of inevitable,” Hadero told BBC Focus on Africa.

Much of The Street Sweep is set in Addis Ababa’s Sheraton hotel, where Getu is invited for a party.

“Looking through his eyes it’s almost a culture shock when he goes there,” Hadero said.

“I did want to paint that contrast… What does that access mean? And what does that bestow? That’s the bigger question of what those open doors represent.”

Writing short stories has been “it’s own love” for the author, who likened the form to a “contained laboratory” from which “pared down and elegant” tales can emerge.

Her next challenge is her debut novel, which “is really fun to work on in a different way.

“You’re adding and you’re exploring mess.”

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TIME: Sara Menker’s Gro Intelligence Among 100 Most Influential Companies

Time Magazine names Gro Intelligence, founded by Ethiopian American entrepreneur Sara Menker, among the 100 Most Influential Companies. (Photo: Time)


Sara Menker comes by her nightmares honestly. She was born in Ethiopia in 1982, shortly before a two-year famine resulted in the death of up to a million of her compatriots. Menker was too young to have firsthand memories, and her family was solidly middle class—her mother was a seamstress for Ethiopian Airlines, and her father worked in IT for the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa. Still, the famine left a searing impression on Ethiopian society and Menker, and the years that followed were marked by shortages and deprivation. Sugar was rationed, as was gasoline. Driving on Sundays was prohibited.

Her childhood imprinted a profound sense of how easily life can be disrupted by catastrophic forces, and the importance of preparing for looming disaster. That worldview and her commodities-trader background inspired Menker in 2014 to found Gro Intelligence, a startup that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help confront two of the biggest challenges faced by humanity: food security and climate change. “It’s about getting ready for disaster,” says Menker. “It’s about hedging for the downside risk.” The timing is excellent for a company focused on forecasting and managing climate disaster. In the U.S. alone last year, there were a record 22 climate-related disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each. In all, the droughts, cyclones, wildfires and storms combined for a staggering $95 billion in damage. With such headlines fresh in the minds of investors, in January Gro raised $85 million. Backers include prominent tech investors Intel Capital and Africa Internet Ventures (a strategic partnership between TPG Growth and EchoVC). Menker is one of the handful of Black female founders who have the potential to achieve unicorn status, the term applied to startups valued at $1 billion or more.

Gro Intelligence works with thousands of clients, ranging from big food companies like Unilever and Yum! Brands to financial institutions, including BNP Paribas and Wells Fargo, providing them with a host of data and analysis on the global agricultural ecosystem. Gro ingests and analyzes over 650 trillion data points from more than 40,000 sources—crop forecasts, satellite images, topography, reports on precipitation, soil moisture, evapotranspiration—to provide insights and forecasts into 15,000 unique agricultural products. Curious about how the African swine fever impacted the Chinese pork market and its subsequent cascading impact on global commodity prices? Gro has a model. Or how a threatened trucker strike over the cost of diesel fuel could impact sugar prices in Brazil? That too. Gro even created a climate-risk score to assess the future of 300 ski destinations. (Better conditions for southern hemisphere locales such as Patagonia and New Zealand; worse conditions for Japan, interior U.S. and Canada, and parts of the Alps.) The company also works with governments around the world on food-security issues, to help them adequately plan for reserves.

Hedging against the inevitable downside is second nature to Menker. “Basics matter a lot to me because we grew up on restricted basics, the whole country,” she says. That mindset made her well prepared for COVID-19: she opened a closet and discovered that she had “85 rolls of toilet paper.” That impulse instantly kicked in when she was still trading on Wall Street and the stock market crashed in 2008, setting off a global financial crisis. “The first thing I thought of was, I know what the end of the world looks like, and this is not it.” Back then, she called her parents, concerned about their food supply, only to learn that her mother had been quietly buying land in the country and empty shipping containers and keeping them filled with a multiyear supply of grain in case of an emergency.

Now, as corporations around the world are tripping over one another to make ambitious climate pledges, Menker is spending much of her energy laying the foundation for a new class of financial instruments to help companies hedge against climate risk. Regulators are increasingly calling for the introduction of such products. Both the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have recently created new senior-level positions to address the risk of climate change to the stability of financial markets. “Climate change poses a major threat to U.S. financial stability, and I believe we must move urgently,” Commodity Futures Trading Commission acting chairman Rostin Behnam said in March, calling for new derivatives that would help price climate-related risks. Gro already has an index that measures the severity of drought that could serve as the basis for one such instrument. Despite a huge appetite for such information, there is a dearth of good data to help investors take potential climate shocks into account.

That’s where Gro comes in. Menker “is creating the first real clean global data set on climate,” says Gary Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, who has a deep background in commodities trading. (Cohn, who was named vice chairman of IBM in January, served a stint as a senior economic adviser to President Trump.) “What Bloomberg did for bonds [aggregating all available information in one place], she is trying to do for climate,” says Cohn. Menker, a consummate networker, recently added Cohn to Gro’s board. He and Menker had a series of socially distant outdoor meetings in New York City during the pandemic. (The company was founded in Nairobi and also has a co-headquarters in New York City.) Cohn says after the two first met, Menker began calling him every other day for advice. “You don’t build a company without being tenacious, without having drive,” he said. “She doesn’t take no for an answer.”

TIME cover featuring Sara Menker. (Photograph by Joshua Kissi for TIME)

Menker moved to the U.S. to attend Mount Holyoke College in 2000. (She also has an MBA from Columbia.) At first she could not relate to the experiences of African Americans when they talked about racism. Once she’d been in the U.S. a few years, however, her experiences and the double standards she witnessed “beat the Blackness into” her, she says. When she went to Wall Street, after a brief attempt at trying to assimilate left her feeling miserable, “I did not try to fit in: My hair always looked like this. I dressed as I pleased. I brought my culture to work.” Menker is still close to some of her former Morgan Stanley colleagues, and she clearly revels in the bawdy camaraderie of the trading environment. (She recalls the advice a colleague once gave about a trading strategy, “Sell a teeny, lose your weenie.”)

Yet even with her years of training and experience, 2020 was particularly intense for Menker. As a commodities expert, she was early to spot the supply-chain disruption potential of the pandemic, and in February, she again called home, worried about basic provisions. It wasn’t just the pandemic that she was worried about. Ethiopia and other parts of East Africa were under siege from a devastating swarm of locusts, devouring hundreds of thousands of acres of the corn, wheat, sorghum, millet and barley that the region relies on for much of its food. Menker was overcome with painful memories of the impact of the 1980s famine and beset by vivid nightmares filled with dead animals and locusts.

She sent out an impassioned all-staff email to her fellow “Gronies,” and the company swung into action, building 11 models that estimated the total area affected by the spread of the locusts, and yield models for the five crops most affected. The company set up a #locustmodels Slack channel to sync and share information. The Gro team pored over satellite data to monitor and predict the path of the swarm to help figure out where best to deploy scarce pesticides, and worked with the Ethiopian government, on a pro bono basis, on how to ramp up food reserves ahead of a projected increase in global food prices.

Dorothy Shaver, global marketing sustainability lead for Unilever’s largest food brand, Knorr, says she initially partnered with Menker’s “big brain and big data” in 2018, on Knorr’s ambitious plan to first identify and then help develop a market for Future 50 Foods—foods that are nutritious, affordable, tasty, and that have a lower environmental impact than animal-based foods. Menker was a particular advocate for teff, a prized grain in Ethiopia, and also fonio, a quick-growing white rice substitute that grows in sub-Saharan Africa, requiring little water. Shaver calls fonio “a little miracle grain that never embarrasses the cook or the farmer.” After the 50 were selected, Gro analyzed each crop for a variety of factors, including current levels of production and possible impacts on local communities if Knorr’s interest led to a spike in demand.

Menker’s current big concern—“I have new nightmares now”—is rising food inflation as countries including Russia, Ukraine, Argentina and Indonesia raise taxes or limit exports on products like wheat, palm oil and corn to protect domestic supplies. Still, she is fundamentally hopeful. “If you think about so many of the world’s challenges today, it’s about this tension between ecological preservation and economic growth,” she says. “That tension doesn’t need to be there, and I’m hoping that one of the things that we do is find a way to reconcile that.”


Time Magazine Highlights Top 100 Influential Companies | NBC News NOW

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Ethiopian American Dr. Wuleta Lemma Among Top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes

Dr. Wuleta Lemma is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks, an Ethiopia-based startup "leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa." (Photo: BIA)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 22nd, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Wuleta Lemma, an Ethiopian American health care entrepreneur representing Ethiopia, is among the top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes announced this week by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative.

The announcement states that Dr Wuleta, who is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks — an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa’ – was chosen from a pool of 22,000 candidates across the continent.

“Congrats to the top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes finalists! Selected from 22k+ applications across all 54 African countries, these entrepreneurs are from 14 countries & 11 industries, and more than 50% are women,” said philanthropist, entrepreneur and Founder of Alibaba Group Jack Ma on social media. “I can’t wait to meet them!”

The press release notes that the final cut of ten individuals will share a $1.5 million prize.

Image: courtesy of the Jack Ma Foundation

Dr. Wuleta is also an Honorary Associate Professor at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at Wello University in Ethiopia. She was a Clinical Associate Professor and the Director of Center for Global Health Equity (CGHE), School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

According to her bio: “Dr. Wuleta is a Tropical Medicine expert working for the last 25 years mostly on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, MNCH and Communicable Diseases. In the last number of years, Dr. Lemma has been involved in health projects in more than 20 countries in Africa, The Caribbean and Europe. During the past couple years, She had conducted research/evaluations on endemic health problems, Human Resource for Health (HRH), Innovative Medical Education, Behavioral Surveillance on high risk populations in a number of countries; contributed to research on Health outcomes of countries of the Horn of Africa and Health System Strengthen in Ethiopia.”

Business Insider adds: “Dr Wuleta Lemma has always had a deep love for Africa. Born in Ethiopia, she pursued degrees in medicine, epidemiology and international health abroad, but decided to build her career back home. She wanted to work with vaccines, but was disturbed to discover that many of Ethiopia’s healthcare information systems were still paper-based, out of date and inaccurate. In a country with a population of over [100 million], this had a significant impact on the quality of local healthcare. That’s when she started Lalibela Global-Networks to serve Africa by providing innovative Patient Centered Connected Health solutions.”

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Tribute to Scholar, Civic Society Leader, Actor & Professor Awetu Simesso

Awetu Simesso participated as a guest speaker at EDAO's International Conference in June 2018. (Photo Courtesy: Boka G Tesso/Facebook).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, August 19th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — It is with profound sadness that we share the news of Professor Awetu Simesso’s passing on Saturday, August 18th in Addis Ababa. The funeral and tribute celebrating his life took place on Sunday, August 19th at Mekana Yesus in Bishoftu with former president Dr. Negasso Gidada giving the eulogy.

A beloved educator Awetu returned from the United States after 32 years of residence to Ethiopia and contributed his talents in various sectors including working as a Professor at Addis Ababa University at the College of Law and Governance on an ongoing basis since 2010 and Professor of Global Studies & International Relations at New Generation University College (2005-2007). Awetu also served as Strategic Advisor at Development Assistance Group (DAG) advising Western donor governments (2014-2018) and as a Senior Advisor at USAID/Ethiopia focusing on democratic governance, peace and security issues (2006-2013). In 2009 Awetu received Meritorious Honor Awards from United States Agency of International Development (USAID) as well as the United States Department of State for outstanding service in the field of Democratic Governance. As a civic society leader Awetu traveled extensively throughout Ethiopia networking and assisting civic organizations across the nation.

Awetu was not only a beloved scholar, civic society leader, and talented actor but a lifelong friend whose mentorship and support was unparalleled. We first met Awetu while he was part of the Stanford University community where he had pursued a Master’s degree in Communication & Media Studies and a second Master’s in Political Science & Government on his way to a PhD in the same department. While performing in plays and theaters as an actor from 1973 to 2004 Awetu was actively involved in the Ethiopian Diaspora community on campus and beyond and held various leadership positions including President of the East African Relief Organization (EARO), Board Member of Emergency Relief Fund International and United Christian Ministries, member of the Stanford International Development Organization (SIDO) and the Overseas Development Network (ODN), Vice President of the Stanford African Students Association (SASA) as well as founding member and advisor of the Stanford Ethiopian Students Union (SESU).

Awetu Simesso (Photo Courtesy: Kathy Haverty Welsh/Facebook)

Awetu Simesso’s contributions were far-reaching and exemplary in the manner that he consistently engaged his peers and colleagues with kindness and generosity. It is difficult to summarize all of Awetu’s accomplishments but the best way is to share reflections and photos from his friends, students and colleagues in the U.S. and Ethiopia. Please write to us at to share your stories of Awetu Simesso and we’ll keep this page updated.

From Ethiopian American Council

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Awetu Simesso. Ethiopia has lost a powerful force for human rights, democracy and freedom. Ethiopian Americans in Bay Area fortunate to have many wonderful memories of Awetu. The passing of Awetu Simesso will be an enormous loss to Ethiopia and Ethiopians he cared so much about. RIP our brother.

From Daniel Gizaw

“I am absolutely stunned to read this sad story. Professor Aweitu was a close friend to me and served as my advisor and my critique during the writing of my books. He was inseparable from the Stanford university campus at the time. His profound intelligence was unmatchable. In the early 1980s, when we started a group called HAAn (Horn of Africa Action Network) consisting American Peace corps volunteers who served in Ethiopia, Aweitu became our lead man. He was a gifted orator and, with that bellowing voice he commanded respect. In the Bay area, we called him the Ethiopian guru. He was wise and patient. I will miss him immensely. May his soul rest in peace.”

From Hundee Dhugaasaa

I am deeply saddened by the death of Professor Awetu Simesso. I know Prof Awetu when he decided to visit Jimma University Students Union with Addis based Diplomats to discuss several issues at a very challenging time, after the troubles of the 2005 election. He was such a brilliant, humble and far sighted person. We lost him at a time we need him the most. RIP Obbo Awetu.

From Filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman

I am writing to share how Awetu Simesso enabled me to take on an almost impossible task. In all of my filmmaking efforts (which began in 1976) I had had connections to help me…friends, filmmakers, foundations and national organizations. With this support, during the decade from 1993 – 2003 I grew significantly as a filmmaker. Activities included five films on PBS stations, an Oscar-nomination and an Emmy.

At that point, I decided to take a bold step forward. I gathered all that I had learned and took up an opportunity: to document the ways in which Ethiopians in Ethiopia were meeting the challenges of HIV/AIDS. It was then that Awetu appeared.

My vision was to speak with professionals, and lay practitioners, as well as people in villages in Ethiopia, doing whatever they could to help each other. I wanted to focus on Ethiopians who were managing their own organizations on the ground, working with a range of their peers.

In order to get started, I put out a call to anyone anywhere in the SF Bay Area who could help me build a core community of Ethiopians who would volunteer to help me organize this project. The one person who responded was Aweto Simesso. He understood what I was daring to do.

Based on his intuition that this was a project worth his time and effort, he called together a dozen Ethiopians. We met in my living room and the project took root. That night gave birth to a cadre of almost 200 people, most of whom were volunteers, who worked with me. Many from the United States, many living in Ethiopia. Working together, they translated Amharic to English, English to Amhari, viewed footage giving input and feedback, logged more than 100 video tapes and much more.

The result? A five film series SEEDS of HOPE: Meeting the Challenges of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.

From Fesseha A Atlaw

My friend, you are sorely missed already! You only saw the glimpse of your vision of Ethiopia… But God allowed you to see the promised land from the mountain top.

“…I am a proud Oromo and I am a proud Ethiopian, I don’t see any contradiction between the two…” — Professor Awetu Simesso

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Designer Amsale Aberra Honored by Harlem School of the Arts

The Harlem School of the Arts will posthumously honor Ethiopian American designer Amsale Aberra with the Visionary Lineage Award at a ceremony to be held at the New York Plaza Hotel on October 22nd, 2018. (Getty Images)

Broadway World

American designer Amsale Aberra will be honored posthumously for her contributions to the world of couture by the Harlem School of the Arts at the Herb Alpert Center for the Arts. She will receive the Visionary Lineage Award and is among several high profiled members of the artistic community, whose contributions will be acknowledged during the organization’s 2018 Masquerade Ball and After Party, to be held at the New York Plaza Hotel on October 22nd.

On April 20th of this year, Amsale Aberra lost her battle with cancer at the age of 64, leaving behind her husband Clarence O’Neill Brown, who will be on hand to accept the award on his wife’s behalf; and her daughter, singer-songwriter Rachel Brown, who is herself receiving a Visionary Lineage Award from the organization.

Before illness claimed her life, Amsale had turned a passion born out of necessity into a thriving business; first making a name for herself in the fashion world, with her minimalist, yet elegant wedding gown collection which she sold to Kleinfeld, and later creating the Amsale Group based in New York City with a salon on Madison Avenue.

A graduate of Boston State College, with a degree in political science, Amsale brought her love of design to New York and enrolled at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), earning a degree in fashion design. Her genius lay in an ability to turn understated designs into works of art. She was the true definition of “fashion-forward.” Today, her business has expanded to include her signature bridal collection, a bridesmaid line, cocktail dresses, as well as a line of designer gowns, which have been featured on the red carpet, worn by some of the most glamorous celebrities, among them – Heidi Klum and Salma Hayek. Her designs have also been featured in the pages of the top beauty and fashion publications, in films and television shows.

Her legacy continues under the guidance of her husband Clarence O’Neill Brown, CEO of the company, and her hand-picked successor, Margot Lafontaine, Vera Wang’s former senior studio director. Amsale Aberra was highly regarded by her peers in the fashion industry for her inspiring, straightforward approach to design, and as her husband said, by all who knew her, “…for her infinite goodness.”

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

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PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour in Pictures

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

July 30th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — PM Abiy Ahmed visited the United States in July 2018 meeting with members of the Ethiopian Diaspora community in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Minneapolis.

During his successful three city tour PM Abiy also met with religious leaders and took part in the peace and reconciliation conference in DC between the exiled synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the synod in Ethiopia. The churches were reunited after almost three decades of separation.

In Washington, DC PM Abiy’s busy schedule included a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday, July 27th. In addition he met with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

The Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser proclaimed July 28th, 2018 as “Ethiopia Day in DC” in celebration of PM Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S. capital, which is a sister city of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa. “Now, during this new climate of goodwill and unity, we look forward to reaffirming the Sister City relationship between our two capital cities,” Mayor Bowser said. Likewise in Los Angeles an “Ethiopia Day” proclamation was presented on behalf of the L.A. City Council on July 29th at Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) where a cheerful crowed of thousands welcomed the Ethiopian prime minister to California. And in Minnesota as the website notes over 10,000 gave PM Abiy Ahmed “a rock-star greeting” at Target Center in Minneapolis on July 30th.

Below are pictures from PM Abiy Ahmed’s US Tour:

PM Abiy Ahmed’s DC Convention Center Gathering & Town Hall Meeting

PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs in DC

First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.

PM Abiy Ahmed Visits LA

10,000 Give PM Abiy Ahmed a Rock-Star Greeting at Target Center in Minneapolis

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Setaweet: Addis Ababa is Home to a Burgeoning Women’s Movement

Although a language around women's rights is largely absent from national discussions, Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, is home to a burgeoning women's movement. The city is witnessing growing activity including the first openly declared feminist group called Setaweet. (Photo: Setaweet gathering in Addis by Hasabie Kidanu).

Tadias Magazine
By Hasabie Kidanu

Published: July 24th, 2018

Addis Ababa (TADIAS) – As one of the world’s oldest continuous nation states Ethiopia upkeeps and exports a particular image to the rest of the world — a never-colonized, cradle of life that remains superior to European dominance. The culture is ancient and native with its indigenous national language, music and dress traditions considered sacrosanct. Ethiopia grows at its own pace, and looks inward.

In 2018, Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing national economies in the world and is nested in global networks of wealth, yet the perceived influence of foreign ideas are regarded warily. In a guarded and proud culture social change at the national scale is slow and painstaking. And in spite of generations of evolving global discourses focused on women’s rights, the subordinate position still held by women remains largely undiscussed.

Within this cultural context, how do we make language for an Ethiopian women’s movement? What do we call it? What have we called it in the past? And how do we define, grow, and adapt it? A younger generation of women has grown unsatisfied with the culture’s precedent for male hegemony in both public and domestic spheres. How do we redefine the role of women with liberation, leadership and sisterhood in mind? The greatest challenge facing an Ethiopian women’s movement today is how to fashion a homegrown language, which catalyzes change. How do we elevate consciousness within culture so committed to its customs, traditions and social structures that tends to place women on its margins?

From political participation and property ownership to healthcare access and education the social and legal lag of gender equality is evident here. Most acts of daily violence and domestic abuse go legally unchecked and garner little public outcry. Openly sharing one’s story of gender-based violence remains a taboo. Only a very slim portion of cases of sexual assault in the home and/or workplace are reported and even fewer cases make it to the courts. Media continues to perpetuate and dictate stale ideologies of the Ethiopian woman’s image, responsibility, and behavior. The daily catcall is as common as ever, and can easily escalate to physical violence. How do we raise a generation of women and men who no longer internalize and normalize sexism and violence?

Although a language around women’s rights is largely absent from national discussions, Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is home to a burgeoning women’s movement. The city is witnessing growing activity including the first openly declared feminist group called Setaweet. Setaweet (the Amharic term for ‘of woman’) is the brainchild of Dr. Sehin Teferra, and it started essentially as a meeting, which later morphed into ‘The Setaweet Circle.’ It was, and still is, a safe space for Addis Ababa women to convene. Gathering together from all walks of life women involved with Setaweet speak candidly about their experiences in the workplace, home, city. From these gatherings the ‘Setaweet Open Sessions’ were born, and a free forum open to the public was developed to invite guest speakers, authors, and historians to tackle subjects concerning women’s issues. Here, everything is laid bare — even topics of Ethiopian culture that elsewhere are off limits. Topics such as the all-male clergy of  the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, patrilineal family structures, as well as male privilege and entitlement are discussed. In addition, the Setaweet PLC provides a variety of services and custom designed trainings for public schools, corporate offices, and agencies on women’s leadership, sexual harassment, and gender-based violence.

Setaweet has organized various campaigns throughout the city, often with the support of their partner groups such as the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), and The Yellow Movement — a group founded by Addis Ababa University law program faculty and students. Some of the projects include #AcidAttackEducationCampaign (2017); #PagumeActivism initiated by the Yellow Movement to create a platform for sharing incidences of everyday sexism on social media; #AriffAbbat (2017), a collaboration between the Embassy of Sweden and Setaweet to host a photo contest to celebrate and encourage engaged fatherhood; and #NothingforGranted (2018), a collaboration with the European Union Delegation to celebrate the contributions of Ethiopian women through photography.

However, it’s not so much ‘Setaweet,’ but the term ‘feminism’ that has become the trigger word. One of the greatest obstacles and complications of this particular word is that it signals a western import and a foreigner’s ethics onto Ethiopia. It pulls with it a connotation that it has ‘arrived’ to contaminate local customs and religious practices, and the ever-so-cherished Ethiopiawee Bahil. Even though the country has integrated many Western ideals in the past — from clothing, to architecture, to films, music, and food — feminism has not received an easy welcome. Surely, feminism is not new. Although Setaweet is the first to openly identify as a ‘feminist’ collective there have been organized women’s groups that have inched the needle forward for women’s health, legal reforms, social and economic participation.

Ethiopia has not generally witnessed waves of feminism (as we have seen in the West) or properly recorded or historicized organized women’s movements, however, Setaweet has had to sustain criticism that it is ‘too western, radical, hip’ or that the need to champion women as a culture pales in comparison to more nation-pressing issues of prosperity, security, and peace.

“Our goal is clear, it’s activism. The cultural specificity of a city like Addis Ababa is not lost on us,” says co-founder Sehin. “We have declared ourselves feminists. Perhaps other organizations who work to champion women’s rights may not use the word due to the stigma that is associated with the word here. We understand the banner of feminism originally responds to the challenges faced by women in the English speaking world. Yet, work needs to be done here, so fighting for gender equality at home means finding language specific to the challenges facing women in Ethiopia, and how we can raise consciousness to confront Ethiopia’s most closely held cultural ideals. Part of that includes teasing out when and where the Amharic language and media imaging are giving way to harmful and/or sexist attitudes towards the Ethiopian woman.”

Setaweet moves forward still growing and expanding its breadth. The role and need for it is undeniable. In four short years its following has increased while the responsibilities have broadened tremendously. Setaweet has become somewhat of a hotline for the city and community to share, unload, and call out injustices from all over the country – from sexist advertisements in pop-culture to cases of gender-based violence in universities and households. Anything and everything concerning women’s issues is circled through their main channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Perhaps, Setaweet’s most fundamental goal and achievement is that it is fostering an environment for conversation, and in return creating a space for language to evolve within the culture’s context. 

You can learn more about Setaweet on Facebook at

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Ethiopian Entrepreneur Alexander Assefa Wins Nevada Election

Small business owner and Ethiopian refugee Alexander Assefa will become an Assemblyman in the Nevada state legislature next year, after he defeated two primary challengers on Tuesday. (Photo: Alexander Assefa's campaign)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: June 16th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian-American entrepreneur Alexander Assefa has won a primary election on his way to become a state legislator representing Nevada’s 42nd assembly district.

“Thank you everyone who came out to celebrate my election with us,” Alexander said via Facebook. “It’s been quite a road.” He added: “Now it’s time to get to work and build a community that is inclusive and one that capitalizes on the richness of our diversity. Stay with me, fight with me & help me. Let’s do this TOGETHER, as one people.”

Alexander is set to replace Democratic Representative Irene Bustamante Adams after the 2018 November elections. Members of the Nevada State Assembly serve two-year terms.

According to the Nevada Independent “the small business owner and Ethiopian refugee who defeated two primary challengers was endorsed by the Assembly Democratic caucus, and received 55.3 percent of the vote. Assefa is the only candidate who will appear on the November ballot since no Republicans or third-party candidates filed to run for the seat.”

Below is Alexander Assefa’s bio courtesy of his campaign website:


Alexander Assefa is a Democrat running for the Nevada State Assembly from the 42nd district. Alex was born and grew up in Ethiopia. While still a teenager, he was subject to life as a refugee in Kenya. In Nairobi, he had the opportunity to root himself in the Christian faith while he lived where refugees are not necessarily welcomed, often faced persecution and intolerance. Harbored in his church family, he avidly studied the bible. He then went on to serve his fellow refugees in various roles in the church, including in the choir and as a bible study leader at several locations in Nairobi.

In the year 2000, Alex immigrated to the United States and was resettled in Alexandria, VA. He learned English as his 3rd language and attended TC Williams High School. He then moved to Columbus, OH, where he graduated from high school. Alex attended flight school at Averett University in Danville, VA and became a pilot. He continued his education to earn a Political Science degree.

Alex moved and permanently settled in Las Vegas in 2006, where he met his wife Zenash. He is a small business owner, who has created jobs for many working families in the Las Vegas area. He is actively involved in his community, serves in his church and is a strong participant in the Clark County Democratic Party. Alex is a member of the Las Vegas Urban Chamber of Commerce.

Alexander Assefa is the founder and Chairman of the Clark County Democratic Party, Transport and Tourism Workers Caucus. In his role as a leader, he tirelessly advocates for working families and relentlessly fights for those who are marginalized and left voiceless in the political system. His participation in politics took root while he was in college, where he founded the college’s first Democratic Club. Alex also served as a Treasurer and Senator in the Student Government Association. He went on to serve as a volunteer during every presidential election since 2004 and various other local campaigns.

Alexander Assefa currently serves on the Board of Advisors at the ECDC African Community Center, in the organization’s mission to impact lives by resettling refugees from every part of the world. Prior to joining the Board of Advisors, Alex volunteered in this important organization by helping with job placement of newly arriving refugees in Southern Nevada. He is also community organizer in the East African community of southern Nevada, advocating for greater participation in the electoral system and active engagement in the affairs of his community.

You can learn more about Alexander Assefa at

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Ethiopian Student in NYC Awarded Prestigious Gates-Cambridge Scholarship

2018 Gates Cambridge Scholar Samuel Kebede. (Photo credit: Adam Sahilu)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 17th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Samuel Kebede, a third year medical student in New York City has been awarded the highly regarded Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, which is the most prestigious scholarship program for international postgraduate students from the University of Cambridge.

“I am proud to be representing my country Ethiopia,” Samuel told Tadias. He is currently enrolled at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

According to Gates-Cambridge: “Funded through a $210 million donation by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the largest ever single donation to a UK university, around 90 scholars are selected each year from a pool of the most academically outstanding applicants to the University. The Scholarship also places an emphasis on selecting those with a proven interest in improving the lives of others by helping address the numerous challenges we face locally, regionally and globally.”

Professor Stephen Toope, Chair of the Trustees of Gates Cambridge and Vice-Chancellor of the University, explained in a statement that: “The Gates Cambridge scholarships are a perfect fit with the mission of the University – to make a real and significant contribution to society. They attract some of the best students from all over the world and from the most diverse backgrounds, and sustain a global network of leaders who will integrate the university’s values into everything they do. The class of 2018, including bright scholars from 28 nationalities, is a perfect example of the commitment to excellence and to leadership in the service of society that Gates Cambridge scholars exemplify.”

In his biography posted on the Gates Cambridge website Samuel shared:

I am originally from Ethiopia but also grew up in Zimbabwe and the Congo. Through my experience living in these different settings, the role of diseases, health disparities and environment made a lasting impact. This realization influenced my decision to gain the knowledge and research skills to prevent and control public health challenges in Africa. I came to the U.S. in 10th grade attending Mercersburg Academy before completing my BA in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. As an undergraduate, I devoted much of my time to service in the Baltimore community and was involved in infectious disease projects in Ethiopia, Congo and Baltimore. As a current third-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, I’ve continued to learn more about HIV through a research project in Ethiopia. My time living in the U.S. also peaked my interest in preventable illnesses related to chronic diseases (hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease). Delving deeper, I learned more about the growing burden of chronic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, especially as they relate to the double burden of infectious and chronic diseases on the continent. I hope to be part of efforts for continued policy, practice and research development related to chronic diseases in Africa as a public health physician. I will study the MPhil in Public Health at Cambridge and am excited to be part of the diverse and passionate Gates Cambridge community!”

Congratulations Samuel! We wish you all the best in your studies as a Gates-Cambridge scholar!

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Ethiopian American Community Bank to Open in DC

An Ethiopian American Community bank called Marathon International is in the process of opening in Washington, DC. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

January 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Plans are under way to open a bank in the Washington, D.C. area that will cater to the Ethiopian American community in the United States. Ethiopians are one of the largest, most educated and affluent African immigrant populations in America.

According to American Banker, a resource for the U.S. banking and financial services industry, an application was recently submitted to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to establish a bank called Marathon International in Washington D.C.

“While Marathon would offer loan and deposit products to a broad range of individuals, along with small and midsize businesses, it will have a particular emphasis on serving the banking needs of U.S. residents of Ethiopian origin,” states the news release by American Banker citing Marathon International’s application. The report also notes that Ethiopian-American banker Zekarias Tamrat, who previously worked at PNC and Bank of America, will serve as the bank’s first president.

