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Michelle Obama’s Memoir: Fastest-selling Book of the Year at Barnes & Noble

Former first lady Michelle Obama's memoir, which was released last week, is the fastest-selling book of 2018, according to Barnes & Noble, the largest book retailer in the U.S. In her book titled “Becoming” Obama does not holdback on what she thinks of her husband's "mean-spirited" detractors, nor does she mince words on her humble Chicago upbringing and the couple's historic road to the White House. (Photo: Reuters)


Michelle Obama’s memoir ‘Becoming’ is Barnes & Noble’s fastest-selling book of 2018

Former first lady Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” has become the fastest-selling book of 2018 at Barnes & Noble, surpassing the Trump administration tell-all “Fear: Trump in the White House” by veteran journalist Bob Woodward.

In addition to being this year’s fastest seller, Barnes & Noble also announced that “Becoming” had the best first-week sales of any adult book since 2015′s “Go Set a Watchman,” the highly anticipated second novel from “To Kill A Mockingbird” author Harper Lee.

Publisher Penguin Random House announced that “Becoming” sold more than 725,000 copies on its first day of release last week, the highest single-day sales of any book by the publisher this year.

“Becoming” chronicles Obama’s path from a child growing up in the South Side of Chicago to her time as first lady of the United States. The book also features Obama’s harshest public criticism of President Donald Trump. She writes that she will “never forgive” Trump for spreading the baseless “birther” conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

“What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him,” Michelle Obama writes.

Obama’s memoir is just the latest in a series of splashy political book releases this year.

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Ethiopia Courts Pharmaceuticals Investors as Demand Surge Seen

Ethiopians spend $700 million a year on pharmaceuticals, only a fifth of which are produced locally. Spending on medication is expected to grow to more than $900 million by 2020, according to Anteneh Senbeta of the Ethiopian Investment Commission. (Bloomberg)


By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia is offering tax breaks and other incentives to lure foreign drugs manufacturers as the government forecasts demand will increase by almost a third by the end of the decade.

Ethiopians spend $700 million a year on pharmaceuticals, only a fifth of which are produced locally. Spending on medication is expected to grow to more than $900 million by 2020, Anteneh Senbeta, the deputy commissioner for corporate affairs at the Ethiopian Investment Commission, said in an emailed response to queries.

Foreign companies have ploughed $213 million into the industry in the past two years, lured by government offers to facilitate exports and allow companies to repatriate profits, the agency said. The government has promised tax exemptions for factories at an export-processing facility on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, one of several established across the country.

Two Chinese companies, Humanwell Healthcare Group Co. and Sansheng Holdings Group Co., invested a total $100 million in another industrial park over the past two years, according to Kartik Akileswaran, a governance adviser at the EIC.

The latest investor to announce its entry into Ethiopia is Mumbai-based Kilitch Drugs India Ltd., which plans to build a plant to manufacture medicinal vials by mid-2019. United Arab Emirates drug-maker Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries has a hub in Ethiopia, from where its eyeing east and west African markets.

“There is a strong investment policy focused on pharmaceuticals, with tax exemptions, a one-stop shop for government services and a price preference in public procurement,” Senbeta said.

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Ethiopia Corruption Crackdown (UPDATE)

Former Director General of METEC, Major General Kinfe Dagnew, was arrested on corruption charges on November 13th, 2018. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)


By ELIAS MESERET | Updated November 13, 2018

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia has detained the former head of a large military-run industrial conglomerate, a day after the country’s attorney general disclosed that several hundred million dollars was embezzled from the firm.

The state broadcaster ETV reported that Maj. Gen. Kinfe Dagnew, former head of the Metal and Engineering Corporation, was arrested near the Sudanese border where he was trying to flee.

The arrest is viewed as a direct hit on Ethiopia’s military establishment, the latest of several major changes implemented by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 42, since he came to power in April.

Images of the former official in handcuffs arriving by helicopter in the capital, Addis Ababa, have been aired repeatedly by the state broadcaster. The news of Kinfe’s arrest has captured the attention of many in this East African nation as he was one of the most feared figures in the country until a few months ago.

“He was a dictator who was not willing to solve our problems,” Desalegn Kebede, who did business with him, told the Associated Press. “I’m very happy that he is now under custody. We hope that he will get what he deserves.”

Ethiopia’s Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye stated on Monday that 27 suspects were arrested from the military-run company on allegations of corruption. He alleged that an estimated $2 billion worth of procurements were made without an open tender.

In addition, a further 36 individuals were apprehended for alleged human rights violation.

The previous government of Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, was often accused of rights violations by international groups and activists. Abiy’s new government has carried out several reforms including releasing several thousand political prisoners, permitting opposition groups to return from exile, dropping terror charges against prominent opposition leaders and relaxing restrictions against the media.

But still ethnic-based clashes have broken out in some parts of the country and pose the most serious threat to Abiy’s leadership of Ethiopia’s 100 million people.

Video: Former Director General of METEC, Major General Kinfe Dagnew, who was taken into custody today, arrives in AddisAbaba (Fana Broadcasting)

Ethiopia Arrests 63 Suspected of Rights Abuses, Corruption


By Elias Meseret 

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia has arrested 63 intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople on allegations of rights violations and corruption, the country’s attorney general announced Monday.

The sweeping high-profile arrests carried out in recent days are a result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s order for a months-long investigation into misdoings under the previous government.

Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told the media that some of those arrested are suspected of abuses of prisoners including “beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even killings.”

Some of those arrested are accused of mismanaging a state-owned military corporation, the Metal and Engineering Corporation, that was looted in a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme, he said.

Berhanu also said that Ethiopia’s former spy chief is suspected of involvement in an attempt to assassinate the new prime minster at a rally on June 23. While other officials implicated in the plot have fled the country, the former intelligence chief is now residing in northern Ethiopia and should turn himself in to authorities, he said.

Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told local journalists on Monday, November 12th the detention comes after five months of investigation. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)

Yilikal Getnet, an opposition figure, told The Associated Press the public had demanded the arrests of the former officials.

“These have been issues that we in the opposition have long been calling for, too,” he said, adding that Ethiopia needs a truth and reconciliation process to investigate past misdoings. “The ruling party alone can’t bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past.”

Under the previous government, Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, used to be accused of rights violations by human rights activists. Since Abiy, 42, came to power in April his new government has released several thousand political prisoners, permitted exiled opposition groups to return home, dropped terror charges against prominent opposition politicians and permitted the media to operate more freely.

Despite the reforms, ethnic-based clashes are continuing in some parts of Ethiopia and pose the most serious threat to Abiy’s leadership of this East African nation of 100 million people.

Amnesty International welcomed the arrests.

“These arrests are an important first step toward ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s East Africa Director. “Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities. We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all past human rights violations and abuses, while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials.”

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In Ethiopia U.S. Ambassador Holds a Round Table With Journalists

Ambassador Mike Raynor & Negussie Mengesha, Voice of America Africa Division Head, led a round table discussion with journalists at U.S. Embassy Addis on October 24, 2018. (@USEmbassyAddis)

Press Release

Michael Raynor
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at a round table with VOA team and journalists
U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa
October 24, 2018

(As prepared for delivery)

Good afternoon everyone.

I’d like to thank our friends from Voice of America for organizing this roundtable, and especially to thank all of you for your commitment to your profession.

Professional journalism is hard work.

It takes effort, commitment, and in today’s world, courage.

But it’s also incredibly important.

As Ethiopia pursues its unprecedented democratic and economic reforms, thoughtful, impactful, and high-quality journalism is more important than ever before.

Ethiopia needs you.

Ethiopia needs you because having access to credible and unbiased information, and being able to use that information to make wise decisions, is a fundamental requirement of any democracy.

Democracies simply don’t survive if information flows only from the government to the governed; rather, democracies must sustain, and benefit from, conversations in all directions.

And the better-informed those conversation are, the stronger the democracy.

That’s where everyone in this room comes in.

As Ethiopia’s reform efforts continue, both the government and the people will need credible and responsible media outlets.

Journalism must ensure that people are informed about what the government, opposition groups, and civil society are saying and doing.

No less important, journalism must also scrutinize these actors and their actions, provide context, research the facts, and present a range of views to help people understand the options before them and reach well-informed conclusions.

Journalism best meets these needs when it objectively reflects a range of views, provides a platform for discussion that is open to all voices, welcomes constructive dissent, and is as inclusive as possible.

For journalism to play its essential role, certain principles are fundamentally important.

First, the media must trade in facts, not speculation.

Second, the media must avoid bias by creating space for diverse views.

Third, the media must not only present diverse views, but exercise judgement and provide context when reporting on those views.

This is essential in helping people sort opinion from fact to assess the credibility of various voices.

While featuring diverse voices is important, journalists need to track down the facts and help the Ethiopian people sort through the tremendous volume of information, and mis-information, that inundates us all in these complicated times.

And finally, journalists must remember that journalism and activism are not the same things.

Both are important in a democracy, and no democracy can survive without them both, but confusing the two harms the integrity and credibility of the journalist, while doing a disservice to the audience as well.

As I said earlier, professional journalism is hard work.

We at the U.S. Embassy know and appreciate this, and we’re committed to improving your access to the tools, learning opportunities, and space for you to do your jobs.

Back in August, we held our annual dialogue with the Ethiopian government on democracy, human rights, and governance here in Addis.

One of the key outcomes of this dialogue was an agreement to explore ways the United States can help support professional journalism in Ethiopia.

We welcome His Excellency Prime Minister Dr. Abiy’s prioritization of media freedom and reform, and look forward to supporting these positive developments.

But it will take more than changing the law to advance the profession of journalism.

The United States is committed to doing our part.

Our Embassy recently concluded a program that trained over 260 journalists, in every region of Ethiopia, on investigative reporting focused on exploring the impact that development projects have on the country.

We’ve brought Fulbright Scholars and Specialists, and Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars, to work with journalists and journalism students, as part of our ongoing collaboration with Ethiopian universities to strengthen the next generation of Ethiopian journalists.

Next week, we’ll begin another training program, in partnership with the British Embassy, that will increase transparency and the flow of information between journalists and government officials.

We’re launching a fund to support the sustainability and professionalism of new independent media houses.

And we continue to send Ethiopian government officials on exchange programs to the United States, to share our experience in creating an enabling environment for broadcast media.

Such programs are intended to invest in you, Ethiopia’s professional journalists, and the important work that you do.

All we ask in return is that you do your best.

Do your best to take your stories a step further, to ask the hard questions, to track down additional sources, to question what you think you know, and, most importantly, to be forthright about what you don’t know.

And then to share that information with the public in a way that leaves them well-informed, while leaving it up to them to form their own opinions and conclusions.

As Ethiopia approaches upcoming local and national elections, journalists like you can play a tremendous role in focusing public discourse on the issues that matter to people.

How will various parties and candidates create jobs; support an inclusive political environment; provide security without infringing on rights; and improve education, health care, and other citizens’ services?

By asking such questions, and by providing factual context to the answers, you can help your fellow citizens make informed decisions when they cast their ballots.

But remember that elections are just one part of the democratic process.

In many ways, the real work starts after the results are tallied.

In a democracy, journalists play an essential role in holding elected officials accountable for their promises, and must ensure that the public is informed about what their elected officials are doing.

Democracy, like journalism, takes hard work, and journalism and democracy are inextricably linked.

In the end, neither one can thrive without the other.

As Ethiopia embarks upon a fundamentally new era of democracy, the work you do is more important than ever.

I hope that in your discussion today, you will consider what steps are needed to empower the media in Ethiopia.

And if you identify areas where the United States can help, please let us know.

Thank you again for your commitment to your noble and essential profession, and know that you have the full support of the United States every step of the way.

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Ethiopia’s GOC to Open 100 Cafés in China

Through a deal with Suzhou Reyto trading company, Garden of Coffee (GOC) says it will ship 12 tons of hand-roasted coffee to China in the first year. The company has also launched advertisement and marketing on the multi-purpose messaging and social media app WeChat, will soon place its product on the shopping site Taobao. But it’s big plan is to open over 100 café roasteries across China by 2022. (Quartz)

Quartz Africa

Ethiopia’s Homegrown Coffee Brand GOC to Open 100 Cafés in China

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu has a dream: that everyone should one day taste hand-roasted Ethiopian coffee.

Widely acknowledged as the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest coffee bean producers and Africa’s top grower of the plant. Coffee is also brewed and drank in the Horn of Africa nation in elaborate ceremonies, often using crafting techniques passed down from generations over centuries. As an entrepreneur, Alemu always wanted to replicate this dynamic experience—what she calls “the magical process”—to coffee lovers worldwide.

And so was born in 2016 the idea for Garden of Coffee, a brand that uses artisanal methods to source, process, roast, and package Ethiopia’s legendary beans. Twenty workers at the company’s atelier in Addis Ababa currently oversee this activity, roasting five types of coffee beans only for individual orders and shipping them to over 20 countries including Russia, Sweden, Germany, and the United States.


Alemu is now venturing out of Ethiopia. In August, Garden of Coffee launched in China, a tea-loving market that is increasingly turning towards coffee. Starbucks, Coca-Cola, e-commerce giant Alibaba, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, and local Chinese start-up Luckin Coffee have in recent years all bet big on China’s nascent coffee scene. Java House, East Africa’s largest chain of coffee shops, also said in August it would capitalize on this increased demand for specialty coffee to supply the Chinese market.

Read more »

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Diaspora Trust Fund Launches Website

Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund. (Image: YouTube)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 21st, 2018

Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund to Accept Donations Online

New York (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund will start accepting donations through its website, ethiopiatrustfund.org, beginning Monday October 22nd, 2018.

The fund, which is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions.

Below is the official announcement:

Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund

The primary objective of the Ethiopia Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is to finance people-focused social and economic development projects.

Our Mission:

The EDTF aims to finance projects that meet critical needs selected based on their potential to make the highest positive impact on groups and communities in Ethiopia in areas such as:

★ health
★ education
★ water and sanitation facilities
★ habilitation and rehabilitation of persons with disability
★ agricultural development
★ technology
★ small scale entrepreneurship
★ other income and employment generating projects

The EDTF will give priority attention to projects focusing on youth, women, small holder farmers, small enterprises and entrepreneurs who can be agents of inclusive social and economic development.


Responding to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s call for action and in support of his message of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, unity and peace, the Ethiopian Diaspora has enthusiastically accepted his challenge and is ready to contribute at least 1 US dollar a day to fund vital unmet inclusive economic and social development projects in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Diaspora supports the bold peaceful political democratization reform launched by the Prime Minister and his government with the goal of achieving a durable solution to Ethiopia’s socio-political and economic challenges that meets the legitimate aspirations of all of Ethiopians — irrespective of ethnicity, language, religion, and gender — including:

★ A life of dignity, freedom, equality, justice and economic opportunity
★ Equitable and inclusive social and economic development
★ National unity based on peaceful cooperation among Ethiopia’s diverse communities

The EDTF Terms of Reference provides the rationale, guiding principles and operating procedures, including the EDTF’s governance, project approval, implementation, reporting monitoring and evaluation. The EDTF responds to the Prime Minster’s call for action through a funding facility that will enable the Ethiopian Diaspora world-wide to contribute to the improvement of their fellow citizens.

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America’s Iconic Former First Lady Michelle Obama Prepares for Rock Star Book Tour

The iconic former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama is preparing for a rock star book tour next month starting in her hometown of Chicago on November 13th, 2018. Her memoir "Becoming" is set to be translated in 28 languages worldwide. The following is a highlight by publisher Penguin Random House. (Photo: The cover image from the book released by Crown Publishing Group)

Press Release

IN A LIFE filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

The full tour schedule is below:

Nov. 13: Chicago — United Center
Nov. 15: Los Angeles — The Forum
Nov. 17: Washington — Capital One Arena
Nov. 24: Boston — TD Garden
Nov. 29: Philadelphia — Wells Fargo Center
Dec. 1: Brooklyn — Barclays Center
Dec. 11: Detroit — Little Caesars Arena
Dec. 13: Denver — Pepsi Center
Dec. 14: San Jose — SAP Center
Dec. 17: Dallas — American Airlines Center

Learn more and buy tickets at https://becomingmichelleobama.com.

Michelle Obama is claiming her own spotlight. (Video)

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Obama: ‘Let’s Make History’ on Nov. 6th

The following is a message from former U.S. President Barack Obama urging young Americans to vote on Nov. 6 midterm elections. (Photo: @barackobama/Facebook)

Organizing for Action

By Barack Obama

In 19 days, we have the opportunity of a lifetime — the opportunity to help decide this country’s course.

See, the story of America is a story of progress. Sometimes slow, sometimes frustrating, but always forward.

But our progress isn’t inevitable. And it wasn’t achieved by a handful of famous leaders. It was won because of countless quiet acts of heroism and dedication by citizens like you who refused to be bystanders. Instead, they marched and mobilized and voted to make history.

Now I don’t have to tell you that we face extraordinary times. But here’s the good news: In 19 days, we have the chance to restore some sanity to our politics and bend the arc of history toward justice once again.

Because there is only one real guardrail when Washington veers off course, and that’s you. You and your vote. And your friends’ and families’ and neighbors’ votes.

The antidote to government by a powerful few is government by the organized, energized many.

In 19 days, you can make history. In 19 days, you can put America back on track. In 19 days, you can set the stage for all kinds of progress. But it won’t happen by itself. It won’t happen if we decide to be bystanders instead of change-makers.

We’ve got to do the work.

So I’m asking you: If you haven’t already voted, make a plan right now. Make sure everybody you know is doing the same.

Grab a friend and go knock doors or make phone calls for candidates you believe in — because there are only 19 days left. Don’t wake up disappointed on November 7th, thinking, “I could’ve done more.” Let’s give this country all we’ve got.

If you’re ready to take me up on that — ready to play your critical role in shaping our democracy — say you’re in.

Barack Obama Launches Video Urging Young Americans to Vote


Former President Barack Obama is using digital-media to reach millennials — with a new video aimed at getting young Americans to the polls for the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

“Look, a lot of our elected officials are misinformed,” Obama says in the video.

At another point, Obama ribs Republican senators who questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg “like they’d never used the internet before… because they haven’t.”

“Here’s your chance to vote for people who actually know what the internet is,” Obama says. “You wouldn’t let your grandparents pick your playlist. Why would you let them pick your representative who’s going to determine your future?”

The full Obama get-out-the-vote video is available on ATTN:’s Facebook page and its YouTube channel, with a shorter version available on Instagram.

Watch: President Obama Doesn’t Have Time For These 7 Excuses Not To Vote

Michelle Obama’s vacation is over. Now she’s claiming her own spotlight. (Video)

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

Mimi Hailegiorghis, Department Head Systems Performance Engineering at Mitre Corporation, and Tseday Alehegn, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine, on Helen Show. (EBS TV)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 16th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The latest episode of the Helen Show on EBS TV features a timely topic: professional women and motherhood.

The show’s host Helen Mesfin speaks with Mimi Hailegiorghis, who is a Department Head of Systems Performance Engineering at Mitre Corporation, and Tseday Alehegn, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine.


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Michelle Obama’s vacation is over. Now she’s claiming her own spotlight. (Video)

Former first lady Michelle Obama prepares to take the stage during a When We All Vote rally at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas. Obama, the founder and co-chairwoman of the organization, spoke at the September rally with over 2,000 volunteers and eligible voters present. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Twenty-one months after she left the White House, Michelle Obama is returning to public life feeling purposeful and invigorated. She launched, within weeks, high-profile social initiatives on voting and girls education while preparing for a mega-book tour unlike any book tour, well, ever.

Fans already have purchased tens of thousands of tickets to hear Obama share stories from her memoir, “Becoming,” in basketball arenas in 10 cities. Combined with the celebrity-laden rollouts of her latest projects, the former first lady is demonstrating a mix of uncommon star-power and bankability while advancing themes that have long mattered to her.

Obama, 54, feels liberated after a decade in an unrelenting political spotlight where she was tethered to her husband’s career and a White House role marked by both opportunities and constraints alike, say those who know her well. They say she is reveling in the chance to develop meaningful pursuits entirely her own.

“The possibilities are infinite,” said longtime friend and former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who describes Obama as fired-up and happy. “Now she’s able to lead her best life and to create and own it in her own image.”

Today on a New York television stage, Obama unveiled a project intended to help educate tens of millions of adolescent girls denied the chance to finish high school. The Global Girls Alliance, developed quietly over the past year, scored an hour of coverage on NBC’s “Today Show,” ending with a concert by Jennifer Hudson, Meghan Trainor and Kelly Clarkson.

Read more »

Michelle Obama to young voters: ‘It’s time for us to move out of the way and let you lead’

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Celebrating International Day of the Girl with Girls Gotta Run Foundation

Girls Gotta Run Foundation celebrates International Day of the Girl with Virtual Relay (Photo Courtesy: GGRF)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: October 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — October 11th is International Day of the Girl, and Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF), which works in Bekoji and Soddo in Ethiopia, is joining the global celebration with the launch of their Day of the Girl Virtual Relay to raise funds for GGRF athletic scholars set to run an ultra relay in January 2019.

“RUN anywhere you are in the world on October 11th in honor of International Day of the Girl and join runners across the globe by logging your miles on Strava or with Ragnar Relay,” states the event announcement. “CELEBRATE girl changemakers in Ethiopia by sharing your run on social media using #DayoftheGirlRelay, making a donation to GGRF in honor of the inspiring women in your life, or joining us in Ethiopia for the first ever GGRF Bekoji Ultra Relay in January 2019.”

In London, GGRF is co-hosting a panel discussion with the Tate Modern focusing on the power of collaboration among organizations “to empower girls and women around the world.
” Panel speakers include: Daniel Demissie, Filmmaker of Town of Runners documentary; Dora Atim and Jessie Zapotechne, Girl Effect Run Leaders, and Kayla Nolan, Executive Director of Girls Gotta Run Foundation. The London event also features photography and artwork by GGRF athletic scholars.

Since 2007 GGRF has been working at the grassroots level in four key areas to improve the lives of girls, ages 11-18, in Ethiopia by providing athletic scholarships and increasing access to education, while creating opportunities for entrepreneurship and savings for mothers.

The organization’s vision statement notes: “Girls Gotta Run envisions a world that empowers and invests in the exceptional initiative of young women who are working to establish their place in the world as competitive runners and leaders in their communities, who are finding strength, courage and power in their pursuit of excellence, and who are achieving their fullest potential in running and society.”

GGRF programs in Ethiopia have included the provision of athletic scholarships in Sodo and Bekoji, a Running Across Borders project in Addis Ababa, the Simien Girls Runners program and a one year scholarship program for young Ethiopian women runners in collaboration with the YaYa Village in preparation for professional athlete careers.

Click here to register for the virtual relay.

Why Girls Gotta Run: Interview with Patricia Ortman

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Michelle Obama to young voters: ‘It’s time for us to move out of the way and let you lead’

As the 2018 midterm U.S. elections fast approaches on November 6, an all-out national effort is underway to register millennials and young people to vote including by former first lady Michelle Obama, co-chair of the voter registration group When We Vote. (Photo: Michelle Obama rallies young voters at University of Miami last week. | Miami Herald)

USA Today

Michelle Obama to young voters: ‘It’s time for us to move out of the way and let you lead’

Michelle Obama brought her voter registration campaign to the University of Miami on Friday, rallying thousands of students and residents to “have a say in the issues we care about.”

It was the final stop of her Week of Action tour for When We All Vote at the University of Miami’s Watsco Center, before a crowd of about 6,000. The former first lady co-chairs the nonpartisan organization, which aims to encourage voting.

