Reviews Section

In Pictures: AMSALE Fall 2022 Brings Brides into a Romantic Dreamscape

AMSALE’s first major rollout since before the pandemic, today’s launch included all ranges within the bridal house. This season also represents a homecoming for AMSALE Designer Michael Cho, who previously worked closely alongside the brand’s esteemed late founder, Amsale Aberra, for more than eight years. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release


NEW YORK, October 6, 2021—Lately, brides are rethinking what a wedding looks like in the modern world; and, likewise, AMSALE has once again reimagined the modern wedding gown. Fueled by optimism, the luxury design house today unveiled its Fall 2022 collections. It’s a season of rebirth, wherein pure creativity, emotion and design come together like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon.

“Our direction this season was to focus on diversification and craft, so that each gown represents the vision of a different bride,” says Chief Creative Officer Sarah Swann. “The collections feature an exciting variety of textures, silhouettes and styles.” This season also represents a homecoming for AMSALE Designer Michael Cho, who returned to the label in March. Cho previously worked closely alongside the brand’s esteemed late founder, Amsale Aberra, for more than eight years.

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

For Fall 2022, Cho’s imagination was sparked by the hidden world of forest streams where life is nurtured and renewed amongst lush mossy banks. Sweeping architectural lines found in the silhouettes are reminiscent of the graceful carvings along the stream bed left by decades of gently flowing water. Branching patterns worked into the embroideries reflect the climbing flora that bloom along mossy pebbles. The lamella of rare aquatic mushroom caps inspired ribbed threadwork embellishments, while butterfly koi transform into romantic trains and skirts of pleated tulle. In contrast to the romantic natural world, Cho was also influenced by the old world of the Mediterranean region, where artistic bas relief designs carved from precious stone and sculpted from plaster adorned the architecture. “After more than a year of uncertainty and harsh realities in the wake of the pandemic, I wanted to bring to our brides a hopeful vision of renewed life and reinvigorated romance, like seedlings budding into a new world,” Cho says.

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

AMSALE’s first major rollout since before the pandemic, today’s launch included all ranges within the bridal house: AMSALE, Nouvelle Amsale, Little White Dress, Amsale Bridesmaids and Amsale Evening.

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)


Founded by Amsale Aberra and Neil Brown, The Amsale Group is one of the world’s leading luxury bridal houses, and widely credited as the inventor of the modern wedding dress. A Black-owned business headquartered in New Your City, with a salon on Madison Avenue, the collections including Amsale, Nouvelle Amsale, Amsale Bridesmaids, Little White Dress and Evening are carried in some of the finest bridal salons and specialty stores worldwide.

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Meet Ethio-American Singer, Songwriter, and Producer Marian Mereba

Marian Mereba is an Ethiopian-American singer, songwriter, rapper, and producer. (Photo: Mereba attends the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California./Getty Images)


Mereba: nationality, parents, height, songs, record label, album

Musicians get their inspiration from different things. Some are inspired by nature, the past, struggles and beauty, while others use day-to-day activities. Mereba has taken her music to a whole new level, as she can be described as an artist who thrives in discomfort.

Marian Mereba is an Ethiopian-American singer, songwriter, rapper, and producer. She is known for her association with Spillage Village, a group formed in Atlanta with artists like Earthgang, J.I.D, and 6lack. Some of her single hits are Late Bloomer, Planet U, and Bet.


Mereba was born on 9th September 1990 in Montgomery, Alabama, USA. She has not any information about her parent’s names. However, her mother is an African-American born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On the other hand, her father is Ethiopian.

Mereba gained interest in music at the age of 4. After completing her elementary studies, the singer joined Greensboro, North Carolina, for her high school education. She then enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.

The singer transferred to Liberal Arts Women’s College Spelman in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2009. She sought to fully immerse herself in the legacy of the historically black women’s college. She graduated in 2011 with a Bachelors Degree in English and a Minor in Music.


Mereba performs at her Album Listening Party And Performance Celebrating “The Jungle Is The Only Way Out” at Urban Outfitters Space 15 Twenty. (Getty Images)

Mereba started writing songs while in elementary school. However, she began her professional career after graduating from Spelman. Mereba spent years performing in the Indie music scene in Atlanta. On 14th February 2013, she released her debut project, Room for Leaving, an extended play under her full name, Marian Mereba.

In 2018, she was signed by Interscope Records, where she released the singles Black Truck and Planet U. These songs, among others, appeared on her debut album, The Jungle is the Only Way Out, released on 27th February 2019. The singer has continued to release more songs and albums as encouraged by her mentee, Stevie Wonder. Here are the highlights of her music career and various releases:

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: “A Fire Within” A New Historical Ethiopian American Documentary Premiers at Atlanta Film Festival

A new documentary film, A Fire Within, will premiere at the 45th Atlanta Film Festival with a special event outdoor “Drive-In” screening on April 30th at 8:00pm at the Plaza Theatre Atlanta. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 28th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — This week A Fire Within, which is executive produced by Liya Kebede and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Chambers, is set to make it’s world premiere at the 45th Atlanta Film Festival with a special event outdoor “Drive-In” screening on April 30th at 8:00pm at the Plaza Theatre Atlanta. In addition, the film will also be available for viewing online.