The American Banker also reports that “Several prominent Ethiopian-Americans are expected to serve on Marathon’s board, including Tekalign Gedamu, a retired economist and former managing director of the Development Bank of Ethiopia who is set to serve as chairman,” “The bank plans to raise $22 million to $25 million by selling common stock. It has already posted a job listing looking for people who are fluent in Amharic.”

The announcement adds: “Organizers also plan to market to Ethiopian-Americans through targeted advertising, referrals, affinity relationships and sponsoring local Ethiopian-focused events, the application said. Marathon will also offer an education program that will target underbanked or underserved Ethiopians to bring them into the banking system.”

“Marathon International Bank is an Ethiopian American Community bank with a wide shareholder base capable of guiding the bank’s operations, growth, and its long term trajectory,” Zekarias Tamrat describes the venture on his Linkedin page.

“Our vision is to help transform the Ethiopian community into a far more economically engaged, creative and vibrant member of the wider and diverse US community,” Zekarias says. “To become a differentiated provider of financial services by leveraging our understanding of the unique financial needs of the Ethiopian American Community.”

Steven Lanter, the lawyer who is handling the application for Marathon, told American Banker that “The organizers’ passion for this application and proposed bank is unmatched. For some of the organizers, to create an insured financial institution that caters to the Ethiopian-American community, and the broader market, will be a dream come true.”

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Stanford Names Dr. Electron Kebebew Chief of General Surgery

The Stanford University Department of Surgery has announced that Dr. Electron Kebebew will be the next chief of general surgery effective March 1, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

January 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This coming Spring Ethiopian American Dr. Electron Kebebew will assume his new post as Chief of General Surgery at Stanford University’s Department of Surgery in Palo Alto, California.

Stanford is one of the top universities in America and one of the world’s leading teaching and research institutions.

In a statement the Chair of the University’s Department of Surgery Dr. Mary Hawn said: “I’m thrilled to have Dr. Kebebew join Stanford Surgery in this important leadership role as chief of general surgery. Dr. Kebebew is an internationally-renowned endocrine surgeon whose research has changed the way we treat patients with endocrine cancers. He is the consummate surgeon, scientist and leader and will bring our program to new heights.”

The press release notes that “Kebebew received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in chemical engineering. He completed his medical training, surgical residency and NCI T32 surgical oncology basic science fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Since 2012, he has served as inaugural chief of newly-established endocrine oncology branch at the National Cancer Institute.”

“This is a great opportunity to be part of a dynamic surgical department,” said Kebebew. “I am excited to make Stanford’s division a world leader in general surgery subspecialty care and research that impacts patient care.”

According to Stanford: “Kebebew has published more than 300 articles, chapters and textbooks and has received awards from the American Cancer Society, American Association for Cancer Research, American Thyroid Association, American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, and International Association of Endocrine Surgeons. His current research focuses on the genetic/genomic changes associated with endocrine cancers with the ultimate goal of identifying therapeutic targets and novel anticancer agents for endocrine cancers, and diagnostic and prognostic markers for endocrine tumors.”

Kebebew succeeds Dr. Jeffrey Norton, who has led the Division of General Surgery since 2006.

“Dr. Kebebew is perfect fit for this position because of his prior experience as leader of a very successful branch at the [National Cancer Institute], his record of cutting-edge research in endocrine oncology and his plan for programmatic development in endocrine oncology in the Cancer Center here at Stanford,” said Norton. “He is an extremely bright, accomplished surgeon and a true leader in surgery.”

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TSEHAI Publishers Turns 20, Launches Book Under Harriet Tubman Press

From Left: Shonda Buchanan, Editor of the Harriet Tubman Press; TSEHAI Publishers Founder Elias Wondimu, Congressmember Karen Bass and CNN and NPR analyst Angela Rye at the launch event for 'Voices from Leimert Park Redux,' the debut book by Harriet Tubman Press, an imprint of TSEHAI Publishers, in Los Angeles, California on October 14th, 2017. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: October 15th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — TSEHAI Publishers celebrates its twentieth anniversary this month along with the launch of the first book under its new imprint, Harriet Tubman Press entitled Voices from Leimert Park Redux.

Founded by Ethiopian American publisher Elias Wondimu, TSEHAI Publishers — which is located at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles — is the only African or African-American owned press housed in a U.S. university (Howard University Press closed in 2011). “The launch of this historic imprint boldly reinforces the necessity and value of giving place for our voices in the national and global discourse on race, culture, the arts and so many more important facets of our collective humanity,” says Elias.

The book launch event was held in front of the Vision Theatre in Leimert Park on Saturday, October 14th sponsored by PEN Center USA and LA Review of Books. The program included live readings by the poets featured in the inaugural publication highlighting the “diverse voices of Los Angeles” and speeches by Congresswoman Karen Bass, Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, CNN and NPR analyst Angela Rye, as well as Elias Wondimu and Shonda Buchanan, Editor of the Harriet Tubman Press and the press’ first book Voices from Leimert Park Redux.

“It is going to be a great continuation of LMU and TSEHAI’s Harriet Tubman Press’ engagement in the Leimert Park Community,” Elias added.

Click here for updates on Facebook.

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Spotlight: Scientist Sossina Haile Honored With GE Grand Central Video Installation

Ethiopian American Scientist Sossina Haile honored with a GE video installation on the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal in New York City on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 25th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Professor Sossina Haile, an expert in materials science and fuel cells research, was one of 12 female scientists who were honored last week with a spectacular video installation, projected on the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, as part of a display called “Unseen Stars” recognizing “outstanding women in science.”

We featured Ethiopian American scientist, Sossina Haile, several times including in a profile interview in 2011 in which she told Tadias: “I delight in the discovery. When results make sense and we are able to explain something, I am thrilled. When that discovery has potential to solve critical societal problems, I am ecstatic.”

“Grand Central station is the epitome of New York — a place of connection,” Forbes magazine notes highlighting the GE sponsored show. “A myriad of train lines intersect and pass through the terminal, making it home to about 750,000 passengers daily. One of the most captivating aspects of Grand Central is the celestial ceiling, dating back to 1913. Today, Grand Central’s ceiling is being transformed, unveiling 12 portraits of female scientists, the hidden stars of science. This incredible light show is honoring women who have made significant breakthroughs in all fields of STEM and have shaped our society, whether we know it or not.”

The Grand Central installation was on display through Thursday, September 21st, and included “custom-designed animations, based on the iconic constellations, [that illuminated] the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal.” The faces of 12 female scientists and engineers appeared in an animated journey at the following times:

Tuesday, September 19 (7:30 p.m. – 11:59 p.m.)
Wednesday, September 20 (5:42 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.)
Thursday, September 21 (5:42 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.)

Outstanding Women in Science: Tadias Interview with Professor Sossina Haile

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Tebabu Assefa, Sara Mussie Brief Congress on Benefit Corp for Africa

Tebabu Assefa and Sara Mussie. (Photo: Maryland State Arts Council)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 10th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) – The husband and wife team of Tebabu Assefa and Sara Mussie who are owners of Blessed Coffee — one of America’s first Benefit Corporations — are scheduled to brief Congress this week on their Maryland-based socially responsible and grassroots business model that can be used to improve business-to-business and people-to-people relations with Africa.

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8) and the founders of US-Africa Diaspora Business Council (US-ADBC) are hosting the Congressional Briefing, which is “organized to present the Benefit Corporation for Africa Initiative (BCAI) to policy makers, the African Diplomatic Group, international development organizations, U.S. & U.S.-African Diaspora business leaders and the media,” the press release said. “In 2010, Maryland became the first state to pass legislation enabling businesses to register as Benefit Corporations, a new class of corporation that is explicitly formed to create a positive material impact on society and the environment. Congressman Raskin, then the MD State Senator, authored the legislation. To date, more than 31 states, including New York and California, have enacted similar legislation.”

Tebabu and Sara’s venture, which we featured here exactly six years ago this month, was founded in 2011 and is the nation’s second Benefit Corporation. Blessed Coffee (BC) is “based on a farmer to your cup direct market link that is geared towards development in coffee growing regions in Ethiopia, as well as in communities in the U.S. where the coffee is sold. As such, BC offers investment and profit sharing partnership to 323,000 coffee farmers in Ethiopia (representing over 1.5 million families), organized under a small coffee famers cooperative union,” the briefing announcement said.

This past Spring Tebabu and Sara’s work were also praised by US Senator Ben Cardin during the US Senate Foreign Relation Committee Hearing on Private Sector Engagement in International Development held on May 7th, 2017. In a 2016 interview with Bethesda Magazine, Congressman Raskin noted, “Blessed Coffee embodies everything a Benefit Corporation strives to be…It is a totally locally rooted business with an international conscientiousness devoted to community, but also devoted to the excellence of its product.”

The upcoming Congressional briefing announcement adds: “Tebabu and Sara titled and branded their dynamic social business as Virtuous Exchange (VE) – better than Fair Trade. US-African immigrant communities have massive untapped human and financial resources to positively impact social and economic development in Africa. Tebabu & Sara’s core conviction is that VE can leverage the power of Benefit Corporations and social businesses to achieve economic, social and environmental development in Africa and the U.S.”

Tebabu and Sara have received several awards, including the 2012 “Champions of Change” honor from the Obama administration, several Congressional citations from members of the U.S. Congress, the 2017 Green Business Award from Bethesda Magazine and the 2014 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award from StartUpAfrica.

If You Go:
12:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, Rayburn HOB, Room S 215, 45 Independence Ave, SW Washington DC

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Helen Show Brings Empower the Community Event to DC

Helen Mesfin of the Helen show on EBS TV. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 19th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Helen Mesfin from the popular Helen Show on EBS TV is launching a trailblazing annual event entitled “Empower the Community” in Washington, D.C., combining her broadcast experience with her professional work in the hospitality industry, and creating a space for community members to participate in panel discussions as well as provide resources and information for families. The event is scheduled to be held at the DC Convention Center on Saturday, August 26th, 2017.

Panel discussion topics include “The Power of Civic Engagement” featuring Menna Demissie, who is Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus; Henock Dory, former White House Policy Advisor for the Obama Administration’s Office of Public Engagement & Intergovernmental Affairs; and Yodit Tewolde, criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor, and legal analyst. Additional speakers include Dr. Senait Fisseha, MD, JD Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Director of International Programs at the Susan T. Buffett Foundation; and Dr. Debrework Zewdie, Distinguished Scholar at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.

“Empower the Community Weekend is a groundbreaking new event that will bring together the largest East African community in the Washington D.C. Metro Area,” Helen says. “The event provides panel discussions, entertainment, empowering information on education, career, arts, finance, health & wellness, giveaways and much more.” She adds: It’s focused on providing resources and family centered activities. We will have various pavilion and activities engaging families with information they need to live productive lives and thrive.”

Helen says the program will also include kids corner with activities such as “reading time, games, fun exercises, art and a booth by D.C. United Soccer Clinic.

Empower the Community Weekend will be launched Saturday August 26th, 2017 by the producers of Helen Show on EBS TV. (Courtesy photos)

Here is a summary of parts of the program on August 26th from 11am-7pm at the Washington Convention Center

Empower Youth: follow your passion. Actress Azie Tesfay; Director/Producer Messay Getahun; Author Michael Asmerom, and Graphic Designer Heli Amare.

Business Leaders Panel: Getting To The Top: Strategies for breaking through the glass ceiling with successful Ethiopian American business leaders. Tefere Gebre, Executive VP AFLCIO, Meskerem Tadesse Director of Center for Minority and Business and Professor of Business Administration and 2 more to be announced next week.

Health & Fitness Pavilion:
Free health screenings provided by Kaiser Permanente, American Kindy Fund, Silver Spring Smiles & Pearl Smiles Dental – BMI, blood pressure, blood glucose, dental screening, fitness consultants, zumba, resources for families with special needs, giveaways and much more. Partner organizations and sponsors are Kaiser Permanente, American Kidney Fund, Ethiopian American Nurses Association, Silver Spring Smiles & Pearl Smiles as well as Ethiopian American doctors.

Career Pavilion:
Hear high energy career motivational speakers. Learn career advancement tips. Participate in informational interviews. Receive mini career coaching. Assess your career aptitudes. Partner organizations include 21st Century Community, YEP – Your Ethiopian Professionals, Alexandria Workforce Development and MBC.

Finance Pavilion:
Topics covered include raising money savvy kids, financial responsibility, creating generational wealth, dealing with college debt, getting your credit right, securing your family’s financial future, and home buying 101. Partner organization are Primerica, CLRA group and Your DMV Team.

Immigration and Legal Issues with Attorney Yemmi Getachew & Hellina Hailu
Fear NOT, Know Your Rights as Immigrants – 11am
Surviving the Stop – How to Engage with Law Enforcement 1:00pm
Teaching Kids & Young Men What to Expect and Know

Warrior Moms – Special Needs Parenting
Leah Tesfa, Birollei Debela and Salem Hagos

Wayna, Ras Nebiyou, Ethiopian Traditional Band, Abel Dureyew, Comedian Gergish and more.

Vendors at the event will also be selling various artisan merchandise

If You Go:
Saturday August 26
11am -7pm
Walter E Washington Convention Center
801 Mt. Vernon Place, NW
Washington DC 20001

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The 2017 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows

From top left: Maceda Alemu, Saba Alemnew, Eden Mekonen and Meron Begashaw. (Courtesy Photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

July 24th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship (EDF) has announced its 2017 class of Fellows. Every year Ethiopian American youth are selected to participate in this leadership and creative storytelling program, and EDF, which runs the program, said that its third cohort of fellows will spend half a year in Ethiopia working at St. Paul Millennium Medical College, East Africa Gate, Selamta Family Project and International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia.

“EDF is an organization that connects young Ethiopian diaspora professionals with organizations in Ethiopia for 6-month impact focused fellowship opportunities,” the press release stated. “Fellows are trained on the program pillars of leadership, service, and storytelling throughout the fellowship.” EDF added: “Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship aims to identify and empower the next generation of young Ethiopian professionals.”

Congratulations to the Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows of 2017:


Saba has provided revenue cycle review services for some of the largest health systems in the United States at Triage Consulting Group. Prior to that, Saba worked at the UC Davis Cross Cultural Center creating programs that highlighted key issues within the African Diaspora Community on-campus. Her programs led to institutional change including a mentorship program aimed at the retention of the African Diaspora Community on-campus. In addition, she is committed to public service as she has helped numerous refugees resettle in Northern California while working at Opening Doors Inc. Saba holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a minor in Communications from the University of California, Davis. She is excited to become an Ethiopian Diaspora Fellow and leverage her experiences to address economic development challenges in Ethiopia at East Africa Gate.



Meron held a number of health-related positions, including program assistant at The California Wellness Foundation working in women’s health and diversity in the health professions and an intern at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She is deeply engaged in her Ethiopian community and serves in the young adult ministry at her local Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church. She is also an integral part of Habesha LA, a social media and events company highlighting Ethiopian and Eritrean creatives. She recently completed her Master of Public Health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She is excited to learn from and share with a country that has given her so much as the Human Resource Strategies Fellow at St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College.



Eden pursued a year of service with Public Allies Los Angeles where she served as the community engagement coordinator with the youth photography nonprofit, Las Fotos Project. Prior to this, Eden graduated from Occidental College where she majored in Critical Theory and Social Justice and minored in Interdisciplinary Writing. While at Occidental, Eden became passionate about equitable, multicultural education and diverse representations of underrepresented groups, through community-based learning classes where she applied identity-based theoretical frameworks to community social issues. Eden studied abroad in Durban, South Africa where she conducted oral histories with Ethiopian (im)migrant women and conducted community-based research on the political and gendered significance of Little Ethiopia to the diasporic community. Eden is excited to join the 2017 EDF cohort and contribute to Selamta Family Project’s knowledge and long-term capacity.



Maceda joined John Snow, Inc. as Program Officer with the firm’s International Division. As a Program Officer, she provided financial, administrative, and operations support to multi-million dollar public health projects in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Through this role, Maceda refined her skills in program management, strategic partnership development, financial analysis, and donor communication. Prior to this she was Program Coordinator with the Center for Health Equity at the Geisel School of Medicine and an intern in the Resource Mobilization Division at UN Women. She graduated from Dartmouth College majoring in Geography with a focus on International Development, minored in International Relations and completed a certificate in Global Health Studies. She is excited to serve as an Ethiopian Diaspora Fellow and looks forward to collaborating with others in building the human capacity of Ethiopians and promoting positive social development throughout the country at St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College.


You can learn more about the program at

EDF Announces 2016 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows
EDF’s 2015 Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows
Highlighting Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship

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Have Women Shattered the Glass Ceiling in Tech? Betty Abera on Fargo INC

Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg on the cover of the July 2017 issue of Fargo INC magazine. (Fargo INC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

July 3rd, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — The last time we featured Software Engineer turned Social Entrepreneur Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg she had just won the prestigious Bush Fellowship for her non-profit organization, uCodeGirl, whose mission is to encourage young girls to aim for careers in the high-tech industry.

This month Betty, who works and lives in North Dakota, made the cover of her local business magazine, Fargo INC, as one of five women invited to discuss female representation in the technology sector.

“It’s the question no one can seem to answer definitively: Why aren’t more girls going into high-tech fields?” asks Fargo INC introducing its July 2017 edition. “We assembled a panel of five FM-area women working in tech to try and figure out why.”

(Photo: Fargo INC July 2017 issue)

A mother of three boys, Betty is also the author of a children’s book entitled The Alphabet Takes a Journey…Destination Ethiopia. She was born and raised in Ethiopia and attended Addis Ababa University, later working at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) before immigrating to the United States.

Regarding her non-profit, uCodeGirl, which strives to democratize “the technology sandbox with diverse voices as a result of increased participation of women,” Betty told Tadias that it was “inspired by the question — How can I see more people like me in the technology workforce?” She added: “I am engaging my vision and passion to create and foster an enrichment program that will inspire and empower young girls to be the driving force, the innovators of the technology they consume.”

Click here to read the latest issue of Fargo INC »

Tadias Interview with Ethiopian Children’s Book Author Bethlehem Abera Gronneberg

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Elsa Nega, Mother of 2 in Canada Needs Life-Saving Marrow Transplant

Because Elsa Nega is an Ethiopian, her chances of finding a donor on the international registry is slim and so her family is appealing to Ethiopians worldwide to help save her life by joining the registry at

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

June 21st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Elsa (Elizabeth) Nega is an Ethiopian-Canadian mother of two children who is currently in urgent need of life-saving marrow transplant. Her family is searching worldwide to find a match for Elsa. “Her brother and sister in Ethiopia were her best hope but are not matches,” states a recent press release. “Of the 29 million people in the International Registry, no matches have been found.”

According to her family Elsa was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia after she suddenly fell ill earlier this year. A statement from the family said she walked into her local ER on February 8 and was rushed into an intensive care unit. The following day she was diagnosed with the acute form of leukemia (or cancer of the white blood cells). “She started on chemo immediately,” the statement said. “Unlike 90% of patients who go into remission after the first round of chemo, Elsa did not. Now, after 3 rounds of chemo, a bone marrow transplant is her only hope of recovery.”

Elsa Nega. (Courtesy photo)

Because Elsa is Ethiopian, her chances of finding a donor on the registry are slim, and so her family is appealing to Ethiopians worldwide to join the registry to help save Elsa and so many others like her. “Specifically, there is a great need for young adults, ages 18-35, of African descent. The younger a person is, the healthier their marrow is, which means more possible matches for patients like Elsa.”

You can learn more and join the match registry as potential marrow donors at

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Letter on Why US Should Review Its Foreign Aid to Ethiopia

The letter was written by U.S. Representative Mike Coffman of Denver, Colorado on behalf of his Ethiopian American constituents to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. (Photo: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 2nd, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — This week in a letter to the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Program, Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, whose district includes the vibrant Denver-area Ethiopian community, urged his colleagues to review the more than $500 million American taxpayers dollars for Fiscal Year 2017 in US aid program to Ethiopia. The letter comes the same week as the Ethiopian government announced the four-month extension of its strict emergency ban.

“I write to you today at the request of many of the Ethiopian-Americans whom I represent in Congress,” Coffman said in the March 30th, 2017 letter addressed to the subcommittee’s Chairman and Ranking member, Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky and Rep. Nita Lowey of New York. “These constituents have brought to my attention what they view as an ongoing campaign of human rights violations in their homeland of Ethiopia.” The Congressman continued: “They are convinced that these serious human rights violations are the result of an organized and concerted effort perpetrated by the Ethiopian government.”

The letter, which was shared with us by members of the Ethiopian American community, goes on to highlight the arrest and detention of journalists, students, activists and political leaders. Congressman Coffman noted that currently the amount of money that the United States gives to Ethiopia annually totals $514 million most of it allocated for “economic development, humanitarian assistance, health, education and social services.” Congressman Coffman pointed out: “While the goal of this aid is noble, numerous constituents and experts on the Sub-Saharan region tell me that this assistance may not be reaching those in Ethiopia who needed most, and maybe providing support and legitimacy to this regime”

“In light of these abuses and the United States’ stated strategy of strengthening democratic institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, I believe it is important for you to review the current aid program to Ethiopia to ensure that the aid provided is not subsidizing a government apparently committed to the systematic abuse of its own citizens and reduction of the democratic space within its borders,” the letter said. “I respectfully request that the subcommittee include language ensuring the suspension of appropriations FY2018 foreign assistance for Ethiopia pending its government’s implementation of real, concrete and measurable humanitarian reforms as outlined in H.Res. 128.” Rep. Coffman added: I believe that doing so will communicate to the Ethiopian government how seriously the United States views these human rights violations.”

Click here to read the letter »

Excerpts From US Congress Hearing on Ethiopia March 9, 2017

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The Story of American Immigrants from An Ethiopian Perspective

Ethiopian American heart surgeon and entrepreneur Dr. Lishan Aklog, with his wife (R) as well as his mother, son and sister (L) rings the opening bell for his company's Nasdaq IPO, April 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 9th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Who knew that when Dr. Lishan Aklog, CEO and co-founder of the publicly traded company PAVmed Inc., fled a brutal communist regime at age 13 and immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia nearly four decades ago along with his teenage sister he would one day become the youngest heart surgeon ever to join the faculty at Harvard University (his alma mater), or ring the opening bell in honor of his company’s Nasdaq initial public offering (IPO).

Like many of their peers in our community Lishan and his sister sought refuge as they ran away from a government sponsored deadly campaign called “red terror” in Ethiopia. Their father Dr. Aklog Habte-Michael was the first Ethiopian cardiologist serving in Ethiopia, while their mother Professor Almaz Eshete, who also attended Harvard, was Ethiopia’s first woman to receive a graduate degree.

Reflecting on his mother’s journey as a foreign graduate student in 1956 Lishan tells the women’s health website that “you can imagine what some of the issues in this country were to have this petite little African woman from the small, poor country in Boston and at Harvard to get a graduate eduction.” He adds: “I think about that and I am just absolutely amazed at what she has accomplished over the years, going back home and being again, the first woman to have her graduate education and to be one of the first professors at the university. She really became an international figure in child development..It’s an amazing inspiration for us.”

Regarding his father Dr. Lishan said: He “came from a very humble background. Earned his way through western school..just sheer work and brains and ended up getting a medical degree..and then he did his residency in the U.S. and then went back [to Ethiopia] and became one of the leading physicians for, you know, 40 years.”

In an article published this week in the Wall Street Journal, Lishan reflected on his immigrant experience in the United States amid the current backlash against refugees and immigrants in the Trump era. “Among the torrent of images in January after President Trump signed his first executive order on immigration, one photo resonated with me. It was a joyful scene: volunteers from a synagogue in Glencoe, Ill., cheerily welcoming a family of Syrian refugees — one of the last to be accepted — at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport,” Lishan wrote. “Thirty-eight years ago, a nearly identical scene played out at the same airport, perhaps in the same terminal. Pastor Gerald Nelson and congregants of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill., welcomed two teenagers fleeing violence: my sister and me.”

Lishan added: “Two days earlier in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, dozens of members of a proud extended family had gathered at the airport as our parents, Prof. Almaz Eshete and Dr. Aklog Habte-Michael, tearfully told us farewell. Our family had suffered greatly under the Red Terror of the Soviet-backed tyrant, Mengistu Haile-Mariam. Fathers were imprisoned, sons were ‘disappeared’ or summarily executed, and children were roused from their bed by soldiers. Our parents had found a way to send us to a life of freedom in America… we arrived to a joyful welcome at O’Hare. Soon we were enjoying apple pie at Poppin’ Fresh Pies on the way to our new families. That’s how my American journey began — with a slice of apple pie.”

“After a rewarding career as an academic heart surgeon, I caught the entrepreneurial bug,” Lishan explained. “Two friends (descendants of Irish, East European and Filipino immigrants) and I founded five medical-device companies. Last April, that immigrant boy who peered out of the jet rang the Nasdaq opening bell with his immigrant family and colleagues at his side. Minutes later, we stood in Times Square, filled with awe and humility as images of our new company streamed on the sides of skyscrapers. I had just one thought: “This is our America.”

Dr. Lishan Aklog is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PAVmed Inc. (Nasdaq: PAVMU), a multi-product medical device company bringing innovative medical technologies from concept to commercialization with unprecedented speed and capital efficiency. (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Lishan poses for a photo with his family and colleagues in Times Square, NYC, after he rang the opening bell in honor of his company’s Nasdaq initial public offering (IPO) on April 28, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

In addition to Dr. Lishan, PAVmed was founded and is led by two other successful medical device entrepreneurs: Dr. Brian deGuzman, a prominent Harvard-trained cardiothoracic surgeon and a leader in medical device innovation, and Michael Glennon a medical device industry veteran and former senior executive in outsourced medical device manufacturing.

Per Bloomberg: “Dr. Aklog has received numerous awards and is a perennial honoree in Castle Connolly’s, America’s Top Doctors. Dr. Aklog has taken a keen interest in health care policy and medical device innovation. As a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee and Speaker Pelosi’s Speaker’s Cabinet, he has the opportunity to advise members of Congress on health care policy, focusing on cost effective, quality delivery of high-cost, high-technology therapies.”

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Yohannes Abraham Named Senior Adviser to the Obama Foundation

Former President Barack Obama has named Yohannes Abraham as a senior adviser to the Obama Foundation. (Photo via Medium)


Obama adds former White House staffer Yohannes Abraham as foundation adviser

Barack Obama is continuing to staff his post-presidency with top aides from his presidency, adding Yohannes Abraham as a senior adviser to the Obama Foundation.

He’s coming on for what’s expected to be an at least six-month stint as the top deputy to foundation chief executive officer David Simas, Obama’s former White House political director.

According to a foundation official, Abraham will help run day-to-day operations, focusing on building the structure and then recruiting and managing the staff. He’ll also work closely with foundation executive director Robbin Cohen, who previously worked for former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s private real estate interests.

Abraham was chief of staff to top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett running the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. He also served as a senior adviser to the National Economic Council.

“We always asked Yohannes to take on our toughest, most important projects, and he always always exceeded our expectations,” said Jarrett. “That’s why it’s no surprise that President Obama asked him to help lay the groundwork for his foundation. I have no doubt Yohannes will tackle this with his characteristic intellect, work ethic, sound judgment, and commitment to excellence.”

Abraham’s time with Obama goes back to the 2008 campaign.

Read more »

Tadias Interview with Yohannes Abraham
Overview of White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing
White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing and Civic Engagement

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Ethiopia: US Top Diplomat Misses Annual Human Rights Presentation

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skips annual U.S. human rights presentation, while possible budget cuts to foreign aid faces bipartisan opposition in Congress. (Photo: © Greg Nash/The Hill)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: March 4th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — The new U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson failed to attend the State Department’s yearly release of its human rights report on Friday drawing condemnation from lawmakers and activists alike.

Regarding Ethiopia the U.S. “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” highlights that “security forces used excessive force against protesters throughout the year, killing hundreds and injuring many more. The protests were mainly in Oromia and Amhara regions. At year’s end more than 10,000 persons were believed still to be detained. This included persons detained under the government-declared state of emergency, effective October 8. Many were never brought before a court, provided access to legal counsel, or formally charged with a crime.” The report adds: “The most significant human rights problems were security forces’ use of excessive force and arbitrary arrest in response to the protests, politically motivated prosecutions, and continued restrictions on activities of civil society and NGOs…Impunity was a problem. The government generally did not take steps to prosecute or otherwise punish officials who committed abuses other than corruption.”

For his absence the top U.S. Diplomat “drew fire from some members of Congress and advocates who said his decision not to personally unveil the report suggested the Trump administration places a low priority on advancing human rights,” The Washington Post reported. Human Rights Watch Washington Director, Sarah Margon, adds that Tillerson’s non-involvement “makes it much easier for other governments to ignore its findings.”

Meanwhile, in a related story, U.S. lawmakers from both parties say any proposal to cut funding for the State Department and foreign aid will not see the day of light in Congress. “It’s dead on arrival,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said in an interview with NBC. “It’s not gonna happen. It would be a disaster.”

“If you take soft power off the table then you’re never going to win the war,” Graham continued in the NBC interview. “What’s most disturbing about the cut in the State Department’s budget is it shows a lack of understanding of what it takes to win the war.”

New York Senator and Minority Leader Charles Schumer added: “Democrats and Republicans are both going to run away,” from the Trump budget proposal. “His proposals are falling apart everywhere,” Schumer said.

Debating Pros & Cons of US Foreign Aid
Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy
Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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In Pictures: DC Awards Dinner Celebrates Ethiopia’s Adwa Victory

Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie hosts the 2017 Victory of Adwa Commemorative Dinner in Washington, DC. (Photo: Tsehai)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — This year marks the 121st anniversary of Ethiopia’s victory at the Battle of Adwa, which took place on March 1st 1896. This past weekend in Washington, D.C., Ethiopian guests and friends of Ethiopia from across the U.S. came together for the 6th Annual Victory of Adwa Commemorative Dinner — a black tie affair hosted by Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, the grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie. The program was held both in celebration of Adwa as well as to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves through their dedicated contribution to Ethiopian society at large.

Below are photos from the event:


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

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Ethiopia: In Memory of Historian Richard Pankhurst

Richard Pankhurst, pictured above at his home in Addis Ababa, has died at age 89. The British Embassy in Ethiopia said Pankhurst had died on Thursday, February 16th, 2017. (Photo by Kristin Fellows)


Historian Richard Pankhurst dies, Ethiopia mourns

Richard Pankhurst, the son of the British women’s rights campaigner Sylvia Pankhurst who became one of the world’s leading experts on Ethiopian history and culture, has died aged 89.

He first came into contact with Ethiopia through his mother, a ‘suffragette’ who also campaigned against the invasion of the Horn of Africa nation by Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italian troops in 1935.

He moved to Addis Ababa with her after World War Two and started teaching at Addis Ababa University, going on to write more than 20 books and thousands of articles.

He also inherited an activist streak from his mother and his grandmother, Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the suffragette movement, which helped secure the right for British women to vote.

Richard campaigned with his wife Rita for the return of piles of plunder taken from Ethiopia by invading British troops in 1868, and of a giant obelisk taken from the ancient city of Axum by Mussolini’s forces. Both were there in Axum to watch as Italy returned the obelisk in 2005.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry called him a “doyen of historians and scholars of Ethiopia”.