In front of an audience whose shirts read “Register to vote,” “#MSDStrong,” “Andrew Gillum for Governor,” and “I support Planned Parenthood,” Obama stressed that voting is the way to make sure citizens’ voices are heard.

“It’s time for us to move out of the way and let you lead,” Obama told the young people in the audience, many of whom flashed the university’s U hand sign as she addressed them directly. “This is no longer about me, it’s not about Barack, it’s about you.”

Obama stressed she was “not stumping for any one candidate,” and did not mention the names of any elected officials. But she said she is frustrated by the “daily chaos,” “pettiness,” and “meanness” of politics, adding that whenever she feels like shutting it all out, she thinks of her dad, who made sure he voted in every election.

“He went to vote for the same reason he went to work – to provide for his family,” Obama said.

Read more »

As Election Day Approaches, Here’s How to Register to Vote

If you’re at least 18 years old and planning to vote on Nov. 6, listen up: Voter registration deadlines are coming.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia require voters to register before casting ballots in local, state or federal elections. Registration deadlines vary, but the majority occur throughout October – and 19 of those deadlines are Tuesday. In many states, residents can register in person, by mail or online.

Here’s what you need to know.

The basics

U.S. citizens ages 18 and older who meet their state’s residency requirements can register to vote by filling out a form. (Find your state’s requirements here.) Most states allow online registration, but you can also register at your local or state board of elections office.

North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t require registration before voting.

Most states also allow voters to cast their ballots before Election Day. Find out if your state does early voting here.

Read more »

Midterms: How can election groups get out the vote when just half of Americans say process is ‘fair and open’?

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Tibor Nagy – Newly-Appointed Top US Diplomat for Africa Praises Ethiopia, Eritrea

The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy testified before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on recent developments in Ethiopia on Wednesday September 12th, 2018. (C-SPAN)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: September 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The newly appointed U.S. Under Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, praised the reform efforts underway in Ethiopia and the recent peace deal with Eritrea in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

This week Ethiopia and Eritrea achieved a major milestone in normalizing relations between the two neighbors when they reopened their borders for the first time in two decades. “Thousands of people from both countries watched one ceremony in Zalambessa, an Ethiopian border town that was reduced to rubble soon after hostilities between the neighbors broke out in 1998,” Reuters reported. “Soldiers and civilians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags lined the road as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier in a ceremony broadcast live on Ethiopian state TV.”

“We enthusiastically welcomed Dr. Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki working together to end 20 years of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea,” Nagy said in one tweet. “We support both sides as they explore possibilities for peace & continue to encourage and support their long-term success.”

The U.S. diplomat, who also testified on Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on recent developments in Ethiopia, complimented PM Abiy Ahmed for his historic socio-political reform initiatives. “In Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has initiated groundbreaking reforms across most every area of Ethiopian society since taking office in April,” Nagy stated on Twitter. “He deserves tremendous credit for his boldness in tackling issues that previous governments have not addressed.”

According to C-SPAN other topics discussed at the hearing included “human rights concerns, regional security, economic development, Ethiopia relations with neighboring countries, and the U.S. influence in the region.”

Nagy, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia from 1999 to 2002, added: “Dr. Abiy has also taken dramatic steps to end the former government’s repression of civil liberties, inviting a diversity of voices – including many who were previously criminalized – to participate in Ethiopia’s future.” He continued: “With Eritrea’s re-emergence onto the regional & global stage, we see strong potential for its contributions to improving regional security. Eritrea can also contribute to regional peace & stability, as evidenced by its role brokering agreements among Ethiopian opposition groups.”

Watch: House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on Development in Ethiopia

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Ethiopia-Eritrea Reopen Border Roads

PM Abiy and President Isaias at Debay Sima-Burre border point. (Photo: Fana Broadcasting)


By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopia, Eritrea reopen border points for first time in 20 years

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened crossing points on their shared border for the first time in 20 years on Tuesday, cementing a stunning reconciliation and giving Addis Ababa a direct route to its former foe’s Red Sea ports.

Thousands of people from both countries watched one ceremony in Zalambessa, an Ethiopian border town that was reduced to rubble soon after hostilities between the neighbors broke out in 1998.

Soldiers and civilians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags lined the road as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier in a ceremony broadcast live on Ethiopian state TV.

“This is the happiest day of my life,” Ruta Haddis, an Eritrean from the town of Senafe just across the frontier, told reporters. “I never thought this would take place in my lifetime.”

The war over their border and other issues killed an estimated 80,000 people before fighting ended in 2000 in a contested peace deal.

Tensions burned on over the position of the frontier – until Abiy offered to end the military standoff this year as part of a package of reforms that have reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

The two leaders also opened another frontier crossing at Bure, Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said in a tweet.

Pics: Ethiopia-Eritrea Reopen Border Roads

Happy New Year! Enkutatash Comes Amid Momentous Change in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Reopens Embassy in Asmara | Ethiopian Ship Docks in Massawa

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Exiled Opposition Leader Berhanu Nega Returns to Ethiopia

Berhanu Nega, the leader of Ginbot 7, returned to Ethiopia on Sunday after 11 years in exile. Berhanu was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in a contentious May 2005 election, however was imprisoned before assuming office. Speaking in Addis Ababa, Berhanu said recent political changes had convinced him to return to the country and conduct a peaceful campaign. (AFP)


Former outlawed opposition leader returns to Ethiopia

The popular leader of a formerly outlawed opposition group returned to Ethiopia on Sunday where he was greeted by a crowd of thousands after 11 years in exile, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Berhanu Nega, the leader of the former armed movement Ginbot 7, returned to Ethiopia on Sunday after 11 years in exile

The popular leader of a formerly outlawed opposition group returned to Ethiopia on Sunday where he was greeted by a crowd of thousands after 11 years in exile, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Berhanu Nega, the leader of the former armed movement Ginbot 7, returned with scores of other senior members of the group, after reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed the group from a list of “terrorist” organisations in July.

Speaking at a ceremony in the capital Addis Ababa, Berhanu said he had been forced to wage an armed struggle to fight for Ethiopians’ rights, however recent political changes had convinced him to return to the country and conduct a peaceful campaign.

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‘We have tied the knot’: PG7′s Andargachew Tsege shares wedding photo with Ethiopians

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Nile Dam Engineer Simegnew Bekele ‘took his own life’: Police

Top Ethiopian engineer Simegnew Bekele, whose death from a bullet wound in July sparked a huge outcry, took his own life, police say. (Getty Images)

BBC News

Mr Simegnew’s body was found in a car in the main square of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

The engineer was in charge of the country’s controversial multi-billion-dollar project to dam the Nile.

Spontaneous demonstrations broke out in the wake of his death as some thought he had been murdered.

At the time, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he was “saddened and utterly shocked” by the news of Mr Simegnew’s death.

At his funeral, police used tear gas to control the thousands who had gone to pay their respects.

For many the engineer had come to represent the country’s ambitions

After more than a month looking into the engineer’s death, the authorities found “that he used his own gun and killed himself,” police chief Zeinu Jemal told journalists.

Mr Simegnew’s fingerprints had been found on the gun and the doors of the vehicle were all locked from the inside, the police chief added.

He also said that the engineer had left messages for his secretary and child explaining that he might be going away for a while.

Commenting on what could be behind the suicide, Mr Zeinu said preliminary investigations suggested that Mr Simegnew may have been under pressure because of the delays and the increasing cost of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

But, he said, more investigations need to be carried out.

The dam, which has been called the most ambitious infrastructure project ever achieved on the continent, was supposed to have been finished two years ago. Now, seven years into construction, it is only 65% complete, reports the BBC’s Abebe Bayu.

The project is also expected to go over its $4bn (£3.1bn) budget.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Reopens Embassy in Asmara | Ethiopian Ship Docks in Massawa

Leaders from both countries attend ceremony in Asmara as two nations re-establish diplomatic links. Ethiopia and Eritrea have moved swiftly to sweep away two decades of hostility (Mulugeta Ayene/AP Photo)

Al Jazeera


Ethiopia reopens embassy in Eritrea amid thaw in ties

Ethiopia has reopened its embassy in Eritrea after a 20-year hiatus, in a further sign of improving relations between the neighbours who signed a peace accord earlier this year.

A brief reopening ceremony in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on Thursday was attended by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki and senior officials of both countries, according to state-affiliated Ethiopian Fana Broadcasting.

Redwan Hussein was named the new Ethiopian ambassador.

Since signing an agreement in Asmara to restore ties on July 9, leaders from both countries have moved swiftly to sweep away two decades of hostility that followed the conflict in 1998.

In July, Eritrea reopened its embassy in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and named an ambassador to represent it.

Air links were also re-established with Ethiopian Airlines commencing direct passenger flights between Addis Ababa and Asmara.

Read more »

Ship docks, road upgrade planned as Eritrea, Ethiopia ties strengthen (Reuters)

(Photo: A general view shows a locked gate of Massawa Port, Eritrea July 22, 2018/by Tiksa Negeri/REUTERS.)



By Aaron Maasho

An Ethiopian ship docked in an Eritrean port for the first time in two decades on Wednesday and Eritrea announced plans to upgrade a road to its neighbor, local media said, in further signs of strengthening ties between the former foes.

The announcements came as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in their second face-to-face encounter since a July peace deal ended two decades of enmity.

Abiy and Isaias traveled the entire 70-km (40-mile) road that links Assab’s port along the Red Sea to the town of Bure just across the border in Ethiopia, which had not been used since a two-year war broke out between the neighbors in 1998.

“They were able to confirm that the existing road link was in good state,” state-run EriTV said.

“There are (now) plans to modernize the port in Assab and enlarge the road linking it to Bure to four lanes (from one),” it added.

Read more »

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2018 US Election Heats Up: Obama Joins Battle, Starting in California & Ohio

As the 2018 U.S. midterm elections heat up, the Democrats are enlisting one of their most formidable and popular campaigners, former President Barack Obama, in the closing months. Obama will begin his midterm campaign events in California and Ohio next week. (NYT)

The New York Times

Obama to Join Midterm Battle, Starting in California and Ohio

Former President Barack Obama is poised to plunge into the fray of the midterm campaign, returning to electoral politics with a frontal attack on Republican power in two states that are prime Democratic targets this fall: California and Ohio.

Having largely avoided campaign activities since leaving office, Mr. Obama’s first public event of the midterm election will take place in Orange County, a traditionally conservative-leaning part of California where Republicans are at risk of losing several House seats. And Mr. Obama is expected to be joined by Democratic candidates from all seven of California’s Republican-held districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

Mr. Obama intends to campaign next Thursday in Cleveland for Richard Cordray, a former bank regulator in his administration who is the Democratic nominee for Ohio governor. Republicans have held total control of the state government since the 2010 election, and Mr. Obama helped encourage Mr. Cordray, also a former state attorney general, to seek the governorship.

The former president’s return to public politicking comes at a momentous point in the 2018 election season, furnishing Democrats again with one of their most formidable and popular campaigners in the closing months. While Mr. Obama has addressed several fund-raising events and issued a list of endorsements, he has otherwise confined his public appearances this year to loftier venues than the campaign trail.

Read more »

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Ethiopia Opens Logistics Sector to Foreign Investment

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has presided over a shake-up of one of the most heavily-regulated economies in Africa since his appointment in April. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed in DC, July 2018/by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)


By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia will open its logistics sector to foreign investors but cap their participation, the state investment body said on Tuesday in the latest reform to loosen the government’s control of the economy.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has presided over a shake-up of one of the most heavily-regulated economies in Africa since his appointment in April.

The latest move by the Ethiopian Investment Board – a body headed by Abiy and comprised of several ministers and the central bank governor – lifted restrictions on foreign investment in packaging, forwarding and shipping agency services.

Those sectors were previously reserved exclusively to Ethiopian nationals. Foreign firms will now be allowed to take stakes of up to 49 percent in logistics businesses.

The Ethiopian Investment Commission, a government body that handles investment issues such as licensing and promotion, said opening up this sector to foreign investors had become necessary.

This will “improve the provision of high-end logistics services while local firms acquire world class knowledge, expertise, management, and systems by working jointly with globally reputed logistics providers,” it said in a statement.

The ruling EPRDF coalition, in power since 1991, has long supported deep state involvement. But it said earlier this year that Ethiopia needed economic reforms to sustain rapid growth and boost exports amid a severe hard currency shortage.

Abiy, 42, was appointed by the EPRDF after his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned in February after three years of unrest in which hundreds of people were killed by security forces.

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Ethiopia Ousts State Firm METEC From Nile Dam Project

A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia, March 31, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)


ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia has ousted state-run Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) from a $4 billion dam project on the River Nile due to numerous delays in completing the project.

The Grand Renaissance Dam is the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said at the weekend that the government had cancelled the contract of METEC, which is run by Ethiopia’s military, and would award it to another company.

Italian firm Salini Impregilo remains the main contractor building the dam, while METEC was the contractor for the electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure divisions of the project.

The government has touted the 6,000-megawatt dam project, which is 60 percent finished, as a symbol of its economic reforms.

“It is a project that was supposed to be completed within five years, but seven or eight years later not a single turbine is operational,” Abiy said during a news conference in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

“Salini has even demanded compensation because of the delays. We decided to cancel a contract with METEC and offer companies with experience. Otherwise, it will take even longer,” he said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses his country’s diaspora, the largest outside Ethiopia, calling on them to return, invest and support their native land. He spoke in Washington, July 28, 2018.

Abiy has presided over a series of reforms since coming to power in April, releasing political prisoners, relaxing state control of the economy and dramatically improving relations with Ethiopia’s neighbor Eritrea.

The government had previously said the dam would be completed within two years, but recently Abiy said it may face a lengthy delay.

An official at METEC, who did not wish to be named, said the company first heard of the cancellation on Saturday.

“Even now our workers are on the site,” the official said

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AP: Ethiopia’s New PM Vows to Continue Reforms ‘at any cost’

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in his first press conference since taking power vowed Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 to continue with reforms “at any cost” and says the longtime ruling coalition soon will prepare for a “free and fair election” in 2020. (Photo: PM Abiy Ahmed waves to the crowd at a large rally in his support, in Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa, Saturday, June 23, 2018/By Mulugeta Ayene for AP)

The Associated Press


ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s prime minister in his first press conference since taking power vowed Saturday to continue with dramatic reforms “at any cost” and said the longtime ruling coalition soon will prepare for a “free and fair election” in 2020.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also said the World Bank “soon” plans to provide $1 billion in direct budgetary assistance, a sign of confidence after years of unrest in Africa’s second most populous nation. Such assistance stopped after the disputed 2005 elections.

“My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear,” Abiy said, saying the vote won’t be delayed and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

The 42-year-old Abiy took office in April and shocked the country with a wave of reforms including restoring diplomatic ties with neighboring Eritrea after two decades, pledging to open up state-owned companies to outside investment and releasing thousands of prisoners.

The reforms have been praised by the international community and attracted investors interested in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Recent ethnic unrest in various parts of Ethiopia, however, has dampened the initial jubilation and posed a major challenge to the new leader.

“There are groups that are working in unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country,” Abiy told reporters. “They are triggering peoples’ emotions to this end.”

Some 2.8 million people have been displaced by the unrest, according to the United Nations. “But this didn’t happen due to the reforms,” the prime minister said.

He said the unrest in the eastern Somali region has calmed but measures will be taken against former officials, including the region’s former President Abdi Mohammed Omar, who is suspected of orchestrating the chaos earlier this month that led to the destruction of government offices, looting of businesses and burning of churches.

Asked about internet cuts in the region following the unrest, an unpopular tactic widely used by the previous government, Abiy appealed for understanding and said it might have saved lives.

“But curbing access to information and cutting the internet is not the way forward,” he added, and urged youth to use it responsibly.

The prime minister also in recent months has welcomed a number of once-exiled opposition figures and groups back to Ethiopia and invited them to join in the political conversation.

But on Saturday he drew the line at former military dictator Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, who overthrew the last Ethiopian emperor, Haileselassie, in 1974 and eventually was sentenced to life for spearheading a “Red Terror” that killed tens of thousands of people. He fled the country in 1991 as rebels, who now make up the ruling coalition, approached the capital.

Some Ethiopians have called on Abiy to offer Mengistu amnesty after a rare photo of him in exile in Zimbabwe went viral early this month.

“Ethiopia’s constitution clearly stipulates the ‘Red Terror’ crimes cannot be covered under an amnesty law,” Abiy said. “So Col. Mengistu will not … return home. But if the law in the future allows, that may change.”

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

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Reuters: Ethnic Unrest Tarnishes New Ethiopian Leader’s Reforms

A child plays next to a tree painted in Ethiopia's national flag colors within a camp for the internally displaced people in Chelelektu, Ethiopia, August 15th, 2018. (Photo: by TIKSA NEGERI/Reuters)


By Aaron Maasho

CHELELEKTU, Ethiopia – Shiburu Kutuyu, a 45-year-old Ethiopian maize and coffee farmer, was jolted awake by gunshots one night in June. He told his wife and seven children to flee.

They returned to find their mud-walled home had been burned down, but no sign of Shiburu. Eleven days later, fellow farmers found his body hanging from a tree, his severed limbs strewn on the ground…

A surge in ethnic violence, sometimes in the form of mob attacks, has displaced nearly 1 million people in the past four months in southern Ethiopia and is inflaming bad feeling between ethnic groups in other regions.

The violence threatens to undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s calls for unity in one of Africa’s most ethnically diverse countries. It also overshadows the popular liberal measures he has announced since coming to power in April.

On Thursday, Sorri Dinka, spokesman for the Oromiya Police Commission, said authorities are taking action against individuals suspected of ethnically motivated crimes.

He mentioned the so-called “qeerroo”, a term used to describe young Oromo men involved in the protest movement over the past three years that culminated in former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation.

Some people who fled their homes still feel federal government and local authorities are failing to halt violence against them.

Read the full article at Reuters.com »

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US Delegation Visits Ethiopia to Discuss Reforms, Human Rights

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey is leading the U.S. congressional delegation to Ethiopia. (AP photo)

VOA News

A U.S. delegation is heading to Ethiopia on Wednesday to talk about the country’s reform efforts since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April.

Republican Congressman Christopher Smith, who led the congressional delegation, said he “is cautiously optimistic” about the political reforms in the country.

In an interview with VOA’s Horn of Africa, Smith says he will meet Prime Minister Abiy and Foreign Minister Affairs Minister Workineh Gebeyehu and push for continued reforms, as well as reinforcing human rights issues.

“We are going to meet with him [prime minister] and encourage him and try to get our own sense of how well the reform process is moving,” Smith said.

The congressman is the architect of H.R. 128, legislation condemning human rights abuses in Ethiopia and outlining a number of reforms that Ethiopia must take to promote peace and democracy. The resolution was passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

A wake of reforms

Since Abiy took office in April, Ethiopia has instituted reforms including releasing political prisoners, diluting state control of the economy, and making peace with northern neighbor Eritrea after two decades of hostility.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks in Washington, July 28, 2018.

A 41-year-old former intelligence officer, Abiy came to power after his predecessor resigned earlier this year amid protests of abuses by security forces and public anger over perceived ethnic marginalization of many groups in the racially diverse country.

Smith said the delegation plans to press for “the release of all political prisoners, freedom of the press, the history of forced disappearances, accountability for past abuses committed against civilians, and an end to torture and all human rights abuses.”

These reforms, the congressman said, will only strengthen the country, “and we stand in solidarity with the Ethiopian people in pushing to promote these rights.”

Besides top officials, the U.S. delegation will also meet with religious and civic leaders, and journalists. Their talks are to focus on human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.

Smith confirmed to VOA’s Horn of Africa service that the government of Ethiopia has begun amending the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation with input from opposition parties.

Critics of the law argue it has criminalized dissent, saying the 2009 law’s broad definitions have been used indiscriminately against anyone who opposes government policy. Among its provisions, anyone convicted of publishing information deemed to encourage terrorism could receive a jail term of up to 20 years.

Border issues

The delegation also will discuss border issues between Somali and Oromia states, where thousands are displaced and hundreds have been killed.

The violence is said to be the biggest domestic challenge facing the country’s reformist prime minister. When he took office, Abiy ended a military stalemate with neighboring Eritrea and extended an olive branch to dissidents overseas. However, violence at the border continues.

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Jawar Mohammed’s Red-carpet Return Signals Ethiopia’s Political Sea Change

Two years ago, the state branded him a terrorist. Now, after years in exile, activist Jawar Mohammed is back – and determined to see democracy in his country. (Photo: Jawar Mohammed addresses a news conference upon arriving in Addis Ababa in August/ By Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Guardian

Jawar Mohammed never travels alone. When the US-based Ethiopian activist returned to his home country on 5 August, he was treated like royalty. A posse of sharply suited young men hovered by him at all times. Jeeps carrying security guards patrolled his hotel in central Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Supporters from the provinces arrived in droves to pay their respects. Over the course of a two-week visit he held about 25 to 30 meetings a day, according to an exhausted aide.

After meeting with the Guardian in his hotel suite he rushed off to give a lecture at the capital’s main university, entourage in tow.

Nothing demonstrated the breathtaking transformation in Ethiopian politics over the past four months quite like the red-carpeted return of a figure who was once the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front’s (EPRDF) most wanted man.

From a studio in Minneapolis, where he founded the controversial Oromia Media Network, Jawar has spent the past decade agitating over social media for political change back home in Ethiopia, which he left as a scholarship student in 2003. This was his first time in Ethiopia since 2008.

So effective was he as an activist that by late 2016, as anti-government protests billowed across the country compelling the EPRDF to impose a state of emergency, the Oromia Media Network was banned and Mohammed declared a terrorist.

By early 2018 the revolutionary fervour had grown so loud that Hailemariam Desalegn was forced to resign as prime minister, paving the way for his enormously popular successor Abiy Ahmed, a young reformist from Oromia, Jawar’s home and the country’s largest and most populous region.

The Oromia Media Network, along with some smaller outlets and activists, has used social media to devastating effect over the past few years, coordinating boycotts and demonstrations and bringing Ethiopia’s large and often brutal security apparatus close to its knees.

“We used social media and formal media so effectively that the state was completely overwhelmed,” Jawar says. “The only option they had was to face reform or accept full revolution.”…

Few doubt the importance of Jawar in recent Ethiopian history. Perhaps more than any other single individual, he took the once-marginal politics of Oromo nationalism and made it mainstream. Today, Oromos – the country’s largest ethnic group – dominate the highest offices of state, and Jawar enjoys significant personal influence over the country’s new leaders, including Abiy himself.

In a recent interview with local media he claimed – to the dismay of many Ethiopians – that the country now effectively has two governments: one led by Abiy, the other by the Qeerroo. This puts him in a position of extraordinary responsibility, since he is “one of the Qeerroo” and “a significant portion of the country listens to me”, he admits.

Read more »

US-based Activist Jawar Mohammad Returns to Ethiopia After 13 Years in Exile

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7 Iconic Aretha Franklin Moments, From Obama’s Inauguration to ‘Blues Brothers

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” and a cultural icon around the globe, died Thursday at age 76 from pancreatic cancer. She died at her home in Detroit. (Photo: Aretha Franklin at a news conference on March 26, 1973/AP)

The Washington Post

Relive 7 iconic Aretha Franklin performances, from Obama’s inauguration to ‘Blues Brothers’

For six decades, the world had countless opportunities to be stunned by the talent and range of the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday at age 76 of pancreatic cancer.

Her long recording career was punctuated by iconic performances that could stir a nation, get an ordinary concertgoer out of their seat and dancing and reduce a sitting president to tears.

