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Celebrating Creativity in Africa: Julie Mehretu’s Vision for the 20th BMW Art Car

Julie Mehretu and her BMW Art Car #20 at the world premiere at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, May 21, 2024. (Photo: Courtesy of BMW)

Tadias Magazine

By Selam Amare

Updated: June 19th, 2024

Paris (TADIAS/Habeshaview) — The unveiling of the 20th BMW Art Car in Paris last week was a significant event, with representatives from Tadias magazine and Habeshaview in attendance. This collaboration between BMW and world-renowned New York-based, Ethiopia-born artist Julie Mehretu represented a major milestone in the Art Cars series and a broader cultural initiative designed to foster creativity across Africa.

Julie Mehretu, one of the most influential artists of our time, has made an indelible mark on the global art scene. “Julie Mehretu’s vision for a racing car is an extraordinarily strong contribution to our BMW Art Cars series,” stated Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “Julie Mehretu has created more than an amazing Art Car. Her ideas provided the impetus for us to expand the cultural commitment of our Art Cars to promote the creativity of young artists in Africa.”

Unveiling of the BMW Art Car #20 designed by Julie Mehretu at the world premiere at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, 21 May 2024. (Photo: Courtesy of BMW)

BMW Art Car #20 by artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Tereza Mundilová © BMW AG)

Julie Mehretu signs her BMW Art Car #20 at the world premiere on May 21, 2024, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. (Photo: Courtesy of BMW)

World premiere of the BMW Art Car #20 by Julie Mehretu, Centre Pompidou, Paris, May 21, 2024. Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG and Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Andre Josselin © BMW AG)

Julie Mehretu and Hervé Poulain (initiator of the BMW Art Car Collection and former French motorsports racing driver) Photo: Courtesy of BMW

World premiere of the BMW Art Car #20 by Julie Mehretu, Centre Pompidou, Paris, May 21, 2024. F.l.t.r.: Oliver Zipse (Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG), Mehret Mandefro (producer, writer and co-founder of the Realness Institute), Julie Mehretu, Koyo Kouoh (Member of the BMW Art Car Jury and Executive Director and Chief Curator, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town) and Laurent Le Bon (President of the Centre Pompidou).

Fostering Creative Collaboration in Africa

The project aspires to create a collaborative space for artists and filmmakers across the continent, facilitating exchanges of ideas and fostering the development of new pathways toward a just civic future. This initiative includes a series of PanAfrican Translocal Media Workshops, organized by Emmy-nominated producer, writer, and co-founder of the Realness Institute, Mehret Mandefro. These workshops will tour various African cities throughout 2025 and 2026, strengthening the media ecosystem in Africa and culminating in a major exhibition at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town. The PanAfrican Translocal Workshop series will visit Dakar (Senegal), Marrakech (Morocco), Kigali (Rwanda), Lagos (Nigeria), and Cape Town (South Africa). The outcomes of these workshops will be showcased alongside the 20th BMW Art Car at the Zeitz Museum in the first half of 2026.

Ethiopia still on the list

Given Julie Mehretu and Mehret Mandefro’s Ethiopian heritage, the question arose about the Art Car’s absence from Ethiopia. “That was the intention, it was always going to be Addis Ababa,” Mehretu explained. “Then things got complicated. Ethiopia is still on the list if we can make it happen. We would love to do something in Addis; it’s just so complicated at the moment, and that is sad for us Ethiopians.”

Julie’s “performative painting” for the Art Car manifests kinetically, transitioning from canvas to the race car. The artwork evolves with the car, only reaching completion at the finish line. This unique challenge required a balance between artistic vision and technical regulations, as traditional painting or airbrushing could affect the car’s aerodynamics. “We had 3D renderings, digital models, and a one-fifth scale maquette in the studio,” Julie explained. “We printed onto foils, applied them to the maquette, and made numerous adjustments. This digital process allowed the car to ‘inhale’ the painting and travel through it.”

BMW Art Car #20 by artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: André Josselin © BMW AG)

“Peace (ሰላም) is essential for any progress”

Julie Mehretu’s work often addresses socially conscious themes, including social justice and activism. Reflecting on the current state of the world, she expressed, “We keep repeating patterns of conflict and inequality. It’s ludicrous that in the 21st century, we still face starvation and war. We all strive for liberation, but peace (ሰላም) is essential for any progress.”

By innovatively reinventing the wheel, Julie highlights the vital role of artists in society. They contribute to the overall health, development, and well-being of our communities, providing joy, interaction, and inspiration, while also critiquing political, economic, and social systems to drive social progress.

BMW Art Car #20 with artist Julie Mehretu in Munich. (Photo: Jackie Furtado © BMW AG)

BMW Art Car #20 with artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Tereza Mundilová © BMW AG)

BMW Art Car #20 with artist Julie Mehretu and BMW factory drivers Sheldon van der Linde, Rene Rast and Robin Frijns (f.l.t.r.). Photo: Tereza Mundilová © BMW AG

Julie Mehretu working on the BMW Art Car #20 in New York City. (Photo: Jackie Furtado © BMW AG)

BMW Art Car #20 with artist Julie Mehretu. (Photo: Tereza Mundilová © BMW AG)

Reflecting on her creative process with the Art Car, Julie shared, “This experience outside of painting allowed my imagination to explore new possibilities. The idea of a vehicle moving through a painting and transforming it was profound. It taught me to complicate my paintings further and significantly impacted my work.”

Her advice to future generations of artists is clear: “Focus on your work, and it will take care of you. There is no formula for success. Read everything, pay attention to the world beyond algorithms, and be committed to evolving your craft.”

Julie Mehretu is a source of immense pride for Ethiopia, an asset to the continent, and an inspiration for young artists in the Ethiopian diaspora for generations to come.

Selam Amare is a reporter based in the UK.


A Conversation Between Julie Mehretu and Mehret Mandefro

Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car Makes its World Premiere in Paris

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Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car to Make its World Premiere in Paris

World-renowned New York-based, Ethiopia-born artist Julie Mehretu working on her 20th BMW Art Car. (Photo: André Josselin and Tina Paffen © BMW AG)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 27th, 2024

New York (TADIAS) — Renowned Ethiopian-born artist Julie Mehretu is set to make history as the creator of the 20th BMW Art Car, marking a thrilling fusion of art, automotive design, and speed. The culmination of Julie’s creative vision will be unveiled at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on May 21, 2024, before making its racing debut at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. This groundbreaking collaboration promises to redefine the intersection of art and motorsport, as artist translates her monumental motifs onto the dynamic canvas of the BMW M Hybrid V8 racing car prototype.

Julie’s approach to the BMW Art Car project exemplifies her unparalleled ability to capture dynamism and translate it into form. Drawing inspiration from her extensive body of work, she employs a diverse palette of colors and forms, including obscured photographs, dotted grids, and neon-colored spray paint. The result is an abstract visual narrative that seamlessly integrates with the contours of the vehicle, creating a stunning work of art on wheels.

Detail shot of the 20th BMW Art Car by Julie Mehretu in the creation process. (Photo: André Josselin and Tina Paffen © BMW AG)

Central to Julie Mehretu’s creative process is the collaboration with the German Race Spirit team, led by Manuel Eberl and Gertraud Brenninger, who are responsible for realizing the intricate design on the BMW M Hybrid V8. Through a meticulous process of 3D mapping and high-resolution imaging, Julie’s artwork is transformed into a dynamic foil wrap that adorns the racing car, ensuring both aesthetic excellence and compliance with FIA regulations.

The unveiling of the BMW Art Car at the Centre Pompidou marks a momentous occasion in the history of the BMW Art Car Collection. Following in the footsteps of iconic artists such as Alexander Calder and Jeff Koons, Mehretu’s creation will be showcased alongside masterpieces of contemporary art, reinforcing the close connection between art and motorsport.

Julie Mehretu working on her 20th BMW Art Car. (Photo: André Josselin and Tina Paffen © BMW AG)

Beyond its racing debut at Le Mans, Julie’s BMW Art Car will embark on a global journey, becoming an exhibit in museums and art platforms worldwide. However, Julie’s's vision extends far beyond the confines of the racing track, as she seeks to inspire a new generation of artists through the PanAfricanTranslocal Media Workshop Series. In collaboration with Emmy-nominated producer Mehret Mandefro, Julie will host workshops in eight African cities, providing young creatives with a platform for collaboration and exchange.

Julie Mehretu’s selection as the designer of the 20th BMW Art Car reflects the BMW Group’s commitment to fostering creativity and innovation. With unrestricted creative freedom, Julie has reimagined the BMW Art Car as a symbol of artistic expression and technological innovation, setting a new standard for the intersection of art and automotive design.

As the world eagerly awaits the unveiling of Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car, the BMW Group invites enthusiasts to follow its cultural engagement initiatives on Instagram at @BMWGroupCulture, offering exclusive updates and deeper insights into its global initiatives.



Art Talk: A Conversation Between Julie Mehretu and Mehret Mandefro

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Demystifying the Nile: Book Launch & Panel Discussion at Georgetown in DC

This Weekend in DC Georgetown University's Nile House is hosting a book launch by Dereje Tessema and panel discussion on April 29th entitled "How this Happened: Demystifying the Nile - History and Events Leading to the Realization of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam." (Photo: (PILPG)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 28th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Last month, Ethiopia announced that it had made significant progress in constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River, with 90% of the project completed. In a new book entitled “How this Happened: Demystifying the Nile,” Dereje Tessema, an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University, documents the complex history of this milestone achievement.

This weekend, Dereje will launch the book and lead a panel discussion on Saturday April 29th at Georgetown University’s Nile House, where he serves as a research fellow. The event is titled “How this Happened: Demystifying the Nile – History and Events Leading to the Realization of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

Dereje’s book is presented in six parts, providing readers with an overview of the science of the Nile River, the relationship of riparian countries to the river, the project management aspect of the dam, and his experiences on the Nile River. The panel discussion will bring together experts, policymakers, and scholars to delve into these domains. The event will take place in person at Georgetown University’s Intercultural Center (ICC) from 2:00 to 5:00 PM EST. Public parking will be available at the Southwest Garage. For those who cannot attend in person, the event will be accessible virtually through Zoom, and registration is required to participate.

With 11 riparian states sharing the Nile River and a total population of over 530 million, the Nile River is the second riskiest basin for hydro-political issues, according to a 2018 European Joint Research Center report. The completion of the GERD has been a subject of controversy, with concerns raised by downstream countries, such as Egypt and Sudan, over the dam’s impact on water resources and downstream water availability. This book launch and panel discussion offer an opportunity to learn more about the history and politics surrounding the Nile River and the construction of the GERD.

If You Go:

Topic: Book Launch and Panel Discussion – ‘How this Happened: Demystifying the Nile
Date: April 29, 2023
Time: 2:00 – 5:00 PM EST
Venue: In person – Georgetown University, Intercultural Center (ICC)
Parking: Public parking is available at the Southwest Garage. Use 3611 Canal Road as the address for GPS direction to the parking garage. Sign posts will be available to direct guests to the Center.
Virtual – Zoom Link (Registration Required)

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Art Talk: Tizta Berhanu at AFA London

Tizta Berhanu is known for her powerful figurative paintings that explore the full range of human emotions. Her first European solo show opens at AFA London on Thursday, April 27th. (Photo: Courtesy Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 13th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Today Addis Fine Art announced the opening of Tizta Berhanu’s first European solo show, Synthesis of Souls. The exhibition will be held at their London space, with the opening on Thursday, April 27, and will run until Saturday, May 27.

Tizta Berhanu, an Ethiopian artist born in Addis Ababa in 1991, is known for her powerful figurative paintings that explore the full range of human emotions. Her work depicts narratives of love, intimacy, kinship, and motherhood, all flowing across gestural compositions. Tizta’s figures, bathed in swathes of jewel-like primary colors, are painted with expressive brushstrokes, often interlaced in each other’s embrace. Her work showcases the beauty of human touch and connection.

(Photos: Addis Fine Art)

According to the press release the exhibition, curated by Claudia Cheng, an independent art advisor and curator based in London and Hong Kong, is a recent collection of Tizta’s figurative paintings. The artworks are infused with lucid colors, and their heavy, undefined brushstrokes add to the dreamlike atmosphere. The paintings’ subjects express a range of emotions, some comforting and embracing one another, while others are found isolated and searching in the backdrop of the enigmatic canvases. Tizta’s compositions allude to the importance of community in providing support for one another, an essential trait in Ethiopian culture.

Tizta Berhanu’s work possesses its own distinctive emotional tone, with each painting infused with bold, vibrant colors. The lustrous red paintings conjure images of love and passion, while the oceanic blue works wash the viewer in a wave of despondency.

The exhibition marks an important moment for Tizta, as it is her first solo show in Europe. Her artistic talent and unique perspective on humanity’s emotions make her one of the most exciting artists to watch in the contemporary art scene. Synthesis of Souls is a must-see exhibition for art lovers and collectors looking to discover exceptional new talent.

If You Go:

More info at addisfineart.com.

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DA Mekonnen’s New Single “Unicode 1200″ Tribute to Ethiopic Script, Comes to NYC

DA Mekonnen's new album features "Unicode 1200" and is set to release this month on FPE Records. The project's name 'dragonchild' is inspired by the 2008 film "Teza" by Haile Gerima. Mekonnen will premiere his new project at the National Sawdust in Brooklyn on April 15th. (Photo: by Drum Fernandez)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 11th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Danny (DA) Mekonnen’s new single, “Unicode 1200,” pays homage to the first letter of the Ethiopic script, which is assigned the unique number U+1200 as part of the international encoding standard. This standard ensures that the language is accessible across all computer platforms, programs, and devices.

As Mekonnen explained to Tadias Magazine: “The title is a nod to communication in the information age and the universal system for encoding and text, which was developed in part by Ethiopian-American Engineer Fesseha Atlaw. “U+1200″ is the first character, “Ha,” of the Ethiopic alphabet.”

As a first-generation Ethiopian-American, DA Mekonnen spent his formative years in Texas before studying music at Harvard University. He gained recognition as the founding member and leader of Debo band, whose innovative approach to Ethiopian music has earned them invitations to perform at prestigious venues and events worldwide. Some of these include the Montreal Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, South by Southwest, Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar, and the Ethiopian Music(s) Festival in Addis Ababa.

Mekonnen’s new album, “dragonchild,” features “Unicode 1200″ and is set to release this month on FPE Records. The project’s name is inspired by the 2008 film “Teza” by Haile Gerima. Mekonnen will premiere his new project at the National Sawdust in Brooklyn on April 15th.

“I will present a 75-minute concert of new music and video,” Mekonnen told Tadias. “The video includes original artwork by the photographer Michael Tsegaye and found footage by Olani Ewunnet.”

The title of the project, “dragonchild,” refers to a line in the film “Teza,” where the protagonist returns to his small village after spending a long time in Germany and Addis Ababa. The movie ends on an optimistic and mysterious note: “we are children of the dragon, do not despair.” The dragon in reference is Erta Ale, an active lava lake in Ethiopia. Michael Tsegaye’s photographs of Erta Ale are included in the album artwork.

In his conversation with Tadias, Mekonnen described how “Unicode 1200″ utilizes clapping and tom-tom drums to provide a solid foundation for the lilting saxophone and dancing keys. The song’s stripped-down arrangement serves to accentuate the beauty of the Ethiopic language and honor its worldwide accessibility thanks to modern technology.

More about the album (Excerpts from Press Release)

Dragonchild takes the exploration of Ethiopian music Mekonnen began with Debo Band and explodes it into vivid, three-dimensional space. Where Debo called back to the sounds of 1970s Addis and added original material along those same lines, dragonchild shatters traditions and boundaries, incorporating sampled material, field recordings, experiments in high and low fidelity, and the throughline that unites the diverse sounds, layers of Mekonnen’s rich and ecstatic saxophone. “I’ve been thinking a lot about ego death and being willing to let certain things go,” he says. “Things that made you feel good about yourself, made you feel really successful. I think artistically those things can be really dangerous. They can be dangerous crutches.” In moving beyond what brought him success in a fickle industry, he is braving new territory to bring us something more, something vulnerable and alive.

The name of the project derives from Haile Gerima’s 2008 film Teza, the story of an Ethiopian lab researcher who returns to his small village after long sojourns in both Germany and Addis Ababa. Near the end of the film, there is the hopeful but enigmatic line “do not despair – we are children of the dragon,” which evokes the resilience of the people and of the earth. It’s a nod to Erta Ale, the active lava lake in Ethiopia photographed by Michael Tsegaye for his Afar series, included as part of the album artwork and recognized instinctively by Mekonnen as “portraits of the dragon.”

(Photo: by Michael Tsegaye)

Although the seeds of this music were solitary, collaborations abound in the dragonchild universe, with artists as diverse as ambient producer claire rousay, the Addis Ababa based multi-instrumentalist Ethiopian Records, and percussionist Sunken Cages. These duets fly freely across the borders of genre, stretching out like long late-night conversations between close friends, work created as an expression of community, abundance, and freedom. The physical form of the record is an eight channel, four LP mix of the final track and centerpiece of the album, a twenty-minute-long saxophone meditation. It is no coincidence that this mix is impossible to listen to alone. In order to experience it fully, you will need three friends and four turntables.

The photograph that occupies the front cover, also taken by Michael Tsegaye, is of another photo, one placed under glass in a cemetery as part of a common practice in Addis Ababa. Over time, water damage cracked and weathered the glass, and at first what you see are the sharp and irregular fractures, rendered with extreme clarity. It is only on second glance that you see the true subject of the portrait, the ghostly ancestor gazing out from the past. “We have to fight for our lives,” Mekonnen says. “That’s the thing that I feel most adamant about. Our creativity is our birthright.” With dragonchild, he gives voice to a new sound, hundreds of years of Ethiopian and American music all resonating at once. “The record feels and breathes to me like the Ethiopian music I’ve been trying to figure out my whole life.”

If You Go:


4/15 – Brooklyn, NY @ National Sawdust

5/12 – Northampton, MA @ Collider Fest *

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Spotlight: Ten Great Musicians From Ethiopia

Hello Music Theory highlights ten popular artists from Ethiopia including Aster Aweke, Teddy Afro, Mulatu Astatke, Gigi, Abinet Agonafir, Mahmoud Ahmed, Ali Birra, Zeritu Kebede, Betty G, and Abby Lakew. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: April 3rd, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Which Ethiopian musicians would make it to your top ten list?

According to a recent compilation by Hello Music Theory, created by music students in London, the list includes Aster Aweke, Teddy Afro, Mulatu Astatke, Gigi, Abinet Agonafir, Mahmoud Ahmed, Ali Birra, Zeritu Kebede, Betty G, and Abby Lakew.

While there are many other new and established talents that could be added to the list, Hello Music’s selection is impressive and highlights the increasing popularity of Ethiopian music beyond its borders.

Aster Aweke:

Legendary musician Aster Aweke is considered one of the best Ethiopian singers of all time. She is celebrated for her compelling vocals and captivating lyrics. Although born in Gondar, Aster spent her formative years in Addis Ababa, where her father worked. She began singing at the age of 13, driven by her passion for music. In her youth, she even performed alongside prominent bands in clubs throughout the city.

In 1981, Aster Aweke made a significant move to the United States, and that proved to be a pivotal moment in her career. That same year, she released her debut album on a US label, titled “Aster.” The song that brought her international acclaim, “Anteye,” has sold millions of copies, firmly establishing her as a star.

Teddy Afro:

Teddy Afro (real name Tewodros Kassahun Germamo) is one of the most popular contemporary musicians among Ethiopians worldwide. The renowned Singer-songwriter is admired for his exceptional songwriting abilities and revolutionary tracks. Teddy, who grew up in Addis Ababa, released his debut album in 2001. Four years later he dropped his third CD, Yasteseryal, which gained widespread attention due to the political turmoil in Ethiopia at the time. Although  four of the songs on the album were banned, it still managed to sell millions of copies, solidifying Teddy Afro’s place as a prominent figure in Ethiopian music.

Mulatu Astatke:

Of course, Mulatu Astatke, the pioneer of Ethiopian Jazz, is also on the list. The composer and arranger is indeed a trailblazing figure in Ethiopian music. He is credited with creating a unique fusion of Ethiopian traditional music and jazz, which he called “Ethio-jazz.” Mulatu Astatke is known for his distinctive sound, which features complex rhythms and harmonies, and incorporates traditional Ethiopian instruments such as the krar and the washint.

Mulatu’s music gained international recognition in the 1960s and 70s, when he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and performed with jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie. He went on to release a series of influential albums, including “Afro-Latin Soul” and “Mulatu of Ethiopia,” which helped to establish him as a leading figure in the world music scene.

Today, Mulatu continues to tour and perform around the world, and his music has influenced a new generation of Ethiopian musicians. He is widely regarded as a cultural ambassador for Ethiopia and a pioneer in the development of African jazz.


Ejigayehu Shibabaw, known by her stage name Gigi, is a renowned vocalist. Her early exposure to traditional Ethiopian music came from an Orthodox priest during her upbringing.in northwestern Ethiopia.

Gigi rose to fame with the release of her self-titled album “Gigi” in 2001, which featured collaborations with several American jazz musicians. The album was a fusion of traditional and contemporary music, and it received critical acclaim and commercial success, making waves in her home country.

Following the success of her debut album, Gigi went on to release two more albums in 2003 and 2006, which further solidified her position as a prominent musician in Ethiopia. Notably, her captivating vocals were featured in the movie Beyond Borders, where the famous actress Angelina Jolie played the lead role.

Mahmoud Ahmed:

Mahmoud Ahmed, an iconic singer, rose to prominence in the 1970s and gained international recognition across Africa and Europe. Mahmoud began his singing career at an early age while residing in the Mercato district of Addis Ababa.

Initially, he started as a band singer and performed with various prominent groups of that era. Later on, he embarked on a solo music career and released several successful singles that gained him recognition in Ethiopia.

However, his global recognition came after the release of his album Ere Mela Mela, which was a compilation of tracks from two of his LPs. This was a time when Ethiopia was going through political turmoil. His most significant achievement was in 2007 when he won the BBC World Music Award.

Ali Birra:

Ali Birra.is another legendary Ethiopian singer featured by Hello Music. He was born in Dire Dawa. He is one of the few notable artists who popularized funk, jazz, rock, and reggae beats in East Africa.

Ali Birra was only 13 when he joined a cultural group to promote Oromo music and culture. His first singing engagement involved him singing “Birra dha Bari’e,” which gave birth to his nickname. Ali is from his first name, while Birra is from the song.

Ali Birra began his singing career in Addis Ababa after relocating from his native home. He met various nationalists, such as Ahmad Taqi, who influenced his music career. His big break came in 1971 when he released his first album, which was also the first album in Oromo music history.

Zeritu Kebede:

Zeritu Kebede represents the new era of Ethiopian music. Listening to her voice is a sure way to ignite a love for music.

Zeritu grew up in Addis Ababa and had a passion for music from an early age. She used to listen to her parents’ collection, which featured renowned  musician Mahmoud Ahmed.

After completing high school, Zeritu pursued her passion for singing professionally, and she released her debut album in 2005. The album’s standout track was “Yane,” which quickly became a fan favorite in Ethiopia and propelled the album to great success.

Betty G:

Betty G, also known as Bruktawit Getahun, is a renowned Ethiopian singer-songwriter. She was raised in Addis Ababa and pursued higher education in Office Management, but her studies did not deter her from following her passion for music.

Initially, Betty G was not well-known in the Ethiopian music industry. However, after collaborating with prominent musicians like Nhatty Man, she started gaining recognition.

In 2015, Betty G made a name for herself with the release of her first album, Manew Fitsum. Since then, she has worked with other famous musicians such as Teddy Afro and Zeritu Kebede. Her second album, Wegegta, was released to critical acclaim and received six AFRIMA nominations.

Abby Lakew:

Abby Lakew, the final musician on this list, is an artist who sings in both English and Amharic. She was born and raised in Gondar until she relocated to the United States at the age of 13.

Her first album, produced in both English and Amharic, was released in 2005. She went on to release several other albums, including popular tracks like “Shikorina” and “Abrerew.”

In 2015, Lakew’s career skyrocketed with the release of her hit single, “Yene Habesha,” which amassed over 54 million views on YouTube. The song catapulted her to international fame, and in 2016, she was nominated for the Best Traditional Female Artist for Africa award, solidifying her place in the music industry.

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Spotlight: Jomo Tariku, Ethiopian American Industrial Designer and Data Scientist

Tadias first featured Jomo Tariku's work nearly 20 years ago, and since then, he has become one of the leading Black furniture designers in America. (Photo: ©Gediyon Kifle/www.PhotoGK.com)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 29th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — One of the most rewarding aspect of publishing Tadias is to track the continued progress of professionals from diverse fields, including artists, entrepreneurs, and scientists whose work and future aspiration we’ve profiled from an early stage of their career.

Jomo Tariku, an industrial designer and data scientist, is a prime example of this success story. Tadias first featured Jomo’s work nearly 20 years ago, and since then, he has become one of the leading Black furniture designers in America.

Recently, The New York Times asked Jomo to compile a list of designers from the African Diaspora that he believed deserved international attention. Out of over 80 designers, Jomo selected nine, which were featured in The Times earlier this month.

“It took me 30 years to get here, and I don’t want it to die with me.” Jomo told the Times. “We keep saying design is a global language. Well, it did not include us.” He added: “What’s the global part?”

As the Newspaper noted he is determined to boost the careers of other Black designers, including those associated with the Black Artists + Designers Guild, a nonprofit platform and mentorship organization that he helped establish in 2018.

Jomo’s own designs have also received a well-deserved widespread recognition. His Meedo chair, inspired by a hair pick, was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his Nyala chair, modeled after an antelope found in high altitude woodlands in Ethiopia, was featured in the film sets of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

As Jomo continues to push boundaries in his field, he is also lifting up those around him, creating opportunities for emerging talent and ensuring that their potential is not overlooked.

Read his list at nytimes.com »

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Spotlight: The Texas BBQ Joint with Ethiopian Twist

Fasicka and Patrick Hicks, owners of Smoke’N Ash BBQ - Tex-Ethiopian Smokehouse, in Arlington, Texas. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 29th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — How does injera with Texas barbecue sound?

Well, that’s exactly what you get at Smoke’N Ash BBQ – Tex-Ethiopian Smokehouse, a one-of-a-kind restaurant in Texas.

Owned by Fasicka and Patrick Hicks, this joint serves up traditional American BBQ with a unique Ethiopian twist: With a creative menu featuring dishes like Rib tibs, Shiro, brisket, Doro Wat, and Ethiopian veggie combos, it’s no wonder Smoke’N Ash was named one of the top 50 restaurants in America by the New York Times last year.

The couple’s journey started with Patrick’s passion for barbecuing, which soon turned into a thriving business. Customers couldn’t get enough, and the couple decided to take the leap and open their own restaurant.

According to their website: Fasicka, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Patrick, a native of Waco, Texas, met in 1997 and quickly discovered their shared love of barbecuing. They began with a smoker trailer, selling BBQ dishes at weekend pop-ups, and eventually moved into a brick and mortar restaurant as their customer base grew.

As the business expanded, Fasicka added traditional Ethiopian family dishes to the menu, blending the flavors of Ethiopia with Texas-style smoked meats to create Tex-Ethiopian barbecue. Smoke’N Ash BBQ is now the first restaurant in the world to offer this unique cuisine.

Now, customers from all 50 states flock to try their famous Tex-Ethiopian BBQ.

Watch: Smoke N Ash restaurant combines Texas barbecue with Ethiopian spices


Texas barbecue with an Ethiopian twist: Meet the Arlington couple behind the fusion being recognized nationwide

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Pianist & Composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru Passes Away at Age 99

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, an Ethiopian nun and pianist who composed more than 150 original works of music, has passed away at the age of 99. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 28th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, the renowned Ethiopian nun Pianist & Composer, has passed away at the age of 99 in Jerusalem, where she had been living at the Ethiopian Monastery for almost 40 years. According to Fana Broadcasting, she died on March 23rd.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam was born as Yewubdar Gebru in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923. She was sent to Switzerland at a young age, where she studied the violin and then the piano at a girls’ boarding school. After returning to Ethiopia, she was taken prisoner of war with her family during the Italian occupation and deported to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples.

After the war, Yewubdar resumed her musical studies in Cairo and returned to Ethiopia accompanied by her teacher, the Polish violinist Alexander Kontorowicz. She then became a nun and took the title Emahoy and her name was changed to Tsege Mariam.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

Left: Yewubdar Gebru, 1940s. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

Yewubdar Gebru as prisoner of War on the Italian Island of Azinara. (Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

Although she was raised in privilege with her father, Kantiba Gebru Desta, a former mayor of Gonder and Addis Abeba, Emahoy’s life was marked by struggles beyond her musical pursuits. She was taken as a prisoner of war by the Italian forces, and after their defeat, she faced obstacle from Ethiopian officials, who blocked her from obtaining a scholarship to study music in London.

Despite these challenges, she maintained a resilient attitude and famously remarked:

“We can’t always choose what life brings. But we can choose how to respond.”

(Photo: Emahoy music foundation)

After releasing her debut album in 1967, Emahoy Tsege Mariam dedicated the proceeds to charitable causes benefiting children. With the assistance of her family members residing in the United States, she eventually established the Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation, which aimed to provide children with opportunities to study music.

Emahoy gained international recognition through her solo compositions, which were published in the “Ethiopiques 21″ CD series by the French label Buda Musique in 2006. She is known for her classical and jazz music compositions, which are reflective and pensive, with ‘Homeless Wanderer’ being one of her most notable works.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam’s life has been one of resilience and commitment to her art. When she was denied the chance to study music in London, she entered the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wello region at the age of 19. Within two years, she was ordained as a nun. During the 1960s, she studied the music of Saint Yared in Gonder, and in 1967, her first album was released in Germany.

Album: Éthiopiques 21 – Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru ‘The Homeless Wanderer’

Later Emahoy survived Ethiopia’s Marxist revolution in the 1970s and continued to create music, with her piano compositions being released in 1973 to raise funds for orphanages.

Her niece Hanna M. Kebbede emphasizes the teaching moments that can be drawn from Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru’s life, stating that “It is a uniquely Ethiopian story, but at the same time the lessons are universal.”

Emahoy’s music has been featured in several films, including the Oscar-nominated documentary Time and Rebecca Hall’s Netflix drama Passing. Journalist and author Kate Molleson made a documentary about Emahoy Tsege Mariam for BBC Radio Four called ‘The Honky Tonk Nun.’

In her interview with Alula Kebede on his Amharic radio program on the Voice of America, Emahoy said, “Although I did not have money to give them, I was determined to use my music to help these and other young people to get an education.”

The music and life of Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru continue to inspire young people, artists, and students around the world. Her unwavering commitment to using her talents for the betterment of others is a legacy that will endure.

Watch: Labyrinth of Belonging – Documentary about Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru

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Art Talk: ‘Alle Legends’ in Ethiopia & Dawit Adnew’s Show in London at Addis Fine Art

Addis Fine Art in London is currently hosting the first European solo exhibition by Ethiopian artist, Dawit Adnew. The show also marks the gallery's first exhibition of the year at their London location. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 22nd, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Addis Fine Art is currently showcasing the first European solo exhibition by Ethiopian artist Dawit Adnew. The show, which marks the gallery’s first of 2023, opened in February at their London gallery.

Dawit Adnew, born in 1973, presents a series of paintings that transport the viewer to a sumptuous and dream-like world, where languorous figures pose amid lush gardens overflowing with plants, fruits, and flowers. The artworks convey an atmosphere of perpetual calm, suggesting twilight, where color and pattern are sources of pure pleasure, much like Matisse or Gauguin.

Dawit’s works are informed by his studies in African masks and iconography, and his use of patterns and fabric emerges from his background as a textile designer. He is based in Addis Ababa and studied at the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design. His artistic career has included participation in various exhibitions in Addis Ababa, Kenya, and Malta.

Addis Fine Art’s exhibition of Dawit’s works is a rare opportunity for European audiences to experience the vibrant, enchanting world he has created. The show is a must-see for art enthusiasts seeking a fresh perspective on contemporary African art.


And in Ethiopia, art enthusiasts have only a few days left to catch the ‘Alle Legends’ exhibition at Addis Fine Arts gallery before it closes on Sunday, March 25th.

The exhibition is a large-scale group show featuring works from 19 artists who have played a crucial role in shaping and influencing successive generations of graduates from the Alle School of Fine Art and Design. Each of the exhibiting artists has spent time teaching and instructing at the renowned art school, and their personal experiences have helped to instill an environment of openness and exploration in one of the oldest art schools in East Africa.

(Courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

‘Alle Legends’ serves to illuminate the individual practices of each artist, as well as their lasting impact on Ethiopian contemporary art. The exhibition turns the lens onto the educators, highlighting their contributions to the development of the country’s artistic landscape.

The Addis Fine Arts gallery is known for its focus on contemporary art, and this exhibition is a testament to their commitment to showcasing the best and brightest talents from Ethiopia. The ‘Alle Legends’ exhibition is a must-see for those interested in the evolution of Ethiopian art and the influence of education on artistic practices.

Don’t miss your chance to see this impressive exhibition before it closes on Sunday.

If You Go:

More info at addisfineart.com.

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Art Talk: Aïda Muluneh’s Photos at NYC Bus Stops Aim to Spark Conversations

The photographer's latest images are part of a public exhibition called "Aïda Muluneh: This is where I am," commissioned by Public Art Fund, a New York City-based nonprofit, which has taken over hundreds of bus stops in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Abidjan. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 20th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — Aïda Muluneh’s surreal photographs featuring African women with symbols of power, conflict, and history have taken over bus stops in New York City.

Her latest images, which include painted eye motifs and chairs, are part of a public exhibition called “Aïda Muluneh: This is where I am,” commissioned by the New York City-based nonprofit Public Art Fund. The exhibition is on display at hundreds of bus stops in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Abidjan.

The primary symbol of the installation is the traditional Ethiopian coffee pot, or jebena, which the artist uses as a call for open dialogue in her birth country. Her enigmatic images aim to spark conversations and break the silence.

The exhibition, which runs through May, is displayed at over 330 bus stops. Below is a highlight from CNN’s African Voices program:

The story behind this surreal portrait of Ethiopian identity

Photo: Nicholas Knight/Public Art Fund NY

CNN African Voices

Former photojournalist, Aïda Muluneh now creates images that pose questions, rather than offering answers.

Muluneh has spent years creating surrealist photographs of stately African women bearing symbols that reckon with conflict, history and power. Painted eye motifs — as well as her subjects’ unflinching gaze — represent the need to bear witness, chairs represent seats of influence, and curtains pull back to show the stagecraft of politics.

Now, the Ethiopian artist’s images have taken over hundreds of bus shelters in New York, Chicago, Boston and her current home of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, through the exhibition “Aïda Muluneh: This is where I am,” commissioned by Public Art Fund, a New York City-based nonprofit.
Though Muluneh’s work has already served as public art, including open-air exhibitions in Europe, “This is where I am” is her largest public installation to date.

Read more »


Photos: Amref’s ArtBall & Auction Honors Artist Julie Mehretu and Ethiopia’s Youth

Culture: In NYC The Atlantic Catches up with Kelela at Benyam’s in Harlem

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NASA Honors Ethiopia as Cradle of Humanity as Lucy Spacecraft Heads to Dinkinesh Asteroid

Dinkinesh, which is Lucy's Ethiopian name, means "you are marvelous" in Amharic, reflecting the significance of this mission. (Photo: United Launch Alliance)

Tadias Magazine

Published: March 17th, 2023

New York (TADIAS) — NASA’s spacecraft Lucy is on its way to the Dinkinesh asteroid, paying homage to Ethiopia’s place as the cradle of humanity and one of the oldest civilizations on earth.

Dinkinesh, which is Lucy’s Ethiopian name, means “you are marvelous” in Amharic, reflecting the significance of this mission. Named after the famous Lucy fossil, which revolutionized our understanding of human evolution, the Lucy spacecraft is expected to do the same for our understanding of the origin and evolution of our solar system.

According to NASA’s Lucy project scientist Keith Noll, “We are excited to have another opportunity to honor that connection” between Lucy and Ethiopia. This mission is not only a scientific endeavor but also a tribute to Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage and its contribution to our understanding of our shared human history.

Below is a highlight from Space.com:

Meet Dinkinesh: Asteroid targeted by NASA’s Lucy spacecraft gets a marvelous name

Asteroid Dinkinesh. (Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)


The first asteroid to be visited by NASA’s space rock-hopping craft Lucy has finally been given a name. The tiny asteroid in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter has received the moniker “Dinkinesh” or ድንቅነሽ in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia, which means “you are marvelous.”

Dinkinesh was discovered in 1999, but like millions of other main-belt asteroids, it didn’t get a name, only receiving a designation number when its orbit was well determined. First known under its provisional designation as 1999 VD57, the asteroid later entered catalogs as 152830. A proper name was only proposed when the rock was selected as a target for NASA’s Lucy mission.

Evolution enthusiasts may recognize the name Dinkinesh as it is the alternative name of the fossilized Australopithecus afarensis skeleton known as “Lucy”, which was discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia.