“Pankhurst was one of Ethiopia’s greatest friends during his long and productive life, and his scholarship and understanding for Ethiopia will be sorely missed,” it said in a statement.

Author and photographer Maaza Mengiste told BBC Africa: “I’ve discovered things about my country, just sometimes stumbling upon something that he’s written … a whole other window opens for me on how I understand my own history.”

One Ethiopian, Wondwosen Gelan, tweeted simply: “He was our history archive. We miss him so much.”

Tea with Richard and Rita Pankhurst

Richard Pankhurst (in the pink shirt) attending an event at ASNI in Addis Ababa. (Photo by Kristin Fellows)

The Red Moon Letters

I have my doubts as to whether or not I could ever make it as a journalist.

I love to interview people, listen to their stories, and ask them the questions that open them up their lives to me like unfolding origami or blooming flowers. I am genuinely interested in what they have to say, but I am often shy about intruding on people’s time for information or interviews.

One person I greatly admired and had wanted to meet with while in Addis was Richard Pankhurst, the eminent Ethiopian historian, the founding director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, a former professor at the University of Addis Ababa, and the son of Sylvia Pankhurst.

Read more »

Ethiopians call for state funeral as Richard Pankhurst, champion of Ethiopian culture, dies aged 89

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Focus on Ethiopia: A Look at the New ‘America First’ Foreign Policy

(Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, January 23rd, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — What does the new “America First” foreign policy mean vis-à-vis Ethiopia-U.S. diplomatic, military and economic ties? No one really knows, but according to Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of A World in Disarray, this kind of approach to international relations comes with a double-edged sword: “A narrow America First posture will prompt other countries to pursue an equally narrow, independent foreign policy, which will diminish U.S. influence and detract from global prosperity.”

Mr. Haass shared his concerns in an interview with the New York Times following President Donald J. Trump’s inaugural speech last Friday in which he “cast America’s new role in the world as one of an aggrieved superpower, not a power intent on changing the globe. There was no condemnation of authoritarianism or fascism, no clarion call to defend human rights around the world — one of the commitments that John F. Kennedy made in his famed address, delivered 56 years ago to the day.”

But there is a silver lining of sorts for opponents of past American policy in a sense that the new U.S. government may not have the political appetite to continue taxpayer sponsored USAID “development projects,” which critics say helps more to prop-up non-transparent and corrupt regimes than bring actual change.

Instead, Trump may favor a more business approach primarily aimed at winning against China. “How does U.S. business compete with other nations in Africa? Are we losing out to the Chinese? asks one of the first questions in a four-page document containing Africa-related questions reportedly sent to the State Department and Pentagon officials last week.

In terms of promotion of civil society, human rights and good governance the Trump administration has indicated that it will not necessarily follow the long U.S. precedent articulated in “Kennedy’s most famous line: that America would ‘bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.’” As NYT points out: “The America that elected Mr. Trump had concluded that it was no longer willing to bear that burden — or even to make the spread of democracy the mission of the nation.”

“Mr. Trump views American democracy as a fine import for those who like it,” states the New York Times.

During his inaugural address, President Donald J. Trump laid out a vision for the
United States that focused on benefiting “American workers and American families.”
(Publish Date January 20, 2017/NYT)

“We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone,” Trump said in his inaugural address, “but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.”

The recently relaunched White House website further explains that “The Trump Administration is committed to a foreign policy focused on American interests and American national security.” The website adds: “Peace through strength will be at the center of that foreign policy. This principle will make possible a stable, more peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground.”

Regarding Africa, however, there is talk that one of the early collateral damages of the new era could be AGOA. “While its benefits have been uneven, the legislation has served as a key framework for U.S.-African relations,” says Witney Schneidman at the Brookings Institution’s. “It has led to trade and investment being at the forefront of U.S. policy in the region.” Schneidman adds: “AGOA has encouraged African women in trade and led to the creation of the African Trade Hubs (rebranded as Trade and Investment Hubs under Obama) to help African companies access AGOA. More recently, the Obama administration has been working to develop a new trade architecture based on reciprocity that would ultimately replace AGOA’s unilateral preference regime.”

And from the African perspective in an article entitled “It might not be the end of the world if Africa drops off Donald Trump’s map,” Qartz Africa notes the continent might just as well choose to turn off the U.S. and look inwards. “It’s worth remembering uncertainty isn’t all just about downside,” argues Yinka Adegoke, the Africa Editor for Quartz. “Less trade with the U.S. could force African countries to put more effort into developing stronger trade links with each other. And young Africans dissuaded from moving to the U.S. comes with one potential advantage: decades of brain drain can be stalled and Africa’s brightest can focus on problems at home.”

Ethiopia: Looking Beyond Obama, Here is What Trump’s Team is Asking
U.S.-Africa Policy in 2017: What Trump Should Do
Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

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Ethiopia: 2016 in Pictures

Feyisa Lilesa at a press conference during the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil. (Photo: Eshetu Homa Keno)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — When 26-year-old marathoner, father of two and social activist Feyisa Lilesa approached the finish line with his hands crossed over his head to claim the silver medal during the 2016 Olympics in Brazil he brought global attention to Ethiopia’s long-brewing political demonstrations. In an instant his daring move made international headlines, creating awareness about the deadly civil unrest that has rocked Ethiopia from Bishoftu to Gonder for the past 13 months. Foreign Policy magazine has dubbed Feyisa as a challenger and one of the leading global thinkers of 2016, not only for “breaking the rules of the games” but likewise for his subsequent statement to the press emphasizing that he “wanted to be a voice for a story that wasn’t getting any coverage.” As Feyisa is now in exile in the United States, a government-imposed state of emergency has been instituted in Ethiopia and political tensions remain high.

As we hope for better times in the years to come, we never cease to be inspired by the numerous talented Ethiopians around the world, both young and old, that we continue to profile and highlight in this magazine, who drive us all to imagine that through perseverance, unity, and creative thinking, a brighter, bolder, and more peaceful and prosperous tomorrow is still possible.

This year the people we spotlighted on our website included the 2016 class of the Mandela Fellows from Ethiopia as well as the second cohort of Ethiopian Diaspora Fellows from the United States. We close the year with a recent interview with Yohannes Abraham, the first Ethiopian American working in a senior White House role.

Below are some photos from 2016:

15 Arts & Culture Stories of 2016
2015 in Pictures
2014 in Pictures
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Farewell to Legend Miruts Yifter

A Toronto Ethiopian Orthodox Church was packed for the funeral of running legend Miruts Yifter. (CBC)

CBC News

Updated Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Olympic champion’s body will be sent back to Ethiopia this week

Miruts Yifter, an Ethiopian running legend dubbed “Yifter the Shifter” for his ability to power away from rivals, was laid to rest at a packed funeral in Toronto on Tuesday.

Yifter, a distance runner who won two gold medals in the 5,000- and 10,000-metre events at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and won bronze medals earlier at the 1972 Munich Games, died at 72 after battling respiratory problems.

“He’s a national icon,” said Yonas Tadssa, a friend of Yifter’s who also hails from Ethiopia.

“He’s our hero.”

Read more »



Miruts Yifter. (Getty Images)


The IAAF is saddened by the news that Miruts Yifter, a double Olympic champion for Ethiopia at the 1980 Olympic Games, died yesterday (December 22) in Toronto, Canada, after being hospitalised for respiratory ailments. Yifter, considered by many as one of the greatest middle distance runners of all-time, was 72.

Yifter’s crowning achievement was his 5,000 and 10,000m double triumph at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow at age 40, where he earned the nickname “Yifter the Shifter” for the rapid injections of speed that helped propel him to victory. In both contests, Yifter surged and slowed to confuse his key opponents. The tactic worked.

“We talked about it with the coaches and I practiced taking off with 300 metres to go in both the 5000 and 10,000m races,” he recalled for a 2004 story on the IAAF website.

“300 metres is the ideal mark – not too late, not too early. I listened to the movements of my opponents until five laps remained and then decided on my course of action. The tension start building at the bell, but before they could reassert themselves, I make my move.”

Read more »


Family: Ethiopian Running Legend Miruts Yifter Dies at 72

Miruts Yifter in the 10,000m final at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. His family announced on Friday that the legendary Ethiopian athlete has died at age 72. (AP)

The Associated Press

By Elias Meseret

Dec 23, 2016

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Miruts Yifter, an Ethiopian running legend who inspired world-class athletes like Haile Gebreselassie, has died in Canada at age 72, his family and Ethiopian Athletics Federation officials told the Associated Press on Friday.

The athlete known widely by the nickname “Miruts the Shifter” won two gold medals at the 1980 Moscow Olympics at age 40 and won bronze medals earlier at the 1972 Munich Games.

“Miruts has been everything to me and my athletics career,” said Haile Gebreselassie, the double Olympic 10,000-meter champion, who struggled with his tears while talking to the AP by phone. “When I started running, I just wanted to be like him. He is the reason for who I’m now and for what I have achieved.”

Miruts’ son, Biniam Miruts, said his father had been suffering from respiratory problems.

Read more »

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US Updates Ethiopia Travel Warning

(U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

Press release

US Department of State

The State Department continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest related to sporadic and unpredictable anti-government protests that began in November 2015. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services in many parts of the country may be limited without warning due to the government’s restrictions on mobile and internet communications and the unpredictable nature of the current security situation. This replaces the Travel Warning of October 21, 2016.

The Government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency effective October 8, 2016 that includes provisions allowing for the arrest of individuals without a court order for activities they may otherwise consider routine, such as communication, consumption of media, attending gatherings, engaging with certain foreign governments or organizations, and violating curfews. Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia routinely does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. The full text of the decree implementing the State of Emergency is available on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

Internet, cellular data, and phone services have been periodically restricted or shut down without warning throughout the country, impeding the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. You should have alternate communication plans in place, and let your family and friends know this may be an issue while you are in Ethiopia. See the information below on how to register with the U.S. Embassy to receive security messages.

Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, continuously assess your surroundings, and evaluate your personal level of safety. Remember that the government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations, and that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can be met with a violent response or turn violent without warning. U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should monitor their security situation and have contingency plans in place in case you need to depart suddenly.

If you are living in or intending to travel to Ethiopia, please refer to the Safety and Security section of the Country Specific Information for Ethiopia for additional useful information.

Due to the unpredictability of communication in the country, the Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to register your mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Click here for further information »

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Ethiopia: US-Africa Relations in Trump Era

President-elect Donald Trump heads inside the clubhouse at Trump International Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Sunday, November 20th, 2016. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, November 21st, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — In an article entitled Trump’s Foreign Policy on Africa is Likely to be Non-existent, which was published by CNN this past weekend, Peter Vale, a Professor of Humanities and the Director of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Johannesburg, argues that the African continent will be the least of the incoming administration’s concerns.

At this point it’s all speculation and nobody really knows what exactly the Donald Trump presidency would mean to the U.S. let alone the rest of the world. But it is worth thinking about what US-Africa relations might look like in the age of Trump.

The Brookings Institution’s Witney Schneidman, who advised Clinton on Africa, also penned an article last week entitled Donald Trump and Africa , and agrees that the continent will likely be at the bottom of Trump’s international agenda.

“In fact, there is every reason to expect that, under a Trump administration, the U.S. will be less engaged in Africa especially where it concerns the expenditure of taxpayer resources on economic development initiatives,” Schneidman writes in a blog post on Brookings website.

“AGOA could easily be the first casualty under Trump,” Schneidman states. “While its benefits have been uneven, the legislation has served as a key framework for U.S.-African relations. It has led to trade and investment being at the forefront of U.S. policy in the region. AGOA has encouraged African women in trade and led to the creation of the African Trade Hubs (rebranded as Trade and Investment Hubs under Obama) to help African companies access AGOA. More recently, the Obama administration has been working to develop a new trade architecture based on reciprocity that would ultimately replace AGOA’s unilateral preference regime.”

Professor Vale note that “Trump is also unlikely to have any tolerance for the idea that the African diaspora is part of the “sixth region” of Africa. In addition, I think that he is going to be intolerant and disinterested in issues around the domestic politics of African countries. That is unless — as he was very clear in his acceptance speech — they strongly impinge on American national interests. For example, I don’t think he is going to be very interested in what is happening in Somalia or Ethiopia or in other parts of Africa where there may be conflict. Trump hasn’t got a great capacity for detail, so at best he will live by macro assessments.”

Below are links to both articles:

CNN: Trump’s foreign policy on Africa is likely to be non-existent

Brookings: Donald Trump and Africa


Ethiopian American Hip Hop Artist Aminé Slams Trump’s Immigration Stance on Tonight Show

Obama Bids Farewell to World, Hails US Democracy in Landmark Speech

Looking Beyond Trump Era: This Woman Could Become 1st Female U.S. President

Ethiopian-American Caucus Founder Rep. Mike Honda Loses Re-election

Update: Ethio-American Friend Colorado’s Mike Coffman Keeps His House Seat

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Elias Siraj, Ethiopian American Doctor, to Lead EVMS’ Diabetes Program

Dr. Elias Siraj, a native of Ethiopia, is the new head of the diabetes program at Eastern Virginia Medical School. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, September 30th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A nationally known diabetes and heart disease expert, Ethiopian American physician Dr. Elias Siraj, has been appointed by the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) to lead the university’s diabetes program.

“Elias Siraj, MD, brings an international perspective and a special interest in improving outcomes for patients who have both cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” EVMS announced. “Dr. Siraj comes to EVMS from Temple University in Philadelphia where he directed that school’s diabetes program and headed the endocrinology fellowship training program, among other responsibilities. A native of Ethiopia, he was previously on the endocrinology faculty at the Cleveland Clinic.”

The university said it had assistance from the commonwealth of Virginia in hiring Dr. Elias. “The school received the 2015 State Eminent Research Scholar Award, a highly competitive grant to assist in the year-long national search and recruitment process,” EVMS said in a press release. “In his capacity as Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolic Disorders at EVMS, he will oversee the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center. He also will lead the research programs at the EVMS Sentara Cardiovascular Diabetes Center, which helps coordinate long-term care of patients with diabetes and heart problems.”

Dr. Elias said he is excited about his new role. “I hope to elevate the stature and capability of the Division of Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders by growing our patient-care capabilities, enhancing our teaching programs and expanding our research activities,” he said.

In addition to his professional work Dr. Elias, who graduated from Ethiopia’s Gondar College of Medical Sciences in 1988, is one the founding members of the Gondar University’s Alumni Steering Committee in the United States as well as an active member of the Ethiopian Diaspora medical professionals association P2P.

According to EVMS, “Dr. Siraj received his medical degree with Great Distinction and a Gold Medal from Gondar College of Medical Sciences in Ethiopia before earning his Dr. Med. Magna Cum Laude from the University of Leipzig in Germany. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Leipzig and at the Cleveland Clinic and then did an endocrinology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Siraj is fluent in several languages.”

“Dr. Siraj is an outstanding academic physician,” Dr. Richard Homan, EVMS President and Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine said in a statement. “Dr. Siraj is a good fit for the EVMS role.” Dr. Homan added. “He has extensive experience in patient care, education and clinical research. His background has afforded him invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities he will face in his new role. His recruitment – in combination with the recent assessment of our diabetes experts as among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report – once again demonstrates the school’s commitment to make a difference in the lives of people with diabetes.”

The press release stated: “Dr. Siraj is involved in research and trials involving diabetes, complications of diabetes, prevention of type 1 diabetes and post-transplant diabetes as well other areas of endocrinology. He wants to attract new grants for clinical research and to collaborate with Virginia biotechnology companies and pharmaceutical companies to develop new and safer diabetes treatments. Dr. Siraj understands the critical impact that medical care can have on a community. For two decades, he has traveled regularly to his native Ethiopia, where he helped establish that nation’s first endocrinology fellowship training program. He has served in various leadership roles with People to People, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization established by Ethiopian Physicians to Support Ethiopian Healthcare and Medical Education.”

Dr. Elias received the Outstanding Service Award for the Promotion of Endocrine Health of an Underserved Population from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology in 2014, and has also served as President of the Philadelphia Endocrine Society as well as being a former member of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Endocrinology Subspecialty Board. The press release notes that: Dr Elias is also “on the editorial board or a reviewer for more than a dozen professional journals. He is well published in a variety of medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, and he has contributed chapters to medical text books.”

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Overview of White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing

Ambassador Daniel Yohannes, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), speaking at the White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, June 17th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — On June 8th, 2016 the White House Office of Public Engagement convened its first Ethiopian American Policy Briefing where leaders representing a diverse sector of the community — including non-profits, small business ventures, young professionals organizations, faith-based groups and academia members — attended and participated in the historical gathering. Tadias Magazine was honored to attend the briefing.

Hosted by senior administration officials Daniel Yohannes, U.S. Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OECD, and Yohannes Abraham, Chief of Staff of the White House of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the briefing was organized by Henock Dory of the White House Office of Public Engagement with panels moderated by Dr. Menna Demissie, Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

The briefing focused primarily on the Obama Administration’s domestic policy priorities through panel discussions presented by Administration experts featuring White House initiatives in education, healthcare, criminal justice reform, small business policy and civic engagement.

The purpose of the event was to brief leaders from the growing Ethiopian American community – students, faith leaders, young professionals, and business leaders – on Administration priorities, while also offering a forum for White House officials to hear directly from the community on issues facing Ethiopian Americans in United States.

Ambassador Daniel Yohannes, Permanent Representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and former CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation gave the opening remarks encouraging greater civic engagement among the Ethiopian American community.

“While I’m very proud of my heritage, history, culture, and tradition of Ethiopia, I am equally proud of the unmatched opportunity that this country, the country that I chose, has provided to me,” Ambassador Yohannes shared. “America’s melting pot is the recipe for success, and as daughters and sons of Ethiopia born there, or the first, second and third generation born here we’re a part of that mix. I stand before you precisely because I’ve been where you are today. I can tell you first-hand that what we make of our immigrant experience is up to us. So I encourage you to get informed, get educated, and get involved.”

Ambassador Yohannes summed up his key message of getting informed by stating: “Whether we teach ourselves something new on our own, or attend this country’s best schools, never stop learning. Education is key.” He also called for civic engagement at the local, state, and national levels and emphasized that “we should not stay on the sidelines, insulated or isolated. Rather we must help the community we call home, contributing our talents whether it’s in our schools or communities.”

Henock Dory of the White House Office of Public Engagement. (Photo: Tsehai Publishers)

Yohannes Abraham, Chief of Staff of the White House of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. (Photo: Tsehai Publishers)

The White House Office of Public Engagement shared helpful resources for further engagement opportunities during the briefing including information on the Reach Higher Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, Health Reform, Criminal Justice Reform, and the Minority Business Development Agency.

Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Yohannes Abraham, gave the closing remarks and encouraged the continuation of this dialogue in the wider Ethiopian American community.

White House Ethiopian American Policy Briefing and Civic Engagement

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Study on Social Media Use in Ethiopia Maps Frequency of Hate and Dangerous Speech

The final report of the 'Mechachal' study regarding the nature and quality of online debate among Ethiopians, led by the University of Oxford and Addis Ababa University, was released on June 1st, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, June 17th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This month, researchers at the University of Oxford and Addis Ababa University released their highly anticipated final report of the Mechachal study on online speech and debates in Ethiopia and the Diaspora. The study, which is the first of its kind to map the frequency of hate and dangerous speech in social media covering an entire country and its diaspora, combed through thousands of comments shared by Ethiopians on Facebook during a four month period last year just prior to and after the controversial 2015 national elections.

The researchers — comprising of an academic team that were either Ethiopian or had prior experience researching and working in Ethiopia — also looked at the nature, quality and behavior of online conversations among Ethiopians worldwide. Their findings call for more informed policy-making with regards to regulating freedom of expression and online discussion on social media platforms.

“These cases, and the findings emerging from the investigation of online debates on Ethiopia in general, suggest how important it is to distinguish between different actors and issues that are often bundled together in the broad label of ‘opposition politics,’” says Iginio Gagliardone, one of the Mechachal study researchers and an Associate Research Fellow in New Media and Human Rights at the University of Oxford.

In an interview with Tadias Magazine researcher Matti Pohjonen noted that “the collaboration with Addis Ababa University had begun in 2012 when we joined forces to understand what impact Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) were actually having in Eastern Africa, beyond the hype that had characterized the campaigns to reduce the digital divide and use ICTs for development.” Pohjonen added: This effort also included other universities in the region, from Kenya to Uganda to Somalia. Mechachal emerged from the many conversations we had as part of that forum and we do hope that our efforts in Ethiopia could be scaled up in the region. We could learn a lot from comparatively analyzing online conversations in those countries.”

Asked about the generational gap in tone, behavior and quality of online debate among Ethiopians both in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora, Gagliardone said “it is difficult to assess the accuracy of data on age provided on Facebook, and the fact that Ethiopia follows a calendar that is different from the one used by Facebook (based on the Gregorian calendar), further complicates things. However, if we use the age of individuals involved in specific events debated on Facebook as a proxy (assuming users tend to be more interested in commenting facts involving individuals of their own generation), some noticeable trends do emerge. Ethiopia’s youth seems more inclined to adopt less contentious tones and embrace more universalistic forms of politics, while older figures and grievances tend to trigger more polarized debates.”

Gagliardone added: “One example is the detention and trial of six members of the Zone 9 collective. Despite the case attracted criticism around the status of freedom of expression in Ethiopia, both at national and international level, almost none of the analyzed statements about the Zone 9 bloggers were antagonistic. Almost at the opposite extreme, in terms of the level of political antagonism that they triggered, were debates bringing back tensions between the current government and long-standing political opponents. Berhanu Nega’s arrival in Eritrea in July 2015, for example, attracted much attention and encouraged a heated debate on Facebook. More than 40% of statements referring to the issue were categorized as going against. As an indication of how polarizing this issue was, and how it did not simply lead to focusing on a particular target, antagonistic statements were equally distributed between those attacking the government and those attacking Ginbot 7.”

The report states that “In terms of where speakers were posting from, most of them were from Ethiopia (42%), but a significant proportion was from outside of the country (22%). These figures could be considered as both confirming and refuting the narrative about online debate on Ethiopia being driven by the Diaspora. On the one hand, twice as many people are posting from within Ethiopia, but the fact that 22% of individuals discussing issues related to Ethiopia are from the Diaspora is a significant number, especially when considered in a comparative perspective.”

The research methodology included the collection of statements that either went against or were in support of an issue. Analysis of the data focused not on whether statements were made “agreeing or disagreeing, but about the tendency to take a viewpoint seriously and engage with it, or, on the contrary, to dismiss it and directly attack a person for his/her affiliation with a specific group…Speakers uttering statements that go against generally use non-insulting language, and they do not suggest, imply or call the audience to physical or nonphysical violence. Nonetheless, there are instances in which speakers use insulting/derogatory terms or metaphors.”

This study is a result of a two-year collaborative work between the University of Oxford & Addis Ababa University under the name “Mechachal,” translated as “tolerance” in Amharic. (Courtesy photo)

Regarding the distinction made in the research between hate speech and dangerous speech, Gagliardone explained that “dangerous speech is speech that builds the bases for or directly calls for widespread violence against a particular group.”

“Distinguishing it from hate speech may be important to understand how likely it is that words may turn into action,” Gagliardone told Tadias. “Our findings indicate that only 0.3% of statements fall in this category. He added: “Distinguishing hate and dangerous speech also enabled the research to spot some specific features that characterize the most extreme forms of expression. When compared to hate speech, as well as to other types of messages, dangerous speech reflects a more deliberate strategy to attack individuals and groups.”

Gagliardone noted that almost all dangerous statements in their sample are uttered by individuals seeking to hide their identity (92%). “This proportion is significantly lower for statements classified as hate speech (33%) and offensive speech (31%),” Gagliardone said. “In addition, while the majority of hateful statements can be found in comments, indicating a tendency for speakers to react angrily to what they read online, there is an equal chance of dangerous statements in posts or comments.”

“Shifting the focus from speakers to targets, dangerous statements appear to focus exclusively on ethnicity,” Gagliardone continued. “The salience of ethnicity can be found also in other types of messages. 75% of hate speech and 58% of offensive speech have ethnic targets, but they also target individuals based on their religion, and, to a much smaller extent, their sexual identity. This finding, more than others, is likely to be specific to the context of Ethiopia, where ethnicity has a central role in national debates, but it also offers new ground to explore some of the distinctive features of dangerous speech as compared to other form of speech.”

Part of the research team attending a methodology workshop in Oxford, December 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Below are the bios of key members of the Mechachal research team:

Iginio Gagliardone is Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of the Witwatersrand and Associate Research Fellow in New Media and Human Rights at the University of Oxford. His research has focused on the relationship between new media, political change, and human development and on the emergence of distinctive models of the information society in the Global South. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Matti Pohjonen is a Research Fellow for VOX-POL, a European Union Framework Programme 7 (FP7)-funded academic research network focused on researching the prevalence, contours, functions, and impacts of Violent Online Political Extremism and responses to it. His work focuses on developing comparative and practice-based research approaches to understand digital cultures in the developing world. Previously he worked as an AHRC post-doctorate and a Teaching Fellow in Digital Culture at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Abdissa Zerai is Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism & Communication, Addis Ababa University, where he focuses on the political economy of the Ethiopian media and ICT in the context of a democratic developmental state. He has been working on issues related to conflict reporting, political economy of communication, and the nexus between media, democracy & civil society.

Zenebe Beyene is Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communication, Director of Office of External Relations, Partnerships and Communications at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and NAFSA Global Dialogue Fellow. Dr. Zenebe has taught in Ethiopia, Rwanda and the U.S.A. His publications include Media use and abuse in Ethiopia, the role of ICT in peace building, state building and governance in Africa (with Abdissa Zerai), and Satellites, Plasmas and Law (with Abdissa Zerai and Iginio Gagliardone).

Gerawork Aynekulu is reading for a MSc in computer science at University of Belgrade, where he focuses on data mining. He has been working on text analytics of online Amharic textual resources.

Jonathan Bright is Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, which is a department of the University of Oxford. He is also an editor of the journal Policy and Internet. He is a political scientist specializing in political communication, digital government and computational social science.

Mesfin Awoke Bekalu is a Research Fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA. Prior to his current post, he has been a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Leuven, Belgium and a lecturer in Journalism and Communications at Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia. His research interests include communication inequalities in the areas of health and development as well as media discourse analysis.

Michael Seifu is an independent researcher based in Ireland and has completed a PhD in politics from Dublin City University. He has been working on issues related to the politics of economic development.

Mulatu Alemayehu Moges is PhD candidate in the University of Oslo, at the Department of Media and Communication, where he focuses on conflict reporting in the Ethiopian media. He has been working as a Journalist in Ethiopian media, and as Lecturer and Researcher in Addis Ababa University, School of Journalism and Communication. 103

Nicole Stremlau is Head of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on media and conflict in the Horn of Africa. She has worked extensively in Ethiopia, Somaliland/Somalia, Uganda and Kenya. As Head of PCMLP, she also directs the Price Media Law Moot Court Programme and co-directs the Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute.

Patricia Taflan is Research Assistant at the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, University of Oxford. She completed an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice, also at the University of Oxford, where she focused on online hate crime.

Tewodros Makonnen Gebrewolde is PhD candidate at the University of Leicester, where he focuses on productivity growth and industrial policy. He has been working on issues related to economic growth and development of the Ethiopian Economy.

Zelalem Mogessie Teferra is PhD candidate in International Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. His study focuses on the intersection between national security and the humanitarian norms of international law. He was previously an Instructor of Law at Jimma University (Ethiopia), Michigan Grotius Scholar in University of Michigan (U.S.A).

Below are the links to the final report:

Mechachal – Final Report

Mechachal Online Debates and Elections in Ethiopia. Final Report: From hate speech to engagement in social media (Full Report)

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

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Spotlight: US Alumni Association of Ethiopia’s Tafari Makonnen School

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, May 23rd, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photos: Temsalet Book Launch & Tsehai Publishers Presentation in NYC

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, April 18th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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The Maigenet Shifferraw Women’s Education Fellowship Launched

Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw. (Family photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A women’s education fellowship in honor of Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw, the former President of the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), has been launched by her family to provide scholarship and seed money for those working on issues affecting Ethiopian women and children.

“During its first award cycle, The Maigenet Shifferraw Fellowship will consist of two components,” states the press release. The fellowship includes a “scholarship of $5,000 for an awardee who is working on a thesis or dissertation in areas concerning Ethiopian women and children [as well as] seed-money of $5,000 to support women in Ethiopia who deserve to start small businesses and training in the form of micro-credits.” For the 2017 award cycle the family has announced a GoFundMe campaign to directly fund the scholarship and seed-money initiatives.

“The administration of the Maigenet Shifferraw Fellowship is currently run by her family and will include board members, participation by invited scholars, and collaborations with other non-profit organizations in the coming months.”

Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw passed away last month at the age of 68, and had dedicated her life as an educator and an activist for women’s rights. She taught as an Associate Professor in adult education at the University of the District of Columbia for 20 years as well as served as an education consultant at the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Education.

You can learn more and make a contribution at

Tribute to Women’s Rights Advocate Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw

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Professor Lemma Senbet Leads AERC to Top Global Index Ranking

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, February 22nd, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Under Pressure from Family Christie’s Skips Auction of Haile Selassie’s Watch

This one-of-a-kind gold wristwatch, a Patek Philippe 1954, that once belonged to Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was pulled from a Christie’s auction in Geneva on Monday, November 9th, 2015. (Photo: Hodinkee)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, November 9th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Christie’s Geneva skipped its planned auction of Haile Selassie’s personal wristwatch on Monday after a judge in Switzerland issued a freeze order siding with the family of Ethiopia’s former Emperor, led by his grandson Prince Ermias S. Haile Selassie who argued that it was probably stolen property.

The family said their lawyers in Geneva were able to obtain the court order in time and served Christie’s prior to the scheduled auction on November 9th, 2015.

“This is just the beginning and we will not stop until we get to the bottom of it,” Prince Ermias said during a phone conference with Tadias Magazine. “Clearly there is a need for further due diligence in this case. Ultimately it’s about the truth and the reputation of Christie’s.”

According to Christie’s the watch, an 18k gold perpetual calendar Patek Philippe, was commissioned in 1954 “as a gift for Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, and presented during his official visit to Switzerland in November that year.”

Christie’s claims that years later the Emperor gave the vintage, personal timepiece as a gift to “an eminent personality, whose descendant is now disclosing it to the world.” Today the watch is estimated to be worth between five hundred thousand and one million dollars.

Prince Ermias S. Haile Selassie says he wants to know who that “eminent personality” might be?

Last week, in a letter addressed to Mr. Thomas Perazzi, Head of Christie’s Geneva Watch Department, Ermias wrote: “As it is well-known in Ethiopia’s sad history, my grandfather was treated with unspeakable indignities and his property confiscated without benefit of law. Included in the properties stolen was belongings and personal property.” He added: “Nothing was left.”

The family believes that the wristwatch was illegally confiscated from their grandfather during his confinement in the 1970′s. He was never given due process of law.

“I recognize that Christie’s-Geneva is a reputable auction house,” Ermias said. “I can only assume that Christie’s is unaware of the history of provenance of this watch, and that it is probably illegally taken property.” He warned the European art business institution stating: “I believe that Christie’s would not want to be a party to any furtherance of these illegal transactions.”