Here is a look back at just a few of those moments.

The first Obama inauguration (2009)

The Queen had sung already during the inaugurations of two previous presidents (Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton), but she brought extra power and symbolism to the 2009 inauguration of America’s first black president, Barack Obama.

Franklin also sang on numerous occasions in the Obama White House.

Bringing President Obama to tears (2015)

When the annual Kennedy Center Honors selected singer-songwriter Carole King for recognition, it was Franklin who stole the show.

King’s jaw dropped as Franklin, in a floor-length fur coat, sat before a piano and belted out the 1967 hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” written by King and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin.

President Obama also sat in the audience, awestruck and wiping away tears. As she neared the end of the song, Franklin stood up, dropped her coat to the ground and belted out the final notes. The roaring audience leapt to its feet.

Franklin told the New Yorker it was “one of the three or four greatest nights of my life.”

Read more and watch the videos at The Washington Post »

Aretha Franklin, music’s ‘Queen of Soul,’ dies at 76

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Hundreds of Newspapers Respond to Anti-Media Rhetoric — AP

This week hundreds of newspapers in the United States are responding to the present state of anti-media rhetoric in a nationwide coordinated editorials. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Updated: August 16, 2018

NEW YORK — Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news” Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press — and, not surprisingly, Trump didn’t take it silently.

The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate.

They did across the breadth of the country. The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald said a free and independent press is the best defense against tyranny, while the Honolulu Star-Advertiser emphasized democracy’s need for a free press.

“The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger,” wrote the Des Moines Register in Iowa.

In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists “the truest of patriots.” The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.

The Fayetteville Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, “but we’re not holding our breath.”

“Rather, we hope all the president’s supporters will recognize what he’s doing — manipulating reality to get what he wants,” the North Carolina newspaper said.

On Thursday morning, Trump took to Twitter to denounce the effort, saying the Globe was in collusion with other newspapers.

He wrote: “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant, not an enemy, to the people.

“Like any true friend, we don’t always tell you what you want to hear,” the Morning News said. “Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness.”

Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Pennsylvania, for instance, compared free press in the United States to such rights promised but not delivered in the former Soviet Union.

The New York Times added a pitch.

“If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers,” said the Times, whose opinion section also summarized other editorials across the country. “Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.”

That last sentiment made some journalists skittish. Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote editorials explaining why they weren’t joining the Globe’s effort. The Chronicle wrote that one of its most important values is independence, and going along with the crowd went against that. Both the Chronicle and Baltimore Sun said that it plays into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.

Nolan Finley, columnist and editorial page editor of The Detroit News, spoke up for the press but added a scolding. He said too many journalists are slipping opinion into their news reports, adding commentary and calling it context.

“Donald Trump is not responsible for the eroding trust in the media,” Finley wrote. “He lacks the credibility to pull that off. The damage to our standing is self-inflicted.”

The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and web sites, is also asking its members to point out that journalists are friends and neighbors doing important work holding government accountable.

“I want to make sure that it is positive,” said Dan Shelley, the group’s executive director. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters.”

It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump’s election in 2016. Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 percent in 2010.

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As Forgiveness Sweeps Ethiopia, Some Wonder About Justice

Ethiopian lawyer Wondimu Ebsa, who represented political prisoners detained during unrest in the country over the past three years, poses for a photograph during a Reuters interview in his office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Maggie Fick


Ethiopia has released thousands of prisoners as a new prime minister reverses decades of security abuses. No-one knows how many were tortured.

But some of those torture victims are now talking openly – to the media, to their relatives and to their friends – about what happened to them after they were jailed, in many cases for protesting against the government.

Their stories raise a hard question for the government: how will it address the injustices committed by security forces behind prison walls?

Since coming to power in April, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 41, has made peace with Eritrea, ended a state of emergency, freed political prisoners and announced plans to sell shares in state-owned firms to promote growth and create jobs.

Abiy acknowledges that many prisoners suffered abuses, which he has denounced as acts of “state terrorism”.

He has not, however, announced plans to investigate abuses committed by the security forces or set up a process for victims to seek redress. But he has preached forgiveness.

“I call on us all to forgive each other from our hearts. To close the chapters from yesterday, and to forge ahead to the next bright future through national consensus,” Abiy said in his inaugural address.

Rights groups that have documented the torture – from psychological torment to the use of water and ceiling hooks – say there must now be a greater focus on justice.

“Despite all the reforms, there have yet to be any detailed commitments regarding investigations into abuses or justice for victims,” said Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch.

Since late 2015, when protests against ethnic marginalization and inequality began, tens of thousands of people were detained, according to Human Rights Watch.

The attorney general’s office and government spokesman Ahmed Shide did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment.


Those who spent years imprisoned and were recently released say they are cautiously hopeful.

Recently released from prison, Ethiopian torture survivor and former political prisoner Keyfalew Tefera, 33, poses during a Reuters interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Maggie Fick

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NYC Medhanialem Church 35th Anniversary Celebration Sept 8th

Traditional Ethiopian Dance (photo courtesy: New York Medhanialem Church)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 9th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — One of New York City’s earliest established Ethiopian orthodox churches, Medhanialem, will be celebrating its 35th year anniversary on September 8th, 2018. The celebration includes traditional dance, fashion show, theatre as well as live entertainment from acclaimed Ethiopian comedian Meskerem Bekele. Organizers state that proceeds of the celebration will go towards the building of a multi-purpose center at their current Bronx location.

Medhanialem Church members purchased their current building five years ago in the Norwood section of the Bronx after having used a rental space in Riverside Church in Uptown Manhattan for the past three decades.

If You Go:
Medhanialem Church Anniversary Celebration
Date: Saturday, September 8th, 2018
Time: 6pm – 12am
Location: South Hall, Riverside Church
490 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10027

Admission (with dinner)
Adults: $50 advance purchase $60 at the door
Students: $25 (with ID at the door)
Children under 12 get free entrance

Click here for ticket purchase
For further information please call 732-766-3895

Video & photos: Inauguration of the Historic NYC Medhanialem Church in the Bronx in 2014

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UN on Women Farming Groups in Ethiopia

Through women’s cooperatives, a joint UN programme provides training in agricultural techniques, improved seeds and time-saving machinery, while also granting loans and encouraging saving. (Photo: Tulule Knife uses the modern grain storage facility known as metallic silo that her village administration awarded her for successfully applying the line sowing approach to her wheat farm. It also keeps her grain safer. Courtesy UN Women/Fikerte Abebe)

UN Women

Women’s cooperatives boost agriculture and savings in rural Ethiopia

In most parts of the Dodola district, 300 km south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, slow-moving oxen plowing opens stretches of farmland. But in one field, a red tractor is speedily tilling women’s cooperative owned farmland ahead of the rainy season.

For Kamso Bame, a widowed mother of 12 and owner of 2.5 acres of land, the tractor has shaved off days of grueling labour.

Bame is among more than 2,000 smallholder women farmers involved in a joint UN programme to boost sustainable agricultural production and rural women’s economic empowerment, through training and cooperatives.

After Bame joined the women’s cooperative in her village of Wabi Burkitu, she received a 7,000 Birr (259 USD) loan, which she used to start a cart-transport service. Bame uses her daily average income of 400 Birr (15 USD) to support her children, four of whom live independently. Her membership also enables her to cultivate the land using a tractor owned by the cooperative.

“Before the death of my husband, whenever the rainy season came, I remember him spending three to four days ploughing the family’s land with the pair of oxen we owned. Each day, he and the oxen used to come back home exhausted,” she recalls. “Today, it is different, as I am privileged to farm the same land with a tractor and it takes a maximum of three hours.”

Kamso Bame takes care of her sheep by her grass-roofed house. Among her long-term plans are to build a new roof with corrugated iron sheets. (Photo: UN Women/Fikerte Abebe)

Fast facts on women in agriculture

Women comprise an average of 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, varying considerably across regions from 20 per cent or less in Latin America to 50 per cent or more in parts of Asia and Africa. Less than 20 per cent of landholders are women. Gender differences in access to land and credit affect the relative ability of female and male farmers and entrepreneurs to invest, operate to scale, and benefit from new economic opportunities. Learn more

The tractor is used to farm the land owned by the cooperative as a team, as well as each member’s own land. The cooperative also rents it out to other farmers in 26 villages across the district, whose population is more than 240,000. Charging up to 1,500 Birr (56 USD) per hectare, the cooperative currently earns over 6,000 Birr (222 USD) per day, on average.

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In US, Barack Obama Named 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Laureate

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s historic campaign for the White House, and the founding of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. (@RFKHumanRights)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 7th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This week the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization announced that it will be honoring the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama with its 2018 Ripple of Hope award.

“My father believed; ‘Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,” said Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy. “On the 50th anniversary of his historic campaign for the White House, we honor laureates who have sent forth countless ripples of hope to millions of people inspired by their example.”

The former U.S. President will share the accolade along with Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Humana CEO Bruce D. Broussard.

“Laureates were selected for their exceptional work toward a more just and peaceful world,” the nonprofit said in a press release.

“Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights founder Ethel Kennedy will award the Laureates during the annual Ripple of Hope Gala at the New York Hilton Midtown on Wednesday, December 12, 2018.”

President Obama said: “Bobby Kennedy was one of my heroes. I first got into public service because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, believing that my own salvation was bound up with the salvation of others. That’s something he expressed far better than I ever could when he talked about the power that comes from acting on our ideals, those ripples of hope that can ‘sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.’ That’s what I’m determined to help inspire and cultivate over the rest of my career – the idea that anybody can be one of the millions of acts of conscience and voices raised against injustice, the idea that anybody can be one of the ‘million different centers of energy and daring’ who, like Bobby Kennedy, have always changed the world for the better.”

The press release added: “2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s historic campaign for the White House, and the founding of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. The Ripple of Hope Gala caps an incredible year of commemoration and activism by celebrating those who work to advance the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy in our challenging modern times.”

Past Ripple of Hope laureates include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton, Bono, George Clooney, Robert Smith, Harry Belafonte, Howard Schultz, Joe Biden, Congressman John Lewis, Tim Cook, Tony Bennett, and Robert De Niro.

“Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United States. Following his roles as a community organizer, constitutional law professor, and U.S. Senator, Obama was elected President in 2008, taking office at a moment of crisis unlike any America had seen in decades. His leadership helped rescue the economy, revitalize the American auto industry, reform the healthcare system to cover another twenty million Americans, and put the country on a firm course to a clean energy future – all while overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history. On the world stage, Obama’s belief in America’s indispensable leadership helped wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, decimate al Qaeda and eliminate the world’s most wanted terrorists, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, open up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and unite humanity in coordinated action to combat a changing climate. In his post-presidency, President Obama remains committed to lifting up the next generation of leaders through his work with the Obama Foundation.”

Learn more and purchase tickets at rfkhumanrights.org.

Photos: President Obama Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Ethiopia

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US-based Activist Jawar Mohammad Returns to Ethiopia After 13 Years in Exile

Jawar Mohammad (second from left) pictured with PM Abiy Ahmed and his delegation at Minneapolis International Airport last week has returned to Ethiopia after 13 years in exile. (Photo: Abiyu Tegegn @abiyu_b/Twitter)


ADDIS ABABA: Jawar Mohammad, an online activist and fierce critic of Ethiopia’s one-party government through his outlet Oromia Media Network, returned to the country on Sunday after 13 years in exile.

Jawar is the latest opponent of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to come home since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April and announced sweeping reforms.

“It’s good to be here! It’s good to be not a terrorist anymore!” Jawar told a press conference in the capital Addis Ababa.

Through his media outlet OMN, Jawar has promoted strikes and anti-government protests, particularly among the country’s largest ethnic group the Oromo.

Protests that began in late 2015 among the Oromo and then spread to the second-largest group the Amhara left hundreds dead and prompted the government to twice declare a nationwide state of emergency to halt the unrest.

It also played a role in the resignation last February of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who struggled to appease the protesters.

Hailemariam’s government banned the OMN and last year levied charges of inciting violence against Jawar, who lived in the United States.

Those charges were dropped after Abiy took office.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Jawar said he planned to stay in Ethiopia for good and would focus on expanding OMN’s operations and re-orienting its editorial policies.

“OMN was an activist media until now. We took clear sides with the Oromo protests,” Jawar said. “From now on, we’re going to move to the center.”

Since taking office, Abiy, himself an Oromo, has encouraged anti-government activists like Jawar to return to Ethiopia.

He has also freed jailed dissidents and removed several armed groups from Ethiopia’s list of terrorist organizations, while signing a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea that ended two decades of hostilities.

Through his work with OMN, Jawar has become a controversial household name in Ethiopia, but he swore off seeking elected office.

“I think I have done my share for this country,” he said. “I want to have an advisory role from now on.”

(Photo: Jawar_Mohammed greeting PM Abiy Ahmed and his delegation at Minneapolis International Airport for the final leg of a three-state diaspora tour, Jul 30th 2018/Mohammed Ademo @OPride on Twitter)

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From Janitor to Nurse: How an Ethiopian immigrant Seized His American Dream

Ethiopian immigrant Hakeem Abdulwahab is a nurse at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, a non-profit hospital, located in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Star Tribune)

Star Tribune

Growing up in Ethiopia, Hakeem Abdulwahab thought only guys like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone could live the American dream.

“I’d watch Hollywood action movies and see that it’s clean here, it’s beautiful, everyone has cars,” he said. “But America was like a dream country … impossible to get to.”

With a little luck and a lot of perseverance, Abdulwahab at 36, has achieved his version of the American dream: Once he scrubbed toilets at one of the top children’s hospitals in the country. Now he works there as a nurse.

“If it was cleaning a toilet, cleaning a floor, getting a towel or making a bed, whatever task he was assigned to do at any given moment, he did it with conviction and he did it with heart,” said Tammy Sinkfield-Morey, nursing supervisor at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul.

“Now he’s progressed from one of our lower level positions to one of our most admired positions.”

One of eight children, Abdulwahab grew up in Jimma, Ethiopia, about 220 miles southwest of the capital city of Addis Ababa. Abdulwahab helped his father produce and sell coffee, one of the only ways to make money, he said. Business often was fickle, due to a cholera outbreak and the amount of time — 3 to 5 years — it took for Arabica trees to produce fruit.

“We were so poor then,” he said. “Some days I didn’t eat anything. Basic necessities like food and water were a luxury.”

As a teenager, Abdulwahab’s parents sent him to live with his older sister in Addis Ababa so that he could attend high school.

On his summer breaks, he learned English with the intention of going to college. When that time came, Abdulwahab couldn’t afford college, so he returned home to once again help his family with the coffee business.

“I always hoped to work and send money to my Mom and Dad,” he said. “I will sacrifice my life for them.”

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Hailemariam Desalegn and Mengistu Meet in Zimbabwe Setting Social Media Buzzing

Social media is buzzing about the surprise meeting between Ethiopia's ex-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Mengistu Hailemariam in Harare, Zimbabwe on Wednesday. (Photo via Twitter)


By Elias Meseret 

Ex-Ethiopian dictator Mengistu meets former leader in Harare

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The former Ethiopian dictator Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam has met with Ethiopia’s former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare on Wednesday.

The surprise meeting between Hailemariam, who was Ethiopia’s Prime Minister until he resigned in April 2018, and Mengistu has stunned many in Ethiopia who had a rare glimpse of Mengistu since he fled the country in 1991 as rebels, who now make up the ruling coalition, approached the capital, Addis Ababa.

A photo of the meeting between Mengistu and Hailemariam, who was in Zimbabwe as head of the African Union’s election observers’ mission, was widely shared on social media and many Ethiopians expressed amusement at the former strongman’s appearance.

“Mengistu has gained weight and looks very old. I’m very surprised to see that photo,” Seyoum Teshome, a prominent blogger in Ethiopia, wrote on Facebook.

Others said Mengistu should still face justice in Ethiopia. “Looks like he’s living comfortably in Zimbabwe when he really should be in an Ethiopian maximum security prison or at The Hague. I certainly wouldn’t have met him, let alone taken a photo,” another Facebook user, Samuel Gebru, wrote.

Mengistu was head of the military junta that overthrew the last Ethiopian emperor, Haileselassie, in 1974. He ruled the country in an iron grip for 17 years during which he implemented a crackdown named “Red Terror” in which tens of thousands of Ethiopians were allegedly killed. Some estimates put the number of killed in hundreds of thousands.

“Mengistu is a man with much blood on his hands,” tweeted Martin Plaut, a specialist on East African politics.

The ex-dictator fled to Zimbabwe after losing power and escaped an assassin’s bullet in 1995 while jogging near his Harare home. Former President Robert Mugabe refused Ethiopian government requests to extradite Mengistu, who supported Mugabe’s guerrilla fighters in the war against white-minority rule in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then called.

Mengistu was put on trial in absentia in Ethiopia where he was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison for genocide.

Calls have been made for the current Ethiopian reformist leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to allow Mengistu to return home without having to go to jail following the release of several political prisoners.

(Photo via Twitter)

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Ethiopian Scientists Develop New Sorghum Variety

Ethiopia releases new, perennial sorghum variety. (Photo: Farmer examining heads of Sorghum/Copyright: Panos)


By: Biruktayet Bihon

[ADDIS ABABA] Ethiopian scientists have developed a new sorghum variety that could lead to multiple yields annually.

According to the National Statistics Agency in Ethiopia, the country has almost two million hectares of sorghum fields, and harvests about four million tonnes of sorghum grains every year.

The new sorghum variety is expected to produce yields two to three times a year with continuous water supply and at least once when there is water scarcity, said Gethaun Mekuriya, Ethiopia’s minister of science and technology, during the release of the new variety in Ethiopia last month (28 June).

“The benefit of this new variety is … that once you sow it, you don’t need to till the land for up to five years.” — Talegeta Loul, Re-nature Eternal Life Agro Processing SC

Talegeta Loul, general manager of Ethiopia-based Re-nature Eternal Life Agro Processing SC, said that the national average yield for sorghum is about 2,400 kilograms per hectare, but the new variety could increase yields fivefold.

One of the new variety’s unique characteristic, according to Loul, is that it can produce yields for seven to ten growing years without the need for ploughing.

Loul, who led the research team to produce the new sorghum variety, told SciDev.Net: “We have￿￿ struggled enough to give an output for this country where the majority of the people depend on agriculture for food and livelihoods.”

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Ethiopians From Around America Greet PM Abiy in DC (Washington Post)

Ethiopians from around the country wait to enter the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday to see their homeland’s newly minted prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

‘He’s a hugger . . . so I want to hug him’: Ethiopian exiles greet new prime minister

Hulgize Kassa, a 52-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., earned his spot at the front of the line.

The father of two camped outside Walter E. Washington Convention Center starting at midnight Friday, watching as Ethiopians from as far as Colorado and Texas arrived with boxes of food, speakers and selfie sticks. By 7  a.m. Saturday, thousands had gathered in the streets spanning Mount Vernon Place to N Street, honking car horns and sharing food. Most wore T-shirts emblazoned with the face of their homeland’s newly minted prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.

In the three months since his rise to power, the 41-year-old politician has introduced sweeping changes to Ethiopia, lifting a state of emergency, brokering peace with neighboring Eritrea and releasing hundreds of political prisoners. These dramatic steps toward liberalization have sparked “Abiy-mania” within the Ethiopian diaspora in the United States, which, for decades, stood among the fiercest critics of the ruling party’s autocratic regime.

Abiy is in the United States to visit and speak to members of the diaspora. The Washington area is home to some 300,000 Ethiopians, making it the largest community outside the African country.

“I want to hug him. He’s a hugger, I know, so I want to hug him,” said Kassa, a researcher at North Carolina State University. When Kassa first came to the United States in 2000, he never thought he would go back to his homeland. But Abiy’s ascension has changed his mind, he said. He plans to visit his home in the Amhara region next year, and bring his children, 12 and 14, with him.

Abede Yimenu, a former major in the Ethiopian army, said he is also thinking of going home after having been away for 17 years.

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In LA, PM Abiy Ahmed to Address Ethiopian Diaspora Conference at USC
Video & Images: PM Abiy Engages Diaspora Business Community & Political Orgs in DC
DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Will Join PM Abiy at Convention Center
First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Why Ethiopia is Grieving ‘Hero’ Dam Engineer Simegnew Bekele

The death of Simegnew Bekele, the project manager of the multi-billion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, has been met by an outpouring of grief in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

BBC News

Condolences flooded social media from journalists, businessmen academics, ambassadors and even flag-carrying Ethiopian Airlines after it was reported that Mr Simegnew’s body was found in a car in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday.

The police are investigating the circumstances of his death. He died as a result of a bullet wound and a hand gun was found in his car, which was parked in Meskel Square in the city centre.

By the afternoon, hundreds had taken to the streets in the capital, as well as Mr Simegnew’s hometown of Gondar, with protesters demanding “justice” for the late engineer.

To understand why a project manager has managed to elicit such shock and widespread mourning – normally seen in other countries after the death of royalty, celebrities or politicians – one has to look at what the Grand Ethiopian Dam has come to represent.

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Ethiopian dam engineer Simegnew Bekele’s funeral draws thousands

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DC Mayor Proclaims July 28th Ethiopia Day, Joins PM Abiy at Convention Center

In recognition of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser has proclaimed July 28, 2018 “Ethiopia Day in DC.” (Photo: Mayor Bowser Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 27th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The Mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser has proclaimed July 28th, 2018 “Ethiopia Day in DC” in celebration of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S. capital, which is a sister city of Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa.

Mayor Bowser said she will join Prime Minister Abiy at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday. Thousands are expected at the venue as PM Abiy holds his first public address greeting the Ethiopian community in the DC metropolitan area.

“The Ethiopian community is such a valued part of our city, and our Ethiopian neighbors have played a critical role in building the diverse, inclusive, and vibrant Washington, DC that we live in today,” Mayor Bowser said in a statement. “Now, during this new climate of goodwill and unity, we look forward to reaffirming the Sister City relationship between our two capital cities.” The Mayor’s proclamation highlights that “since assuming office in April of 2018, Dr. Abiy has focused on improving human rights, ending the war with Eritrea, pursuing political and economic reforms, and eliminating corruption, that will move Ethiopia toward a more democratic society.”

The Mayor added on Twitter: “We are honored to welcome @PMOEthiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali to Washington, DC. I look forward to joining thousands of Ethiopians from across the region tomorrow as we proclaim July 28, 2018 as “Ethiopia Day in DC.”

Meanwhile, PM Abiy who is on three city tour of the United States, also met with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Friday, July 27th.

Pence tweeted: “Honored to meet with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia today at the @WhiteHouse. I applaud his historic reform efforts, including improving respect for human rights, reforming the business environment, and making peace with Eritrea.”

First Photos of PM Abiy Meeting With Ethiopian Diaspora in U.S.
Update on PM Abiy’s Visit to U.S.
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopian Nile Dam Manager is Found Dead

Investigators inspect the scene, where Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam Project Manager Simegnew Bekele was found dead in his car in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July, 26, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)


By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The project manager of a $4 billion Ethiopian dam was found shot dead in his vehicle in Addis Ababa on Thursday, police said, prompting scores of people to take to the streets in the capital and his home city calling for justice.

People in the crowds said they believed Simegnew Bekele had been murdered, though there was no immediate confirmation from the authorities, or details of any motive.

“We have confirmed that engineer Simegnew Bekele was shot dead … He had a bullet wound behind his right ear,” the head of Ethiopia’s Federal Police Commission, Zeinu Jemal, told reporters.

Zeinu said a Colt pistol was found in the vehicle in the city’s Meskel Square – a massive road junction and open space usually packed with vehicles and pedestrians during daylight hours.

Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was “saddened and utterly shocked” by the death, his chief of staff said in tweet.

Simegnew was the public face of the Grand Renaissance Dam project on the River Nile – the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Ethiopia has been pushing on with the project in the face of opposition from Egypt which fears it will affect the flow of the Nile, its main source of water. In June, the leaders of Ethiopia and Egypt vowed to iron out their differences peacefully.

Crowds in Addis Ababa marched to the state television station’s headquarters chanting “No to killings” and “Justice for Simegnew”.

Hundreds also packed the streets of his birthplace, the northern city of Gondar. “Amongst our requests is the repatriation of his body back to his own city,” said one protester, who only gave his name as Geremew.

A Reuters photographer saw blood stains along an arm rest inside his vehicle – a gold Toyota Land Cruiser – before an ambulance took away the body.

The dam is currently only half complete, but the government says it is designed to churn out 6,000 megawatts (MW) of power on completion.

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Obama Speaks to Cheering Crowd on Mandela’s 100th Birthday in South Africa

Obama’s speech in South Africa is his highest-profile address since leaving office. He is marking the 100th anniversary of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela’s birth and giving an impassioned defense of the values held by the Nobel Peace Prize winner. (Photo: Former U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his speech at the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 17, 2018/AP)


Obama decries ‘utter loss of shame among political leaders’ in high-profile Mandela address

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — In his highest profile speech since leaving office, former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced the policies of President Donald Trump without mentioning his name, taking aim at the “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment,” and decrying leaders who are caught lying and “just double down and lie some more.”

Obama was cheered by thousands in Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium as he marked the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth by urging respect for human rights, the free press and other values he said were under threat.

He rallied people to keep alive the ideals that the anti-apartheid activist worked for as the first black president of South Africa, including democracy, diversity, gender equality and tolerance.

Obama opened by calling today’s times “strange and uncertain,” adding that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.”

“We see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” he said.

A day after Trump met in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama criticized “strongman politics.”

The “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment” are on the move “at a pace unimaginable just a few years ago,” Obama added.

“Those in power seek to undermine every institution … that gives democracy meaning,” he said.

The first African-American president of the United States spoke up for equality in all forms, adding: “I would have thought we had figured that out by now.”

Obama praised the diversity of the World Cup champion French team, and he said that those countries engaging in xenophobia “eventually … find themselves consumed by civil war.”

He noted the “utter loss of shame among political leaders when they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more,” warning that the denial of facts could be the undoing of democracy.

But Obama reminded the crowd that “we’ve been through darker times. We’ve been through lower valleys.”

He closed with a call to action: “I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”

The crowd gave him a standing ovation in the chilly South African winter.

“Just by standing on the stage honoring Nelson Mandela, Obama is delivering an eloquent rebuke to Trump,” said John Stremlau, professor of international relations at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg.

He called the timing of Obama’s speech auspicious — one day after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — and said the commitments that defined Mandela’s life are “under assault.”

“Yesterday, we had Trump and Putin standing together; now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela.”

This was Obama’s first trip to Africa since leaving office in 2017. Earlier this week, he stopped in Kenya, where he visited the rural birthplace of his late father.

Obama’s speech noted how Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years, kept up his campaign against what appeared to be insurmountable odds to end apartheid, South Africa’s harsh system of white minority rule.

Mandela, who was released from prison in 1990 and became president four years later, died in 2013 at the age of 95. He left a powerful legacy of reconciliation and diversity along with a resistance to inequality — economic and otherwise.

Since leaving the White House, Obama has shied away from public comment on the Trump administration, which has reversed or attacked his notable achievements. The U.S. under Trump has withdrawn from the 2015 Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal while trying to undercut the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare.”

Obama’s speech drew on his great admiration for Mandela, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner whom America’s first black president saw as a mentor.

When Obama was a U.S. senator, he had his picture taken with Mandela. After Obama became president he sent a copy of the photo to Mandela, who kept it in his office. Obama also made a point of visiting Mandela’s prison cell and gave a moving eulogy at Mandela’s memorial service in 2013, saying the South African had inspired him.

Many South Africans view Obama as a successor to Mandela because of his groundbreaking role and his support for racial equality in the U.S. and around the world.

Stremlau, who attended the speech, called it “a tough, strong condemnation of Trump and all that he stands for.”

“Obama hit out at lying, insecurity and putting down others. Obama said he can’t believe it is necessary to once again speak up for equality and human rights,” Stremlau said. “He pulled it together in a carefully worded, measured speech, which urged all to live up to Mandela’s standards and values.”

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

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Ethiopian Shelves Plane Deals, Maps Out Privatization Plan – Bloomberg

(Photo: Ethiopian Airlines Facebook)


Ethiopian Airlines Group has shelved plans to establish a fleet of smaller jetliners as gains in demand suggest that the routes where they’d be deployed would be better served using larger planes.

Africa’s biggest airline had been looking at Bombardier Inc.’s C Series aircraft — since taken over by Airbus SE and renamed the A220 — together with Embraer SA’s E195. An order, which had been mooted as likely at this week’s Farnborough air show, is now off the agenda, Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam said in an interview.

“We have decided to suspend the evaluation of the 100-seater regional aircraft acquisition project, since the market size of the selected regional routes is growing faster than we expected,” he said. Boeing Co. 737 jets from the current fleet will instead be used while the airline studies passenger trends.

Tewolde also said there’s no prospect of an order for the Airbus A350-1000 wide-body or Boeing’s rival 777X at the Farnborough expo, with Ethiopian still evaluating the two planes for its latest long-haul requirements. A purchase of more of the U.S. company’s current-generation 777s or the 787 Dreamliner remains an alternative, he said.

The CEO said that privatization plans, sanctioned by Ethiopia’s ruling politburo last month, are more likely to see foreign involvement in various operating units than an outright stake sale, given that Ethiopian Air already makes a significant economic contribution to the nation while being efficient, competitive internationally and able to raise capital for growth.

Of the group’s seven or eight business units, some will be “very attractive” to investors and could also benefit from outside involvement, he said. He cited the airline’s hotel business, airports and aerospace manufacturing division where negotiations are underway with companies including Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier. The carrier’s logistics arm, which has a venture with Deutsche Post AG’s DHL brand, could be transformed into a joint holding giving the German company a 49 percent stake “within weeks.”

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Eritrea’s President Arrives in Ethiopia for First Visit in More Than Two decades

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki is welcomed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon arriving for a three-day visit, at the Bole international airport in Addis Ababa, July 14, 2018. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)


By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki said on Saturday history was being made as he started his first visit to Ethiopia in more than two decades, days after the two neighbors declared an end to their “state of war”.

Arriving for three days of meetings, Isaias was greeted warmly at the airport by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and thousands lined Addis Ababa’s main thoroughfare Bole Road, sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the pictures of both leaders.

The visit comes just days after Abiy visited Eritrea and signed a pact with Isaias on resuming ties, a move that ended a near 20-year military standoff after a border war.

“Words cannot express the joy we are feeling now. History is being made as we speak,” Isaias said during a lunch hosted by Abiy.

“Lives have perished but we are lucky to observe today … We are one people – whoever forgets that does not understand our situation.”

Abiy introduced Isaias to guests attending the lunch as an “esteemed and missed guest”.

Eritrea formally seceded from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long battle for independence, but the two went to war in 1998 over a border dispute. Though a peace deal was signed two years later, Ethiopia refused to implement it, saying it wanted more talks.

Reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea could change politics and security in the volatile Horn of Africa region, which hundreds of thousands of young people have fled in search of safety and opportunities in Europe.

During the lunch, Abiy presented Isaias with a gold ring, while a painter handed Isaias a giant portrait of the Eritrean leader.

Ethiopia’s government spokesman said Isaias and his delegation would visit an industrial park in the southern Ethiopian town of Hawassa later on Saturday. Isaias was also due to give a speech in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Eritrea and Ethiopia have so far agreed to open embassies, develop ports and restart flights.

Eritrea is due to reopen its embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday for the first time since 1998.

Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter Isaias was accompanied by several ministers and other senior government officials.

Abiy, who is also trying to bring stability to a country that has been torn by protests since 2015, survived a grenade attack last month.

PM Abiy Ahmed to Meet Ethiopian Community in Washington DC July 28th
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia and Embracing a Culture of Democracy (Editorial)
With Hugs, Leaders of Rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea Finally Meet
PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29
Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Is This the Ethiopian Spring? An Interview With Eskinder Nega (Washington Post)

Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was released on February 14, 2018, after serving nearly seven years in prison. (Photo: Befekadu Hailu)

The Washington Post

Just a few months ago, Ethiopia — a vast country of 100 million people — was still mired in dictatorship and war. But dramatic shifts are taking hold and they appear to be moving the country in the right direction: toward freedom.

This week, Ethiopia’s democratically elected prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, signed a peace treaty with Eritrea, its long-standing enemy. The news was one more sign that the change promised by the new government is real.

Ethiopia still has a long way to go. But Eskinder Nega, a leading Ethiopian journalist and former political prisoner, recently told me that he sees democracy as the inevitable destiny of his homeland. Now, he said, it’s “Ethiopia’s turn.”

He doesn’t make such claims lightly. Nega has spent a total of nine years in prison, most recently serving a 6½-year stint on a terrorism conviction for supposedly inciting violence against the government and having ties with the West. In reality, of course, the government targeted him because he was a vocal advocate for democracy, demanding an end to years of one-party rule.

Amid growing protests, he and several other political prisoners were released in April in a bid to “foster national reconciliation,” authorities said at the time.

In the months since, Ethiopia has been undergoing rapid reform, with Ahmed promising greater freedoms. For Nega, though, the only acceptable outcome is a representative democracy respecting the rights of all people.

Read the interview at washingtonpost.com »

Eskinder Nega Makes Surprise Appearance at 2018 PEN America Literary Gala in NYC

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People in Ethiopia Are Calling Strangers in Eritrea as Phone Lines are Opened After 20 Years — CNN

In this grab taken from video provided by ERITV, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is welcomed by Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki as he disembarks the plane in Asmara, Eritrea, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (CNN)


Frehiwot Negash picked up the phone and called a random number.

The Ethiopian finance manager was trying to test if indeed she could now place a call to Eritrea after 20 long years of being cut off from the neighboring country in the aftermath of a bloody border war.

The person on the other line answered. It was a hotel.

Negash, 33, told CNN: “The receptionist picked up. So I said ‘I’m calling from Ethiopia.’ Then I passed the congratulations message to her, and I told her that I am very happy and she also said ‘I am happy too.”

Negash says she now plans to visit Eritrea later this year.

After it was announced on Monday that phone lines would be restored between both countries, Ethiopia’s telecoms company, Ethios, sent text messages to its 57 million subscribers, saying they could now call Eritrea.

Negash was one of the people who quickly picked their phones to check if it was true. She and others in Ethiopia spent the day placing calls to friends and long-lost family members in Eritrea.

And the occasional stranger too.

“Oh gosh, I am so excited over this EthioEritrea thingy, I just called on a random number in Asmara and had a nice chat with a lady named Frtuna and she speaks Amharic,” Twitter user Henok Karvonen posted.

It has been 20 years since a war led to a shutdown of communication between the two countries.

But a diplomatic breakthrough was reached this week following a two-day summit between Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, 41, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, 71, in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara.

The two leaders delighted their citizens after declaring an end to the war between both nations on Monday.

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PM Abiy Ahmed to Travel to Washington D.C. & Los Angeles on July 28-29

Ethiopia's new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, is traveling to meet the Ethiopian Diaspora in the U.S. this month (Photo Courtesy: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 5th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The government affiliated media organization Fana Broadcasting Corporation has announced on July 4th that Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, will be traveling to Washington D.C. on July 28th and Los Angeles, California on July 29th, 2018 to meet the Ethiopian Diaspora in the United States.

“The objective of his trip is to hold face-to-face meetings with Ethiopian Diaspora in the U.S., according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia,” reports Fana Broadcasting Corp. “It is also aimed at boosting the involvement of all Ethiopian Diaspora living in the U.S. in the ongoing reforms, development, and democratization in their country of birth.”

According to the announcement all Ethiopians are “invited to participate in the meeting, regardless of their political ideology, religion, and ethnic background.”

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Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopia Fires Prison Officials Over Human Rights Abuses Amid Torture Report

Human Rights Watch has released a report on torture in prisons in Ethiopia's Ogaden region (photo courtesy: HRW)

The Washington Post

ADDIS ABABA (The Washington Post) — Ethiopia’s attorney general announced the dismissal of five top prison officials for alleged human rights violations, hours before the Thursday release of a Human Rights Watch report on torture in one regional prison.

Berhanu Tsegaye said the top prison officials “were relieved of their post for failing to discharge the responsibilities and respect prisoners’ human rights,” according to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting late Wednesday.

The announcement came hours before the release of a harrowing report by Human Rights Watch describing systematic torture in Jail Ogaden, a prison in Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region.

Report author Felix Horne said federal and regional authorities never responded to letters in April and May conveying the group’s findings. The report calls for a probe into the alleged abuses as well as criminal charges against those responsible.

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3-Year-Old Girl From Ethiopia Killed at Her Birthday Party in Idaho Mass Stabbing

Photo of girl identified by International Rescue Committee as Ruya Kadir, 3, is seen at July 2, 2018 vigil in Boise, Idaho for 9 victims of stabbing at her birthday party two days before; Ruya succumbed to her wounds. Ruya and her mother are Ethiopian refugees. They arrived in the U.S. in December 2015 and settled in Boise. (KBOI-TV)

CBS News

Girl slain in Boise stabbing “loved pink and Disney princesses”

BOISE, Idaho — The three-year-old Idaho girl who died from her wounds two days after a mass stabbing at her birthday party Saturday has been identified as an Ethiopian refugee “who loved pink and Disney princesses.” CBS Boise affiliate KBOI-TV reports Ruya Kadir is the victim who lost her battle to survive.

The station cites The International Rescue Committee, an organization providing support for the families involved in the stabbing.

IRC President and CEO David Hillbrand said in a statement, “Our caseworkers describe Ruya as a child who always sparkled when she walked into a room. She was her mother’s princess, always the center of attention, and loved pink and Disney princesses. She had just turned three years old Saturday, and according to our IRC colleagues in Boise, was the epitome of sweetness.

“Ruya and her mother are Ethiopian refugees. They arrived in the U.S. in December 2015 and settled in Boise. Her father is in Turkey. Ruya’s parents are enduring every parent’s worst nightmare, which is made doubly cruel by the fact that they fled to America to escape conflict in Ethiopia. IRC had resettled the Kadir family in Boise. Our local team is doing everything possible to support the family – and the other refugees injured on Saturday – in this moment of extreme distress and fear.”

Authorities say a man invaded the birthday celebration and attacked nine people with a knife.

Timmy Kinner is accused of stabbing a group of children and the adults who tried to protect them at the party at an apartment complex that is home to many refugee families.

Word of the child’s death came at Kinner’s first court appearance, where Ada County Magistrate Judge Russell Comstock told him that he was charged with first-degree murder and other felonies in connection with the attack.

Comstock told Kinner he was “an extreme danger to the community” and ordered him held without bond.

Kinner is American, and the victims are members of refugee families from Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia. Boise Police Chief William Bones said the evidence doesn’t suggest the attack was a hate crime.

The suspect had recently stayed at the apartment complex but was asked to leave Friday over bad behavior, Bones said.

Three of the stabbing victims were adults, the others children: the 3-year-old girl who died, two 4-year-olds, a 6-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old…

Monday evening roughly 1,500 people turned out at a vigil honoring members of refugee families targeted in the stabbing.

People wept, sang and shouted their support for the refugee community, and many brought bouquets of white flowers intended to symbolize peace. By the end of the rally, hundreds of bouquets filled dozens of baskets on the steps of Boise’s City Hall.

But community leaders told the crowd that what the survivors really need is money to cover rapidly growing medical bills and space at home to try to overcome the constant sense of unease they’ve experienced since the attack. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and others urged community members to do what they can to help.

Signs were dotted throughout the crowd, some reading “love wins” and “we are all immigrants.”

Younis Kamel, a 16-year-old who moved to Boise from Iraq, and his 23-year-old sister Zuzu Kamel held up a more poignant sign:

“I will never forget seeing my friend getting stabbed in front of me,” the sign read. Younis Kamel was at the apartment complex the night of the attack.

Another woman held a sign reading “Justice for Teeba,” with a photo of a young child in a hospital bed, a breathing tube obscuring part of his face with half a dozen other tubes and medical devices connected to his body.

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Dutchman Claims He Owns Teff Since 2003, But Ethiopians Have Been Eating Injera for Millennia

The European Patent Office lists a Dutch national as the “inventor” of teff flour and associated food products since 2003. Now Ethiopia wants its intellectual property back. Earlier this year, the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office announced that it would do everything in its power to reclaim the teff patents, including legal and diplomatic action. (Mail & Guardian Online)

Mail & Guardian

Whose injera is it anyway?

Injera, Ethiopia’s staple food, was invented by a Dutchman in 2003.

That’s according to the European Patent Office, which lists the Netherlands’ Jans Roosjen as the “inventor” of teff flour and associated food products. Teff is a plant endemic to Ethiopia, and the grain is used to make [injera] that Ethiopians eat with their meals.

Roosjen also has a patent for the “invention” in the United States — though he is patently not the inventor of a product that has been around for millennia.

Ethiopians are nonplussed.

“For someone from Europe, from across the ocean, in a different continent, to come and say we patented teff and the copyright is ours …” Kassahun Gebrehana, owner of the Little Addis Café in Maboneng, Johannesburg, shakes his head…


The story of how Ethiopia lost the intellectual property for teff and its associated products in Europe began in the early 2000s, with a bright idea: If Ethiopians love teff so much, why wouldn’t the rest of the world? The tiny grain — the world’s smallest grain, in fact — is gluten-free and rich in nutrients, beloved by hipsters and dieticians alike. It was, and remains, perfectly poised to take advantage of the global health food trend. Teff could be the next kale or quinoa.

Dutch researchers formed a company, which eventually became Health and Performance Food International, to explore options to market teff in Europe. Roosjen was a director. After many negotiations with different government entities, the company reached a deal with Ethiopia to plant and distribute teff in Europe. In return, it would send a hefty slice of the profits back to Addis Ababa.

These details are all courtesy of researchers Regine Andersen and Tone Winge, who in 2012 published a comprehensive paper on the subject for the Fridtjof Nansen Institute.

At the time, the deal was hailed as ground-breaking: for once, an African country was actually going to benefit from its precious natural resources. But not everyone was impressed: in 2004 the Coalition Against Biopiracy gave the Dutch company its award for the “most outrageous” deal: “The company appears to be oblivious to the fact that they are seeking to monopolise teff varieties that were developed over millennia by Ethiopian farmers and community plant breeders,” reads the citation.

In 2003, Ethiopian officials boxed up 1 440kg of teff seeds and shipped them off to the Netherlands. From there, it was supposed to find its way into kitchens all over Europe. Ninety-one Dutch agrarian entrepreneurs started growing teff, and that year 620 hectares were harvested.

But things did not go according to plan. The demand for teff never materialised, and the much-lauded deal earned the Ethiopian government a mere pittance: just €4 000 in total. In 2009 the Dutch company went bankrupt, meaning in effect that the contract was terminated.

But Health and Performance Food International had already applied for and been granted patents for the production and distribution of teff in Europe, and these did not lapse when the company went bankrupt. These patents are incredibly broad, covering most forms of teff flour, as well as all products that result from mixing teff flour with liquids. These include bread, pancakes, shortcake, cookies, cakes and, of course, injera.

Read the full article at Mail & Guardian »

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Dr. Getachew Metaferia: Morgan Professor Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Dr. Getachew Metaferia is a professor of political science at Morgan State University in Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Morgan State University

Adding to Morgan’s growing number of Fulbright Scholarship recipients representing the University, Getachew Metaferia, Ph.D., a professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts, will be next to engage in learning abroad. Dr. Metaferia will serve as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University in Israel. His research will focus on the Bete Israel community of Ethiopian Jews. During his time in the country, Metaferia will examine the community’s fast-growing population and its contributions to Israel’s social, economic, and political spheres.

This will not be Dr. Metaferia’s first visit to Israel. In 2017, he traveled to the country as a member of Academic Partner for Peace: Conflict, Peacemaking, and Peacebuilding in the Context of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Dr. Metaferia will be taking a sabbatical leave for the Fall 2018 semester and during his upcoming teaching stint in Israel, he will look to establish collaboration between Morgan and Tel Aviv University.

Morgan is among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars and the leader among HBCUs. To-date, 140 students and 70 faculty/administrators have received scholarships to study and teach abroad in more than 41 countries, including India, China, Brazil, and Jordan. Recently, Dr. Omar J. Khan, an associate professor of Marketing and International Business in the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management was awarded the Fulbright to teach and perform research at the University of Jordan.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. government, is the nation’s flagship international educational exchange program designed to increase mutual understanding between American scholars and people of other countries. The program operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. The Fulbright Program at Morgan was instituted when Dr. Sandye Jean McIntyre, II (Distinguished Professor of Foreign Languages and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Senegal) was appointed campus Fulbright Program Director in 1951. Dr. McIntyre was the longest serving Fulbright advisor in history. In 1968, Dr. Carleen S. Leggett, who would go on to become Morgan’s Fulbright program director, joined him in his efforts to aid student applicants.

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Images: Washington DC Rally to Support Ethiopia’s New PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed

Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed in Washington DC on Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 (Photo Courtesy: Matt Andrea/Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 28th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Following the historic, large rally in Ethiopia in support of PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed this past weekend, the Ethiopian Diaspora in Washington DC and metropolitan area held a support rally on Tuesday, June 26th in front of the State Department.

Shortly after becoming Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed had told the nation in his inaugural address that “Democracy is unthinkable without freedom. Freedom is not a gift doled out to people by a government. Rather a gift of nature to everyone that emanates from our human dignity.”

Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s message of peace, love, forgiveness and unity has resonated with Ethiopians both at home and abroad, and in a televised address on Saturday the prime minister vowed to continue his agenda for democracy in Ethiopia.

Below are photos and videos shared on Facebook from the Washington DC support rally:

At Washington DC Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday, June 26th, 2018. (Photo: Matt Andrea/Facebook. Artwork by Solomon Asfaw).

Event poster for Washington DC Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday, June 26th, 2018. (Photo: Matt Andrea/Facebook).

Below are additional images and artwork by artists made for the rallies:

(By artist Yadesa Bojia)

(By Assegid Gessesse)

(By artist Yadesa Bojia)

(Anonymous from Addis)


In Pictures: Despite Attack Huge Ethiopia Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia on the Right Track to a More Democratic Society (TADIAS Editorial)

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US: Obama Returns to Kenya and S. Africa

In this photo taken three years ago, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta stands next to President Barack Obama as he signs a guest book at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, July 24, 2015. (Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Former U.S. President Barack Obama will return to his father’s homeland of Kenya next month on his way to South Africa, where he is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday anniversary.

“Obama will visit Kenya from July 15-16, where he’ll attend the inauguration of a youth sports center founded by his sister, Auma Obama,” CNN reports. “The vocational center in Siaya County aims to provide educational and economic opportunities to help young people serve their communities, and shares a similar mission as President Obama’s foundation.”

“Given that his own mission under the Obama Foundation is to inspire and empower people to change the world, his attendance at this event at our ancestral home, where our father was laid to rest, is of great significance to me,” Auma Obama said.