“This mission was named for Lucy because just as that fossil revolutionized our understanding of human evolution, we expect this mission to revolutionize our understanding of the origin and evolution of our solar system,” Lucy project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Keith Noll, said in a statement(opens in new tab). “We are excited to have another opportunity to honor that connection.”

Dinkinesh will be first up in a packed tour for the Lucy spacecraft when it reaches the tiny asteroid on Nov. 1, 2023. The space rock wasn’t originally part of the 12-year tour that will see the spacecraft visit nine other asteroids and was only added in January.

Dinkinesh was added to Lucy’s itinerary because the spacecraft’s operators think that the tiny asteroid can be used to test the probe’s innovative terminal tracking system. The system will allow Lucy to precisely image the asteroids it encounters as it passes by them at high speeds.

The fact that Dinkinesh is under half a mile (under a kilometer) in diameter means it will provide an excellent test of Lucy’s high-speed imaging capabilities before the spacecraft starts its main science mission of investigating the never-before-explored Jupiter Trojan asteroids.

This large group of asteroids shares the orbit of Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. Astronomers believe that these Trojan asteroids are fossilized remnants of the material that formed the planets of the solar system over 4.5 billion years ago.

“This is really a tiny little asteroid,” Hal Levison, a planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Lucy’s principal investigator, said about Dinkinesh in the statement. “Some of the team affectionately refer to it as ‘Dinky.’ But, for a small asteroid, we expect it to be a big help for the Lucy mission.”

The visit to Dinkinesh won’t be just a test of Lucy’s instrumentation. Researchers are also excited about what they can learn from the asteroid itself, which will be the smallest main asteroid belt object ever explored by a space probe.

In terms of size, Dinkinesh is actually more like a near-Earth asteroid than a main-belt object, as these tend to be bigger. Astronomers hope that the rock could help them discover how asteroids change as they leave their position between Jupiter and Mars and head closer to our planet.

“At closest approach, if all goes smoothly, we expect Dinkinesh to be 100s of pixels across as seen from Lucy’s sharpest imager,” Simone Marchi, a senior research scientist at SwRI, said in the statement. “While we won’t be able to see all the details of the surface, even the general shape may indicate whether near-Earth asteroids — which originate in the main belt — change significantly once they enter near-Earth space.”

That means, just as the Lucy skeleton proved revolutionary to our understanding of human evolution, Dinkinesh could be viral in our understanding of the evolution of the solar system.


NASA’s Latest Asteroid Explorer Celebrates Our Ancient Origins in Space and on Earth (scientific American)

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Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Announces Board Vacancy

The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund is a U.S.-based non-profit organization established to mobilize the Ethiopian Diaspora to raise funds and support Ethiopian projects at home. (Courtesy image)

Tadias Magazine

Published: Friday, November 18th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) – The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) is recruiting new board members.

The U.S.-based non-profit said in an announcement that it’s currently seeking applicants who wish to serve on its board.

EDTF was established four years ago to mobilize the Ethiopian Diaspora to raise funds and support“inclusive development projects” in Ethiopia.

According to the press release the organization said it’s looking for “experience and skills necessary for board level positions, which may include, but not limited to, prior board or nonprofit experience, professional leadership, etc. Additionally, demonstration of skills consistent with the needs of the board, including fundraising, project management, finance, governance, etc.”

Anyone interested in applying for a position on EDTF’s board should visit their website at www.ethiopiatrustfund.org

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Ethiopia Reads Co-founder Jane Kurtz Receives IBBY Award For Her Work With Ethiopian Children

Jane Kurtz (right), who grew up in Ethiopia, is the Co-Founder of Ethiopia Reads, a U.S.-based non-profit that has been promoting a culture of reading in Ethiopia for more than two-decades. Since it was established in 1998 Ethiopia Reads has published hundreds of popular local children's books and English translations for Diaspora children in addition to opening over 70 libraries in every part of Ethiopia. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 25th, 2022

New York (TADIAS) — The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has named Jane Kurtz, the Co-Founder of Ethiopia Reads, the winner of the 2022 iRead Outstanding Reading Promoter Award.

In a press release announcing the award IBBY said the winners “are inspiring examples of reading promoters who show us how one person can truly make a difference, especially when we work together.”

According to its website IBBY “is a non-profit organization, which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together.”

Jane, who was raised in Ethiopia, co-founded Ethiopia Reads in 1998 to promote “a culture of reading in Ethiopia” and to serve as “a model for others to follow in support of the next generation of Ethiopian parents, teachers, and leaders.”

Since it was established more than two-decades ago Ethiopia Reads has published hundreds of popular local children’s books (in several Ethiopian languages) and English translations for Diaspora children in addition to opening over 70 libraries in every part of Ethiopia.

In a statement Ethiopia Reads said its proud of it’s founder’s accomplishments:

60+ years ago, a young Jane Kurtz was raised with her siblings in a far away magical place called Maji in southwest Ethiopia. She grew up to become one of the ultimate creative minds and literacy champion for Ethiopian children! We couldn’t be prouder of Ethiopia Reads’ Cofounder, longtime leader and Advisor @JaneKurtz on her award by @IBBYINT as IBBY-iRead Outstanding Reader Promoter for her 30+ years of consistent work supporting children reading in Ethiopia. We look forward to the second round of 100 Ethiopian local language books coming soon. Please support Jane’s work by checking out #ReadySetGo titles by Open Hearts Big Dreams on Amazon.”

The award announcement added:

Jane Kurtz grew up in Ethiopia and has spent the last 25 years helping to develop indigenous authors and illustrators in Ethiopia—and in multiple languages—while also establishing an infrastructure for publishing books and promoting literacy with training for teachers and librarians. Her work began in 1998 when she co-founded Ethiopia Reads and developed a strategy for starting libraries to support literacy development. In early 2016, Jane initiated a workshop in Ethiopia with artists, children and adult volunteers, which resulted in a prototype for Ready Set Go books—colourful, easy-to-read, culturally appropriate, and published in English and one local language. Jane’s work with literacy addresses the challenges of multiple official languages; lack of books reflecting Ethiopian culture, history, and landscape; obstacles in the translation, publication, and distribution process; and insufficient professional opportunities for educators and librarians. With her vision and collaboration with others, she has planted the seeds of literacy all over Ethiopia.”

For more information, about the winners and about IBBY go to www.ibby.org. And learn more about Ethiopia Reads at www.ethiopiareads.org.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Declares ‘Humanitarian Truce’ in Tigray to Allow Aid, TPLF Agrees

The Ethiopian government on Thursday announced an “indefinite humanitarian truce” in Tigray, saying the action was necessary to allow unimpeded relief supplies into the area. The government said [TPLF] must reciprocate the truce for the situation to improve in the region. It urged TPLF “to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighboring regions." (Reuters photo)

LATEST: TPLF agrees to humanitarian truce

UPDATED March 25, 2022


Rebel forces fighting in northern Ethiopia have agreed to a government offer of a truce to allow aid deliveries to reach millions of people in urgent need of assistance…

The TPLF rebels said they would respect the ceasefire as long as aid deliveries resume “within reasonable time”

In its statement on Thursday, the government said that the truce was “indefinite” and “effective immediately”, but added that it would only improve the lives of people in the north of the country if the move was reciprocated.

It called on the Tigrayan forces to “stop further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighbouring regions”.

In response, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said it “will do everything it can do to make sure this cessation of hostilities is a success”.

Read the full article at BBC.com »

Ethiopia Declares ‘Humanitarian Truce’ in Tigray to Allow Aid

Associated Press

March 24, 2022

Ethiopia’s government on Thursday announced what it called an “indefinite humanitarian truce” in its war-ravaged Tigray region, saying the action was necessary to allow unimpeded relief supplies into the area.

“The government calls upon the donor community to redouble their generous contributions to alleviate the situation and reiterates its commitment to work in collaboration with relevant organizations to expedite the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need,” authorities said in a statement issued by the Government Communication Service.

The government statement said Tigray’s forces must reciprocate the truce for the humanitarian situation to improve in the region.

It urged fighters loyal to Tigray’s fugitive leaders “to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighboring regions…”

Although the war has subsided in several places, notably within the Tigray and Amhara regions, concerns remain in the northeastern Afar region.

Aid into the Tigray region has been severely limited under what the United Nations described as a “de facto humanitarian blockade.”

Read the full article at www.apnews.com »

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Art Talk: Awol Erizku Unveils New Exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in NYC

Awol Erizku, Lion (body) I, 2022. This month, the Ethiopian-American artist opened a new solo exhibition at Gagosian gallery in New York City called 'Memories of a Lost Sphinx,' an observation of the ancient mythical figure as a borderless metaphor for "riddles, wisdom and divinity." (Photo: ©Awol Erizku)

Hype Art

Awol Erizku Reflects on “Memories of a Lost Sphinx” at Gagosian

Awol Erizku is an Ethiopian-American artist whose work draws on the vast expanse of history to create a counter-narrative to the largely Western discourse on African culture. Last week, the multi-disciplinary artist unveiled a new solo exhibition at Gagosian, titled “Memories of a Lost Sphinx.”

Set against a black-painted interior, a series of six lightbox photographs and an accompanying sculpture ruminates on the fabled sphinx as a complex, cross-cultural symbol that extends between and beyond Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Asian mythologies. “My first encounter with the Great Sphinx of Giza led me to produce my own interpretation of the mystique and essence of the sphinx as a concept. The result is my interpolation of the space between my memory and imagination,” said the artist.

The constellation of images jumps from lions and falcons floating in the cosmos, a tarantula clamped against a man’s face, to the back of Kevin Durant’s head adjacent to a neighboring hyperrealistic portrait of a snake. Instead of presenting any singular narrative, Erizku uses this grouping to explore issues of identity in regards to the sphinx as a hybrid symbol that embodies riddles, wisdom, divinity, thresholds, and the transition between life and death.

Further bridging the symbols into the present, the Los Angeles-based artist illuminates the space with Nefertiti – Miles Davis (Gold) — a glowing disco ball named after the seminal musician’s 1968 album of the same name. Organized by Antwaun Sargent, “Memories of a Lost Sphinx” is on view at Gagosian New York until April 16, 2022.

Read more »

Press Release

AWOL ERIZKU: Memories of a Lost Sphinx

(Artwork ©Awol Erizku. Photo: Rob McKeever)

My first encounter with the Great Sphinx of Giza led me to produce my own interpretation of the mystique and essence of the sphinx as a concept. The result is my interpolation of the space between my memory and imagination.

—Awol Erizku

Gagosian is pleased to announce Memories of a Lost Sphinx, an exhibition of new works by Awol Erizku. Installed in a black-painted interior, a set of six lightbox photographs accompanied by a mixed-media sculpture represent the sphinx as a complex, cross-cultural symbol that extends between and beyond Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Asian mythologies. Organized by Antwaun Sargent, this is Erizku’s first exhibition at the gallery.

Erizku works in photography, film, sculpture, painting, and installation, making reference to spirituality, art history, and hip-hop; in the process, he aims to craft a new vernacular that bridges the gap between African and African American visual cultures. Further developing his “Afro-esoteric” iconography in Memories of a Lost Sphinx, Erizku explores the intersections of ancient mythology, diasporic tradition, and contemporary culture.

(Artwork ©Awol Erizku. Photo: Rob McKeever)

The sphinx is a hybrid creature with human and animal attributes: the head of a human, body of a lion, wings of a falcon, and, in some cases, a serpent-headed tail. According to Egyptian tradition, this guardian figure had a male head, whereas in Greek mythology, the sphinx was female and originated in Aethopia. The most notorious Greek sphinx was bested when Oedipus answered her riddle, “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three at night?”

Rather than convey any singular entity or narrative, the constellation of images presents allegories of the creature’s attributes, depicting a lion pacing before a cosmic background, a falcon landing on a gloved hand, a tightly coiled snake, and a menacing tarantula. Replacing a pharaoh’s head is a photograph of NBA star Kevin Durant.

The grouping probes issues of meaning and identity while supplanting the body with compositions that explore the conceptual framework of the sphinx as a hybrid symbol that embodies riddles, wisdom, divinity, thresholds, and the transition between life and death. The images are accompanied by Nefertiti – Miles Davis (Gold), a golden mirrored disco ball in the shape of the Egyptian queen’s iconic bust. Titled after Davis’s 1968 album, the sculpture unites visual art with music, known symbols with new forms, and antiquity with postmodernity, while dynamically illuminating the exhibition space.

(Artwork ©Awol Erizku. Photo: Rob McKeever)

Memories of a Lost Sphinx may be viewed within the gallery during operating hours, and at all times through its storefront windows, with the internally lit images and mirrored sculpture transforming the space throughout the day and night. This opportunity for public viewing of Erizku’s work extends the project of New Visions for Iris (2021), a presentation sponsored by the Public Art Fund of his backlit photographs in bus shelters across New York’s five boroughs and throughout Chicago. The lightbox format of these works also relates to the use of the format by Gregory Crewdson, with whom the artist studied while earning his MFA at Yale—while also evoking the way in which the monumental sphinx in Giza is illuminated for tourists.

Awol Erizku was born in 1988 in Gondar, Ethiopia, and lives and works in Los Angeles and New York. Erizku earned a BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, and an MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT. Collections include FLAG Art Foundation, New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Exhibitions include New Flower | Images of the Reclining Venus, FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2015); Mystic Parallax, FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2020); and New Visions for Iris, Public Art Fund, various sites in New York and Chicago (2021). His photographs of cultural and creative leaders have been featured in the New Yorker, New York, GQ, and Vanity Fair.

If You Go:

Memories of a Lost Sphinx
March 10–April 16, 2022
Gagosian Gallery
Park & 75, New York
More info at www.gagosian.com.

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Ethiopia: Aster Aweke’s ‘Mezez Alew’ Among Top 10 Best African Songs of All Time

One of the most talented female Ethiopian singers, Aster Aweke, has made a name for herself [as] one of the most popular artists on the continent...in her native country, she is a musical legend. She has been nominated for many honors and awards throughout her career and enjoys huge mainstream popularity. (Photos via Aster Aweke's Facebook page)


Top 10 Best African Songs of All Time

African songs are some of the most popular worldwide and typically have a high-pitched melody or vocal pattern with elements of traditional African rhythms and Western pop music styles. Whenever we hear them, they instantly put us in a good mood and make us want to dance the night away. The list of the best African songs of all time is very long, but this blog will showcase only the best with a brief description of each song.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the list of the Top 10 best African songs of all time!

Mezez Alew’by Aster Aweke (Ethiopian)

When it comes to African music, a group deserves special mention: the Ethiopians. They are responsible for some of the greatest music ever recorded in Africa, such as Aster Aweke’s “Mezz Alew.” One of the most talented female Ethiopian singers, Aster Aweke, has made a name for herself after releasing one song with an incredible voice, leading her to become one of the most popular artists on the continent.

Aweke may not have the notoriety of American musical icon Beyonce or international sensation Madonna. Nevertheless, in her native country, she is a musical legend. She has been nominated for many honors and awards throughout her career and enjoys huge mainstream popularity.

(Photo: Aster Aweke/Facebook)

Aster Aweke performing in Washington D.C., July 2015. (Photo via the artist’s Facebook page)

This song, Mezz Alew, is one of several that she has written. All of her songs are considered to be romantic, uplifting, and inspirational. She uses a melodious voice and rich melodies that have become a trademark in the Ethiopian music industry because they are both timeless and catchy. This song is safe for use as relationship advice even though it is from the perspective of a female looking at her life from her lover’s point of view.

The general message of this song is that if you truly love someone, you should enjoy being with them even if it means sacrificing in some way. However, it should be noted that there is a particular context to this song that is not clear to non-Ethiopians or people who are not familiar with the culture and societal norms that are generally accepted.

Mezz is Ethiopian for juice, and Alew’ means “you” in Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia. The message of this song is quite simple and it has attracted a significant amount of popularity due to the perspective on life, and the positivity spread throughout its lyrics. Listeners can find inspiration from her lyrics, and some have even used them as relationship advice.

Read more and see the full list at punchng.com »


The latest video from Aster Aweke’s YouTube Chanel:

Singer/songwriter Aster Aweke has been entertaining international audiences for over 30 years and winning the hearts and minds of world music lovers everywhere. Her songs are anthems to Ethiopian fans and throughout the Ethiopian Diaspora.

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Art Talk: Selome Muleta’s Debut European Solo Show at Addis Fine Art, London

Selome Muleta (b. 1992) is one of the most exciting young female artists to emerge from the Ethiopian visual arts scene in recent years. Her inaugural European solo show opens on March 11th, 2022 at Addis Fine Art gallery in London. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist via Addis Fine Art)

Press Release

Addis Fine Art London

Addis Fine Art, London is pleased to present Selome Muleta’s debut European solo show, Collapsing Space. This exhibition of the artist’s latest works explores womanhood through the playful merging of portraiture and still life, and examines the relationship between the internal self and the external world.

In Collapsing Space, Selome continues her exploration of female figures captured in states of inner reflection in the midst of vibrant environments. With her chosen medium of acrylic and oil pastel on canvas, Selome’s latest body of work interrogates and celebrates the rich interior worlds of her subjects, the stillness of their external forms reverberating against the vivid patterns and blossoming plants that crawl through their backdrops.

In a similar vein to the portraits of Jennifer Packer, Selome employs translucent washes of hue and busy patterns to create a sense of contemplative unity between her subjects and their respective environments. At times, the faces of her characters are obscured or cropped, and the viewer is invited instead to focus on objects that surround them. A drooping plant, a dozing feline companion, a distant crooked framed portrait – these forms stand as both symbolic and literal entry points to the interior self.

(Courtesy of the artist via Addis Fine Art)

Selome Muleta, Collapsing Space VII, 2021. Courtesy of the artist)

Much like the bottles and bowls of Morandi and Hockney’s plant-laden vases, the flattened characters and objects born from Selome’s brush seem to hum serenely with the energy of their very existence.


Selome Muleta (b. 1992) is one of the most exciting young female artists to emerge from the Ethiopian visual arts scene in recent years. Now based in Addis Ababa, Muleta studied art formally at the Abyssinia Fine Art School (2012) and Entoto Polytechnic College (2013-2014). She has had solo exhibitions at Guramayne Art Center, Fendika Art Gallery, Alliance Ethio-Francaise (2019) and most recently, Tsedal at Addis Fine Art, Addis Ababa (2020), she has also participated in group shows including From Modern to Contemporary, CFHILL gallery, Stockholm, Sweden (2020).

If You Go:
Addis Fine Art, London
11 March – 16 April 2022 (Private View: 10 March from 5-8PM)
More info at www.addisfineart.com

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UPDATE: At the UN Africa Stands With Ethiopia Amid EU’s Latest PR Stunt

This week at the United Nations African countries unanimously sided with Ethiopia opposing the EU-led planned special session on the internal matter with TPLF. As The East African newspaper notes: "On Tuesday, none of the continent’s 13 representatives in the 47-member body of the UN, based in Geneva, backed a proposal to have the Human Rights Council discuss Ethiopia as had been proposed by the European Union." (UN photo)

The East African

Africa backs Addis protest against UN session on Ethiopia human rights

African countries have rallied behind Ethiopia in protesting against a planned special session at the UN Human Rights Council, which is aimed at reprimanding Addis Ababa’s alleged war atrocities in Tigray region.

On Tuesday, none of the continent’s 13 representatives in the 47-member body of the UN, based in Geneva, backed a proposal to have the Human Rights Council discuss Ethiopia as had been proposed by the European Union.

The session was due to be held later on Tuesday but the suggestion lacked African support.

Those pushing for the debate were mostly Western members of the Council, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France and Denmark.

The revelations emerged a day after Ethiopia issued a call to members of the Council to reject what it called a “regrettable” move to have the Tigray war discussed for the possibility of creating a special team to investigate war crimes in the country.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the move had a “politically motivated objective” and accused some members of the human rights body of choosing “to advance their political agenda through the work of the Council.”

“Ethiopia therefore calls on members of the Council to categorically reject and vote against the special session and its politically motivated outcome,” it said on Monday in a statement.

“What should have been a priority for the Council instead was the urgent task of carrying out investigation into the violations of human rights and atrocities committed by the TPLF terrorist group in the Afar and Amhara regional states. It is unfortunate to witness that no such call has come forth from some in the Council.’

The proposal to discuss Ethiopia emerged last Friday, pushed by the European Union.

On Monday, EU’s Head of Delegation to the UN in Geneva, Lotte Knudsen, wrote a joint letter with Slovak Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Anita Pipan, asking for a special session “because of the importance and urgency of the situation” in Ethiopia.

They said the request had the support of both members and observer states of the Human Rights Council, such as the US (which only returned to supporting the body after President Donald Trump left power.)

As is the rule, such a move required at least a third of the members supporting and according to the letter, 17 members of the Council and 35 non-members endorsed the call to have it go on later on Tuesday.

None of Africa’s members of the Council endorsed the move and none of the non-members who support the call came from Africa.

The continent is currently represented by Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Eritrea, Libya, Malawi, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Togo.

They are all serving three-year terms on the Council, although their start dates are staggered as is tradition with the Council.

The call though has been endorsed by other members, including South Korea, Fiji, Ukraine, Japan, Poland, Netherlands, Mexico and Bulgaria.

“The Human Rights Council has to stand up to its responsibilities,” Knudsen said on Monday, amplifying the call by EU High Representative Josep Borrel who had said the world has not reacted “properly to the large-scale human rights violations, mass rapes using sexual violence as a war arm, killings and concentration camps based on ethnic belonging.”

The problem though, says Ethiopia, is that discussing the country’s war problem appears to repeat what has already been done.

Earlier in August, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights conducted a joint investigation into alleged rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law and refugee law.

It found that both the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian government forces and allied militia had committed atrocities, including killings, rape, forcible displacement and torture. But it did not find evidence of genocide.

Ethiopia says it has since formed a multiagency taskforce to implement some of the proposals in the report, including prosecution, rehabilitation of those who surrender, humanitarian service as well as assisting those who were sexually violated.

The problem though is that the war hasn’t stopped.

The government and the TPLF, once a ruling party and now a proscribed group, have been fighting since November last year.

The war has led to a large-scale humanitarian crisis, besides deaths of civilians, according to the UN.


Warning to Democrats: Ethiopian American Voters Ready to Bolt Over Foreign Policy

Forbes: Still Time for US to Reverse ‘Huge Mistake’ on Ethiopia AGOA Exit

Asia Times: US hands China a victory in Ethiopia

Pictures: The Wall Street Journal on Ethiopia’s volunteer ‘citizens’ army.’

Media: Ethiopia Flipping the Script on Foreign Coverage

Watch: PM Abiy’s press secretary Billene Seyoum on Fox News

US policies on Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Covid in Africa come under fire in Congress

UPDATE: Ethiopia Recaptures World Heritage Site Lalibela From TPLF

China’s Top Diplomat Visits Addis, Takes a Jab at Foreign Interference in Ethiopia’s ‘Domestic Affairs’

US halts decision on genocide designation to pursue diplomacy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia to U.S.: Stop Misinformation

Announcement by Olympic Legends Haile & Feyisa Capture Ethiopia’s Mood

US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Jamaica Pan-Africanists Rally in Defense of Ethiopia Outside US Embassy

Peaceful protesters outside the US Embassy in Jamaica this weekend. Organizers of the gathering, which included pan-Africanists, Rastafarians and Ethiopians, said they were calling out the widely panned and misguided US posture in Ethiopia's conflict with TPLF. (Photos: Jamaica Observer & Jamaica Gleaner)

Jamaica Observer

By Observer staff reporter

‘America must mind its own business’

Local Rastas march on US Embassy protesting its backing of Ethiopia rebel forces

“Leave Ethiopia alone and mind your own business.” That was the message wrapped up in the chants of scores of Rastafari, Ethiopian, and pan-Africanist representatives yesterday as they staged what they called a peaceful protest outside the US Embassy in St Andrew.

The demonstration signalled the groups’ disapproval of the USA’s backing of rebel forces in Tigray, Ethiopia, who are fighting against Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Veteran Rastafarian reggae artiste Tony Rebel, who was part of the protest, said the move was to show solidarity with their black brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.

“When His Majesty Haile Selassie came forward, he said Ethiopia and Jamaica, we are one. We are saying to the United ‘snakes’ of America that they should take their hands out of Ethiopia,” he said.

One female protester, who requested anonymity, directed her rebuke not only at the US Government, but also Western media, which she asked to “back off of Ethiopia”.

“America must mind their own business. They are promising sanctions on Ethiopia and trying to demonise the prime minister. The US has been backing the rebel forces and demonising the Ethiopian Government. We in Jamaica have always seen ourselves as Ethiopians abroad because Halie Selassie came here in 1966 and said that Ethiopians and Jamaicans are blood brothers, so when there is a crisis in Ethiopia it affects all of us,” she said.

She stated that the average Jamaican will watch news from foreign outlets and think it is a tribal war that they should not care about.

She however said it’s our business, and Jamaicans should stand up to the USA and its propaganda.

“We were sending the US a message that they should leave Ethiopian people alone and stop taking sides with a terrorist group. Last week the Ethiopians in America went to CNN headquarters telling them to stop telling lies in the media that Ethiopia is creating genocide. Nothing like genocide is happening. All the prime minister is doing is defending the sovereign rights of the people,” she said.

Rastas protest US meddling in Ethiopian conflict

The Gleaner

Inspector Earle Grant speaking with Rastafarian protesters during a demonstration in front of the United States Embassy in Liguanea, St Andrew, yesterday. The group said they were objecting to what they termed as the meddling of the United States in the yearlong conflict between the Ethiopian government and rebels.

One of the leaders of a protest staged yesterday across from the United States (US) Embassy in Liguanea, St Andrew, objecting to what is said was that country’s meddling in the current Ethiopian conflict, has declared that he would have no objection to the US yanking his visa for his stance.

There have been mounting global concern and calls for a peaceful resolution to the yearlong conflict between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and rebels, who have joined a coalition of opposition groups, threatening his hold on power.

The United States has been one of the harshest critics of the Ethiopian government during the crisis, repeatedly calling for an end to the conflict as it urges the parties to hammer out a ceasefire agreement.

The United Nations has said that all parties to the conflict had violated international humanitarian law, citing reports of massacres, gang-rapes and ethnic cleansing with most of the offences carried out by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces.

Yesterday, Haile Mikael Brissett, a deacon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica and one of the leaders of the protest, blasted Western media for what he said was its spread of propaganda regarding the conflict as he and scores of Rastafarians gathered across from the American embassy.

“We are proud Ethiopians abroad and we stand in solidarity with what’s going on in Ethiopia. We say, ‘All for one and one for all’. Ethiopia was the only African country that wasn’t colonised. Ethiopia also is the Horn of Africa, so we here in Jamaica want the world to know that Africans at home and Africans abroad should be saying the same thing,” Brissett told The Gleaner.

“What we are doing here today is very symbolic. It’s a peaceful protest and we really appreciate the solidarity of our brothers and sisters – not just Rastafarians, but also Pan African members, Maroons; members who really want to see freedom,” said Brissett.

Some of the Rastafarians told The Gleaner that they chose to protest across from the US Embassy as a form of outcry at the position they said the US has taken, along with its allies, mainly in Europe, which are in support of the rebel forces.

The protesters said they were standing in solidarity with the people of Ethiopia in their efforts to restore law and order and to put down armed insurrection from the rebel group led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and against all forms of foreign interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.

Brissett, who still holds a US visa, once travelled to Ethiopia in 2012 for clergy training and he had a connecting flight from Jamaica in Washington DC before arriving in Ethiopia.

“You have to lose some things to gain some things, so if a visa is lost, no problem with that for me, personally,” he said. “So if they want to revoke my visa, Jamaica is full of so much potential, Jamaica is so rich, Jamaica has so much wealth, so if I’m to stay here for the next 20, 30, 40 years, or the rest of my life, I am good with that because Ethiopia is within me.”

Brissett’s view was shared by other members of the Rastafarian community who were protesting.

Although the permit granted by the police to the protesters outlined that they should have been located on a parcel of land across from the US Embassy and at the entrance to Standpipe, some minutes after 10 a.m., some protesters walked on to the sidewalk immediately in front of the US Embassy, with cops advising them to leave.

Inspector Earle Grant, Matilda’s Corner Police Station commander, also instructed the protesters repeatedly to go within the boundaries of the area within which they applied for 10 persons to protest, while observing social distancing, but they refused and took to the sidewalks of Liguanea with their placards, some of which read ‘United Nations and America Need to Repent’, ‘War in Tigray’, ‘Hands off Ethiopia’, and ‘Defend Ethiopia Now’.

“They were given permission to demonstrate within the perimeters of the fencing area. It was in their application to the commissioner of police, hence permission was granted for them to demonstrate within that land space and not on the outskirts,” Grant told The Gleaner.

“The police can take some action, but we don’t want to ignite the situation. We just want to have a peaceful protest with respect for the rule of law, and we ask for compliance, not to obstruct pedestrians and using the sidewalk, and not to cause a traffic congestion,” he added.

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These Stone Monoliths in Southern Ethiopia Are 1,000 Years Older Than Thought (WSU)

Published in the Journal of African Archaeology, the team applied radiocarbon dating to monoliths from the Sakaro Sodo archaeological site in the Gedeo zone.“This is one of the most understudied archaeological sites in the world, and we wanted to change that,” said Ashenafi Zena, lead author of the study and a former Washington State University doctoral researcher now at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. (WSU))


Ethiopian monoliths are 1,000 years older than previously thought

Researchers from Washington State University have suggested that the giant stone monoliths of southern Ethiopia are 1,000 years older than previously thought.

Published in the Journal of African Archaeology, the team applied radiocarbon dating to monoliths from the Sakaro Sodo archaeological site in the Gedeo zone.

Sakaro Sodo is known to have the largest number and highest concentration of megalithic stele monuments in Africa, with an estimate of more than 10,000 stelae in sixty or more clusters.

The monoliths were first studied by French researchers in the 1990’s, where they proposed a construction date of around AD 1100.

With the results obtained from the latest study, this has been revised to sometime during the first century AD.

“This is one of the most understudied archaeological sites in the world, and we wanted to change that,” said Ashenafi Zena, lead author of the study and a former WSU doctoral researcher now at the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Zena, an Ethiopian native, originally decided to conduct a study of the stones after traveling to the region with his doctoral advisor Andrew Duff, a WSU professor of anthropology, in 2013.

“It was shocking to see such a large number of monuments in such a small area,” Zena said. “Looking at the stones, many of which had fallen to the ground and some have broken into pieces, I decided to focus my dissertation work there instead of investigating cave sites in southern Ethiopia.”

In addition to pushing back the date of the earliest monoliths’ construction by a millennium, the researchers also determined where the ancient builders of the site likely quarried raw stone for the project. They also identified, for the first time, the earliest known sources of obsidian artefacts that were recovered from the Gedeo stele sites.
Surprisingly, most of the obsidian the researchers identified at Sakaro Sodo originated some 300 km away in northern Kenya, illustrating that the people at Sakaro Sodo obtained most of their obsidian raw materials through some form of exchange or trade.

While little is known about the pastoral and/or agricultural people who populated the Sakaro Sodo region of southern Ethiopia at the turn of the first millennium, the new construction dates of the stele monuments identified by Zena and Duff appear to coincide with the arrival of domesticated animals in the region and the beginnings of more complex social and economic systems.

“One of the reasons why this research is important is because it has the potential to shed new light on what the earliest people in this area were doing for a living as well as what their cultural and social practices were,” Duff said.

Existing archaeological, ethnographic, and living megalithic stele traditions in the region suggest that the oldest stele sites in Ethiopia at Sakaro Sodo and other nearby locations were likely created for two purposes: to commemorate the transfer of power from one generation to the next or to record and commemorate group achievement.

“The diversity of function of the stele in Ethiopia is really fascinating,” Duff said. “For example, we know that the more recently constructed stele monuments of Tuto Fela in the north part of Gedeo were used as burial markers. While the linear placement pattern of the earliest stones at Sakaro Sodo makes us think they may have been markers to signify the passing of generational leadership.”

While the political situation and the recent escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia make following up on the investigation in the near term difficult, the researchers have several future projects in the works that they hope to continue as soon as possible.

One project involves more additional archaeological investigations at other stele sites in the areas with colleagues at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. The other is a project led by Duff and current WSU doctoral student Addisalem Melesse who are working with the Ethiopian Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management to determine how the stele sites can be better managed to both preserve the heritage of the region and generate tourism.

“Developing a better understanding of the function of these stones and how they were erected is really useful in terms of gaining a UNESCO World Heritage designation,” Duff said. “This could in turn help generate tourism revenue, which is a major economic factor for the country.”

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Warning to Democrats: Ethiopian American Voters Ready to Bolt Over Foreign Policy

Across America Ethiopian American voters, who are traditionally a reliable democratic base, are mobilizing on social media and other platforms - as they did in Virginia this past November -- to support the Republican take over of the U.S. Congress next year. As the following report from North Carolina indicate the community at large feels deeply disappointed as well as ignored and betrayed by the Biden administration's now ridiculous approach towards Ethiopia. (Photo: Ethiopians protest in Raleigh, North Carolina/Indy week).

Indy week

Ethiopian Americans Dissatisfied with the Biden Administration’s Foreign Policy Positions Towards the African Nation Could Mean Democrats Can’t Rely on Their Votes in Next Year’s Elections

Last month, Teshale Gebremichael helped organize a protest for members of North Carolina’s Ethiopian American communities who condemned the U.S. government’s support of what they describe as a “terrorist” group that is attempting to usurp their country’s democratically elected government.

On November 21, the demonstrators assembled in front of the old state capitol grounds near the intersection of Hillsborough and Salisbury Streets at about three p.m. before marching to the front of the old Wake County Courthouse on Fayetteville Street. There, a man with a bullhorn exhorted the crowd to a call-and-response protest.

“African solutions for African problems!” he shouted into the bullhorn.

“African solutions for African problems!” his countrymen and women replied in unison.

“We are united!”

“No more! We say no more!”

“We stand with Ethiopia!”

“We stand with the Ethiopian government!”

Gebremichael, an Ethiopian American, has been living in the Triangle for over a decade.

“Why is the Biden administration standing with bad people? Why is Biden standing with gangsters?” Gebremichael asked, while speaking with the INDY last week. “And now our country is about to fall apart.”

Nearly 200 Ethiopian Americans, many of them wrapped in the red-green-and-gold flags of one of the world’s oldest nations, assembled at the old state capitol and voiced their disapproval on a day when similar protests were taking place across the globe.

The Ethiopian American protesters were joined by expatriates from neighboring Eritrea and gathered under a banner stating #NoMore to denounce what they described as the Biden administration’s “disastrous foreign policy” by way of sanctions that have hurt their country; the threat of sending U.S. ground troops into the country, and a disinformation campaign carried out by Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to discredit the current government.

It’s a complicated issue.

A civil war erupted late last year between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and inhabitants of the country’s Tigray region…

That conflict is more than 8,000 miles away in the country’s northern region. The fighting and subsequent U.S. government sanctions could have dire consequences for Democratic Party candidates during the 2022 election. If President Joe Biden does not lift the sanctions, Ethiopian Americans here and across the United States are threatening to vote for Republicans next year.

Ethiopian Americans typically cast their votes for Democratic Party candidates, but they are deeply hurt by the Biden administration’s decision on September 17 to authorize sanctions that do not single out specific factions but hold the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Tigray forces responsible for participating in a civil war that has left “nearly one million people living in famine-like conditions” while “millions more face acute food insecurity as a direct consequence of the violence,” according to a White House statement.

“I am appalled by the reports of mass murder, rape, and other sexual violence to terrorize civilian populations,” stated President Biden, who added that the “sanctions are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea but rather the individuals and entities perpetrating the violence and driving a humanitarian disaster.”

But Ethiopian Americans here in the Triangle, and across the globe, say the sanctions are hurting their families and neighbors back home in an impoverished country that ranks 173 out of 189 countries and territories in human development, according to the 2020 Human Development Report.

On November 2, Biden suspended Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) “for gross violations of internationally recognised human rights,” according to Reuters. Days later, officials with the global fashion giant PVH Corp. announced that the company was shutting down a manufacturing factory in Ethiopia, owing to the loss of duty-free access to the United States because of the war.

Muna Mengesha, one of the organizers of the Raleigh protest and a real estate agent and mother of two, told the INDY the factory closing has left 150,000 people without work, but according to Reuters, officials in her homeland warned the shutdown “could take away 1 million jobs, disproportionately hurting poor women, who are the majority of garment workers.”

Mengesha says that in addition to factory workers losing their jobs in Addis Ababa, the country’s suspension from AGOA is also being felt in the rural parts of the country.

“Without AGOA, small farmers can’t send what they produce to the United States tax free,” she explains. “That’s their livelihood. That’s how they send their kids to school. That’s how they provide for their family.” Raleigh’s protest organizers say there’s currently a global movement among Ethiopia expatriates to heed Prime Minister Abiy’s call to return home for the Christmas holidays with the aim of supporting their country’s economy to offset the Biden administration’s sanctions.

“It’s a big movement right now,” Gebremichael said. “I’m not going because I went back last year. But I wish I could.”