Haile Selassie’s wristwatch pulled from auction block (The Washington Post)
Ethiopian Emperor’s Patek Philippe Pulled From Christie’s Sale (Bloomberg)
Ethiopian-Americans irked at auction of Haile Selassie watch (The Denver Post)
Haile Selassie’s Grandson Seeks Halt of Christie’s Watch Auction (TADIAS)
Made for an Emperor — A one of a kind Patek Philippe Watch (Christie’s Geneva)
New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie (TADIAS)

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Video: 2015 P2P Ethiopian Health Care Conference & Award Ceremony

P2P honors founders of Ethiopia's Project Mercy Woizero Marta Wolde-Tsadik & Ato Demeke Tekle-Wold (Center) in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday, September 26th, 2015. (Photograph by Tsedey Aragie for Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The 2015 Ethiopian Diaspora Conference on Health Care & Medical Education was held this past weekend at Sheraton Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia.

The conference, which celebrated its seventh year anniversary, was organized by People to people (P2P), Inc., in collaboration with the Network of Ethiopian Diaspora Healthcare Professionals (NEDHP).

The program included a presentation by Hiwot S. Haileselassie, Founder of “Advocacy for Equity of Health Education for Kids with Disabilities of East African Immigrant Parents” to “overcome cultural barriers and better advocate for autistic kids in the Ethiopian community in the D.C. Metropolitan area.”

The conference also featured an update from the Ethio-American Doctors Group regarding its plan to build a $100 million, state-of-the-art medical facility in the outskirts of Addis Ababa to be completed by 2018. The Ethiopian American medical group said it has so far raised nearly $10 million towards the project.

Additional presentations at the conference included: “Bahir Dar University Medical School’s International Collaborations” by Getachew Muluken, MD; “Collaborative Agreement for Research and Training: An Institutional Collaboration Between Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM), Belgium and University of Gondar” by Dr. Ermias Diro; and “My Experience at an Ethiopian Emergency Department” by Dr. Tsion Firew.

This year’s award recipients were Professor Demisse Habte, President of Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, Pediatrician and former Dean of AAU Faculty of Medicine who received the Life Achievement Award; Pediatrician and Associate Professor Dr. Sisay Yifru, Dean of the College of Health Sciences at University of Gondar who received the “Young Rising Star Award,” and Woizero Marta Wolde-Tsadik and Ato Demeke Tekle-Wold of Project Mercy who were honored with a Community Service Award. P2P also gave out two special recognition awards to Professor Dennis Carlson, Former Dean of Gondar Public Health College (1964-67) and to Tadias Magazine.

Below is a video highlight of the 2015 P2P Ethiopian Health Care Conference & Award Ceremony:

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Benyam & Isaac Kinde Featured as “10 Scientists Who Are Making Their Mark”

Isaac Kinde (left) a Baltimore biotech star aims to detect cancer mutations early, while his younger brother Harvard Medical student, Benyam Kinde, explores how gene expression molds higher brain function. (S.N.)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, September 24th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Science News magazine has named brothers Benyam and Isaac Kinde among the world’s ten up-and-coming scientists who are likely to make lasting impact in their fields.

“To identify some of the early-career scientists on their way to more widespread acclaim, Science News surveyed 30 Nobel Prize winners to learn whose work has caught their attention.” the magazine said announcing the list. “From those names, Science News editors chose 10 to feature in this special report. All have demonstrated high-caliber research leading to noteworthy achievements.”

The older brother Isaac Kinde, 31, who serves as Chief Scientific Officer at Baltimore-based biotechnology startup PapGene, “credits his supportive family and years of hard work for his scientific success,” Science News highlights. “His tenacity is probably fueled by his active lifestyle — he’s an avid biker — and his devotion to coffee, which he says is rooted in his family’s Ethiopian culture. ‘It’s almost in our blood. I can’t literally say that, because I’m a scientist,’ Kinde says. ‘But, almost.’” Science News adds: “PapGene’s sensitive technologies are based on tests Kinde helped develop as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with cancer researcher Bert Vogelstein. Spotting cancer early requires finding a few rare, cancer-associated genetic alterations among large amounts of normal DNA. That’s made more difficult by the DNA reader’s error rate. Kinde and colleagues created a way to chemically label and mass-copy sections of DNA to identify the real mutations.”

Benyam Kinde, 27, is studying how genetic modifications affect brain activity at the cellular level. “Many people view the brain as the last frontier of human health research. We still don’t know very much about how individual cells in the brain coordinate the activity of higher-level function that defines us as humans,” Benyam tells Science News. “This mystery is one that Kinde, an M.D./Ph.D. student at Harvard Medical School and MIT, aims to solve. He is interested in how chemical modifications of DNA affect brain function, focusing on a protein nicknamed MeCP2. When this protein is damaged or missing, it changes the activity of multiple genes and causes Rett syndrome, a disorder marked by developmental delays, seizures and autism-like behaviors.”

Read more at »

Benyam Kinde: Gene expression and Rett syndrome (Science News)
Isaac Kinde: Finding cancer via altered genes (Science News)

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Zone 9 Bloggers Recognized With International Press Freedom Awards

(Photograph credit: Endalkachew H/Michael)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) awarded this year’s International Press Freedom prize to members of Ethiopia’s Zone 9 blogging collective: Abel Wabella, Atnaf Berhane, Mahlet Fantahun, Natnail Feleke, Zelalem Kibret, Befekadu Hailu, Soleyana S Gebremichael, Endalk Chala, and Jomanex Kasaye. Six of the nine bloggers were arrested in April 2014 in connection with their online advocacy work.

“By awarding the Zone 9 bloggers with its International Press Freedom Award, CPJ recognizes the important role that bloggers play in environments where traditional media are weak or have been all but shuttered by financial hardship and direct or indirect state attacks,” CPJ said in a press release.

Two of the six imprisoned bloggers, Mahlet Fantahun and Zelalem Kiberet, have since been released from prison after spending over a year behind bars.

CPJ also highlights that Soleyana S Gebremichael, Endalk Chala and Jomanex Kasaye remain in exile. “Soleyana has been charged in absentia.”

“The Zone 9 blogging collective was formed in May 2012 in response to the evisceration of the independent press and the narrowing of space for free expression,” CPJ said. “The name, “Zone 9,” is derived from the zones in Kality Prison, the main jail where Ethiopia’s political prisoners, including several journalists, are held. While Kality Prison is organized into eight different zones, the bloggers refer to the entire country as “Zone 9” because of Ethiopia’s lack of democratic freedoms,” one of the bloggers told CPJ.

The press release noted: “In July 2015, weeks before U.S. President Barack Obama visited the country, Ethiopian authorities released Mahlet and Zelalem.”

CPJ added that Ethiopia has released “at least six journalists from prison in 2015, but is still holding around a dozen journalists in jail in relation to their work.”

Journalists From 4 Countries to Get Press Freedom Awards
International Press Freedom Awards Goes to Zone 9 Bloggers from Ethiopia

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NAACP Announces Launch of Inquiry Into Death of Attorney Abe Dabela

NAACP and Dabela family hold a press conference in Redding, Connecticut on Wednesday Aug. 5, 2015 to announce plans to investigate the April 2014 death of Ethiopian American Attorney Abe Dabela. (Photo: NT)

News Times Connecticut

By Katrina Koerting

REDDING — Launching its investigation into the death of a Redding man [Ethiopian American Attorney Abe Dabela] last year, the Connecticut NAACP announced Wednesday it had a lot of questions concerning the incident and the investigation, including whether the Redding Police Department rushed to judgment.

Gugsa Abraham “Abe” Dabela, 35, was found in his overturned car on April 5, 2014, around 1:40 a.m. with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. The medical examiner’s office ruled it a suicide, but members of the NAACP and Dabela’s family consider it suspicious and said they doubt he killed himself.

Presidents of the state NAACP and the Norwalk branch held a press conference Wednesday evening on the town green, with Dabela’s two sisters and parents, to announce their own formal investigation into Dabela’s death. The family has hired forensic professionals and attorneys to look into Dabela’s death. The case is still under investigation by the state’s attorney’s office in Danbury.

“For 16 months, we have been trapped in this nightmare, bereft of answers and besieged by questions,” said one of Dabela’s sisters who didn’t want to be named. “We know Abe, and as Abe would, we believe the truth will be revealed through facts, forensic evidence and rigorous analysis.”

She said he moved to Redding in 2011 to open his own law practice and was excited about life, his family, friends and clients. He grew up in Bethesda, Md.

As residents and media look on, representatives from various NAACP branches in Southwest Connecticut and members of the Dabela family, in back, hold a press conference held on the Redding Green next to the police department in Redding, Conn., on Wednesday Aug. 5, 2015. (Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Media)

The NAACP held the conference to announce thier plans to investigate the April 2014 death of Redding resident Gugsa Abraham “Abe” Dabela, which was ruled a suicide by the police. (Photo: Christian Abraham)

“He enjoyed life to the fullest, whether embarking on a journey to every state by motorcycle, which he enthusiastically shared with friends and family on social media, or starting a spirited debate on hot topics such as the importance of the Second Amendment to maintain peace and order,” she said.

Before he died, he had distributed business cards for his new firm and had been happily mingling with friends, she said.

After the conference, Redding First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton said it was clear that Dabela’s family was still grieving.

“We are hopeful any further investigation along with the state attorney’s investigation can finally put this very tragic incident to bed so the family can find peace,” she said.

Pemberton said she and Police Chief Doug Fuchs were happy to cooperate with the investigation and welcomed the NAACP to town.

“We absolutely believe the family deserves answers to what happened to their son and their brother,” she said.

Read more »

Family Seeks Answers in 2014 Death of Gugsa Abraham Dabela
NAACP Wants Investigation Into Ethiopian American Attorney Abe Dabela’s Death

The NAACP and the Dabela family has asked the public to offer any information they have that could assist in the investigation by e-mailing or to call the Connecticut NAACP at 860-523-9962.

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US Hopes AGOA 10-Year Extension Helps Africa’s Trade Supply Side Gaps

A store in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo: Brookings Institution)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, August 3rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — On the evening of Wednesday, July 22, 2015, the day before President Barack Obama left Washington, D.C. on his official visit to Kenya, Ethiopia and the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa — as the first sitting U.S. president to make the journey to both countries — he hosted a reception in the East Room of the White House to celebrate the signing into law of a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Invited guests included members of Congress, the African Diplomatic Corps, faith-based communities, as well as private sector and civil society leaders.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act was first approved in 2000 and is a trade program allowing eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to export duty free goods to the United States.

In his remarks President Obama said: “As President, I’ve worked so hard to take our relationship with Africa to a new level. We’ve boosted U.S. exports. We’ve launched historic initiatives to promote trade and investment, health, agricultural development and food security, Power Africa to promote and expand electrification. We’re empowering a new generation of young African leaders, including our inspiring Mandela Fellows.”

Senior International Economist at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Dr. Gezahegne Bekele, says: “Ten years provides the predictability and sustainability required to address the supply side gaps, especially in areas of trade facilitation which hinders the competitiveness of African products and services, globally, and particularly in US markets under AGOA. Additionally, Africa’s economic development partly depends on the reduction of trade transaction costs, which are currently unacceptably high.”

The AGOA bill was passed with an overwhelming support by lawmakers from both parties during a vote held on June 11th, 2015. Congresswoman Karen Bass, the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, said in a statement that the legislation’s approval in the U.S. House of Representatives followed a hard-fought campaign led by a “combination of AGOA stakeholders that included African governments, the African Union, the African Diplomatic Corps, members of the U.S. and African private sectors, members of the African and U.S. civil society, countless members of the Diaspora as well as the Obama Administration — all of whom spoke to members of Congress about the significance of AGOA and its critical role in strengthening commercial and economic relations between the United States and the nations of Africa.”

In his speech President Obama added: “AGOA will be central to our efforts to boost the trade and investment that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs both in Africa and the United States, creating opportunities for all of us. And I’m especially pleased that AGOA will continue to encourage good governance and labor and human rights.”

The 2015 AGOA forum is scheduled in Liberville, Gabon, from Auguust 24-27. This year’s theme is entitled “AGOA at 15: Charting a Course for a Sustainable U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment Partnership.”

Below are the full remarks made by President Obama at the reception celebrating the signing into law of AGOA on July 22, 2015.

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Thank you!

THE PRESIDENT: You all look good.

We have some of America’s biggest champions for a strong partnership with Africa here today –members of the diplomatic corps from our African partners; we’ve got some outstanding members of Congress, leaders of business, NGOs, members of the faith community.

Ambassador Olhaye — I want to start by saying that tonight our thoughts are with our friends from Djibouti as we mourn the passing of Ambassador Olhaye. He served here since 1988, the longest-serving foreign ambassador in the United States. He was the dean of the diplomatic corps here and at the United Nations. Michelle and I welcomed him to the White House numerous times. He represented his nation and all of Africa with pride. And the legacy of his service — particularly his personal role in helping pass AGOA — is going to endure in the strong partnership between our peoples.

I want to thank everybody who’s here for everything that you do to strengthen ties between Africa and the United States. Tonight, I especially want to thank you because, with your help, we succeeded in achieving the long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. That’s worth applauding. (Applause.)

So our celebration comes at a perfect moment, because tomorrow, I am going to Africa. (Applause.) I will be going to my father’s home country of Kenya, and we will be going to Ethiopia, as well. That’s my first visit there, but this is my fourth visit to sub-Saharan Africa, more than any other U.S. President — which, I guess, if you’re name is Barack Obama, I guess that make sense. (Laughter.) I will also have the honor of being the first U.S. President to address the African Union. (Applause.)

My trip, although not long — because we still got a lot of other business to attend to back here — reflects a truth that has guided my approach to Africa: Despite its many challenges — and we have to be clear-eyed about all the challenges that the continent still faces — Africa is a place of incredible dynamism, some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, extraordinary people, extraordinary resilience. And it has the potential to be the next center of global economic growth.

And that’s why, as President, I’ve worked so hard to take our relationship with Africa to a new level. We’ve boosted U.S. exports. We’ve launched historic initiatives to promote trade and investment, health, agricultural development and food security, Power Africa to promote and expand electrification. We’re empowering a new generation of young African leaders, including our inspiring Mandela Fellows — who, when I get back, I’ll have a chance to meet with here at the White House for the second class of that outstanding group.

And part of what gives me the most pleasure is the fact that we’re able to do this on a bipartisan basis and in partnership with African countries. By the way, to help move these efforts along, we do still need the Senate confirmation of Gayle Smith as our USAID Administrator. (Applause.) Not only is Gayle brilliant and passionate about the issues, and with so many deep, longstanding relationships with people of the continent, but I can always spot her in a crowd because of the hair. (Laughter.) All I had to do was just scan, and then there it was. (Laughter.)

Now that it’s been renewed, AGOA will be central to our efforts to boost the trade and investment that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs both in Africa and the United States,creating opportunities for all of us. And I’m especially pleased that AGOA will continue to encourage good governance and labor and human rights. That’s something that we can be proud of.

We’re going to have to keep on encouraging more American trade and investment in Africa. There’s still a lot of misperceptions within the business community. And that’s why, last year, the United States hosted its first U.S-Africa Business Forum.

Tonight, I can announce that we will host the next business forum, next year — and I look forward to working with all of you to help unleash the growth and opportunity that we know Africa is capable of — (applause) — progress that delivers more hope and more progress to Africans across the continent, and more jobs and growth here in the United States.

The ties to Africa here in the United States obviously are deep; they are long; they’re complicated. There have been times where there have been misunderstandings, and there have been times where there have been suspicions. But when you look at every survey, it turns out that the people of Africa love the United States and what it stands for. Perhaps unmatched on any continent. And what’s also interesting about the surveys is, is that when they look to see who are the happiest and most optimistic of people, what’s amazing is, is that Africans always rank high, despite poverty, despite conflict. There is a strength and a resilience there.

And the opportunities are extraordinary, and we just have to break down the stereotypes and the barriers. And thanks to the work of all of you — and I particularly want to thank the members of Congress who are here who have fought so hard for this — and many of them will be going with me on this Africa trip. (Applause.) I really want to commend them because they’re going to help break down those misunderstandings and make things happen. (Applause.)

So thank you very much, everybody. Enjoy the reception. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 6:37 P.M. EDT

With Landmark AU Address Obama Concludes Historic Ethiopia Visit
In Ethiopia, Obama Praises Contributions of Ethiopian Americans
U.S. House Approves AGOA Extension
Interview with Dr. Gezahegne Bekele: AGOA Renewal in 2015

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In Ethiopia, Obama Praises Contributions of Ethiopian Americans

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

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

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Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

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Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis

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

Tadias Magazine

Published: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tribute to Ethiopia Scholar Don Levine: Reflections & Photos

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

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

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

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

From Tesfaye Tekelu
Aikido Ethiopia & Awasa Youth Campus

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

From Dag Andargachew
Washington, D.C.

Dag Andargachew and Don Levine. (Courtesy photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Mel Tewahade
Denver, Colorado

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

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

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

(Courtesy of Tsehai Publishers)

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

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

From Professor Ayele Bekerie
Mekele, Ethiopia

Professor Donald Levine, the Ethiopianist Insider Remembered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ted Vestal. (Courtesy photo)

A Tribute to Professor Donald Levine

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

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

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

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

From Chuck Schaefer
Valparaiso University, Indiana

(Courtesy photo)

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

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

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

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

I will miss him.

From Ashenaphy Fentie
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ashenaphy Fentie. (Google Profile)

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

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

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

From Mulugeta Wodajo
Bethesda, Maryland

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

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

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

From Alemayehu Fentaw Weldemariam
Boston, Massachusetts

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

In memoriam: Donald Nathan Levine, 1931-2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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)

Sam Liccardo Elected Mayor of San Jose

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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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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.

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

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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

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

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Zemedeneh Negatu Among Africa’s Top 15 CEOs to Watch in 2015

In its January 2015 issue The African Business magazine honors Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia, Zemedeneh Negatu, as one of Africa's top 15 CEOs to watch in the coming year. (Courtesy: EY)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 22nd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Zemedeneh Negatu, the highly regarded Ethiopian American Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia has been named among “The Top 15 CEOs of Africa to watch in 2015″ by the London-based African Business magazine. In their January issue the magazine’s editors announced that they have “identified 15 African business leaders positioned to take advantage of the continent’s opportunities in 2015 and are well equipped to ride the technological, demographics and social trends that will drive Africa’s development”.

“In selecting EY’s Zemedeneh Negatu, the only one on the list from Ethiopia, the magazine said that he has been at the center of many of the country’s high profile investment deals and turnarounds and cited the work he had done for Ethiopian Airlines, the $225 million Meta Brewery M&A deal for Diageo Plc of the UK, the world’s largest spirits drinks maker and several other major cross boarder investment transactions in Africa,” EY Ethiopia said in a statement. “Zemedeneh has won numerous other awards recently in including CEO magazine’s award for Finance and was recognized as one of the ’100 Most Influential Africans’ of 2013 by New African magazine. The firm he heads, has recently won several awards including ‘M&A Deal Maker of the Year’ from Acquisition International magazine of the U.K.”

“African Business said that 2015 could be a great year for sub-Saharan Africa for investment deal making since private equity funds will be investing the money they raised in 2014, meaning that professionals like Zemedeneh will play a key role.”

Tadias Interview With Zemedeneh Negatu

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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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Census: Foreign-born Africans Most Educated Immigrants in the U.S.

(Graph: U.S. Census Bureau, 2008-2012 American Community Survey, 5-years estimates)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey 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 study, which was released this month, indicates a rapid population growth among the foreign-born African community in the United States. In the past two decades, the document says, a large number of Africans came to America through the Green Card lottery system, which partially explains African immigrants’ higher educational level. “A relatively high proportion of immigrants from Africa entered the United States on diversity visas (24 percent as compared with 5 percent of the overall foreign born), which require a high school diploma or equivalent work experience,” the report states.

The survey gives a conservative estimate of the total number of African immigrants currently residing in U.S at less than 2 million. Nonetheless the census report, authored by Christine P. Gambino, Edward N. Trevelyan, and John Thomas Fitzwater, provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date data on the community. The document notes that between 2008-–2012 there were “39.8 million foreign-born people that resided in the United States, including 1.6 million from Africa.” Since the 1970s, “during the following four decades, the number of foreign born from Africa grew rapidly, roughly doubling each decade.”

The report states that a vast majority of the foreign-born population from Africa migrated to the United States after 1990. “The timing of this movement was driven in part by historical changes. Outmigration from Africa increased rapidly after World War II, as migrants responded to the pull of educational opportunities and jobs abroad. While the first waves of postwar migrants went to other African countries and former colonial powers of Europe, migration to the United States increased in the 1970s as economies faltered and new restrictions were placed upon immigration in Western Europe. More immigrants from Africa were admitted to the United States after the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965, which replaced the national origin quota system favoring immigration from Europe with a new law prioritizing skilled labor, family unification, and humanitarianism. In addition, nearly a quarter of all immigrants from Africa to the United States in 2010 entered as refugees or received asylum as a result of ethnic conflict or civil war, particularly in countries such as Somalia, Liberia, and Sudan. The rate of African-born immigrants arriving and staying in the United States accelerated further as immigrant networks grew and pathways were established.”

In terms of geographic distribution, New York, California, Texas, and Maryland are listed as the top four states that are home to more than 100,000 residents from the African continent. “The largest African-origin countries for Washington DC were Ethiopia and Nigeria. The largest African-born populations in Minneapolis-St. Paul were from Somalia and Ethiopia. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, leading African countries of birth included Egypt, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. The largest African-origin countries in the New York metropolitan area were Egypt and Ghana, each composing just under 20 percent of the total African born.”

In the Washington, DC, metro area the foreign-born population was more than three times the national percentage (13 percent). In addition, several other U.S. cities are spotlighted as having pockets of African-born populations (between 20,000 and 35,000) such as Columbus, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland. While Midwestern states like Minnesota are mentioned as magnets that attract East African immigrants including Ethiopians and Somalians, the West Coast numbers are below the national average: Los Angeles (1.5 percent), San Francisco (1.8 percent), and San Diego (2.2 percent).

“Of the 1.6 million foreign born from Africa in the United States the largest African-born populations were from Nigeria and Ghana in Western Africa; Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia in Eastern Africa; Egypt in Northern Africa; and South Africa in Southern Africa,” the report continued. “Of these seven, the four largest were Nigeria (221,000 or 14 percent of the African-born population), Ethiopia (164,000 or 10 percent), Egypt (143,000 or 9 percent), and Ghana (121,000 or 8 percent), together constituting 41 percent of the African-born total.”

You can read the full report at

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University of Gondar Re-graduates 500 Alumni During 60th Anniversary

The University of Gondar 60th year Diamond Jubilee Celebrations was held from July 4- July 7th, 2014. During the event about 500 alumni from around the world were formally re-graduated. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – This past July the University of Gondar, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding this year, “re-graduated” about 500 alumni along with over 4000 students. The alumni had gathered for the three-day occasion (July 5-7th, 2014) from across Ethiopia as well as from other African nations, the United States, and Europe. The University’s Alumni Steering Committee in the U.S. estimates that there were about 100 former graduates in attendance from the Diaspora. The University of Gondar is the first public health institution in Ethiopia, and was established in 1954 as a Public Health College in response to a malaria epidemic to help train nurses, health officers, sanitarians, laboratory technicians and other professionals that would eventually form the backbone of the country’s modern public health structure. It was transformed into a medical college in 1978 and a full university in 2004.

Among the alumni residing in the U.S. who took part in the program include Dr. Elias Said Siraj, Professor of Medicine and Director of Endocrinology Fellowship Program and Clinical Endocrinology at Temple University in Philadelphia. “This was the first time in Ethiopia that alumni from a major university were organized in such a fashion and took an undertaking that others could emulate,” said Dr. Elias in an interview with Tadias Magazine. Dr. Elias graduated from Gondar College of Medical Sciences in 1988 and is one the founding members of the Alumni Steering Committee in the United States. “We also used the occasion to launch a publication, The Alumni Voice magazine, in conjunction with an ‘Alumni Clinical Symposium’ covering a range of subjects in medicine and highlighting expert presentations — including topics in surgery, women & children’s health, diabetes, kidney and heart diseases — that was attended by students, medical doctors, public health officials, and policymakers from Gondar and beyond.” Dr. Elias stated: “The feedback from students, teachers and others was very positive and encouraging. They were touched and delighted by the physical presence of the alumni, as well as by the contents of the magazine and the symposium.”

The Alumni Steering Committee in the U.S. includes six graduates of the historic Ethiopian institution: In addition to Dr. Elias, they are Dr. Anteneh Habte (1984), Founding Member, Clinical Assistant Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine; Dr. Mulugeta Zerabruk Fissha (1998), Founding Member, Director of Cardiovascular Services at Newman Regional Health, Emporia, Kansas; Dr. Nuru Abseno Robi (1988), Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C.; Dr Yared Aytaged Gebreyesus (1988), Consultant in Internal Medicine at the Blue Nile Clinic in Alexandria, Viginia; and Dr Yared Wondimkun Endailalu (1986), Consultant in Internal Medicine at the Mary Washington Health Group in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Professor Yared Wondimkun, also former Dean of Gondar College of Medical Sciences and former President of the University of Gondar, notes in an interview with Tadias that the alumni-led symposium was designed not only as “an educational platform,” but also as a “networking opportunity for alumni, faculty, students and researchers to exchange ideas and learn about each other’s expertise as well as discuses way of strengthening the relationship between alumni members and the University of Gondar.”

Dr. Yared, who now lives in Northern Virginia, also received his MD degree from the Gondar College of Medical Sciences in 1986 before serving as the institution’s last Dean (2002-2004) and first President (2004-2007). He pointed out that the limited-edition of The Alumni Voice journal contains 26 important articles authored by alumni from the school’s various stages including graduates of the public health college, first graduates of the medical school, four previous Deans, and several alumni reflecting on the past and offering their perspectives for the future.” Dr. Yared adds that further contributions to the publication came from “key historical figures who played leading roles in the era of the Public Health College as well as the Gondar College of Medical Sciences.”

Dr. Elias shared his opinion that in general alumni and their potential resources are not effectively utilized in Ethiopia, and it was with this in mind that the University of Gondar Alumni Steering Committee in the US was established. “In close collaboration with the University of Gondar senior leadership, and with its president Professor Mengesha Admassu in particular, the Gondar Alumni Steering Committee worked hard in various areas to set an example so that other Ethiopian Universities will give the necessary attention to alumni activities and strengthen their alumni offices with appropriate manpower and resources” he said. Dr. Yared likewise added that based on the feedback received so far, the effort of the steering committee has paid off and the University of Gondar is being seen in Ethiopia as a “pioneer” in effectively collaborating with its alumni. Both Dr. Elias and Dr. Yared also thanked the leadership of the University of Gondar for believing in the power of alumni and for supporting all the activities of the steering committee.

The University of Gondar’s 60th year Diamond Jubilee was marked by year-long activities that culminated in early July not only with the “re-graduation’ of its alumni, but also the inauguration of a Comprehensive Outpatient Center at the University of Gondar Hospital “designed to provide an integrated program that will enhance patient-centered experience and increase the hospital’s capacity to accommodate an ever increasing number of patients.” The facility was built in partnership with the U.S. government that provided USD $9.1 million through the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with technical assistance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Patricia M. Haslach, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, said, “This newly constructed facility is part of the U.S. Government’s commitment to strengthening the national capacity of health facilities to provide comprehensive and integrated HIV/AIDS health care services throughout Ethiopia.”

Below are photos from the event courtesy of the University of Gondar Alumni Steering Committee in the USA:

For more coverage on Gondar University and its journey to its 60th anniversary, you may listen to People To People’s broadcast on More information on The Alumni Voice can be found at:

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Interview with Dr. Gezahegne Bekele: AGOA Renewal in 2015

Dr. Gezahegne Bekele, Senior International Economist at the U.S. Accountability Office. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – In 2015, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) — which was signed into law in 2000 and is a trade program allowing eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to export goods to the United States duty free — will be up for review and renewal. Tadias recently interviewed Dr. Gezahegne Bekele, Senior International Economist at the United States Government Accountability Office who has worked extensively on AGOA.

Dr. Gezahegne joined the US Government Accountability Office in 1989 after having taught for over two decades at several institutions including the University of Miami, University of Oklahoma and Florida International University. He has authored papers focusing on food security, and today he is an international trade specialist who has worked on issues including the cost of remittances. Dr. Gezahegne has provided economic research reports to US Congress and Senate. In addition to his expertise on AGOA, his economic development work has enabled him to travel to numerous countries in Asia, Africa, and the former Soviet Union.

“To promote free markets, stimulate economic growth, and to facilitate Sub-Saharan integration into the world economy, US Congress signed AGOA into law on May 18th, 2000,” says Dr. Gezahegne. AGOA allows approximately 5,200 types of goods to be duty-free. Although crude petroleum is the largest import from AGOA countries, other items include automobile parts, steel, and cut-flowers.

In 2004 US Congress further amended AGOA to allow certain eligible countries to use fabric for garment production sourced from foreign nations. Through this amendment, Dr. Gezahegne notes that “If Ethiopia produces textiles made out of its own cotton and yarn, or imported from other foreign countries, it can still export the final product duty-free to the United States.” In the case of Ethiopia approximately 83% of items it exports to the United States are duty-free. Since Ethiopia was declared eligible on October 2nd, 2000 as one of the original member nations, Dr. Gezahegne shares that “AGOA has increased Ethiopia’s export to the United States by about 25%.”

Sub-Saharan countries are reviewed every year for AGOA eligibility. “Countries cannot have non-democratic practices such as coups,” says Dr. Gezahegne. Other requirements stated in the eligibility requirements include “a system to combat corruption and bribery as well as a market-based economy that protects private property rights, incorporates an open rules-based trading system, and minimizes government interference in the economy through measures such as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets.”

Yet, in spite of being so beneficial AGOA’s uptake rate is not as great as it should be. In an initial request by US Congress to examine AGOA’s contribution to trade expansion between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan African countries, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) used US Census data on imports from 40 African countries and reported that AGOA countries’ imports remain small with 2% market share.

“Preference is a discriminatory process,” says Dr. Gezahegne. “If you extend it to others the value becomes less and this is known as preference erosion.” He adds: “There is also the issue of program uncertainty. The one thing you would want for a trade development process is stability.” Taking this into account after 2015, the President is trying to lengthen the period between renewals so that AGOA will be in place for another 15 years.

A press release from The White House on August 4, 2014 — during the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit — acknowledges that AGOA needs to be revised and expanded. The press release notes that the Administration’s “recent review of AGOA has revealed that, while the tariff preferences provided under AGOA are important, they alone are not sufficient to promote transformational growth in trade and investment.” Subsequently, President Obama’s administration has launched two major initiatives — Trade Africa and Power Africa.