In Kenya, Obama will also meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Since leaving office America’s ex-President has purposefully kept himself out of the limelight and away from the tumultuous political environment in the United States, which seems to have been further exasperated in recent days due to the fallout from his successor’s tragic family separation policy.

In a much talked about article published this week titled Where Is Barack Obama?, New York Magazine notes that “the most popular American…has, for now, virtually disappeared from public life.” Former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says: “He’s recognizing that the party and our country will benefit from other voices having an opportunity to weigh in, and that opportunity would be all but completely obscured if he were regularly sharing his opinion on these issues.”

Obama, who is also a talented writer, has been working on his upcoming memoir. Per New York Magazine: “No one close to Obama expects the finished product to look anything like other White House memoirs, given his history as a writer. “He is engaged in reflection, and he also cares about writing,” says Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator and an Obama friend. “I would be surprised if it’s just a standard chronological accounting of his last eight years.”

In addition Barack & Michelle Obama have partnered with Netflix to produce media content including films and documentary series for the online streaming service giving the former first couple a powerful and unprecedented platform to shape their post-White House legacy. “Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others,” a person familiar with the deal told Reuters last month.”

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UPDATE: U.S. to Send FBI Experts to Investigate Ethiopia Blast

Ethiopians react after an explosion during a rally in support of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 23, 2018. (Reuters Photo)


Updated: Monday, JUNE 25, 2018

ADDIS ABABA – The United States will send FBI experts to Ethiopia to help investigate a grenade attack at a rally for new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, state-affiliated media said on Monday.

A grenade exploded on Saturday moments after Abiy had finished addressing the crowds, who had turned out to back his push for radical political and economic reforms, including a peace deal with arch-enemy Eritrea.

Thirty people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack that killed two and wounded 156 in Addis Ababa’s packed Meskel Square. Nine police officers have also been detained over the security lapse, officials said.

“The U.S. government said it is sending FBI experts,” the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported.

U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce Gilbert Kaplan made the offer while talking to Ethiopia’s minister of foreign affairs, Workneh Gebeyehu, on Monday, Fana added.

There was no immediate confirmation from the U.S. embassy in Addis, or from Washington. Ethiopia is one of Washington’s main allies in the region, particularly in the fight against militants in neighboring Somalia.

Security officials have not said publicly who might be responsible for the attack.

Abiy took office in April, pledging to bring more transparency to government and reconciliation to a country that has been wracked by political unrest since 2015.

Ethiopia has released thousands of jailed dissidents since the beginning of the year. Major policy shifts include the partial privatisation of Ethiopia’s state-run telecoms monopoly and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, loosening the government’s grip on the economy.

In Pictures: Despite Attack Huge Ethiopia Support Rally for PM Abiy Ahmed

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Ethiopia Unblocks 264 Websites and TV Channels, Ginbot 7 Suspends Armed Resistance (BBC)

ESAT was among the banned TV stations. In a related news Ginbot 7 also announced that it has suspended armed resistance against the Ethiopian government. (Photo: YouTube)


Ethiopia has unblocked 264 websites and TV broadcasters, a senior official has announced.

Fitsum Arega, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff, announced the move on Twitter, saying “freedom of expression is a foundational right”.

Since coming to office in April, Mr Abiy has embarked on sweeping reforms.

The previous administration was accused of restricting access to foreign-based media platforms during the height of anti-government protests.

The government was accused of human rights violations – including torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.

US-based television stations, Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and Oromo Media Network (OMN), were among the outlets barred and charged in absentia for inciting violence and promoting acts of terror by the government, BBC Amharic editor Ashagre Hailu reports.

Many journalists were given prison sentences for stories they had written, while others fled the country.

This environment seems to be changing under Prime Minister Abiy, our correspondent says.

When he took office in April, Mr Abiy pledged to open up the airwaves, even calling on foreign-based opposition TV broadcasters to open offices in Ethiopia.

A few weeks ago, charges were dropped against ESAT and OMN.

Mr Abiy has also announced the part-privatisation of state-owned enterprises, is attempting to stabilise Ethiopia’s rocky relationship with neighbouring Eritrea, and ended a state of emergency put in place by the previous administration.

Ginbot 7 suspends armed resistance

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Why Ethiopia Wants to Launch a Navy

H H Commodore Prince Alexander Desta was Deputy Commander of the Imperial Ethiopian Navy in 1971. (Photo: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM)

BBC News

When Eritrea gained independence in 1993, Ethiopia suddenly found itself without a coastline and so it took the logical step of disbanding its navy. Now, it is reconsidering its decision and its latest manoeuvres in the region suggest it could be shopping around its neighbourhood to find a naval base it can use.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently said on state TV: “We built one of the strongest ground and air force in Africa… we should build our naval force capacity in the future.”

His comments revealed the country’s naval ambitions but his plans for how to achieve this goal have not been made public. However, Ethiopia’s latest push to enter into deals with its coastal neighbours signals something is afoot.

What is behind the move?

State-linked Fana Broadcasting Corporate quoted Mr Abiy as saying the military reforms should “take into account current fast changing world, socio-economic and political situation in Ethiopia”.

After Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bitter border war from 1998-2000, there was little chance that Ethiopia could carry on using Eritrea’s ports as it had done previously. So it had to find alternatives.

Ethiopia recently signed a deal to take a stake in the port of Djibouti, which now handles roughly 95% of all its exports and imports.

It is also connected to its small neighbour by a new 472 mile (759 km) railway line – opened last year – which links the capital Addis Ababa to the port of Doraleh, an extension of the port of Djibouti.

The railway line has increased the movement of cargo volumes to and from the port to such an extent that at least 70% of all its activity is now Ethiopian trade.

Roba Megerssa Akawak, head of the state-owned Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE), told Bloomberg that Ethiopia was concerned that Djibouti was controlled by foreign naval forces. US, China, Japan and France all have military bases there.

“We are afraid perhaps in the future that even Djibouti may not have its own say to really decide on its own fate. This is quite a threat to Ethiopia,” Mr Roba said.

He added that a navy would also help protect the 11 Ethiopia commercial ships in a “very volatile” Red Sea area where Ethiopia has other economic interests “and there are conflicting political interests”.

Read more »

Ethiopia Offers Eritrea Chance to End Africa’s Longest War

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Futurists in Ethiopia Betting on AI

Young Ethiopians are increasingly seeing artificial intelligence as a promising profession. Some stakeholders think Ethiopia should skip the manufacturing stage of development and invest instead in a high-tech workforce. (Photo by Thomas Lewton for Undark)

Quartz Africa

Futurists in Ethiopia are betting on artificial intelligence to drive development

“I don’t think Homo sapiens-type people will exist in 10 or 20 years’ time,” Getnet Assefa, 31, speculates as he gazes into the reconstructed eye sockets of Lucy, one of the oldest and most famous hominid skeletons known, at the National Museum of Ethiopia. “Slowly the biological species will disappear and then we will become a fully synthetic species,” Assefa says.

“Perception, memory, emotion, intelligence, dreams—everything that we value now—will not be there,” he adds.

Assefa is a computer scientist, a futurist, and a utopian—but a pragmatic one at that. He is founder and chief executive of iCog, the first artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Ethiopia, and a stone’s throw from the home of Lucy. iCog Labs launched in 2013 with $50,000 and just four programmers. Today, halfway up an unassuming tower block, dozens of software developers type in silence. Their desks are cluttered with electronic components and dismembered robot body parts, from a soccer-playing bot called Abebe to a miniature robo-Einstein. An earlier prototype of Sophia, a widely recognized humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics (she appeared with late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon last year) is here too. Arguably the world’s most famous robot of her kind, Sophia’s software was partly developed here in Ethiopia’s capital.

In stark contrast to the famine-stricken images that linger in the minds of many Westerners, Addis Ababa has, in recent years, become a hub for international business and diplomacy. Glitzy new office blocks and hotels continue to rise across the sprawling capital, and while Ethiopia is still ranked among the world’s poorest countries in terms of GDP per capita, it is also among the fastest growing.

Assefa hopes to place artificial intelligence at the heart of Ethiopia’s rapid development, but he receives little backing from the government, which has been encouraging investment in the manufacturing sector. “They think that advanced technologies are a luxury,” he sighs, as we sit in the Lucy-themed restaurant next door to the museum. “It’s not a luxury, it is crucial.”

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Ethiopia on the Right Track to a More Democratic Society

(Image via YouTube: Faces of Ethiopia)

Tadias Magazine

June 8th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — This week, Ethiopia’s parliament voted to lift a six-month state of emergency two months in advance than scheduled.

We were not surprised. It is a continuation of a series of positive major policy changes that have taken place in Ethiopia in the past few weeks fueling optimism both at home and abroad since the new PM Abiy Ahmed took office in early April.

The lifting of the State of Emergency follows the government’s recent announcement that it has dropped charges against two Ethiopian media associations based in the United States, ESAT and OMN, as well as granting pardons to several high-profile opposition leaders, journalists and political activists – some whom are set to speak in New York today (June 8th) at an Amnesty International USA conference focusing on the state of human rights in Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia is undergoing remarkable political transformation never seen in the country’s recent history,” says Awol K. Allo, a lecturer at Keele University School of Law in England, writing in a recent opinion article featured on CNN. “Since coming to power just over two months ago, the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has taken a series of radical steps that are transforming the political map and restoring trust in public authority.”

Awol adds: “On Tuesday (June 5), the government made three major and politically consequential announcements. It lifted the state of emergency imposed shortly after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, announced plans to liberalize the economy and declared it was ready to fully comply with and implement the Algiers Agreement that ended Africa’s most deadly conflict [with neighboring Eritrea].” Awol then asks: “Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister has had a stellar two months, can he keep it up?”

The Economist, which has dubbed Abiy ‘the Reformer-in-Chief,’ notes : “The exiled opponents have been invited home. Representatives of dissident media outlets based abroad have been encouraged to set up shop in Addis Ababa, the capital. Terrorism charges against dozens of activists have been dropped, including against a British citizen, Andargachew Tsige, who had been on death row.”

The question still remains, will Ethiopia likewise pull off its first ever truly multi-party election in 2020? The answer might as well be PM Abiy’s long lasting legacy.

In the last questionable election, which was held in 2015, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia declared a 100% vote victory for the ruling party. The unrealistic results certainly contributed to the resentment that ignited the three-year popular unrest leading to the abrupt resignation of the former prime minister.

The next election season in 2020 is not that far away, but given what has already been accomplished in a mere 8 weeks under PM Abiy who knows how Ethiopia may yet again surprise the world. In the end, however, what is not in doubt today is that this generation has answered the call of our time and has seized the moment to assure the continuity of Ethiopia’s long history and culture, while at the same time placing the country on the right path to a more peaceful and democratic society.

Abiy Ahmed pulls off an astonishing turnaround for Ethiopia (Washington Post Editorial)
Momentous days in Ethiopia as new PM pledges major reforms (The Associated Press)

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The Future is African — and the United States is not Prepared

Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier Jr., the chief of staff for U.S. Africa Command, at the Pentagon on May 10. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Beginning in 2035, the number of young people reaching working age in Africa will exceed that of the rest of the world combined, and will continue every year for the rest of the century. By 2050, one in every four humans will be African. At the end of the century, nearly 40 percent of the world’s population will be African. Yet, instead of preparing to build a relationship that can grow with the continent, based upon diplomatic cooperation, the United States is doubling down on more than a decade of reliance on its military as the primary vehicle of engaging with Africa. The consequences, as one might expect, are overwhelmingly negative.

The impending demographic dividend will only add to Africa’s economic importance. Since 2000, at least half of the countries in the world with the highest annual growth rate have been in Africa. By 2030, 43 percent of all Africans are projected to join the ranks of the global middle and upper classes. By that same year, household consumption in Africa is expected to reach $2.5 trillion, more than double the $1.1 trillion of 2015, and combined consumer and business spending will total $6.7 trillion.

Africa’s rapid change also presents challenges that will not be contained within the continent. Indeed, the persistently high absolute number of people in poverty, the underdevelopment of infrastructure, ongoing conflicts, and continuing problems with democratic governance are already combining to make Africa the world’s largest source of emigrants.

Many other countries have taken note of both the potential and the challenges in Africa’s anticipated transformation, and have mostly decided to increase their engagement. Plenty has been written about China’s growing presence, and the European Union has also been deepening its links to the continent. But there is also a growing list of other countries pursuing stronger ties — including India, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, and the Gulf states.

In contrast, the United States’ relationship with the continent has, since 9/11, been increasingly defined by the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. In 2003, the George W. Bush administration established the first permanent U.S. base on the continent in Djibouti. In 2007, the U.S. Africa Command was created.

The Barack Obama administration solidified this policy approach by increasing military spending and deploying more troops. President Trump is following the lead of his predecessors; over the past year, the number of U.S. forces in Africa has increased by nearly 1,500, bringing the total to around 7,500, not including Special Operations forces. The United States now has 34 status of forces agreements (or similar treaties) with African countries — 14 of which were signed or upgraded in the last decade. U.S. Special Operations forces are also often deployed in countries without such agreements. In 2017 alone, U.S. troops were deployed to 50 out of Africa’s 54 countries, many on clandestine missions.

Read more »

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Andy Tsege ‘Overjoyed’ to Return to UK

Andy Tsege was warmly greeted at Heathrow Airport. (Sky News)

Sky News

British national Andy Tsege ‘overjoyed’ to return to UK after years on death row in Ethiopia

A British national who spent four years on death row in Ethiopia has arrived back in the UK after being pardoned last month.

Supporters surrounded Andargachew Tsege, known as Andy, as he walked through arrivals at Heathrow Airport.

He told Sky News he was “overjoyed” to be home and “overwhelmed” by the reception he received.

Mr Tsege said he did not think the campaign to free him and the welcome he got would be “as large, as emotional, as effective as this”.

Andy Tsege’s family were waiting for him at Heathrow (Sky News)

Being away had been “terrible”, he added, and very hard on his family.

Missing four years of his children growing up had been the “most painful thing”.

“The price they paid, the kids, that’s very painful,” he said.

Were he not a father, Mr Tsege said he would not have minded dying in prison for a “cause I believed in”.

While in detention, he said he was “completely sealed off” from any information.

Mr Tsege said being away from his children was the ‘most painful thing’ (Sky News)

Mr Tsege was kidnapped in Yemen in 2014 and taken to Ethiopia, which he left in the 1970s after criticising the country’s ruling party.

The father-of-three sought asylum in the UK in 1979.

In 2009, he was accused by the Ethiopian authorities of being a terrorist, tried with others in his absence and sentenced to death.

After being taken back to Ethiopia, he was held in secret detention and solitary confinement for a year.

Theresa May has thanked her Ethiopian counterpart, Abiy Ahmed, for the release of Mr Tsege and other prisoners.

Ethiopia Drops Charges Against ESAT, OMN, Berhanu Nega and Jawar Mohammed (AP)

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Did Obama Come Too Early for America?

Former president Barack Obama walks by his presidential portrait at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in February. (The Washington Post)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Did Obama Come Too Early for America? New Book Reveals He Wondered So

May 31st, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election President Barack Obama was said to have wondered aloud if he had come a bit too early for America.

In response his advisors sought to uplift his spirits emphasizing that the vast majority of young people understood him better than the older generation; this was according to a new book by Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes.

“His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump,” the New York Times notes citing Rhodes’ book. “Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, did not seem convinced. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said.”

As the Washington Post’s Eugene Scott reminds us “Obama’s vision of America was rooted in uniting those who often process politics and policy differently because of their different identities.” Obama famously articulated this during his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech in Boston that catapulted him to international stardom.

However, Scott also points out: “More than a decade later, as the first black president was ending his historic time in the White House, Obama was faced with acknowledging something that perhaps he had not previously — America was far more divided than many people realized. It’s fair to say, more than a year after President Trump entered the White House, Obama was wrong about one thing: just how many people bought into his vision of an inclusive America where diversity is fundamental to the country’s — and the world’s — success. Very often after a racist, sexist or other discriminatory comment or incident captures national headlines, some politicians and other cultural influencers head to Twitter to say: “This is not who we are.” The frequency with which these episodes happen is proof that that’s not true.”

Scott adds:

Obama often called on Americans “to appeal … to our better angels.” This is a line he borrowed from Abraham Lincoln, who had to challenge Americans to do the same thing more than a century and a half ago. While Obama may have underestimated just how tribalistic the country had become during his presidency, and the role he may have played in it, the idea that most people bought into the vision of America that Trump promoted is also unsupported by the data. A majority of the electorate voted against Trump.”

Indeed per the officially-certified votes from the 2016 presidential race Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes, but lost the Electoral College.

Below are links to both articles:



Millennials Take on Trump in 2018 Midterm Elections
Barack & Michelle Obama Partner With Netflix to Produce Media Content

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How Ethiopia’s Social Safety-net Program is Setting an Example — The Economist

Extending the safety-net in Ethiopia: Ethiopia’s scheme to help the poor is setting an example.

The Economist

May 31st 2018 | ADDIS ABABA

TSIDE ZEWIDE has lived in the shadow of the national palace in Addis Ababa for more than 50 years. Since her husband died four years ago the 73-year-old has cared for three orphans, the grandchildren of her late sister, alone in a rundown government-owned shack. She has no pension and, until recently, had no income. “I relied on the kindness of my neighbours,” she sighs.

Last year Mrs Zewide’s fortunes changed. She and some 80 of her neighbours rise at dawn to sweep the streets of the Ethiopian capital for three hours a day. For this she is paid 1,200 Ethiopian birr ($44) a month, a fifth of which she is required to save. “It’s good for me psychologically,” she says. “It keeps me busy, and now at least I can tell people I have a job.” Her teammates nod in agreement.

They are participants in Ethiopia’s Urban Productive Safety Net Project, which was launched in 2017 and is among the largest social programmes in sub-Saharan Africa (outside South Africa) designed specifically for urban areas. About 400,000 poor Ethiopians in 11 cities are already enrolled. The government hopes it will eventually help 4.7m people in almost 1,000 towns. Beneficiaries are selected by a neighbourhood committee based on how poor and vulnerable they are. In addition to the paid work, they also receive training. Those who want to start their own businesses are given grants…

Ethiopia’s programme is a step towards building a national social-security system that will, in time, replace a hotch-potch of small ones. It builds on Ethiopia’s flagship rural safety-net, which is the largest of its kind on the continent and covers some 10m poor people in the countryside (out of a total population of about 102m). The government has committed $150m to fund the new scheme and the World Bank has stumped up the remaining $300m needed for the first five years. Ethiopia hopes that within ten years it will no longer need help financing the programme.

Read more »

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Ethiopia Drops Charges Against ESAT, OMN, Berhanu Nega and Jawar Mohammed

Berhanu Nega, who leads the opposition Patriotic Ginbot 7 group, was previously sentenced to death. (Photo: NYT)

The Associated Press

An Ethiopian court has dropped charges against two U.S.-based media outlets once accused of coordinating anti-government protests, as well as a high-profile politician and opposition activist.

The developments reported by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate are the latest under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who since his installation in April has secured the release of several thousands of prisoners.

Charges were dropped against broadcasters ESAT and OMN and activist Jawar Mohammed.

Charges also were dropped against politician Berhanu Nega, who leads the opposition Patriotic Ginbot 7 group and was previously sentenced to death.

Also Tuesday, Ethiopia-born British national Andgargachew Tsige walked free after being pardoned Saturday on “special circumstances.” He was secretary-general of Ginbot 7 and had been detained in Yemen in 2014 under Ethiopia’s infamous anti-terror law.

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Andargachew Tsige to Be Released (AP)

Andargachew Tsege is a father of three from London. A prominent figure in Ethiopian politics, kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia in 2014. (Family photo via Twitter)


Ethiopia releasing British national detained in 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia says it is releasing an Ethiopia-born British national detained in Yemen in 2014 under the country’s infamous anti-terror law.

Andargachew Tsige was secretary-general of the opposition group Ginbot 7 based mainly in Ethiopia’s arch- foe Eritrea.

The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reports that Andargachew was pardoned under “special circumstances” with the intervention of the attorney general. The report says close to 600 people are being released in all.

Britain had been trying to secure Andargachew’s release since his arrest.

Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was installed in April and has since secured the release of several thousands of prisoners, including high-profile politicians and journalists.

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Barack & Michelle Obama Partner With Netflix to Produce Media Content

(Getty Images)


LOS ANGELES – Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, have struck a deal to produce films and series for Netflix Inc, the streaming service said on Monday, giving the former first couple a powerful and unprecedented platform to shape their post-White House legacy.

Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas have the option to produce scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and feature films, Netflix said in a statement.

The Obamas will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others, said a person familiar with the deal.

Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed and the first of the programming is not expected to reach viewers until about May 2019, the person said.

The agreement between the Obamas and Netflix, which boasts some 125 million subscribers worldwide, is a first for any occupant of the White House…

The Obamas gave no details of the topics they planned to cover but the content is not expected to be directly political.

Barack Obama in a statement recalled the “fascinating people” from all walks of life that he had met during his eight years in office, ending in January 2017.

Netflix Forming Storytelling Partnership With Barack and Michelle Obama

Press Release

Hollywood, Calif., May 21, 2018 — President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series with Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service.

The Obamas will produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features. These projects will be available to the 125 million member Netflix households in 190 countries.

The Obamas have established Higher Ground Productions as the entity under which they will produce content for Netflix.

“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” said President Obama. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix – we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” said Mrs. Obama. “Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”

“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”

About Netflix:

Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with 125 million memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

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Al-Amoudi Will Be Released Soon, PM Says

Al Amoudi has been detained in Saudi Arabia since November 2017 as part of a high profile anti-corruption probe. The billionaire businessman will return to Ethiopia "soon," announced Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who recently traveled to the oil kingdom and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “One of the reasons we went to Saudi Arabia was to ask the Saudi government to release Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi,” Abiy said. “We have made the request – we are sure that he will be released very soon.” (Photo: I-ARB Africa)

Middle East Monitor

Saudi Arabia will soon release Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, an Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire arrested in November during a crackdown on corruption, Ethiopia’s prime minister said.

Abiy Ahmed made the remarks late on Saturday after arriving from the Gulf kingdom, where he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a two-day visit.

Al Amoudi, a son of a Saudi father and an Ethiopian mother who has invested heavily in construction, agriculture and mining in the Horn of Africa country, was among 11 princes, four current ministers and top businessmen detained during the swoop by a new anti-corruption body.

“The incarceration of one Ethiopian is the incarceration of all Ethiopians. Sheikh Al Amoudi’s arrest is top in the agenda for all Ethiopians,” Abiy said in the capital Addis Ababa.

“We have made the request – we are sure that he will be released very soon,” he added in a townhall-style gathering.

Read more »

Ethiopia Lobbies for Release of Billionaire in Saudi Arabia (Bloomberg)

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Ethiopia Probes Killing of Dangote Cement Country Manager (Bloomberg)

Deep Kamra, the Ethiopia country manager of Dangote Cement Plc, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Wednesday along with his secretary and his driver near the factory north of Addis Ababa. The Company has faced opposition to its sourcing of raw materials. Kamra was an Indian national. The Indian Embassy in Addis Ababa said its providing all necessary assistance to return his body back home. (Photo: Reporter)


Ethiopian authorities are investigating the murder of the country manager of Dangote Cement Plc, the manufacturer owned by Africa’s richest man, and two other staff.

Unidentified gunmen shot dead Deep Kamra, his secretary and his driver on Wednesday, Tariku Alemayehu, deputy manager for sales and marketing in Ethiopia, said by phone from the capital, Addis Ababa. The killings took place in broad daylight near Dangote’s factory in Mugher, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Addis Ababa, Group Executive Director Edwin Devakumar said by email from Lagos, Nigeria, where Dangote’s head office is based.