The new documentary A Fire Within brings to life the dramatic and widely reported story of three Ethiopian women in the U.S. that played out in an Altanta courtroom in the 1990′s when one of the women Hirute Abebe-Jira sued a former Ethiopian police official named Kelbessa Negewo as the person who tortured her in prison during the ″Red Terror″ era in Ethiopia.

At the time the Associated Press reported that “the suit was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act, which allows aliens to seek relief in federal court for human rights violations in other countries. According to the suit, Negewo commanded police forces in part of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa” during that period.

As the press release notes:

“A FIRE WITHIN recounts the remarkable coincidence when Edjegayehu “Edge” Taye, Elizabeth Demissie, and Hirut Abebe-Jiri, three Ethiopian women who immigrate to the United States after surviving torture in their home country, discover the man responsible for their torture is living in America and working at the same restaurant as Edge in midtown Atlanta’s Colony Square Hotel. In Ethiopia, Kelbessa Negewo was a government official who tortured and executed scores of civilians during “The Red Terror”. At the Colony Square Hotel, he was the dish washer.

After confirming Negewo’s identity, the women vowed to find a way to bring him to justice. Atlanta-based lawyers Miles Alexander, Laurel Lucey and Michael Tyler at Kilpatrick Townsend law firm, along with ACLU Director Paul Hoffman, took the women’s case pro bono. Their legal strategy would hinge on the Alien Tort Statute of 1789, a section from America’s first Judiciary Act. Since 1979 (Filártiga v. Peña-Irala), American human rights lawyers have used the Alien Tort Statute to bring cases against human rights violators. The film documents the women’s harrowing journey to justice, bringing them face to face with their own torturer in what became a historic trial in modern American human rights law.

“Making this film has been a powerful, humbling experience,” said Chistopher Chambers, director. “The resilience of these three women, refusing to be intimidated into silence by their abuser, relentlessly pursuing justice, while struggling to start new lives as immigrants and refugees, is nothing less than heroic. These women represent the best of what “American values” can and should be.”

A FIRE WITHIN is executive produced by Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede. Kebede is also an award-winning actress, former World Health Organization (WHO) Ambassador, women’s rights activist, and founder and creative director of lemlem fashion brand.

I was so touched and moved by this story,” said Kebede. “We don’t often get to hear about such stories — the “other” stories. The stories that do not get told. It is very rewarding to be a part of this film and to bring the story of these courageous women to light.”

A FIRE WITHIN was filmed using interviews, archival footage and narrative recreations in 10 cities across the globe, including Atlanta, Georgia; Ottawa, Canada; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, narrative recreations were filmed with a locally-hired, all-Ethiopian cast and crew.

You can learn more about the film and screening at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: How Timnit Gebru’s Exit Shook Google and the AI Industry

Timnit Gebru’s exit from Google's ethical AI team kickstarted a months-long crisis for the tech giant's AI division, including employee departures, a leadership shuffle, and widening distrust of the company's historically well-regarded scholarship in the larger AI community. (Getty Images)

CNN Business

How one employee’s exit shook Google and the AI industry

In September, Timnit Gebru, then co-leader of the ethical AI team at Google, sent a private message on Twitter to Emily Bender, a computational linguistics professor at the University of Washington.

“Hi Emily, I’m wondering if you’ve written something regarding ethical considerations of large language models or something you could recommend from others?” she asked, referring to a buzzy kind of artificial intelligence software trained on text from an enormous number of webpages.

The question may sound unassuming but it touched on something central to the future of Google’s foundational product: search. This kind of AI has become increasingly capable and popular in the last couple years, driven largely by language models from Google and research lab OpenAI. Such AI can generate text, mimicking everything from news articles and recipes to poetry, and it has quickly become key to Google Search, which the company said responds to trillions of queries each year. In late 2019, the company started relying on such AI to help answer one in 10 English-language queries from US users; nearly a year later, the company said it was handling nearly all English queries and is also being used to answer queries in dozens of other languages.

“Sorry, I haven’t!” Bender quickly replied to Gebru, according to messages viewed by CNN Business. But Bender, who at the time mostly knew Gebru from her presence on Twitter, was intrigued by the question. Within minutes she fired back several ideas about the ethical implications of such state-of-the-art AI models, including the “Carbon cost of creating the damn things” and “AI hype/people claiming it’s understanding when it isn’t,” and cited some relevant academic papers.

Gebru, a prominent Black woman in AI — a field that’s largely White and male — is known for her research into bias and inequality in AI. It’s a relatively new area of study that explores how the technology, which is made by humans, soaks up our biases. The research scientist is also cofounder of Black in AI, a group focused on getting more Black people into the field. She responded to Bender that she was trying to get Google to consider the ethical implications of large language models.