Dr. Gezahegne describes Trade Africa initiative as “one that allows East African nations to trade more with each other,” while Power Africa “is an initiative that GE lobbied extensively in an attempt to provide more electricity to African nations, increase livelihoods and at the same time sell American know-how.” Dr. Gezahegne also adds: “Ethiopia views itself as a growing hydro-electric power producer. Americans view Ethiopia as a potential exporter of thermal power as well.” In addition to textiles and garments, Dr. Gezahegne likewise sees a potential for Ethiopia to be a possible producer of organic cotton provided that the organic certification processes are in place.

The White House August 4th press release also notes the establishment of a Steering Group on Africa Trade and Investment Capacity Building. Members from seventeen departments including the Department of State, Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation are tasked with presenting the President with “clearly defined goals and benchmarks for increasing trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, and appropriate and transparent criteria for identifying priority countries, regions, and sectors that have the greatest potential to contribute toward meeting these goals and benchmarks.” The steering committee is also tasked with recommending “an outline of how to utilize programs across agencies to achieve these goals.”

Dr. Gezahegne is a strong supporter of trade versus aid. “Trade has been a known engine of economic development and poverty reduction in the world,” he states. “AGOA countries trade even more and are in better shape, and it’s not because of aid. Countries that are open have growth rates that are three to six times higher than those with closed economies. I don’t know any country in the world that has achieved transition status from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’ due to economic assistance.”

You can learn more about the African Growth and Opportunity Act at

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NED Hosts Media Panel During US-Africa Summit

Panelists for media task force at African Civil Society Conference at Capitol Hill during US-Africa Summit on August 6th, 2014. (photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

by Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Washington, DC (TADIAS)  — The African Civil Society Conference, organized by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its partners, brought together African civil society leaders, journalists and members of US Congress at Capitol Hill as part of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit on Wednesday, August 6th. The conference theme entitled ‘Towards an Action Program for Democracy’ comprised of 6 panels addressing Human Rights, Good Governance & Accountability, Elections, Media, Conflict & Security, and Civil Society Challenges. Martin Frost, NED Board Chair, Hon. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Hon. Chris Smith (R-NJ) gave welcoming remarks.

Each panel presented recommendations forwarded by their respective task force, which met earlier in the week. Spokesperson for the media panel, Henry Maina, Director of East & Horn of Africa for Article 19, stated the media task force recommendations.  Members of the Media Task Force included journalists and activists from Mali, Tunisia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Morocco, Malawi, Kenya, and Nigeria. Several Ethiopian civil society leaders participated in the conference including scholar & political activist Birtukan Mideksa (Human Rights task force) Dr. Merera Gudina, Professor at University of Addis Ababa (Elections task force), and civil society advocates Teklu Tessema Gudeto and Debebe Hailegebriel (Civil Society Challenges task force).

Spokesperson Henry Maina highlighted media repression in several African countries and cited the current plight of Ethiopia’s Zone 9 bloggers who he described as “just using mobile phones and websites.” He added: “They have done nothing wrong.”

Maina also emphasized that media must be seen as a central topic to be addressed when discussing post 2015 development goals. Recommendations by the media task force included encouraging international media organizations to have more comprehensive coverage of news in Africa and to “move away from the narrative of Africa as the hopeless continent.” The task force would also like African governments and leaders “to establish independent media regulation mechanisms as well as clear and transparent criteria” so that media organizations are not stifled.

“Media is a mirror where leaders can perceive themselves,” one panelist stated, without which “journalists find themselves in situations of self-censorship and leaders may be going the wrong way.”

The media task force addressed the need for organizations such as USAID to support media by including programs in its portfolio that addresses the needs of African media organizations. Panelist John Gatluak from South Sudan shared the necessity for funding for the media sector to help develop professional media training programs. Likewise, the task force recommended that UN agencies and the African Development Bank lead the way to promoting access to information.

Addressing the African commission on human and peoples rights, the media task force stated that it must show leadership in encouraging Africa’s 53 countries to meet their obligations under international law, especially in regards to media law. Maina also shared the task force’s recommendations for media professionals stressing the need to form solidarity networks to support each other “whenever they find themselves in distress.” Addressing the private sector Maina asked for more efforts in allowing ICT and knowledge transfer so that Africa need not go through the slow progress of development and instead leapfrog to the digital economy.

A member of Facebook’s policy team also announced their recent collaboration with Airtel to provide free internet access along with healthcare and job information via their new initiative,, in Zambia. Facebook reiterated that key issues in media include access and affordability of Internet as well as freedom of information as outlined by the media task force.

Panelist Kumba Gborie from SKYY Radio in Sierra Leone brought forth the issue of the under-representation of women in media in African countries and called for greater efforts to increase access to formal education for girls so that they may have better opportunities in the future to join media organizations. She likewise called for greater representation of women in the area of politics and leadership as well.

Several panelists stressed the need for the U.S. government to engage with African leaders to enhance and ensure the safety of media professionals. They also recommended that media workers in African countries consider forming trade unions for greater security.

During the Q&A session an audience member from South Sudan raised the question of hate speech on social media, which oftentimes exacerbates conflicts on the ground. Media panelist Mandala Mambulasa from Malawi acknowledged the need to address this critical issue while noting that there are no laws that address hate speech.

Organizers of the conference have noted that recommendations presented by the various panels during the African Civil Society Conference “will be incorporated into an Action Program, addressed to African governments, civil society, and citizens, as well as the international community, on the occasion of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit.”

U.S. House Democratic Whip, Congressman Steny Hoyer gave the closing remarks and noted that “this gathering is so critical because it highlights the role of civil society in Africa’s development.” He added: “I see and hope you see as well a continent of opportunity. Activists are building democratic institutions.”

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African & U.S. Scientists Hold Symposium at US-Africa Summit

Panelists at the Science, Technology & Innovation Symposium at US-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, August 5th, 2014. (Photo by Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – When Ethiopian-American IBM scientist and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Solomon Assefa, took the podium to make his presentation on private sector contributions to science & technology in Africa he reiterated that the focus needs to be on fostering local innovation by Africans for Africa. “Mobile money is a prime example,” he told the audience gathered at the Symposium on Science, Technology & Innovation for Economic Growth & Development in Africa held at the Keck Center of the National Academies today in conjunction with the US-Africa Summit. “By 2015, mobile money is expected to generate a $160 billion industry.”

Solomon also drew attention to shifting African demographics. “52 cities in Africa have a population of over a million people,” Solomon said. “And by 2035 the labor force in Africa could be as big as China or India.” Calling for long-term research development, innovation and investment in skills development, Solomon cited IBM’s efforts to expand its presence from 4 countries to 24 countries in Africa in the past decade alone while also building the first commercial research and development lab in Africa. Bringing entrepreneurs and local partners together to work with IBM Solomon notes that efforts range from working on cutting-edge nanotechnology to creating plant innovation centers across the continent.

The Science & Technology symposium brought together delegates of African Academies of Science, policymakers, scientists, and executives from the private sector to assess innovative approaches to improve infrastructure for advances in science and technology in African countries.

The morning program started with introductory remarks from Foreign Secretary of the National Academies of Sciences John Hildebrand and President of the National Academy of Engineering C. D. Mote. South African Minister of Science & Technology Grace Pandor addressed the need to strengthen local institutions of higher education and in particular institutions of science and technology. Minister Pandor noted that four out of ten African scientists currently live and work in high income countries away from their home countries. “So we are losing our human capital,” she stated. In order to retain African scholars and scientists to work in their respective nations “we need to invest in local institutions,” she added. Developing a skilled workforce, a strong research base, and making Africa a fertile environment for innovation are some of the suggestions that Minister Pandor shared with the audience to foster a “vibrant, active higher education sector.”

Geneva-based Under Secretary for the UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk, Margareta Wahlstrom, highlighted disaster risk reduction, post 2015 sustainable development goals and the climate change agenda as three key global issues to contend with. Wahlstrom emphasized focusing on data and interdisciplinary as well as multi-stake holder research as the most critical calls for action.

Panelist Wole Soboyejo, President of Africa University of Science & Technology shared how the US/Africa Materials Institute was launched at Princeton in collaboration with the National Science Foundation. Soboyejo traveled to over 35 African countries in an effort to establish collaborations between universities in the United States and those in Africa. “Our vision is to be a replace brain drain with brain circulation, work towards transparency in governance, and build links across the world to diffuse innovation across Africa,” he stated.

Farid Fezoua, CEO & President of GE Healthcare Africa noted how Africa is a young continent in the sense that 60% of the current population is under the age of 20. He noted that General Electric’s first overseas branch was established in South Africa, and GE remains a key stakeholder in encouraging innovation in Africa. Fezoua gave several examples of  what he called ‘reverse innovation’ developed in Africa including the creation of solar-powered surgery kits, and hand-held ultrasounds.

“At the end of the day sustainability is what matters,” added Fezoua. “As an ex-banker converted to healthcare with a passion for Africa I have seen that financial investment alone cannot solve Africa’s challenges. We need the expertise and knowledge of scientists.”

Director of the US Global Development Lab, Dave Ferguson, moderated the second panel and shared the announcement of a $100 million pledge in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation to jumpstart a ‘Resilience Partnership.’

Ambassador & Global AIDS Coordinator at the US Department of State, Deborah Birx, highlighted progress in several African countries including Malawi whose HIV/AIDS prevention programs were effective and successfully scaled up at the national level. However, she urged more efforts need to be made to reduce the rates of infection, especially among young women who make up the largest proportion of affected populations.

Harvard Professor Calestous Juma wrapped up the morning session by highlighting the accomplishments of Arthur Zang, a youth entrepreneur from Cameroon who created the continent’s first tablet and who won the 2014 Rolex Award for inventing a mobile cardiac test device. “Every two years there is more knowledge than has ever existed in the entire history of technology,” Calestous stated. ” This type of thinking moves us away from the scarcity of knowledge to understanding how to harness abundance of information. The lesson of many of the presentations today is to look at technology in the context of problem solving.”

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Civil Society Forum Kicks Off at Historic US-Africa Summit in DC

Civil Society Leaders & Panelists from Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Tunisia at the US-Africa Summit in Washington D.C. on Monday, August 4th, 2014. (Photograph by Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, August 4th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — The Civil Society Forum, one of six U.S. Government-sponsored “Signature Events” at the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., commenced today at the National Academy of Sciences setting the stage for the high-level discussions that President Obama will chair during the subsequent Summit leader meetings.

Themes at the Civil Society Forum included building momentum towards open government in Africa, the role of civil society, and translating ideas into action. Featuring civil society leaders from Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Tunisia the forum started with an introduction from Sarah Sewall, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights. Ms. Sewall noted two main goals of the forum — fighting corruption and working with civil society organizations and the private sector to advance open government and to enhance transparency. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched by the U.S., South Africa, Tanzania and five other countries who issued national action plans and made commitments to greater transparency. Today there are 8 African countries and a total of 64 nations worldwide participating in OGP.

Sewall quoted Obama’s support of OGP stating that “openness will strengthen our democracy and increase our efficiency. OGP is a new way of doing business.”

The Civil Society Forum panel was moderated by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power who called for the reduction of paperwork and other government bureaucracies in pushing the efficacy of the Open Government Partnership. “We want to bring domestic reformers and those fighting corruption together so they can be talking to one another,” she stated. The OGP aims to include both civil society organizations and the private sector in collaborating with governments participating in the initiative.

Amira Yahyaoui, Civil Society Leader and panelist from Tunisia shared that her country joined OGP a week after they voted on a new constitution in January 2014, which was also the second anniversary of their revolution. Coming from the anti-censorship movement she is a strong advocate of access to information. Describing Tunisia’s involvement in OGP Ms. Yahyaoui noted that “Three years ago when you reported on corruption you could get five years jail time. Today we have language that supports whistle blowers.” Yahyaoui emphasized that “The commitment is really good, but the question remaining is one of implementation.. OGP should be a results-oriented process.”

Civil Society Leader Rakesh Rajani from Tanzania discussed the importance of citizen participation to hold governments accountable. “One of the things that we inherited from our colonial history is that we have to be afraid of the people,” he said. “But one of the things to realize is that people are your assets and they can share the burden” in building society.  He drew from his own personal story where he was initially viewed by his government as a staunch critic. “But now we share ideas on how we can unlock two or three bottlenecks that we have in this open government initiative,” he added. Rajani acknowledged that OGP “is government-led, but it is very collaborative and includes both civil society and the private sector. This engenders trust. When governments open up and build don’t have to spend so much money on security. Instead you can spend it on making lives better.”

Deputy Minister & President’s Lead for OGP in South Africa gave examples of how the South African government is participating by simplifying the way information is disseminated. “We have established a department that deals specifically with ICT and outreach, she shared. And the information provided to citizens is tailored to their needs and in a language that is easy to understand.

During the Global Town Hall session of the forum the Coordinator of the Open Government Partnership in Sierra Leone, Amadu Massally, spoke first and called for a moment of silence for the victims of the Ebola virus in his country and in several West African nations. Massally also shared with the audience that Sierra Leone would like to host the regional open government partnership initiative in 2015. Massally had a strong message for all African leaders: “If you are not open to open government partnership you will become obsolete.”

From the private sector, Microsoft pledged its commitment to OGP by asking to partner with two countries by the end of 2014 and offered to host 100 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) fellows in Microsoft offices across Africa. A representative from IBM also shared that they are engaging with 10 countries in Africa and glad to be part of the Open Government Partnership. “We’re not just talking about open data, we’re publishing it ourselves and understanding the challenges involved,” he said. IBM is scheduled to host an Africa open data jam session tomorrow.

A representative from the Kenyan government highlighted their 1-stop shop for services that is currently available in 16 counties, which they hope to expand to over 45 counties and also make it accessible via mobile phones for their citizens.

Discussing the inclusion of media in OGP, Rakesh Rajani asserted that “media is absolutely crucial to open government partnership” and that “countries which clamp down on media do the wrong thing.”

Elected Chair of the Refugee Council in Washington addressed the audience and reminded African leaders to acknowledge the voices of refugees and vulnerable populations as part of open government initiatives. Mandela Washington Fellow Fouzia Dahir from Kenya likewise told the panelists and audience that it’s time for the youth to be included in initiatives such as Open Government. “We as young people want to sit with government and work alongside you,” she stated.

Hundreds of individuals from Ethiopia and several from the Democratic Republic of Congo protested outside the National Academy of Sciences calling for accountability for human rights violations in their countries.

Below are photos from the Civil Society Forum:


African & U.S. Scientists Hold Technology & Innovation Symposium at US-Africa Summit
Obama Announces $33B Commitment at Africa Forum
First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Girls’ Education at YALI Presidential Summit
Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg at Africa Summit
Meet the Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia
Obama Renames Africa Young Leaders Program For Nelson Mandela
U.S.-AFRICA SUMMIT 2014: Preview
Transport Chiefs From Five Countries to Visit Chicago Ahead of U.S.-Africa Summit
Ambassador David Shinn on the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Girls’ Education at Presidential Summit for Young African Leaders

Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia Yonas Moges, Helawi Sewnet, Mesganaw Mulugeta Assefa, Michael Addisu, Haleta Fisseha and Edda Zekarias at the YALI Summit in D,C. on July 30th, 2014. (Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)- At yesterday’s Presidential Summit for Young African Leaders First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech focusing on increasing girls’ access to education. Addressing the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows and invited guests at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, the U.S. First Lady stated “Many of you are barely half my age, yet you have already founded businesses and NGOs. You’ve served as leaders in your government.. so you all represent the talent, energy, and diversity that is Africa’s life blood, and it is an honor to host you here.” She added “The roots of my family tree is in Africa. The blood of Africa runs through my veins.”

The First Lady pointed out that while great strides have been made by women in Africa — including that “the number of women who serve in parliament in Rwanda is over 50%, which by the way is more than double the percentage of women in the U.S. House” — greater efforts are still needed to address the consequences of harmful traditional practices.

“While I have great respect for cultural differences, I think we can all agree that things like female genital cutting, forced marriages, and domestic violence are not legitimate cultural practices,” The First Lady stated. “They are serious human rights violations, and they have no place in any country on this earth.”

Acknowledging the struggles girls face in pursuing their dreams for education, The First Lady shared her own unlikely ascent to leadership. Quoting Nelson Mandela, she stated “As Madiba once said: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done,’” and she recounted her beginnings. “My ancestors came in chains. My grandparents and parents knew the sting of inequality. Yet I attended some of the best universities, and today I live in the White House, in a home that was constructed by slaves.” Following a standing ovation, The First Lady continued: “And I know my story and the story of my country is the story of the impossible getting done, and I know that can be your story.”

The First Lady also highlighted the stories of several Mandela Washington Fellows including that of Fikiri Nzoyisenga from Burundi who created a youth coalition to address violence against girls.

Mrs. Obama’s speech was preceded by a forum on ‘Enabling Inclusive Economic Development,’ hosted by Ambassador Michael Froman. Panelist Steve Case, Founder of AOL, shared how only 3% of Americans were online at the time that he created AOL .”It took us 10 years to get 1 million people online,” he said. “It was not easy in the beginning to literally get Americans online.” Citing how the Mandela Washington Fellows have grown up in a more connected world, he noted: “Now we are seeing some of the great technologies coming out of Africa such as mobile banking. Some of the best ideas may not start in Silicon Valley; they may start in Nairobi.” He added: “The mentality of mobile first would create new infrastructure, but we also must make sure that the regulations in place make it easier for startup culture.”

Responding to a question from Ghanaian Fellow Ethel Delali Cofie regarding how to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive, Steve Case responded that “competition is a signal that [your idea] is a big idea, so competition is a good thing.” Case also encouraged Fellows interested in entrepreneurship to remember the three Ps: “People, Partnerships, and Possibility.”

Panelist Alexa von Tobel, Founder of Learnvest, encouraged the audience to “dream big and perceive yourself as customer #1 when trying to solve a problem.” She admitted that it does take time to get ideas off the ground, but it helps to “pay it forward, look ahead, and get to work everyday.” Von Tobel also noted that “competition helps to sharpen your decision skills.”

Panelist Tcheguan Adebo Koba, Washington Fellow, addressed the need to go beyond acknowledging the rapid economic growth in African countries and find ways to make societies more inclusive. He lauded the Mandela Washington Fellowship’s public management track and called for greater opportunities for African youth entrepreneurs to gain access to markets across regional borders.

Yonas Moges, one of the 13 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia, told Tadias that he is inspired by his experiences as a participant. “I strongly feel the time has come to shine for Africa with the brilliant fellows I have met,” he said. Yonas has worked for more than a decade in the hospitality industry while focusing on international hotel chains. He is currently Managing Partner at Calibra Hospitality Consultancy and Business Plc, and “advises local developers in hotel design concept development, site selection, conducting feasibility studies, searching and selecting for hotel operators, and sourcing debt and equity finance for hotel projects.”

What has Yonas enjoyed most about the Young African Leaders Summit so far? “The networking, attending Obama’s speech and how he is simple to relate to for any aspiring young person, and community service culture in USA,” he shared.

Below are some photos from the Presidential Summit for Young African Leaders.

Obama Announces $33B Commitment at Africa Forum
Civil Society Forum Kicks Off at Historic US-Africa Summit in DC
Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg at Africa Summit
Meet the Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia
Obama Renames Africa Young Leaders Program For Nelson Mandela
U.S.-AFRICA SUMMIT 2014: Preview
Transport Chiefs From Five Countries to Visit Chicago Ahead of U.S.-Africa Summit
Ambassador David Shinn on the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Face2Face Africa Honors Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Alek Wek, Femi Kuti

At the 2014 Face2Face Africa Awards ceremony in New York on Saturday, July 26th. (Photograph: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, July 27th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – On Saturday evening at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts a diverse and stylish crowd of African professionals filled the hall to celebrate and honor six trailblazers from the African continent in business, fashion, entertainment, social innovation and democratic governance.

Among those recognized by the pan-African media company Face2Face Africa include Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu of Ethiopia who received the “Entrepreneur Award” for her pioneering work as Founder and CEO of the international footwear brand SoleRebels. The “Humanitarian Honor” was awarded to U.S.-based Ghanaian social entrepreneur Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, Founder of FOCUS (Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine) which provides orthopedic care to patients in Ghana and several other African countries.

The Global Ambassador Honor was given to South Sudanese British model and designer Alek Wek who saluted all the honorees and pointed out that “Africa needs more women in business and entrepreneurship like SoleRebel’s Bethlehem Tilahun” and added that above all education is the key for all. She reminded the audience to ” study hard, stay focused and celebrate others.”

The Trailblazer award went to Masai Ujiri – the Nigerian-born President and General Manager of Basketball Operations at the Tronto Raptors organization. The Entertainment Honor was also given to Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Femi Kuti, who spoke about the need to “focus globally not just Africa.”

The Lifetime Achievement Honor was conferred on Sudanese-British mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire Dr Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim – who was not present, but sent a video message accepting the accolade.

Below are photos and video from the event:

Video: The Face2Face Africa Awards Gold Carpet Presentation

Oprah Magazine Names Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu to Annual Power List

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Bill Gates Receives Honorary Doctoral Degree From Addis Ababa University

Bill Gates receives an honorary doctoral degree from Addis Ababa University (Photograph: UNECSO)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Although Bill Gates never graduated from college, dropping out of Harvard to start Microsoft, the American business magnate and philanthropist has received many honorary degrees from around the world, and now also his first from an African university. Gates was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Addis Ababa University on Thursday, July 24th.

“It is a special honor to receive an honorary degree from Addis Ababa University,” Gates said in his speech. “This is one of the leading institutions of higher learning in Africa – a continent whose future has been a central interest of my career ever since my wife and I began our foundation nearly 15 years ago.”

Per “Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is the Microsoft founder’s first honorary degree from an African university.”

Below is the text of Bill Gates’ Speech to students at Addis Ababa University courtesy the

Bill Gates
Addis Ababa University Honorary Degree
July 24, 2014

Thank you for that introduction, Dr. Admasu Tsegaye [President of Addis Ababa University].

Prime Minister Hailemariam; distinguished guests; faculty and students of Addis Ababa University.

I am deeply grateful for this honorary degree.

I never got my real degree. I dropped out to start Microsoft, and never went back. So getting a diploma I can put on the wall and show my father is a relief.

It is a special honor to receive an honorary degree from Addis Ababa University.

This is one of the leading institutions of higher learning in Africa – a continent whose future has been a central interest of my career ever since my wife and I began our foundation nearly 15 years ago.

The first time Melinda and I came to Africa, 20 years ago, we were on vacation. We visited Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. We were awed by the natural beauty. But we were no less awed by the poverty we witnessed. Children were dying from illnesses we’d never even heard of.

This struck us as deeply wrong – and totally unnecessary.

The foundation we started took as its motto “All Lives Have Equal Value” – because it was so obvious to us that the world was clearly not treating all lives as having equal value. If it were, kids wouldn’t be dying by the millions from diseases that are preventable and treatable.

In short, coming to Africa inspired us to start our foundation.

Of course, the Africa I’m visiting today is not the Africa we saw back then.

You know the stats: Income per-person in sub-Saharan Africa is up by two-thirds. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are on this continent.

I could go on. But I didn’t come here to give a speech about economic statistical phenomena – because those figures don’t get at the real reason why I’m optimistic about Africa.

The real reason why I’m optimistic about Africa is that this continent is now in an incredible position to shape its own destiny for the better.

Why is this the case?

For one very simple and powerful reason: the countries of Africa are learning from each other.

I know that much of the narrative over the years about Africa has focused on how outside entities can help the people of this continent – whether those entities are foreign governments, or international aid organizations, or non-profits such as our own foundation.

Make no mistake – outside support has made a big difference, and will continue to do so. I spend a lot of my time advocating for donor countries to maintain foreign assistance focused on the needs of the poorest – and such assistance does indeed have an absolutely critical role to play.

That is also why our foundation has such a focus on Africa, investing in research and supporting delivery efforts on the issues of greatest consequence to the people of this continent – from HIV/AIDS to malaria.

In doing so, our priority is to support programs developed by Africans, for Africans, because we understand that the real fuel for development will be the resources of African nations themselves – whether that’s in the form of government funding, private-sector investment, or just plain human creativity at all levels of society.

This is where the idea of “African countries learning from each other” becomes so important. If you want to spend your national budgets as effectively as possible, there is now a clear path for doing exactly that – and Africans themselves are defining that path, for others to follow if they choose.

That path may not be easy, but it’s fairly simple to explain, and it comes down to this: If you want your country to rise from low-income to middle-income status, emphasize two things: health and agricultural development.

If you get health and agricultural development right, the gains are exceptional, and they reverberate through the rest of your economy for decades to come.

African leaders have formally acknowledged these truths. At Abuja in 2001 and Maputo in 2003, the delegates to the African Union agreed to targets for investment in these sectors.

While the progress since then has been uneven, the emphasis on health and agriculture is absolutely right.

The reason for this is straightforward: There is no path to lasting growth within Africa that is not widespread growth. It’s not possible. If Africa seeks prosperity, it must provide for the health and nutrition of all – including the poorest. Unless this continent brings its rates of malnutrition and premature mortality way down, it will not achieve the productivity levels necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

I fully realize that health and agricultural productivity are far from the only factors in economic growth. There are plenty of others – education, good governance, a sound physical infrastructure, to name just a few.

There’s no question that a modernized approach to development finance is another much-needed factor in equitable growth. Ethiopia is going to host a very important Financing for Development conference a year from now. That gathering will seek to establish a vision of finance for the new targets that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals.

That will be a critical opportunity for the world to commit to the public and private investments that are necessary if we are to continue to accelerate human development and economic growth.

To be successful, that new vision of development finance will need to be rooted in basic human needs. In fact, any sensible definition of what it means to be a middle-income country should go beyond per-capita numbers and include some measure of achievement on basic human needs like health and nutrition.

Across Africa, some countries are doing a very good job of meeting those needs – and others are not. The differences in outcomes are striking, even for countries with similar resources.

That variance represents a massive opportunity for countries to learn from each other’s best practices. If you learn from each other, then all countries in Africa should be able to do as well as the highest performing countries. That would be a stunning transformation.

A great place to start this conversation is where I’m standing today – Ethiopia.

I realize this is a nation that still faces many fundamental challenges, but Ethiopia has made enormous relative improvement in both health and agricultural productivity, which will give the country a solid basis for lasting growth.

Yes, Ethiopia remains for now a low-income nation by global standards – but that’s exactly my point.

With per-capita income comparable to many other African nations – and considerably smaller than some – Ethiopia is putting itself on a path to the global middle class.

If this proud country – which 30 years ago was seen by many as the world’s most extreme example of poverty and malnutrition – can put itself on this trajectory, there’s no good reason why other African countries can’t do the same.

What has Ethiopia done right? Quite simply, it has made health and agricultural development top priorities.

I want to talk briefly about what it’s done in both of these areas, and mention a few other nations that have also generated good examples in each.

Let’s start with health.

Our foundation started with a focus on health because that’s where the evidence pointed us. We were looking for the most strategic way to fight inequity so that our resources did the greatest good for the greatest number. Investing in health generates extremely high returns for huge numbers of people.

Here’s a striking illustration of that: A recent global commission of leading economists found a strong connection between health and national prosperity. Its report stated that about 11 percent of the economic growth in low- and middle-income countries from 1970 to 2000 resulted from reductions in adult mortality.

Conversely, there’s a vicious cycle that results from not investing in health – and here too, the results show up on a national scale.

For example, malaria kills more than 600,000 people a year. That’s a big number. But it actually understates the problem – including the calamitous economic costs of the disease.

Malaria infects roughly 200 million people annually, of whom probably more than 99 percent survive. At best, the survivors have to miss school or work for extended periods. At worst, they suffer lifelong disabilities, including cognitive impairment that virtually guarantees they’ll never reach their full potential.

Even when malaria and other diseases don’t take children’s lives, they can steal their future – and slow the progress of a nation.

This is the right time to invest in eradicating malaria – and other diseases that have long plagued this continent.

When I first started learning about development, there wasn’t a lot of hope that we could make rapid progress against malaria. Parasites had developed resistance to chloroquine – the main drug used to treat the disease – and malaria was resurgent across much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Since then, the global research community has begun committing more resources to malaria and other illnesses that disproportionately affect this continent. New vaccines and other health advances are emerging as a result.

But something else has been happening, as well. And that “something,” once again, is that Africa is learning from itself.

Countries on this continent – including some very poor countries – have made crucial innovations in providing for the health of their people. These innovations are models that virtually any African nation can follow, regardless of income.

Ethiopia has helped set the standard – most notably with its groundbreaking Health Extension Program. The federal government recognized that if it was going to make good on the Millennium Development Goals, it was going to have to expand access to primary health care across this large, predominantly rural country.

It came up with a smart plan. It identified the geographical gaps in health coverage, and went about filling those gaps, deploying more than 38,000 health-extension workers – nearly all of them women – in over 16,000 health posts nationwide.

Since its inception in 2004, the Health Extension Program has provided a range of vital services in maternal and child health; disease prevention; sanitation and hygiene; and basic health education.

Overall, the Health Extension Program has been a great success – and you can see it in the data.

The under-five mortality rate fell 67 percent from 1990 to 2012, meaning that Ethiopia met this Millennium Development Goal. The rate of decline has been especially impressive since the middle of the last decade, when the Health Extension Program began its work.

Ethiopia has shown a willingness not only to invest in health, but to do something that is sometimes even more difficult for governments, on any continent: It has been willing to measure results, adapt where needed, and admit the shortcomings that still exist.

For example, the Health Extension Program has been quick to offer new interventions in response to practical needs – such as by allowing health extension workers to treat childhood pneumonia and provide new, long-acting family-planning methods.

It has also been willing to collaborate – as it has with one of our grantees, L10K, which serves as a bridge from households to the Health Extension Program.

The government recognizes that while it has achieved great gains in combating child mortality, it still has much work to do to reduce Ethiopia’s maternal mortality rate, which remains one of the highest in Africa.

The Health Extension Program is a remarkable example that other African nations, such as Namibia, are already learning from.

On vaccines, there is enormous variance across Africa. Across the continent, vaccine coverage ranges from the mid-90s to well under 50 percent. Ghana – another African country that could serve as a model for development in both health and agriculture – has been among the continent’s best examples on vaccination.

In 2012, with assistance from the GAVI Alliance, Ghana took the innovative step of simultaneously rolling out pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines – the first time any African country had introduced the two vaccines at the same time.

The project was a success, and by the end of the decade, vaccines against two of the most prolific killers in the world – diarrhea and pneumonia – will be available in nearly every African country, thanks in part to GAVI’s excellent work, and in part to the national model that Ghana has established.

With regard to malaria – which I talked about a moment ago as an example of the economic burden of disease – a number of African countries, such as Zambia, are demonstrating that progress is possible where governments take determined action.

If this is the case now, with the weapons currently at our disposal, it will be even more so as new medications and other tools become available.

And while there is still a long way to go, it is inspiring to see the public-health gains so many countries in Africa have made in recent years. Along with Ethiopia, countries from Liberia to Malawi to Tanzania have met the MDG goal of cutting mortality by two-thirds even before the 2015 deadline. Others, like Madagascar and Niger, are on the verge of doing so.

That progress is both accelerating and spreading – in countries like Senegal and Rwanda, the rates of improvement are among the fastest we have measured in recent decades. That translates into millions of lives saved – young Africans who will soon be the ones leading the continent into the future.

Now I’d like to turn to the other central element of lasting growth for Africa – agricultural productivity.