The assailants forced the driver to lose control by throwing a concrete block at the vehicle the three people were traveling in, before opening fire on the occupants, Devakumar said.

“Mr. Kamra tried to get out and escape,” he said. “They shot him in the leg. When he slumped into the jeep, they went near and shot him multiple times. Then they shot the driver and the secretary — also, each of them, multiple times. It was simply a massacre.”

Security forces are working to apprehend the suspects, according to a statement read on state-owned ETV.

Read more »

Gunmen kill Ethiopia country manager of Nigeria’s Dangote (Reuters)

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Reunited: Graduate From Ethiopia Relishes Mom’s Presence at Commencement

Roza Azene ‘18 graduated magna cum laude with honors after adjusting to life at Brandeis Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. (brandeis.edu)


Roza Muluken Azene ’18 was keenly aware of Commencement’s concurrence with Mother’s Day this year.

For Azene, a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, graduation marked just the third time in four years that she’s seen her mother, Muchit Reta, who made a 27-hour journey to Waltham last week to see her daughter receive a bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics.

“The distance and time apart has been very hard and challenging for both of us. Getting my diploma this Sunday definitely feels more significant given that it’s also Mother’s Day. It’s such a great coincidence,” Azene said.

Muchit, who works as a math teacher in Ethiopia, encouraged her daughter to pursue educational opportunities in the United States after a family friend recommended Brandeis.

Azene heeded her mother’s encouragement and applied to Brandeis. She was subsequently accepted into the Class of 2018 and was named a Lawrence A. Wien International Scholar. The Wien Scholarship Program provides four years of free tuition to a select group of international students. Since its inception in 1958, the program has brought over 860 scholars from 112 countries to Brandeis.

Even so, Azene was hesitant to leave home and face a new country, language and culture on her own. Today, she remembers the moment her plane took off from Addis Ababa en route to a new adventure.

“I remember sitting on the plane, waiting on the tarmac to takeoff,” Azene said. “And I remember saying to myself ‘What are you doing? What have you done?’”

Azene credits Brandeis’ community for welcoming her on campus in the fall of 2014 and making her transition easier. She made friends and enjoyed new student orientation. That said, she also experienced homesickness and culture shock.

Read more »

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Land and Corruption in Ethiopia

Villagers, lured by new jobs and rich rewards for selling their land, now face poverty and heartbreak as claims of corruption engulf £25bn transport project. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

They promised us we would get jobs there,” says Tadele, nodding at the grand, almost baroque edifice at the bottom of the hill. Adama’s new railway station, yellow bricks golden in the afternoon sun, is still a symbol of hope for the 43-year-old who lives in a village overlooking it. But its promise is dimmer than it was.

A stint on the payroll of the Chinese firm that built Ethiopia’s new railway ended sourly. After six months he was fired, for reasons he disputes. Now, like many in his village and in small towns all along the railway from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to Djibouti, the tiny nation and synonymous Red Sea port that borders Ethiopia, he is frustrated, impatient – and unemployed.

Ethiopia’s new £2.5bn, 750km (466-mile) line began commercial operations at the start of the year, making it Africa’s first fully electrified cross-border railway. Built and financed by Chinese investors and contractors, and shadowing the route of an earlier French-built track, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway lies at the heart of Ethiopia’s development aspirations. By linking the landlocked country to the sea and lowering transport costs for imports and exports, the government hopes to kickstart industrialisation and transform a poor, agricultural nation of nearly 100 million people into a middle-income one by as early as 2025.

And it is much more than that. “The railway project is a transport project,” explains Dr Getachew Betru, former chief executive of the state-owned Ethiopia Railways Corporation (ERC). “But it is also a hinterland development project.” The plan is for eight railways to eventually crisscross this vast, diverse land, knitting together the relatively fertile highlands with the historically neglected lowlands that are mostly inhabited by nomadic people. New stations, some of which rise incongruously from seemingly empty expanses of barren bushland, are visualised as “transport-oriented development zones”: future temples of commerce boasting malls, hotels, and golf courses…

The railway embodies these contradictions. “It’s the physical manifestation of the country’s politics,” says Biruk Terrefe, a graduate researcher at Oxford University who has studied the project.

Read the full story at theguardian.com »

Dr. Abiy Making Ethiopia Optimistic Again — Media Round Up

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UN IOM Conducting a Study of the Ethiopian Diaspora

(IOM Logo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

May 9th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is conducting a study of the Ethiopian Diaspora.

According to IOM the goal of the study is “to identify potential opportunities to partner with the Ethiopian Diaspora to promote development in Ethiopia.”

The United Nations organization states that “to do this most effectively, IOM needs feedback from the Ethiopian community. This survey is part of a study designed to collect input and feedback from the Ethiopian Diaspora to shape future IOM diaspora engagement strategies” adding that “future successful IOM engagement with the Ethiopian diaspora relies on collecting as many diverse opinions from as many voices as possible.”

Please complete this survey by May 14th and encourage others that you know in the Ethiopian Diaspora to do so as well. All responses will remain anonymous and will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

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Captain Alemayehu Abebe, First African Pilot to Command Commercial Aircraft

In 1957, Captain Alemayehu Abebe (center) became the first African pilot to command commercial aircraft making his solo flight as captain of an Ethiopian Airlines DC‑3/C-47 aircraft. This week, Captain Alemayehu who passed away in January 2018 is featured by the Pan-African website Face2Face Africa for his trailblazing role in African aviation. Below is excerpt from the story. (Photo: Ethiopian Airlines)

Face2Face Africa

This determined Ethiopian became Africa’s first commercial aircraft captain

Perseverance was his hallmark. At a time when management and flight operations at Ethiopian Airlines were dominated by Americans, who felt black people had no business flying, Alemayehu Abebe was determined to prove them wrong. Through hard work, he became the first Ethiopian captain in 1957, making his solo flight on DC-3/c-47 at the age of 32.

Ethiopian Airlines had in 1946 began commercial operation with an all-American aircrew.

In 1951, the airline trained four Ethiopian pilots, and Abebe was one of them.

He and the others did tremendously well. He was further set apart from the rest by becoming the first African to fly the Atlantic solo in 1962, with Boeing 720Bs.

Read more »

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D.C.-based Nonprofit Supports Young Female Ethiopian Runners

(Photo: GGRF)


The Girls Gotta Run Foundation started out with an effort to get running shoes to girls in Ethiopia.

Now, more than a decade later, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit is working with 100 girls and 40 mothers in the African country.

And the Girls Gotta Run Foundation provides more than just shoes. Three-year scholarship programs in Sodo and Bekoji, Ethiopia, allow girls to stay in school while also running, receiving coaching and running gear, and learning life skills, according to the nonprofit’s website.

In a place where child marriage is not uncommon, running provides an opportunity for Ethiopian girls to have more control over their futures — even if they don’t become professional runners. Education is key in the scholarship programs.

“After working closely with the communities we collaborate with, we shaped our program around the challenges and opportunities facing girls and women in these unique environments,” Executive Director Kayla Nolan wrote in an email from Bekoji, Ethiopia. “This led to a focus on education, early marriage prevention and recreational running.”

The Girls Gotta Run Foundation has worked with 210 people in total, she wrote.

Founder Pat Ortman, a retired women’s studies professor at Mount Vernon College, said the organization has grown much more than she imagined.

“I’m awestruck,” Ortman said.

In late 2005, Ortman read a Washington Post article titled “Facing Servitude, Ethiopian Girls Run for a Better Life.” She said she was impressed by the determination of the Ethiopian girls despite their tough circumstances. One runner featured in the story spoke of how she had to either run barefoot or in her brothers’ shoes because she didn’t have her own.

“They were just so optimistic,” she said.

Read more »

In Sodo & Bekoji, New GGRF Athletic Scholarship Keeps Girls in School

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Can Ethiopia and Eritrea Make Peace?

Twenty years after a pointless war over a town no one had heard of, Ethiopia ponders rapprochement. (AFP)

The Economist

New premier, new hope: Can Ethiopia and Eritrea make peace?

“LIKE Sarajevo, 1914,” said the late Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, of the first gunshots fired on May 6th 1998. “An accident waiting to happen.” Neither he nor his counterpart in neighbouring Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, imagined that a light skirmish at Badme, a border village of which few had heard, could spiral into full-scale war. But two years later about 80,000 lives had been lost and more than half a million people forced from their homes.

No land changed hands. Two decades on, Ethiopia still occupies the disputed territories, including Badme, having refused to accept the findings of a UN boundary commission. But the conflict’s miserable legacy persists. Thousands of troops still patrol the frontier. Centuries of trade and intermarriage abruptly ceased. Ethiopia lost access to Eritrea’s ports. Eritrea lost its biggest trading partner and retreated into isolationism. It has been on a war footing ever since.

But it is not so lonely these days. On April 22nd Donald Yamamoto, America’s most senior diplomat in Africa, visited Asmara, the capital—the first such visit in over a decade. Eritrea has been sanctioned by the UN since 2009, in part for allegedly arming jihadists in neighbouring Somalia. But a panel of experts appointed by the UN Security Council found no evidence of arms transfers and advocates lifting the embargo. America sounds open to the idea. Some reckon sanctions could be removed this year.

Many in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, are also mulling a change of course. With the appointment last month of a new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, there is an opportunity for fresh thinking. Abiy, who was an intelligence officer during the war, promised in his inaugural speech to make peace with Eritrea.

Read more at Economist.com »

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Comedian Defends Controversial Jokes

At this year's White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night comedian Michelle Wolf ripped into Washington’s media and government establishment with hard-hitting jokes garnering international attention. But, as the Washington Post's Molly Roberts points out the city's "tuxedo-clad intelligentsia" was not so pleased. We guess they prefer being called "very, very dishonest people" and "fake news" by The Dear Leader while at the same time being used as an echo chamber for official lies and propaganda. What a time in America. Below are excerpts from Molly Roberts' great piece. (Reuters photo)

The Washington Post

“Thank you!”

That’s how comedian Michelle Wolf answered Sean Spicer’s declaration that her headlining stand-up set at the the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner was “a disgrace.” Her response is instructive: To Wolf, an insult from Spicer is an accolade – and accolades, surely, would be an insult. She’s right.

Wolf managed Saturday night to scandalize the majority of Washington’s tuxedo-clad intelligentsia with a barrage of bon mots that, in the eyes of much of the press and political establishment, weren’t really so bon at all. The speech, these pundits have argued, wasn’t amusing; it was lewd, and worse than that, it was mean…

That Wolf’s performance was not “normal” for the correspondents’ dinner is a testament to its timeliness and necessity — nothing is “normal” right now, and pretending otherwise out of a false sense of the fourth estate’s friendship with the executive would have been the real disgrace. Wolf called the Trump administration out for tearing down democracy. Then, the people who are supposed to care most about holding autocrats to account called her out in turn for, essentially, not being chummy enough.

Read more »

How Michelle Wolf Blasted Open the Fictions of Journalism in the Age of Trump
Wath: WHCD comedian defends her controversial jokes (CNN)

Shut up about Michelle Wolf if you’ve been silent on Trump’s offenses (By Jonathan Capehart)

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Reflections on Tana Forum 2018 and Ethiopia’s New PM Abiy Ahmed

Dr. Abiy Ahmed delivering the keynote address at the Tana High Level Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, an annual event held in the resort city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia [Tana Forum/Twitter]


“This new guy – he’s a good guy. Very good brain. Now everything in Ethiopia is going to be OK”.

My taxi driver Daniel offers up this unprompted insight as we zip through the streets of Addis Ababa, letting me in on the sentiment around the unprecedented year Ethiopia had.

The “new guy” is Dr Abiy Ahmed, the recently selected chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPDRF), the coalition that has been ruling Africa’s second-most populous country for 27 years. At 42 years old, Dr Ahmed is not just the youngest Ethiopian prime minster ever, but also the first from the Oromo community, the largest ethnic group in the country. For Daniel and others who offered their unprompted opinions, Dr Ahmed not only offers respite from nearly two years of political and social upheaval that threatened to undo Ethiopia altogether, but the hope of a more inclusive and democratic Ethiopia.

Earlier in the week, Dr Ahmed offered the keynote address at the Tana High Level Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, an annual event held in the resort city of Bahir Dar, the State Capital of the Amhara region. Similar to the Davos World Economic Forum, the event brings together current and former political and academic leaders on the continent for an informal dialogue on enhancing peace and security on the continent. At the margins of the summit, hundreds of bilateral meetings between regional politicians, Addis Ababa’s vast diplomatic corps and numerous international organisations make this one of the more significant networking events at the continent.

Bahir Dar was a stopover for Dr Ahmed in the midst of a whirlwind tour of Ethiopia, uneasily calm after years of intensifying unrest that implicated three of the country’s largest regions – Amhara, Oromia and the Somali region. The prime minister arrived at the forum after visiting Gondar, a historical town known for its 15th and 16th century churches and distinct orthodox Christian crosses that was the epicentre of many protests in the previous two years. By the time Ahmed arrived in Bahir Dar, internet access in the town had only just been restored after a nearly two year shut down.

The air in Bahir Dar was electric with anticipation of Ahmed’s arrival, with everyone waiting to hear what he has to say. “He’s very young,” said one driver, “but he’s very clever. He is [a] doctor, you know?”

At the summit and beyond, expectations on Ahmed’s shoulders are high…

In contrast to earlier speeches in parliament and at various stops on his tour, at the summit Dr Ahmed’s speech did not touch on Ethiopia’s political flux, but the symbolism of his visit is unmissable for Ethiopian watchers.

Read more »

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Shows Knack for Balancing Reform and Continuity
In Defense of Ethiopia: New PM is Fixing the Broken System
PM Abiy Visits Gondar & Bahir Dar as Part of National Tour
PM Abiy Names Cabinet (Reuters)
Ethiopia: Prime Minister Sidelines Military On Development Project (Stratfor)
No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM
Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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Ethiopia is Now Africa’s Fastest Growing Economy (CNN)

A view of the capital Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has experienced fast economic growth in the past decade, averaging around 10% a year. Economists cite the country's manufacturing industry as the key element in the country's success. (CNN)


Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populated country, is forecast to be the fastest growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, according to new data from the IMF.

Ethiopia’s economy is predicted to grow by 8.5% this year. The figures signal continued economic expansion following a long period of impressive growth. In the last decade, Ethiopia has averaged around 10% economic growth, according to the IMF.

To boost the economy, the country is pursuing a number of large-scale infrastructure projects, including the Grand Renaissance Dam and a railway network.

“(Ethiopia) has had a very high growth rate and I think that’s a result in large part of a very concentrated effort by the government to boost industrial production and manufacturing,” said Vijaya Ramachandran, an economist at the American think tank Center for Global Development (CGD).

Ramachandran, along with three academics, released a report suggesting Ethiopia can follow in China’s footsteps, and become a destination for low-wage manufacturing jobs.

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Obama to Speak at Mandela’s 100th Birthday Anniversary in South Africa

Former President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote speech at the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth this coming July in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP photo)

The New York Times

Obama Will Speak in South Africa on Tolerance

WASHINGTON — He’s been photographed kite-surfing with Richard Branson off Necker Island, relaxing on David Geffen’s yacht in French Polynesia with Bruce Springsteen and Oprah Winfrey, river-rafting with his family in Bali and posing with a celebrity chef in Tuscany.

To those who have paid only casual attention to former President Barack Obama’s foreign travels since he left the White House in January 2017, it can seem as if Mr. Obama has been on an extended vacation of the kind only the very rich can afford.

But the former president has also met quietly with groups of young people in New Zealand, Brazil, Indonesia and Singapore, as well as paying calls on foreign leaders, including Xi Jinping of China, Emmanuel Macron of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Malcolm Turnbull of Australia.

Now, Mr. Obama is inaugurating his most significant international project as an ex-president, with an announcement on Monday that the Obama Foundation plans to convene 200 young people this July in Johannesburg for five days of meetings, workshops and technical training.

At the same time, Mr. Obama will deliver a lecture to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, whom he eulogized after his death five years ago by saying he “makes me want to be a better man.”

“It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a former speechwriter for Mr. Obama who still advises him.

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In Defense of Ethiopia: New PM is Fixing the Broken System

In the following article published on Sunday by the Lawfare blog, Yale PhD student Hilary Matfess argues that "fixing Ethiopia requires more than a new prime minister." Perhaps. But, in our opinion, electing Dr. Abiy was the first step in the right direction for Ethiopia. Since the charismatic young leader was inaugurated on April 2nd, he has already made a rare outreach to the opposition, has visited towns that were center of anti-government protests, sidelined the military from a civilian development project and ended the internet blackout. In addition, and most importantly, Abiy has embarked on a national peace tour across the country to foster unity and calm ethnic tensions. And we hope PM Abiy will also push to lift the draconian State of Emergency sooner than later. As the proverb goes: "Rome wasn't built in a day." In any case, you may read below Hilary Matfess' foreign policy essay and follow the link for it serves as a reminder of the herculean task that awaits Ethiopia's new leadership with respect to improving the country's dismal human rights record and global standing. (Photo via firstpost.com)


Fixing Ethiopia Requires More Than a New Prime Minister

Ethiopia’s current State of Emergency, implemented on February 16 after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalign stepped down from power, is the second time since October 2016 that the government has declared martial law. According to Human Rights Watch, “some of Ethiopia’s staunch Western allies, fearful of what a destabilized Ethiopia would mean for their interests, have spoken openly of their concerns and urged a change in tactics.” What these allies fail to appreciate is that these tactics are not a bug in the system of governance in Ethiopia—they are a feature. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the hegemonic party that’s been in power since 1991, has tightly controlled the country’s political system, stifling civil society and criminalizing dissent. The selection of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister—marking the first time in 27 years that the EPRDF has had an Oromo has occupied the office, despite the fact that the Oromo is the country’s largest ethnic group—is insufficient to stabilize the country.

Michael O’Hanlon, the co-director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, has described the country as “one of the most important countries on the continent by almost any measure.” The measure most pressing for U.S. interests, however, is the country’s role as a strategic regional counterterrorism partner. Ethiopia’s contributions to AMISOM, in particular, have endeared it to the U.S. national security community. Terrence Lyons, a professor at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, considers the country an “irreplaceable center of gravity” for the Horn of Africa. As a long-standing U.S. partner in counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, the effects of Ethiopia’s stability extends well beyond the country’s borders. Without legislative overhauls that promote democratic accountability, the country will continue to be beset by instability. Unfortunately, the country’s history suggests that the party will respond to the current crisis with more repression…

Read more »

PM Abiy Visits Gondar & Bahir Dar as Part of National Tour
PM Abiy Names Cabinet (Reuters)
Ethiopia: Prime Minister Sidelines Military On Development Project (Stratfor)
No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM
Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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No Quick Fix to Ethiopia’s Hard Currency Crisis, Says PM

Abiy’s remarks on Monday were his first substantive public comments on the economy since taking office. According to the latest IMF World Economic Outlook data Ethiopia now has surpassed Ghana as the fastest-growing economy in Africa. But as Reuters reports "foreign investors and local businesses complain that the severe hard currency shortages are stifling the private sector." (Reuters photo)


By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopian foreign exchange shortage will last years: new premier

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s new prime minister said on Monday that a foreign exchange shortage will last for years and more cooperation with the private sector is essential to solve it, state television reported.

Abiy Ahmed, who was sworn in on April 2, addressed the local business community at a session of more than two hours in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital. His paraphrased remarks were later broadcast by state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The crisis with hard currency will not be solved today, nor will it in the next 15 or 20 years. There is an urgent need for more cooperation with the private sector to find a solution,” Abiy was reported as saying, adding that remittances from Ethiopia’s diaspora communities had also fallen for political reasons.

Ethiopia has recorded average annual economic growth of about 10 percent for the past decade, the fastest in Africa. But foreign investors and local businesses complain that the severe hard currency shortages are stifling the private sector.

The International Monetary Fund said in January that Ethiopia’s foreign reserves at the end of the 2016/17 fiscal year stood at $3.2 billion, less than what it spends on imports in two months. The government does not regularly release foreign reserves figures.

The IMF flagged inadequate reserves as a downside risk to economic growth for 2017/18, which it forecast at 8.5 percent.

Despite high economic growth, the landlocked country of 100 million people is heavily dependent on imports. The IMF said export revenues last year were largely unchanged despite volume growth as global agricultural commodity prices remained low and exports from manufacturing, following the start of an industrialization push, are just beginning.

Read more »

Ethiopia Beats Ghana as Fastest-Growing Africa Economy for IMF (Bloomberg)
Ethiopia Ends Web Blackout, Raising Hopes of Reforms Under New PM (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s New Leader Makes Rare Outreach to Opposition (AP)
In Ambo, Ethiopia PM Asks for Patience as He Seeks Change (AFP)
Ethiopia’s new PM visits town that was center of anti-government protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia PM gets huge welcome in Ambo (Africa News)
US House Approves Ethiopia Resolution H. Res. 128 Amid Objection on Timing
In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission
Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists (AP)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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Ethiopians Urge Britain to Return Remains of Prince Alemayehu After 150 Years

Poet Lemn Sissay has joined the campaign to repatriate Prince Alemayehu’s remains. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

For 150 years, Ethiopians have been asking when Prince Alemayehu will come home. The orphan prince, a descendant of Solomon, was taken to England – some say “stolen” – after British soldiers looted his father’s imperial citadel following the Battle of [Meqdela] in 1868.

He died at the age of 18, after an unhappy childhood, and was buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle at the request of Queen Victoria. Now, as discussions take place with the Victoria & Albert Museum about the return of royal treasures taken by British forces during the battle, the Ethiopian government told the Observer it is “redoubling” its efforts to finally bring back the prince’s remains. Last week there were celebrations in Addis Ababa to commemorate the life of the prince’s father, Tewodros II, on the 150th anniversary of his death in the battle. A selection of the objects in the V&A’s possession went on display last week.

Lemn Sissay, the poet and author, has joined the campaign to repatriate the young prince’s remains. Sissay, whose birth mother was Ethiopian, has been invited to speak about Alemayehu by the Ethiopian goverment in June.

“It’s my goal, my sincere hope that in my lifetime [Alemayehu] will go back to Ethiopia,” Sissay told the Observer. “This isn’t going away because I’m not going away.”

Read more »

150 Years After His Death Ethiopia Commemorates Life of Tewodros II
UK Museum Wants to Loan Ethiopia Looted Ethiopian Treasures. Why Not Return It?
A Photo Journal Retracing the Last March of Emperor Tewodros to Meqdela

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Spotlight: The Last Greeks of Addis Ababa

Ethiopia and Greece's relationship dates back to ancient times, and a small community is keeping both cultures alive. (Photo: The Greek Club in Addis Ababa/Al Jazeera)


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – “Did you know that Ethiopia gets its name from the Greek word Aethiopia, first used by Homer?” Greek Ambassador to Ethiopia Nikolaos Patakias says proudly.

Sitting in his office in the capital Addis Ababa, Patakias shows an ancient Greek romantic novel, The Aethiopica. It’s a love story about the relationship between the daughter of the queen of Ethiopia and a Greek descendant of Achilles.

Also in his possession are photographs of relics from the ancient Ethiopian Kingdom of Axum. These include the famous Ezana Stone and some gold coins, both of which have ancient Greek scripture written on them.

“Tradition counts for a lot in Ethiopia and Greece, we follow it by the book,” says businessman Odysseas Parris, 57, sitting in a Greek restaurant close to the ambassador’s residence.

“We’re very lucky because we get to enjoy festivities from both cultures.”