Bender suggested co-authoring an academic paper looking at these AI models and related ethical pitfalls. Within two days, Bender sent Gebru an outline for a paper. A month later, the women had written that paper (helped by other coauthors, including Gebru’s co-team leader at Google, Margaret Mitchell) and submitted it to the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, or FAccT. The paper’s title was “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?” and it included a tiny parrot emoji after the question mark. (The phrase “stochastic parrots” refers to the idea that these enormous AI models are pulling together words without truly understanding what they mean, similar to how a parrot learns to repeat things it hears.)

The paper considers the risks of building ever-larger AI language models trained on huge swaths of the internet, such as the environmental costs and the perpetuation of biases, as well as what can be done to diminish those risks. It turned out to be a much bigger deal than Gebru or Bender could have anticipated.
Timnit Gebru said she was fired by Google after criticizing its approach to minority hiring and the biases built into today's artificial intelligence systems.

Before they were even notified in December about whether it had been accepted by the conference, Gebru abruptly left Google. On Wednesday, December 2, she tweeted that she had been “immediately fired” for an email she sent to an internal mailing list. In the email she expressed dismay over the ongoing lack of diversity at the company and frustration over an internal process related to the review of that not-yet-public research paper. (Google said it had accepted Gebru’s resignation over a list of demands she had sent via email that needed to be met for her to continue working at the company.)

Gebru’s exit from Google’s ethical AI team kickstarted a months-long crisis for the tech giant’s AI division, including employee departures, a leadership shuffle, and widening distrust of the company’s historically well-regarded scholarship in the larger AI community. The conflict quickly escalated to the top of Google’s leadership, forcing CEO Sundar Pichai to announce the company would investigate what happened and to apologize for how the circumstances of Gebru’s departure caused some employees to question their place at the company. The company finished its months-long review in February.

Academics should be able to critique these companies without repercussion.


But her ousting, and the fallout from it, reignites concerns about an issue with implications beyond Google: how tech companies attempt to police themselves. With very few laws regulating AI in the United States, companies and academic institutions often make their own rules about what is and isn’t okay when developing increasingly powerful software. Ethical AI teams, such as the one Gebru co-led at Google, can help with that accountability. But the crisis at Google shows the tensions that can arise when academic research is conducted within a company whose future depends on the same technology that’s under examination.

“Academics should be able to critique these companies without repercussion,” Gebru told CNN Business.
Google declined to make anyone available to interview for this piece. In a statement, Google said it has hundreds of people working on responsible AI, and has produced more than 200 publications related to building responsible AI in the past year. “This research is incredibly important and we’re continuing to expand our work in this area in keeping with our AI Principles,” a company spokesperson said.
“A constant battle from day one”

Gebru joined Google in September 2018, at Mitchell’s urging, as the co-leader of the Ethical AI team. According to those who have worked on it, the team was a small, diverse group of about a dozen employees including research and social scientists and software engineers — and it was initially brought together by Mitchell about three years ago. It researches the ethical repercussions of AI and advises the company on AI policies and products.

Gebru, who earned her doctorate degree in computer vision at Stanford and held a postdoctoral position at Microsoft Research, said she was initially unsure about joining the company.

Read more »


Spotlight: The Media Firestorm Concerning AI Researcher Timnit Gebru & Google

Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

Spotlight: Blacks in AI Co-Founders Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Theater: Weyni Mengesha Directs New Play Inspired by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Weyni Mengesha is the director of the show “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!,” which is produced by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The play starts streaming online this week at According to Leelai Demoz, Steppenwolf’s associate artistic director and the project's lead producer: "Scripts as short as [this] aren’t staples at major U.S. theaters. But Steppenwolf Now [their newly launched digital platform], a response to the pandemic, allowed for format inventiveness." (WaPo)

The Washington Post

Images of two duchesses linger in playwright Vivian J.O. Barnes’s mind: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, standing at a lectern, with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II looming behind her. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, looking glamorous soon after giving birth. The appearances by Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton — as the titled women are better known — intrigued Barnes all the more because, at least in memory, they were voiceless.

“I can remember how they looked, but I can never remember anything I’ve heard them say,” she says.

Reflecting on those missing words — and on Meghan’s experience as a biracial woman joining a hidebound, traditionally White institution — Barnes wrote “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!,” a short play that imagines a private conversation between a Black royal and a Black royal-to-be. The play, which was filmed in a no-contact shoot by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, begins streaming Wednesday at, the Steppenwolf Now virtual stage.

Its paparazzi-lens inspirations notwithstanding, “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” is no piece of gossipy fluff. For one thing, the characters are not Kate and Meghan, but fictional figures. For another, the play speaks to deep issues around inclusion, equity and society’s resistance to change.

Prince Harry and Meghan lose their patronages, won’t return as ‘working royals’

“It’s a relatable investigation into how many women feel high up in institutions, specifically if you are in a historically White institution as a Black woman,” says Weyni Mengesha, the show’s director and artistic director of Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company.

Awareness of Meghan’s significance for the British monarchy infused the play, Barnes says. “To see this person — who looks like no one else who’s been in that institution so far — enter it, that to me is a fascinating story and entry point,” the playwright says.