Ethiopian expatriates point to last month’s gubernatorial election in Virginia where the Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin, narrowly beat incumbent governor Terry McAuliffe. According to reports, a coordinated effort from Ethiopian expatriate voters helped contribute to Youngkin’s narrow margin of victory.

“That’s the plan here, too,” Mengesha said. “Personally, I don’t want to vote Republican, but at the end of the day that’s my homeland. In Virginia, people who don’t ever vote voted just because of the Biden administration and the way they handled the situation.”

Another Raleigh protest organizer, Fitsum Kedebe, 37, is a native of Ethiopia now living in Durham. During the past presidential election, Kedebe helped Democratic Party candidates by canvassing in Bull City neighborhoods.

“Donald Trump was saying things no world leader should ever say,” Kedebe, a married father of two children, told the INDY. “But I was never expecting Biden to go this extreme. I never expected him to go this far to support Tigray. Even [the U.S. government] has been saying since 1992 that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front is a terrorist group.”

Kedebe acknowledged the Sisyphean irony of casting a vote for an American political party enamored with misinformation to help bring about the downfall of a political party in his native country that also thrives in a false news ecosystem. He brushes aside the suggestion that a Republican administration may feel more comfortable with TPLF holding the reins of power in his country.

“The Democratic Party says it looks out for the poor, but it’s fractured,” he said. “It’s losing ground. The only reason Biden was elected was because of Black Lives Matter, and 79 million people still voted for Trump. We should be united. We see freedom losing.”

Read the full article at indyweek.com »


Forbes: Still Time for US to Reverse ‘Huge Mistake’ on Ethiopia AGOA Exit

Asia Times: US hands China a victory in Ethiopia

Pictures: The Wall Street Journal on Ethiopia’s volunteer ‘citizens’ army.’

Media: Ethiopia Flipping the Script on Foreign Coverage

Watch: PM Abiy’s press secretary Billene Seyoum on Fox News

US policies on Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Covid in Africa come under fire in Congress

UPDATE: Ethiopia Recaptures World Heritage Site Lalibela From TPLF

China’s Top Diplomat Visits Addis, Takes a Jab at Foreign Interference in Ethiopia’s ‘Domestic Affairs’

US halts decision on genocide designation to pursue diplomacy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia to U.S.: Stop Misinformation

Announcement by Olympic Legends Haile & Feyisa Capture Ethiopia’s Mood

US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Media: Ethiopia Flipping the Script on Foreign Coverage

Although misinformation in foreign press is still abundant, following the string of victories against TPLF in the past few days it appears that some Western media outlets are trying to adjust their unbalanced coverage of the situation in Ethiopia (See below an excerpt of AFP's latest news explainer). Meanwhile, the Biden administration says its shelving its dangerous 'genocide' PR scheme against the country as its runaway policy is receiving much-needed congressional criticism and oversight. (Photo: Ethiopians protest in DC/Reuters)


Ethiopia’s military this week regained control of territory previously claimed by [TPLF] rebels, a potential validation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision to join soldiers to conflict-hit areas…

Just a month ago, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group appeared to be on the offensive, claiming to have captured Dessie and Kombolcha, towns on a key highway headed towards the capital Addis Ababa.

They reportedly reached as far as Shewa Robit, around 220 kilometres (135 miles) northeast of Addis Ababa by road.

But after Abiy announced last week he would lead operations in the field, the government announced a string of victories and the rebels acknowledged making adjustments to their strategy.

State media has responded with triumphalist wall-to-wall coverage.

There’s little doubt the government can claim to have the “upper hand” in specific areas, said Awet Weldemichael, a Horn of Africa security expert at Queen’s University in Canada…

- A surprise shift -

All the while, though, the exact nature of the TPLF advance was in dispute.

“I don’t know whether we should call it an advance,” one Western security official told AFP in mid-November.

“There’s not a huge column of tanks and armoured vehicles driving down the road towards Addis. It’s more complex than that. There are foot soldiers going into the mountains, they shoot and surround certain areas” but do not seem to fully control cities and towns, the official said.

The latest battlefield shifts unfolded swiftly.

The government first claimed towns in Afar, near a critical highway bringing goods to Addis Ababa, then on Wednesday it declared victory in Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site that fell to the TPLF in August.

On Friday state media announced that towns on the road heading north towards Dessie and Kombolcha had been “liberated”.

The news could be a sign that government forces, as well as many thousands of new recruits who have enlisted in recent months, have more fight than they’ve gotten credit for.

“I was quite surprised by the latest counteroffensive by the government,” said Mehdi Labzae, a sociologist who studies land issues and mobilisation in Ethiopia.

“I have seen all the people who were mobilised… but the thing is I thought they were not trained and I thought they would just be destroyed.”

The path ahead

The African Union is trying to broker a ceasefire to avert further bloodshed, though there has been little progress so far.

The TPLF insists it will have the advantage in whatever fighting is to come…

One possibility, said Awet of Queen’s University, is that the government’s superior air power has turned the tide — at least for now.

“Drones are claimed to have played a decisive role in active combat, the full extent of which we are yet to find out,” he said.

“But so far, it appears like they have helped halt [TPLF] counterattacks and advances.”

Click here to read the full article »


Watch: PM Abiy’s press secretary Billene Seyoum on Fox News

US policies on Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Covid in Africa come under fire in Congress

UPDATE: Ethiopia Recaptures World Heritage Site Lalibela From TPLF

China’s Top Diplomat Visits Addis, Takes a Jab at Foreign Interference in Ethiopia’s ‘Domestic Affairs’

US halts decision on genocide designation to pursue diplomacy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia to U.S.: Stop Misinformation

Announcement by Olympic Legends Haile & Feyisa Capture Ethiopia’s Mood

US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

History: Toast of the U.S. President at Luncheon Hosted by Ethiopia in America

There was once a friendly, cordial and respectful U.S.-Ethiopia relations going back to 1903 before it was replaced with the modern version of team Biden's duplicitous Horn of Africa diplomacy. The following is a transcript of a speech by U.S. President John F. Kennedy during a luncheon hosted by Ethiopia in his honor at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland on October 2nd, 1963. (Photos: Kennedy Library)

The American Presidency Project, UC Santa Barbara

Note: The President spoke at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. at a luncheon given in his honor by Emperor Haile Selassie…

The Emperor, speaking before him, began by mentioning the warm and friendly relationship between his nation and the United States. He referred to the growing number of Americans who go to Ethiopia–as members of economic and military aid missions, in the Peace Corps, as businessmen, and as tourists. Such associations, the Emperor continued, cannot but help the Ethiopian and American peoples to know each other better. Mutual understanding has also been broadened, he pointed out, by the many young Ethiopian leaders who have studied in the United States. “If their number now declines,” he added, “it will be because of the new university which has, with the generous help of the people and the Government of the United States, now assumed the responsibility for providing higher education in Ethiopia.”

The Charter of Unity recently signed in his capital by African heads of state demonstrates, said Emperor Haile Selassie, the will of their peoples, inspired by America’s example past and present, to prepare for themselves a future of unity and brotherhood.

He concluded with a toast to the President and to the two peoples, who are, he said, distant in geography but proximate in friendship and in spirit.

President Kennedy’s Remarks at the Luncheon

October 02, 1963

Your Majesty:

On behalf of all of my fellow citizens, I want to express our great appreciation to you for having traveled across so many thousands of miles to visit us once again and also for the pleasure that you have brought us all in bringing with you your granddaughter, and the benefit you have brought us in bringing the members of your Government.

As you say, Ethiopia and the United States are separated not only by geography but by history and culture, but I think that they are bound together by necessity, and that is the necessity for all sovereign free countries to maintain the most intimate association.

So we are very proud to have you here because of what your country has done, what it is doing, because of the hospitality you have shown to my fellow countrymen when they have gone there to work or to visit.

Most of all, we are glad to have you here because of your own extraordinary record. Those of us who have held office for a comparatively brief time are somewhat awed to realize that you have borne the responsibility of leadership in your country for more than 45 years. For a good part of this century, with all the changes that it has brought to not only your own country but to the continent of Africa, and so much of the West during this whole period, the central thrust of burden has been borne by you. And to have borne it with such distinction in other days and to still bear it with such force-demonstrated by the fact that your capital was chosen by your fellow leaders of Africa to be the center of this great, cooperative movement which was symbolized by the summit meeting in your capital and which was made a success by your own very patient efforts–brings accord out of what could have been on occasion perhaps a disagreement.

So, looking to a long past, looking to a promising future, we want to say, Your Majesty, that we are proud to have you here, we have been honored by the visit, and I hope that this short time here in Washington will remind you once again of how strongly your place is secured in the affection of all of the people of the United States. I hope all of you will join with me in a toast to His Imperial Majesty.


Ethiopia to U.S.: Stop Misinformation

Announcement by Olympic Legends Haile & Feyisa Capture Ethiopia’s Mood

US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia to U.S.: Stop Misinformation

Ethiopia is responding to the Biden administration's flurry of panic-inducing social media posts and press releases concerning the country -- which is usually echoed by the mainstream American media without much skepticism or context -- asking the U.S. government to refrain from disseminating "shameful fake news and defamation regarding Ethiopia." (Photo: Addis Ababa skyline, November 3, 2021/Tiksa Negeri/REUTERS)


Ethiopia Warns US Against Spreading False Information

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s government has asked the United States to stop spreading what it considers falsehoods against the country, the state minister of communication Kebede Dessisa said Thursday, after the State Department issued an alert about potential “terrorist attacks.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and rebellious forces from the Tigray region in the north have been fighting for more than a year…

Kebede, the state minister of communication, was quoted by state broadcaster EBC as telling a news conference the U.S. government should refrain from disseminating “shameful fake news and defamation regarding Ethiopia.”

He referred to a statement Wednesday on Twitter by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa that urged its citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance due to “the ongoing possibility of terrorist attacks in Ethiopia.”

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Ethiopians lied in the capital to support the government, where they denounced the United States for alleged interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs. Washington has urged its citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately while the security situation still permits.

On Thursday, dozens of protesters took their anger to the U.S. Embassy in the city, where they displayed banners reading “Interference is Undemocratic” and “Truth Wins.”

Read the full article at reuters.com »


Announcement by Olympic Legends Haile & Feyisa Capture Ethiopia’s Mood

US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Announcement by Olympic Legends Haile & Feyisa Capture Ethiopia’s Mood

BBC: "The prospect of some of Ethiopia's most venerated sporting figures heading to the front lines to fight captures something profound and powerful about the mood in Addis Ababa and beyond." (Getty Images)


Ethiopian Olympic heroes Haile Gebrselassie and Feyisa Lilesa say they are ready to go to the front line in the war against rebel forces.

Their announcement comes after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he would go to the front to lead the war…

Earlier, Gebrselassie, 48, was quoted by state television as saying: “I am ready to do whatever is required of me, including going to the front line.”

Gebrselassie is regarded as a legend in Ethiopia…During his 25-year career as an athlete, he claimed two Olympic gold medals, eight World Championship victories and set 27 world records. He announced his retirement from competitive running in 2015.

Expressing his support for the war, Feyisa, 31, was quoted by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation website as saying that he was ready to draw inspiration from the “gallantry of my forefathers” and go to the front line to “save my country”.

The athlete won the marathon silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He became famous for holding up his crossed wrists as if they were shackled to draw global attention to the crackdown on demonstrators demanding political reforms in Ethiopia…The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was the dominant party in government at the time. Following the protests, Mr Abiy became prime minister and the TPLF lost the grip on the country it had held for 27 years.

Feyisa Lilesa attends a news conference in Washington, DC during his exile in the United States on Sept. 13, 2016. (Reuters photo)

[TPLF] later retreated to its stronghold of Tigray, from where it launched a rebellion last November after a huge fall-out with Mr Abiy over his reforms…

The African Union is leading efforts to find a negotiated end to the fighting, but neither side has committed to talks…

The prospect of some of Ethiopia’s most venerated sporting figures heading to the front lines to fight captures something profound and powerful about the mood in Addis Ababa and beyond.

At a time of intense crisis, many Ethiopians are clearly rallying behind their flag and prime minister, and are keen to play their part in galvanising public support for a military campaign…

It is clear many people see the military threat posed by the TPLF and their assorted allies as an existential one for Ethiopia.

Added to that is a profound dislike of the TPLF itself, which stems from its decades heading an authoritarian national government.

Read the full article at BBC.com »


US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: U.S. Reports ‘Progress’ in Ethiopia Peace Efforts

US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman, who spoke to reporters following his most recent trip to Ethiopia this week, said Prime Minister Ably Ahmed told him his priority is to get the TPLF out of the areas they now occupy in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, and “we share that objective.” ( Photo: ASHRAF SHAZLY)

The Associated Press

NAIROBI – A United States envoy said Tuesday he sees “massive progress” in talks with Ethiopia’s warring sides, but he fears it will be outpaced by “alarming” military developments in the yearlong war in Africa’s second-most populous country.

Jeffrey Feltman spoke to reporters after his latest visit to Ethiopia… Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday announced he will lead “from the battlefield”…

Feltman said the warring sides are now talking about elements they expect to see on the table in talks, but “the tragedy is” that while the elements are similar, views differ on which to tackle first.

“Unfortunately, each side is trying to achieve its goals by military force and believe they are on the cusp of winning,” he said…

The U.S. envoy said the Tigray forces must halt their advance on the capital…They “would be met with unrelenting hostility if they entered Addis today,” Feltman said.

The envoy said Ethiopia’s prime minister told him his priority is to get the Tigray forces out of the areas they now occupy in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, and “we share that objective.”

Read the full article at apnews.com »


US reports Ethiopia ‘progress

In Diaspora protestors call out Joe Biden’s foreign policy in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Struggles to Find Its Voice in Western Media Amid Misinformation

This week, in a letter to several Western Media organizations including CNN, BBC, AP and Reuters the exasperated Ethiopian Media Authority said the heavily slanted foreign press coverage of current affairs in Ethiopia has “sowed seeds of animosity among people and compromised the sovereignty” of the country. The letter comes on the heels of this shocking report that the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, had explored ways "to embarrass the Ethiopian government" during a policy brainstorming session with staffers. (Getty Images)


By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia Considers Withdrawing Licenses of Foreign News Agencies

Ethiopia said it would consider revoking the licenses of CNN, the British Broadcasting Corp., the Associated Press and Thomson Reuters Corp. for alleged reportage that authorities say could endanger the interest and peaceful coexistence of the people in the Horn of Africa nation.

Stories published by these news agencies on ongoing events “sowed seeds of animosity among people and compromised the sovereignty” of the country, the Ethiopian Media Authority wrote in a letter to the media houses Friday and posted on its Twitter account. “In the absence of ethical and professional journalistic operation, the authority would be compelled to revoke the license granted to your institution to operate in Ethiopia,” it said.

Conflict has been raging in Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an incursion into the northern Tigray region in November 2020 after forces loyal to the regional administration attacked a federal army base. The fighting has now spread to two other regions and the forces allied to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front advancing and capturing key towns in neighboring Amhara region.

The authority claims news and analysis of these media outlets assist the TPLF’s objectives.

The conflict has claimed lives of thousands of people, displaced hundreds of thousands and left millions in need of humanitarian aid. Earlier in November Ethiopia detained 16 United Nations staff and their family members as well as some 70 truck drivers contracted by the UN but most of them have since been released.


Yale hosts Ethiopia conference amid social media controversy, disinvites speaker

BUSINESS: Forbes on Why Team Biden Shouldn’t Mess With US-Ethiopia Trade

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Africa, America’s Hysterical Western Media Driven Ethiopia Policy Reaches Dead End

The New York Times, which has fast become one of the least trusted Western publications among Ethiopians both at home and in the Diaspora, made a thinly veiled admission in its latest post that the belligerent U.S. policy towards Ethiopia, which is largely driven by the hysterical, one-sided Western Media coverage and propaganda, has failed. The paper noted that as the U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken arrived in Africa this week, it became apparent that his approach towards Ethiopia so far "seemed to have achieved little." (Pool photo)

The New York Times

NAIROBI, Kenya — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s first visit to sub-Saharan Africa was intended to be a grand gesture of American support for the continent. But his first day also illustrated the frustrating limits of American influence in a region…

It is an unhappy context for Mr. Blinken’s visit to Africa, where he plans to give a speech on Friday in Nigeria outlining the Biden administration’s vision for a continent…

Mr. Blinken’s team has poured much diplomatic energy into East Africa over the past year, hoping to stop the atrocity-laden war in Ethiopia and protect Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy. But as he landed in Nairobi, those efforts seemed to have achieved little.

Speaking to reporters alongside his Kenyan counterpart, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo, Mr. Blinken said the war in Ethiopia “needs to stop,” calling on both sides to enter talks without preconditions. For more than a year Mr. Abiy has been battling rebels from Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray…

For now, though, his offers appear to be falling on deaf ears.

In Ethiopia, the Biden administration has turned to increasingly coercive means…including visa restrictions on Ethiopian officials…

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

What’s Wrong With Blinken? Goes to Africa to Talk Ethiopia, But Skips Addis & AU?

The New York Times reports that Blinken is in Africa apparently on a diplomatic mission to solve Ethiopia's domestic political problem with a five-day trip to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal. Strangely, or unfortunately, neither Ethiopia nor the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, which has been leading local peace-finding efforts in the country, are on the list of scheduled stops for the U.S. Secretary of State. Below is an excerpt from the NYT report. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

Blinken Heads to Africa as U.S. Tries to Avert Ethiopia Disaster

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken departed early Tuesday for a five-day swing to Africa, where he will lend support for democratic principles and seek to advance diplomacy aimed at preventing Ethiopia from descending into a catastrophic civil war.

Mr. Blinken plans to begin his trip with a stop in Kenya, which borders Ethiopia and which has played a key role in diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful resolution to a conflict between the country’s central government and rebels in its northern Tigray region…

Mr. Blinken had planned to visit Africa in late summer, but postponed the trip after the sudden Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August.

The Biden administration has not articulated its vision for the continent, something Mr. Blinken was to address during a stop in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, where he planned to deliver a speech on the United States’ Africa policy. He plans to conclude his trip with a visit to the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »


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

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Spotlight: Two Ethiopia Buildings Among Africa’s 12 Iconic Architectures

Lideta Market, Ethiopia - 2017. This shopping centre was built in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, with lightweight concrete. The considered design includes a perforated façade that controls the flow of natural light and ventilation within. Moreover, the cut-out pattern decorating the building's gleaming white shell imitates a traditional Ethiopian fabric. (BBC)


Africa’s iconic architecture in 12 buildings

While the pyramids of Egypt are recognised around the world, much of Africa’s architecture remains unknown – something architects Adil Dalbai and Livingstone Mukasa hope to change.

They are part of the team that has recently published the seven-volume Architectural Guide Sub-Saharan Africa. Their in-depth study encompasses buildings from earlier eras, the colonial period – like the recently renovated railway station (above) built in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, in 1910 – to more modern masterpieces.

Here are 12 of the most innovative, historic and iconic entries:

Palace of Emperor Fasilides, Ethiopia – early 17th Century

This palace is located in Ethiopia’s northern city of Gondar, within a fortified compound known as the “Fasil Ghebbi” (Royal Enclosure).

The site includes some 20 palaces, royal buildings, elaborately decorated churches, monasteries and unique buildings.

The design of these buildings were influenced by the baroque style brought to Gondar by Jesuit missionaries.

See the full list at BBC.com »

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ART TALK: Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey Opens at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis

This midcareer survey features more than 75 drawings, paintings, and prints made from 1996 to the present. (Image: Haka and Riot, 2019, Ink and Acrylic on Canvas, 144 x 180 inches. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging. © Julie Mehretu)

Press Release


Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and based in Harlem, New York, Julie Mehretu (b. 1970) is best known for abstract paintings layered with a variety of materials, marks, and meanings. These canvases and works on paper reference the histories of art, architecture, and past civilizations while addressing some of the most immediate conditions of our contemporary moment, including migration, revolution, climate change, global capitalism, and technology.

This midcareer survey features more than 75 drawings, paintings, and prints made from 1996 to the present. It covers a broad arc of Mehretu’s artistic evolution, revealing her early focus on drawing, graphics, and mapping and her more recent introduction of bold gestures, sweeps of saturated color, and figurative elements into her immersive, large-scale works.

Mehretu’s paintings begin with drawing; she then develops the works by incorporating techniques such as printing, digital collage, erasure, and painterly abstraction. She is inspired by a variety of sources, from cave paintings, cartography, Chinese calligraphy, and 17th-century landscape etchings to architectural renderings, graffiti, and news photography. Drawing on this vast archive, Mehretu explores how realities of the past and present can shape human consciousness. As the artist says, her visual language represents how “history is made: one layer on top of another, erasing itself, consuming itself, inventing something else from the same thing.”

Julie Mehretu is co-organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

If You Go:

WHEN: Oct 16, 2021–Mar 6, 2022
WHERE: Galleries 1, 2, 3, and D/Perlman Gallery
More info at https://walkerart.org/

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Whistleblower: Facebook Fueling Violence in Ethiopia

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who testified at a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday, accused the social media platform of fueling violence in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)


During much-anticipated testimony Tuesday before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen repeatedly pointed outside of the country for examples of how the social network could be used to dangerous ends — so much so that lawmakers wondered during the hearing if they should meet to specifically discuss national security concerns.

The former product manager referenced a series of links between activity on Facebook and deadly violence in Myanmar and Ethiopia, and spying by China and Iran.

“My fear is that without action, divisive and extremist behaviors we see today are only the beginning. What we saw in Myanmar and now in Ethiopia are the opening chapters of a story so terrifying no one wants to read the end of it,” Haugen said, referring to recent bloodshed in both countries.

Facebook admitted in 2018 that it failed to do enough to prevent the spread of posts whipping up hatred against the persecuted Rohingya minority in Myanmar. It has since vowed to limit the spread of “misinformation” in the country after a military coup earlier this year.

Asked by one senator whether Facebook is used by “authoritarian or terrorist-based leaders” around the world, Haugen responded that such use of the platform is “definitely” happening, and that Facebook is “very aware” of it.

Her last role at Facebook was with the company’s counterespionage team, which she says “directly worked on tracking Chinese participation on the platform, surveilling, say, Uyghur populations around the world.”

“You could actually find the Chinese, based on them doing these kinds of things,” she said.

In March, Facebook’s security staff revealed that Chinese hackers had targeted Uyghur activists and journalists living outside the country with fake Facebook accounts and malware.

Haugen’s team also observed “the active participation of, say, the Iran government doing espionage on other state actors. This is definitely a thing that is happening,” she said.

This summer, Mike Dvilyanski, Facebook’s head of cyber espionage investigations, told CNN the company had disabled “fewer than 200 operational accounts” on its platform associated with the Iranian spying campaign, and notified a similar number of Facebook users they may have been targeted by the group.

Haugen blamed “a consistent understaffing of (Facebook’s) counterespionage information operation and terrorism team” for the ongoing proliferation of such threats however, and said she was also speaking with other parts of Congress about them.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: In Ethiopia Parliament Confirms Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed takes oath during a ceremony at the Parliament building in Addis Ababa, October 4, 2021. (Photo by Tiksa Negeri/REUTERS)


By Dawit Endeshaw

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s parliament confirmed incumbent Abiy Ahmed as prime minister for a five-year term on Monday…

Abiy’s party won a landslide victory in June’s election. He was sworn in on Monday, and a ceremony was being held later in the capital Addis Ababa attended by several African heads of states.

President Sahle-Work Zewde told parliament on Monday that government priorities included easing inflation – which has hovered around 20% this year – and the cost of living, as well as reducing unemployment…

Abiy was appointed prime minister by the then-governing coalition in 2018 and promised political and economic reforms.

Within months of taking office, he lifted a ban on opposition parties, released tens of thousands of political prisoners and took steps to open up one of Africa’s last untapped markets.

Read the full article at Reuters.com »

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Kicks Out UN Officials for ‘Meddling’ in Its Domestic Affairs

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City on Sept. 25, 2021. The foreign ministry said in a statement that it is kicking out seven United Nations officials and accuses them of "meddling in the internal affairs of the country. (AP photo)


Ethiopia told seven senior United Nations staff members to leave the country within 72 hours for allegedly meddling in its internal affairs…

The government said the UN officials were going beyond their duties in the country, which has been engulfed in conflict since late last year when federal troops retaliated to an attack by regional soldiers on an army base.

“They were found engaged in activities that contradict the law and they operated out of their mandate,” Dina Mufti, spokesman for Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry, said of the UN officials, without providing details. “They know the law and they should not fail to obey it.”

Read the full article at bloombergquint.com »

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In an Open Letter Ethiopia Blasts Biden’s Failing East Africa Foreign Policy

In an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed blasted America's obviously failing East Africa foreign policy. The letter shared on social media comes on the same day as Biden's Executive Order issued on Friday, September 17th concerning the domestic political conflict in Ethiopia. You can read both documents below. (Photo via Twitter)

Press Release

By Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia

September 17, 2021

An Open Letter to President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Dear Mr. President,

As I write this open letter to you, it comes at a time when innocent civilians including women, children and other vulnerable groups in the Afar and Amhara regions have been violently displaced, their livelihoods disrupted, their family members killed, and their properties as well as service giving institutions destroyed intentionally by TPLF.

This letter comes at a time when our children in the Tigray region are being used as cannon fodder by remnants of an organization recently designated as ‘terrorist’ by our House of People’s Representatives. Children of a post-war generation that have held high hopes in the possibility that their lives would be distinctly different from that of their parents, whose lives have been marred by the terror of war with the DERG regime and a cross border conflict with Eritrea in the late 1990s instigated by the TPLF.

As the rest of their peers in the country pursue their studies and lives, our children of Tigray have been held hostage by a terrorist organization that attacked the State on November 3, 2020 exposing them to various vulnerabilities. While the use of children as soldiers and participation in active combat is a violation of international law, the terrorist organization TPLF has proceeded unabated in waging its aggression through the use of children and other civilians. The cries of women and children in the Amhara and Afar regions that are displaced and suffering at the hands of TPLF’s enduring ruthlessness continues under the deafening silence of the international community.

Unfortunately, while the entire world has turned its eyes onto Ethiopia and the Government for all the wrong reasons, it has failed to openly and sternly reprimand the terrorist group in the same manner it has been chastising my Government. The many efforts the Ethiopian Government has undertaken to stabilize the region and address humanitarian needs amidst a hostile environment created by the TPLF have been continuously misrepresented. The mounting and undue pressure on a developing African country, with limitless potential for prosperity, has been building up over the past months. This unwarranted pressure, characterized by double standards, has been rooted in an orchestrated distortion of events and facts on the ground as it pertains to Ethiopia’s rule of law operations in the Tigray region. As a long-time friend, strategic ally and partner in security, the United States’ recent policy against my country comes not only as a surprise to our proud nation, but evidently surpasses humanitarian concerns.

For almost three decades, Ethiopians in all corners have been subjected to pervasive human rights, civil and political rights violations under TPLF’s regime. Various identities under the Ethiopian flag were exploited by a small clique that appropriated power to benefit its small circle at the expense of millions, including the impoverished of the Tigray region. The suppression of political dissent, egregious human rights violations, displacements, suffocation of democratic rights and capture of State machinery and institutions for the aggrandizement of a small group that ran a country of millions with no accountability for 27 years has been met with little to no resistance by various Western nations, including the US.

The period 2015-2018 that marked Ethiopia’s awakening where the TPLF was deposed from power in a popular uprising, is telling of the stance that millions throughout this great country took against a criminal enterprise that subjugated Ethiopians to oppression and stripped citizens of agency. TPLF’s track record of pitting one ethnic group against the other for its own political survival did not end in 2018 when my administration took over the helms of power. It rather mutated and intensified in form, putting on the robe of victimhood, while financing elements of instability throughout the country.

Now, the destructive criminal clique, adept at propaganda and spinning international human rights and democracy machinations to its favor, cries wolf while it leaves no stone unturned in its mission to destroy a nation of more than a 3000-year history. Although this hallucination will not come to pass, history will record that the orchestrated turbulent period Ethiopia is going through at the moment is being justified by some Western policy makers and global institutions under the guise of humanitarian assistance and advancing democracy.

In a demonstration of my people’s aspiration to democratize and unprecedented in Ethiopia’s modern history, close to 40million of my country folk went out to vote on June 21, 2021 in this country’s first attempt at a free and fair election. In spite of the many challenges and shortcomings the 6th National Election may have been faced with, the resolute determination of the Ethiopian people for the democratic process was displayed in their commitment to a peaceful electoral period. Against the backdrop of previous electoral periods in which the choice of the people was snatched through rigged processes by the former regime, the 2021 elections came on the heels of the democratic reforms processes we embarked upon three years ago. The significance of our 2021 elections is in its peaceful conclusion, demonstrating Ethiopia’s new trajectory amidst the global warnings that the elections would be violent.

With the Ethiopian people having spoken and affirmed their faith in Prosperity Party to lead them through the next five years in a landslide victory, my Party and administration with this responsibility at hand, are ever more determined to unleash the potential for equitable development these lands are blessed with. We are even more resolute in granting our people the dignity, security and development they deserve within the means we have and without succumbing to various competing interests and pressures. And we will do this by confronting the threats to democracy and stability posed by any belligerent criminal enterprise.

While threats to national, regional and global security continue to be a key component of US interests in many parts of the world, it remains unanswered why your administration has not taken a strong position against the TPLF – the very organization the US Homeland Security categorized as qualifying as Tier 3 terrorist organization for their violent activities in the 1980s.

In the same manner that your predecessors led the global ‘war on terror’, my administration supported by the millions of Ethiopians thirsty and hungry for their right to peace, development and prosperity, are also leading our national ‘war on terror’ against a destructive criminal enterprise, which poses a threat to both national and Horn region stability. Ethiopia has remained the US’s staunch ally in fighting the terrorism threat of Al Shabab in the Horn. It is our expectation that the US would stand by Ethiopia as a similar terrorist organization with hostility towards the region threatens to destabilize the Horn.

Mr. President,

The American people that have supported the US government’s global interventions under the pretext of democratization would be hard-pressed to know that a small impoverished but culturally, historically and naturally rich nation in East Africa embarked on its own democratization path three years ago. However, the American people and the rest of the Western world are being misguided by the reports, narratives and data distortions of global entities many believe were driven to help impoverished countries like mine, yet have in the past months portrayed victims as oppressors and oppressors as victims through partisan narratives and bankrolled networks. History always smiles upon those who have stood for truth. And so, I am certain that truth will shine upon this proud nation Ethiopia!

Many Ethiopians and Africans looked with optimism at your ascent to the Presidency earlier this year. This optimism has been rooted in the belief that a new dispensation for Africa – US relations will materialize in 2021, and that your Presidency would usher in respect for the sovereignty of African nations and nurture partnerships based on mutual growth and in depth reading of context.

African nations that have broken free from the shackles of colonialism starting from the 1950s have continued to resist the chains of neocolonialism that is manifesting itself in various overt and covert ways. Despite escaping the yokes of colonialism, Ethiopia now struggles with its mutation. As a founding member of the United Nations and the Organization for African Unity (now African Union), Ethiopia remains a proud nation that through its sons, daughters and kinship with other African nations, is determined to meet our current challenges with the resilient and indomitable spirit that defines this great nation.

Developing nations, like Ethiopia, have been expectant that a new course in the US’s foreign policy will be charted, departing from the influence of individuals that have entrenched themselves into the politics of other nations. A foreign policy that can extricate itself from decisions made based on key policymakers and policy influencer’s friendships with belligerent terrorist groups like the TPLF and the narrative distortions of lobby groups. We have seen the consequences and aftermaths of hurried and rash decisions made by various US administrations that have left many global populations in more desolate conditions than the intervention attempted to rectify.

It is essential to point out here that Ethiopia will not succumb to consequences of pressure engineered by disgruntled individuals for whom consolidating power is more important than the well-being of millions. Our identity as Ethiopians and our identity as Africans will not let this come to pass. The humiliation our ancestors have faced throughout the continent for centuries will not be resuscitated in these lands upon which the green, gold and red colors of independence have inspired many to successfully struggle for their freedom!

God bless Ethiopia and its people!

September 17, 2021


Press Release

The White House

Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate related to the Executive Order on Imposing Sanctions on Certain Persons With Respect to the Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Dear Madam Speaker: (Dear Madam President:)

Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order addressing the situation in and in relation to northern Ethiopia, which has been marked by activities that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region. The widespread humanitarian crisis precipitated by the violent conflict in northern Ethiopia has left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance and has placed an entire region on the brink of famine.

I have declared a national emergency to deal with the threat posed by this crisis and authorized the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to impose sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for or complicit in, or who have directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Ethiopia, or that have the purpose or effect of extending or expanding the crisis in northern Ethiopia or obstructing a ceasefire or a peace process; corruption or serious human rights violations; blocking the delivery or distribution of, or access to, humanitarian supplies; targeting civilians; planning, directing, or committing attacks against United Nations, African Union, or associated personnel; or actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ethiopia or its territorial integrity.

I am enclosing a copy of the Executive Order I have issued.





The White House

September 17, 2021

Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the Executive Order Regarding the Crisis in Ethiopia

The ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia is a tragedy causing immense human suffering and threatens the unity of the Ethiopian state. Nearly one million people are living in famine-like conditions, and millions more face acute food insecurity as a direct consequence of the violence. Humanitarian workers have been blocked, harassed, and killed. I am appalled by the reports of mass murder, rape, and other sexual violence to terrorize civilian populations.

The United States is determined to push for a peaceful resolution of this conflict, and we will provide full support to those leading mediation efforts, including the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo. We fully agree with United Nations and African Union leaders: there is no military solution to this crisis.

I join leaders from across Africa and around the world in urging the parties to the conflict to halt their military campaigns respect human rights, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and come to the negotiating table without preconditions. Eritrean forces must withdraw from Ethiopia. A different path is possible but leaders must make the choice to pursue it.

My Administration will continue to press for a negotiated ceasefire, an end to abuses of innocent civilians, and humanitarian access to those in need. The Executive Order I signed today establishes a new sanctions regime that will allow us to target those responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict in Ethiopia, obstructing humanitarian access, or preventing a ceasefire. It provides the Department of the Treasury with the necessary authority to hold accountable those in the Government of Ethiopia, Government of Eritrea, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and Amhara regional government, among others, that continue to pursue conflict over negotiations to the detriment of the Ethiopian people.

The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and to strengthening the historic ties between our countries.

These sanctions are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea, but rather the individuals and entities perpetrating the violence and driving a humanitarian disaster We provide Ethiopia with more humanitarian and development assistance than does any other country – benefitting all of its regions. We will continue to work with our partners to address basic needs of at-risk populations in Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa.


The White House

Background Press Call By Senior Administration Officials on Ethiopia

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Via Teleconference
(September 16, 2021)

12:02 P.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Thanks, and greetings to everyone. I would like to welcome you all to an on-background call to discuss Ethiopia.

Today we are joined by [senior administration officials]. This call is on background, and therefore, at this point, our speakers should be referred to as “senior administration officials.” The call contents and the materials we will send later this evening will be embargoed until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Again, we have not yet sent any materials, but we anticipate sending them this evening to those of you who have participated on the call and agreed to the ground rules. And they will be embargoed until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.

And with that, over to our first speaker.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great, thank you. And good afternoon, everyone. We really appreciate this opportunity to update you on a major administration announcement tomorrow regarding Ethiopia.

And, first, let me say that the Biden-Harris Administration is determined to press for an end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in northern Ethiopia. This expanding conflict is causing immense human suffering and threatening the unity of the Ethiopian state as well as regional stability.

This crisis has already sparked one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises in the world. Over 5 million people require humanitarian assistance, and up to 900,000 are already living in famine conditions in the Tigray region alone, more than anywhere else in the world today.

Less than 10 percent of the needed humanitarian supplies, however, have reached the Tigray region over the past month due to obstruction of aid access. Let me repeat that: less than 10 percent of needed supplies.

The United Nations Secretary-General and African Union leaders have stated clearly: There is no military solution to this political crisis. And we agree.

For far too long, the parties to this conflict have ignored international calls to initiate discussions to achieve a negotiated ceasefire, and the human rights and humanitarian situations have worsened. In a moment, [senior administration official] will give you a brief update on our engagement with the parties.

But let me get to the announcement. Tomorrow, we will announce that President Biden has approved a new executive order establishing a sanctions regime to increase pressure on the parties fueling this conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and, in the case of Eritrea, withdraw forces.

This action provides the Department of Treasury, working in coordination with the Department of State, the necessary authority to impose sanctions against those in the Ethiopian government, the Eritrean government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and the Amhara regional government if they continue to pursue military conflict over meaningful negotiations to the detriment of the Ethiopian people.

Unless the parties take concrete steps to resolve the crisis, the administration is prepared to take aggressive action under this new executive order to impose targeted sanctions against a wide range of individuals or entities.

But a different path is possible. If the government of Ethiopia and the TPLF take meaningful steps to enter into talks for a negotiated ceasefire and allow for unhindered humanitarian access, the United States is ready to help mobilize assistance for Ethiopia to recover and revitalize its economy.