Here too, Ethiopia has been a leader. The federal government did something extraordinary – it set up an organization, the Agricultural Transformation Agency, or ATA – that focused on providing data-driven, evidence-based solutions to improving farm productivity nationwide.

It’s very strategic for an African government to place this kind of bet on agricultural innovation. After all, the continent’s economy remains heavily reliant on agriculture: Two-thirds of Africans depend on farming for their livelihoods. Ethiopia is no exception to this reliance: Agriculture accounts for about 45 percent of its GDP.

I’d like to mention a couple of great examples of what Ethiopia has achieved with its ATA initiatives. One of them involves one of my favorite subjects: fertilizer.

For the past three decades, Ethiopia had used only two types of fertilizer. When you think about how big and geographically varied this country is, that didn’t make much sense. After all, different fertilizers work best in different soils.

The ATA, working with the Ministry of Agriculture, found that the best way to assess fertilizer needs nationwide was to analyze the soil using a combination of ground measurements and remote sensing.

I had the privilege of seeing this project myself on my last visit to Ethiopia. I got to see the special soil augurs and sampling techniques that your teams were using. The result of this effort is a soil-mapping system that’s unprecedented not just for Africa, but for virtually anyone in the world.

By the end of this year, the government will have mapped soil properties for the whole of Ethiopia. Our foundation provided some early support for this effort, and we’re proud of the results.

There’s also been some great innovation with regard to farmer-owned cooperatives. These have a mixed record in Ethiopia and across Africa, but can provide much-needed services for their members, such as distribution and marketing. The world-renowned coffee sector here in Ethiopia has seen good examples of this.

Now the ATA is leading a $50 million project to build storage capacity within these cooperatives – it’s a three-year undertaking, and is drawing upon $3 million in capital from the World Bank. It’s a good illustration of how a little outside money can supplement a much larger government-led initiative to support farmer-owned, private-sector organizations.

Ethiopia has begun to branch out from the collectives, and to open up its agricultural market. It is expanding its own version of an agro-dealer program as seen in other parts of Africa, including through direct-seed marketing.

Just last year, some regional bureaus of agriculture began supporting the marketing of certified seed from producers directly to farmers through independent distribution agents – a departure from the traditional approach, which was exclusively through a public-sector process.

By opening its markets further – and by seeking the involvement and consent of the rural communities themselves – Ethiopia could realize significant gains from its most important resources of all: the ingenuity and creativity of its own people.

Other countries – such as Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania – have undertaken their own bold investments, with huge payoffs. These are innovations that nations throughout Africa could emulate or adapt.

For example, Nigeria has established staple-crop processing zones to encourage investors to set up processing facilities near areas of high production for certain key crops, such as rice or cassava. This literally shortens the distance between producers and processors, and helps ensure more effective use of resources.

While we admire these and other agricultural innovations unfolding across the continent, far more needs to be done. African food production has not kept up with population growth – and that growth will only accelerate in the near future.

Nor is Africa’s agricultural sector moving quickly enough to meet another accelerating challenge: global climate change, which poses an especially severe danger to this continent, its agricultural productivity, and its overall development.

What is needed is a continent-wide commitment to a new generation of sustainable agricultural productivity, in the spirit of the Green Revolution that did so much to propel large sections of Asia and Latin America into the global middle class.

We are proud to be partners with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – an African organization advancing African solutions, with a necessary emphasis on smallholder farmers, and on female farmers – who bear immense responsibility for overall agricultural production in Africa, but who realize relatively few of the economic gains.

I am heartened by the commitments made on agricultural development at the African Union summit last month – including commitments to allocate at least 10 percent of public expenditure to agriculture, and to work toward ending hunger in Africa by 2025 by at least doubling productivity in the sector.

Any commitment to lifting agricultural productivity in Africa – or to improving health – will require both realism and optimism.

Usually, people assume that realism and optimism describe two different schools of thought. I disagree. I believe my optimism about the future of Africa is extremely realistic.

You already have the tools to decrease child mortality and increase agricultural yields significantly. In the next decade, these tools will keep improving. You also have examples of countries that have invested in health and agriculture to make life better for their people.

So, we know that if a country in Africa is not improving in health, or not producing enough food, its first reaction should not be to seek scapegoats or excuses.

No, the first reaction should be to learn from your neighbor. Because that country has as many challenges as you do – but it also has good ideas that you can adapt to your own circumstances.

The rise of this continent will depend on whether leaders – here in Ethiopia and all across Africa – are open to learning from each other, and from their own people.

Whether or not that happens will depend on you – the future leaders of this country, and this continent. By focusing on basic health and agricultural productivity – and by learning from what is actually working right here – you can ensure that Africa will keep rising.

Our foundation is committed to working with you as you make this happen.

Thank you.

Why John Green and Bill Gates Joined Forces In Ethiopia (The Wall Street Journal)
Bill Gates in Ethiopia Says Africa Needs Better International Aid Audit

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Video: Teddy Afro at SummerStage

Teddy Afro performing at SummerStage festival in New York on July 5th, 2014. (Credit: Tsedey foto)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, July 12th 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Last week, Teddy Afro successfully played his first back-to-back show in New York at the 2014 SummerStage festival and at B.B. King Blues Club on Saturday, July 5th. Teddy briefly chatted with Tadias Magazine following his second show. The Ethiopian star was greeted at both venues with an enthusiastic audience that hailed from as varied locations as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston.

Below is our video coverage of both events:

Photos: Teddy Afro at SummerStage 2014 Festival in New York

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Cool Moment: Zuckerberg Enjoys Ethiopian Food at Walia Restaurant in San Jose

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — When it comes to authentic Ethiopian cuisine Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, has very good taste. He was recently spotted enjoying Injera at Walia restaurant in San Jose, California. Not only did Zuckerberg wait ten minutes to be seated last Saturday, we are told, he also took his time to pose for a photo with the Walia staff.

You can learn more about Walia restaurant at

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Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State


Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Saturday, May 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The legislature of the state of Minnesota, which is home to the largest Oromo population in the United States, has condemned the recent police violence directed against student protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia state. In a resolution signed earlier this week the Minnesota State Senate urged the Obama administration to pressure the Ethiopian authorities to respect human rights.

“Whereas, Oromo students in Ethiopia started protesting on April 25th, 2014, to stand against the government’s plan to substantially expand the municipal boundaries of Addis Ababa because, according to students, the expansion would threaten communities under regional jurisdiction,” the resolution stated. “Whereas, under this proposed Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master plan, the boundaries would include 15 more communities in Oromia; it would take the authority of Oromia Regional State on the Oromo farmers and give it to Addis Ababa city; and the students are concerned that the displacement of Oromo farmers and students will have a negative effect on the land and citizens.”

The lawmakers noted: “The Oromo people make up nearly one-half of Ethiopia’s population; and whereas, the government has reported that there are at least nine students dead, but other estimates have reached 47, witnesses report that at least 70 people are wounded; and whereas, on May 9th, 2014, an Oromo rally to protest the killings and imprisonment of peaceful Oromo protesters in Ethiopia and to demand the perpetrators be brought to justice was held at the Minnesota State Capitol.”

“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Minnesota that it supports the Oromo community and condemns the violence against them, and urges the United States government to pressure the Ethiopian authorities to respect human rights and democratic process.”

Below is copy of the resolution:

The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

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Historic New York Medhanialem Church Moves into New Bronx Home (Video)

The inauguration ceremony for the new Bronx building purchased by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Medhanialem Church took place on Friday, May 2nd and Saturday, May 3rd, 2014. (Photograph: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 9th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — One of the oldest Ethiopian churches in New York, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Medhanialem Church, which had gathered at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan for over three decades, has officially moved into a newly purchased property in the Norwood section of the Bronx (302 East 206 Street). Last weekend, the dedication program included an all-night vigil prayer held on Friday, May 2nd as well as a procession of the Ark and a celebratory lunch on Saturday, May 3rd.

The following is a video and photo coverage of the event.

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Society of Ethiopians in Diaspora: 22nd Annual Dinner and Awards Gala in DC

Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) will hold its 22nd Annual Awards Gala at Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, May 25th, 2014. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Professor Donald N. Levine, Obang Metho, Menbere Aklilu, Ambassador Zewde Retta and the late Rachel Beckwith, along with five “outstanding students,” are among those that will be honored at this year’s award dinner hosted by SEED (Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora), which is scheduled to take place on May 25th at Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center in Washington, D.C.

Beginning with its inaugural event held in 1993, SEED has been highlighting the achievements of Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia who “stand out as role models from among the educators, scientists, artists, religious leaders, high school and university students and community leaders without any preference for education and career category.”

Dr. Belay Abegaz, M.D., a cardiologist and founder of CHFE, is being recognized this year for his pioneering contributions to cardio-care for children in Ethiopia. “SEED salutes Dr. Belay Abegaz as an exemplary and outstanding physician and as a role model to so many fellow Ethiopians,” the press release noted.

SEED added that it is honoring Menbere Aklilu as a distinguished role model to women in general: “We salute her in admiration of her rise from homelessness to richness through determination and hard work, in appreciation of the positive contributions she has made by exemplifying the higher ideals and standards of our community, in recognition of her inspiring entrepreneurial excellence, as well as community and civic responsibilities, and for representing the Diaspora Community with dignity and sterling character.”

Professor Donald N. Levine, Ph.D. will be acknowledged for “his lifelong dedication to preserving the history and culture of Ethiopia and Ethiopians through his writings, in appreciation of his many other positive attributes and the higher esteem he is being held in the Ethiopian community.”

Likewise Ambassador Zewde Retta is being featured “for his prolific writings and ability to touch us deeply, for having enriched us intellectually as well as for appealing to our collective conscience to remember and preserve our history.”

The SEED 2014 Outstanding Student Honorees include Mahlet Kirubel, Herrana E. Addisu, Luladay Price, Hewan Tilahun and Michael Mekonnen.

If You Go:
SEED Annual Award Dinner
SUNDAY, May 25th, 2014 at 6:30pm
Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20057
Phone: 202-687-3200
$75.00 for adults
$85.00 at the door
$35.00 for children under 12
Contact: 609- 407-0496 or 234 -380-1533
More info at

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YEP: Young Ethiopian Professionals Named ‘Empower Player 2014′

Dr. Solomon Bililign speaking at Young Ethiopian Professionals (YEP) event in D.C. (Courtesy Photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias staff

Published: Saturday, April 12th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The online magazine emPower has selected Young Ethiopian Professionals (YEP) as one of the “emPower Player 2014″ award winners and a nominee for this year’s “Leader of Good” prize. YEP, founded in 2010, is a growing networking group in the DC area that has built a platform for Ethiopian professionals in various sectors to meet and share resources among each other. In addition, the organization’s Co-Founder and Executive Vice-President, Shimelse Mekonnen, says that YEP also provides mentoring programs for college and high school students.

“[We are] a non-profit organization with volunteers, such as myself, who strive to build a community of diverse professionals,” Shimelse told Tadias. “We offer free tutoring, educational workshops and inspirational events to our members.” He added: “This award is a recognition of our volunteers’ hard work and provides us more energy to go forward.”

Since it was established nearly four years ago, YEP has hosted over 30 events highlighting inspirational speakers from the Ethiopian community including Physicist Solomon Bililign, a recipient of the 2011 U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering; Emmy Award-winning journalist Bofta Yimam; and the Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Mimi Alemayehou.

“There is a famous African proverb that says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” Shimelse said. “No one person can make it in life without the support and guidance of other people in their lives.” He shares that “Traditionally, support and guidance in the Ethiopian Diaspora come from an informal network of family and relatives. The fate of many people depends on the information they get from this informal network. However, figuring out how to navigate through a new country, new culture, new language and new system, can become very challenging as the traditional means of guidance and support are not enough.”

Shimelse points out that he and his friend, Mesfin Getaneh (the Co-founder and President of YEP), noticed such a gap in the Ethiopian community while participating in various member-based organizations pertaining to their careers. They were inspired by “the connections and opportunities created from these events and eagerly looking for a similar platform to meet and network with fellow Ethiopian professionals.” During the early stages of planning, they were joined by Lulit Ayne (Co-Founder & Vice President) whom Shimelse said brought “firsthand experience” in grassroots organizational development.

Today YEP, which enjoys a membership of over 600, continues to organize career fairs and other events designed to connect job seekers with working professionals in their field. Shimelse emphasizes that YEP’s goal is to “create opportunities for Ethiopian professionals to meet, network, and share resources among fellow professionals to succeed in their career and social endeavors by inviting successful mentors to speak about their experiences to our aspiring professionals, organizing workshops and panel discussions on various topics about professional development, and organizing learning excursions and field trips.”

Regarding the emPower magazine’s award nomination, Shimelse adds: “This recognition will also help us in our plans to expand to other cities where there’s a large concentration of Ethiopians such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland and San Jose. The more members we have, the easier it will be to achieve our vision to create a network where connections are made, resources are exchanged, and skills are enhanced. We want to give young Ethiopian professionals all the tools and resources at our disposal to empower them to create the next Microsoft, Apple, or Google.”

You can learn more about YEP at
Vote for them at

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Update: Isiah Leggett’s Press Conference with Ethiopian Media

The incumbent Executive of Montgomery County, Maryland Isiah "Ike" Leggett. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, April 5th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — How large is the Ethiopian community in Montgomery County, Maryland? “Well the county overall is 1.1 million residents and we have about 10% of that population from continental Africa,” answered Isiah ‘Ike’ Leggett, the County’s Executive, during a teleconference with Ethiopian media last week. “And from that ten percent, which is about 110,000, I think the best figure is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 directly in the county, but it overlaps with two other counties in our region and Washington, D.C.”

In fact, Mr. Leggett said that he had a recent meeting with a group from Washington, D.C. that established an office in Montgomery County to help them with providing some support to issue micro-loans to the Ethiopian community, for small businesses, restaurants, and people who are interested in purchasing tax services.  He emphasized: “We are trying to be more engaged and support some of those organizations from the economic development standpoint. Of course, we are promoting Ethiopian culture through our libraries, recreational facilities and within our schools as well. We are trying to address it from a cultural perspective, from an educational perspective, a business approach as well as simply trying to remove some of the obstacles for people who want to reside and stay in Montgomery County and in this country — to help them facilitate that process as well.”

Organized by the Ethiopian-American Council (EAC) the press conference, which took place on Tuesday, April 1st, was intended to introduce Mr. Leggett to the larger Ethiopian community and to announce EAC’s endorsement of his candidacy for a third term as Montgomery County Executive. Mr. Leggett took several questions from Ethiopian journalists on a range of issues that are pertinent to the Ethiopian-American community and residents of the county in general. Topics of discussion included immigration reform, jobs, education, business, access to health care, affordable housing, as well as his support for an Ethiopian community center and his trip to Ethiopia a year and a half ago to sign a sister city agreement between Montgomery County and the historic Ethiopian city of Gonder.

“I carried a delegation of about 60 people with me to Ethiopia for about ten days,” Mr. Leggett said of his trip in the fall of 2012. “We had an opportunity to travel throughout the country with a signing ceremony in Gonder to establish our sister city relationship. The Ethiopian community in the county had expressed very strong views that they thought, and I believed them, that we should establish one of our sister city relationships with Gonder.” He added: “We have several other [such agreements] including China and South Korea. But we thought given the history of Ethiopia and the many residential Ethiopians that are here in Montgomery county from Ethiopia who are contributing to our local economy, whether its in education or various professions, we were delighted that we had the opportunity to visit and to host many follow-up meetings with people from Gonder, Ethiopia and Montgomery county.”

Regarding his stand on immigration reform Mr. Leggett, who is also the current President of the County Executives of America (a position he assumed in August of 2013), said he feels strongly about the issue at a national level. “First of all we start with the general premise of the county that we treat people with dignity and respect and make certain that the resources that we have in the county are available to all people — that we do not discriminate or we do not have hard core kinds of restrictions as it relates to the immigrant population in Montgomery County,” he said. “That involves everything from health care to housing and to a variety of other resources that we provide in Montgomery County.” He added: “We have a very large number of Ethiopians that serve on boards and committees throughout Montgomery county and our county government. Thirdly, we try to promote all kinds of cultural, religious and educational activities, which the Ethiopian community is an active part of. And fourthly, it’s in the area of economic development that we’re reaching out [and] working with the Ethiopian [business] community.”

In addition, Mr. Leggett pointed out that his staff is constantly in contact with members of the Ethiopian community in Montgomery County “to make certain that we respond to many of their concerns” and to assist in creating an Ethiopian community center. Mr. Leggett continued: “For example, there is a very large festival event that was held in Maryland this past summer and Montgomery County played a part as host. We are working on a variety of fronts trying to ensure that we support a community center whereby there will be a common place where Ethiopians can consistently gather. And they do so now, but often times it’s at different locations, its not as consistent, it’s not as focused as we would want it to be. With a community center Mr. Legett shared that they can provide activities ranging  ”from cultural events to religious events, or simply a meeting place that they would have as a common location within our county.” Mr. Leggett emphasized that “more importantly, my office is and has opened its doors so that we can be supportive of what the Ethiopian community wants. I think that’s the best response we can have. The more important side to this is to be receptive to the Ethiopian community and things that they would like to see us do and to have an ongoing dialogue. If you have that as a model and you are prepared to work aggressively with that, very positive things can happen.”

According to his bio Leggett, who was initially elected as Montgomery County Executive in 2006 (and re-elected in 2010), was born in Deweyville, Texas in 1944. “Leggett attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and, after serving in the Vietnam War, earned a law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  In 1986, he became the first African-American elected to the county council in Montgomery County, Maryland and served on the council through 2002. He remains the only African-American ever elected to that body at-large.”

At the press conference last Tuesday Mr. Leggett repeatedly urged Ethiopian- Americans to volunteer in his campaign and noted that on the 27th of April, his wife is having “a large event in Silver Spring,” an engagement, he stated, for women across the board “so she is encouraging Ethiopian women and others to come.” He added: “That involvement provides a number of things because many years ago when I first moved into Montgomery County and got involved, I started by assisting other candidates and learning from them about the elements of politics and public service and I was able to expand from that to run for office myself at a lower level and eventually worked my way up to County Executive.”

Mr. Leggett said that he hopes to see Ethiopian-Americans vying for elected office in the United States in future years: “So that you are not looking at Iike Leggett who is running for Country Executive or some other office and representing the views of the Ethiopian community, but you have people from Ethiopia or people with strong background and connection with Ethiopia who are running themselves, that’s the progress that I want to see happen.”

Below are clips of the audio from the teleconference.

You can learn more about County Executive Isiah ‘Ike’ Leggett at

Video: Leggett Leads a Delegation to Gonder Ethiopia, Montgomery County’s Sister City (2012)

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John Kerry Highlights Eskinder Nega

Secretary of State John Kerry. (Photo: AP)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: February 27th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega on Thursday during a press briefing in Washington while unveiling the latest U.S. reports on Human Rights. “The truth is that some of the greatest accomplishments in expanding the cause of human rights have come not because of legislative decree or judicial fiat, but they came through the awesomely courageous acts of individuals, whether it is Xu Zhiyong fighting the government transparency that he desires to see in China, or Ales Byalyatski, who is demanding justice and transparency and accountability in Belarus, whether it is Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, who is rapping for greater political freedom in Cuba, or Eskinder Nega, who is writing for freedom of expression in Ethiopia,” Kerry said. “Every single one of these people are demonstrating a brand of moral courage that we need now more than ever.”

Below is a video and text of John Kerry’s full speech.

Kerry Remarks on the Release of Country Reports on Human Rights

Remarks on the Release of the Annual Country Reports on Human Rights

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Press Briefing Room
Washington, DC

February 27, 2014

Well, good morning, everybody. Excuse me. I’ve got a little allergies this morning, I think. I’m delighted to be here this morning for the second Human Rights report that I have issued as Secretary, and I’m particularly pleased to be here with our Acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Uzra Zeya, who as I think all of you know, is performing these responsibilities in the capacity as an interim assistant secretary but who has done just a spectacular job and has led the Department in a year-long process to track and make the assessments that are reflected here. So I thank her for a job particularly well done on this year’s Human Rights Report.

The fundamental struggle for dignity, for decency in the treatment of human beings between each other and between states and citizens, is a driving force in all of human history. And from our own nation’s journey, we know that this is a work in progress. Slavery was written into our Constitution before it was written out. And we know that the struggle for equal rights, for women, for others – for LGBT community and others – is an ongoing struggle. And it’s because of the courage and commitment of citizens in each generation that the United States has come closer to living up to our own ideals.

Even as we come together today to issue a report on other nations, we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we expect accountability here at home too. And we know that we’re not perfect. We don’t speak with any arrogance whatsoever, but with a concern for the human condition.

Our own journey has not been without great difficulty, and at times, contradiction. But even as we remain humble about the challenges of our own history, we are proud that no country has more opportunity to advance the cause of democracy and no country is as committed to the cause of human rights as we are.

This year’s report, we think, is especially timely. It comes on the heels of one of the most momentous years in the struggle for greater rights and freedoms in modern history.

In Syria, hundreds were murdered in the dead of night when a disaster occurred at the hands of a dictator who decided to infect the air of Damascus with poisonous gas, and many more have been, unfortunately, confined to die under a barrage of barrel bombs, Scud missiles, artillery, and other conventional weapons.

In Bangladesh, thousands of workers perished in the greatest workplace safety disaster in history.

And from Nigeria to Russia to Iran, indeed in some 80 countries the world over, LGBT communities face discriminatory laws and practices that attack their basic human dignity and undermine their safety. We are seeing new laws like the Anti-Homosexuality Bill enacted by Uganda and signed into law by President Museveni earlier this week, which not only makes criminals of people for who they are, but punishes those who defend the human rights that are our universal birthright.

These laws contribute to a global trend of rising violence and discrimination against LGBT persons and their supporters, and they are an affront to every reasonable conscience, and the United States will continue to stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters as we stand up for freedom, for justice, for equal rights for all people around the world.

And so with this year’s report, we join with many other nations in reaffirming our commitment to a world where speaking one’s mind does not lead to persecution, a world where practicing or changing one’s faith does not lead to imprisonment, and where marching peacefully in the street does not get you beaten up in a blind alley or even killed in plain sight.

So let me be clear. This is not just some high-minded exercise. This is the most comprehensive, authoritative, dispassionate, and factual review of the state of human rights globally, and every American should be proud of it. That’s why Acting Assistant Secretary Zeya of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and our embassies and consulates around the world have spent countless hours researching and writing these reports, engaging activists, talking to governments, and analyzing NGO and media reports. And that’s why they capture the attention of dictatorships and democracies alike.

This is about accountability. It’s about ending impunity. And it’s about a fight that has gone on for centuries, as long as human beings have been able to think and write and speak and act on their own. The struggle for rights and dignity couldn’t be more relevant to what we are seeing transpire across the globe. The places where we face some of the greatest national security challenges today are also places where governments deny basic human rights to their nations’ people, and that is no coincidence. And it is particularly no coincidence in an age where people have access and want access to more information and the freedom to be able to act – to access information and to be able to act on the basis of that information. That is what has always characterized democracies and free people.

It’s no coincidence that in North Korea, a UN commission of inquiry recently found clear and compelling evidence of wholesale torture and crimes against humanity, reports of people who have been executed summarily and fired at by artillery, fired at by anti-aircraft weapons, 122 millimeter aircraft weapons that literally obliterate human beings, and this has occurred with people in the masses being forced to watch, a form of gross and utter intimidation and oppression.

It’s no coincidence that the first use of a weapon of mass destruction anywhere in the last quarter century came from a dictatorship in Syria in trying to suppress a popular uprising, in trying to suppress the aspirations of young people who simply wanted jobs and education and opportunity.

It’s no coincidence that the brutal violence that we’ve seen recently in South Sudan and the Central African Republic is rooted in cycles of violence stemming from past abuses, marginalization, discrimination, and unwillingness to listen.

And so the United States of America will continue to speak out, without a hint of arrogance or apology, on behalf of people who stand up for their universal rights. And we will stand up in many cases for those who are deprived of the opportunity to be able to stand up for themselves.

We will do so in Venezuela, where the government has confronted peaceful protestors by deploying armed vigilantes, by imprisoning students, and by severely limiting freedoms of expression and assembly. The solution to Venezuela’s problems are not found through violence, and they will not be found through violence, but only through dialogue with all Venezuelans in a climate of mutual respect.

We will do it in Sri Lanka, where the government still has not answered basic demands for accountability and reconciliation, where attacks on civil society activists, journalists, and religious minorities, sadly, still continue. Our concern about this ongoing situation has led the United States to support another UN Human Rights Council resolution at the March session. We will do so because we know countries that deny human rights and human dignity challenge our interests as well as human interests. But we also know countries that advance those values, those countries that embrace these rights are countries that actually create opportunities.

From Yemen to Tunisia, which I just visited last month, we have seen how national dialogue and democratic progress can make countries more stable and make them stronger partners for peace and prosperity. In Ukraine, as we all just saw in real time in the last days, tens of thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against the power – to demonstrate again the power of people to be able to demand a more democratic and accountable governance, and to stand up even against those who would sniper from roofs and take their lives in the effort to have their voices heard.

In Burma, we continue to see a country that was isolated for so many years slowly moving away not just from dictatorship, but toward a more productive partnering with the United States and the international community.

So there are plenty of examples, folks, of places that choose a different road, and that strive to make it work. As today’s report makes clear, Burma still faces the normal challenges, from reforming an undemocratic constitution to ending discrimination and violence against religious and ethnic minorities, but we must continue to encourage progress even as we speak honestly about the problems that persist.

In my first year as Secretary of State, I have been very fortunate to see with my own eyes what we can accomplish when we see our power and use our power and influence to empower others to be able to change things for the better. I’m truly inspired by the civil society activists that I’ve met with in many of the countries I’ve been to – in Hanoi, for instance – people who are standing up for their fundamental rights to speak out and to associate freely. I’m inspired by the 86-year-old human rights pioneer I met in Moscow who has spent a lifetime fighting for the basic rights that we take for granted here in the United States. I’m inspired by a group of young southeast-Asian land rights advocates that I met at the ASEAN regional forum last year who understand that societal problems are best solved when the government works with civil society, not against it.

The truth is that some of the greatest accomplishments in expanding the cause of human rights have come not because of legislative decree or judicial fiat, but they came through the awesomely courageous acts of individuals, whether it is Xu Zhiyong fighting the government transparency that he desires to see in China, or Ales Byalyatski, who is demanding justice and transparency and accountability in Belarus, whether it is Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, who is rapping for greater political freedom in Cuba, or Eskinder Nega, who is writing for freedom of expression in Ethiopia. Every single one of these people are demonstrating a brand of moral courage that we need now more than ever.

This year there is actually another name on all of our minds, and that is, of course, the first Human Rights Report since the passing of one of the most courageous individuals of all time, Nelson Mandela. Mandela was more than an inspiration; he was a model. All over the world, I have been in homes and offices where his unmistakable face was on posters and prints. I’ve met so many young kids named Nelson in Africa, but in so many other places where people are aspiring for real change. His influence was just that powerful. Even in his absence, the example that he set will long endure. We carry on his work for those who are walking picket lines, who are sitting in prison cells sometimes unknown to anybody except their family, who are protesting from Cairo to Caracas to Kyiv.

And we have to ask ourselves, as we do this: If we don’t stand with these brave men and women, then what do we stand for and who will stand with them? And if we don’t give voice to those who are voiceless, then who do we speak for and who will give voice to them? The demand for human dignity I believe, President Obama believes – I think all of us believe in this country – is unstoppable. And today we reaffirm our commitment to stand with the many who seek dignity and against the few who deny it.

That’s how we live up to our ideals. That’s how we will meet the demands of this moment. That’s how we will build a more stable and peaceful world.

And before I turn things over to Uzra, let me leave you with one final thought. We obviously have a big agenda. You can see that. And that means we need our full team on the field so that we can get to work. Frankly, it’s unacceptable that so many of our nominees – countless numbers of ambassadors to very important countries are awaiting confirmation. Our national security is not served by keeping many professionals, people who have waited patiently, in a perpetual limbo. Neither is our ability to support democratic rights and aspirations of people all over the world enhanced by what is happening.

Let me give you an example, for instance, of what is happening to Tom Malinowski. Tom is a human rights champion whom the President has picked as his nominee to be the next Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Tom has strong bipartisan support. We know of no objection to his nomination – none – and yet, he has been waiting more than 220 days to be confirmed.

So now is the time to send a strong signal that we are not content to sit on the sidelines. I ask and I hope that our colleagues in the Senate will help Tom Malinowski get on the job so that we can continue to lead in these very kinds of issues that I have just laid out here today. We are ready to lead, and that’s when America is at its best, and that’s the vision that has always inspired people. And it always will. And it’s with that understanding that we are committed to continue this important work to defend the rights of people all around the world. That’s how we became a nation, and that’s how we will stay the nation that we want to be.

With that I thank you very much, and I will leave it in the good hands of Uzra. Thank you.

Q&A: Ethiopian journalists languish in prison

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Dr. Catherine Hamlin Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Dr. Catherine Hamlin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo courtesy:

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Saturday, February 8th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Catherine Hamlin, an Australian-born, honorary Ethiopian citizen, recently celebrated her 90th birthday surrounded by the women whose lives she changed for the better at the fistula hospital she established with her husband in Addis Ababa in 1974.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 100,000 women are affected worldwide by obstetric fistula — an injury during the birthing process that women with obstructive labor suffer from when they have inadequate access to medical support.

Earlier this month the Ethiopian government sent a letter nominating Hamlin for the Nobel Peace Prize, and over the years Dr. Hamlin’s work has received global support and financial assistance from organizations such as Hamlin Fistula USA, Fistula Foundation, and Tesfa Ineste – an Ethiopian Diaspora initiative that helped establish the Harar Hamlin Fistula Center.

In 2014 the Hamlin College of Midwives enrolled 21 Ethiopian students for the Bachelor of Science degree, making the total count of midwifery students up to 89. “The opening of the Hamlin College of Midwives, about 12 kilometers from Addis Ababa, is the key to tackle, and even eradicate completely, this devasting childbirth injury” says Abaynesh Asrat, Board Member of Hamlin Fistula USA. “I think, as we did a phenomenal job collectively to build the Harar Center, we can once again use our intellect and our financial support, individually and collectively, three-fold, toward the education of more students to graduate from the Hamlin Midwifery College.”

Still working as a surgeon Dr. Hamlin recently told World News Australia Radio that she plans to continue her lifelong dedication to women suffering from obstetric fistula in Ethiopia. Several of her former patients now also work by her side performing some of the most challenging fistula repairs, which is a testament to her legacy of training the next generation of reproductive rights champions and being a beacon of light to many more thousands of women around the world.

At 90 this doctor is still calling by Nicholas kristof (NYT)
90 Year Old Surgeon Keeps a Steady Hand in Ethiopia (Australia Radio)

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US Congress Takes a Historic Stance Against Land Grab Evictions in Ethiopia

(Courtesy Oakland Institute)

Oakland Institute

Oakland, CA – In a historic move, the US Congress has taken a stance on land grabs-related human rights abuses in Ethiopia. The 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill contains provisions that ensure that US development funds are not used to support forced evictions in Ethiopia.