Barnes, 26, caught the performing-arts bug during the lively, dance-infused evangelical church services she attended as a child in Stafford, Va. Later, while enrolled at the University of Richmond, she would study in London, where she binged on theater — a revelation.

A few years ago, the duchess of Cambridge’s soigné appearance right after childbirth — hinting at stringent expectations for her looks and behavior — inspired Barnes to write a monologue for a fictional duchess. Later, Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry spurred further thought. What if a future Meghan-like figure, after adjusting to oppressive palace norms, were to welcome another woman who looked like her into the royal clan? How would that conversation go? For an assignment at University of California at San Diego, where she is now a third-year MFA student, Barnes turned her monologue into a two-hander.

For research, she delved into scandal-sheet journalism about Britain’s royal women, not so much to fact-find as to understand the reporting’s tone and approach. She was struck by a shift after Harry’s engagement. With Meghan, says Barnes, “the coverage is very different and very racist and invasive in a very different kind of way.”

“Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” arrives in a culture much besotted with the House of Windsor, as evidenced by Netflix series “The Crown,” as well as the Broadway musical “Diana,” shut down by the pandemic last March. (A Netflix version of “Diana” has been announced.) But Barnes stresses that her characters are merely inspired by the wives of Princes William and Harry. The idea of writing about the real clickbait fixtures, she says, “wasn’t very interesting.”

Instead, Barnes dreamed up the unsettling encounter between her Duchess and Soon-to-Be-Duchess, who spar and commune over the merciless rules, scrutiny and conformism that their rank requires.

Scripts as short as “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” (about 35 minutes) aren’t staples at major U.S. theaters. But Steppenwolf Now, a response to the pandemic, allowed for format inventiveness, says Leelai Demoz, Steppenwolf’s associate artistic director and the initiative’s lead producer. Already premiered, for example, and still available to stream with a Steppenwolf Now membership, is “Red Folder,” a 10-minute animated monologue written, directed and illustrated by Rajiv Joseph (“Guards at the Taj”) and voiced by Carrie Coon (FX series ­“Fargo”).

Succinct as it was, Barnes’s one-act appealed to Mengesha, who admired its imaginative vision and felt a personal connection. Mengesha, of Ethiopian heritage, is among the leaders of color who have added diversity to the top ranks of North American theater in recent years. The director says she identifies with Barnes’s characters, who are “trying to bring themselves to their new position, but also fit into the mold that has been around for centuries but that never looked like them.”

Performers Sydney Charles (the Duchess) and Celeste M. Cooper (the Soon-to-Be-Duchess) also say they understand the pressures the characters feel — to fit in, to toe the line, to self-censor as necessary and even to establish automatic mutual camaraderie.

“Theater spaces, most of them are run by non-Black individuals. How comfortable can I be — how Black can I be — in this space? If there is another Black person, are they going to be like me?” Charles asks. “Vivian did a great job in touching on the emotions wrapped up in that specific experience, which translates across the board for any Black American, and Black women specifically.”

“As I came up in this career, there was a lot of silence,” Cooper recalls. “There was a lot of not wanting to ruffle feathers.” Barnes’s play, she adds, asks really hard questions about that kind of quandary.

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

WATCH: Q&A with Cast and Crew of “Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) Live From Ethiopia

Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) is a timely movie that reflects on Ethiopia's ancient and culturally-rooted legal system that stands in contrast to today's constitution, which borrows heavily from Western traditions to meet "international standards." (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 1st, 2020

New York (TADIAS) – Last week Tadias collaborated with Habeshaview — the first international Ethiopian film distribution company — to co-host a virtual Q&A with the cast and crew of the award-winning film Enchained (ቁራኛዬ). The Zoom program, which was moderated by BBC journalist Hewete Haileselassie, featured the film’s director, Dr. Moges Tafesse, actors Zerihun Mulatu and Yemesrach Girma as well as cinematographer Billy Mekonnen who joined the Q&A live from Addis Abeba.

Enchained is a timely movie that reflects on Ethiopia’s ancient and culturally-rooted legal system that stands in contrast to today’s constitution that borrows heavily from Western traditions to meet “international standards.” Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) makes us question what exactly is that “standard” anyway. How about the organic legal concepts and systems that today are largely ignored, disregarded and unappreciated, but once held the Ethiopian society together long before we heard of the British Magna Carta or the U.S. Constitution?

“Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) discusses the commonly practiced justice process during the early and mid-19th Century in Ethiopia, where institutional punitive prison did not exist, and the justice process was restorative,” the announcement states. “This practice has now been largely forgotten.” The film also features Ethiopian traditions while also highlighting age-old human behavior when it comes to love, sex, betrayal, jealousy and the desire for justice.

Below is the video of the Q&A session with the cast and crew of Enchained (ቁራኛዬ):

Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) is currently available to watch on

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Finding Sally: Q&A with Filmmaker Tamara Dawit

Finding Sally, a new documentary film by Tamara Mariam Dawit screens on Hot Docs at Home on CBC on April 30th, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 16th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — An Ethiopian documentary film Finding Sally is set to make its world premiere on April 30th in a newly created TV platform called ‘Hot Docs at Home on CBC,’ which was launched in Canada as the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancelation of film festivals around the world.