And I think some people may ask: Well, what are the steps we’re asking the parties to take? Very concretely and clearly, steps towards a negotiated ceasefire could include accepting African Union-led mediation efforts, designating a negotiations team, agreeing to negotiations without preconditions, and accepting an invitation to initial talks.

Steps toward humanitarian access could include authorizing daily convoys of trucks carrying humanitarian supplies to travel overland to reach at-risk populations; reducing delays for humanitarian convoys; and restoring basic services such as electricity, telecommunications, and financial services.

But I also want to be clear: These sanctions authorities are not directed at the people of Ethiopia or Eritrea. The new sanctions program is deliberately calibrated to mitigate any undue harm to those already suffering from this conflict.

In fact, Treasury will issue accompanying general licenses tomorrow to provide clear exemptions for any development, humanitarian, and other assistance efforts, as well as critical commercial activity in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The United States provides Ethiopia with more humanitarian assistance than does any other country, and we will continue to help those in Ethiopia who need our assistance. The executive order should not affect the continued provision of humanitarian and other assistance to address basic needs throughout Ethiopia.

So, with that, let me turn it over to [senior administration official] for his comments, and then we’ll be happy to take your questions.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. And good afternoon to everybody.

As my colleague’s comments make clear, this decision — the President’s approval of this executive order was not a decision that the Biden-Harris administration or any of us in the Biden-Harris administration took lightly.

But we’ve telegraphed for months that the parties need to change course. They need to change course for the sake of Ethiopia, for the sake of Ethiopian people. And we’ve given them every chance to move toward a negotiated ceasefire to stop the human rights violations, to end the fighting to allow humanitarian deliveries.

You know, [redacted] spent an extended time in Addis, talking directly with the Prime Minister, with other senior officials, sharing our analysis of the dangers of the current approach and the implications for Ethiopia and the region. You know, [redacted] engaged the Eritreans, including President Isaias Afwerki, on the need for the Eritrean troops to withdraw. And we’ve detected no signs of any serious move by any of the parties to end the fighting.

What really strikes me after traveling to other African capitals, to the Gulf, through conversations and virtual meetings that I’ve had with Europeans and other friends, is how much our analysis — our shared analysis of the situation overlaps. Ethiopia’s neighbors and Ethiopia’s friends further away agree that there is a grave and growing risk to the stability of Ethiopia — a country of more than 110 million people — and that the current trajectory can lead to the disintegration of the state, which would be disastrous for Ethiopia, for the region, and beyond.

So there’s a widespread consensus — outside of Ethiopia, at least — that there is no military solution to this conflict. There’s widespread support for U.N. Secretary-General Guterres’s August call to, quote, “immediately end hostilities without preconditions and seize the opportunity to negotiate a lasting ceasefire.”

Unfortunately, right now, all signs seem to be pointing to dangerous escalation and expansion of the humanitarian crisis. We’re really worried that the end of the rainy season that’s upon us is going to mark an escalation of the military conflict.

Prime Minister Abiy seems determined to pursue a military approach. My guess is it’s probably in hopes that, by his October 4th swearing-in — before the new parliament that was elected in the recent elections — that he can claim some kind of military victory or military strength.

The mass mobilization that he’s provoked of the Ethiopian citizens essentially opens up a Pandora’s box in such a diverse country with so many political grievances and differences.

Eritrean troops have expanded their presence, dug down in western Tigray. For its part, the TPLF has been forging alliances with disaffected groups elsewhere in Ethiopia, which puts more of the country at risk of widespread civil conflict. The TPLF presumably has a keen interest in denying Prime Minister Abiy the ability to report to the new parliament in October that he has scored some kind of military win.

So the polarization inside Ethiopia deepens; the grievances grow.

We just can’t sit idly by. It must be clear that there are consequences for perpetuating this conflict and for denying lifesaving humanitarian assistance.

You know, in previewing this decision with Ethiopian officials and others, I’ve made the point clear — the data I mentioned earlier — which is the Biden administration believes that there is a different path. [Redacted] prepared to travel to the region to make the case and use the tools in our toolbox to encourage a different approach. I’ve spoken with former Nigerian President Obasanjo several times — as recently as yesterday, most recently — who’s been named AU envoy for the Horn, to assure him of our support for his mission. The time to pivot to a negotiated ceasefire and a way for military escalation is now.

With that, [senior administration official], back to you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Thank you so much. And I think we are now going to open the floor to questions, correct?

MODERATOR: Yep. We can open it up.

Q (Audio muted) — the United Nations on this next week. Also, what makes you think that sanctions can really make a difference?

And finally, I just have a plea to make this call on the record because, you know, this is an issue that we’d like to get in the news, but I don’t understand why it’s on background.

Thank you.

MODEARTOR: Sorry, Michele, I think we did not hear the first part of your question, if you don’t mind repeating it.

Q Sure. It’s whether or not there’s going to be any action at the United Nations General Assembly next week — any particular outreach or meetings that you’re expecting.

And then secondly, what makes you think sanctions will make a difference?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can start on that. Michele, hi. I am going up to going up to New York along, of course, with other officials. Secretary Blinken will be there. Of course, President — President Biden will be there. And there’ll be a lot of bilateral discussions on this. But there’s not going to be any kind of, sort of, side event on Ethiopia at this time. It’s going to be more folded into bilateral discussions that we’re having with various people, rather than any kind of separate session — group (inaudible) on Ethiopia.

You probably saw that, for the G7, there was quite a — there was quite a coordinated effort of the G7 countries to make sure that there was a focus on Ethiopia and the humanitarian crisis at the time. And I think that you’ll see that type of discussion, again, among the — among the leaders next week.

Michele, you know the U.N. — you know the U.N. General Assembly atmosphere as well as I do from being up there. And my expectation is that whatever the official agenda is at the General Assembly next week, this will be a key discussion in the corridors, on the margins, in the various bilateral meetings because it is, right now, one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes in the world.

On your second question: You know, we have been engaging the parties to this conflict intently for months. And we have — you know, we have been signaling to them that there are consequences, first and foremost, to Ethiopia itself, to Ethiopia’s stability — but to the bilateral relationship of taking what is clearly a destructive approach to settling political grievances inside the country.

And I just don’t think that we can ignore the fact that all the encouragement that we and the international community and their neighbors of Ethiopia have been giving the parties — to move from a military approach to a political approach — that has been ignored. We can’t simply sit by and pretend that what we’ve had so far has been working. It hasn’t. The situation has gotten worse over the last few months.
I would hope that they would see this as an opportunity that — the tool is being unveiled tomorrow — that we have this new sanctions program, but we aren’t designating anyone or any entity under it, even though there’s broad authority to do so, in hopes that this can — that this will provide additional incentives for moving away from the military approach to a political approach.

They should be doing this anyway for the sake of Ethiopia, but now this is an additional incentive.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That’s right. And just to add: Yes, while we definitely — I second everything my colleague said. We expect significant discussion on Ethiopia at UNGA next week. And I think, you know, now is the time because we have been engaging for months on this, and yet the situation has only deteriorated.

So, you know, the statements of concern from a wide range of international actors have not achieved the results we need. And now we believe it is necessary to raise the costs to parties continuing to prosecute the war.

Q Oh, hi there. Thanks for taking the question. I just wanted a little bit more detail on the nuts and bolts of the sanctions regime that’s going to be announced tomorrow. How will this work in relation to the sanctions you already announced back in May by the Secretary of State? What kind of figures are going to be coming into view this time — military, political, others? Are you going to name names?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you, Declan. So how this is different: What was announced previously were the Global Magnitsky sanctions, and we have already designated the Eritrean commander with that sanctions package.

But this — the EO that will be announced tomorrow is a broader scope, allowing us to sanction individuals and entities from conflict parties and others fueling the conflict.

As I mentioned at the top, we have not yet and we will not yet mention names tomorrow. We are just announcing that the President has agreed to — has signed off on this authority, allowing Treasury and the State Department to look at those who are continuing fueling the conflict if the conditions that I’ve laid out are not been — have not been met.

But, you know, this regime — the EO that will come out is broader, faster, more flexible, and more directly tied to our specific push for ceasefire talks.

And, [senior administration official], I don’t know if you have anything to add to that.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not really, but, you know, it’s worth noting — I mentioned the former President — former Nigerian President Obasanjo has been named the AU Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, looking at Ethiopia.

There’s a real opportunity now. He’s going to be going out to Addis — it might be today or tomorrow. He’s on his way. So, there’s a real opportunity now for the government, for the other parties to show a seriousness on the political negotiations that they haven’t done so far with working with Obasanjo.

So I would hope that this flexible, comprehensive tool that my colleague describes doesn’t have to actually be used.

Q Thanks for doing the call and for taking my question. I just wanted to see if you could get a bit more specific about the destructive behavior you’re trying to change on behalf of the Ethiopian government. You know, is it fair to say that it’s government policy to deny the humanitarian access and aid?

What is the — you know, you mentioned a bit that you had been coordinating with Prime Minister Abiy. I wonder, you know, do you feel that there’s a level of honesty in those interactions, or are they basically denying any of this is taking place? Anything you could give in terms of the specific behaviors that you’re hoping this might change. Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So, just one fact: There has been no fuel and no medicines delivered to Tigray since August 16th. As my colleague said in her opening remarks, there’s only been about 10 percent of the overall supplies into Tigray since the June withdrawal of the Ethiopian forces from Tigray on June 28th.

It’s not fighting that’s preventing the movement of fuel and medicine into Tigray; it’s government decisions, government harassment, local harassment that have prevented the type of supplies going in.

You know, there’s — my colleague and I and our AID — the heroic colleagues at AID could give you a lot of details of how long and how much effort it’s taken to get any kind of shipments in. There were 150 trucks that reached Tigray from September 4th to 7th, but that’s only a drop in the bucket of what’s actually needed. There needs to be 100 trucks of food going into Tigray every day. And it’s simply not happening because of the bureaucratic obstacles that are being put in place.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That’s right. And just to add: You know, it’s — as I mentioned, we are not calling just on the Ethiopian government — right? — to take action. We’re calling on the Ethiopian government and the TPLF and any other parties — Amhara Special Forces, Eritreans — to take concrete steps to end both the humanitarian and human rights situ- — crisis, and specifically for the Ethiopian government and the TPLF to initiate discussions to achieve a negotiated ceasefire.

And again, those steps could include accepting the AU-led mediation efforts, but, you know, agreeing to negotiations without preconditions or accepting an invitation to initial proximity talks. But in order to pave the way for that negotiated ceasefire, both sides must take definitive steps to halt the ongoing offensive.

You know, we — in terms of the international community and the U.N. and steps taken there: You know, just this week, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights presented at the Human Rights Council on Monday. And those com- — in those comments, they pressed for and mentioned the continued severe human rights violations by all parties, especially the sexual violence — in the reports that we’re hearing on that.

But, you know, again, this is — this action is targeted at all parties, including TPLF.

Q Hi. Thank you for doing this. I was wondering if you could explain a bit more on why you are not imposing sanctions now. If, as you say, the current strategy of statements and warning that you would take action isn’t working, why not go ahead and take action and impose sanctions now? If you could explain that, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the reason why — and I think [senior administration official] also mentioned this as well — is because we do believe a different path is possible. This is not a decision that this administration has taken lightly.

And our preference, quite frankly, is to not to use this tool. We would prefer that the parties to the conflict work with the international community to advance discussions toward a negotiated ceasefire. We want to see a prosperous, peaceful, united Ethiopia, as well as the region in the Horn of Africa. But this ongoing protracted conflict is risking — puts all of that at risk.

So, we are communicating to the parties that a different path is possible if they take meaningful steps now to initiate discussions to achieve that ceasefire and allow for unhindered humanitarian access.

Q Thank you. Three quick questions. One, is it safe to say — you had said “Eritrean and Ethiopian government individuals” at the top, I believe. Correct me if I’m wrong. Is it safe to say that these potential sanctions will target government officials, as well as Tigrayans?

Secondly, is there a timeline that you’re going to lay out for how long you’re willing to wait until there are meaningful discussions — you know, two weeks, a month, three months?

And then finally, just on the Human Rights Watch report, which accuses the Eritreans and Tigrayans of war crimes — I’m just wondering if you have a comment on that, and will you agree with that description?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, as [senior administration official] said, and I think as I said, this tool allows us to impose sanctions on entities, on individuals — government and non-government alike — of those who are hindering the humanitarian access, those who are preventing the negotiated ceasefire, those who are blocking a shift to political process.

So, you know, you’ve got Ethiopian officials and non-officials; Eritrean officials and entities; TPLF; Amhara regional forces. It’s flexible enough that those who are taking the actions that so concern us, that so alarm us, and that put Ethiopia’s stability at risk can be sanctioned.

In terms of the — in terms of the timeline, there’s — as I said, President Obasanjo starts his negotiations this weekend. Prime Minister Abiy goes before the parliament for his new term on the beginning of October. There are opportunities, in these coming weeks, to signal a different approach than the one that has been taken over the past almost year now, unfortunately.

So, there’s no specific timeline that we have in mind, but it’s not indefinite. Unless the parties take concrete steps toward resolving the conflict and lifting the humanitarian blockade, the administration will take aggressive action, under this executive order, to impose sanctions against a broad range of individuals or entities.

I don’t think any of us — any of us were surprised to see the Human Rights Watch talking about war crimes committed by the by the Eritreans, by TPLF against the Eritrean refugees who had resident in Northern Tigray for a very, very, very, very long time. It’s another example of what — of a horrifying situation.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That’s right. Thanks. And just to add, so we are looking at weeks, not months. We don’t want to see this crisis continue to protract out even further.

And as I mentioned, yes, this EO does authorize sanctions against all parties if changes are not made.

Regarding the Human Rights Watch report: Obviously, we are very concerned about these reports, and we’re reviewing them.
Obviously, we condemn all human rights abuses in the strongest terms. And we have spoken out strongly in the past against reports of abuses by both governments and TPLF-aligned forces against Eritrean refugees.

I mean, bottom line: This must stop.

This is precisely why we need to increase our push for a ceasefire and to end the abuses.

Q Hi, thank you for this. A couple of questions. Clarifying that — you said, tomorrow, the Treasury Department’s OFAC will issue a general license allowing all humanitarian work to continue. Is that needed because there’s a chance that some of these entities down the road, that would be sanctioned if there’s no improvement, are like military units or something like that?

And you did mention that in all of your contacts regionally and with Europe, there’s a lot of overlap in your thinking in terms of the analysis of how dire the situation is. Is there any prospect of the European Union offering its own sanctions? U.N. sanctions? Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’ll take the second –I’ll take the second one first, if I may.

We have been in touch this week previewing with friends and partners in Europe and elsewhere what we’re talking about right now. And again, the overlap of our analysis of just how bad the situation is and the risk that the situation is going to get worse in the coming weeks is widely shared.

There’s still different views on what we should do about that. Everyone recognizes that our collective actions, messages, et cetera, up until now have not really changed the calculations of the party — of the parties on the ground. So, I think there’s an understanding of why the U.S. is moving — is moving in this direction.

The EU has been a very close partner with us in coordinating our positions towards the — Eritrea and the TPLF, the Amhara regional forces, and the Ethiopian government.

But as all of you know, for European sanctions to be approved, you’ve got 27 member states you’ve got to convince. So, I wouldn’t — I would not expect the EU to be able to move as quickly as we can move as a single government.

But we are in touch with them. And, certainly, the European External Action Service people, the Special — the EU Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, believes that we do need additional tools to try to bring the parties to the table.

Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. Yeah, sorry, I was having problems muting.

And I’ll take the first part of your question regarding the general licenses. So, the general licenses that will be issued by Treasury will authorize the continued flow of food, medicine, including COVID-19-related assistance, medical devices, as well as enabling international organizations, aid organizations, and nonprofits to provide humanitarian and other critical support to the region regardless of sanctions.

And just to follow up on what [senior administration official] was saying about our allies and partners, we’ve, you know, previewed these actions, and we hope that allies and partners will take similar actions.

We expect this to be some of the discussion among senior officials at the U.N. General Assembly next week. And we have seen an increasing number of international actors speaking out for an end to military escalation and initiation of ceasefire talks regarding Tigray.

Thank you.

Q Hello, can you hear me?


Q Oh, okay. Thank you.

I was wondering, you mentioned you spoke with the Horn of Africa — the former President of Nigeria, Mr. Obasanjo. I was wondering if you consulted with any other African national presidents.

And also, regarding the sanction, is this in response to Ethiopia and Turkey? Recently, the Prime Minister was in — met with President Erdoğan of Turkey last month. So is this a response to that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for the question. [Redacted] went to Goma a few weeks ago to see President Tshisekedi in his role as Chair of the African Union to talk about Ethiopia, given his responsibility this year as Chair of the African Union. And again, the overlap in our analysis was significant.

And [redacted] explained to him that the United States was prepared to take additional steps, to use additional tools in order to try to persuade all of the parties to move in a different direction along the lines that [senior administration official] and I have been just describing today.

[Redacted] also went to Addis and saw the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki. It’s been several weeks since [redacted] saw Moussa Faki, but, in [redacted]’s last trip to Addis, [redacted] also saw the AU Political Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Bankole, to make sure that the African Union understood our analysis, understood our strategy and our approach, and understood that we would be taking additional steps if there wasn’t some progress on the ground toward the negotiated ceasefire, political process, and lifting humanitarian access.

So, yes, we have been keeping in very close touch with the African Union and have encouraged the African Union — to the Peace and Security Council, as well as bilaterally — to press the parties to this conflict on what all these African leaders have told us privately, which is there is no military solution to the conflict; they need to move toward a negotiated ceasefire and political process.

You know, we noted in the media the reports of Prime Minister Abiy’s visits not only to Turkey, where he saw President Erdoğan, but also elsewhere in Africa. And again, we’ve encouraged all those that talk to Prime Minister Abiy to talk to him about the about the risks to Ethiopia’s stability of the current trajectory.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, [senior administration official]. And let me just add, I think, to the portion of your question regarding the visit to Erdoğan: You know, we have — the United States has imposed defense trade restrictions for exports to Ethiopia amid the ongoing conflict and reported human rights abuses. And we urge other countries to implement similar measures to stop the flow of weapons to any parties to the conflict and to reinforce the futility of ongoing military operations and, again, to promote the push for a negotiated ceasefire.

But I think it’s also significant that, in terms of engaging other leaders on the continent, we are also seeing a larger number of African academics, civil society organizations, and leaders, including in Ethiopia itself, speaking out against the abuses and calling for cessation of hostilities and peace talks.

And this includes a significant letter from a coalition of civil society groups in Ethiopia last week. And we are encouraged by these voices who are speaking out and want to be supportive of African-led efforts as much as possible.

Thank you.

Q Hi, thanks for doing this. And kudos to [senior administration official] for how much you’ve been doing in the Horn of Africa. Just kind of following the conflict in Ethiopia, there was a timeframe of three weeks that was given by the Prime Minister. Then it became “after the elections, things would change.” And now there seems to be a new deadline of October 3rd, even though he’s (inaudible) essentially said that the governments would not negotiate with terrorist groups as the TPLF — that was designated by parliament.

So, there seems to be a pattern of postponing a possible end to this conflict. So, my question for you is: What makes you optimistic that this new announcement coming out tomorrow will have a different outcome, given that previous heavy-handed announcements only made the Ethiopian government kind of double down on their stance and their rhetoric?

And then just secondly, on the same: Have you been in touch with the TPLF? And have they agreed to have negotiations?

And then lastly, there have been stories of Iranian drones being used in Ethiopia. Does that complicate your work in terms of trying to bring these two factions together while Ethiopia is having sanctionable actions (inaudible)?

Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. If I expressed optimism, I perhaps made a mistake. What I feel is that we need to try new tools because the existing tools that we’ve been deploying — whether it’s us or other countries, other interested parties — have been using haven’t changed the calculation so far.

Look, the prime minister just won an election. His party just won an election. The prime minister is going to be sworn in for another term before a new parliament that’s going to be consisting of his allies. One would hope that the prime minister is going to start putting — with the election behind him, will start putting the interests of the Ethiopian people first and foremost — and that the interests of the Ethiopian people would suggest that the current strategy is not a winning strategy.

As you as you rightly pointed out, he has given lots of timelines and reasons for delay, but now he’s going to be heading a new Cabinet before a new parliament with a electoral mandate that’s behind him.

So, this is the time, we believe, for him to start thinking about the overall needs of Ethiopia and the risk that the current approach puts to Ethiopia’s stability.

And then the other parties need to also be responding in kind — thinking about the Ethiopian people, the state of Ethiopia, rather than their own military or political grievances.

When [redacted] saw the Prime Minister when [redacted] had this extended trip to Addis recently, of course, [redacted] talked about that having increased use of weaponry is not the way that’s going to stabilize Ethiopia, that’s going to address the grievances that Ethiopians have, that’s going to lead to the type of prosperity that he himself says is his goal for Ethiopia.

So, [redacted] talked about the futility of advanced weapon systems and of reliance on an exclusively military approach to what are some legitimate political grievances in the country.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. And just to add: Right — you know, I think you’ve laid it out very, very well. We are — we’re not optimistic about the situation on the ground. And that’s why the President authorized this executive order in order to ramp up the pressure.

But we are optimistic about the growing move by regional leaders, by the AU Envoy Obasanjo to press for a mediated solution. And we hope that we can marshal support for these efforts.

And I think, to the last part of your question, I’ll just refer to my previous answer and reemphasize: You know, again, we are urging countries to stop the flow of weapons to any parties to the conflict and promote the push for a negotiated ceasefire.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: I very much want to thank everyone — our participants, especially, for their thoughtful questions. I know we had many and many queued up, and we tried to get to as many as possible.

I would also very much like to thank our speakers. They’ve given us a very generous amount of time given their busy schedules.

As a final reminder, this call and materials that we’ll send later this evening will be embargoed until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. I can’t yet give you a time on when we’ll send the materials out, but we’ll definitely try to get them out to you this evening.

And that concludes our call. Thank you so much, everyone and goodbye.

12:43 P.M. EDT

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UPDATE: In Ethiopia TPLF Looted American Aid Stores, U.S. Official Says

The top American aid official in Ethiopia accused [TPLF] of taking food supplies...The remarks by Sean Jones [the head of USAID in Ethiopia] reflected a notable shift in tone from senior American officials after months of withering criticism... Mr. Jones stressed his good relations with Ethiopian officials, called its government “one of our finest and most important partners,” and likened any tensions to a marital dispute. “Sometimes, like in a good marriage, we have to say what we are feeling at that moment,” he said. (NYT)

The New York Times

Ethiopian Rebels Looted American Aid Stores, U.S. Official Says

NAIROBI, Kenya — Fighters from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region have looted food stores holding U.S. government aid as Ethiopia’s civil war spreads into new areas and hunger rises across the country, America’s top aid official there has charged.

Tigrayan fighters leading a military assault on the neighboring Amhara region have destroyed villages and emptied aid stores, Sean Jones, the head of USAID in Ethiopia, told Ethiopian state television in an interview that aired Tuesday night.

“In recent weeks, some of our warehouses have been looted and emptied by advancing T.P.L.F. troops, especially in Amhara,” said Mr. Jones, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. “I do believe T.P.L.F. has been very opportunistic.”

A spokesman for the T.P.L.F. denied the charge and blamed any looting on local groups and individuals in Amhara.

The remarks by Mr. Jones reflected a notable shift in tone from senior American officials after months of withering criticism of the behavior of Ethiopian forces and their allies inside Tigray, where a war that erupted in November has been accompanied by accusations of atrocities against civilians.

U.N. and other foreign officials have accused Ethiopian authorities of blocking vital supplies of food aid for Tigray at a time when American officials say that 900,000 Tigrayans face the prospect of a devastating famine in the coming months.

Samantha Power, who leads the USAID, last month accused the Ethiopian government of obstructing access to Tigray and said that humanitarian assistance to the northern region was “woefully insufficient.”

Ethiopian critics responded angrily to Ms. Power’s comments, accusing her of “weaponizing aid” and “supporting terrorism.”

But the interview by her subordinate in Ethiopia this week conveyed a more conciliatory tone, one that suggested the Americans were reaching out to the Ethiopians, hoping to defuse the animosity.

While acknowledging “some strain and some stress” with the United States, Mr. Jones stressed his good relations with Ethiopian officials, called its government “one of our finest and most important partners,” and likened any tensions to a marital dispute.

“Sometimes, like in a good marriage, we have to say what we are feeling at that moment,” he said.

Those remarks drew an angry response from the T.P.L.F….On Twitter, the main T.P.L.F. spokesman, Getachew Reda, lashed out at the American characterization of his fighters as opportunists, and blamed any looting in Amhara on local forces.

“While we cannot vouch for every unacceptable behavior of off-grid fighters in such matters, we have evidence that such looting is mainly orchestrated by local individuals & groups,” Mr. Reda wrote.

Amid the bickering, the war in Tigray is spreading and humanitarian needs are soaring.

The Ethiopian government says it needs help for 500,000 people in the Amhara and Afar regions, where fighting spread in July after Tigrayan fighters recaptured most of Tigray from government forces.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

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The New Yorker: Chester Higgins’s Life in Pictures

“Morning Chores, Ethiopia,” 1992. (Photo by Chester Higgins)

The New Yorker

By Jordan Coley

All along the way, his eye is trained on moments of calm, locating an inherent grace, style, and sublime beauty in the Black everyday.

Hanging in the fourth-floor study of the renowned photojournalist Chester Higgins’s Fort Greene brownstone is a bunch of large dead leaves, fastened to a line in front of a well-stocked bookcase. Higgins grew the leaves in his window boxes, he told me, and he’s been making photographs of them for some time now. It’s a way, he said, to examine how “the spirit” manifests in all natural things.

“Ocean Spray, Accra, Ghana,” 1973.

The spirit—a transportive, deeply human, ineffable quality that graces all memorable art work—is what the seventy-four-year-old photographer has spent his entire career trying to capture in pictures. He glimpses it in the cracking veins of old foliage, but also among the countless people he’s photographed across the decades: Muhammad Ali casting a mischievous sideward glance on the set of a television show; Aretha Franklin performing at the Apollo, her brow embroidered with sweat; a young Black boy, revelling in the spray of a fire hydrant.

“Aretha Franklin at the Apollo, Harlem, New York,” 1971. “Muhammad Ali, New York City,” 1972.

A group of Black men and women in church one man carrying a fan with the photo of Martin Luther King Jr. on it. “New Brockton Church Pew, Springfield Baptist Church,” 1973.

When Higgins began making photographs for magazines and newspapers, in the late nineteen-sixties, he was one of a handful of Black photographers working in mainstream media. Much of the work produced in his thirty-nine years as a staff photographer at the Times was a concerted attempt to incorporate Black America into the world’s consciousness. “When I arrived at The New York Times in 1975, I felt the media was immune to any real comprehension of the world I knew well,” he wrote at the time of his retirement from the paper, in 2014. “I wanted to share the history and traditions of the people I grew up with.”

Read the full article and see more photos at newyorker.com »

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Ethiopia to Create Local Rival to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp

The decision comes after the government accused Facebook of deleting accounts ‘disseminating the true reality about Ethiopia’. (AP photo)


Ethiopia has begun developing its own social media platform to rival Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, though it does not plan to block the global services, the state communications security agency said…

The government wants its local platform to “replace” Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Zoom, the director general of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Shumete Gizaw, said on Monday.

Shumete accused Facebook of deleting posts and user accounts which he said were “disseminating the true reality about Ethiopia”.

International human rights groups have criticised the Ethiopian government for unexplained shutdowns to social media services including Facebook and WhatsApp in the past year. The government has not commented on those shutdowns.

Facebook’s Africa spokesperson, Kezia Anim-Addo, declined to comment on Ethiopia’s plans and did not respond immediately to a query about Shumete’s accusations.

But in June, days before national elections, Facebook said it had removed a network of fake accounts in Ethiopia targeting domestic users which it linked to individuals associated with INSA, which is responsible for monitoring telecommunications and the internet.

Twitter declined to comment. Zoom did not immediately reply to a comment request.

Shumete declined to specify a timeline, budget and other details, but told Reuters news agency: “The rationale behind developing technology with local capacity is clear … Why do you think China is using WeChat?”

He said Ethiopia had the local expertise to develop the platforms and would not hire outsiders to help.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Plans National Dialog in Bid to Defuse Tensions

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (Getty Images)


By Fasika Tadesse and Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia will begin holding a national dialog in September to address grievances that have undermined stability in the Horn of Africa nation, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said.

A roadmap for the talks will be announced this month and a structure will then be put in place to facilitate them, Billene Seyoum, Abiy’s spokeswoman, told reporters in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday. The discussions form part of a reform process the government embarked upon three years ago, she said, without saying who will participate.

Federal troops and militia’s have been battling dissidents from the northern Tigray region since November, fighting that’s displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left millions more facing hunger. Ethnic rivalries have also degenerated into violence in several other areas, and Abiy is facing calls to grant regional authorities greater autonomy.

On Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Ethiopia’s government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which controls Tigray, to end hostilities and enter into talks.

“It is time for all parties to recognize that there is no military solution and it is vital to preserve the unity and stability of Ethiopia which is critical to the region and beyond,” Guterres said, adding that his special envoy Martin Griffith met TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael to discuss the conflict.

The U.S. is also trying to broker peace, with President Joe Biden’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman making his third trip to the region to discuss how to kick-start talks. Samantha Powers, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, visited the country earlier this month.

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Meet Ethiopia’s MJ: Inspired by the King of Pop

A choreographer, singer and dancer, 29-year-old Sancho Gebre was born in Wolaita, Sodo, where he developed an interest in music choreography at a young age. Sancho’s dalliance with Michael Jackson started at home where he spent lots of time watching his videos during his study time without his parents’ knowledge. (The Standard)

The Standard

The late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, inspired artistes worldwide with his unique dance and stage persona. His chart-busting Thriller album has been hailed as his finest production in terms of the sheer work and talent that went into its making.

Among the MJ wannabes are his Spanish look-alike Sergio Cortes, a stunning replica of the fallen star, who was once hailed as his reincarnation, and Congolese singer Stino Mubi of Viva la Musica band.

Ethiopia has not been left behind in this craze, with musician Sancho Gebre adding to the collection of performing artistes who draw their influence from the king.

A choreographer, singer and dancer, 29-year-old Sancho was born in Wolaita, Sodo, where he developed an interest in music choreography at a young age. Sancho’s dalliance with Michael Jackson started at home where he spent lots of time watching his videos during his study time without his parents’ knowledge.

It took up a lot of his study time, but he was determined to learn the tricks that the late King of Pop employed in his videos and to make something out of it.

Like most traditional Ethiopian families, Sancho’s parents wanted him to study and pursue a ‘proper’ career. But when they realised he was hell-bent on making a career in music they supported him.

Sancho Gebre (Courtesy)

Costly affair ‘becoming MJ’

And it was a costly affair walking in the shadow of the King of Pop. For one, to impersonate him successfully, he needed to get the costumes right, which was expensive. Then he had to perfect the famous moonwalk and on top of different dance styles, he innovated in his experimentation.

Sancho’s big break came in the 2009 Ethiopian Idol show. The show, which was aired on Ethiopian National TV, ran from 2009 to 2011. It was originally held in nine regions before it moved to the capital, Addis Ababa. He competed in eight toughly-contested seasons before finally emerging winner in the Single Modern Dance category.

But he was not home and dry yet. His next big challenge was recording his own music since he needed to get out of the shadow of the king and become his own man. To do this he had to travel 300 kilometres from his home in Areka, Wolaita Zone to the capital, Addis.

In Addis, he met famed music producer Kamuzu Kassa and his brother Gildo, who helped mould his career. At the time he was still doing a lot of choreography in the music videos of other artistes, but Kamuzu and Gildo encouraged him to go to the studio to record his own music.

Sancho Gebre. (Courtesy)


His debut was the 2016 hit single, Ande, which borrowed heavily from MJ’s ‘moonwalk’ dance routines. The choreography of Ande earned Sancho a solid following. His follow-up release, Atasayugn, solidified his arrival on the Addis music scene. Three other singles Tanamo, Leba and Fiyona would follow shortly.

He genre, which he describes as ‘Afrobeats’, is extremely popular on the Ethiopian club scene, borrowing from dancehall and a sampling of Ethiopian traditional music, but done in a hip and modern style.

As a choreographer Sancho is extremely experimental pushing the boundaries of what we conceive as modern dance. His strength draws from the diversity he employs in choreographing his videos.

Sancho is currently finalising work on his album.

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Watch: Emmy Nominee Mehret Mandefro (‘American Masters’ Producer) on ‘How it Feels to Be Free’

Emmy nominee Mehret Mandefro ('American Masters' producer) on 'How it Feels to Be Free' for legendary Black women. She discusses the 'groundbreaking' careers of Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Pam Grier, Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone with Gold Derby editor Daniel Montgomery. (Gold Derby)

Gold Derby

Emmy nominee Mehret Mandefro (‘American Masters’ producer) on ‘How it Feels to Be Free’ for legendary Black women [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

All of us know a great deal about their music and the culture and the fashion and the films. But I didn’t realize how really groundbreaking they were in terms of their careers,” explains Dr. Mehret Mandefro, who is Emmy-nominated for Best Documentary or Nonfiction Series for the “American Masters” documentary “How it Feels to Be Free”; she produced it along with Michael Kantor, Lacey Schwartz Delgado, Elliott Halpern, Elizabeth Trojian, Julie Sacks and Grammy winner Alicia Keys. Based on the book of the same name by Ruth Feldstein, the film chronicles the art and activism of Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Pam Grier, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll and Cicely Tyson.

Watch [the] exclusive video interview with Mandefro:

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In DC, Helen Show Hosts Empower the Community Weekend 2021

Hosted by the Helen Show Empower the Community Weekend (ECW) is a one-day family centered event that brings together the largest East African community in the Washington DC area. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: August 11th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — The annual Empower the Community Weekend hosted by Helen Mesfin of the Helen Show on EBS TV takes place this weekend at the Washington Convention Center.

According to organizers the event this year will be in hybrid format including both online presentations and in-person gathering.

“We have majority of our attendees joining us virtually on our conference platform Hopin and also limited number of people with vendors attending in person at the Walter E Washington Convention Center,” Helen said, noting that people will need to register on their website in order to participate.

The announcement adds: “Empower the Community Weekend (ECW) is a one-day family centered event that brings together the largest East African community in the Washington DC area. The event focuses on helping people to thrive and to live a productive life by providing resources and empowering information. The event is filled with Exhibitors showcasing their products and services, Career Pavilion with hiring events & recruiting resources, Kids and Youth Pavilion with fun filled activities, games, college prep and internship resources, and a networking mixer.”

Topics for the 2021 main stage panel discussion include Civic Engagement, Business & Leadership as well as Young Trailblazers.

(Image courtesy of Empower CW)

Organizers note that the conference also features workshops in various timely subjects including “Minding Your Mental Health; Small Business Surviving & Thriving Post COVID; Minding Your Money-Building Wealth; Preparing for College- What You Should Know; Exploring Identity As First Generation Immigrant Children; Resiliency & Parenting Children with Special Needs.”

If You Attend:

Empower the Community Weekend 2021
AUGUST 14th, 2021
Walter E Washington Convention Center
Registration Here
More info at: www.empowercw.com

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White House Nominates Biniam Gebre as Chief of Federal Procurement Policy

Biniam Gebre, Nominee for Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget (Photographer: Official portrait of Biniam Gebre by Sammy Mayo, Jr.--HUD)

Fed Scoop

The Biden administration has nominated Biniam Gebre as the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy within the Office of Management and Budget.

If confirmed by the Senate, he will rejoin government from Accenture, where he is a senior managing director and head of management consulting for Accenture Federal Services.

The OFPP sets overall policy direction for governmentwide procurement procedures and is focused on promoting efficiency and effectiveness. Previously, it was led by Michael Wooten, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump and confirmed to the role in 2019.

Gebre has previously also worked at consulting firms Mckinsey & Co. and Oliver Wyman. He served in the Obama administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where his work focused on access to credit for low-income families, FHA’s financial health, and revamping public housing.

The White House

Press Release

Biniam Gebre, Nominee for Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget

Biniam Gebre is a Senior Managing Director at Accenture and Head of Management Consulting for Accenture Federal Services. He has spent the past two decades helping dozens of organizations within both the public sector and private sector address management, operational, and technology issues ranging from agriculture to banking to artificial intelligence. He served in the Obama-Biden administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he focused on access to credit for low-income families, FHA’s financial health, and revitalizing public housing properties.

Gebre came to the United States as a refugee at the age of nine and grew up in public housing and on government assistance. He graduated with Highest Honors from Williams College, where he earned a B.A. in Chemistry and was a Goldwater Scholar. He also earned an M.B.A in Finance and Economics from Northwestern University. Gebre sits on the Board of Pathfinder International.

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Listen: Family, Ethiopian Roots Inspire Seattle Youth Poet Laureate’s New Book

Bitaniya Giday is finishing her tenure at Seattle Youth Poet Laureate and publishing a book of her poetry. In the following audio Bitaniya speaks with KNKX Morning Edition about her new book and the inspiration for her poetry, and she reads one of her poems. (SEATTLE ARTS & LECTURES)


Seattle’s Youth Poet Laureate has just published her first book of poetry. “Motherland” is Bitaniya Giday’s exploration of Blackness, womanhood and family history as an Ethiopian-American youth.