As he sips his frappe – Greek iced coffee – and his wife Anastasia Mitsopoulou smokes and talks expressively with friends, they are unmistakably Mediterranean.

Yet Parris and Mitsopoulou are two of Addis Ababa’s second generation Ethio-Greeks. Both of Parris’ grandfathers were Greek and grandmothers Ethiopian. He, and his parents before him, were born in Ethiopia.

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Miss Ethiopia Becomes Miss Africa

Miss Ethiopia won the maiden Africa Beauty Pageant held in Lagos, Nigeria last week. (Photo: LNN)

Leadership Nigeria Newspaper

Against all odds, tall and gorgeous Miss Ethiopia won the maiden Africa Beauty Pageant defeating Miss Mali, Miss Ghana and Miss Somalia in the Top 5 finalist contest.

The beauty queens are drawn from Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Cape Verde, Burundi, Cameroun, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Gambia and Mali. These 15 contestants are the finalists who emerged from the original 54, representing each of the African countries. Alas, Miss Nigeria did not even make it to the top 5.

The soft spoken queen, Zika (her abbreviated name), stated that she was overwhelmed on hearing her name at the event held at the Grand Ball Room of Oriental Hotel last Friday, March 30.

She noted that her greatest rivals were Miss Ghana and Miss Somalia. Speaking at media parley midweek, “Winning this crown has been the most defining moment for me. Winning the Africa Beauty Pageant is my greatest achievement coming from Ethiopia, a country not so known for pageants. It is not about me, it was about my country. I really enjoyed every moment of the two weeks we stayed in Nigeria including the jollof rice. Africa Beauty Pageant is not just about beauty but brains, intelligence as we were groomed on different things,” said the queen. She added that she would use the platform to voice out the plight of the girl child and speak against child abuse and violence against women.

According to the organisers, the winner takes home a brand new Kia Sportage, Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), a fully furnished apartment in Nigeria, because Nigeria is the operating base for this year’s event and cash prize of $5,000. Creative Director of the pageant, Mr. Chike Mordi, noted that the pageant was themed ‘Beauty, Peace and Unity’.

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In Ethiopia Internet Returns, Maekelawi Closed, PM Visits Jijiga on Peace Mission

Mobile internet service has been restored in Ethiopia, adding to the list of positive news coming out of the country since the inauguration of the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali on Monday, April 2nd. In addition The Associated Press reports that Ethiopia has now officially closed the notorious Maekelawi prison. And Reuters notes that on Saturday, Abiy arrived in Jijiga - the capital of the Somali region - in a bid to tackle the problems [that displaced nearly a million people]. Below are links to these and other related stories. (Photo: Reuters)


Joyous mood as mobile internet restored in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, April 6 (Xinhua) — Ethiopians residing outside the capital Addis Ababa woke up to find mobile internet back working as the service restored on Friday after five months of blackout.

The East African country on Friday restored mobile internet service after it was terminated across the country for the past five months, leaving majority of the country’s population to search rare wi-fi and broadband internet services.

Ashenafi Yenew, a young Ethiopian in Bahir Dar city, told Xinhua that the reopening of mobile internet service on Friday morning “was a great surprise” for him and residents of the city…

The block on mobile internet service was a major concern since the majority of Ethiopians use their mobile handsets to access the internet.

Ethiopia’s state-owned EthioTelecom recently announced that it has more than 57 million mobile subscribers, accounting to more than half of the country’s total population.

Maereg Sahlu, a tourist guide in Lalibe town, also told Xinhua that the block on mobile internet was a major inconvenience for many tourists.

“Tourists need mobile internet for various purposes mainly to check maps and also communicate with their relatives back home,” Sahlu said.

“Most of the time they were not happy when we tell them to use other options instead of mobile internet service,” Sahlu added.

According to Sahlu, the restoration of mobile internet service is “a great news for us and also tourists who come from different parts of the world.”

Read more »

Ethiopia closes notorious prison as internet service returns (AP)
Ethiopia’s PM seeks end to violence that displaced nearly a million (Reuters)
Ethiopia Closes Infamous Prison, But Activists Await Deeper Reforms (VOA)
A Charismatic Young Leader Tries to Calm Ethnic Tension in Ethiopia (The Economist)
Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)

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Ethiopia Frees Re-Arrested Journalists

Jounalist Eskinder Nega is among those released once again. (Photo: By Yonas Tadesse/Getty Images)

Associated Press

By Elias Meseret

April 5

Ethiopia Releases 11 Journalists, Politicians Once Again

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Eleven journalists, politicians and bloggers in Ethiopia who were detained last month for allegedly displaying an outlawed flag and gathering in violation of a state of emergency have been released, a lawyer said Thursday.

Amha Mekonnen, who represented most of the detained journalists, told The Associated Press that no charges were filed.

Most of the 11 had been released from prison earlier this year with dozens of others as the former prime minister tried to open up political space after months of the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century. They were detained again late last month as they gathered for a social event outside the capital, Addis Ababa, with family and friends.

Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, was sworn in on Monday, vowing to solve “lots of problems,” amid hopes that he will be able to quell the sustained unrest that has rocked Africa’s second most populous nation.

Among those now freed again are journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, politician Andualem Aragie and prominent blogger Befekadu Hailu.

Under Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency declared earlier this year, people are prohibited from such gatherings without authorities’ prior knowledge. And a proclamation regarding the use of the Ethiopian flag prohibits the display of the flag without the emblem at its center. Those contravening the law could face up to a year and a half in prison.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most prominent economies and a key security ally of the West but is often accused by rights groups and opposition groups of stifling dissent and arresting opposition party members, journalists, activists and bloggers.

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The Day Martin Luther King Jr. Died (Video)

Fifty years ago today, the civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis. Riots broke out across the country, but in Indianapolis, there was peace. (WASHINGTONPOST.COM)

The Washington Post

After King’s assassination, RFK calmed an angry crowd with an unforgettable speech

As darkness took hold on April 4, 1968, newly declared presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy stepped in front of a microphone atop a flatbed truck in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood in Indianapolis.

Looking out onto the crowd, Kennedy turned and quietly asked a city official, “Do they know about Martin Luther King?”

The civil rights leader had been shot a few hours earlier, though the news that he was dead hadn’t reached everyone yet.

Robert F. Kennedy gave what turned out to be an iconic speech following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.

Listen: The day Martin Luther King Jr. died (Washington Post Audio)

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MLK’s final speech — delivered 50 years ago — was full of timely and timeless teachings.

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MLK’s Final Speech 50 Years Ago: Analysis

MLK’s final speech — delivered 50 years ago [this week] — was full of timely and timeless teachings. (WASHINGTONPOST.COM)

The Washington Post

Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech, delivered 50 years ago tonight [April 3rd] in Memphis, is well remembered for its prophetic musings on mortality. “I’ve seen the Promised Land,” he said on a stormy night at the Mason Temple. “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

The reverend’s declaration that he was not worried about anything and did not fear any man followed more than 40 minutes of reflection on the cause that brought him to Memphis — and martyrdom.

Slain at just 39, the extemporaneous oratory on the eve of his assassination ensured that King would be remembered as a sort of American Moses. But the meat of his larger message is also worth revisiting on this dreadful half-century anniversary. His case for the virtue of nonviolent protest, boycotts and pushing the country to live up to our shared ideals is timely. His paeans to unity, economic justice and the moral obligation to look out for the least among us are timeless.

Read the full article at The Washington Post »

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Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)

Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed delivered a well-received and hopeful speech after taking the oath of office on Monday appealing for unity, pledging democracy and improved relations with Eritrea. Abiy said: "Democracy cannot be realized in the absence of rights, be it civil or economic rights. We all need to have a platform to voice our concerns." (Getty Images)

Africa News

By Daniel Mumbere

Ethiopia PM appeals for unity, pledges democracy and improved relations with Eritrea

Ethiopia’s parliament swore in Abiy Ahmed as prime minister on Monday with a mandate to implement democratic reforms aimed partly at defusing ethnic tensions in the Oromiya province from which the former army lieutenant general hails.

The ruling coalition picked Abiy last week to replace Hailemariam Desalegn who quit to clear the way for reforms.

Abiy, 42, took the oath of office in a ceremony at the House of People’s Representatives in Addis Ababa.

Addressing a parliament session attended by 478 members of parliament, the new prime minister gave an impassioned speech on the need for unity and reform in the Eastern Africa nation.

“Today is a historic day. We bear witness to a peaceful transfer of power. Today our situation presents us with opportunities and threats. Today we are in the midst of uncertain times,” Abiy said in a speech to parliament.

Read more »

Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)
Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader (The New York Times)
Ethiopia chooses new leader from protest-hit region (The Washington Post)
Ethiopia faces new prime minister in bid to calm protests (AP)
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition approves Abiye Ahmed as prime minister (Reuters)

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Herculean Task Awaits Abiy Ahmed on Human Rights in Ethiopia

Ethopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali with the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn after taking his oath of office on Monday, April 2, 2018. (Photo: Twitter @povonewsafrica)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: APRIL 2nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia is welcoming a new Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, this week to fill the vacated position by the former PM Hailemariam Desalegn. This month, Ethiopia is also facing an unprecedented vote in the United States Congress denouncing its human rights record.

Resolution H. RES. 128, which is scheduled for a vote next week, calls on the U.S. State Department in coordination with the Department of the Treasury “to apply appropriate sanctions on foreign persons or entities responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against any nationals in Ethiopia as provided for in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.”

Whether the measure passes or not, the fact that such a proposal is being debated on the floor of the U.S. Congress should give pause to current Ethiopian government officials of all ranks who may be otherwise inclined to ignore their citizens’ constitutional rights.

According to Human Rights Watch the Global Magnitsky Act allows the U.S. “to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world responsible for committing human rights violations or acts of significant corruption. The act received widespread bipartisan support. Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, introduced a version of the bill, and five Republican senators and five Democratic senators signed on as co-sponsors. President Barack Obama signed the law on December 23, 2016.”

“I’m happy to announce that after months of hard work (by all involved) #HRes128 is scheduled for a vote the week of April 9,” announced Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, one of the main backers of the bill via Twitter on March 21st. “The fight for respect of human rights & inclusive governance in #Ethiopia continues.”

Most importantly, we hope Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister shares the vision of the vast majority of Ethiopians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds to finally set Ethiopia on a peaceful road to genuinely free and fair elections as well as create the much needed democratic political space for all opposing views, including those who want to organize on the basis of common ideas and not necessarily based on ethnic politics and tribal affiliations.

As the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia stressed in a strongly worded press release in February: “The challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions…We strongly urge the government to rethink this approach and identify other means to protect lives and property while preserving, and indeed expanding, the space for meaningful dialogue and political participation that can pave the way to a lasting democracy.”

We hope that Ethiopia’s new PM will have the courage to act swiftly to lift the draconian State of Emergency proclamation and bring an end to this vicious cycle of arrests, pardons and re-arrests of journalists, academics and opposition activists.

Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Delivers Hopeful Inauguration Speech (Video)
Ethiopia Swears in New Prime Minister (AP)

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Ethiopia Arrests a Dozen Opposition Activists Over Flag Display (Bloomberg)

Jounalist Eskinder Nega. (Photographer: Yonas Tadesse/AFP via Getty Images)


Ethiopian police arrested 12 opposition activists, including previously freed detainees, after they displayed a flag that differs from the official national banner.

Those arrested include four members of the opposition Blue Party, two journalists including Eskinder Nega, the former vice chairman of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party Andualem Aragie, and three members of the Zone 9 blogging collective, according to the chairmen of the two opposition parties.

The arrests took place Sunday at a private house in Lebu on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, Blue Party Chairman Yeshawas Assefa said by phone. About 70 activists had met separately earlier Sunday at a Blue Party lunch in the city to celebrate the recent release of prisoners from across Ethiopia, Yeshawas and UDJP Chairman Tigistu Awelu said.

“The only thing they tell the prisoners, the comrades, is why are you using this flag?” Yeshawas said. “They said nobody can enter into the police station, and we will tell you after we investigate them.”

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Solution to Ethiopia’s Population Explosion

Ethiopia's population has tripled over the past few decades [from 30 million to over 100 million since the 1970s]. Millions of farmers are leaving the fields only to end up living in the slums of huge cities. City planners believe they have found a solution -- in the remote countryside. (Photo: Spiegel Online)

Spiegel Online

The Plan to Bridge the Urban-Rural Divide

Stories about people embarking on their future usually start with a departure. But the story of farmer Birhan Abegaz is different. He plans to stay put right where he is in his quest for happiness — a treeless wasteland in northern Ethiopia.

The crooked huts of his village, Bura, are surrounded by solitary thorn bushes and acacias. Birhan is cultivating rice on a patch of leased land behind his hut, at least during the rainy season. A few months have passed since the harvest. The dry season is here, and the earth is dusty. The Shine River, Bura’s lifeblood, is nothing but a trickle.

Married with three children, Birhan is only 28 years old, but the hardness of rural life has taken its toll on him and he looks much older. He fetches the family’s water for drinking, cooking and washing from about a kilometer away. The nearest well is on the other side of the highway leading to the provincial capital of Bahir Dar, a two-hour drive away. In the past, many people from Bura and the nearby villages took this road, turning their backs on the countryside in search of a better life in the city.

What Can Keep the Farmers in the Countryside?

Since the 1970s, Ethiopia’s population has more than tripled, going from 30 million to over 100 million. In the countryside, overpopulation is leading to the overuse and overgrazing of fields and deforestation. More and more people are moving to the big cities, which are growing faster than the rest of the country. The provincial capital of Bahir Dar had about 60,000 inhabitants 30 years ago, but today it has 350,000. “Apartment buildings, streets, the drinking-water supply and the entire infrastructure can’t keep up with this tempo,” says Ethiopian city planner and architect Zegeye Cherenet.

As a result, new arrivals end up living on the streets or in slums. In the early mornings in Bahir Dar, dozens of ragged young men stand at the intersections in the hope of picking up work as day laborers. In the evenings, their sisters and mothers go to the square and wait for johns.

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Children Of Immigrants Are Top U.S. High School Science Performers (Forbes)

An impressive 83 percent (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the leading science competition for U.S. high school students, were the children of immigrants, according to a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy. (Photo: Society for Science & the Public)


What would we lose if immigrants could no longer come to America? Surprisingly, one of the most important things America would lose is the contributions made by their children.

A new study from the National Foundation for American Policy found a remarkable 83% (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search were the children of immigrants. The competition organized each year by the Society for Science & the Public is the leading science competition for U.S. high school students. In 2017, the talent search competition was renamed the Regeneron Science Talent Search, after its new sponsor Regeneron Pharmaceuticals,and a new group of 40 finalists – America’s next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians – are competing in Washington, D.C., from March 9 to 15, 2017.

Both family-based and employment-based immigrants were parents of finalists in 2016. In fact, 75% – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas and later became green card holders and U.S. citizens. That compares to seven children who had both parents born in the United States.

To put that in perspective, even though former H-1B visa holders represent less than 1% of the U.S. population, they were four times more likely to have a child as a finalist in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search than were parents who were both born in the United States.

Parents who were international students were more likely to have a child as a finalist than native-born parents. A total of 27 of the 40 children – 68% – had a parent who came to America as an international student. That means if international students cannot remain in America after graduation (through Optional Practical Training and improved visa policies) it will also deprive America of the potentially substantial contributions of their children.

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NYT Update on Al Amoudi’s Imprisonment

Al Amoudi’s vast business empire employs some 70,000 people and includes an agriculture venture, a fuel company and a chain of gas stations. (NYT)

The New York Times

He Owns Much of Ethiopia. The Saudis Won’t Say Where They’re Keeping Him.

He supplies coffee to Starbucks. He owns much of Ethiopia. And he is known as “Sheikh Mo” in the Clintons’ circle.

But the gilded life of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi took a sharp turn in November. Mr. Amoudi, the gregarious 71-year-old son of a Yemeni businessman and his Ethiopian wife, was swept up with hundreds of billionaires, princes and other well-connected figures in what the Saudi government says is an anti-corruption campaign that has seized more than $100 billion in assets.

Many other detainees, who were initially kept at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, have been released, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the well-known international investor. Mr. Amoudi’s cousin, Mohammed Aboud Al Amoudi, a property developer, was also let go.

But Mr. Amoudi, once called the world’s richest black person by Forbes, has not been freed, leaving a vast empire that employs more than 70,000 people in limbo. He controls businesses from Ethiopia, where he is the largest private employer and the most prominent backer of the authoritarian government, to Sweden, where he owns a large fuel company, to London, which he has used as a base to set up a number of companies.

“He was in the Ritz-Carlton but we have been told by his family members that he was moved, along with others, to another hotel,” Mr. Amoudi’s press office said in an email responding to questions. “Unfortunately we do not know where. He is in regular contact with his family and is being treated well.”

While Mr. Amoudi lacks a princely pedigree, he is in other ways an archetype of those entangled in the kingdom’s power play: a billionaire with assets stretching across the world who had close ties to previous governments.

The late King Abdullah was a supporter of Mr. Amoudi’s Saudi Star Agricultural Development, a sprawling farming venture in Ethiopia established to supply rice to Saudi Arabia. Such ventures are seen as strategic assets in a desert kingdom keenly aware of its agricultural limitations. While Saudi Star has had a tough time getting going, it is said to be a particular focus of the new government’s interest.

Saudi officials have declined to comment on the charges against individual detainees as well as their status, citing privacy laws.

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FT on Chicken Business in Rural Ethiopia

Rearing chickens with high yields of eggs and meat is giving many Ethiopians the chance to tap into a market with growth potential — the country’s meat consumption is about a quarter of the average for sub-Saharan Africa. (Financial Times)

Financial Times

EthioChicken: Ethiopia’s well-hatched idea

Six months ago Abdurazak Tariku hadn’t heard of EthioChicken. The 24-year-old civil engineering student had expected his career path to involve bridges and roads rather than poultry vaccines and animal feed.

“I’d never really thought about chickens before,” he says. “But a friend explained how [he was] making decent money from rearing and selling chickens, and I could see the birds in my neighbourhood. They were bigger and looked healthier than ordinary chickens.”

Abdurazak convinced his parents to let him take over a shed they owned in Fikadu, a village 160km south-west of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and become an EthioChicken agent. He is rearing his first batch of 1,500 chicks bought from EthioChicken and is busy looking for customers while continuing his studies at the nearby Wolkite University.

“I’m planning to go full-time after I graduate,” he says. “I shall employ some people when I get busier. Three or four friends are already saying they want to do it too.”

Abdurazak’s story sounds like suspiciously positive corporate public relations — the poster boy with well-rehearsed lines brought out to impress foreign visitors. But after random stops at homesteads where EthioChicken poultry can be seen pecking at the dusty ground, his tale and the seven-year story of the company’s evolution from aid worker’s dream to multinational enterprise becomes completely credible. rural

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UPDATE: Women & Children Make Up 80% of Displaced People From Moyale, Ethiopia

The Kenya Red Cross says 80 percent of those displaced persons from Ethiopia are women and children. Ethiopia admits that the unrest in the Moyale area following a bungled government military operation last week that killed several civilians has rendered nearly 40,000 people homeless. So far about 9, 000 have crossed the border into neighboring Kenya seeking asylum. The Red Cross warns the number of refugees from Ethiopia is likely to rise in the coming days. The Ethiopian authorities blame "rumors of war" for the displacement. (Photos: Twitter @KenyaRedCross)

Number of Ethiopian refugees in Kenya rises to over 9,000

Humanitarian agencies are warning of refugee crisis in Moyale following an influx of refugees from Ethiopia.

The number which stood at only 8,500 has now almost hit the 10-thousand mark as members of the Oromo community from the neighboring country flee what they claim is a crackdown by the Ethiopian military.

Makeshift camps have been established at Dambala and in Sololo to provide temporary shelter for the displaced.

The influx of refugees from Ethiopia now has area leaders concerned.

The number said to be increasing by the day with average of over 500 people crossing the border to the Kenyan side every day in the last three days.

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The Associated Press

The Kenya Red Cross says more than 8,500 Ethiopians have crossed the border into Kenyan territory seeking asylum from conflict after government troops mistakenly killed civilians.

The Red Cross said in a statement Wednesday that the number may keep increasing in the coming days.

The civilians fled after Ethiopian security forces mistakenly killed nine civilians in Moyale, located on the country’s southern border with Kenya, according to a command post established to oversee Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Ethiopia imposed the state of emergency following months of unrest in some parts of the country that tarnished the country’s image as one of Africa’s best performing economies.

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Ethiopia Bus Crash Kills 38 Students (AP)

Road accident in south Wollo zone claims 38 lives. (Photo: Twitter @fanatelevision)

The Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s state-affiliated broadcaster says that a bus plunged into a ditch, killing 38 people in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region.

Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported on Tuesday that the bus veered off the road and went into the trench. It said an additional 10 people were injured.

The broadcaster reported that most of the victims were university students. It said the accident happened in the south Wollo area.

Ethiopia is upgrading its road system but dilapidated roads, inadequate driving skills and poor conditions of vehicles contribute to road traffic deaths. According to a report in Ethiopia last year, traffic accidents claimed the lives of more than 16,000 people in the country between 2014 and 2017.

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Diaspora’s Role in Helping to Shape Better U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Ethiopia

Tadias Magazine is announcing an upcoming opinion series on the role of the Ethiopian Diaspora in helping to shape a better U.S. foreign policy towards Ethiopia. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 13th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — There has never been a better time to start a more constructive dialogue in the Diaspora regarding our role in helping to shape a better informed U.S. policy towards Ethiopia that is based on real data, research and facts.

Tadias Magazine is announcing an upcoming opinion series on the subject and extending invitations to our readers and the general public to help us elevate the discourse to bring about meaningful change by participating in the discussion through a series of Op-ED articles that we plan to publish later this year.

We especially encourage foreign affairs experts, former Ethiopian American government officials, diplomats, academics, journalists as well as students, community leaders and other professionals to contribute to the discourse.

We warmly welcome your submissions and note that articles need not solely be concerned with politics. We are sure that there is a wide range of untapped aspects of Diaspora engagement that is waiting to be explored including people-to-people, business-to-business, investment, education, health, science, technology, arts, culture and historical topics.

You can send your article to info@tadias.com.

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A Look Back at Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia

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)

In pictures: Obama in Ethiopia July 2015

Photos: President Obama Arrives in Kenya
Obama’s Historic Visit to Ethiopia: A Larger Perspective
President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia
Open Letter to The Washington Post Regarding Ethiopia
Harassing VOA Reporter is Not Your First Amendment Right
Obama Visit to Ethiopia Brings Fresh Eyes to the Country, Say Seattle Ethiopians
Ethiopia releases journalists and bloggers ahead of Obama visit
In Ethiopia, Why Obama Should Give Due Credit to Haile Selassie’s OAU Role
Breaking News: President Obama to Travel to Ethiopia in Late July
Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia
Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

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Ethiopia Pictures: Yirgacheffe Coffee for Tillerson, Ethiopic Script Tie for Lavrov

Last week Ethiopia attracted global media attention when it simultaneously hosted some of the world's top diplomats including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (pictured right sipping Yirgacheffe Coffee) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (pictured left sporting an Ethiopic script tie). They both stayed at the posh Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa, but officials are quick to note that they neither met nor run into each other in Ethiopia's capital. (Photo: Twitter via Africa News)

Africa News

Ethiopia over the past week hosted three top diplomats to Addis Ababa. Foreign Affairs chiefs of the United States, Russia and the United Arab Emirates were all in town for meetings.

The visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Serge Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Affairs chief, however, did get some traction on social media for different reasons.