In Finding Sally the filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit tells the moving story of her long-lost aunt, Selamawit (Sally), who turned from a fun-loving college student in Canada in the 1970s into one of the most wanted opposition activists in Ethiopia.

Tamara herself — who was born and raised in Canada but now lives and works in Ethiopia — had not heard of Sally until later in her life.

Below is our full Q&A with Filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit:

Tamara Mariam Dawit. (Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: Congratulations on the upcoming World Premiere of Finding Sally. Please tell our readers about the film and the inspiration behind it.

Tamara Mariam Dawit: The film tracks my personal investigation into the life of my aunt Selamawit (Sally), an Ethiopian aristocrat-turned-communist-rebel who disappeared during the Ethiopian Revolution.

The film poses the question that arises when someone you love disappears without a trace: how do you cope? It explores not only how my family has managed this loss, but also how the entire country has managed the loss, pain, and trauma of the Red Terror. My family is just a small example of how many Ethiopians are still dealing with those deaths, and how the fear of public mourning under the military government forced so many people to suffer in silence.

My aunt Sally and many of her peers lost their lives fighting for what they believed could be a better Ethiopia. They envisioned a united and democratic Ethiopia that would embrace everyone equally – something I think is still possible despite the dangerous ethnic divisions that plague Ethiopia today. I hope that Finding Sally can be a plea for freedom of speech and critical thinking, and also an indictment of silence in general in Ethiopia. I hope that this film can be a catalyst to discussing the country’s past and engaging in critical discourse about the road ahead.

TADIAS: In your media statement you mentioned that you were in your thirties when you first saw the photo of your aunt Selamawit (Sally). How did you discover the picture? Can you give our readers the historical context of why her story remained a family secret for so many years?

Tamara: I first found out about Sally nearly ten years ago when I was visiting my grandmother’s house in Addis Ababa. My grandmother was displaying a new photo on the mantel above her fireplace of a beautiful woman who was unfamiliar to me. This was Sally and it was the first time I had seen an image of Sally. It took some time before my grandmother and the rest of my family started to feel comfortable to talk to me about who Sally was and the ultimate result of that is this film.

I think that the main reason I didn’t know about Sally was because remembering her or talking about her has always been very painful for my family. Many Ethiopians and Eritreans lost relatives during the Red Terror and there are many painful and personal experiences that we don’t talk about. I asked my grandmother if she would be OK with me making a film about Sally’s life. She was supportive of this because she realized younger generations like me had no knowledge about Sally and her peers, what they had stood for and had done. She wanted Sally and her vision of a better and more just Ethiopia to be remembered. She wanted young Ethiopians today to be able to learn from their past.

TADIAS: A daughter of a diplomat (your grandfather), Sally had transformed herself from a young, vibrant and outgoing university student in Canada during the 1970s into an underground political activist in Ethiopia. In the course of your research what are some of the most surprising things you learned about your aunt as well as your family and Ethiopia in general?

Tamara: I think the main thing that I learned in researching Sally’s life is that everyone was telling me their own version of Sally and of her life – the version that they themselves where comfortable with remembering. I think the most interesting thing I learned about was how incredibly brave Sally was, not only to take up arms for a cause she believed in but also to use her voice to speak up on behalf of women in Ethiopia. One specific incident I learned about was when Sally was invited to give a speech to a group of graduating women’s group in Akaki just outside of Addis Ababa. Rather than stick to safe content Sally gave a speech where she literally told the Derg off. It was after this that she had to go into hiding and cut off contact with her family. I also learned that she had used my Grandmother’s VW Beetle as the getaway car when she was involved in an assassination attempt on Mengistu Haile Mariam.

TADIAS: In many respects Sally’s story is that of a generation of Ethiopians. As you note her story ‘unfolds alongside that of The Red Terror.’ Was the filmmaking process at all a healing experience? Did it bring closure for your family?

Tamara: I hope that the film was a healing process for my family. It certainly caused everyone to reflect and spend time together talking about Sally. Something they admitted they hadn’t done as a group since her death. I also think that there are many Sallys in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and I hope that this film sparks more conversations and thus healing in households across the Diaspora.

TADIAS: It took you about eight years to finish making the film. What was your overall experience like? What is your advice to aspiring independent filmmakers?

Tamara: Making any film is certainly a labor of love and a slow process. But it took a long time also because I spent years researching about Sally, the Red Terror, Ethiopian History, the EPRP before even starting to film anything. It is also incredibly challenging to finance African stories. I was very lucky due to Sally and my family having lived in Canada to have been able to have the film produced and financed in Canada. I do film training programs in Addis and it is also a challenge to get filmmakers interested in making docs. I hope that when we screen Finding Sally in Ethiopia it may inspire more filmmakers to try out the format.