You might be familiar with Giday from her appearance in KNKX’s Take the Mic youth voices series, and she was part of our virtual town hall event. She was also featured in this interview with Seattle Arts & Lectures.

Giday, who is finishing her one-year term as youth poet laureate, spoke with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about her new book and what inspires her work. Listen to the interview and hear Giday read one of her poems.

Read more and listen to the audio at knkx.org »


Seattle Arts & Lectures names Bitaniya Giday as the next Youth Poet Laureate

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Marcus Samuelsson Sets The Record Straight About American Cuisine

The Ethiopian-born and Swedish-raised chef says the concept of American cuisine focused almost entirely on European dishes for a "long time." But that's never been the whole story. The chef said, "We know as a diverse, layered nation that there's been a huge contribution by African-Americans to the American food experience." (Mashed)


Chef Marcus Samuelsson celebrates a wide array of culinary traditions that comprise what we call American cuisine. Fortunately for us, that means American cuisine is more than just burgers and apple pie. The judge of “Chopped” and host of the culinary travel show “No Passport Required” is known for touring the country to explore how immigrant communities have influenced and helped create the cuisine we know and love (via PBS). We asked the restaurateur and cookbook author during an exclusive interview with Mashed to debunk myths about American cuisine.

Samuelsson explained the concept of American cuisine focused almost entirely on European dishes for a “long time.” But that’s never been the whole story. The chef said, “We know as a diverse, layered nation that there’s been a huge contribution by African-Americans to the American food experience.” Chefs like Samuelsson know innovation is key to the foundation of American cuisine because as he said, “There’s always a blend between immigrants and their traditions and indigenous people adding on and adding on.” Food must evolve because “as generations we evolve,” he furthered. 

In his shows, restaurants, and cookbooks, Samuelsson explores “about four cuisines in America” that are a direct link to the African-American experience. American food is a modern umbrella term, which the Red Rooster owner said brings all these heritage flavors together “whether it’s barbecue, Southern food, Lowcountry, and Korean cooking.” The major influence of African-American techniques, ingredients, and flavors are the elements that the Season 2 “Top Chef Masters” winner wanted to highlight in his most recent cookbook, “The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food” (via Eater). Samuelsson learned cooking is more than following a recipe. “I don’t think my grandmother ever shared a pure recipe with me,” Samuelsson said. “Well, ritual has been around much longer than just traditional recipes … it’s also very much word of mouth.” The chef isn’t alone, Eater reports “no-recipe recipes” are making a big comeback. 

The Ethiopian-born and Swedish-raised chef said “every time I cook, I think about my family,” and it should be no coincidence, “especially when it’s something Ethiopian or Swedish.” Samuelsson translates those rituals to his restaurants, but it can be found in the partners he works with in New York, Miami, Bermuda, Sweden, Canada, and elsewhere. ”Nurturing rituals is key and it’s kind of the core of what makes that extended family,” he said. “Whether it’s the cooks that you work with or the restaurants you go and support.” It’s no surprise Samuelsson is a leader in American cuisine, where consistent evolution that is nothing short of inspirational.

Read more »

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Video: The Other Side of the Ethiopia Story the Western Media Bubble Doesn’t Cover

As is usually the case with most wars in geostrategic areas of the world, there's far more to the story than is being told and a whole lot of misleading information from the mainstream [western] press. In the following video BreakThrough News make sense of what's happening in Ethiopia's Tigray region and how we got here. (BTN)

BreakThrough News

Crisis In Ethiopia: What the Media Isn’t Telling You About the War In Tigray

Ethiopia has been in the headlines in recent months as the TPLF, a Tigrayan rebel group that ruled the country for three decades, violently seized the northern Ethiopian state of Tigray from the government. As of this recording, the Ethiopian government had declared a ceasefire. However, the TPLF has continued fighting to expand its control over Tigray’s border areas and threatening to push the war into neighboring countries.

The Western media has largely cheered on the TPLF and demonized the Ethiopian government and its allies, with allegations of ethnic cleansing, intentional famine and even genocide. The US has gone so far as to place sanctions on the Ethiopian government, a longtime US ally. But, as is usually the case with most wars in geostrategic areas of the world, there’s far more to the story than is being told and a whole lot of misleading information from the mainstream press.

To help us make sense of what’s happening and how we got here, Rania Khalek was joined by Eugene Puryear, a journalist for Breakthrough News and host of The Punch Out.

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NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day: Lake Tana and the Ethiopian Highlands

NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day for July 12, 2021: Lake Tana and the Ethiopian Highlands. The rugged volcanic terrain creates a temperate climate in a mostly dry place. (Photo: Appears in the Astronaut photography Collection)

NASA Earth Observatory

While in orbit over central Sudan, an astronaut on the International Space Station took this photograph featuring Lake Tana and the Ethiopian Highlands. The oblique angle and shadows help emphasize the rugged terrain of the Ethiopian Plateau, while Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, appears mirror-like due to sunglint. The low-lying, tectonically active East African Rift Valley is bounded by the eastern edge of the Ethiopian Highlands.

The Semien (or Simien) Mountains tower over the plateau. With a peak rising 4,533 meters (14,926 feet) above sea level, Ras Dashen is the highest point in Ethiopia. Much of the Ethiopian Highlands are part of a large igneous province—a region with a significant accumulation of large lava rocks. The Semien Range was formed due to volcanic activity about 31 million years ago.

Although the highlands are surrounded by deserts, their elevation results in a temperate climate with ample rainfall. Lake Tana and its tributaries support an important fishing industry, in addition to agriculture in the surrounding wetlands. The lake also feeds the Blue Nile, which runs through northern Ethiopia and southern Sudan and delivers water to many communities. The river flows out of the south side of Lake Tana, through lower canyon areas south of the lake, and then east to ultimately join the White Nile in Sudan.

Astronaut photograph ISS061-E-113632 was acquired on January 3, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 50 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 61 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Sara Schmidt, GeoControl Systems, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.

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Ethiopia: Land of Independent Cultural Origins – Ancient, Diverse, and Proud

Ethiopians are fiercely proud of the fact that they were never colonized, having repelled foreign invaders to remain independent while the rest of Africa was carved up by European powers. Ethiopians' spirit of independence is expressed in many unique ways: use different clocks and their own calendar. It was the first African state admitted to the League of Nations and United Nations, and the capital Addis Ababa is the headquarters of the African Union. (Photo: Adwa Victory celebration in Addis on March 2, 2021/VCG)


Africa’s second-largest nation by population, with 110 million people from dozens of ethnic groups, Ethiopia, is among the world’s oldest countries and has dominated the Horn of Africa for centuries.

Here are five things to know about Ethiopia, where results issued Saturday showed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ruling party winning a landslide victory in a June election.

Millennnia old

Like the Greeks and Romans, the Axumites in what is modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea, were regarded in the first century AD as one of the world’s great early civilizations.

Powerful and prosperous, this kingdom traded with Europe and Asia, and conquered lands in Africa and Arabia. The Axumites adopted Christianity in the early fourth century, before most of Europe, and devised their own alphabet.

Centuries on, this ancient script is still recited by Orthodox priests in stone-hewn churches and hilltop monasteries, while Axum, many Ethiopians believe, is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

Ethiopia’s natural history, meanwhile, stretches back much, much further.

The fossilized remains of Lucy, an ancient ancestor of modern humans who roamed the Earth 3.2 million years ago, were discovered in Ethiopia, along with other early hominid bones and some of the oldest-known stone tools.

Fiercely independent

Ethiopians are fiercely proud of the fact that they were never colonized, having repelled foreign invaders to remain independent while the rest of Africa was carved up by European powers.

From the late 13th century until 1974 – some 700 years – Ethiopia was ruled by a royal dynasty that considered itself directly descended from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

The last emperor, Haile Selassie, was overthrown by the communist Derg regime. A defining figure in modernizing Ethiopia, Haile Selassie was also believed to be a messiah by Rastafarians in faraway Jamaica.

An Italian invasion was rebuffed in the late 1800s, and Mussolini’s forces briefly occupied the country beginning in 1936, but were expelled five years later by Ethiopian forces.

Ethiopians’ spirit of independence is expressed in many unique ways. They use different clocks, with sunrise marking the start of a new day, and refer to their own calendar, which has 13 months and is seven years behind the Western one.

It was the first independent African state admitted to the League of Nations and United Nations, and the capital Addis Ababa is the headquarters of the African Union.

Diverse and faithful

Ethiopia is divided into 10 states along ethnic and linguistic lines. They vary greatly in territory and population, though each enjoys a level of self-rule from Addis Ababa.

The Oromos are the largest ethnic group, and include among their number the prime minister. Amharas are the second largest, while other sizeable minorities include the Somalis and Tigrayans.

The Sidama people overwhelmingly backed the creation of Ethiopia’s newest region in a referendum in 2019, spurring bids for autonomy from other groups particularly in the multi-ethnic southern part of the country.

Ethiopia remains mainly Christian, while about one-third of the country is Muslim, with regions in particular near Djibouti and Somalia predominantly following Sunni Islam.

A small Jewish community exists in Ethiopia, though most were brought to Israel in the 1980s and early 1990s, sometimes by extraordinary means. The covert mission “Operation Solomon” airlifted some 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel over 36 hours in 1991.

Rising economy

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, with industry and services driving its expansion, but faces considerable hurdles including huge debt payments. It hopes to reach lower-middle income status by 2025.

Most of the population is engaged in agriculture and about a quarter of Ethiopians live in poverty. Hunger remains a constant threat in a country no stranger to famine.

In recent years the government has moved to liberalize the economy, vowing to open state-run industries to foreign investment, including Ethiopian Airlines, the largest carrier in Africa.

Ethiopia is landlocked, having lost its gateway to the Red Sea when Eritrea gained independence in 1993.

Regional clout

Ethiopia is blessed with a major tributary of the Nile, on which it has constructed an enormous $4.6 billion dam it sees as crucial for alleviating poverty, electrifying rural homes, and improving the lives of millions.

But the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is fiercely opposed by Sudan and Egypt, two countries downstream who argue the mega-project threatens to cut off their own supplies of life-supporting Nile waters.

The war in Tigray, in Ethiopia’s north, saw Eritrean troops cross the border to join the fray, while Sudanese and Ethiopian forces have clashed over a strip of fertile farmland along the border claimed by both countries.

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ETHIOPIA ELECTION UPDATE: Prosperity Wins Landslide Victory

A mother carries her baby on her back as she casts her vote in the general election at a polling center near Entoto Park on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The ruling Prosperity Party was declared on Saturday, July 10, 2021 the winner of last month's national election in a landslide, assuring a second term for PM Abiy Ahmed. (AP)

The Associated Press

Ethiopia’s ruling party wins national election in landslide

ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party on Saturday was declared the winner of last month’s national election in a landslide, assuring a second five-year term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The National Election Board of Ethiopia said the ruling party won 410 seats out of 436 contested in the federal parliament, which will see dozens of other seats remain vacant after one-fifth of constituencies didn’t vote due to unrest or logistical reasons. Ethiopia’s new government is expected to be formed in October.

The vote was a major test for Abiy, who came to power in 2018 after the former prime minister resigned amid widespread protests. Abiy oversaw dramatic political reforms that led in part to a Nobel Peace Prize the following year, but critics say he is backtracking on political and media freedoms. Abiy also has drawn massive international criticism for his handling of the conflict in the Tigray region has that left thousands of people dead.

June’s vote, which had been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic and logistical issues, was largely peaceful but opposition parties decried harassment and intimidation. No voting was held in the Tigray region.

Abiy has hailed the election as the nation’s first attempt at a free and fair vote, but the United States has called it “significantly flawed,” citing the detention of some opposition figures and insecurity in parts of Africa’s second most populous country.

The leader of the main opposition Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party, Birhanu Nega, lost while opposition parties won just 11 seats. The Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party has filed 207 complaints with the electoral body over the vote.

Popular opposition parties in the Oromia region, the largest of Ethiopia’s federal states, boycotted the election. The ruling party ran alone in several dozen constituencies.

The head of the electoral board, Birtukan Mideksa, said during Saturday’s announcement that the vote was held at a time when Ethiopia was experiencing challenges, “but this voting process has guaranteed that people will be governed through their votes.”

She added: “I want to confirm that we have managed to conduct a credible election.”

Voter turnout was just over 90% among the more than 37 million people who had been registered to vote.

People look at electoral results posted on the wall outside a polling station in the capital Addis Ababa a day after the country voted in a general election. (AP Photo)

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed casts his vote in the general election, in his home town of Beshasha, in the Oromia region. Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party was declared on Saturday, July 10, 2021 the winner of last month’s national election in a landslide, assuring a second term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Prosperity Party was formed after the dismantling of Ethiopia’s former ruling coalition, which had been dominated by Tigray politicians. Disagreements over that decision signaled the first tensions between Abiy and Tigray leaders that finally led to the conflict in the region in November.

Though Abiy hinted in 2018 that Ethiopia will limit a prime minister’s terms to two, it is not clear whether he will act on that.

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U.N. Security Council Backs African Union Bid to Broker Ethiopia Dam Deal

The "negotiations should be held under the leadership of the African Union," said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, adding that the African Union “is the most appropriate venue to address this dispute.” (Reuters)


U.N. Security Council backs AU bid to broker Ethiopia dam deal

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.N. Security Council members on Thursday backed African Union mediation efforts between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan in a dispute over the operation of a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, urging the parties to resume talks.

Egypt and Sudan both called on the U.N. Security Council to help resolve the dispute after Ethiopia earlier this week began filling the reservoir behind its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for a second year. Ethiopia is opposed to any Security Council involvement.

“A balanced and equitable solution to the filling and operation of the GERD can be reached with political commitment from all parties,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the council.

“This begins with the resumption of productive substantive negotiations. Those negotiations should be held under the leadership of the African Union, and should recommence with urgency,” she said, adding that the African Union “is the most appropriate venue to address this dispute.”

Many council diplomats were wary of involving the body in the dispute – beyond holding the meeting on Thursday – as they are concerned it could set a precedent that could allow other countries to seek Security Council help with water disputes.

Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development and to provide power. But Egypt views it as a grave threat to its Nile water supplies, on which it is almost entirely dependent. Sudan, also downstream, has expressed concern about the dam’s safety and impact on its own dams and water stations.

Tunisia has proposed a draft Security Council resolution that would call for a binding agreement between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on the operation of the giant dam within six months. It was not clear if or when it could be put to a vote.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called on the Security Council to adopt the resolution.

“We do not expect the council to formulate solutions to the outstanding legal and technical issues, nor do we request that the council impose the terms of a settlement,” he said. “This resolution is political in nature and its purpose … is to re-launch negotiations.”

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi also urged the council to act by calling for a resumption of negotiations and on Ethiopia to abstain from any unilateral measures.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, said an agreement on the operation of the $5 billion dam is “within reach” and he described it as regrettable that Egypt and Sudan pushed for the Security Council meeting.

“We urge our Egyptian and Sudanese brothers and sisters to understand that the resolution to the Nile issue will not come from the Security Council. It can only come from good faith negotiations,” he told the council.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia suggested the countries meet while in New York to try to resolve some issues.

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643 Ethiopian Peacekeepers Receive Prestigious UN Medals for Service

86 women were among the 643 peacekeepers recently honored with the prestigious United Nations Medal for their service in South Sudan. (Photo by Mach Samuel/UNMISS)



“I have left my two young sons at home and have been serving as a Blue Helmet with UNMISS for almost two years,” says Major Wondimagegn Araya, a peacekeeper from Ethiopia who is deployed to conflict-ridden Jonglei in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.

Prior to becoming a United Nations peacekeeper, Major Araya has served in different military units as part of his country’s army for 20 years.

In his current role, he often spends days and nights in remote areas trying to overcome near-impassable road conditions to reach villages where local communities need protection or humanitarian aid.

Yesterday, Major Araya, along with 642 of his brave colleagues, including 86 women, received the prestigious UN medal honouring their service to the cause of peace in a colourful ceremony attended by senior UNMISS officials and state dignitaries.

For Major Araya, it was a day to remember. “The conditions we serve in as peacekeepers are harsh; we are often in the forefront of armed hostilities, but we try and fulfil our mandate to protect civilians with happiness. This UN medal acknowledges the hardships we go through but, more significantly, it is a reminder that peace and security always necessitate sacrifice,” he states poignantly.

Since their initial deployment to UNMISS, Ethiopian peacekeepers have contributed immeasurably to the mission’s mandate by reducing intercommunal conflict; preventing revenge attacks due to cattle rustling; building community trust and confidence; and ensuring safe, speedy delivery of humanitarian assistance to people who need it the most.

“It hasn’t been an easy deployment for all of you in Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area—the terrain is tough, weather conditions arduous and it is a hotspot for conflict, all of which has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Main Ullah Chowdhury, Deputy Force Commander, UNMISS, while commending awardees at the medal ceremony.

“However, for the past 18 months you have been the lynchpin for the mission to achieve its mandated tasks here.”

As geographical neighbours with longstanding cordial relations, Ethiopia has also been at the forefront of the ongoing political engagement by international and regional stakeholders for a sustainable peace across South Sudan.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Declares Cease-Fire in Tigray

In a statement, Ethiopia said it was pausing hostilities to prevent disruptions to the farming season and to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid. (Africa News)

Africa News

Ethiopia declared a “unilateral ceasefire” in Tigray on Monday, as rebels claimed retaking the regional capital of Mekelle.

In a statement, Addis Ababa said it was pausing hostilities to prevent disruptions to the farming season and to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid.

The United Nations has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the situation in the country.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres considered these events “extremely worrying”. “They demonstrate, once again, that there is no military solution to the crisis,” he said, saying he was “confident that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place.

The United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom on Monday called for an emergency public meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tigray, diplomatic sources said, adding that it could be held Friday.

Mekelle fell to the federal army on November 28, three weeks after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive after the region’s forces attacked and killed federal troops.

Despite the victory proclaimed after the fall of Mekelle, the fighting never stopped between the pro-Tigray Peoples Liberation Front forces – and the federal Ethiopian army.

The rebels launched an offensive last week, just as much of the rest of the country was holding highly anticipated national elections, the results of which have not yet been announced.

Music and fireworks

On Monday, these rebels “took control of the city, I saw them myself, they entered,” a member of the interim regional administration, set up by Addis Ababa after the removal of the TPLF authorities, told AFP.

An AFP reporter confirmed that the troops had arrived in trucks and cars.

Their entry triggered scenes of jubilation, with soldiers firing into the air in celebration, and residents coming out into the street waving the Tigrayan flag.

“The city is celebrating, everyone is out dancing,” confirmed the interim administration member.

“Everyone is excited, there is music in the streets. Everyone has their flags out and the music is playing. I don’t know how they got them, but everyone has fireworks,” detailed one resident, reached by AFP.

Faced with the rebel advance, officials from the regional interim administration left the town on Monday, according to the administration official.

Witnesses reported that soldiers and federal police were also fleeing Mekele, some looting banks and commandeering private vehicles.

Read more »


Addis Standard

Addis Abeba, June 28, 2021 – Reports of the take over of Mekelle city by forces formerly loyal to the TPLF which have since renamed themselves as Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) were coming out of Mekelle this afternoon. Addis Standard learned from residents of Mekelle that the city roads are overwhelmed by celebrating residents as the city was taken over by TDF.

Hours after the reports, local media reported that Chief Executive of Tigray’s Interim Administration, Abraham Belay (PhD) announced that his administration has asked the federal government for a ceasefire agreement to provide a timely political solution to the plight of Tigray farmers. Abraham explained the need for a ceasefire ahead of the summer farming season, a better delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need and seeking a political and timely solution.

In a nine-point request to the federal government, the interim administration noted that it made the proposal last week, following intensive discussion with regional leaders, Tigrayan intellectuals, businessmen and religious leaders. He pointed out that some in the fighting force out there are currently seeking a way to peace and it was important to give these forces a chance.

Earlier today tensions were at their peak in Mekelle city as the local television, Tigray Tv ceases its transmission today in the afternoon. A staff from the local TV who wanted to stay anonymous also confirmed to Addis Standard the termination of the TV transmission and said that the employees were told to leave the station. Another resident of Mekelle told Addis Standard that residents are hastily evacuating the roads to their houses and businesses including shops, hotels and banks were closed at the moment.

Residents also told Addis Standard the troops loaded in trucks were seen being rounded up in parts of the city. Later in the evening, residents told Addis Standard that the city is rocked by people chanting. Addis Standard also spoke to Etenesh Nigusie, an official in the Interim administration, who was limited only to state that ‘the city is calm’. Further efforts to reach other Interim administration officials were unsuccessful.

This comes days after reports of flare ups in the region over the past days featuring an airstrike that claimed the lives of civilians. The spokesman of the ENDF said that the only combatants, not civilians, were struck in the airstrike. It is also remembered that the EU and the US condemned the attacks while also reiterating calls for an immediate ceasefire in the region and unhindered humanitarian access.

The request of the interim administration was followed by a declaration of a ceasefire by the federal government. In a statement released late afternoon, the Prime minister’s office said “It is believed that there are forces within the scattered rebel forces who are willing for a peaceful resolution,” adding “The government has accepted the interim administration’s proposal.”

The statement concluded by explaining that the investigation against the leaders of TPLF would proceed, while declaring “ The government has announced an unconditional ceasefire that will last until the end of the farming season effective as of June 28, 2021.” Federal and regional institutions were instructed to follow suit, reminding that measures will be taken on those who try to use this opportunity for ill purposes. AS

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Conducted Election in a ‘Credible’ Manner, AU Observers Say

“Overall the election [was] conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner,” former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of the mission of 100 observers, told a news conference in Addis Ababa as authorities continued counting ballots. (Photo: A staff from Ethiopia's Election Board confirms casted ballots at a polling station in Addis Ababa, June 22, 2021. (REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie Tadese)


ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s parliamentary polls, held on Monday, were conducted in a “credible” manner, the African Union’s election observer mission said on Wednesday.

“Overall the election and election day processes were conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner,” former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of the mission of 100 observers, told a news conference in Addis Ababa as authorities continued counting ballots.

The election in the country of 109 million people has been billed by the government as the first free vote in the country’s history. But it has been marred by an opposition boycott, war and reports of irregularities in some areas.

Authorities were unable to hold elections in four of Ethiopia’s 10 regions on Monday, though polling took place a day late in one of those regions, Sidama, on Tuesday, according to the elections board.

The board was expected to hold a news conference later on Wednesday.


ETHIOPIA ELECTION UPDATE: As Voters Head to the Polls, Spotlight on Birtukan Mideksa

Video: Debating the Ethiopia Election (France 24)

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U.S. Arrests Ethiopian Man for Fraudulently Obtaining Citizenship

According to the indictment, which was unsealed following the arrest, Mezemr Abebe Belayneh, 65, of Snellville, Georgia [east of Atlanta] served as a civilian interrogator at a makeshift prison in Dilla, Ethiopia, during a period in the late 1970s known as the Red Terror, [which he failed to disclose] (DOJ)

Press Release

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Naturalized U.S. Citizen from Ethiopia Arrested on Charge of Fraudulently Obtaining Citizenship

Indictment Alleges Lies During the Naturalization Process, Including Failure to Disclose Participation in Persecution During the Ethiopian Red Terror

A Georgia man has been arrested on criminal charges related to allegations that he lied to obtain U.S. citizenship.

According to the indictment, which was unsealed following the arrest, Mezemr Abebe Belayneh, 65, of Snellville, served as a civilian interrogator at a makeshift prison in Dilla, Ethiopia, during a period in the late 1970s known as the Red Terror. At the prison, Abebe ordered and participated in the severe physical abuse and interrogation of prisoners held on the basis of their political beliefs. The indictment alleges that Abebe unlawfully procured U.S. citizenship, to which he was not entitled, by concealing his involvement in the Red Terror when he falsely claimed that he had not persecuted anyone because of their political opinions and had never committed a crime for which he had not been arrested.

“Human rights violators have no home in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “No matter how much time has passed, the Department of Justice will find and prosecute individuals who committed atrocities in their home countries and covered them up to gain entry to the United States.”

“The laws of the United States are designed to provide refuge for the victims of human rights violation and to exclude those who commit them,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine for the Northern District of Georgia. “The defendant’s alleged lies through his immigration and naturalization process subverted this system. We commend our law enforcement partners at the Department of Homeland Security and the dedicated team at the Department of Justice who work tirelessly to assure that individuals such as the defendant do not have a safe haven in our communities.”

“Abebe’s lies and horrible past deeds have thankfully come back to haunt him,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Now he will be held accountable. Thanks to some great work from the agents and officers involved in this case as well as our law enforcement partners, justice will be served.”

Abebe is charged with two counts of unlawful procurement of naturalization. The maximum sentence for each count is 10 years in prison. If convicted, a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. A conviction would also result in automatic revocation of Abebe’s U.S. citizenship.

Homeland Security Investigations’ Atlanta Field Office is investigating the case, and coordination was provided by the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.

Trial Attorneys Jamie Perry and Patrick Jasperse of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Morris of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case, with assistance from HRSP Senior Historian Dr. Christopher Hayden.

Members of the public who have information about former human rights violators in the United States are urged to contact U.S. law enforcement through the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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ETHIOPIA ELECTION UPDATE: As Voters Head to the Polls, Spotlight on Birtukan Mideksa

A former political prisoner who went into exile in the US, Birtukan Mideksa is now centre-stage in Ethiopia as she oversees the country's first parliamentary election since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018 on a pledge to end decades of authoritarian rule. - BBC (Getty Images)

Updated: June 21st, 2021

  • Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s electoral board chairperson
  • Ethiopians pray for peaceful vote ahead of key election
  • Ethiopians to vote in what government bills as first free election
  • How Monday’s vote will shape Ethiopia’s place in Horn of Africa
  • Ethiopia elections: The misinformation circulating online
  • Ethiopia’s historic election overshadowed by a cascade of crises and conflict

    Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s electoral board chairperson

    Birtukan Mideksa (right). Voter education programmes have been held to reduce the risk of spoiled ballots (AFP)

    Recommending Ms Birtukan, 47, to the all-important post of chairperson of the electoral board, the new premier described her as someone who would “never surrender, even to the government”.

    Many agreed with that sentiment as she had built a reputation for being brave and independent-minded as a lawyer, judge and politician.

    Ms Birtukan contested the 2001 parliamentary election as an independent, but lost to the candidate of the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), conceding that her defeat was due to her “limited popularity” rather than rigging.

    She then became a judge, catching the attention of the public a year later when she resisted political interference in the judiciary by ordering the release of former Defence Minister Siye Abraha. His arrest on corruption charges was seen as an attempt to neutralise a formidable rival of then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

    “Siyes’ case is the visible one. But they [Ms Birtukan and other judges] all tried to challenge the system invisibly for a while,” said a friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Restless for change, Ms Birtukan moved back into politics, playing a key role in the formation of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) to present a united front against the EPRDF in the 2005 parliamentary election, which was widely seen as the most fiercely contested poll in Ethiopia’s history, with the opposition claiming that it had been robbed of victory.

    As a senior CUD official, Ms Birtukan was an obvious target for the security forces, and she was among thousands of people detained in the crackdown that followed the election. Almost 200 people were shot by police.

    Prosecuted by a friend

    An underground network that the CUD had built was crushed, but from prison, its leaders – including Ms Birtukan – rebuilt it, calling it the Kinjit International Council (KIC), to mobilise support for the campaign for democracy.

    “They usually discussed and took decisions on the way to court,” said a friend of Ms Birtukan, who preferred to remain anonymous.

    More than 37 million people have registered to vote, officials say. (AFP)

    In 2006, Ms Birtukan was among a large number of detainees – including current Ethiopian Human Rights Commission chairman Daniel Bekele – who were charged with various offences, including treason.

    To their shock, one of the prosecutors turned out to be Shimels Kemal – a friend of Ms Birtukan and a housemate of Mr Daniel – who asked the judge to sentence them to death.

    “The scene was so dramatic,” a colleague, who knew them, recalled in an interview with BBC Amharic.

    “Shimels doesn’t let things go easily. He mixes politics with personal. He felt betrayed when his friends chose another line of ideology.”

    The judge rejected the prosecutor’s request, and imposed a life sentence instead.

    Forced to leave her little daughter in the care of her elderly mother, Ms Birtukan began serving her sentence at the notorious Kaliti prison, where she acted as a peacemaker between rival CUD factions after major differences emerged within their ranks.

    “She didn’t solve the problem but they then rebuilt an underground network from scratch, successfully,” said Ms Birtukan’s friend.

    In jail, she was one of the prisoners who entered into talks with a panel of elders who brokered a deal between them and the government.

    This led to her release in 2007 after 18 months in jail, with Ms Birtukan being among those who signed a document regretting “mistakes” and asking Prime Minister Meles for a pardon.

    The decision caused controversy in opposition circles, and she tried to play down the significance of the document in a speech she gave during a visit abroad.

    Then-police chief Wokneh Gebeyehu – now the executive secretary of the regional body Igad – ordered her to apologise, accusing her of breaching the conditions of her pardon.

    Ms Birtukan refused, and during the Christmas period in 2008, she was sent back to prison to serve the rest of her life sentence.

    In an article published in Ethiopia’s Addis Neger newspaper shortly before her re-arrest, she wrote: “Maybe this is my last word,” and in a significant comment amid the controversy over her decision to seek a pardon, she wrote: “I signed on that document. This is a fact that I can’t change, even if I want to.”

    Her new prison conditions were harsher, and she was kept in solitary confinement for two months, when she was denied the right to even see her daughter.

    Exile in the US

    This increased public sympathy for her, with Amnesty International calling her a prisoner of conscience and South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper describing her as Ethiopia’s most famous political prisoner.

    In October 2010, Ms Birtukan was again freed after negotiating another pardon.

    Birtukan Mideksa’s release in 2010 was a huge relief to her family and friends. (AFP)

    Following her release, she and her daughter went into exile in the US, where she studied at the Harvard Kennedy School and later worked for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US agency which says it supports democracy around the world.

    She returned to Ethiopia after Mr Abiy took power, promising to end years of repression.

    But the euphoria around her appointment has to some extent faded.

    After repeated delays, the poll is now taking place on Monday, although some major opposition parties are boycotting it, saying conditions for a free and fair poll do not exist.

    Among Ms Birtukan’s critics is Professor Merera Gudina, who has known her for 21 years. He heads the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), which is boycotting the election.

    “We had not seen illegal polling stations or an inability to register a candidate at their constituency during the previous elections,” he said.

    With the OFC and another party boycotting the poll in Oromia, war in the northern Tigray region and a postponement in parts of the Somali region, “the election is mainly in Amhara region and in [the capital] Addis Ababa”, he added.

    But for Addis Ababa University academic Mesenbet Assefa, Ms Birtukan has done a good job.

    “The problems are not the making of the [election] board or the government. Political parties have the responsibility of doing what democracy requires – a disciplined discourse – not using arms to topple the government.”

    Ms Birtukan herself has sought to manage expectations over the elections. In a letter to the US Senate in May, she warned “shortfalls are inevitable given factors such as… a nascent democratic culture and an increasingly charged political and security environment”.

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  • For Juneteenth in New York City, Helina Metaferia’s Mural Celebrates Black Women

    Helina Metaferia, Headdress 21 (2021). (Courtesy of the artist)

    Artnet News

    10 New Murals Will Pop Up Across New York This Summer Thanks to a New Professional Development Initiative for Black Artists

    The first piece will be unveiled in Brooklyn this weekend in celebration of Juneteenth.

    This weekend, on Juneteenth, a new mural celebrating the labor of Black women activists will be unveiled in Brooklyn.

    The work of Harlem- and Brooklyn-based artist and activist Helina Metaferia, the mural depicts a fellow young creator, Wildcat Ebony Brown, atop a picture of a plinth; collaged throughout the scene are archival photos of civil rights-era protests and pictures culled from old Ethiopian and Kenyan travel magazines. A small text reads, “Where would democracy be without Black women?” It will be located at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art in Fort Greene.

    The idea, Metaferia told Artnet News, is to “amplify the people in my life that are doing amazing work yet are often chastised in the media. [It’s about] reclaiming that image and offering another perspective on these activists in a way they can essentially get their power back.”

    The piece will be revealed this weekend amid a flurry of other events scheduled for Juneteenth Jubilee 2021, a free outdoor event co-sponsored by arts organizations The Blacksmiths and the Wide Awakes that Metaferia—a member of the latter group—helped organize.

    Metaferia’s mural is the first of 10 public artworks set to appear across New York’s five boroughs this summer through Not a Monolith, a new professional development initiative for Black artists organized by ArtBridge, an initiative that works to transform New York City’s many miles of construction fencing and scaffolding into a venue for art.

    Read the full article at news.artnet.com »


    ART TALK: Helina Metaferia’s Solo Debut with Addis Fine Art at 2021 Frieze NYC

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    The Guardian: Looted Artefacts Withdrawn From UK Auction After Ethiopia’s Appeal

    The Ethiopian embassy called the decision an important move toward its goal of having all Maqdala artefacts returned from British institutions. “Maqdala is really important in terms of the shared history between the UK and Ethiopia, so today is a big day. A small step,” a spokesperson from the Ethiopian embassy said. (Photo: An Ethiopian Coptic bible taken during the Battle of Maqdala in 1868/ Busby auctioneers and valuers)

    The Guardian

    Ethiopian government asked auction house to ‘stop cycle of dispossession’

    Two artefacts that were taken during colonial-era looting by British forces in Ethiopia have been withdrawn from auction after the Ethiopian government appealed to an auction house selling them to “stop the cycle of dispossession”.

    Busby auctioneers in Bridport, Dorset, has withdrawn a leather-bound Coptic bible and a set of horn beakers from a sale on 17 June after the Ethiopian embassy in London discovered the items – which were taken during the Battle of Maqdala in 1868 – and wrote to the auction house.

    In the letter, the embassy said the return of the items would help bring to a close a “painful chapter” of the nation’s history, and said the two lots – valued at about £700 – were a small but “important part of that story”.

    “In the government’s view the auctioning of these items is, at best, unethical and, at worst, the continuation of a cycle of dispossession perpetrated by those who would seek to benefit from the spoils of war,” the letter said.

    Busby confirmed that after discussions with the Ethiopian government and the seller, the two items had been withdrawn. “The matter has been resolved with the vendor and the Ethiopian embassy in London,” a spokesperson said.

    The Guardian understands that there are now negotiations between the Ethiopian embassy and the private seller of the items to secure their return to the country they were taken from more than 150 years ago.

    The Ethiopian government has been appealing for the return of items taken in 1868 for decades.

    In 2007, it unsuccessfully asked for the return of hundreds of artefacts – including manuscripts, royal regalia and jewellery – being held by British institutions that were taken from Maqdala, the mountain capital of Emperor Tewodros II in what was then known as Abyssinia.

    In 2018, before an exhibition of items from Maqdala, the Victoria and Albert Museum said some items could be returned to Ethiopia on long-term loan. The embassy said more than 20 private collectors had returned Maqdala items following restitution requests.


    Is UK Ready to Return Ethiopia’s Looted Treasures? Museum Talking to Embassy

    The Battle Over Ethiopia’s Meqdela Treasures Heats Up

    Ethiopians Urge Britain to Return Remains of Prince Alemayehu After 150 Years

    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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    ART TALK: The Whitney Museum of American Art Presents The World Premiere of Julie Mehretu’s Palimpsest

    Julie Mehretu. (Checkerboard Film Foundation)

    Press Release

    The Whitney Museum Presents The World Premiere of Julie Mehretu: Palimpsest

    Julie Mehretu: Palimpsest, a new feature documentary by Checkerboard, follows the artist as she prepares for a mid-career survey, currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art (until August 8, 2021), co-organized with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The artist offers commentary on her work, process, and chronology of her career, from graduate work at RISD to current expansive, multi-layered canvases.

    The screening will be introduced by the Whitney’s Rujeko Hockley, co-curator of the exhibition, and Checkerboard Film Foundation’s President, Edgar Howard.

    Watch: Checkerboard Film Foundation presents “Julie Mehretu: Mid-Career Survey”

    Checkerboard Film Foundation is a non-profit educational institution established in 1979 to document artists who are making unique and important contributions to the American arts. Checkerboard has produced over 70 films on influential painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, and writers.

    If You Attend:

    Advance registration is required to the free screening. Registrants will receive an individual link via email to access the premiere screening on June 17 at 8PM. The film will be available for registrants to stream on demand from June 18-20.

    June 17, 2021
    This Whitney event is free, registration required.


    ART TALK: Julie Mehretu – A Decade of Printmaking at Gemini G.E.L. in NYC

    ART TALK: Julie Mehretu Makes Art Big Enough to Get Lost In

    Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art

    Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey To Open at LACMA

    Julie Mehretu at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), November 3, 2019 – March 22, 2020 (Level 1) and May 17, 2020 (Level 3)

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    Ethiopia’s Prime Minister: Next Week’s Election Will be Peaceful

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attends his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia's parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)


    JIMMA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia will show a sceptical world that it can successfully hold a peaceful election next week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters at his first – and last – campaign rally on Wednesday.