The bill prevents US assistance from being used to support activities that directly or indirectly involve forced displacement in the Lower Omo and Gambella regions. It further requires US assistance in these areas be used to support local community initiatives aimed at improving livelihoods and be subject to prior consultation with affected populations. The bill goes further and even instructs the directors of international financial institutions to oppose financing for any activities that directly or indirectly involve forced evictions in Ethiopia.

According to Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute, “We welcome this move as it aims to address one major flaw of US assistance to Ethiopia. The step taken by the US Congress is very significant, as it signals to both the Ethiopian government and the US administration that turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in the name of development is no longer an option.”

Several reports from the Oakland Institute have raised alarm about the scale, rate, and negative impacts of large-scale land acquisitions in Ethiopia that would result in the forced displacement of over 1.5 million people. This relocation process through the government’s villagization scheme is destroying the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and pastoralist communities. Ethiopian security forces have beaten, arrested, and intimidated individuals who have refused to relocate and free the lands for large-scale agricultural plantations.

Read the full press release at

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Tadias Magazine Roundtable Discussion at National Press Club

Jomo Tariku presents at Tadias Roundtable at The National Press Club, Saturday, December 14th, 2013. (Photo: Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Tadias Magazine hosted a roundtable discussion on Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 14th.

The roundtable discussion presented a panel of scholars, legal experts and civic society leaders from the Ethiopian and Middle Eastern communities who informed the audience about the status of Ethiopian migrant workers in gulf states using data and research to promote a continued dialogue on short and long-term solutions. A Q&A session followed panelist presentations.

Panelists included Jomo Tariku, developer of a crowdmapping website on domestic help abuse in the Middle East; scholar Khaled Beydoun who focused on international anti-trafficking protocols and the legal issues facing Ethiopian migrants working in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and various gulf states; Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw, President of the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) in Washington, DC; Kumera Genet, Huffington Post contributor who has written extensively on the status of Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East; Dawit Wolde Giorgis, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.; and Rima Kalush, Editor and Head Researcher for Bahrain-based

Several media organizations attended the event including Deutsche Welle German Amharic radio program, Voice of America, EBS, and ESAT. We also extend our thanks to who helped publicize the event.

Below is a video trailer and slideshow of the roundtable discussion.

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

Photos by Matt Andrea:

The following are tweets from the audience:


Jomo Tariku developed a crowdmapping site that documents domestic help abuse in the Middle East. Jomo is a voracious reader of current events around the world, a tinkerer of web technologies and a volunteer for various causes. He is also in the process of documenting Ethiopian ( and soon African stories using freely available data and data visualization tools. Jomo was born to Ethiopian parents in Kenya in 1968. He was named after Jomo Kenyatta, founder of the Kenyan nation. Jomo completed his higher education in Industrial Design (BFA) at the University of Kansas. After almost 10 years of operating a design studio in Washington, DC, Jomo joined The World Bank as a Publishing Officer/Designer in 2011. In his spare time he is an advocate of peaceful means of solving difficult problems. Jomo is married with two sons and lives in Springfield, VA.

Khaled A. Beydoun’s insight on domestic and international legal matters has been featured on television and radio, including CNN, NPR, MSNBC, Al-­Jazeera, Voice America, and the Washington Post. Professor Beydoun’s scholarship focuses on immigration law, criminal law, critical race theory, and legal history. His research interests focus on the intersection of race and religion in criminal and immigration law. Professor Beydoun earned his J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and holds a B.A., with distinction, from the University of Michigan. In addition, he earned an LL.M. with an emphasis on Islamic Law from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Before joining UCLA School of Law as a Critical Race Studies Fellow, Professor Beydoun practiced in the areas of criminal law and civil rights advocacy. He served as an Appellate Defense attorney for the State Appellate Defender of Michigan, and served as a Racial Justice Fellow with the ACLU of Michigan. In addition, Professor Beydoun also served as the Middle East & North Africa Legal Analyst for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative in Washington, D.C. Professor Beydoun’s work has been featured in the Berkeley Journal of International Law, the Michigan Journal of Race and Law, the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, and his forthcoming work will be featured in the NYU Survey of American Law.

Maigenet Shifferraw is currently the president of the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) in Washington, DC. Dr. Maigenet earned her Ph.D. in education from the University of Wisconsin­, Milwaukee in 1982. She was an Associate Professor in adult education at the Department of Education at the University of the District of Columbia for twenty years. She has served as a consultant in education at the World Bank, the US Department of Education and other institutions. She has been a women’s rights advocate for the last thirty five years.

Kumera Genet blogs about African migrant issues for the Huffington Post and has built relationships with Lebanese and Arab American activists who support legal, economic, and cultural change in the Middle East to respect migrant workers. Kumera is originally from Austin, Texas, and has been living and working in the DC area for the past 6 years. He has worked in various youth serving organizations and non-­profits focusing on job readiness training, immigrant rights, parental engagement in education and community organizing.

Dawit Wolde Giorgis represents the newly formed global alliance on the issue of Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East. He is a Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.

Rima Kalush is the current editor and head researcher of, a platform dedicated to advancing migrants’ rights throughout the Middle East. She has several years of research experience in diverse fields, ranging from North African history to California politics. Her pieces have been republished by digital journals including Jadaliyya, and her research has been referenced by institutions such as Gender Across Borders and the Institute for Global Labour Rights.

Roundtable Discussion on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East
National Press Club
Saturday, December 14, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (EST)
529 14th Street Northwest, Murrow Conference Room
Washington, DC 20045

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Addis and DC Sign Sister City Agreement

DC Mayor Vincent Gray and Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma toasting the signing of a Sister City Agreement between their respective cities on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Mayor Vincent Gray and Addis Ababa mayor Diriba Kuma signed a Sister City Agreement on Wednesday evening (December 11th) laying the groundwork for a closer relationship between residents of the two cities. In a press release the DC Mayor’s office stated that the agreement will be in force for a period of five years focusing on mutual interests including economic development, information exchange, cultural education and youth engagement.

“Inspired by the District’s vibrant Ethiopian diaspora and by the similarities shared by our two capital cities, I am proud today to call Addis Ababa the District’s newest Sister City,” Mayor Gray said. ” I am deeply grateful to the members of the Ethiopian community for their contributions to the District and view this signing ceremony and the partnering of our two cities as an opportunity for the residents of these two great capital cities to enrich each other culturally, educationally, economically and in quality of life.”

The Mayor added: “With such a large Ethiopian community right here in the District, the signing of this Sister City Agreement presents an unprecedented opportunity for the District and Addis Ababa to work and grow together, and I am very excited about the prospects of our bright future. These important agreements help to foster the international ties that strengthen civil society and goodwill between nations. I look forward to our fruitful collaboration and thank Mayor Kuma for visiting our great city for this truly special occasion.”

Addis Ababa is Washington, D.C.’s fourteenth sister city including Bangkok, Thailand; Dakar, Senegal; Beijing, China; Brussels, Belgium; Athens, Greece; Paris, France; Pretoria, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea; Accra, Ghana; Sunderland, U.K.; Rome, Italy; Ankara, Turkey; and Brasília, Brazil.

Belwo are photos. Stay tuned for video coverage of the event.

Photos: 2nd Annual DC to Africa Business Symposium

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“Write for Rights” Campaign Launched for Journalist Eskinder Nega (Video)

A global appeal has been launched for the release of Eskinder Nega. (Courtesy Amnesty International)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

December 4th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — Amnesty International has launched a global “Write for Rights” campaign to raise worldwide awareness about the case of imprisoned journalist Eskinder Nega.” Eskinder has been locked up at Kaliti prison since 2011 serving an 18-year sentence on terrorism charges.

In May 2013, Eskinder wrote from prison: “I will live to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It may or may not be a long wait. Whichever way events may go, I shall persevere!”

You can take action at

Below is a video from his wife Serkalem Fasil.

International Rights Group Appeals for Release of Reporter Jailed for 18 Years (AP)
Ethiopia: A Lifeline to the World — Wire Interview With Birtukan Mideksa
Taking Eskinder Nega & Reeyot Alemu’s Case to African Court on Human Rights (TADIAS)

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Ethiopia: Red Cross Supports Returnees From Saudi Arabia

Thousands more people are expected to return to Ethiopia in coming weeks. (Photo: Red Cross Society)

By Fekadu Ethiopia, Ethiopian Red Cross Society and Katherine Mueller, IFRC

The decision by the Government of Saudi Arabia to crack down on illegal immigrants is causing ripple effects at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Daily flights between the two countries have doubled to accommodate a rapid influx of Ethiopian returnees. An estimated 40,000 returnees arrived over the span of a few days and that number is expected to increase to 80,000.

One of the first sights greeting the men and women now returning to their homeland is the emblem of the Red Cross. The Ethiopian Red Cross Society is at the forefront of operations, supporting the government in ensuring returnees receive the the assistance they require. Sixty Red Cross volunteers are working around the clock, carrying luggage for returnees, providing first aid, and transportation to shelters.

“Many of these people are arriving with very little. Some have had to leave all of their belongings behind,” said Frehiwot Worku, Secretary General, Ethiopian Red Cross Society. “They need to rebuild their lives from scratch. Working with the government and other partners, we are making sure they have the basics, shelter, food, and blankets.”

Critically, Red Cross volunteers are also ensuring returnees are reunited with their loved ones. “People are arriving exhausted, but also emotionally traumatized by the ordeal of having to leave Saudi Arabia,” said Worku. “Providing a mobile phone so people can reconnect with their families helps to ease a lot of their anxiety. It is such a simple gesture, but the impact is tremendous.”

The society has also deployed five ambulances to transport returnees from the airport to nearby hospitals, including mothers who gave birth either shortly before deportation or upon arrival. Staff and volunteers have helped build 15 temporary shelters and four first aid stations. They are distributing food and non-food items, including soap, blankets and plastic sheeting and work is underway to set up two additional temporary shelters to accommodate a further 4,000 returnees.

“We would not be able to do any of this if it weren’t for our team of dedicated volunteers,” said Worku. “They are putting their own lives aside for the moment to be by the sides of these returnees in need of assistance. With international volunteer day fast approaching, it is important to recognize their valuable contributions to these smaller scale but meaningful operations.”

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Human Rights Watch on Saudi Arabia Migrant Crackdown

Ethiopians in Rome protest killing of migrants in Saudi Arabia on November 19th, 2013. (Photo: Demotix)

Human Rights Watch

(Beirut) – Ethiopian migrant workers have been the victims of physical assaults, some of them fatal, in Saudi Arabia following a government crackdown on foreign workers. Many workers seeking to return home are being held in makeshift detention centers without adequate food or shelter.

Human Rights Watch spoke to five Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. Four Ethiopians in Riyadh told Human Rights Watch that the attacks began after November 4, 2013, when authorities resumed a campaign to arrest foreign workers who they claim are violating labor laws. Security forces have arrested or deported tens of thousands of workers. Saudi officials and state-controlled media have said that migrant workers have also been responsible for violence, including attacks on Saudi citizens, in the wake of the crackdown.

“Saudi authorities have spent months branding foreign workers as criminals in the media, and stirring up anti-migrant sentiment to justify the labor crackdown,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Now the Saudi government needs to rein in Saudi citizens who are attacking foreign workers.”

Saudi authorities should immediately investigate assaults on Ethiopian and other migrant workers by security forces and Saudi citizens, and hold those responsible for violent crimes to account, Human Rights Watch said. Saudi and Ethiopian authorities should work to speedily repatriate undocumented foreign workers waiting in makeshift holding centers, if they have no fear of returning home, and ensure that they get adequate food, shelter, and medical care.

The most violent attacks occurred on the evening of November 9 in areas around the Manfouha neighborhood of southern Riyadh, where Ethiopian residents make up a majority of residents, according to local activists. Two Ethiopian migrant workers told Human Rights Watch that they saw groups of people they assumed to be Saudi citizens armed with sticks, swords, machetes, and firearms, attack foreign workers.

One of the Ethiopians, a 30-year-old supervisor at a private company, said he heard shouts and screams from the street, and left his home near Manfouha to see what was happening. When he arrived near Bank Rajahi on the road to the Yamama neighborhood, west of Manfouha, he saw a large group of Ethiopians crying and shouting around the dead bodies of three Ethiopians, one of whom he said had been shot, and two others who had been beaten to death. He said six others appeared to be badly injured.

He said he saw Saudis whom he called shabab (“young men” in Arabic), and uniformed security forces attack the Ethiopians who had gathered. The shabab were using swords and machetes, while some of the uniformed officers were beating the migrants with metal police truncheons, and other officers were firing bullets into the air to disperse the crowd. He said that he narrowly escaped serious injury when a Saudi man swung a sword at his head. It missed, but hit his arm, requiring stitches to close the wound.

The other Ethiopian witness, a 26-year-old undocumented day laborer who lives in Manfouha, told Human Rights Watch that he was sitting among a group of 23 Ethiopians in a private home on Street 20 on the evening of November 9 when a group of 20 shabab with machetes and pistols broke down the door and attacked the people inside. He and five other Ethiopians escaped by climbing to the roof, but he does not know what happened to the other 17 men.

Another Ethiopian worker who lives nearby, but who did not witness the violence, told Human Rights Watch that on the afternoon of November 9, he was sitting inside the Ethiopian community center and school compound five kilometers from Manfouha when 35 Ethiopian men came to the center.

The Ethiopian men said that groups of armed men were forcing their way into homes in Manfouha, removing the men, and holding the women inside. The person who spoke with Human Rights Watch said that the men showed him as proof a mobile phone video they said they surreptitiously filmed from a distance that appeared to show a Saudi man raping one of the Ethiopian men’s wives. He said the group told him that 10 other women were missing.

Since the evening of November 9, Ethiopian activists have circulated dozens of YouTube videos and other photos purporting to show Saudi men in civilian clothes and security forces attacking Ethiopian workers in Manfouha. Human Rights Watch cannot confirm the authenticity of these videos, though the incidents they purport to show largely match the witness accounts.

Saudi authorities should ensure that all incidents of apparent use of violence and abuse in Manfouha are swiftly and transparently investigated, and that anyone who committed a crime is brought to justice, including members of the security forces, Human Rights Watch said. The authorities should both address any unnecessary and unlawful use of force by security forces and take steps to prevent ordinary citizens from harassing or molesting migrants based on suspicions that they are violating labor laws.

Some Saudi sources blame the migrants for instigating the violence. Arab News, a local English-language newspaper, said that Saudi security forces entered Manfouha on the evening of November 9 to restore the peace after a group of Ethiopian men “went on a rampage in anger at the Kingdom’s ongoing campaign against illegal foreign workers.” It stated that one Saudi man died after “rioters” hit him with rocks, and that the 65 injured were “mostly Saudis and legal residents.” The Sabq news website reported on November 14 that Ethiopian migrants had stabbed to death a 14-year-old Saudi boy in Manfouha, reportedly asking him, “Are you Saudi?” before attacking him.

The five Ethiopian migrant workers who spoke to Human Rights Watch said that many undocumented Ethiopian workers in Manfouha have turned themselves in to the authorities since November 9, fearing violence from police and groups of Saudi citizens. One worker described the atmosphere in Manfouha as a “battleground.” The Ethiopian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Muhammed Hassan Kabiera, toldArab News on November 13 that at least 23,000 Ethiopians, many from the Manfouha area, had surrendered to Saudi authorities for repatriation.

The Ethiopian workers said that authorities transported the Ethiopians to makeshift holding facilities across the area, including a large wedding hall and the campus of Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University. One man told Human Rights Watch that he visited the wedding hall and saw thousands of foreign workers detained there, men in one area, and women and children in another, both inside and outside the building.

He said that Saudi guards give the detainees only one small meal of rice per day, and provide no access to medical attention. He said that other Ethiopians in the neighborhood are trying to help the detainees by bringing food, and that many at the hall had been left without shelter during recent heavy rainfall in Riyadh. One Ethiopian in Riyadh said he escaped from the wedding hall after officials held him in an area outside the building for 10 days, failing to supply the detainees with sufficient food, which forced them to buy food from Saudi guards.

Two Ethiopians in Riyadh told Human Rights Watch that people they knew who turned themselves in had not known that authorities would hold them in makeshift detention centers. They said that Saudi officials told them they would take them directly to Ethiopia. Saudi police officials say that the kingdom is spending one million Saudi Riyals (US$267,000) per day to house and feed thousands of detained Ethiopians.

On November 19, the Ethiopian foreign minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, announced that the government is doing “everything possible to repatriate citizens from Saudi Arabia within 14 to 25 days.”

“Saudi authorities say they are carrying out a crackdown on migrant workers humanely, but keeping thousands of people in makeshift centers without adequate food, shelter, or medical attention could lead to humanitarian disaster,” Stork said. “Saudi officials should release the detainees or send them home immediately.”

Migrant Worker Campaign Background

Over nine million migrant workers in Saudi Arabia–more than half the work force–ill manual, clerical, and service jobs. Many suffer multiple abuses and labor exploitation, sometimes amounting to forced labor, Human Rights Watch said.

Saudi officials say that the ongoing labor crackdown against foreign workers, which includes road checkpoints and raids on businesses, is part of Saudi Arabia’s effort to combat high levels of unemployment among Saudi citizens by opening jobs previously filled by undocumented workers. Those targeted include workers who do not have the proper residency or work permits, and workers who are caught working for an employer who is not their legal sponsor. According to local media outlets, authorities have arrested and deported thousands of workers since November 4.

The violence between Saudis and Ethiopians follows months of local press reports blaming Ethiopian female domestic workers for brutal attacks against Saudi employers. In July, Saudi officials claimed that over 200 Ethiopian women had been detained in two months for “psychological problems,” leading the labor ministry to temporarily ban the recruitment of Ethiopian workers to the country.

In October, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in turn, stopped processing applications for Ethiopians to travel to Saudi Arabia, citing concerns over poor labor conditions for Ethiopian migrants.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the Saudi government to abolish aspects of the kafala or “sponsorship” system that create conditions for abuse, including rules requiring a worker to obtain permission from his or her employer to change jobs or leave the country. These rules leave foreign workers with little option for redress in cases of abuse or labor violations and force them into under-the-table work.

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Columbia University’s African Diplomatic Forum Explores New Frontier of Leadership

The 2013 African Diplomatic Forum at Columbia University, Friday November 22nd, 2013. (Tadias photo)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Monday, November 25th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – As Africa grapples to adopt to the rapidly changing global media environment, transparency and a paradigm shift in public leadership, the impact of new media on society and good governance in Africa was one of the topics highlighted at the 7th Annual African Diplomatic Forum (ADF) on Friday at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Tadias Magazine was a media sponsor of this year’s conference, which was themed ‘The New Frontier of African Leadership.’

“New media and technology are changing the way millions of Africans communicate and connect with one another on a slew of social and economic issues,” the ADF 2013 press release noted.

Keynote speakers this year included George Ayittey, Founder and President of Free Africa Foundation and Author of Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Development as well as Colin Coleman, Head of Investment Banking, Sub-Saharan Africa at Goldman Sachs.

The forum featured panel discussions on fostering investment in African infrastructure, the role of the press on society and good governance, human rights law and building African capacities for justice, and women as catalysts of change in the African development story.

Tseliso Thipanyane, Former CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission and current Lecturer at Columbia University Law School addressed the issue of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent indictment by the International Criminal Court and the Kenyan Parliament’s subsequent vote to withdraw from the ICC. “What does it mean for the fight against impunity in Africa? What does it mean for the rule of law and African countries themselves upholding their own constitution and addressing issues of crimes against humanity?” Thipanyane asked the audience. “For me, I think it is completely unacceptable for African leaders to say that no sitting heads of state should be tried in an international criminal court. That is nonsense.” Thipanyane added. “I mean in my country we don’t have that. No one is above the law. And secondly that’s what we all signed up for and agreed to when we ratified the Rome Statute. We will not have impunity for heads of state.”

Thipanyane, further pointed out that although Kenya’s constitution does provide immunity from prosecution for the president of Kenya in his country, he noted that “however, the very same constitution says that he can be prosecuted internationally.” In order for the Kenyans to abide by their constitution they pulled out from the ICC and claimed ‘Okay now we are not party to any international treaty.’ Thipanyane asserted that granting impunity to heads of state from being indicted by the ICC will only encourage leaders to hold on to their power for life and strongly condemned making such exemptions.

The gathering concluded with a networking session for attendees. Below is a video excerpt and photos from the event as well as a description of the various panels.


Panel 1: Bridging the Gap: Fostering Investment in African Infrastructure
Moderator: Akbar Noman, Senior Fellow, Initiative for Policy Dialogue; and Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Thiam, Founding Partner and CEO, Thiam & Co; and Former Minister of Mining, Energy and Hydraulics, Republic of Guinea
Joel Moser, Partner and Head, Energy & Infrastructure Group of Kaye Scholer LLP; and Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Mark Rosenberg, Senior Analyst for Africa, The Eurasia Group
Jamal Saghir, Director, Sustainable Development Department, Africa Region, World Bank

Panel 2: New Media, New Voices: The Impact of New Media on Society and Good Governance
Moderator: Anya Schiffrin, Director, Journalism Training Programs, Initiative for Policy Dialogue; and Director, International Media, Advocacy, and Communications Specialization, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, Founder and Managing Online Director,
Karen Attiah, Freelance Journalist, Blogger, and Consultant, World Bank (SIPA Graduate, 2012)
Dayo Olopade, Journalist and Writer, The New Republic, Slate, Dailybeast; and Knight Law and Media Scholar, Yale University
Erika Rodigues, Social Marketing and Branding Specialist,

Panel 3: Human Rights, Law, and Building African Capacities for Justice
Mahmood Mamdani, Director, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, Uganda; and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, and Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
Tseliso Thipanyane, Adjunct Lecturer, Columbia University Law School; and Former CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission

Panel 4: Women as Catalysts of Change in the African Development Story
Moderator: Sara Minard, Socio-economist and Lecturer-in-Discipline of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Farai Gundan, Co-founder, and Contributor, Forbes USA, Forbes Africa, Forbes Women Africa, Forbes Life Africa
Mpule K. Kwelagobe, Managing Director, Pula Agriculture Fund; Founder, MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development; and President of Botswana-based MPULE Foundation
Katie Meyler, Founder, More than Me (MTM) – MTM gets girls off the street and off to school in one of the poorest slums in Liberia.
Macintosh Johnson, Program Coordinator, More than Me, Liberia
H.E Dr. Hadja Saran Daraba Kabba, First woman secretary-general of the four-nation Mano River Union (The Mano River Union, which comprises Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, was established in 1973 with the objective of promoting regional integration along economic lines).

The African Diplomatic Forum is one of the largest Africa-focused gatherings taking place at the Columbia campus bringing together scholars, policy makers, leaders and development practitioners.
Sponsors of ADF 2013 include Arik Air and Columbia University Institute of African Studies. Media sponsors included MediAfritiQ, Face2Face Africa,, Tadias Magazine, Afrique Expansion, Africa Trade, Africa 2.0, 3G Media, and Africa Women Power.

Learn more about the Columbia University African Diplomatic Form (CUADF) at

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NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations

Ethiopians protested at Saudi Mission to the U.N. in New York, Nov. 18th, 2013. (Photo: Kidane Mariam)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopians in New York made their presence felt outside the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations on Monday, November 18th.

The demonstration followed last week’s deadly immigration crackdown in Saudi Arabia that claimed the lives of several Ethiopian citizens.

The diverse crowd included members of the Caribbean and other African communities joining fellow Ethiopians around the world who are holding similar events this month to raise global awareness and to protest the recent killings and continuing mistreatment of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. There are still tens of thousands of undocumented Ethiopians in limbo facing danger without adequate legal protection in the region.

More protests are scheduled this week in front of Saudi embassies and missions including in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for updates.

Below are photos from New York:

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Ethiopians Protest Killings In Saudi Arabia (KDLT News)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Canada: Ethiopian community protests working conditions in Saudi Arabia (CTV News)
The Ethiopian Migrant Crisis in Saudi Arabia: Taking Accountability (TADIAS)
Tadias Interview With Rima Kalush: Migrant-Rights Org Seeks Long Term Solutions
Ethiopians Continue Peaceful Protests Against Migrant Abuse in Saudi Arabia (TADIAS)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Crackdown (Global Voices)
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)
Ethiopian Domestic Help Abuse Headlines From the Middle East (TADIAS)
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)
BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen (TADIAS)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C.
The Plight of Ethiopian Women in the Middle East: Q & A With Rahel Zegeye

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The Ethiopian Migrant Crisis in Saudi Arabia: Taking Accountability

(Photo: Reuters)

Tadias Magazine

Published: Monday, November 18th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — If it was up to the Ethiopian migrants — who last week were savagely attacked, beaten, robbed and killed amid a mob of violence targeting foreigners — the Saudis would have been stripped of their seat on the UN Human Rights Council. It makes a mockery of the international organization that Saudi Arabia was elected to the position the same week that thousands of non-Saudi nationals were being hunted and several murdered in the streets of Riyadh. It’s a shame that Saudi Arabia, now a member of the world’s highest rights monitoring body, gets to make human rights decisions at the global level despite the fact that to date it has refused to let U.N. investigators visit to check alleged abuses. The New York-based Human Rights Watch describes the oil rich kingdom as an enemy of minority rights and political freedom.

The Saudis, however, are not the only ones to blame for the continuing plight of Ethiopian citizens inside their territory. It’s unfortunate that the Ethiopian government also failed to take advantage of the amnesty period to properly register and account for its nationals as Pakistan has done. Pakistani Ambassador Muhammad Naeem Khan told Arab News that more than 700,000 of his country’s citizens have been legalized by Saudi Arabia ahead of the November 4th deadline to avoid forced deportation. “The embassy has created 80 different focal points all over the Kingdom to help illegal workers register” Ambassader Khan reported. What effort did the Ethiopian embassy make to register its citizens and provide access to legality or else repatriate Ethiopians before the amnesty expired? Even now, the Saudi government has stated that it will continue to receive adjustment applications from migrants as long as fines are paid given that they missed the amnesty deadline. Do representatives of the Ethiopian government in Saudi Arabia have plans to assist detained migrants given this leeway? If Pakistan can get 700,000 of their nationals registered there is no reason why Ethiopia can’t do the same for a much smaller migrant worker population.

The matter is complicated by the fact that in most Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, having an official sponsor is a legal requirement. According to Gulf News: “nearly a million migrants — Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Indians, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis among them — took advantage of the amnesty to leave when they failed to guarantee a sponsor. If Ethiopia chooses to repatriate all non-legal migrants it must do so in a timely manner, as those detained are facing risky and life-threatening conditions.

On the ground, this is a time of intense difficulty for many Ethiopians and their families. We are encouraged by the collective efforts of Ethiopians worldwide to bring about global awareness, as well as government efforts to open an investigation into the deaths of three Ethiopians and repatriation of a few hundred so far. However, tweets and press releases may not be enough. We urge a united public engagement among Ethiopians both at home and abroad to close this sad chapter in Ethiopia’s modern history. We watched the videos and photos depicting unimaginable human cruelty, but we cannot imagine what it must have been like for those stranded after the amnesty expired and who found themselves being chased by armed gangs. And how about their relatives who watched in horror from afar?

We call on the members of the United Nations to urge Saudia Arabia to adhere by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights especially now that they are a UN Human Rights Council member. We also call upon the Ethiopian embassy in Saudi Arabia to take up collective responsibility to work to register its citizens and assist them — as other nations have for their people — in adjusting their status, or voluntarily repatriating them in a timely manner so that they don’t continue to languish in detention.

NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations (TADIAS)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Tadias Interview With Rima Kalush: Migrant-Rights Org Seeks Long Term Solutions
Ethiopians Continue Peaceful Protests Against Migrant Abuse in Saudi Arabia (TADIAS)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Crackdown (Global Voices)
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)
Ethiopian Domestic Help Abuse Headlines From the Middle East (TADIAS)
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)
BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen (TADIAS)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C.
The Plight of Ethiopian Women in the Middle East: Q & A With Rahel Zegeye

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Ethiopians Returning From Saudi Arabia Describe Horrible Attacks

Police this week broke up a protest outside the Saudi embassy in Addis Ababa [AFP]

Al Jazeera English

When Abdallah Awele moved to Saudi Arabia from Ethiopia last year, he thought he would land a good job and earn enough money to send home to his family.

But instead, Abdallah, 21, said he was beaten, robbed and jailed for living in the country illegally.

“I wanted a good salary and a good life, that’s why I crossed the border,” he said.

“When I was in Saudi Arabia, I was successful, I was saving a lot of money and I had nice things. But I lost all of it. Now I am home and I won’t go back there.”

Abdallah was one of at least 23,000 Ethiopians living illegally in Saudi Arabia, and part of a group of close to 400 flown home on Friday after being expelled.

According to Ethiopian officials, three of their nationals were killed this month in clashes with Saudi police as the clampdown – set in motion after a seven-month amnesty period expired – got under way.

“I had 3,500 Saudi Arabian riyals (930 dollars, 690 euros). We were taken to prison, I lost my luggage, and all of my money was collected by the police,” Abdallah said.

“Even my shoes were collected by the police,” he said, speaking barefoot after leaving the airport with about 30 other men and showing scars on the back of his neck.

Abdullah, who had a job guarding animals, was jailed for six months – during which he said he was denied food and medical help.

Read more.

Severe Flooding in Saudi Capital Riyadh Claims Three Lives (Gulf News)
Ethiopians Continue Peaceful Protests Against Migrant Abuse in Saudi Arabia (TADIAS)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Crackdown (Global Voices)
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)

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Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Ethiopians protest outside Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., November 14th, 2013. (Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Published: Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Thousands of Ethiopian demonstrators gathered outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. today to protest the killings of several Ethiopian citizens and the violent clampdown against foreign migrants workers in Saudi Arabia. The protesters also denounced xenophobia in the kingdom and the role of vigilante Saudi civilians in violence directed against Ethiopians.

The protesters were dressed in black scarves and held placards that read, “Shame on You” and “Stop Killing and Raping our Sisters.” Emotions ran high as protestors braved the cold weather to express their disappointment and outrage at both the Saudi and Ethiopian governments, waving the Ethiopian flag and shouting various slogans.

“We don’t understand why our government is unable to protect our citizens,” some asked angrily.

Shimeles Legese, a member of the protest organizing committee, told Tadias that the large turnout was more than he had expected.

“This is special because it’s a matter of humanity and Ethiopian dignity,” Shimeles said. “I have not seen anything like it at any previous demonstrations here in Washington.” Leaders of the protest also presented a letter to the Embassy.

According to officials more than 23,000 Ethiopians are being held at various detention centers across Saudi Arabia. Three Ethiopians are among the five people that died following clashes with police in the capital, Riyadh, this week.

The protesters asked “Why do they kill them, why do they rape our women? Why don’t they let them leave their country freely?” referring to Ethiopian migrants who are currently facing abuse while being stuck in Saudi Arabia having either over-stayed their visa or entered the country illegally.

A tearful demonstrator from Maryland, Fekerte Belete, said she has no words to express her feelings, except to say: “please tell our government to rescue the poor people and tell the Saudis to stop mistreating pregnant women.”

Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier that it has evacuated some 31 Ethiopian nationals from Saudi Arabia and had registered over 20,000 Ethiopian who are willing to return to their country.