TADIAS: Finding Sally is set to make its world premier on Hot Docs at Home on CBC on April 30th. Can you tell us about the new platform, which was launched recently as a special TV series in response to the coronavirus pandemic? How can people view the film and what are your future plans in terms of screenings specifically for the Ethiopian Diaspora audiences?

Tamara: The opportunity to air the film on CBC occurred because of the impact of COVID and the general inability to host festival screenings. This is a great partnership between Hot Docs and the CBC to help promote the films to audiences in Canada. Viewers will be able to watch the film on CBC, CBC Doc Channel or CBC GEM. The current viewing is just in Canada, but once it is safe to gather again then we will be able to rebook some festival screenings and also arrange community screenings for the Ethiopian and Eritrean Diaspora. Those are the screenings and discussions that I am most interested in. We will also air an Amharic version of the film in Ethiopia in the future.

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

Tamara: One of my main motivations for starting to direct was a frustration in watching films about Ethiopia at festivals or on TV that were not made by Ethiopians and where most of those speaking about Ethiopia where also westerners. These films had a western gaze. In contrast, this film is from my point of view as a daughter of Ethiopia, as a member of the Diaspora who has moved back. It is also specifically only from the point of view of women. I chose specifically not to interview any men for the film. As I found when researching about the Red Terror that most of the content was from the perspective of men. I wanted to make a space for women to talk about the past and future of Ethiopia.

TADIAS: Thank you again Tamara. We wish you all the best and much success with the film!

Tamara: Thank you

Watch: Finding Sally trailer:

If You Watch:

World Broadcast Premiere
Thursday, April 30, 2020
CBC and GEM, 8:00pm (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel, 9:00pm ET/PT
More info at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: The Haile-Manas Academy, A New World Class School in Ethiopia

Image from a video introducing the upcoming Haile-Manas Academy, co-founded by Ethiopian American author & philanthropist Rebecca Haile, pictured above as a child in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 20th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – When the Haile-Manas Academy (HMA) opens its doors in Debre Birhan in 2020 it will be be among the top high schools in Ethiopia featuring international-standard curriculum and a brand new educational facility.

The private school is co-founded by Lawyer, Mother, Author and Businesswoman Rebecca Haile whose work we first featured in Tadias in 2007 when she published her memoir titled Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia.

“The Academy will be a world-class co-educational secondary boarding school for 400 students of promise recruited from across the country and admitted without regard to financial circumstances,” says Rebecca. “It will be a model school in and for Ethiopia – the first of its kind.”

Rebecca, who lives in New York City, says she is inspired, like many Ethiopians around the world, by Ethiopia’s new-found optimism and sense of collective civic responsibility ushered in by the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“The timing is right for this transformative undertaking,” states the website for the Ethiopia Education Initiatives (EEI), the U.S.-based organization that’s overseeing the building of the high school. “With a GDP of just $783 per person (PPP $2,100), Ethiopia is burdened with an antiquated education system, yet it has the world’s fastest growing economy in 2018, and a population of over 105 million with a median age of just 18.” EEI adds: Ethiopia is ready to transform itself into a regional leader and economic powerhouse – but Ethiopia’s young people, its greatest asset, must be equipped to forge the way forward. An investment in the Haile-Manas Academy is an investment in Ethiopia’s future – in educating its future leaders and its most engaged and impactful citizens.”

The official ground-breaking for the Haile-Manas Academy was held three months ago and “guests included government officials, community leaders, representatives from various organizations” as well as Rebecca’s friends and family.

“Beyond the ceremony, it was exciting to see a couple hundred construction employees working in parallel on over a dozen school buildings, many of which are already at first floor level,” Rebecca shares. “We are making great progress!”

For Rebecca, who is the daughter of Professor Getatchew Haile — one of the foremost experts in the ancient Ethiopian language of Ge’ez — her passion for education come naturally.

“It certainly wasn’t easy to be a refugee, to start completely over in a new country (central Minnesota to be precise),” she writes on the EEI website. “But for me, and for my sister and fellow board member Sossina, education was the key that unlocked every door. We had access to excellent schools and generous scholarship programs ensured that if we worked hard we could take advantage of every opportunity we qualified for.”

Ethiopian architect Fasil Giorghis is one of the project leaders helping to build the HMA campus with “beautiful, contextually appropriate buildings and a focus on local materials and sustainability,” says Rebecca who co-founded the school together with her husband, businessman Jean Manas, also an immigrant to the US. “In October 2018 we engaged Rama Construction, a top contractor. Along the way, we sought and received the support and good counsel of innumerable people in the U.S. and in Ethiopia, as well as critical financial commitments.”

The Board of Directors of EEI include Rebecca’s sister, world renown academic scientist Dr. Sossina Haile, as well as Former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, Reuben Brigety; Mr. Jean Manas, Chairman of the Board; Dr. Liben Hailu, Chief Technology Officer at Duracell, a Berkshire Hathaway Company; and Ms. Caroline Brown, founder at Brown & Peisch, formerly Partner at Covington & Burling, LLP.