    The June 21 vote is the first time Abiy, 44, will face voters at the ballot box in Africa’s second most populous nation. He tweeted this week that the election “will be the nation’s first attempt at free and fair elections”. read more

    PM Abiy Ahmed campaigning in Jimma on June 16, 2021. (Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    “The whole world is saying we will fight but we will show them differently,” Abiy told a packed stadium in the western city of Jimma. “The forces that saved Ethiopia from collapsing will turn the Horn of Africa into Africa’s power hub.”

    Just over a fifth of parliamentary constituencies are not voting due to logistical problems, low-level violence or due to the war in the northern region of Tigray.

    “I will vote for Abiy because he is creating many jobs, building schools and roads,” said Hawi Aba Jihad, 21, a motorised three-wheel taxi driver at the rally.

    Supporters of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia’s parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    Supporters of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia’s parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    But many parties in Oromiya, the nation’s most populous region and the site of Wednesday’s rally, are boycotting the polls, alleging government intimidation.

    Regional spokesman Getachew Balcha referred queries to the police commissioner, Ararsa Merdasa, who did not respond to questions on those accusations.


    Abiy rode a wave of optimism to become prime minister with a message of unity and reform after years of bloody anti-government demonstrations forced his predecessor to resign.

    His appointment sparked hopes that one of the continent’s most repressive governments would speed up democratic and economic reforms.

    Within months of taking office in 2018, Abiy freed more than 40,000 political prisoners, said Fisseha Tekle of Amnesty International. He unbanned political parties and signed a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea, winning the Nobel peace prize for ending more than two decades of conflict.

    He also began opening the sclerotic state-run economy to outside investors, starting with telecoms. read more

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    In Pictures: Update on US Military School Graduate Bishane Whitmore

    This month Bishane Whitmore who is currently a Speechwriter for the United States Air Force in Arlington, Virginia, received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: Monday, June 15th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This is graduation season and you may remember our interview with Lieutenant Colonel Bishane Whitmore when he graduated with a Masters of Military Art and Science (MMAS) from the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, five years ago. Among those who attended the ceremony was his then 96-year-old grandfather, retired Ethiopian General Tilahun Bishane, who had graduated from the same military school 46 years earlier as one of the institution’s first international students from Ethiopia.

    This month Bishane, who is currently a Speechwriter for the United States Air Force in Arlington, Virginia, received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama.

    According to its Linkedin page: “The Air Forces Advanced Studies Group develops strategists for the United States and its allies. SAASS is a degree granting institution, with qualified graduates receiving an MPhil in Military Strategy. Select graduates can receive the AU PhD in Military Strategy by completing additional training and research requirements, which is also administered through SAASS. SAASS is a school at Air University on Maxwell AFB, in Montgomery, AL.”

    In addition to pursuing his doctorate degree since his graduation from CGSC in 2016 Bishane had served as the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron Commander as well as the Director Of Operations/ RQ-4 Pilot at Beale U.S. Air Force Base in California.

    Below are photos from his recent graduation that took place on June 9th, 2021 courtesy of his family, which note that his Doctoral Regalia was presented to him by his sister.

    Bishane Whitmore’s graduation ceremony at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama, June 9th, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

    Bishane Whitmore received his PhD in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies in Montgomery, Alabama, on June 9th, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

    (Courtesy photo)

    (Courtesy photo)


    Harris Leadership award goes to grandson of Ethiopian General

    Bishane Whitmore Follows in Footsteps of Grandfather at US Military School

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    U.S. on Elections in Ethiopia Press Statement

    Ned Price, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Elections in Ethiopia



    JUNE 11, 2021

    On June 21, many Ethiopians will be able to cast ballots in elections, an important exercise of their civil and political rights.

    These elections should not be seen as a singular event but rather as part of a democratic political process that involves dialogue, cooperation, and compromise. To that end, we urge the Government of Ethiopia and all Ethiopians to commit to an inclusive, post-election political dialogue to determine a path forward to strengthen the country’s democracy and national unity.

    We recognize the efforts that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and its staff have made to prepare for these elections at a time when so many Ethiopians are suffering and dying from violence and acute food insecurity caused by conflict.

    We urge politicians and community leaders to reject violence and to refrain from inciting others. All political actors and community leaders should seek to resolve grievances through negotiation, dialogue, and recognized non-violent dispute resolution mechanisms.

    The United States continues to urge Ethiopia’s leaders to support a free media and an active civil society. We urge the government to respect the right of citizens to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and to reject the use of Internet shutdowns or network restrictions.

    The United States is gravely concerned about the environment under which these upcoming elections are to be held. The detention of opposition politicians, harassment of independent media, partisan activities by local and regional governments, and the many interethnic and inter-communal conflicts across Ethiopia are obstacles to a free and fair electoral process and whether Ethiopians would perceive them as credible. The exclusion of large segments of the electorate from this contest due to security issues and internal displacement is particularly troubling.

    The hardening of regional and ethnic divisions in multiple parts of Ethiopia threaten the country’s unity and territorial integrity. The period following these elections will be a critical moment for Ethiopians to come together to confront these divisions. The United States stands ready to help Ethiopia address these challenges and find a path to a brighter future. We stand with all Ethiopians working toward a peaceful, democratic, and secure future for the country.

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    In Louisville, Kentucky Family of Slain Ethiopian Store Owner Devastated His American Dream Came to Tragic End

    The shooting happened around noon Monday...when police arrived, they found a man, now identified as Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, of Louisville, shot to death inside the store. His niece Hilena Haileselassie and nephew Amanuel Abay said they didn't know who would do this to their uncle. (WLKY)


    Family of slain Louisville liquor store owner devastated his American dream came to tragic end

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The family of a Taylor Berry liquor store owner shot to death inside the store is asking for the public’s help in identifying his killer.

    The shooting happened around noon Monday at a store in the 3200 block of Taylor Boulevard, which is just blocks away from Churchill Downs.

    When police arrived, they found a man, now identified as Dimtsu Haileselassie, 62, of Louisville, shot to death inside the store.

    His niece Hilena Haileselassie and nephew Amanuel Abay said they didn’t know who would do this to their uncle.

    “What am I going to say to the person who took our everything?” Haileselassie asked. “Someone chose on a Monday morning to come and take his life and it’s devastating. His wife found him. His nephew [Abay] found him.”

    The store was a venture by Haileselassie and his wife to start a new chapter when they moved from Louisville to Atlanta. Haileselassie owned the store for two years before tragedy struck a family already experiencing loss in their home country.

    “I feel like I lost a thousand people,” Abay said. “We’re already losing a lot of people in Tigray, Ethiopia. Our family are dying there. Again, here, to happen, this to us. It’s unreal, another death.”

    Abay recalled the conversations he had with his uncle about staying safe in a city now plagued by violence.

    “He kept saying as long as you’re nice to people, they will never kill you,” Abay said. “He never thought somebody would come and kill him.”

    Part of the shock for the family is knowing how much Haileselassie himself survived as a young man. The family said he fled his home country of Ethiopia through Sudan and arrived in America in search of a better life.

    “To say Dimtsu Haileselassie was the epitome of the American Dream is not an understatement,” niece Hilena Haileselassie said. “Pulling himself up, pulling his family up with him, pulling the community up with him. Even having gone through all of that, he was the brightest face in the room. That’s his legacy. The kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness. My stomach was sick just to know his blood was spilled here.”

    A communal room next door to the store where he was killed is being used to celebrate his life. As the family begins their Ethiopian mourning tradition, they’re calling out to the community Dimtsu Haileselassie had so much faith in to honor him and help bring his killer to justice.

    “We need some form of closure,” Hilena Haileselassie said. “It’s not going to bring Dimtsu back. But it can’t end like this so please, please call the anonymous tip line.”

    LMPD has not yet made an arrest in his shooting, but released photos Tuesday of a suspect:

    Suspect in liquor store homicideWANTED: LMPD releases photos of suspect in fatal shooting of liquor store employee
    Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous tip line at 502-574-LMPD.

    Read the full story and watch video at wlky.com »

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    Spotlight: Review of Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ in DC

    Mimi’s is named for Siham Mohammed (bottom left), whose mother used to call her “Mimi” as a child. [Siham] is an entrepreneur, just like her parents were back in Gondar. Her restaurant Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ is located on Pennsylvania Avenue SE in Wahington, DC. (The Washington Post)

    The Washington Post

    Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ brings a delicious taste of East African cooking to a new audience

    A woman tends to a small portable grill she has placed atop a picnic table at Anacostia Park, just steps from a pirate ship that has, for the moment, separated children from their phones long enough to explore every inch of the three-masted playground. From my own picnic table, I can’t tell what she is cooking, but it has the unmistakable aroma of meat charred and caramelized on a hot grill.

    Of course, I have my own platter of grilled meat, which I had bought minutes earlier at Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ, just up the way on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Long, ropy lengths of beef are coiled and tangled on a bed of injera, each strip slathered with awaze red-pepper paste and blackened from a brief stay on the grill. Some sections have this sublime crustiness, which forms best, I think, when thickly marinated meats hit a superhot grate. To be honest, I can’t tell who’s enjoying their afternoon more: the children on the pirate ship or me with my zilzil tibs.

    Mimi’s is named for Siham Mohammed, whose mother used to call her “Mimi” as a child. Mohammed is an entrepreneur, just like her parents were back in Gondar, in the northern reaches of Ethiopia. Aside from Mimi’s, Mohammed also owns the supermarket a few doors down where, according to the signage, you can get groceries, accessories and your checks cashed. To my mind, the sign doesn’t begin to cover the vast array of foods, services and household goods found in Mohammed’s store.

    Mimi’s, by contrast, has only a few offerings. It has even fewer workers. Its principal employee is Hikmah Tasew, older sister to Mohammed. Tasew serves as prep cook, baker, chef, dishwasher, cashier, you name it. She arrives early in the morning and leaves late at night, six days a week. She’s a crew of one, layered in clothes from top to bottom, from her floor-length striped dress to her tawny-colored headscarf. The only visible parts of her body are her hands and her face, which radiates kindness.

    “It breaks my heart seeing her working hard, to be honest with you,” says Mohammed. “She makes everything on a daily basis. She doesn’t make anything for the next day. … She makes everything fresh, just like at her house.”

    Read more »

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    An Extremely Rare Jazz Album From a Legendary DC-Area Artist Has Been Reissued: Hailu Mergia’s “Tezeta”

    On Friday, Ethiopian jazz artist Hailu Mergia re-released the nine-track "Tezeta".

    Washingtonian Magazine

    A very rare jazz album from a legendary Ethiopian artist is now a lot easier to get a hold of. Hailu Mergia, who’s lived in the DC area for years, debuted “Tezeta” in 1975 with the Walias Band. The nine-song album was originally released on cassette and has been difficult to track down. But on Friday, the record label Awesome Tapes From Africa reissued a remastered version of “Tezeta”—meaning fans can now simply download it.

    Hailu Mergia & the Walias Band were a huge influence on modern Ethiopian music. The group went on tour in the U.S. in 1981, performing mostly for Ethiopian refugees. However, they split after four band members opted not to go back to Ethiopia, which was under a military regime at time.

    The four members, including Mergia, continued to release music under a new name, Zula Band. Mergia studied music at Howard University and worked as a taxi driver near Dulles airport. As he drove passengers around, he would jam out to his old songs, which increased the popularity of Zula Band within Washington.

    You can buy “Tazeta” digitally for $9. Physical copies have already sold out.


    Originally released on cassette tape in 1975, the reissue arrives this June via Awesome Tapes From Africa

    Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band. (Photo courtesy of Awesome Tapes From Africa)


    Ethiopian music legend Hailu Mergia has announced a new reissue of his 1975 album with the Walias Band, Tezeta. The rare, initially cassette-only release has been remastered by restoration engineer Jessica Thompson and arrives June 4 via Awesome Tapes From Africa. Check out “Nefas New Zemedie,” as well as the album artwork and full tracklist, below.

    Tezeta was recorded at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa, where Mergia and the Walias Band were the resident backing band for some of the most influential names in Ethiopian music. It was the group’s first proper full-length release and was originally released under its own Ethio Sound label. At the time of the recording, the Walias Band lineup featured Moges Habte (saxophone and flute), Mahmoud Aman (guitar), Yohannes Tekola (trumpet), Melake Gebre (bass guitar), Girma Beyene (piano), Temare Haregu (drums), and Abebe Kassa (alto saxophone).

    Read Pitchfork’s review of Hailu Mergia’s 2020 album Yene Mircha.

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    Profile: At Harvard Yoseph Boku is Geared Up to Fight for Social Justice From A Biomedical Perspective

    This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates. “I really believe that public service can be therapeutic, that you can learn just as much from a volunteer opportunity as you can learn from a classroom or a section discussion,” said Yoseph Boku, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and immigrated with his family to Alexandria, Va., when he was 6 years old. (The Harvard Gazette)

    The Harvard Gazette

    Yoseph Boku constantly asks himself: How can I have an impact?

    The question-slash-mindset helped define his experience at Harvard College through his research on rare genetic diseases and in his volunteer work with the homeless. It will undoubtedly continue to frame his next steps as he starts Harvard Medical School this fall.

    “I hope to dedicate my future to fighting for justice from a biomedical perspective,” he said.

    Boku’s drive to make a difference started his first year, when he realized he could do something to help local disadvantaged teenagers and young adults.

    “I saw that a lot of youth my age were sleeping outside,” said Boku, who concentrated in molecular and cellular biology and is living in Kirkland House. “I really saw great inequity where on one side of Mass. Ave., you have one of the wealthiest schools and right on the other side, you have youth who didn’t have any homes.”

    Boku began volunteering at Y2Y, a youth homeless shelter in Harvard Square. He stayed on campus during the winter break of his first year to be able to continue volunteering while interning at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In his sophomore year, Boku became volunteer director at Y2Y and oversaw all Harvard student volunteers, about 150 each week. In that job Boku worked doggedly to recruit peers at Harvard, not only for the benefit of the youth the shelter served but also to give his student conscripts the opportunity to get involved with public service.

    “I really believe that public service can be therapeutic, that you can learn just as much from a volunteer opportunity as you can learn from a classroom or a section discussion,” said Boku, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and immigrated with his family to Alexandria, Va., when he was 6 years old. “Even doing a single shift can leave an impact. It was my hope that, from their shift at Y2Y, it would give Harvard students a yearning for social justice so that these Harvard students, wherever they go on to — whether it’s consulting or medicine or law — that volunteer experience with Y2Y would impact them so that they continue for the rest of their lives to advocate for those who don’t have.”

    That type of effort was why Boku was recognized in 2020 with the Spirit of Harvard College award. It is given to students who have shown a commitment to the ideals articulated in Harvard’s mission.

    When the pandemic struck, Boku switched to working remotely as a case manager. During the fall semester, Boku helped a local high school student find a place to take his online classes when the Y2Y building was closed. He worked with the student, the administrators at his school, and the Cambridge mayor’s office to find him a shared working space in Cambridge.

    “It showed me the importance and real-life impact that advocacy can have,” Boku said.

    The 21-year-old made his impact felt outside of Y2Y as well. Just before the pandemic hit last February, Boku helped organize the third annual student-run Black Health Matters Conference. It focused on racial disparities in health care for African Americans, an issue that a few months later was in the national spotlight.

    Over the years Boku has developed a special interest in sickle cell anemia, a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells to become misshapen and break down, and disproportionally affects Black and brown communities. He got involved in mentoring young adults diagnosed with it through STRIVE, the Harvard mentoring program for teenagers with the disease.

    While he is concerned about sickle cell disease, Boku hasn’t done much research on it just yet. Most of his efforts thus far have been geared toward rare genetic diseases with no cure, such as progeria and tuberous sclerosis complex. Because they don’t affect a large number of people, they tend to have trouble drawing major funding from sources like big pharmaceutical companies.

    Boku’s passion for looking into rare diseases was cultivated in a neurobiology class he took his junior year. A father of two girls with a rare sleeping disorder spoke to the class about the difficulties of finding physicians who specialized in treating his daughters’ condition.

    “There wasn’t really enough research being done so he broke the fourth wall and asked us to go into rare disease research,” Boku said. “That is what strengthened my resolve to do research on these diseases that are neglected by the broader research community. In a way, I see that as no different from my work with Y2Y, mentoring students with sickle cell, or my work with the Black Health Matters Conference. All of it is fighting for justice, whether I’m pipetting in the lab or whether I’m making a grilled cheese sandwich at Y2Y or whether I am introducing speakers for a panel at the conference. All of it was fighting for justice.”

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    ART TALK: Tariku Shiferaw’s ‘It’s a Love Thang, it’s a Joy Thang’ Exhibition in NYC

    Installation view: Tariku Shiferaw: It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang, Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, 2021. (Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.)

    The Brooklyn Rail

    Tariku Shiferaw: It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang

    Tariku Shiferaw’s It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang embodies Black joy—but not in the sense that people might think. In his latest exhibition, the artist pays homage to quotidian pleasures: those often referenced in the jazz era, a time when the greats sang about their daily lives. Their happiness, the Ethiopia-born, Los Angeles-raised artist explains, was not in the commoditization of their music or in the difficulties they overcame, but in the beauty of their expression. Now based in New York, Shiferaw presents a show of his own work, featured alongside handpicked poetry and a stunning sound piece, emulating a love song, and showcasing the small joys on which a person relies to overcome. There’s a powerful playlist to match, bringing Shiferaw’s work to life, featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Aaliyah and Tyler, the Creator, Solange and Kendrick Lamar, along with many others. Each of his pieces, it’s worth noting, is inspired by one of the musical artists in the abovementioned playlist, adding a sense of interconnectedness to the concept of Black joy.

    The exhibition is designed to be a multisensory experience. Shiferaw explains that he embraced ideals such as self-love and joy first and foremost, all while exploring the power of positivity on a more universal level. He cites celebrated American poet Toi Derricotte, an 80-year-old professor who crafted the famous 2008 poem “Joy is an act of resistance.” Derricotte’s work is printed in small font and mounted on the wall in vinyl, such that viewers must come closer and read lines such as: “What does her love have to do with five hundred years of sorrow, then joy coming up like a small breath, a bubble?” Like Shiferaw, Derricotte puts the nuances of Black joy into a tangible form, embracing the same, blues-based artistry as the creatives who came before her, demarcating the line between joy and sorrow. Here too, she finds pleasure in the small things; for instance, she writes extensively about the happiness she derived from observing her goldfish Telly, who cost practically nothing but offered her jubilance in his simplicity, in the way he smiled, and in the beauty of his mere existence in the world as a little orange fish.

    Tariku Shiferaw, A Boy is a Gun (Tyler, the Creator), 2020. Wood, wall paint, lacquer, 106 x 140 inches. © Tariku Shiferaw. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.

    The show itself, viewers will find, is serene and immersive in equal measure. With a new site-specific installation, Jerusalema (Master KG) (2021), reflective mylar sheeting covers one wall, layered behind high chain-link fencing that mimics the sense of separation one might experience from gazing across a barrier. On the opposite wall, flat, slatted wooden sculptures hang against a pink-painted panel, representative of the artist’s early use of shipping pallets. Here Shiferaw has created his own resting place, a space where he can simply chill out, relax, and, in his words, “not think about shit.” Installed in the middle of the room are Velvet Rope (Janet) (2021), and High Fashion (Roddy Ricch) (2021); between them a live palm tree and a smattering of sand that honor the artist’s childhood and conjure a Caribbean beach where both viewers and the artist himself can sit back and simply be. The black and blue hues only amplify this, highlighting the contrast of implied, lilting water to stillness of the air. Observers will find this dynamic play on black and blue in every one of the pieces on display.

    They will find it, for example, in A Boy is a Gun (Tyler, the Creator) (2020), a rectangle of rocky mountain sky blue paint applied to the gallery wall, supplemented with the same palette-like sculptures. They will find it in one of Shiferaw’s favorite pieces in the show, Waiting in Vain (Bob Marley) (2021). Named for Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” (1977), it is a love song in its own right, focused on the intensity of separation—which Shiferaw describes as a ransom or denial of pleasure. In Waiting in Vain, much of a vibrant blue painting is hidden behind the bars of a black pallet; Shiferaw, through his use of lacquer paint, acrylic, canvas, and wood, hopes to spark discussion on what he calls the “incarceration of painting.” And, of course, viewers will find the same black and blue in The Nearness of You (Ella Fitzgerald) (2021), a darkened canvas with hints of deep blue denoting the nearness of better times, the thrill of wanting or waiting, or of anticipation.

    Through It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang at Galerie Lelong & Co., Shiferaw aims to move beyond notions of overcoming to embrace new tools and ideas through which a person might experience hope. The show is about tap dancing, he explains, about singing the blues, or about letting one’s hair down. Ultimately, through Shiferaw’s musical curation and abstract paintings and installations, he has opted against talking about trauma, instead focusing on how we might derive pleasure from the time we have.

    Read the full article at brooklynrail.org »

    Galerie Lelong & Co.
    It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang
    April 1 – May 15, 2021
    New York

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    OBITUARY: Influential Ethiopian Producer Amha Eshèté Dies at 74

    Amha Eshete, the Founder of Amha Records -the pioneering record company whose work from the "golden era" of Ethiopian music is now enshrined in the world-famous éthiopiques CD series - has died at the age of 74. “The Amha Records catalog includes more than 100 vinyl references, released between 1969 and 1975. (Courtesy photo)

    World Music Central

    Amha Eshèté, a highly influential Ethiopian music producer and founder of Amha Records, died on April 30, 2021. The Amha Records label released iconic recordings of Ethiojazz and Ethiopop rooted in traditional music. These releases captured the golden era of Ethiopian music. The Amha recordings were licensed to French world music label Buda Musique and received worldwide distribution and critical acclaim as part of the successful Ethiopiques series.

    Gilles Fruchaux (Buda Musique) and Francis Falceto (collections éthiopiques & ethioSonic) issued a press release: “The departure of our friend Amha Eshèté (Amha Records) from Ethiopia’s great modern music scene follows five weeks after the death of Ali Tango (Kaifa Records).

    “A music lover through and through, a lone pioneer of record production in his country, a daring young entrepreneur, an alternative activist before his time (and something of a combative dude), a gentleman outlaw, Amha managed to circumvent Emperor Haile-Selassie’s state monopoly which did not publish any modern music and banned the importation and production of records. Amha Eshèté said «I had a gut feeling that it was the thing to do. I thought, nobody’s going to kill me for that. At most I might land in jail for a while. »

    “The Amha Records catalog includes more than 100 vinyl references, released between 1969 and 1975. The very essence of Ethiopian pop golden oldies. Nearly all of them have been reissued in the Éthiopiques series. Ethiopian pop is now firmly established, everywhere.

    “Without Amha Records and Kaifa Records, there would have been no Ethiopiques.

    “Thank you Amha. Thank you Ali. Rest in peace.”


    TADIAS Interview: Amha Eshete & Contribution of Amha Records to Modern Ethiopian Music

    How Ethiopian Music Went Global: Interview with Francis Falceto

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    Spotlight: In Colorado, Governor Visits Konjo Ethiopian in Edgewater

    Yoseph Assefa and Fetien Gebre-Michael of Konjo Ethiopian [the first Ethiopian food truck in Colorado serving the Denver metro area] meet with Colorado Governor Jared Polis at the Edgewater Public Market on Friday, April 30, 2021. (Photo: Oh Hey Creative)

    Edgewater Echo

    This past Friday (April 30, 2021) Colorado Governor Jared Polis visited Edgewater and had lunch with the owners and operators of Konjo Ethiopian, Yoseph Assefa and Fetien Gebre-Michael, at the Edgewater Public Market. Governor Polis spent the day touring small businesses throughout the Denver area.

    Here’s our interview with Fetien Gebre-Michael of Konjo Ethiopian about the visit.

    How did you hear the Governor would be stopping by Konjo?

    We received a call from the Governor’s office wanting to confirm a time in the next 2 days for him to stop by Konjo. Ummm, let’s rewind a bit here. Yes, we would love to have the Governor stop by, but why Konjo? So, Konjo is a part of the SBDC and back in 2018 we particpated in Trout Tank, a pitch accelerator. We ended up winning for our pitch of a fast-casual Ethiopian restaurant. One of the judges at the time, China, who is now the director of the SBDC, threw Konjo’s name in the hat. How cool is that?? Full circle.

    What was the message you wanted to the Governor to hear?

    We wanted the Governor to know that even though we barely made it through the pandemic, our struggles as a small business are not over yet. Yes, people are getting vaccinated and starting to come out more and more, but no one in our industry has enough staff. We are all struggling to keep up with the overnight demand and lack of staff has been a big issue. Our co-founder Yoseph suggested some sort of incentive to try to get more folks back into the service industry by way of a signing bonus funded by the state or a way that small businesses can draw potential employees back with help from the state level.

    What makes you hopeful for the future?

    Business is already starting to pick up exponentially. This will be a busy summer across the board. People are antsy to get out and they have money saved up from staying home for so long. They want to be around other people and start socializing again. Failure wasn’t an option for Konjo. We’ve worked too hard to get to where we are. We diversified and did what we could to stay afloat. If we can make it through Covid, we can make it through anything.


    Video: The Ethiopian Food Truck In Denver

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    UPDATE: Ethiopian Airlines Launches COVID-19 Digital Health Passport

    Ethiopian Airlines is now the first African carrier to use the International Air Transport Association's COVID-19 test mobile app. The IATA Travel Pass, which will help verify the authenticity of test information presented by travelers, will be used by the airline on two flights out of Addis Ababa: Washington D.C. and Toronto. (Photo: Airbus)

    Simple Flying

    Ethiopian Airlines Launches IATA Travel Pass Trials

    Yet another airline is announcing that it will be trialing IATA’s Travel Pass – a digital health passport that will make the verification of COVID-19 tests and vaccinations easier for the carrier. Ethiopian Airlines is now the first African carrier to run through a test of the mobile app, joining other airlines such as Emirates, SWISS, Singapore Airlines, and more.

    “Ethiopian has gone digital in all of its operations to avoid physical contact and combat the spread of the pandemic and now, embarks on this initiative which will allow passengers to relish unparalleled flight experience.”

    -Ethiopian Airlines official statement

    Where is the trial taking place?

    The IATA Travel Pass, which will help verify the authenticity of test information presented by travelers, will be used by Ethiopian Airlines on two flights out of Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD):

    Washington D.C. – Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
    Toronto – Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

    For flights to Addis Ababa, two airports will participate in this trial:

    London Heathrow (LHR)
    Toronto – Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

    The airline notes that this was effective as of April 25th, 2021, meaning that the trial is already underway.

    A visualization of the airports participating in this trial. Ethiopian flights to Toronto and Washington include technical stops, but this has not been included in the map to reduce confusion. (Photo: GCMap.com)

    Solving problems through digital technology

    Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, says that digital technology is vital to solving many of the problems that arise from the pandemic. Saying:

    “We are glad that we are offering new digital opportunities to our passengers so as to fully and safely restart air travel. Our customers will enjoy efficient, contactless and safer travel experience with their travel pass digital passport. As a safety first airline, we have become the first African airline to trail IATA’s travel pass initiative to facilitate travel.”

    For those still unfamiliar with IATA’s Travel Pass, the mobile app is designed to be a digital health passport of sorts, which will receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for the traveler’s specific route.

    Ethiopian has 27 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in its fleet. These are a mix of the -9 and shorter -8 variants. (Photo: byeangel via Wikimedia Commons)

    The app will share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. “The digital travel app will also avoid fraudulent documentation and make air travel more convenient,” the airline’s official messaging adds.

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    UPDATE: Census Bureau Announces 331 Million People in US

    The new census data shows that the US population grew from roughly 308.7 million in 2010 to 331.4 million, a 7.35% increase. That's the slowest population growth since 1930-1940 — the decade of the Great Depression. The US population has more than quadrupled since the 1900 Census. (CNN)


    The US Census Bureau announced Monday that the total population of the United States has topped 331 million people, marking the country’s second slowest population growth rate in US history. Amid that, Texas will gain two seats in the redistricting process, the results found.

    Additionally, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one seat in Congress.
    California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will all lose congressional seats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

    The results — which show that political power in the country is shifting from states in the Midwest and Northeast to those in the South and West — will have wide-ranging impacts on numerous aspects of American life, ranging from each state’s representation in Congress to the amount of money each state will get from the federal government. The numbers could shift the political makeup of Congress and set up what will likely be contentious redistricting battles in the coming months.

    And the numbers reflect which states are growing in both population and power. With Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Texas all gaining seats — and thus, electoral votes — their political clout will grow over the next decade, largely at the expense of states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

    The new numbers represented a decrease in the population growth rate when compared to growth between 2000 and 2010. It was only slightly more than the growth rate seen during the 1930s.

    Census officials said they were “very confident in the quality of the data” that they collected.

    “While no Census is perfect, we are confident that today’s 2020 Census results meet our high data quality standards. We would not be releasing them to you otherwise,” acting Director Ron Jarmin said.

    Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also expressed her confidence in the results.

    “2020 brought unprecedented challenges — a global pandemic, destructive wildfires, the most active hurricane season on record and civil unrest across the country. With all of that happening, the Census Bureau had to quickly adapt its operations to confront these challenges head on,” she said Monday.

    Some expectations from census experts were off. Some believed that Texas would gain three total seats, not two, while others believed states like Arizona, which did not gain a seat, would add a House district. Experts also expected Minnesota and Rhode Island to lose a seat — neither did, according to the Census Bureau.

    Some of the figures were remarkably close, however. Census Bureau officials said that if they had counted 89 more people in New York during the census and all other state populations had stayed the same, the state of New York would not have lost a district.

    More detailed data will also be released in the coming months that states will use to help draw the boundaries of their congressional districts. The agency has said those redistricting counts are expected to be released by the end of September.

    Although the Census will publish resident counts for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, their totals are not included in the overall apportionment population because they don’t have voting seats in the House, the agency said.

    The release of the data has been a long time coming, delayed by both the coronavirus pandemic and controversial legal fights on how President Donald Trump’s administration has handled the process.

    The Census Bureau announced in February that the numbers, which would normally come out by April 1, would be delayed. The bureau cited the coronavirus pandemic, and the difficulty the virus created for those collecting census data, as the reason for the delay.

    The process was also complicated by the Trump administration’s efforts to exclude noncitizens when seats in Congress were apportioned, a decision that landed the bureau and the Republican administration in lengthy legal fights.

    Former attorney general Eric Holder responded to the announcement, saying that with the release of the numbers, “each state now needs to prepare for a fair and transparent redistricting process that includes input from the public.”

    Holder, the head of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a Democratic group aimed at combating gerrymandering, added: “Make no mistake — the same Republican state legislators who are pushing forward on hundreds of anti-voter bills at the state level have been very clear that they intend to manipulate the redistricting process to lock in their power.”

    In the majority of states, maps are redrawn and accepted by state legislatures, with many giving authority to the state’s governor to either approve or deny the new districts. Only a handful of states rely on relatively independent commissions to determine new maps. Because Republicans have been more successful at winning state legislatures in recent years, the party has almost total control over the process in a number of key states, like Texas and Florida.

    If Republicans embark on cutting up increasingly diverse populations in the suburbs around some of the nation’s largest cities — combining them with more reliably Republican voters in exurbs and rural areas — the party will open themselves up to racial gerrymandering claims. Democrats are prepared to fight any attempts.

    “The presumption that Republicans should get all of those new seats simply because they control the process is a presumption of gerrymandering,” said Kelly Ward Burton, the president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “And that is illegal.”

    Another issue facing both parties is how each should analyze the last four years of political shifts under Trump, a time that saw Democrats make up considerable ground in the suburbs and Republicans make inroads with Latino communities in places like South Florida and South Texas and consolidate support among rural voters.

    The question for those party officials in charge of the redistricting process will be whether to treat these shifts as either aberrations or signs of more lasting changes.

    “For people who did this stuff a decade ago, if they had known that Donald Trump was going to come along in 2016 and shift the American electorate, there’s at least a couple dozen seats around the country that would have been drawn differently than they were,” said Adam Kincaid, the head of the National Republican Redistricting Trust. “And that is the challenge for the next few years is trying to forecast out how much this realignment is permanent versus temporary.”

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    In Virginia No Bail for Accused Ethiopian Man in 70-pound Marijuana Plot

    Samson Desalegne Alemu, 31, of Springfield, was one of four people arrested April 14 as Christiansburg police ended weeks of surveillance and swooped in on an operation that investigators said connected a Northern Virginia supply chain to drug sales in two town neighborhoods. The trigger was Alemu’s arrival in a red 2019 Ford Escape that officers secretly equipped with a tracer. (Photo: Christiansburg Police Dept.)

    The Roanoke Times

    No bail for accused driver in 70-pound marijuana plot in Montgomery County

    HRISTIANSBURG — An Ethiopian man accused of delivering 70 pounds of marijuana to a suspected dealer in Christiansburg will not be allowed free on bond, a Montgomery County judge said Thursday.

    Samson Desalegne Alemu, 31, of Springfield, was one of four people arrested April 14 as Christiansburg police ended weeks of surveillance and swooped in on an operation that investigators said connected a Northern Virginia supply chain to drug sales in two town neighborhoods. The trigger was Alemu’s arrival in a red 2019 Ford Escape that officers secretly equipped with a tracer – Alemu was tracked electronically as he drove south, with officers falling in behind him as he passed Roanoke, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Wolz said at Thursday’s bond hearing.

    Police seized 66 pounds of suspected marijuana from the vehicle Alemu drove and another four pounds from the townhouse in the 300 block of Oak Tree Boulevard where his trip ended, Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt said.

    Another pound of suspected marijuana was found at an apartment in the Christiansburg Bluff complex in the 500 block of Republic Road that allegedly also was used by accused drug seller Tomas [Alemayehu] Keno, 29, of Radford, a search warrant said.

    Alemu and Keno each were charged with conspiring to distribute or to possess with the intent to distribute more than five pounds of marijuana, and with distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute more than five pounds of marijuana.

    Also arrested was Kayla Lynn Raines, 28, of Christiansburg, on the same two charges, and Natnael Kifle Yilma, 20, of Herndon, who was charged with the same conspiracy count and with having a firearm while involved in selling a pound of marijuana.

    Keno and Yilma had already been denied bail at earlier hearings, and Raines released on a $25,000 secured bond, when Alemu appeared by a video link from the county jail Thursday in Montgomery County General District Court.

    Attorney Chris Anderson of Roanoke, who represented Alemu, said his client, an Ethiopian citizen, was needed at home in Springfield, where the youngest of his two children was undergoing cancer treatment and his fianceé was recovering from her own cancer care.

    “There is a substantial need for Mr. Alemu’s presence there,” Anderson said.

    Alemu also has a more local community tie, with a sister living in Christiansburg, Anderson added.

    Wolz countered that the scale and alleged ongoing nature of the marijuana operation argued against setting a bond, as did a 2014 conviction that Alemu had for failing to appear for a Radford court hearing.

    Judge Gerald Mabe agreed with Wolz’ argument, saying that Alemu’s earlier failure to appear concerned him and the nature of the case left him unsure if Alemu would not commit other offenses if set free. Mabe said Alemu would have to remain in jail at least until his preliminary hearing, now set for Sept. 13, or he could appeal to Circuit Court and try to convince a judge there to set bail.

    According to Wolz, investigators had been looking at Keno as a regional marijuana seller since March and thought that Alemu was his source. Raines is Keno’s girlfriend, and she told investigators that she stayed at the Oak Tree Boulevard townhouse and Keno helped her with expenses, Wolz said.

    When officers raided the townhouse, they found more than $30,000 in cash. Much of the money was in a nightstand and Raines said it had not been there that morning, Wolz said. Among the money was $200 in marked bills that had been used in an earlier police undercover drug buy from Keno, Wolz said.

    A tipster had told police that several times per week, someone was bringing 10 to 20 pounds of marijuana from Keno’s address, Wolz said.

    Alemu told officers that the contraband found in the Ford Escape and in the townhouse was all his, Wolz said.

    When Alemu drove to Christiansburg, he was followed by a white 2014 Ford Fusion driven by Yilma, Wolz said. Among the items in the Fusion were five bags of spice, or synthetic marijuana, Wolz said.

    In an email after the hearing, Pettitt drew a sharp distinction between the alleged marijuana operation in Christiansburg and the legalization that Virginia is about to enact.

    “Beginning July 1st, adults 21 years of age or older may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use and may grow up to four plants per household,” Pettitt wrote. “However, it will be illegal to use marijuana in public or while driving. In addition distribution or sharing of marijuana in any amount over 1 ounce will continue to be illegal and a felony. We will continue to pursue distribution of marijuana cases when the amounts involved exceeds the 1 ounce authorized by the Legislature.

    “In this case, the quantity involved is over 1,100 ounces and the street value is approaching $200,000.”