Organizers said this is the first of many protests planned to take place in front of Saudi embassies in major cities around the world to galvanize action and solutions for this migrants’ rights issue. The next D.C.-based protest is scheduled for Monday, November 18th, 2013.

First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter for Migrant Killings (TADIAS)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)

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Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter For Inhumane Treatment Of Migrant Workers

(Photo: Stringer / Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopians have taken to Twitter to express their outrage and draw much needed attention to the ongoing brutal treatment of tens of thousands of migrant workers stuck in Saudi Arabia. So far police and vigilante civilians have killed at least three Ethiopian citizens.

BuzzFeed highlighted a Twitter campaign that started yesterday with a message from user Abdi Lemessa who wrote: “#SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to stop killing our brothers and sisters.”

The hashtag has since ignited a social media storm over the kingdom’s abuse of migrant workers.

Below are several tweets:

NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations (TADIAS)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Immigration Crackdown (Global Voices)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Saudi Arabian Immigrant Crackdown: 23,000 Ethiopians Surrender to Authorities (AFP)
23,000 undocumented Ethiopians surrender to authorities (Arab News)
Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter (TADIAS)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia in Visa Crackdown (AFP)

Video shows mass exodus of immigrants in Saudi Arabia

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Columbia University’s 7th Annual African Diplomatic Forum

(Photo courtesy Columbia University's African Diplomatic Forum)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Thursday, November 7th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Tadias Magazine is proud to partner with Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) as media sponsor of the 7th annual African Diplomatic Forum (ADF), which will take place on Friday, November 22nd, 2013.

The SIPA Pan-African Network (SPAN) is a student group dedicated towards providing a platform for all students interested in business, economic, political, and social development of Africa and its diaspora. Every year they host and co-host two of Columbia University’s largest Africa focused events, the African Diplomatic Forum and African Economic Forum respectively. The forums provide great learning and networking opportunities for students, faculty, alumni, and working professionals passionate about the success of the continent.

A new generation of leaders in Africa is grappling with a number of challenges, old and new, across the continent. In the public sector, good governance paradigms are shifting and democratic processes are taking hold, yet problems of electoral corruption and public mistrust remain. In the private sector, foreign direct investment and liberal economic reform are on the rise at the same time that resource exploitation and the merits of local versus foreign market control are debated. Leaders in the non-profit and social welfare sectors must grapple with the changing role of foreign aid, emerging micro-finance and social enterprises, and the capacity of local organizations to combat poverty, health, hunger and education-related problems. New media and technology are changing the way millions of Africans communicate and connect with one another on a slew of social and economic issues. This conference will focus on how the nature of African leadership across the aforementioned sectors and in various industries and levels of government is changing in response to these new challenges and opportunities.

Questions that the conference will broadly address include:

What does a changing leadership landscape mean for governance reform and democracy, both at home and with regard to perceptions of African leadership abroad? How are private sector companies and international institutions responding to the need for increased investment in the context of new governance paradigms? How are young, business-minded leaders – many of them women – changing the face of social welfare, education and health programs? And what role might new media, cellphones, and other forms of network technology play in the execution of policy, the formation of new business, and the rise of new constituencies?

Panel specific content will focus on the role of women and gender in African leadership changes, the role of governance, law, and international institutions in fostering economic growth andsocial equality, the urgency of infrastructure investment and leaders’ role in encouraging it, and the role of new media in debates about development and reform on the continent.

If You Go:
Columbia University’s 7th Annual African Diplomatic Forum
Date: November 22, 2013
Time: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Location: Columbia SIPA, 15th Floor
420 W 118th St,
New York, NY, 10027
Click here to register.

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Attack on Indian Farm in Gambella Turns Spotlight on Land Policy

A farm leased to an Indian owned company in Gambella. (Photograph: Aman Sethi)

The Hindu


A violent attack on a tea plantation leased by Indian-owned Verdanta Harvest Plc, a subsidiary of the Noida-based Lucky Group, has renewed concerns over Ethiopia’s policy of leasing out large tracts of land to international investors.

On October 20, unidentified individuals destroyed buildings and machinery worth approximately $140,000, according to Verdanta officials.

Media reported that locals set the plantation on fire “on account of destroying the rich forest resources”, a claim denied by the company.

Community leaders in Gambella did not comment on the attack, but rights groups have warned that a policy of leasing out 42 per cent of Gambella’s land and resettling over 30,000 agro-pastoral communities is the likely cause of the unrest.

In 2011, for instance, armed gunmen killed five workers on a farm developed by a Saudi Arabian company.

All land in Ethiopia belongs to the state, giving the government unusual leverage in its dealings with local communities.

Read more at The Hindu.

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Kenyans Dominate 2013 NYC Marathon: Buzunesh Deba, Tsegaye Kebede Finish 2nd

Priscah Jeptoo (above) and Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya cross the finish line Sunday to capture the 2013 New York City Marathon in the women’s and men’s races respectively. (Getty Images)

New York Daily News

Priscah Jeptoo and Geoffrey Mutai have won the women’s and men’s titles in the New York City Marathon in its triumphant return after a 1-year hiatus.

The two Kenyans waved their flag in celebration while thousands cheered in Central Park.

Jeptoo, 29, overtook Bronx resident Buzunesh Deba with an impressive final kick and sped across the finish line to thunderous applause, clocking in at 2 hours, 25 minutes and 7 seconds for the grueling 26.2-mile race.

Deba, 26, finished second for the second straight time, having claimed No. 2 in 2011 as well.

Jeptoo trailed the Ethiopian-born Deba by more than three minutes halfway through. But she made her move as the race entered Manhattan and passed Deba with more than two miles to go.

Read more at NY Daily News.

New York Resident Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia Finishes Second in the Women’s Race

File Photo: Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia training in her Bronx neighborhood in New York City. (Photo by Jason Jett for Tadias Magazine).

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — New York-based Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba repeated her 2011 record on Sunday, finishing second at the 2013 ING New York City Marathon. Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya won the women’s race with a time of 2:25:07 while her fellow countryman Geoffrey Mutai won the men’s race in 2:08:24 time. He was followed by Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede and South African long-distance runner Lusapho April. The third place finisher in the women’s competition was Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia.

Below are the results as announced via Twitter by ING NYC Marathon. Stay tuned for updates.

Top 5 Women To Watch At 2013 NYC Marathon on Sunday (By

It’s impossible to count on two hands the number of women with sub-2:30 marathon personal bests on the starting line of this Sunday’s ING New York City Marathon. What does this mean? There’s potential for fireworks.

Reigning champion Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia returns as does former champion and two-time reigning world champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya. London Marathon champion and Olympic silver medalist Priscah Keptoo will also be in the hunt for victory as will New York-based Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba, who finished second in New York in 2011. Sub-2:24 runners Valeria Straneo of Italy, Jelena Prokopcuka (two-time NYC Marathon champion) and Risa Shigetomo of Japan also figure to be in the mix, along with host of other mid-to-high 2:20 women who are all hoping for a breakthrough.

Here’s a look at the top-5 international women to watch in this year’s race.

Read more.

Top-5 International Men To Watch At 2013 New York City Marathon

Watch: Firehiwot Dado & Buzunesh Deba Take Top-Two Spots at 2011 NYC Marathon

Watch: Homecoming Reception For New York Marathon Winners at Queen of Sheba Restaurant

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UDJ Report Alleges ‘Gruesome Rights Violations’ Against Its Members

Negasso Gidada, the UDJ party chief, center, has urged the government to stop abusing his party members. [EPA])


Addis Ababa — A leading Ethiopian opposition party said in a report Thursday that scores of its members and supporters had been killed, abused or jailed over the past two years.

“The report has information on human rights violations on members of UDJ, on supporters and other political party members and leaders… in different parts of Ethiopia,” said Unity for Democratic Justice (UDJ) leader Negasso Gidada.

Negasso said seven party supporters had been killed in southern Ethiopia and around 150 supporters had faced intimidation, arrest without charge, abuse, abduction and confiscation of property by police and security forces across Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government said it had not seen a copy of the report, but accused the party of routinely coming up with “concoctions and spurious accusations”, Information Minister Redwan Hussein told AFP.

Read more at AFP.

Ethiopian opposition says members beaten, illegally detained (Reuters)
Ethiopian opposition claims rampant abuse (Al Jazeera)

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Ethiopia Bans Citizens From Travelling Abroad for Work

Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen, near the Saudi border, waiting to return home. (Photo courtesy BBC News)

BBC News

Ethiopia’s government has temporarily banned its citizens from travelling abroad to look for work, the state-run Erta news agency reports.

The foreign ministry was quoted as saying countless Ethiopians had lost their lives or undergone untold physical and psychological trauma because of illegal human trafficking.

The decision was meant to “safeguard the well-being of citizens”, it added.

The travel ban will remain in place until a “lasting solution” is found.

The ministry said the government had taken various measures to limit the suffering of its citizens, including setting up a national council and a taskforce to educate them.

But those measures had not been able to address the problem sufficiently, it added.

Employment agencies will also be barred from facilitating travel abroad.

Read more at BBC.

Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)

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Ethiopia’s First International Marathon Draws Crowds to ‘Land of Runners’

Awassa hosted an international Marathon on October 20, 2013 drawing hundreds of elite runners. (AFP)

Agence France-Presse

By Jenny Vaughan

HAWASSA, Ethiopia – The sun had barely risen but the cool morning air was buzzing with excitement: 350 participants had gathered in Ethiopia, the land of runners, for the country’s first international marathon organized by athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie.

Sunday’s (October 20) race, which drew 150 elite Ethiopian athletes and about 150 foreign “fun runners”, promises to boost professionalism in a country that has produced scores of world-class runners, many of whom started running barefoot along dusty country roads.

“Believe me, we can produce more big names, we can produce more marathon runners, more Olympic champions, world champion and world record holders,” said Gebrselassie, two-time marathon record-breaker and 10,000 Olympic champion.

Read more at Agence France-Presse.

Video: Ethiopia Hosts Very First ‘Haile Gebrselassie Marathon’

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Mulatu Teshome Elected As Ethiopia’s New President

Mulatu Teshome has been elected by parliament as Ethiopia's new president. (Photo: World Bulletin)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Published: Monday, October 7th, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian parliament has elected Dr. Mulatu Teshome Wirtu to serve as Ethiopia’s President for the next six years.

Dr. Mulatu replaces the outgoing Girma Wolde-Giorgis who has held the position for the past 12 years.

Mulatu, a 57-year-old economist, was Ethiopia’s top diplomat in Ankara, Turkey prior to his election as President on Monday, October 7th, 2013. Mulatu has also served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to China and Japan, as well as several other government posts including as Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture. The new president, a father of one son, said he is humbled by the appointment and vowed to work hard to speed up the the country’s development.

Mulatu is the fourth president since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power some 21 years ago. The ruling party controls 546 out of 547 seats in the Ethiopian parliament, and the lone opposition parliament member, Girma Seifu, represents the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ).

Video: Dr. Mulatu Teshome becomes new president of Ethiopia

Ethiopia parliament elects Mulatu Teshome as new president (AFP)

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UPDATE: Lampedusa Migrant Shipwreck Survivors Recall Awful Ordeal

A man from Eritrea is rescued: the boat had almost made it to the coast, sinking just 800m away. (BBC)


By Matthew Chance

Lampedusa, Italy (CNN) — At the port in Lampedusa, recovery teams continue to fill trucks with the bodies they’re still pulling from the sea.

At least 287 so far — and that number could rise.

They are among the more than 500 African migrants believed to have been aboard a boat that sank off the island last Thursday. The tragedy amounted to Italy’s deadliest migrant shipwreck and, according to Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini, “the biggest sea tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea since World War II.”

The survivors — 155 of them, mainly from Eritrea, who swam for their lives and were lucky enough to be rescued by fishermen and the Coast Guard — wait in a cramped migrant detention center.

It was built to hold about 250 people but has held many times that in recent days. Each day, more people are leaving on ferries for other detention centers along the Italian coast, though 900 nonetheless remained Tuesday.

Read more at CNN.

Migrants Boat Disaster Off Lampedusa Island: Aerial Search Mounted (BBC News)

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PM Hailemariam Desalegn at General Assembly, 68th Session (UN TV)

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn addresses the sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 25th, 2013. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

Watch: Ethiopia, General Debate, 68th Session (UN TV)

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Starbucks’ New Flavor Honors the Birthplace of Coffee, Ethiopia

A single-origin coffee unlike anything in Starbucks 42-year history, "Ethiopia" is masterfully roasted for an exquisite taste experience. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Business Wire

SEATTLE (September 24, 2013) – Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) today introduces a new single-origin coffee from the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia.

Starbucks first whole bean packaged coffee available globally since the introduction of Starbucks® Blonde Roast two years ago, Ethiopia coffee celebrates Ethiopia’s rich coffee tradition and delivers a taste in cup unlike any other coffee offered in Starbucks 42-year history. This new coffee joins Starbucks selection of 20 core and 10 traditional and seasonal whole bean coffees offered at Starbucks retail stores nationwide.

“We’ve taken great care in sourcing this coffee and applying the signature Starbucks roast to create a flavor profile that is both uniquely Starbucks and unique to specialty coffee,” said Craig Russell, senior vice president of Global Coffee at Starbucks. “We want to honor Ethiopia’s rich coffee heritage while also giving our customers an exceptional flavor experience from the birthplace of coffee.”

With its high elevation, rich volcanic soil, and more than 10,000 coffee varieties, Ethiopia produces some of the most extraordinary coffee in the world.

“Starbucks fully-washed, medium-bodied Ethiopian coffee offers soft, velvety notes of dark chocolate, subtle hints of peppery spice, and sweet, mandarin-like citrus for a balanced and approachable taste in the cup,” said Anthony Carroll, Starbucks coffee development manager.

Coffee was discovered in Africa more than 1,200 years ago and is where the first arabica beans were grown.* Today, coffee remains central to Ethiopian culture and heritage and is shared with family and friends through daily coffee ceremonies often occurring throughout the day lasting up to several hours. Multiple steps in the ceremony include pan-roasting green coffee, grinding the roasted beans using a mortar and pestle, and preparing the roasted and ground coffee in a spherical-shaped pot called a jebena. The coffee is then served in traditional tasting cups.

Ethiopia coffee is available at Starbucks® retail stores and starting today, September 24, for the suggested retail price of $13.95 U.S. per pound. Customers can sample Ethiopia coffee at participating Starbucks® stores in the U.S. on National Coffee Day, September 29, and those who purchase a 1 lb. bag of Ethiopia whole bean will receive a commemorative Ethiopia tasting cup, while supplies last. Ethiopia coffee will be available for customers to order as a brewed option through October 15, at select Starbucks stores.

Read more and watch video at

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In Ethiopia, State Controls Hold Back Waking Giant (Reuters)

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pictured a day before the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Sept. 4, 2013. (Reuters)

VOA News

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) — When global drinks giant Diageo bought a brewery in Ethiopia, it paid a premium for a stake in a barely tapped African market that in the 1980s had spectacularly failed to feed its own population.

Diageo paid $225 million for state-owned Meta Abo, joining a list of firms seeking a foothold in Africa’s second most populous nation that was once run by communists and now has an emerging middle class after a decade of double-digit growth.

“We paid a premium of course and that was a deliberate decision … We knew the value of what we were buying,” Francis Agbonlahor, Diageo’s managing director at Meta Abo, told Reuters in a capital that boasts smart highways and new office blocks.

Ethiopia is now sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth biggest economy, leap-frogging next door Kenya and wooing investors from Sweden, Britain and China, as other emerging markets lose some of their shine.

Few nations can better tell the story of “Africa Rising,” the narrative of a hopelessly mismanaged and violent continent now prized for strong growth and, in many cases, the kind of political stability scarcely imaginable a decade or two ago.

Yet like other African nations, Ethiopia must now work out how to maintain economic momentum as the U.S. Federal Reserve starts to turn off the taps of easy money that drove investors to more adventurous markets, and when China’s economy and those of other emerging powers start to shift down a gear.

That means another tricky transition for Ethiopia, which has until now relied on the state to run its economy, but which has seen growth rates slip to 7-8 percent, short of the level needed for its goal of middle income status by 2025.

“When you are starting from a very low base with a lot of donor support, it is easy enough to grow in a strong, robust way,” said Razia Khan, head of Africa research for Standard Chartered bank. “As the economy matures … it is going to become a lot more difficult.”


Opening up the economy, as many businesses at home and abroad want, could draw in new investment but may also loosen the controls that can be exerted by a government made up of ethnic and regional parties that has carefully managed development and kept a lid on rivalries.

That is the dilemma for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and his cabinet, who still work in the shadow of Meles Zenawi, the rebel-turned-statesman who ruled with an iron grip for two decades until he died last year. Caution remains the watchword.

“We are not ready now,” Foreign Affairs Minister Tedros Adhanom told Reuters when asked if Ethiopia could open up its mobile network or banks, prime targets for foreign investors.

Concerns about a deepening rich-poor divide and worries about changing the tried and tested policies of a charismatic leader, all weigh in to deter officials from a big shift.

But moving too slowly risks squandering investor enthusiasm and damaging the prospects of a nation once best known for “Red Terror” purges under communist rule in the 1970s and its 1980s famine. For now, at least, it has not deterred investors.

“I was in India recently and the thing that caught me by surprise [when talking] to foreign investors [was] the country that kept being mentioned was Ethiopia,” said Khan.

Diageo is not alone in seeing the potential. Heineken of Holland and France’s BGI Castel have snapped up breweries, which were among first state firms to be sold off.

The Ethiopian Investment Agency says Unilever and Nestle are sniffing around, and South Korea’s Samsung told Reuters it was exploring Ethiopia as a place to assemble its electronic goods. The two European companies did not comment.

Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), the world’s second biggest fashion retailer, has put in test orders as the nation seeks to boost textile exports to $1 billion a year by 2016 from $100 million last year.

H&M spokeswoman Marie Rosenlind said that, if the tests were successful, production could start this autumn.

Lending support

With manufacturing accounting for just 4 percent of gross domestic product, Ethiopia needs such investors to help reduce its reliance on exports of coffee, horticultural products and livestock that have driven growth until now. It also remains one of the world’s biggest recipients of aid.

“No other country that I’m aware of, aside from these resource-rich countries … can go to middle-income status with still 50 percent of GDP on agriculture,” Guang Z. Chen, the World Bank’s country director, told Reuters in a June interview.

China could lend support, though this time not in the usual form of donations that have helped African growth till now.

Chinese shoe exporter Huajian has announced plans to co-invest $2 billion in an industrial zone outside Addis Ababa to bolster its Ethiopian exports and create up to 100,000 jobs.

The African Development Bank says a switch by Beijing towards domestic consumption may boost manufacturing in African economies like Ethiopia, where labor is cheap and power is a third of the price in China.

Ethiopia is building a huge dam on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile, part of plans to export electricity in a few years.

Until now, the most visible signs of growth are in the capital, where building sites clad in wooden scaffolding have mushroomed. In the upmarket Bole Medhane Alem suburb, an emerging middle class is enjoying new luxuries.

A fast-food outlet sells burgers and fries for a just over $4, more than many Ethiopians earn for several days’ work. “We’re not coping with demand,” said one employee.

At a nearby coffee house, whose logo mimics Starbucks, hip youths in low-cut jeans sip Frappuccino’s and caramel macchiatos.

“The middle class is growing and is really increasing its purchasing power,” said 18-year-old Yohannes, sitting near a billboard advertising two new residential tower blocks carrying the slogan: “From shabby to chic. Witness the transformation.”

‘I won’t be one of them’

Yet for some, change is not being felt, including those in the capital’s tin-roofed slums.

“You can see it all around you, there are rich people. But I am not going to be one of them,” said Elias Zelalem, a teenager who earns $1.60 a day shining shoes — if business is brisk.

Ethiopia’s ambition is to achieve middle income status in 12 years’ time, defined by the World Bank as a per capita income of $1,430. In 2012, Ethiopia’s per capita income was $410.

Yet to do this, Ethiopia’s $43 billion economy needs to repeat the 10.7 percent average annual growth achieved in 2004 to 2011. Some question whether the state’s determination to meet this target is coming at the cost of private business.

“We have to overcome poverty. How fast we should do this, therein lies the difference [of opinion],” said Zafu Eyessus Zafu, whose United Insurance Company is a shareholder in a commercial bank. He wants financial services open to foreigners.

Two thirds of Ethiopia’s 8.5 percent growth in 2011/12 was due to public spending, the World Bank said. Half of spending needs are raised domestically, leaving little for private firms.

“If we need 50 million birr ($2.7 million) from the bank we may get 20-25 million,” said a truck importer who identified himself as Taye, wary of using his full name in a nation where the state has long kept a tight lid on dissent and criticism.

“For foreign currency it is impossible. We can apply to the bank and wait a month or more,” he added.

Proven policy

The credit crunch is deepened by a state-imposed requirement that each time a bank lends cash it must loan an additional 27 percent of the loan’s value to the government in the form of a low-interest Treasury bond to help fund development projects.

But the government shows no change of tack. Reining in the state would challenge the vision of Meles, whose portrait still hangs in government offices.

“There is no need to look for policy changes at this time,” deputy premier Muktar Kedir told Reuters earlier this year.

“We are of the mind that we have to fully implement the policy that has already proven itself successful,” he said.

A policy shift could open rifts along ethnic lines in the coalition made up of four main regional parties. There is little room for anyone who might challenge the status quo.

Without the force of personality or reputation of his predecessor, Hailemariam has shown no sign he has the political will or clout to veer from Meles’ path.

That may mean Ethiopia has to be content with slower growth and investors will need patience.

“Ethiopia is missing out in several respects,” said Standard Chartered’s Khan. “But there is this very cautious policy.”

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Admits Imposing New Restrictions Against Reeyot Alemu

Reeyot Alemu is the recipient of the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. (Photo: Getty Images)

NEW: Sudan Tribune Reports Ethiopia admits imposing new restrictions against jailed journalist
Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) — The saga of imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu continues as officials refuse to lift a ban denying her any visitors except for her younger sister and her fiancé.

“The decision by authorities at Kality Prison to impose visitor restrictions on imprisoned journalist Reeyot Alemu constitutes harassment and runs counter to the Ethiopian constitution,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Monday.

“We call upon the Ethiopian authorities to lift these latest restrictions and allow Reeyot Alemu to receive all visitors,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “She is a journalist, not a criminal, and should not be behind bars.”

The CPJ statement follows Reeyot’s hunger strike last week to oppose what her family members said was mistreatment inside her cell that arose out of a dispute with a new inmate.

“Reeyot, a critical columnist of the banned private weekly Feteh, began a hunger strike on Wednesday to protest an order by Kality Prison officials to turn in a list of visitors,” CPJ said quoting local news reports. “The officials did not provide an explanation for the request. In retaliation for the hunger strike, authorities forbade her from having any visitors excluding her parents and priest, local journalists said.”

Two days later, prison officials said she could receive any visitors except for her younger sister and her fiancé, journalist Sileshi Hagos, the sources said. Sileshi was detained for four hours at the prison later that day when he attempted to visit Reeyot.

CPJ said Reeyot stopped the hunger strike on Sunday, but decided not to receive any visitors until the restrictions on her fiancé and sister are lifted. The journalist is serving a 14-year prison term on vague terrorism charges that was reduced in August 2012 to five years on appeal.

Reeyot is the winner of the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, which she was awarded on world Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, 2013 at a ceremony held in Costa Rica.

Per CPJ: “It was not immediately clear whether the visitor restrictions were in connection with an article published by the International Women’s Media Foundation last month that had been written by Reeyot. It is unclear if the journalist wrote the letter from prison or if this was a translation of an earlier story. In the article, Reeyot criticizes Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law, an overbroad legislation that was used to jail and convict her for her critical coverage of the government.”

Kality Prison Director Abraham Wolde-Aregay did not respond to CPJ’s calls and text messages for comment. Desalegn Teresa, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Justice, did not return CPJ’s call for comment.

Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu wins 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize (UN)
Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award (TADIAS)
Reporter jailed in Ethiopia among women journalists honored in Beverly Hills (L.A. Times)
Portraits Of Courage: Reeyot Alemu Honored At International Women’s Media Foundation

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UNICEF: Ethiopia Reduces Child Mortality Rates By Half (Video)

Ethiopia has reduced child mortality rates by 50%, according to a new millennium development goal report by UNICEF: "2013 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed." (Photo: ICMHD)

UNICEF Television

September 13th, 2013

Gambella, Ethiopia – For a country that once made headlines for famine, poverty and war, Ethiopia is gaining a reputation as a development leader on the African continent. In just over 10 years, the country has slashed child mortality rates by half, rising in global rank from 146 in 2000 to 68 in 2012. More money is being spent on health care, poverty levels and fertility rates are down, and twice as many children are in school.

Read more at Unicef Org.

Also see: The 2013 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed (PDF)

Watch: Health care extension workers in Ethiopia help address child mortality (UNICEF)

Ethiopia achieves development target on reducing child mortality (The Guardian)

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Hana Alemu’s Adopted Parents Convicted Of Homicide By Abuse

Hana Williams, adopted from Ethiopia by Larry and Carri Williams in 2008, died on May 12, 2011 after she was found unconscious outside their home in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees. (Family photo)

The Associated Press

MOUNT VERNON, WASHINGTON — A couple were convicted on Monday in the malnutrition-and-hypothermia death of a teenage girl they had adopted from Ethiopia.

A jury found Carri Williams guilty of homicide by abuse as well as manslaughter. Larry Williams was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter. The jury also convicted them both of assault of a child. The jury couldn’t reach a decision on the homicide by abuse charge for Larry Williams, and the judge declared a mistrial on that count. Larry and Carri Williams face a maximum life sentence, the Skagit Valley Herald reports.

Read more at The Seattle Times.

Hana’s Adopted Mother Guilty On 3 Counts, Father On 2 (The Skagit Valley Herald)

adopted mom
Carri Williams reacts after she was found guilty of abusing to death her adopted Ethiopian daughter.

By Gina Cole

MOUNT VERNON — A jury has found Carri Williams guilty of all charges in the homicide and abuse trial involving the death of a young teenage girl she and her husband adopted and assault of their adopted son.

Her husband, Larry Williams, was found guilty of manslaughter and assault of a child. The jury was unable to agree on whether Larry was guilty of homicide by abuse.

The jury started deliberating this past Thursday after the seven-week trial of Larry and Carri Williams, whose parenting practices were called into question after Hana Williams died in May 2011 after collapsing in the family’s backyard home in the Sedro-Woolley area.
An autopsy showed she died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition.

The Williamses were charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in the death of Hana and first-degree assault of the younger boy they adopted at the same time as Hana. Both were adopted from Ethiopia.

Read more.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Faces Nigeria For World Cup Qualifying Play-offs

(Getty Images file)


JOHANNESBURG — Giantkillers Ethiopia were drawn against Nigeria Monday in the 2014 World Cup Africa zone play-offs.

Ivory Coast face Senegal, Tunisia meet Cameroon, Ghana tackle Egypt and Burkina Faso play Algeria in the other ties created by a draw in Cairo.

The two-leg showdowns are set for October and November and the winners qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next June and July.
Ethiopia were the only side to upset the seeding in the mini-league previous stage, finishing two points ahead of top-ranked South Africa.

But they will face much tougher opponents in Nigeria, who beat Ethiopia 2-0 en route to winning the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa last February.

While the ‘Super Eagles’ use a mix of local and Europe-based stars, the bulk of the ‘Walias Antelopes’ squad is home based.

Read more at AFP.

Ethiopia Secures Place in African play-offs for the 2014 World Cup

BBC Sports

By Nick Cavell

Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Ghana secured themselves places in African play-offs for the 2014 World Cup.

Ethiopia were one of several sides during Africa’s World Cup qualifying campaign who had results overturned by Fifa for using ineligible players.

There was a touch of irony in the fact that Ethiopia’s winning goal in a their 2-1 victory over Central African Republic in Group A was scored by Minyahil Teshome Beyene.

He was the man who lead to his side being docked points in July.
There was also drama in Group E as Burkina Faso claimed top spot ahead of Congo Brazzaville.

Congo were held to a 2-2 draw in Niger which allowed Burkina Faso to move ahead of them thanks to a 1-0 win over visiting Gabon.

Read more at BBC News.

Ethiopia advance in World Cup, S. Africa out (AFP/Fox News)

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More Than 100 Blue Party Leaders Arrested Ahead of Ethiopia Rally

Photo: Peaceful march organized by the Semayawi party in Addis Ababa on June 2nd, 2013. (You Tube)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) – Federal police in Ethiopia have taken control of the headquarters of the Semayawi (Blue) party in Addis Ababa after they stormed the building late on Saturday. Party officials confirmed that more than 100 Semayawi party leaders have been arrested.

Head of the Semayawi party, Yilkal Getnet, a former engineer, told Tadias Magazine that police broke into the party’s offices located around Arat Kilo and confiscated all property at the site.

“Our members were taken to various police stations around the city late on Saturday,” Said Yilkal who spoke by phone. He said he had just returned from visiting his imprisoned colleagues at Gulele police station. He said a number of them are women. “Some were savagely beaten,” he added.

The dispute with authorities began when the Semayawi (Blue) party made an announcement last week to hold a simultaneous rally along with the government’s planned public gathering on Sunday to counter the two-year-old Mosque sit-ins that turned violent last month attracting international condemnation. Semayawi party leaders say they wanted to use the occasion to bring up the related subjects of “jailed religious and political leaders” as well as journalists, activist and an end to “government interference” in mosque and church affairs. Addis Ababa city administration, however, declared the Blue party’s plans “illegal.”

Police state that they will take all measures if the party insists on holding any protest without permission. Asked about the party’s plans on Sunday the Semayawi President said it’s up in the air. “I told you our office is under control and members and officials are under police custody,” Yilkal said. “It is midnight and I have no other information on what’s going on around here,” he said.

The police commission had contacted representatives of the Blue party for a meeting on Friday to discuss “security issues.” Sources said that police met with opposition leaders Saturday morning to convince them to postpone their protest, but the discussion ended without coming to an agreement. Yilkal indicated that the Blue party was finalizing preparations to stage a march on Sunday.

Hana Walelegne, one of the members who were arrested at the party’s office, said she was taken to Gulele police station. She said she was sitting at the party’s office working on Sunday’s demonstration when she was arrested.

“They released me along with a few other women,” Hana said, claiming that she received a beating with a rubber stick. She said she also saw others being hit with metal objects.

“We just took a contract taxi and are now in a friend’s house,” she said. “I cannot tell you what will happen next.”

In an earlier interview Yilkal had described the government’s decision to bar the Blue party from holding its own demonstration as lacking sound legal basis.

“There is no such thing as legal and illegal protest” Yilkal argued. “What we are required to do by law is to inform the concerned office about the planned demonstration.” He said: “Our party did that a month ago.”

The government-backed demonstration was held as expected on Sunday at the Addis Ababa Meskel square to “denounce extremism in Ethiopia,” which the government says is becoming a major threat.

Ethiopia denies crackdown on Semayawi opposition (BBC News)
Ethiopia Police Block Opposition Rally, Beat Some (AP/ABC News)
Political Rallies Set for Sunday Over Religious Issue (TADIAS)

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