Below is a video narrated by Rebecca Haile introducing The Haile-Manas Academy and the inspiration behind the new school:

HMA Anthem from Haile Manas Academy on Vimeo.

You can learn more about The Haile-Manas Academy and support the Ethiopia Education Initiatives at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Jomo Design at Black Artists & Designers Guild Spring Preview

Jomo Tariku, owner of Jomo Furniture, in New York City on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 showcasing his work during the spring preview hosted by the Black Artist & Designers Guild. (Tadias photo)

Tadias Magazine
Tadias Staff

Updated: February 12th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — From the Nyala chair — inspired by the mountain antelope that is endemic to Ethiopia– to the Kebero and Mukecha stools as well as the Ashanti seats from Ghana and the Maasai chair from Kenya, there is nothing like Jomo design when it comes to contemporary furniture style representing a diverse array of African aesthetics.

Jomo Furniture, founded by Ethiopian American designer and entrepreneur Jomo Tariku, was featured in New York City at the spring preview of the Black Artist & Designers Guild (BADG), which was held on Tuesday, February 12th at Décor NYC in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

“BADG (Black Artists + Designers Guild) is a curated collective of Black Artists and Designers throughout the African diaspora,” states the organization’s website. “We create contemporary art, textiles, furniture, interiors, and architecture for bespoke residential, commercial and hospitality spaces.”

BADG’s site adds that their mission is to “create a global platform showcasing the works of Black Artists + Designers of the African diaspora who are passionate about creating art, home furnishings, interior and exterior spaces around the world.”

In addition to Jomo Furniture the spring preview also included works by Malene B. Atelier (ceramics), Lisa Hunt (fine art), Kelly Marshall (photography), Nasozi Kakembo (textiles), Marie Burgos (furniture), Livvy & Neva (pillows), Sheila Bridges Home (wallpaper), Da Brand (home accessories), and Studio Lani (Lighting).

In 2015 a book published by Thames & Hudson titled, Contemporary Design Africa — the first of its kind — dedicated a section for Jomo’s designs along with fifty artists from Africa and the Diaspora “all of whom are creating sophisticated and innovative products for interiors.”

Jomo tells us that his furniture is available for licensing, and the designs could be manufactured for any potential large orders including “pieces for lodges and hotels as well as any residences that want to create unique spaces.” We couldn’t agree more.

You can learn more about Jomo Furniture at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Edelawit Hussien’s New Film Reflects on Her Generation in Ethiopia & Diaspora

Filmmaker Edelawit Hussien. (Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: February 6th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — Edelawit Hussien, a 23-year-old Ethiopian filmmaker who is living between New York and Berlin recently shared her upcoming short film with Tadias, which follows three Addis Abeba-based teenagers on a road trip to Lake Langano.

“My work aims to explore dual identity and global exchange motivated by my Ethiopian upbringing within an American context,” Edelawit tells Tadias.

“After graduating from New York University where I studied politics, film, and African studies, I worked within the commercial and branded film sphere before relocating to Berlin to exclusively work on independent filmmaking.”

The film tilted Wallahi, I Will Be Somebody “takes inspiration from the energy of Ethiopia today, a time of excitement and change,” Edelawit adds. “With its growing art community, young people are looking to connect the traditional with the modern as well as build a bridge between Ethiopians within the nation and in the Diaspora. These endeavors have manifested into music, art, fashion, culture and cinema.”

In the short film the three teenagers — Tefera, Omar and Miki — are in an uncertain stage of their lives, “that youth all over the world experience,” explains Edelawit. The film’s Indiegogo page describes how “this uncertainty ranges from how they will make a living, and what kind of life they see for themselves, to how to maintain the joys of their youth.”

According to the project’s website, as the audience, we will also “see how their surrounding affects them as the city evolves and as do the residents. Through a series of vignettes, we are transported in time and space from an elderly couple drinking macchiatos at a Piazza cafe to kids selling toys at a busy roundabout. With poetic moving image chopped throughout the work, the film carries an experimental twist in its meditation on the changing notions of culture, city landscape and societal expectation through an honest look at the youth experience in this evolving time.”

Edelawit shares that the film’s producer is 28-year-old Ethiopian-Swedish Adelia Shiffraw who is currently working in commercial and film production sector in New York City. The filmmaker describes Adelia as an artist who “supports the amplification of minority voices and the preservation of their stories and experiences through film with particular interest in narratives exploring race and representation in a global context.”

Why are they making this particular film?

Edelawit quotes from a play by Suzan-Lori Parks’ noting: “You should write it down because if you don’t write it down then they will come along and tell the future that we did not exist.”

You can learn more about Edelawit Hussien’s new film and support her fundraising campaign at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Watch Ethiopia Episode of Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS Show No Passport Required

Marcus Samuelsson's show No Passport Required featured Ethiopian immigrant community in DC as season finale (photo courtesy:

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: August 16th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The season finale of Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS show, No Passport Required, aired on Tuesday, August 14th featuring Ethiopian food and culture in Washington D.C. The full episode highlighted the inspiring stories of Ethiopian entrepreneurs as well as how to make traditional dishes such as kitfo and ful, and eskista dancing.