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    Spotlight: Jessica Beshir’s ‘Faya Dayi’ Wins Top Prize at Swiss Film Festival

    The award was announced at a ceremony in the Swiss lakeside town on Nyon on Saturday (April 24). Faya Dayi, which explores the role that khat plays in the economy and culture of Ethiopia, also picked up the Fipresci award. (Photos: @FayaDayi/Twitter)

    Screen Daily

    Jessica Beshir’s ‘Faya Dayi’ wins top prize at upbeat hybrid Visions Du Réel

    Jessica Beshir’s feature debut Faya Dayi has won the grand jury prize at Swiss documentary festival Visions Du Réel (April 15-24).

    The award, which includes 20,000CHF ($21,900), was announced at a ceremony in the Swiss lakeside town on Nyon on Saturday (April 24).

    Faya Dayi, which explores the role that the narcotic khat plant plays in the economy and culture of Ethiopia, also picked up the Fipresci award.

    The US-Ethiopia-Qatar co-production marks the directorial debut of US-based Mexican-Ethiopian director Beshir and previously premiered in competition at Sundance. Mubi recently acquired all rights to the documentary for the UK and Ireland, Latin America, Italy, France, Germany, Turkey and India.

    Read more »


    ‘Faya Dayi’: Visions du Reel Review

    Ethiopia’s lucrative khat crop inspires a hypnotic, immersive documentary glimpse into the country’s soul

    The khat plant provides the most lucrative cash crop in Ethiopia. The state of bliss that results from chewing its leaves is almost a national anti-depressant. In Faya Dayi the cultivation, harvest and consumption of khat becomes a glimpse into the soul of the country.

    The combination of human stories and haunting imagery leaves a lasting impression

    Jessica Beshir’s hypnotic, immersive and very beautiful documentary marks an impressive feature debut. Audience engagement may reflect a film that embodies all the challenges and the rewards of slow cinema, but a high-profile festival run has led to it being acquired by Janus for North America, with MUBI taking a number of international territories including the UK.

    Faya Dayi’s meandering, unhurried approach requires you to slow down and adjust to the rhythms of a different pace and sensibility. A languid drowsiness envelopes much of the film. Sleeping dogs lie stretched out on nighttime roads, a young boy happily floats on the surface of calm water, wisps of smoke ascend from a fire, the flutter of a bird’s wings breaks the silence, a boy’s tear silently falls.

    Beshir serves as writer, producer, director and cinematographer, and her striking, acutely observed monochrome images lie at the heart of film. The walled city of Harar with its narrow, winding network of streets is a solid presence in a picture that takes particular note of connections to the land and nature. Water is a recurring feature, from the shallow pools in which boys play to the cracked surface of a bone-dry lake bed where water once flowed. The growing, picking, transport and distribution of the khat is threaded through the film. It provides jobs, a thriving economy and distraction for the masses. Beshir captures images of men at work in the fields and in vast warehouses, leaves collected into bundles, sheaves carried on shoulders as the product is spread across the land.

    Human connections require much more work on the part of the viewer. We are allowed to glimpse scraps of lives that emerge in tales of struggle, lost loves and anxiety over the future. There is a distinct generation gap between fatalistic older men and those youngsters who ponder whether it might be better to risk fleeing the country. “We shouldn’t have to perish in the deserts and the seas to change our lives,” says one. Another boy frets over the volatile shifts in temperament of a father at the mercy of khat. Yet, he too is drawn to the leaf and the state it induces. He has been told that the hazy high from khat (called Merkhana) is like watching films in your head.

    Faya Dayi is a film that grows increasingly mournful as the diverse elements start to come together. Beshir contemplates some of the religious and spiritual significance attached to khat. We learn about a troubled land and how the khat crop is both an economic blessing and a human millstone. Personal experiences of torture, violence and repression are recounted.The fears of the Oromo people are acknowledged. There is little need to spell out why the use of khat is such a widely accepted means of escape from reality.

    A running time close to two hours means that Faya Dayi risks overstaying its welcome, but the combination of human stories and haunting imagery leaves a lasting impression.


    Economist Review: Jessica Beshir’s Mesmerising Ethiopia Film “Faya Dayi”

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    UPDATE: U.S. Names Jeffrey Feltman as Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa

    Jeffrey David Feltman is an American diplomat and former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. This week the Biden Administration announced that it has appointed Feltman to serve as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa. (UN Photo)



    Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa

    Today, I am announcing that Jeffrey Feltman will serve as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa. This appointment underscores the Administration’s commitment to lead an international diplomatic effort to address the interlinked political, security, and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa. Having held senior positions in both the State Department and the United Nations, Special Envoy Feltman is uniquely suited to bring decades of experience in Africa and the Middle East, in multilateral diplomacy, and in negotiation and mediation to develop and execute an integrated U.S. strategy to address these complex regional issues.

    Of particular concern are the volatile situation in Ethiopia, including the conflict in Tigray; escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan; and the dispute around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. At a moment of profound change for this strategic region, high-level U.S. engagement is vital to mitigate the risks posed by escalating conflict while providing support to once-in-a-generation opportunities for reform.


    UPDATE: Biden Nominates Mary Catherine Phee as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

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    UPDATE: Ethiopia Signs $907 Million Financing Pact With World Bank

    Ethiopia's finance ministry said that $200 million will go towards small and medium businesses affected by the pandemic with the aim of easing their financing challenges. Another $207 million will be for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and the remaining $500 million will be invested in efforts to increase access to electricity in the Horn of Africa nation. (Reuters)


    Ethiopia’s finance ministry signed a $907 million financing agreement with the World Bank on Friday geared towards improving access to financing, the fight against COVID-19 and electricity investment, it said.

    Some $700 million was a loan and $207 million a grant, the ministry said in a statement.

    The ministry said that $200 million will go towards small and medium businesses affected by the pandemic with the aim of easing their financing challenges.

    Another $207 million will be for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and the remaining $500 million will be invested in efforts to increase access to electricity in the Horn of Africa nation.

    Like other countries around the world, Ethiopia’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic.

    In February, the International Monetary Fund said that Ethiopia’s economic growth is projected to be 2% in 2020/21, largely due to the effects of the coronavirus, but it is expected to rebound to 8.7% in 2021/22 in line with a global recovery.


    UPDATE: IMF & World Bank Say Ethiopia’s Debt is Sustainable

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    UPDATE: Biden Nominates Asmeret Berhe as Next Director of Office of Science

    Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, who was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea, is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry; the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology; and Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education at the University of California, Merced. (Photo courtesy of TED)

    Press Release

    The White House

    President Biden Announces 12 Key Climate and Infrastructure Administration Nominations

    WASHINGTON – Today, on Earth Day, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve and further the Biden Administration’s commitment to a modern sustainable infrastructure and clean energy future.

  • Carlos Monje, Nominee for Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Department of Transportation
  • Amit Bose, Nominee for Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Department of Transportation
  • Shalanda Baker, Nominee for Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact, Department of Energy
  • Asmeret Berhe, Nominee for Director of the Office of Science, Department of Energy
  • Robert Hampshire, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, Department of Transportation
  • Monica Medina, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau and Oceans and International Environmental and Science Affairs, Department of State
  • Bryan Newland, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior
  • Annie Petsonk, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, Department of Transportation
  • Frank Rose, Nominee for Principal Deputy Administrator for National Nuclear Security, Department of Energy
  • Margaret Schaus, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Rick Spinrad, Nominee for Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce
  • Tracy Stone-Manning, Nominee for Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior

    Asmeret Berhe, Nominee for Director of the Office of Science, Department of Energy

    Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry; the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology; and Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education at the University of California, Merced. Her research is at the intersection of soil science, global change science, and political ecology with an emphasis on how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate and the dynamic two-way relationship between the natural environment and human communities. She previously served as the Chair of the US National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies; was a Leadership board member for the Earth Science Women’s Network; and is currently a co-principal investigator in the ADVANCEGeo Partnership – a National Science Foundation funded effort to empower (geo)scientists to respond to and prevent harassment, discrimination, bullying and other exclusionary behaviors in research environments. Her scholarship on how physical processes such as erosion, fire, and changes in climate affect the biogeochemical cycling of essential elements in the earth system and her efforts to ensure equity and inclusion of people from all walks of life in the scientific enterprise have received numerous awards and honors. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, and a member of the inaugural class of the US National Academies New Voices in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

    Berhe was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea. She received a B.Sc. in Soil and Water Conservation from the University of Asmara, an M.Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2020 she was named a Great Immigrant, Great American by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

    Click here to read the full press release »


    UPDATE: Biden Nominates Mary Catherine Phee as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

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  • UPDATE: America Absorbs Floyd Verdict With Sense of Relief, Caution

    Lucia Edmonds, 91, of Washington reacts on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Washington, after the verdict in Minneapolis, in the murder trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted for killing George Floyd. (AP photo)

    The Associated Press

    ‘Sliver of hope.’ Relief, caution as Floyd verdict absorbed

    NEW YORK (AP) — When the verdicts came in — guilty, guilty and guilty — Lucia Edmonds let out the breath she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding.

    The relief that the 91-year-old Black woman felt flooding over her when white former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for killing George Floyd was hard-earned, coming after a lifetime of seeing other cases end differently.

    “I was prepared for the fact that it might not be a guilty verdict because it’s happened so many times before,” the Washington, D.C., resident said. She recalled the shock of the Rodney King case nearly three decades ago when four Los Angeles officers were acquitted of beating King, a Black motorist.

    “I don’t know how they watched the video of Rodney King being beaten and not hold those officers to account,” Edmonds said. About the Chauvin verdict, she said, “I hope this means there is a shift in this county, but it’s too early for me to make that assumption.” Still, she added: “Something feels different.”

    The same sense of relief, of accountability served and crisis at least temporarily averted, was palpable across the United States on Tuesday after a jury found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in killing Floyd, a Black man who took his last breath pinned to the street with the officer’s knee on his neck.

    But when it came to what’s next for America, the reaction was more hesitant. Some were hopeful, pointing to the protests and sustained outcry over Floyd’s death as signs of change to come, in policing and otherwise.

    A person reacts near Cup Foods after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd. (AP Photo)

    Others were more circumspect, wondering if one hopeful result really meant the start of something better in a country with a history of racial injustice, especially in the treatment of Black people at the hands of law enforcement.

    With all the relief and gratitude 68-year-old Kemp Harris, a retired kindergarten teacher in Cambridge, Mass., felt upon hearing the verdict, it was tempered by what he’d seen in the much more recent past: The deaths of Daunte Wright in Minnesota and of Adam Toledo in Chicago.

    “You know, I think it puts a period on the end of this particular incident,” Harris, who is Black, said when asked if the Chauvin decision represented the end of a chapter. “But I don’t think it puts a stoppage on what’s been going on.”

    In Columbus, Ohio, some residents had their celebrations cut short by reports that police fatally shot a teenage Black girl.

    “As you’re getting one phone call that he was guilty, I’m getting the next phone call that this is happening in my neighborhood,” Kimberly Shepherd said. Hours later, police released body-camera footage that appeared to show the officer firing just as the girl lunged at another female with a knife.

    Beverly Mills, 71, of Pennington, New Jersey, and Elaine Buck, 67, of Hopewell Borough, New Jersey, found themselves thinking back through history as they reflected on the verdict in Minnesota.

    “I was bracing myself for what would happen if he did get off,” Mills said. “I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it because I thought, then there is no hope.” Mills said she was on her senior class trip to Washington, D.C., one of just four Black girls out of a class of 200 or so, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

    “Washington and all the major cities were starting to erupt and they wanted to get the kids back to New Jersey. As the train was leaving, you could see the smoke starting to circle in the sky,” Mills said.

    Will the verdict change anything? Buck said: “It will make everybody aware that we’re watching you. We’re videotaping. What else are we supposed to do?”

    Things are and will be different, insisted Aseem Tiwari, an Indian American screenwriter who lives in Los Angeles. He’s convinced the level of outrage spurred by Floyd’s death would last, even if it doesn’t take the form of sustained, nationwide protests as it did in 2020.

    A couple dances at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Washington, after the verdict in Minneapolis, in the murder trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was announced. (AP Photo)

    He used himself as a case in point. Floyd’s death drove him to be more involved and more willing to speak out than ever before — even during a pandemic when gathering carried a risk.

    Before one protest, he recalled, his mother “asked me one simple question: ‘Are you willing to get COVID and die while protesting for this?’ And I didn’t flinch for a second.”

    That kind of determination, he said, isn’t just going to fade.

    There’s still a hard road ahead, said Jonathan Har-Even, of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and the verdict, while important, doesn’t necessarily feel like a victory.

    “It feels like a step in the right direction,” said Har-Even, who is white. “It feels positive, but it’s hard to feel victorious.”

    Naim Rasheed, 26, of Oklahoma City, said he had assumed no one would face justice for Floyd’s death. The guilty verdict, he said, was a relief, and he believes police officers will realize they can’t get away with violence against Black Americans.

    “I bet that they’re going to take their lives a little bit more serious and their careers a little bit more serious now,” Rasheed said.

    Tina Ikpa, a Black attorney in Norman, Oklahoma, said she was “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

    “I feel like there’s some hope, but I still feel like there’s a lot of work left to do,” the 38-year-old said. “I feel like this is maybe a crack in the wall, but the wall has not come down. It’s a small sliver of hope, but I’m hesitant to say we have reached the mountaintop.”

    If nothing else, the verdict gave the country a glimpse of something it hasn’t always seen, said Harris, the retired teacher in Cambridge, Mass.

    “I at least think that we saw what justice can look like in this country,” he said. “We saw what can happen when people just deal with the truth of the matter.”

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    In Harlem Ethiopian Church Faces Eviction In City’s Affordable Housing Deal

    Board members Atsede Elegba (left) and Almaz Kebede outside the Beaata Le Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Church on March 28, 2021. The church is set to be evicted from its home on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. due to a city deal with a local nonprofit. (Photo: Patch)


    A celebrated deal to create permanently affordable housing in Harlem will leave the neighborhood’s last Ethiopian Orthodox church homeless.

    HARLEM, NY — When leaders of the Beaata Le Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church received an eviction notice in 2019, displacing them from their longtime home, they assumed their landlord had reached a deal with some private developer to construct a new set of condominiums or a luxury tower.

    “We thought it was some huge corporate structure who was just wanting to buy the building to make money,” said Atsede Elegba, a church board member.

    It was not until March of this year that the church learned the more complicated truth: their landlord, the city’s Housing Preservation Department, had reached a much-heralded deal to give their building to a neighborhood nonprofit, which will convert it into permanently affordable housing.

    Now, members of the church — the last remaining Ethiopian Orthodox institution in Harlem — are packing up icons and incense at their home on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and West 121st Street ahead of their May 28 eviction date.

    In this pre-pandemic photo, crowds gathered inside Beaata Le Mariam for a bishop’s visit in 2019. (Courtesy of Atsede Elegba)

    They are also contending with internal disagreements over how to find a new home, and conflicted feelings about the group that is displacing them.

    “I’m very sad,” said Mezgebu Zikarge, the church’s head priest and administrator. “I cry to God.”

    “People from all over”

    Behind Beaata Le Mariam’s modest corner storefront, about two dozen people were gathered on a recent Sunday after finishing that day’s services. Families sipped coffee and tea and tore off chunks of dabo bread; women wearing traditional netela scarves spoke in English and Amharic as children ran between rooms.

    In the inner sanctuary, Zikarge pointed at portraits of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Jesus’s crucifixion as the smell of incense wafted in. The church, which welcomed up to 100 congregants on past Sundays, has continued holding smaller, socially-distanced services during the pandemic.

    Mezgebu Zikarge, priest head and administrator of Beaata Le Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, inside the church sanctuary on March 28, 2021. (Nick Garber/Patch)

    The Ethiopian Orthodox church first made inroads in Harlem in the 1950s, arriving at the request of Black Americans who were drawn to it as one of the few Christian churches in Africa that predated colonialism.

    Today, Beaata Le Mariam is “a rare combination of Western-born and Ethiopian-born parishioners,” said Elegba, whose family were early converts to the faith in the 1960s. Starting in the 1970s, Black American and Caribbean congregants were joined by native Ethiopians and Eritreans immigrating to Harlem during those countries’ civil war.

    Over the years, fellow churches around Harlem have shut their doors as parishioners moved to other boroughs and the suburbs. Beaata Le Mariam opened in 2003 in Lower Manhattan, sharing space with an Armenian orthodox church before moving into its Harlem home in 2006.

    “We have a lot of people from all over,” said board chair Almaz Kebede, citing congregants who travel from the Bronx, New Jersey and Connecticut to attend weekly services.

    A historic housing deal

    For more than a decade, Beaata Le Mariam paid just $1,267 per month to occupy the ground floor of the five-story brick building at 2020 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.

    Despite repeatedly asking for a permanent lease, the church was kept on a month-to-month basis by HPD, which the agency says is standard practice as it works to convert its properties into affordable housing.

    Then, in April 2019, came the eviction notice.

    Since December 2019, the church has been allowed to pay no rent, and was granted an extension on its eviction through June 2020 after negotiating with the city. Due to the pandemic, the deadline was extended into 2021, before the firm May 28 deadline was handed down earlier this year.

    Congregants celebrated Easter inside Beaata Le Mariam in 2013. (Courtesy of Atsede Elegba)

    It was only through media reports this spring that church leaders learned what had happened: their building had been transferred to the nonprofit East Harlem El Barrio Community Land Trust (EHEBCLT), in a historic agreement announced last fall and hailed by housing advocates.

    In the deal, the EHEBCLT purchased four HPD-owned buildings for $1 each, promising to renovate them and turn them into housing that would be kept affordable in perpetuity.

    “In anticipation of this property’s substantial renovation as part of the East Harlem El Barrio Community Land Trust (EHEBCLT) project, the former commercial tenant was issued a standard 30 day vacate notice,” HPD spokesperson Jeremy House said.

    “We don’t have the money”

    As the deadline nears, congregants are split roughly in half between those who want to find a way to stay, and others who see the eviction as a chance to start fresh elsewhere, Elegba said.

    But as church leaders hunt for a new home in Harlem, they are facing a stark reality: few spaces are available with rents as low as what they are used to paying.

    “We don’t have the money to rent a market-rate facility,” Elegba said. “It just seemed as though we were disregarded.”

    Congregants served food at Beaata Le Mariam for a 2013 celebration. (Courtesy of Atsede Elegba)

    Now, elders are moving the church’s possessions into a storage locker in the Bronx, after outreach to the mayor’s faith-based pandemic advisory council and City Councilmember Bill Perkins’s office failed to yield any relief.

    Reached for comment, Athena Bernkopf, a project coordinator for the EHEBCLT, said the group could not comment on legal proceedings, but has “always been open to being in conversation with community members regarding community land.”

    Members of Beaata Le Mariam were hesitant to draw attention to their eviction, Elegba said, in part because they support the land trust’s mission of creating affordable housing.

    But the desire to find a new home for the church outweighed their reluctance, Elegba said.

    “A part of me hopes that if someone writes about it, maybe someone else will have the heart to say, ‘Maybe you can move here.”

    The storefront home of Beaata Le Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and West 121st Street, March 28, 2021. (Nick Garber/Patch)

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    SCIENCE: NASA Mars Helicopter Makes History as First to Fly on Another Planet

    NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured this image of its shadow as it hovered over the Martian surface on April 19, 2021, during the first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. It used its navigation camera, which autonomously tracks the ground during flight. (Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    National Geographic

    Ingenuity has lifted off the Martian surface and launched a new era of planetary exploration

    A small helicopter opened a new chapter of space exploration this morning when it lifted off the surface of Mars, marking humankind’s first powered flight on another planet. The 19-inch-tall chopper called Ingenuity kicked up a little rusty red dust as it lifted about 10 feet off the ground, hovered in place, turned slightly, and slowly touched back down. The flight lasted only about 40 seconds, but it represents one of history’s most audacious engineering feats.

    “A lot of people thought it was not possible to fly at Mars,” says MiMi Aung, the project manager of Ingenuity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “There is so little air.”

    In this video captured by NASA’s Perseverance rover, the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took the first powered, controlled flight on another planet on April 19, 2021. (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

    The wispy atmosphere at Mars’s surface is equivalent to an altitude of about 100,000 feet on Earth—much higher than even the most capable helicopters can fly. The highest helicopter flight in history occurred in 1972, when French aviator Jean Boulet flew to 40,820 feet at an airbase northwest of Marseille.

    The Martian helicopter experienced a setback on April 9, when the craft’s onboard computer shut down early during a test to spin the two rotors at high speed. After reviewing the data, the team at JPL adjusted the command sequence that is sent to the spacecraft to start the rotors, allowing them to complete the high-speed spin test on April 16. And at 3:34 a.m. ET on April 19—in the midafternoon local time on Mars—the helicopter successfully completed its first flight.

    In the future, similar flying machines could scout new areas for rovers and astronauts, collect samples from hard-to-reach places, and traverse dozens of miles over the span of days to provide a new perspective of the Martian landscape.

    Only four pounds on Earth, which is 1.5 pounds on Mars, Ingenuity has been operating on its own since April 3, when the car-size Perseverance rover deposited it in a flat area clear of debris. A small solar panel tuned for the relatively low levels of sunlight charges the helicopter’s batteries during the day, and electric heaters keep the vehicle warm during nights that can plunge to -130°F.

    NASA’s Perseverance rover took a selfie on Mars with the Ingenuity helicopter on April 6. Perseverance then drove off to an overlook about 200 feet away to watch Ingenuity’s flight attempt. (PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS)

    To achieve its short foray into the Martian atmosphere, the little rotorcraft relied on a tiny processor like those in cellphones, autonomous navigation technologies from self-driving cars, eight lithium-ion batteries, and lightweight composite materials. Its two carbon-fiber rotors, which span four feet from tip to tip, had to spin up to about 2,500 rotations per minute—roughly five times the speed of a normal helicopter rotor—to lift off the ground.

    Now that Ingenuity has taken its first flight, the team can plan a second, which will likely perform the same hovering maneuver but a bit higher and for a bit longer. They are about halfway through a 31-day window to test the helicopter, using Perseverance as a communication relay to Earth before the rover drives off to begin its search for past life on Mars. Up to five flights are planned, building up to a trip down a 50-foot-long flight zone and back.

    “It boggles your mind,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, “flying for the first time in history a helicopter on Mars.”

    “Don’t tell me anymore it’s not possible”

    Read more »

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    UPDATE: In Denver, Funeral Held For Joshua Haileyesus, 12-Year-Old Who Died As A Result Of ‘Blackout Challenge’

    The 12-year-old was found struggling to breathe on March 22 in his home. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support and died over the weekend. Joshua Haileyesus was the son of Ethiopian immigrants and had several siblings, including a twin brother. Below you can read the statement from his family. (Photo courtesy of Nebiyu Asfaw and Hirut Yitayew)


    Friends, Family Attend Funeral Service For Joshua Haileyesus, Boy Who Died After Trying ‘Blackout Challenge’

    AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A funeral service was held on Monday for 12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus from Aurora. His family believes his death was a result of playing game he saw online called the “Blackout Challenge.”

    Haileyesus was found struggling to breathe on March 22 in his home. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support. He died 19 days later.

    The Blackout Challenge, which has gotten attention on TikTok and YouTube, dares participants to choke themselves until they lose consciousness.

    The Haileyesus family hopes the news of their son’s death will bring awareness to the dangers.

    Haileyesus was the son of Ethiopian immigrants and had several siblings, including a twin brother.

    UPDATE: In Denver, Funeral To Be Held For Joshua Haileyesus, 12-Year-Old Who Died As A Result Of ‘Blackout Challenge’


    Funeral To Be Held Monday For Joshua Haileyesus, 12-Year-Old Who Died As A Result Of The ‘Blackout Challenge’

    AURORA, Colorado – A funeral service will held on Monday for an Aurora boy who died from what his family thinks was a result of playing an online game called the “Blackout Challenge.” The family of Joshua Haileyesus says the service will be open to the public.

    The 12-year-old was found struggling to breathe on March 22 in his home. He was taken to the hospital and put on life support and died over the weekend.

    The Blackout Challenge, which has gotten attention on TikTok and YouTube, dares participants to choke themselves until they lose consciousness. The Haileyesus family hopes the news of their son’s death will bring awareness to the dangers.

    While he was on life support, members of the community as well as those who never even knew Haileyesus reached out to his family sharing their prayers and words of support. The family shared a statement this week that they are comforted and “sincerely grateful to the thousands” who did so.

    “It has been moving to witness so many people from around the state and in fact from around the United States; showing love and compassion for Joshua,” the family statement read.

    (Photo courtesy of the Haileyyesus Family)

    The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. at Colorado Community Church, located at 14000 East Jewell Avenue in Aurora. A burial service will take place afterwards at Olinger Hampden Mortuary at 8600 East Hampden Avenue in Denver.

    Haileyesus was the son of Ethiopian immigrants and had several siblings, including a twin brother. The family described him in the following way:

    Everyone who knows Joshua can tell you what an incredibly gifted, funny, caring, and happy 12-year-old he is. Together with his twin brother, he would learn and master new hobbies out of pure curiosity and drive. Whether it was playing soccer, barbecuing sophisticated meals (better than any adult in the family can), practicing professional photography, experimenting with 3D modeling software, learning the ins-and-outs of acting including screenwriting and costume design, playing guitar, and planning his future of joining the U.S Army before becoming a First Responder, Joshua has excitement and passion for growing and learning. Joshua was so smart and impressive, unlike any twelve-year-old that we know; he seemed to have planned all his life in advance with his dreams and aspirations. Beyond his love for knowledge, Joshua has a love for people that you wouldn’t expect in a child. Since he was very young, he always expressed compassion for others. He would pray for people who were sick, stand up for others who were bullied at school, and practice CPR in case he ever needed to save someone else’s life.

    A GoFundMe page raised more than $181,000 for the family.


    12-year-old dies after 19 days on life support, family blames online ‘blackout challenge’

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    Interview: Up-and-Coming Ethio-American Musician Abel Maasho

    “I never really listened to music or anything in the house,” Maasho confessed of his childhood. “Both of my parents are Ethiopian immigrants. I’m a first gen, and the only music that was ever played was Ethiopian gospel music on Sundays.” (Photo: @abelmaasho/Instagram)

    The Daily Californian

    Dropping hits from his dorm room: Maasho talks being self-taught, entering music industry

    In an interview with The Daily Californian, Abel Maasho laid out his vision for an upcoming first album: “I’m a teenager, this is my life, I’m also a fucking superstar, and I’m gonna do this s— regardless if people like it or not, because it’s my world and you’re just living in it.”

    Considering that the young musician has garnered over 13 million global streams from only 9 songs with no record label or management to thank for it, the above statement checks out perfectly. The 19-year-old singer-songwriter from North Carolina has all the makings of a musical prodigy, but his songwriting journey only began two years ago.

    “I never really listened to music or anything in the house,” Maasho confessed of his childhood. “Both of my parents are Ethiopian immigrants. I’m a first gen, and the only music that was ever played was Ethiopian gospel music on Sundays.”

    It wasn’t until 2019, when Maasho sat in on his friend’s songwriting session, that he realized his natural aptitude for alt music. Soon after picking up songwriting as a hobby, Maasho’s meticulous nature kicked in and demanded that he verse himself in production, mixing and mastering.

    “I really, really like being able to have control over my entire process, because at the end of the day this is an extension of myself,” Maasho said. “I decided that I wanted to pursue music seriously probably a couple weeks into being in my freshman dorm at (East Carolina University) where it was like, ‘Damn, I can do this myself!’ ”

    2019 saw hits for Maasho such as “Fresh Air” and “Ginger,” with over 6 million and 2 million Spotify streams, respectively. Despite already finding the route to writing hit songs, Maasho is still allowing himself to explore new sounds and songwriting strategies.

    “I’ve taken up painting recently, and I’ve started trying to write down my lyrics on physical paper,” said Maasho of his new habits. “I’ve used the paintings and written songs about (them)… you should try and do art in as many possible ways as you can if you have the ability and you have the circumstances to do them.”

    While Maasho is already deliberate in his devotion to creating art, life tends to force spontaneous creativity from him regardless. He explained one instance in 2020 when the neighboring city Raleigh was shut down over Black Lives Matter protests and he was followed by three cops on a 15-minute drive to his own house. The days that ensued saw Maasho turning his racial trauma into a fiery, truth-spitting three-song EP about racial injustice, entitled “World on Fire.”

    “I was freaking out… Because I am a Black male driving home in my predominately white town and I am scared,” Maasho remembered. “That really pissed me off, because I was like okay… I (felt) safe in my city, but I no longer do, and ‘World on Fire’ ended up being made literally the next day after that.”

    Maasho’s most recent single, “Sad Machine,” is in that same vein of cathartic songs that allow for coping. Accompanied by a comedically tinged music video, “Sad Machine” is a gritty and undeniably catchy piece of indie pop that boasts both woeful lyrics and an uplifting beat.

    “The song for me is kind of personifying my battle with anxiety and depression and other mental health things, and a lot of people go through that, especially people my age,” Maasho commented. “It’s an easily accessible song. If this makes you feel good, but it’s also talking about things you deal with on a daily basis, I’m very glad. I’m ecstatic that I (can) make that.”

    While a catchy, relatable anthem about mental health might have been Maasho’s end product, its origin was a mere experiment performed alone in a bedroom.

    “It was like yo, look, I’m going to make this super simple song, the hook is going to have 11 words, and it’s gonna be a hit, and that’s how I feel about it,” explained Maasho. “I don’t care about streams, this is literally just what I’m doing.”

    Maasho’s beyond-his-years outlook on life guarantees that he’ll continue to create a brand for himself as a multi-genre producer, singer and songwriter.

    “I’m just looking for the next step, seeing what’s good with my artistry and growing myself as a person, and just using my music as more self-extension rather than self-expression,” Maasho added.

    Later in 2021, the world will see Maasho release many new projects, including an upcoming single with friends Weston Estate and also his first-ever album, tentatively titled “Abe’s World Volume I.”

    “I’m very very excited about that because it shows all the different sounds that I’ve been playing with over the course of these singles over the past year,” emphasized Maasho. “Be on the lookout.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Biden Nominates Mary Catherine Phee as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

    Mary Catherine Phee, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who had previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, is among seven individuals nominated to fill key roles in the State Department. Phee currently serves as Principal Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the State Department. (Photo: C-SPAN)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: April 15th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — Today President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Mary Catherine Phee as the next U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation.

    In a press release the White House named Ambassador Phee – a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who had previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia – among seven individuals nominated to fill key roles in the State Department.

    According to the White House:

    Mary Catherine Phee, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, currently serves as Principal Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the State Department. She was U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan from 2015 to 2017. Previously, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. She also was the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs and Deputy Security Council Coordinator at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, handling UN engagement in Africa for both portfolios. Earlier in her career, Phee served as Director for Iraq at the National Security Council and as Senior Civilian Representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Maysan Province, Iraq. She began her career in Amman, Jordan and also worked at U.S. Embassies in Cairo, Egypt and Kuwait City, Kuwait. She received the Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award for conflict resolution and peacemaking, the James A. Baker, III-C. Howard Wilkins, Jr. Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission, the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Order of the British Empire Award, and a Presidential Rank Award. She speaks Arabic. A native of Chicago, she is a graduate of Indiana University and holds a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

    Click here to read the full press release »


    Diplomacy: Request for Proposals that Strengthen Ties Between U.S. & Ethiopia

    Video: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Interviews Senator Coons About Ethiopia

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Hires More Help in Washington, DC to Lobby U.S Government

    U.S. Announces More Than $152 Million in Additional Assistance

    UPDATE: U.S. Senator Chris Coons Says Ethiopia Trip Was ‘Constructive’

    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

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    Diplomacy: Request for Proposals that Strengthen Ties Between U.S. & Ethiopia

    The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia invites proposals for programs that strengthen cultural ties between the U.S. and Ethiopia through cultural, media and exchange programming that highlights shared values and promotes bilateral cooperation. (Photo: Courtesy U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa Facebook page)

    Press Release


    The U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce that funding is available through its Public Diplomacy small grants program. This Annual Program Statement outlines our funding priorities, strategic themes, and the procedures for submitting requests for funding. Please carefully follow all instructions below.

    Purpose of Small Grants: PAS Addis invites proposals for programs that strengthen cultural ties between the U.S. and Ethiopia through cultural, media and exchange programming that highlights shared values and promotes bilateral cooperation. All programs must include an American cultural element, or connection with American expert/s, organization/s, or institution/s in a specific field that will promote increased understanding of U.S. policies, values, and perspectives.

    Examples of PAS small grants programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic and professional lectures, seminars and speaker programs;
  • Artistic and cultural workshops, joint performances and exhibitions;
  • Cultural heritage conservation and preservation programs;
  • Programs developed by an alumnus/a of a U.S. sponsored or supported educational or professional exchange program;
  • Programs that strengthen U.S. college and university relationships with local higher education institutions, businesses, and/or regional organizations;
  • Media trainings.

    The APS is intended to inform individuals, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academic institutions about opportunities from the Public Affairs Section to support projects in at least one of the following thematic areas:

  • Efforts to support Ethiopia’s economic and political reforms, including support for elections, civil society, democracy and governance, and/or entrepreneurship;
  • Strengthening independent and state media through media literacy, training and other engagement;
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM);
  • Engaging emerging and under-represented populations, including youth, women and persons with disabilities through education, art, sports, culture and other programs;
  • Promoting tolerance and peace through dialogue;
  • Promoting economic growth, especially via entrepreneurship;
  • Promoting sustainable policies to protect the environment.

    Priority Program Areas:

    Proposals must identify how it fulfills a broad U.S. Embassy priority:

  • Strengthen Democratic Institutions and Expand Human Rights: improve internal stability and strengthen rule of law through active engagement with stakeholders; improve learning outcomes by increasing achievement in education; and improve workforce skills development.
  • Spur Broad-based Economic Growth and Promote Development: strengthen role of women and youth in economic activity; improve trade and investment climate; increase development and growth of the domestic private sector; and increase livelihood transition opportunities.
  • Advance Regional Peace and Security: promote regional peace and security.

    Participants and Audiences:

    The Public Affairs Section encourages applications from U.S. and Ethiopian organizations and individuals including:

  • Registered not-for-profit organizations, including think tanks and civil society/nongovernmental organizations with programming experience;
  • Non-profit or governmental educational institutions;
  • Individuals will be considered, but priority is given to registered organizations and educational institutions with a proven track record of success.

    For-profit or commercial entities are not eligible to apply.

    The following types of programs are not eligible for funding:

  • Programs relating to partisan political activity;
  • Charitable or development activities;
  • Construction programs;
  • Programs that support specific religious activities;
  • Fund-raising campaigns;
  • Lobbying for specific legislation or programs
  • Scientific research;
  • Programs intended primarily for the growth or institutional development of the organization; or
  • Programs that duplicate existing U.S. government programs.

    Read more »

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  • Video: CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Interviews Senator Coons About Ethiopia

    CNN's Christiane Amanpour interviews Senator Chris Coons about his recent trip to Ethiopia, April 13th, 2021· (Photo: CNN)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: April 14th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This week in an interview with CNN’s Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour President Joe Biden’s close confidant Senator Chris Coons discussed his recent trip to Ethiopia.

    As Senator Coons told Amanpour he was asked by President Biden last month to serve as his special personal emissary to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. “He met with me for five hours over two days and he was very generous with his time,” Coons shared. “I delivered a letter directly to him from President Biden and I brought a letter back to President Biden from Prime Minister Abiy.”

    The Senator added:

    A couple of key developments: [PM Abiy] made commitments about humanitarian access, he publicly stated that there had been human rights violations committed by his own troops, by Eritrean troops and by the TPLF and committed to an international investigation in partnership with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Most importantly, he recognized publicly for the first time the presence of Eritrean troops in his country and then made a trip to Asmara to meet with President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea to demand he withdraw his troops. That was a significant step forward. We are looking for action across these three key commitments and there are also other regional concerns about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and a border dispute with Sudan. There was progress made on all these fronts, but there is still more that has to be done…I am going to be working with the Biden Administration to make sure those commitments are followed up.

    Click here to watch the interview »


    UPDATE: Ethiopia Hires More Help in Washington, DC to Lobby U.S Government

    U.S. Announces More Than $152 Million in Additional Assistance

    UPDATE: U.S. Senator Chris Coons Says Ethiopia Trip Was ‘Constructive’

    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

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    People: Madonna Buys The Weeknd’s Los Angeles Mansion for $19.3 Million

    The Weeknd previously bought the 12,547-square-foot estate in 2017 for $18.2 million. (Getty Images)

    People Magazine

    Madonna has a new home on the West Coast!

    The “Material Girl” singer, 62, has put down roots in Los Angeles, purchasing The Weeknd’s Hidden Hills mansion for $19.3 million.

    The Weeknd previously bought the 12,547-square-foot estate in 2017 for $18.2 million.

    Situated on three acres of land in a private gated community, the house boasts a seven-bedroom main house and a two-bedroom guest house. Lifestyle amenities in the main house include a living and dining rooms, an expansive chefs kitchen and an entertainer’s bar.

    The landscaped front driveway leads to an entrance hall with double-height ceilings and a two-story window wall, which brighten up the interior of the home. The brilliant white walls are warmed by wood and stone accents.