Tillerson who started an African tour in Ethiopia must have heard of Ethiopian coffee and was bent on having his share whiles there. The U.S. Embassy shared a series of photos showing him in “active contact” with coffee.

In Ethiopia Secretary Tillerson met the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, started with USAID assistance 16 years ago. The U.S. assisted 120,000+ smallholders coffee growers in Ethiopia to increase production, sales, & exports worth nearly $28 million @USAIDEthiopia. (@USEmbassyAddis)

In the case of Lavrov, his choice of dressing on arrival at the Bole International airport got Ethiopia’s social media space buzzing, as he chose a more casual outlook. He arrived from Zimbabwe wearing blue jeans.

Long before that could subside, he got into official groove for meetings throughout Friday. His tie apparently was decorated with the ge’ez alphabets unique to Ethiopia, the Addis Standard portal observed.

Lavrov wore the tie during meetings with the African Union Commission chair through his meetings with Ethiopian President and Prime Minister and for a press conference with Foreign Affairs Minister, Workneh Ghebeyehu.

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Tillerson in Ethiopia Media Round Up
A Look Back at Obama’s Visit to Ethiopia

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Ethiopia Update: Ethiothinktank Editor Arrested, Guardian Journalist Expelled

Publisher of the Ethiothinktank website Seyoum Teshome. (Photo: VOA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 10th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian authorities have arrested the publisher of the Ethiothinktank website Seyoum Teshome. According to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia the reason for Seyoum’s arrest and his whereabouts are not known. The Ethiopian blogger was reportedly taken into custody on March 8th by security forces at his home near the Woliso campus of Ambo University, where he lectures, people with knowledge of the incident told Voice of America and Deutsche Welle.

“Seyoum has been critical in his blog of a six-month state of emergency Ethiopia declared in February,” the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement. “Under the state of emergency, authorities can carry out arrests and searches without warrant and close down media stations, according to a report by the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency.” CPJ’S Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney added: “Ethiopia cannot again use the cloak of a national emergency to round up journalists and stifle critical voices. This is the second time that authorities ignored due process to detain Seyoum Teshome. He should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

In a related news, Ethiopia has deported Guardian journalist William Davison because of media accreditation problems. Davison who is a British citizen was a former Bloomberg reporter based in Ethiopia.

The Associated Press reports: “Davison said he was expelled from Ethiopia on Wednesday after being detained at a police station for a day. “Officials from Ethiopia’s Immigration department deported me and I am now back in the U.K,” Davison posted on Facebook, saying the Ethiopian government failed to grant him accreditation to report for The Guardian after he stopped working for Bloomberg. “What my treatment demonstrates once again is a lack of appreciation of professional journalism and a failure of various government institutions and officials to follow established procedure in anything like a transparent manner.”

Per AP: “The journalist, who was chairman of the Ethiopian Foreign Correspondents Association, said he was not given a specific reason for his deportation but an official at the Ethiopian spokesman office said the journalist was deported because had no foreign media affiliation. “We have been treating him like all the other reporters when he was a Bloomberg reporter but now he has no accreditation with any other media outlet or whatsoever so he can’t produce reports from within Ethiopia now,” said Mohammed Seid, an official at the Ethiopian spokesman’s office. “I’m not aware that he has submitted a new accreditation with The Guardian.”

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Tillerson: Ethiopia is ‘A Young Democracy’

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pictured above with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018, described Ethiopia as "a young democracy" during a press conference on Thursday in Ethiopia's capital. Tillerson explained: "We recognize the transition that is underway in Ethiopia, the first-ever voluntary transfer of power. And I view this as a very positive symbol of the strength of this very young democracy in Ethiopia, a peaceful transition of power." He added: "As I indicated, democracies are challenging. It’s not easy to take a country forward as a democracy. And so we’re here also to support Ethiopia’s journey towards a democratic society and institutions. (Reuters photo)

U.S. Department of State

Press Availability
Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
March 8, 2018

MODERATOR: Would you join me to welcome the two foreign ministers. May we rise, please? I thank you very much. Ameseginalehu. Your Excellency Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, foreign minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Your Excellency Rex Wayne Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State; ambassadors, ministers, all protocol observed, welcome to Addis Ababa, the political and diplomatic hub of Africa.

As His Excellency Minister Tillerson said during his speech at George Mason University, Africa is part of the future. It’s a continent in which 70 percent of its population is youth. This population, Your Excellency, is an opportunity and, again, a challenge. Ethiopia, as a UN-U.S. partner and longer in the continent, I believe this extraordinary visit will further deepen the ties of Ethiopia and the United States, one of the oldest diplomatic ties.

According to our program, His Excellency Dr. Workneh and His Excellency Rex Tillerson will highlight the gist of their discussions to the media, and that will be followed by questions from media houses. Media houses, make sure that you have one questions. If it is more than one, the two principals will ask – will respond to one question only.

I thank you very much. Excellency Dr. Workneh.

FOREIGN MINISTER WORKNEH: Thank you very much. Thank you. Good afternoon. The house is full. Your Excellency Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State of the United States of America, we are delighted to have you here in your visit to Africa as a first stop here in Addis Ababa. United States and Ethiopia have a century-old relationship, a relationship which, time-tested, always a relationship.

So Your Excellency, your coming here is a testament for this strong relationship. I and Excellency Secretary discussed extensive issues bilaterally. We discussed about our regional issues – the regional security, international issues, international politics – at the same time, how to boost our economic ties and investment between the United States of America and Ethiopia.

We touched about the issue of South Sudan and Somalia, which we are working very closely together. And also, we discussed other very important security concerns that we have in common. And also, I explained to Excellency about our situation, the country’s situation, the transition that we are in the process, and we are very thankful that the United States of America is a close friend, which – working with us in all aspects, especially in economic areas. So it was very cordial, candid, and very fruitful discussion. And thank you so much, Your Excellency.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, thank you as well, Excellency, for the warm welcome and hospitality. And we just had a very enjoyable lunch where we were able to continue our discussion with a number of members of both of our delegations, which is always useful to gain a greater understanding of each other. I also want to welcome both the local press and the foreign media as well to this event. And we do appreciate our partnership, and particularly at such a critical time for Ethiopia. I also look forward to my meeting later today with the prime minister.

And I’m quite excited to be in Ethiopia. This is my first visit, and certainly this was an important place to start my trip as Secretary of State to the continent, in large measure because of the more than 100-year diplomatic relationship between Ethiopia and the United States. And it’s been an enduring relationship; as the foreign minister described it, an all-weather relationship, that even when storm clouds gather we remain friends and have always worked through challenges together.

I also want to acknowledge again today this being International Women’s Day and an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world, and note the role of women in Ethiopia in promoting economic growth as well. It’s quite evident the prominence that women already occupy in government, but in economics as well, strengthening the rule of law, the important role they play in human rights and building and strengthening a civil society that will thrive.

As I indicated, the United States and Ethiopia are longstanding partners. I was glad to have the opportunity to exchange views with the foreign minister on many areas of mutual interest that we share. We recognize and share concerns expressed by the government about incidents of violence and loss of life. We do firmly believe the answer is greater freedom for people, not less. We recognize the transition that is underway in Ethiopia, the first-ever voluntary transfer of power. And I view this as a very positive symbol of the strength of this very young democracy in Ethiopia, a peaceful transition of power.

Given recent events, the United States has expressed our concerns with the government’s decision to impose another state of emergency, because it does put restrictions on fundamental rights like assembly and expression. We also discussed in our exchange the importance of ensuring that security forces remain disciplined in maintaining law and order, preventing violence. They have a very difficult challenge on their hand. This is – this tests their own discipline as well.

We firmly believe that democratic reform, economic growth, and lasting stability are best addressed through an inclusive political process, rather than through the imposition of restrictions. And we encourage the Ethiopian people as well to maintain patience, maintain support for your government through this change, through this transition, but also in pursuing this journey of democracy, which takes time and effort. Democracy is not easy. It takes a lot of work. But staying with it, lasting change will come about, and to not resort to violence. Violence is simply never a solution.

I was able to raise these concerns because of this very, very strong relationship that exists between Ethiopia and the United States, and we share so many values as partners. We want Ethiopia as a country to succeed and prosper, and we’re confident that they will succeed and prosper, providing many, many economic benefits not just for the Ethiopian people, but for the neighboring countries in Africa, and ultimately for U.S. business interest as well.

We welcome the proactive steps that have already been taken with the release of thousands of prisoners, including journalists and political leaders, and we encourage additional concrete measures to allow greater political freedom of expression. As the seat of the African Union, Ethiopia plays a critical and significant role in leadership in the region throughout the continent and the world, and we appreciate its efforts for – to further our mutual goals of peace and prosperity on the continent. This is especially true of our shared security interests. As the largest contributor – Ethiopia is the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations – they play a vital role in AMISOM in Somalia, as well as peacekeeping efforts in Sudan and South Sudan. We have shared treasure together in trying to advance the cause of peace, and we have shared blood together in this advance for the cause of peace, and we acknowledge that.

Ethiopia’s influence in supporting the security of Somalia and Djibouti are particularly important at this time to keep global commerce routes open. These routes through the Red Sea affect billions of people around the world in terms of their economic stability. And we discussed the United States is eager to help Ethiopia liberalize its economy. We think it’s going to bring great opportunity and attract many business interests as they continue the process of reform and liberalization, strengthen its judicial and commercial institutions, and assist in humanitarian emergencies here and throughout the region, including the almost one million refugees that currently reside in Ethiopia. And we need to reside – recognize Ethiopia’s generosity in hosting those refugees.

The United States is a long-term friend and partner of Ethiopia. We look forward to working with you as the people of Ethiopia seek greater peace, democracy and prosperity, all of which we know you will succeed at achieving. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much, excellencies. Now, back to the media. Tibebu Yared from EBC.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I am Tibebu from EBC. My question goes to Your Excellency Mr. Tillerson. What is the purpose and, of course, the implication of your visit to Ethiopia at this particular time? Thank you.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, as I indicated, this is a very, very longstanding relationship, more than 100 years. Ethiopia is a large-population country, they are an important security partner in areas that I’ve already touched upon, and we also see Ethiopia’s journey towards democracy – I think 27 years now, which is a long time, but it’s a young democracy, and as I indicated, democracies are challenging. It’s not easy to take a country forward as a democracy. And so we’re here also to support Ethiopia’s journey towards a democratic society and institutions.

But importantly, also, to have an exchange on additional steps that could be taken, what else can the U.S. do to be supportive and helpful of Ethiopia’s economic development. Ethiopia has a vibrant economy, but there’s a lot of potential that has yet to be realized in Ethiopia’s economy, and we think there are great opportunities for U.S. private sector engagement in supporting economic growth, creating jobs for these many, many millions of young people who are working hard at getting an education in school; now they want to have their opportunity for a future themselves. And so we would like – we want to be a part of that and hope to be a part of that.

So there are so many touch points where we share a common interest of security, stability for the region, which affects our security but also affects global security, and then opportunities for economic prosperity. And that’s the purpose of the trip, is to – for us to better understand how do we work together as partners to achieve what are really common aspirations.

MODERATOR: Next question, Sisay Woubeshet, Afro FM. I am trying to meet gender parity. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you very much. My question also goes to Secretary Tillerson. You came during the time of the second state of emergency here in Ethiopia, and what is your opinion towards the state of emergency, as many nations are opining on that? And how is the U.S. following the current political situation in Ethiopia and what role does it want to play? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, as I indicated, first and foremost, I want to acknowledge this voluntary transfer of power. We think that’s a very powerful symbol to the strength of the democratic process here in Ethiopia, and we think it’s important that the parliament, which has been elected by the Ethiopian people, decide who the next leadership be. That’s the way democracies should perform.

So I want to first acknowledge the very positive aspects of what is happening. I know it’s challenging for the country. It creates uncertainty. And that is the hard part of democracy. But we support this peaceful transfer of power.

As to the state of emergency, as I indicated, we believe ultimately giving people greater freedom gives them a greater investment in this democracy as well. And so while we appreciate the government’s responsibility to maintain control and not allow violence to break out and harm innocent people as well who may become victims of violence, it is important that that – that the country move on past the state of emergency as quickly as possible. We hope that that can occur. As I said, we’re encouraged that a number of steps have been taken to release large numbers of people who have been detained. That’s an important step. But the citizens of Ethiopia have a responsibility as well to behave in a nonviolent way, and we hope the government allows that nonviolent expression to take place. This is all part of understanding how to best serve the citizens of Ethiopia.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Girum Chala from CGTN, international correspondent based in Addis.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I’m from CGTN. Mr. Minister, thank you very much, as well as Mr. Secretary. Ethiopian Airlines over the past few years has spent about $20 billion – that’s Ethiopian money – invested in the United States, in Boeing Company, to be particularly straightforward. Now, when it comes to those – the money spent, 100,000-plus jobs were created in the United States. When it comes to the investments of the United States to Africa, Ethiopia particularly, we don’t see much. Policy-wise, what’s the next move in this country and particularly also in the African continent to expedite investment? And how do you view, Mr. Minister, the expectation from Ethiopia’s side, the U.S. involvement in helping the country industrialize and even more trade internationally? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, we had a very robust discussion of economic opportunities and the potential economic opportunities that we see within Ethiopia. And because you mentioned the aviation connection, Ethiopia is becoming a critical hub for intercontinental traffic for people traveling from the United States, with more and more nonstop connections for Americans to travel to Addis Ababa and then make connections to other parts of the continent. I think this is going to promote a great deal of interest in Africa and in Ethiopia. There are still economic reform measures that are necessary, not just in Ethiopia, but in other parts of Africa as well, to lower some of the barriers to investment, create greater certainty to outside business investors, strong rule of law, good regulatory processes. The more privatization of holdings as possible creates opportunities. But we understand this is all part of governments in transitions, economies in transitions, but that’s what we encourage, is what are the areas of opportunity where we believe there will be strong interest in U.S. companies to participate.

I commented on, in our discussions, the what we understand soon-to-be-completed continental free trade agreement, and we believe stimulating intra-continental economic activity and trade from countries on the continent is actually going to create even more opportunity for inbound foreign investment, and certainly U.S. business interest, in wanting to be a part of the intra-continental trading system as well. Similarly, with the civil aviation agreement that’s being negotiated through the African Union. That once again is going to just tie the continent more closely together, more efficiently.

All of these are very positive conditions for outside businesses to want to participate and be a part of. So I think a number of very positive steps are being taken, and I think it’s really ensuring that American businessmen and investors understand what are the opportunities here. And we had discussions about how to do that as well. Recently creating an American Chamber of Commerce-Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce partnership is going to be very important to exposing American businesses to the opportunities here.

So I think there’s a lot of it in front of us yet to come, and as the conditions are created and some of these pieces come into place, I think American business and private sector interest is going to grow in Ethiopia.

FOREIGN MINISTER WORKNEH: Yeah. As Secretary has said, the issue of investment and trade is also one of the agendas that we have discussed with Secretary Tillerson. Africa is a future continent, as Secretary said, and Africa is a population who have more than 70 percent of users and skilled labor. So coming to Africa is, by all measurements, will benefit the business, the investment of America. So we are expecting more investors to come to Ethiopia and Africa; we are expecting more business from here to United States of America and from America to Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines is one of the largest airline who have the largest passengers from here, from Africa to United States of America and vice versa. This trade relationship will continue, and we hope that this visit also assists a lot to this – boosting this investment in trade.

MODERATOR: Last question. Kylie Atwood, CBS.

QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Tillerson, I want to pivot to North Korea for a minute with you. South Korea now says that Kim Jong-un is willing to negotiate with the U.S. on abandoning his nuclear program. You’ve said that you are listening to North Korea, and you said that the message from them will come very explicitly. Is this the message that you needed to hear? And are you worried that the South Koreans are overeager? Can the U.S. now commit to negotiations with North Korea? And I have to ask you one more question about Russia.

MODERATOR: Only one question.

QUESTION: I got cut off last time. Can I ask one more? Thank you. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is said to be here in Ethiopia at the same time as you, and the Russian embassy says he’s actually staying at this same hotel. He says there have been talks of you and he meeting. Do you plan to meet with him while you’re here? And if not, what does that say about U.S. diplomacy, that you refuse an opportunity to meet face to face to express U.S. frustrations over Russia’s continued military campaign in Syria? Thank you.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: I think there’s five or six questions in there. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m sorry, but we had to do it.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: First, with respect to North Korea, I think, as President Trump has indicated, potentially positive signals coming from North Korea by way of their intra-Korean dialogue with South Korea. We maintain very, very close communication with President Moon of the Republic of Korea. They are keeping us well informed of their meetings, the content of those meetings and the nature of those meetings, and we’re providing them input as well.

In terms of direct talks with the United States – and you asked negotiations, and we’re a long ways from negotiations. I think it’s – we just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it. I think the first step – and I’ve said this before – is to have talks, have some kind of talks about talks, because I don’t know yet, until we are able to meet ourselves face to face with representatives of North Korea, whether the conditions are right to even begin thinking about negotiations. And that’s kind of the current state of play.

With respect to my meeting Foreign Minister Lavrov, I’ve lost track of how many meetings he and I had last year. So any notion of us rejecting diplomatic engagement is really silly. That’s just silly. We have had extensive negotiations, contact, dialogue. We have strategic dialogues. We have a number of mechanisms by which we talk to one another. I was unaware Foreign Minister Lavrov was going to be here at the same time I was until a couple of days ago, and I’m unaware of any outreach to want to meet until I was on my way over here. My schedule’s largely set, so if it doesn’t work out here, he and I see each other often around the world, and we have each other’s telephone numbers, and we do use them.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I thank you, excellencies. Thank you, media houses. Your Excellency Tillerson said that this is his first visit, but I hope this will not be his last visit to Ethiopia. Thank you very much. Thank you.

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Trump’s comments on Africa cast pall over Tillerson’s long-awaited trip (The Washington Post)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
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Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up
Africa should avoid forfeiting sovereignty to China over loans: Tillerson (Reuters)
Tillerson’s Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
Strikes Spread in Restive Ethiopia Region Before Tillerson Visit (Bloomberg)
Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

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Ethiopia Beset by Long-Running Divisions

Cradle of Mankind: Ethiopia. (Photo: Travcoa)


Ethiopia: Ancient land beset by long-running divisions

Paris – A cradle of mankind, modern-day Ethiopia is riven by ethnic tensions, gripped by anti-government rebellions and now under a state of emergency.

Here are some key facts about Africa’s second most populous nation:

Ancient history

Ethiopia is the oldest independent African state and one of the oldest in the world, dating back more than 2 000 years.

It also has a claim on being the birthplace of mankind. Its Awash Valley has yielded some of the earliest hominid remains, including the fossil of a partial skeleton, dubbed Lucy, which has been dated around 3.2 million years old.

With a population of around 102 million people in 2016, according to the World Bank, Ethiopia counts more than 80 ethnicities.

Around 60% are Christian and more than 30% Muslim.

Ethiopia is a federal state with considerable autonomy granted to regions and most power held by the prime minister.

It hosts the African Union’s headquarters.

Famines and wars

Except for a brief period under Italian occupation between 1935 and 1941, Ethiopia was never subjected to European colonisation – a rarity in Africa.

Emperor Haile Selassie dominated between 1916 and 1974, save for a period of exile during the Italian occupation.

After 1974, when he was overthrown in a coup and later executed, Ethiopia underwent a series of military dictatorships, notably under Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam who waged a series of bloody purges dubbed the “Red Terror”. He was ousted in 1991.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a series of devastating famines which caused widespread starvation.

The UN said 1.2 million people died in 1984-85 alone and the tragedy shot to global attention when Band Aid recorded a single to raise money for famine relief.

When Eritrea gained de-facto independence in 1991, Ethiopia was deprived of access to the Red Sea.

War broke out between the neighbours between 1998 to 2000 over a border dispute, which remains a source of tension despite an accord.

Resistance, repression

The regime was confronted in 2015 by anti-government protests originating in the Oromia region, home to the largest ethnic group, that spread in 2016.

The repression left about 940 people dead, according to the government-linked Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Relative calm only returned with the imposition of a state of emergency from 2016 to 2017, resulting in thousands of arrests.

The protests by the Oromo and Amhara people, around 60% of the population combined, were sparked by what they saw as the over-representation of the Tigrayan minority within the ruling regime.

Protesters also denounced constraints on individual freedoms and an imbalance in the sharing of the country’s riches.

In 2018 the authorities released thousands of prisoners, including political opponents.

Mid-February the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, resigned unexpectedly after protracted anti-government protests.

This led to the imposition of a six-month state of emergency and the banning of protests.

Read more »

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Russia suggests Tillerson-Lavrov meeting in Ethiopia this week
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

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Girl Band Yegna Shake Off Spice Girls Tag

A group that supports women’s rights using music influenced by Ethiopian heritage is thriving – despite losing UK aid funding. (The Guardian)

The Guardian

‘By Ethiopians, for Ethiopians’: Girl Band Yegna Shake Off Spice Girls Tag

In the grounds of a school in Bahir Dar, a city in north-west Ethiopia, thousands of young fans have gathered to catch a glimpse of the country’s hottest girl band.

Behind billowing white sheets in a makeshift green room, the four women collectively known as Yegna prepare to take the stage. As the harsh lunchtime sunshine beats down, curious schoolchildren press up against the material to get a glimpse of their idols, who have been dubbed Ethiopia’s Spice Girls by the British press.

More than just a band, Yegna, which means “ours” in Amharic, use music and drama to raise awareness of child marriage, sexual harassment, violence and the importance of education. And it’s making a difference. An estimated 8.5 million people have heard the band’s messages.

Bilen, 14, is at the concert with her sister. “Yegna taught us the motto ‘Yes we can,’” she says. “As we grow up, I think people think less of girls, and that’s what we used to think too. But our perspective has been changed by Yegna.”

But last year, Yegna’s work came under threat when the UK’s Department for International Development, which helped create the band in 2012, abruptly announced it was cutting funding following media criticism. DfID said it took the decision to end its partnership with Girl Effect, which oversees Yegna, after a review of the programme.

A spokesperson said: “There are more effective ways to invest UK aid and to deliver even better results for the world’s poorest and value for taxpayers’ money.”

Girl Effect had received an initial DfID grant of £4m for Yegna, covering the period from 2011 to 2015. They were later given a further £5.2m for 2015-18, although the premature conclusion to the partnership meant not all these funds were drawn down.

The Daily Mail hailed DfID’s decision, but the announcement drew criticism from women’s rights campaigners.

Ripples from the decision ran from Ethiopia to the UK. Yegna drew support from Lemn Sissay, the British poet and broadcaster of Ethiopian heritage, who has performed with the band and chose one of their tracks, Taitu, when he appeared on Desert Island Discs.

Read more »

Watch: Aster Aweke ft Yegna, TAITU Ethiopian Music Video

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Russia Suggests Tillerson-Lavrov Meeting in Ethiopia This Week

Sergei Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia briefs the media at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 28, 2018. (Reuters photo)


MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that Russia had suggested a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Ethiopia this week, the RIA news agency reported.

Both men are expected to make Africa trips this week and Ryabkov was cited as saying that Moscow had proposed they hold talks in Ethiopia at the end of the week.

Ryabkov also commented on the situation in Syria’s eastern Ghouta rebel-held enclave.

The Interfax news agency cited him as saying that the U.S. assessment of the situation there“did not correspond to reality.”

Institution Building, Ethnic Conflict, Sudan Refugees on Tillerson Ethiopia Agenda
Tillerson Heads to Addis, Ethiopia Doubles Down on Emergency Law: Media Round up

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