    Pocket doors open to a backyard with several terraces, a pool, spa and a cabana with a living room. The property, which is lined with redwood trees, also includes a spacious barn, a five-car garage with LED flooring and a full basketball court.

    The community is near Calabasas and the Malibu coast.

    The “Blinding Lights” singer, né Abel Tesfaye, first listed the property last summer for just under $25 million. By December, the price had dropped to $22 million before Madonna closed for another $2.7 million less.

    The Weeknd was represented by Angel Salvador at The Agency and Madonna was represented by Trevor Wright at The Beverly Hills Estates.

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    UPDATE: Ethiopia Hires More Help in Washington, DC to Lobby U.S Government

    Holland & Knight - an international law firm with more 27 offices in the United States, Europe, and Latin America - has been retained by the Ethiopian government to provide “strategic counsel and federal government relations” before both Congress and the White House, according to documents filed with the U.S. Justice Department. The six-month contract is worth $270,000. (Photo: Holland & Knight LLP)


    Ethiopian Peace Ministry hires Holland & Knight

    The Ethiopian government has hired more help in Washington as the Biden administration continues to issue warnings and reports of atrocities against the Tigrayan people continue to trickle out. Holland & Knight’s Michael Cavanaugh, Rich Gold, Michael Galano and Ronald Oleynik will assist Ethiopia’s Ministry of Peace with “strategic counsel and federal government relations” before both Congress and the White House, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.

    — The six-month contract is worth $270,000, and was disclosed the same day national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, according to the White House, to convey the administration’s “grave concern” over the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country, which Secretary of State Tony Blinken has said amounts to “ethnic cleansing” by the government in Addis Ababa against the Tigray people.

    — President Joe Biden dispatched one of his top congressional allies, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) to the Ethiopian capital last month. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told Coons during the visit that he is “deeply concerned” about reported atrocities, and is “fully committed to investigating all allegations of human rights abuses” and bringing to justice those responsible for the brutalities, according to a letter from Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United States to the heads of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that was disclosed to the Justice Department by the lobbying firm Venable, which is representing the Ethiopian embassy.

    Read more »


    UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

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    Ethiopian Airlines Celebrates 75 Years Of Flights

    As Ethiopian Airlines announced [this week] April 8th, 2021 marked the 75th anniversary of the carrier’s first-ever commercial flight. This inaugural service flew from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to its Egyptian counterpart, Cairo. (Photo: Ethiopian was the first African airline to order the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner.’/Getty Images)

    Simple Flying

    Yesterday marked a significant anniversary in the airline industry, as Ethiopian Airlines marked 75 years since its inaugural commercial flight. In the three-quarters of a century since then, the carrier has become the largest in Africa. Let’s take a look at the airline’s history, and how it has celebrated this special anniversary this week.

    How did it all start?

    As Ethiopian Airlines announced yesterday, April 8th, 2021 marked the 75th anniversary of the carrier’s first-ever commercial flight. This inaugural service flew from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to its Egyptian counterpart, Cairo.

    The flight was operated by a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, and flew via the Eritrean capital of Asmara. Ethiopian’s initial fleet consisted of five C-47s acquired from the US government. These previously served as military transport aircraft, and were a development of Douglas’s popular DC-3. Ethiopian’s C-47s had a mixed configuration, carrying passengers and cargo.

    In the 75 years that have followed, Ethiopian has experienced impressive and consistent growth. According to Planespotters.net, its fleet today consists of 127 aircraft. These include some of the most modern and efficient twinjets in the skies, namely the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. With this fleet, Ethiopian serves the fourth-largest number of countries of any airline.

    Ethiopian eventually operated the popular Douglas DC-3 as well as its military counterpart, the C-47. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

    Anniversary celebrations

    The ongoing coronavirus is continuing to significantly impact the world of commercial aviation. As such, Ethiopian’s 75th birthday probably did not play out how the airline might previously have imagined. Nonetheless, the carrier was able to mark the occasion with a special event on a flight to Cairo. As established, this was Ethiopian’s first commercial route.

    Read more »

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    ETHIOPIA UPDATE: U.S. Announces More Than $152 Million in Additional Assistance

    U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations


    In response to growing needs in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $152 million in additional humanitarian assistance. The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, and this latest announcement brings the total contributed by the American people for the people in Tigray to nearly $305 million.

    The humanitarian situation in Tigray continues to be dire, with approximately 4.5 million people in need of assistance and the UN warning that there could be a risk of famine. This new funding will address life-threatening hunger and acute malnutrition, as well as provide safe drinking water, urgently needed medical and health support, and shelter for some of the estimated one million people who have fled their homes. USAID support will also provide protection for the most vulnerable—including safe spaces and psychosocial support for women and girls, case management for survivors of gender-based violence, training for social workers and community case workers, and programs to reunite children separated from their families.

    Amidst considerable insecurity and humanitarian access constraints, USAID support will provide life-saving aid to more than 3 million people most in need in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. In addition to providing critical humanitarian aid, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which has been on the ground since March 1, 2021, to lead the U.S. Government’s response efforts.

    The United States remains deeply concerned about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Tigray and the lack of sufficient humanitarian funding to address it. Large-scale assistance is urgently needed to prevent conditions in Tigray from worsening. The United States urges other donors to immediately increase their contributions to address Ethiopia’s critical humanitarian needs, and to help the most vulnerable people in the Tigray region. While the U.S.’s humanitarian assistance will help alleviate urgent needs, it will not address the root causes of the ongoing conflict and human rights violations in Ethiopia. An immediate cessation of fighting, dialogue, reconciliation, and accountability measures are needed to stop the suffering in Tigray.


    UPDATE: The Weeknd Donates $1 Million to Relief Efforts in Ethiopia

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    Vogue: Liya Kebede & Her Daughter Bring A Touch Of Ethiopia’s Artisanship To H&M

    Liya Kebede says working with her daughter was wonderfully emotional and a proud moment in her career. (Vogue)


    Liya Kebede & Her Daughter Bring A Touch Of Ethiopia’s Artisanship To H&M

    Liya Kebede has been quietly working to preserve the art of weaving in her native Ethiopia since she founded her artisanal brand Lemlem, which means “to bloom” and “flourish” in Amharic, in 2007. By employing traditional weavers and breaking their cycle of poverty – the once thriving industry creating custom habesha kemis garments suffered as young Africans turned to modern imported fashion – Kebede has reinvigorated a community, and kept an important element of the culture of Addis Ababa, where she was born.

    Kebede is working with H&M on ways the high-street giant can benefit the Lemlem Foundation. Community is at the core of Lemlem and it was crucial that this was reflected in the H&M collaboration. (Vogue

    The UN ambassador and maternal health advocate’s craft-focused business model can be seen as a lesson in sustainability – one that is spoken about less frequently than eco-friendly textile innovations and circularity initiatives. “Lemlem is about the human element of sustainability,” explains Kebede over Zoom, still as radiant as when she started modelling at the age of 18. “In philanthropy, there’s always this issue of making something sustainable. For me, enabling and educating people, giving them jobs and making them independent is a sustainable way of doing aid.”

    The work of the Lemlem Foundation, which runs in tandem with the clothing brand and connects female artisans in Africa to healthcare, education and jobs, struck a chord with H&M, a pioneer in the high-street sustainable fashion movement. When the Swedish fast-fashion giant invited Kebede to design a capsule collection, she didn’t balk at the prospect, but saw it as an opportunity to spread the word about Lemlem’s mission. “The idea of H&M collaborating with a brand like ours, which is very much based on sustainability, brings that kind of awareness to their customers,” Kebede explains of H&M’s mammoth outreach. “I think that’s really important and great to be a part of.”

    Effortless-yet-elegant is the style takeaway from the edit. Jewellery is to be worn stacked and passed down through generations. (Vogue)

    After deciding that the shipping of fabrics back and forth between Ethiopia and Europe would pose major carbon footprint issues and that the quantity of stock would overwhelm Lemlem’s weavers, Kebede agreed to create a line of effortless daywear in the spirit of Lemlem’s archive, but made in Europe. Sustainably sourced organic cotton and linen and recycled polyester were selected to give the same texture as Lemlem’s artisanal pieces, while the joyful mood of the striped beachwear and breezy separates emulates the brand’s signature colourful aesthetic. “I love the whole energy of layering and everything sort of going with each other, even though it’s not the same,” says Kebede, who has been living in the samples.

    Jewellery, a new category for Lemlem and one Kebede is thrilled to experiment with, comes in the form of stacking trinkets made from recycled zinc, among other materials. It’s designed, like the rest of the sunny edit, to be passed down from generation to generation, and Kebede chose her daughter Raee to star in the lookbook with her – an experience she describes as emotional. “These classic pieces are wonderful items that you can always wear forever,” she says of the seasonless Lemlem ethos she extended to H&M.

    Raee, who loves the sustainable Lemlem X H&M crop tops and swimwear, and her friends, who mostly shop vintage, are indicative of the shift in consciousness around fashion’s negative impact on the environment. Kebede, who says there were no conversations around sustainability when she began modelling, is buoyed by this. “When people first started talking about it, everybody said, ‘If I make [clothing] sustainable, I’m going to be limited, so I won’t be able to make it as gorgeous as I want.’ Now that has completely changed,” she asserts. The healthy food movement, she believes, is helpful at illustrating this: organic food was once conceived as good for you, but lacking in flavour. Now, it is widely-accepted. With change-makers like Kebede spreading the message about quality, beautiful and ethical fashion, sustainability is firmly on the menu.

    result - 2021-04-08T124156.776
    Liya Kebede, who oversaw every finish, has been living in the samples since developing the collection. (Vogue)

    Shop Lemlem x H&M, which is priced from £7.99 to £39.99, from 22 April. As part of the collaboration H&M has made a donation to the Lemlem Foundation to bolster its important work.

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    Maryland: Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet Photo – Frederick Police Release First Picture of Shooting Suspect

    The Frederick Police Department, Fort Detrick and the Federal Bureau of Investigations Baltimore Field Office released an image of Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet on the afternoon of April 7, 2021, more than 24 hours after he allegedly opened fire at Riverside Tech Park in Frederick and then died after reportedly brandishing a gun at Fort Detrick. (Photo: Getty/Frederick Police Department)


    Frederick Police released the first photo of shooting suspect Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet this afternoon, the day after they say he shot two Navy sailors and was fatally gunned down at Fort Detrick.

    Woldesenbet, a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman, allegedly wounded two people at a military installation about 10 minutes from Fort Detrick, a U.S. Army base where he worked Tuesday, April 6, 2021. He was shot and killed at the base when officials said he fled a stop at a checkpoint and brandished a gun at about 8:45 a.m. He was 38 and lived in Frederick. The two injured victims survived. Their names have not been released.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Law Enforcement Released a Joint Statement April 7 Releasing the First Photo of Woldesenbet But Added No New Information

    The Frederick Police Department, Fort Detrick and the Federal Bureau of Investigations Baltimore Field Office released an image of Woldesenbet on the afternoon of April 7, 2021, more than 24 hours after he allegedly opened fire at Riverside Tech Park in Frederick and then died after reportedly brandishing a gun at Fort Detrick.

    “Frederick Police Department, in coordination with cooperating agencies investigating an active shooter incident Tuesday, is releasing the photo of subject Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet, 38, of Frederick, who was shot and killed by Fort Detrick’s civilian military police after initially shooting two people in the 8400 Block of Progress Drive and then driving onto Fort Detrick,” the press release said.

    The statement continued with an acknowledgment of the limited information that has been released, but said they want to maintain the integrity of the investigation. It further said that the public should rely on information from trusted sources and avoid rumors.

    The statement said:

    Additionally, our agencies know the public and the media want answers regarding this incident and the subsequent investigation. We do as well. Investigations take time. When the agencies have information that we have confirmed we will release it via the FPD’s news alert system, which everyone, including media partners, can sign up for at cityoffrederickmd.gov/alerts.

    Until then, we want to ensure the public we are investigating this incident from all angles and we encourage all residents and media partners to avoid speculation or rumors regarding details of the investigation. Unverified misinformation can prove harmful to the investigation.

    Read more »

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    Science: Meet the Newly Discovered Chameleon in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains

    The newly discovered Ethiopian chameleon "lives in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot that’s also home to the endemic Ethiopian wolf as well as lions, leopards and warthogs," according to the U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform Mongabay. (Photo from Koppetsch et al 2021)


    Spiny new chameleon species described from Bale Mountains of Ethiopia

    Researchers have described a new chameleon species from the Bale Mountains of south-central Ethiopia and say it’s likely that more will emerge.

    Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleon is around 15 centimeters (6 inches) long and has a distinct crest of large spiny scales along its back and tail.

    It lives in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot that’s also home to the endemic Ethiopian wolf as well as lions, leopards and warthogs.

    The conservation status of the new chameleon is unknown, but due to its small distribution range and human-caused habitat disturbance and agriculture in the area, it is likely that it will be classified as threatened.

    Named Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleon (Trioceros wolfgangboehmei), in honor of the senior herpetologist at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZMFK) in Bonn, Germany, the chameleon is around 15 centimeters (6 inches) long and has a distinctive crest of large spiny scales along its back and tail. The species has been described in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

    Researchers uncovered the new reptile while examining variations in Ethiopian chameleons (Trioceros affinis). After careful study of the internal and external features of both preserved and wild chameleons, researchers decided there were enough differences to warrant a new species.

    The researchers suggest that the Ethiopian chameleon be considered a species complex, a group with an unknown number of species, rather than a single species. They expect more species to be described from the group.

    “Given the variation in colour patterns and morphology between different populations of these chameleons in Ethiopia, it is likely that these groups still bear a higher hidden diversity than expected, which might be revealed by further ongoing investigations,” said Thore Koppetsch, a zoologist from the ZMFK who was part of the team that described the species.

    The new Ethiopian chameleon, Trioceros wolfgangboehmei, in muted tone. Chameleons can change the arrangement of specialized skin cell to blend in with their surroundings. (Photo from Koppetsch et al. CC-BY 4.0)

    Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleons live in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level. Many of Ethiopia’s endemic animals are found in the Bale Mountains, including the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis). The area is also home to lions, leopards, warthogs, and many other endemic reptiles.

    “Although the region from which the new chameleon is known from, the Bale Mountains, can be considered as a hotspot of species diversity and a center of endemism,” Koppetsch said, “it is quite astonishing to find an unknown chameleon in this region since two chameleon species endemic to this area are already known.”

    The conservation status of the new chameleon is unknown, Koppetsch says, but due to its small distribution range and human-caused habitat disturbance and agriculture in the area, it is likely that it will be classified as threatened with extinction.

    Head details of Trioceros wolfgangboehmei. (Photo from Koppetsch et al 2021. CC-BY 4.0)

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    UPDATE: The Weeknd Donates $1 Million to Relief Efforts in Ethiopia

    The Weeknd, born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, is the child of two Ethiopian parents who immigrated to Canada. (Photo: The Weeknd performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida/Getty Images)


    The Weeknd announced Sunday that he would donate $1 million to relief efforts in Ethiopia, where an ongoing conflict between the government and the Tigray region has resulted in thousands of deaths and over a million displaced people.

    “My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction,” Abel Tesfaye, the Toronto-born son of two Ethiopian immigrants, wrote Sunday on Instagram.

    “I will be donating $1 million to provide 2 million meals through the United Nations World Food Program and encourage those who can to please give as well,” providing a link for his fans to contribute.

    “The outbreak of conflict in Tigray last November coincided with the peak harvest period, leading to lost employment and incomes, disrupted markets, a rise in food prices, and limited access to cash and fuel,” the U.N. World Food Programme said, adding that they aim “to support 1.4 million of these vulnerable people before it’s too late.”

    In June 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, the Weeknd donated $1 million in Covid-19 relief, with $500,000 going to MusiCares and $500,000 to an Ontario, Canada hospital. Two months later, Tesfaye also gave $300,000 to a fund helping those impacted by the devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.


    UPDATE: Why the Weeknd is Boycotting Future Grammy Awards

    Video: The Weeknd Rocks Tampa with Super Bowl Halftime Show

    The Weeknd: “My Natural Singing Voice Was Inspired, Shaped By Ethiopian Music”

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    Spotlight: Scientist Sossina Haile Focuses on Social Good on a Global Scale

    Fuel cell pioneer Sossina Haile focuses on social good on a global scale. Born in Ethiopia, [Sossina’s] family fled the country in the ’70s after a military coup. They settled in Minnesota, and Haile went on to earn academic degrees in materials science and engineering on both coasts, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.(Northwestern Magazine)

    Northwestern Magazine

    Basic Science Leads to Sustainable Solutions

    Materials scientist and engineer Sossina Haile couldn’t have predicted that the cost of solar and wind energy would plummet in recent years, or that places like California would start paying customers to take electricity because their supply outstripped demand. But once those things happened, she had a solution.

    Haile’s team developed a way to convert electricity into hydrogen, store it and convert it back to electricity when more is needed. This breakthrough offers a way to rebalance, and even stabilize, the U.S. energy grid.

    “That’s the benefit of doing work on fundamental materials,” says Haile, a professor in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. “You can switch gears because you understand the properties of your materials and their potential applications.”

    Equipped with this technology, a storage company could take excess electricity from ComEd or PG&E, for example, and store it as hydrogen, Haile says. And when ComEd needs more electricity to power its customers’ air conditioners in the middle of summer, it would pay that storage company to convert hydrogen back to electricity. “That firm will make a killing,” Haile says.

    “I had to learn that quiet persistence only got you so far.”


    In 2001 Haile created the first solid acid fuel cell, which converts hydrogen, or a fuel like natural gas, into electricity. In recognition of this breakthrough, Newsweek magazine named Haile one of 12 people to watch. She was also featured, along with 11 other women in science and technology, on the ceiling of Grand Central Station in New York City.

    Haile made a subsequent world-first discovery in 2010, when she converted solar energy into hydrogen more efficiently than photosynthesis, the process by which living plants build their organic matter. This work, which she described in a 2012 TEDx talk and for which she was awarded the 2012 International Prize in Ceramics, opened the door to larger-scale efforts to use sunlight to directly make renewable fuels.

    And then the cost of solar and wind energy plummeted, and Haile’s basic science background proved invaluable, enabling her to switch her research focus back and forth between electricity and hydrogen.

    Now, Haile’s lab is reconfiguring their solid acid fuel cells so the devices can convert ammonia into high-purity hydrogen. “This would make it possible to use ammonia as a hydrogen carrier,” Haile says, “avoiding the cost of building a new delivery infrastructure to supply hydrogen to fuel cell vehicles.”

    Sossina Haile works with a student in her lab before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Northwestern Magazine)


    Born in Ethiopia, Haile’s family fled the country in the ’70s after a military coup. They settled in Minnesota, and Haile went on to earn academic degrees in materials science and engineering on both coasts, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.

    Haile’s work in sustainable energy was recognized early on, with a National Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a Fulbright Fellowship, among other honors. But just a few years into teaching, she found herself “in a very big ocean with lots of very big fish.”

    “I had to learn that quiet persistence only got you so far,” Haile says. “Success required focusing on the most important problems in my field, finding the right questions to ask and convincing the world, with just a bit of fanfare, that I could solve those problems.”

    Read more at magazine.northwestern.edu »

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    GERD UPDATE: Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan Resume Talks on Big Dam Amid Tensions

    Foreign and irrigation ministers of the three nations were attending the talks [this weekend], along with experts from the African Union, according to Ethiopia’s Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele. (Photo: Satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River in Ethiopia/Handout photo)

    The Associated Press

    A new round of talks between three African nations began Saturday, officials said, aimed at resolving a yearslong dispute over a giant dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary.

    The three-day talks are taking place in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the current chair of the African Union. The AU is mediating the negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

    Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Cairo wants the negotiations to eventually lead to a legally binding agreement over the operation and filling of the dam’s massive reservoir.

    Foreign and irrigation ministers of the three nations were attending the talks, along with experts from the African Union, according to Ethiopia’s Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele.

    A Sudanese diplomat said experts from the three countries and the African Union met Saturday, ahead of ministers who would meet Sunday and Monday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief media.

    Sudan said it would take part in the Kinshasa round with an aim of agreeing on a “negotiating approach” to ensure the talks would be constructive. That would include an Egyptian-backed Sudanese proposal to include the U.S., European Union and United Nations as mediators along with the AU, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    Ethiopia has rejected the proposal, saying it “believes in resolving African problems by Africans.”

    The dispute centers on the speed at which a planned reservoir is filled behind the dam, the method of its annual replenishment, and how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs. Another point of difference is how the three countries would settle any future disputes.

    Egypt and Sudan want a legally binding agreement on the dam’s filling and operation, while Ethiopia insists on guidelines.

    The talks in Kinshasa come a few days after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said his country’s share of Nile River waters were “untouchable” — a stark warning apparently to Ethiopia, which is preparing for another stage of the dam’s filling later this year.

    El-Sissi warned Tuesday of “instability that no one can imagine” in the region if the dam’s is filled and operated without a legally binding agreement.

    Bekele, the Ethiopian minister, said his country “as always is determined for principled, equitable and reasonable utilization without causing significant harm,” according to Ethiopia’s official news agency.

    Egypt is a mostly desert country that depends on the Nile for almost all of its water needs. It fears that a quick fill would drastically reduce the Nile’s flow, with potentially severe effects on its agriculture and other sectors.

    Ethiopia says the $5 billion dam is essential, arguing that the vast majority of its population lacks electricity. The dam will generate over 6,400 megawatts of electricity, a massive boost to the country’s current production of 4,000 megawatts.

    Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on the dam’s operation to avoid flooding and protect its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile River. The Blue Nile meets with the White Nile in central Sudan. From there the Nile winds northward through Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

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    Spotlight: Rediet Abebe Tackles Social Problems With Computer Science

    Rediet Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to understand pressing social problems — and try to fix them. Rediet, who holds a doctorate in computer science from Cornell University, is a co-founder of the organizations Black in AI. (Photo: Quanta Magazine)

    Quanta Magazine

    A Computer Scientist Who Tackles Inequality Through Algorithms

    When Rediet Abebe arrived at Harvard University as an undergraduate in 2009, she planned to study mathematics. But her experiences with the Cambridge public schools soon changed her plans.

    Abebe, 29, is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and largest city. When residents there didn’t have the resources they needed, she attributed it to community-level scarcity. But she found that argument unconvincing when she learned about educational inequality in Cambridge’s public schools, which she observed struggling in an environment of abundance.

    To learn more, Abebe started attending Cambridge school board meetings. The more she discovered about the schools, the more eager she became to help. But she wasn’t sure how that desire aligned with her goal of becoming a research mathematician.

    “I thought of these interests as different,” said Abebe, a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “At some point, I actually thought I had to choose, and I was like, ‘OK, I guess I’ll choose math and the other stuff will be my hobby.’”

    After college Abebe was accepted into a doctoral program in mathematics, but she ended up deferring to attend an intensive one-year math program at the University of Cambridge. While there, she decided to switch her focus to computer science, which allowed her to combine her talent for mathematical thinking with her strong desire to address social problems related to discrimination, inequity and access to opportunity. She ended up getting a

    Today, Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to help design algorithms and artificial intelligence systems that address real-world problems. She has modeled the role played by income shocks, like losing a job or government benefits, in leading people into poverty, and she’s looked at ways of optimizing the allocation of government financial assistance. She’s also working with the Ethiopian government to better account for the needs of a diverse population by improving the algorithm the country uses to match high school students with colleges.

    Abebe is a co-founder of the organizations Black in AI — a community of Black researchers working in artificial intelligence — and Mechanism Design for Social Good, which brings together researchers from different disciplines to address social problems.

    Quanta Magazine spoke with Abebe recently about her childhood fear that she’d be forced to become a medical doctor, the social costs of bad algorithmic design, and how her background in math sharpens her work. This interview is based on multiple phone interviews and has been condensed and edited for clarity.

    You’re currently involved in a project to reform the Ethiopian national educational system. The work was born in part from your own negative experiences with it. What happened?

    In the Ethiopian national system, when you finished 12th grade, you’d take this big national exam and submit your preferences for the 40-plus public universities across the country. There was a centralized assignment process that determined what university you were going to and what major you would have. I was so panicked about this.


    I realized I was a high-scoring student when I was in middle school. And the highest-scoring students tended to be assigned to medicine. I was like 12 and super panicked that I might have to be a medical doctor instead of studying math, which is what I really wanted to do.

    What did you end up doing?

    I thought, “I may have to go abroad.” I learned that in the U.S., you can get full financial aid if you do really well and get into the top schools.

    So you went to Harvard as an undergraduate and planned to become a research mathematician. But then you had an experience that changed your plans. What happened?

    I was excited to study math at Harvard. At the same time, I was interested in what was going on in the city of Cambridge. There was a massive achievement gap in elementary schools in Cambridge. A lot of students who were Black, Latinx, low-income or students with disabilities, or immigrant students, were performing two to four grades below their peers in the same classroom. I was really interested in why this was happening.

    Read the full Q & A at quantamagazine.org »

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    UPDATE: Ethiopia Receives $500M World Bank Financing for Electricity Projects

    New World Bank financing supports Ethiopia's goal of universal electricity access by 2025. (Photo: The World Bank Group headquarters building in Washington, D.C./Wikimedia)

    Press Release

    World Bank Group

    ADDIS ABABA — The World Bank approved a $500 million International Development Association (IDA)* credit to support Ethiopia’s goal of achieving universal electricity access by 2025.

    Over the past decade, the Government of Ethiopia has made encouraging progress on its electrification program and expanded the grid network coverage to nearly 60 percent of towns and villages. Despite this progress, Ethiopia has the third largest energy access deficit in Sub-Saharan Africa with more than half the population still without access to reliable electricity especially in deep-rural areas which are dependent on biomass and kerosene. The electricity deficit in Ethiopia continues to exacerbate the poverty situation, preventing far too many people from fulfilling their basic socio-economic needs and limiting access to opportunity.

    The Access to Distributed Electricity and Lighting in Ethiopia (ADELE) Project is an important component of Ethiopia’s National Electrification Program (NEP), which aims to strategically change direction from infrastructure development to the delivery of adequate, reliable and affordable electricity services with a vision to reach universal electrification by 2025. ADELE will focus on access to new and improved electricity services for households, smallholder farmers, commercial and industrial users, and social institutions in urban, peri-urban, rural, and deep-rural areas. The first phase of the NEP was supported by the World Bank-financed Ethiopia Electrification Program (ELEAP) approved in 2018.

    ‘With a goal of providing electricity services for nearly 5 million people, 11,500 enterprises and 1,400 health and education facilities, the project represents the World Bank’s continued support to the Government of Ethiopia’s NEP and is aligned with our commitment to support Ethiopia’s resilient recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic. It is also an important step towards improving service delivery and addressing drivers of fragility and conflict’ said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia.

    An important feature of ADELE will be the deployment of innovative solutions such as decentralized renewable energy technologies, particularly solar photovoltaic (PV) mini-grids and individual solar system for both household and productive use, deployed through a combined approach of public and private delivery modalities that further enhance affordability and inclusion. The project also has a strong focus on closing the gender gap in the energy sector and increasing the percentage of women participating in the mini-grid sector and off-grid technology value chain.

    ‘ADELE can contribute to achieving near universal electrification of secondary schools and health centers. Closing the energy gap and enabling the productive use of renewable energy in rural and deep-rural areas will be crucial in the post-COVID-19 recovery phase,’said Riccardo Puliti, World Bank Africa Regional Director for Infrastructure.

    The ADELE project will be implemented by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity, the Ethiopian Electric Utility, and the Development Bank of Ethiopia.

    *The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Established in 1960, it provides grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA resources help effect positive change in the lives of the 1.6 billion people living in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since its inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments are constantly on the rise and have averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61% going to Africa.

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    UPDATE: U.S. & Ethiopia Launch $2.2 Billion Productive Safety Net Program

    The United States has supported the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) initiative since its inception and remains Ethiopia’s largest bilateral assistance partner, investing over $4 billion in the last five years alone. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia)

    Press Release

    U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia

    U.S. and Ethiopia Launch New $2.2 Billion Phase of the Productive Safety Net Program

    Addis Ababa, March 29, 2021 – Today, the United States joined the Government of Ethiopia and development partners to launch the next five-year phase of the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). The PSNP is the Government of Ethiopia’s multi-billion dollar food security, public works, and social safety net program for millions in need across Ethiopia.The PSNP was first established with U.S. support in 2005. As the largest donor, USAID’s contribution accounts for over $550 million.

    Today’s launch represents a total additional $2.2 billion investment by the government and Ethiopia’s international partners in PSNP. Over the next five years, the PSNP will reach up to nine million people each year as it provides food assistance and services that will lift vulnerable families out of poverty. Minister of Finance Ato Ahmed Shide and Minister of Agriculture Ato Oumer Hussein launched the new, fifth phase of PSNP with heads of agencies from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, World Food Programme, UNICEF, Irish Aid, and the Netherlands at a ceremony in Addis Ababa.

    USAID Mission Director Sean Jones said, “The American people’s commitment to this Ethiopian-led program is long-standing. We are pleased to continue our work together to build upon the success of the PSNP in improving food security and nutrition, and resilience in poor and vulnerable communities. We applaud the Ethiopian government’s commitment, leadership, and increased ownership under this initiative. The American people greatly appreciate the opportunity to be a partner of the Ethiopian people in the coming years.”

    The United States has supported the PSNP initiative since its inception and remains Ethiopia’s largest bilateral assistance partner, investing over $4 billion in the last five years alone.


    UPDATE: U.S. Creates Special Envoy For Horn of Africa

    UPDATE: U.S. Senator Chris Coons Says Ethiopia Trip Was ‘Constructive’

    UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

    U.S. Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Tigray Crisis Response

    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    UPDATE: U.N. Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry

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    Q&A: 5 Questions With R&B Singer Mélat

    An Austin, Texas native and proud Ethiopian, Mélat is a shining musical anomaly, crafting songs about the many forms of love as a way to empower herself and her fans. (Austin Monthly Magazine)

    Austin Monthly Magazine

    The soulful R&B singer spoke with [Austin Monthly] about her heritage, her future, and what motivates her right now.

    An Austin native and proud Ethiopian, Mélat is a shining musical anomaly, crafting songs about the many forms of love as a way to empower herself and her fans.

    Mélat spoke to us about everything from the solitude of COVID-19 shutdowns and how it’s affected her writing process to what it’s like being an R&B singer in a city dominated by guitar heroes and folksy singer-songwriters.

    How did you first get started as a vocalist and songwriter?

    I would always write as a kid. My parents were super strict so I wasn’t able to go hang out with my friends. And I didn’t want to tell my parents how I was feeling or whatever. So I just resorted to my journal. And so I would journal all the time. But I had also been put into piano lessons for four years of my really young life. I had that musical sensibility, so sometimes I would write little songs and things. But it wasn’t until I got a little bit older, like in high school, probably to where the things that I was writing in my journal, the feelings I was feeling, would translate into more of a poem and more into song. And it took a while before I was really confident. It took a while to admit that I was writing songs and to feel okay with that. But, you know, once I made my first project, which is called Canon Aphaea, I received a message back from a girl saying she was contemplating suicide, and this EP helped her out and made her change her mind. And I had been going through a lot of stuff personally, at that point. And so I was like, Wow, my struggles, my issues, my lack of confidence, my lack of all of that, allowed someone else to feel like they weren’t alone in their own struggles as well. So I was like, Okay, maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. I continued making music because my goal, my lifelong goal, for as long as I could remember was just to help people. And if this is a vehicle that I can use to make people feel less alone (and in turn, make myself feel less alone), then I’m just going to continue doing it.

    How has your lyrical approach changed since your earlier releases?What inspired you early in your career and what is inspiring you now?

    I think earlier on it was harder—it still is—but it was harder to be more vulnerable and more transparent. I was a little bit more vague in what I was talking about, or how I talked about things, rather. And it was very focused on what I was going through. And I think through the years of doing it, I’ve started to incorporate more and more of other people’s stories into my music, reflecting what I see. As well as being a little more transparent with the things that I’m going through or the way that I’m writing these things. They’re not as vague as they used to be. I’m a little more like this is what I’m going through, this is what it is. The more I’ve done it, the more I’ve realized there will always be people who relate to your story. And sometimes being more specific about your story helps someone else relate to it even better. So that’s probably one of the main differences of how, just in general, how all my music has evolved.

    What impact has your Ethiopian heritage had on your musical style?

    Oh, it’s imbued in everything that I do. It’s how I was raised. It’s who I am. It’s the first language I spoke. It was difficult at first to embrace my heritage. I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a world artist. So it was hard for me to embrace that without being like, people aren’t gonna understand what I’m trying to do. And as I’ve evolved through my career, so has the world. People have become more accepting of like, not genre-bonding somebody. You don’t have to be this one little thing. As far as, like, the public’s eyes. So I think it’s something that I’ve always treasured, but had a hard time expressing. As I’ve gone through my career, I’ve grown to embrace it. And hopefully later this year, you guys will be able to see more of that side of me. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. But hopefully, you’ll be able to see more of my Ethiopian heritage come through my work.

    What’s on the horizon for you in 2021?

    Well, definitely a lot of new music–a lot of stuff that I’ve just been cooking up after being in quarantine for about a year at this point. So a lot of new music and a lot of new visuals and things like that. The manifestation of the creativity I was able to explore during quarantine would be the short way to say it.

    How do you think R&B will fit into Austin’s music scene in the future?

    I hope it’ll be seen. I hope it’ll be understood. I think that’s one of the biggest issues R&B has in Austin at this point—the fact that people are so used to rock, Americana, and blues that they don’t quite understand what R&B is. Because I’ve been lumped into hip hop so many times, it just makes me want to throw up…and it’s not a knock on hip hop. There’s a huge difference between R&B and hip hop. And the fact that people don’t understand that is a big learning curve that needs to happen in the music scene. So, what I hope for R&B is that there is a bigger understanding of what it is and what it sounds like, the variances that it can have that. I mean, if there’s one thing that I could ask for it, it would be for an understanding of what it actually is.

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    Spotlight: Ethiopian American Ainae Nielsen, Howard University Student Competing on ‘The Voice’

    Ainae Nielsen, a Washington, D.C., native and Silver Spring, Maryland, resident, made it onto Team Kelly in the final blind audition last week. She grew up in an Ethiopian American family that loves music. She said she's always known she wanted to be a singer. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she began to make her dream a reality. (Photo: Ainae Nielsen on stage during season 20 of “The Voice”/NBC)

    NBC Washington

    ‘You Got This’: Howard University Student Competing on ‘The Voice’

    A 21-year-old Howard University student is competing on “The Voice” and may advance Monday night.

    Ainae Nielsen, a Washington, D.C., native and Silver Spring, Maryland, resident, sang her own arrangement of “Best Part” by H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar and made it onto judge Kelly Clarkson’s team last week in the final blind audition.

    Nielsen told News4 she could hardly believe her eyes as she saw Clarkson’s chair begin to turn to see her.

    “The whole time, I was saying to myself, ‘You got this, you got this,’” she said. “I was nervous, but I was confident that all that practice that I did would come through in that moment.”

    Nielsen majors in business marketing at Howard and is set to graduate this spring. She grew up in an Ethiopian American family that loves music. She said she’s always known she wanted to be a singer. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she began to make her dream a reality.

    Nielsen said a casting director from “The Voice” asked her to audition. She took it as a “sign,” as she had been dreaming of moving to California to pursue a music career.

    Nielsen’s advice to others who may want to audition for a singing competition was to “know yourself” and “be confident.”
    “Now that I’m here, I know this is the road I’m supposed to be going on,” she said.

    After the blind audition, Clarkson said Nielsen is “a competitor” and “different from anyone else in the show.” Clarkson said she believes Nielsen is ready to take on the challenge.

    Nielsen said she has had a great experience on the show so far.

    “The amount of growth that I’ve had within a week is insane,” she said.

    Nielsen’s advice to others who may want to audition for a singing competition was to “know yourself” and “be confident.”

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    In Denver, 12-Year-Old Joshua Haileyesus In Critical Condition After Trying ‘Blackout Challenge’

    Joshua Haileyesus. (Photo courtesy of Nebiyu Asfaw and Hirut Yitayew)


    12-Year-Old Joshua Haileyesus In Critical Condition After Trying ‘Blackout Challenge’

    AURORA, Colo. — Ethiopian community members will gather outside Children’s Hospital on Monday to pray for 12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus. Haileyesus is in critical condition after trying a game called the “Blackout Challenge” which dares participants to choke themselves until they lose consciousness.

    On Monday, March 22, Joshua’s twin brother found him unconscious and not breathing on the bathroom floor.

    “His twin brother is devastated and misses him very much and can only talk about bringing him home,” organizers told CBS4.

    The communal prayer gathering will be from 6-7 p.m. on the lawn of Children’s Hospital Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

    “Joshua has a love for people that you wouldn’t expect in a child. Since he was very young, he always expressed compassion for others,” a family representative said.

    “He would pray for people who were sick, stand up for others who were bullied at school, and practice CPR in case he ever needed to save someone else’s life.”

    Now, they are praying for his recovery and warning others in the community about the danger of the “game.”

    Read more and watch the video at denver.cbslocal.com »

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