Zenebech, who started her injera business as a newly arrived refugee in the United States, invited Marcus into her kitchen and they make the hearty lamb dish of tibs as she recounted the early days of her entrepreneurial journey and then later launching an Ethiopian restaurant in 2010.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), one of the largest television program distributors in the United States, premiered Marcus Samuelsson’s new show No Passport Required on July 10th, 2018. As host of No Passport Required Restaurateur, Chef and Author Marcus Samuelsson highlighted food, art and culture in immigrant communities across America — from Little Kabul in Fremont, California to the Vietnamese shrimpers in Louisiana, and the Indo-Guyanese community in Queens, New York.

“Chasing flavors has been my lifelong passion,” shared Samuelsson in recent press release. “To now be able to bring viewers on that journey with me to these amazing communities in cities across the U.S. is truly a dream come true. We get to go deep into the markets, pull up to the roadside stands, and be welcomed into homes — all the places where people share and celebrate food together.”

No Passport Required is produced by Vox Media in collaboration with PBS.

Watch a preview of the Ethiopian community episode of No Passport Required below:

To watch the full season finale episode featuring the Ethiopian community in Washington D.C. click here.

PBS and VOX Media Announce New Series Hosted by Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Hasabie Kidanu

Published: July 24th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can learn more about Setaweet on Facebook at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The New York Times Reviews Makina Cafe

Makina Cafe. (Photo: Instagram)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 28th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The first Ethiopian food truck in New York City aptly named Makina Cafe is owned by Eritrean-American entrepreneur Eden G. Egziabher who was born in Ethiopia from parents of Eritrean descent and was raised “amidst a vibrant mix of Ethiopian, Eritrean and Italian cultures.”

“At the bright yellow Makina Cafe truck, which has been plying the streets of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens since last summer, the injera is..delivered fresh every morning to the truck before it sets out for lunch service,” The New York Times highlights in a review published today. “The identity of its maker is a prized secret. Eden Gebre Egziabher, the truck’s owner and chef, said simply, ‘I have a lady. She’s the best.’”

During the height of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the late 1990s, Eden’s mother who was visiting friends in the U.S. at the time was prevented from returning to Ethiopia. Eden told NYT: “One minute everyone was living together. The next, families were ripped apart.”

The newspaper adds: “While she fled with her father and older sister to Kenya, her mother applied for asylum in the United States. A year later, they were reunited in Charlotte, N.C.”

“Now, Ms. Gebre Egziabher hopes to turn the food of her childhood into an American staple — “to bring my culture to Main Street,” she said…For her menu, she intentionally chose dishes whose ingredients would not be intimidating to diners unfamiliar with the cuisine.. as in fossolia, a gingery simmer of string beans and carrots, and tikel gomen, cabbage gently broken down with carrots and potatoes — although not too much, so it keeps a memory of crunch.”

Read the full review at »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Book Review: Nafkote Tamirat’s Debut Novel ‘The Parking Lot Attendant’

The following is a New York Times review of Ethiopian American writer Nafkote Tamirat’s new novel 'The Parking Lot Attendant.' (Image via NYT)

The New York Times

The Mysterious ‘Parking Lot Attendant’ at the Center of a Web of Intrigue

At the start of Nafkote Tamirat’s debut novel, “The Parking Lot Attendant,” the narrator — a 17-year-old girl who is never named — has recently arrived with her father on the remote subtropical island of B—, where they’ve found uneasy refuge in a commune. They’ve fled some unspecified trouble in Boston, but the trouble seems to have followed them. The girl is more or less a pariah. She’s miserable and ill at ease, which seems reasonable under the circumstances. The commune’s managerial arrangements can only be described as sinister.

The colonists, as they call themselves, live by rigid rules set out by a group of anonymous leaders. The only book allowed is the Bible, in Amharic. (Fortunately, the narrator is fluent; although she was born in the United States, her parents emigrated from Ethiopia.) The commune on B— is by no means a permanent settlement; the colonists are preparing for a move to a promised land in Africa. They live in limbo and in a state of ever-increasing tension.

From here, Tamirat takes us back to the narrator’s life in Boston. If the girl had friends before she met Ayale, the titular parking lot attendant, they’re not mentioned. Although she dabbled in theater, her focus on school was otherwise absolute. She was raised by her parents, but never both at the same time: Her father walked out while her mother was pregnant, and didn’t return for six years. When he reappeared, her mother promptly abandoned her, and after that the narrator grew up in her father’s basement apartment.

Her father is pensive by nature and uncomfortable around other people, and while there’s good will on both sides, his rapport with his daughter is far from effortless. Still, he tries. After an awkward encounter with an irritating new monk at their church, he starts skipping services in favor of a weekly brunch with his daughter, and their conversations over eggs and pancakes take on a deep importance to her: “Only at brunch could I see him as someone who would stay. At all other times, I prepared myself for his inevitable departure, after which there would be no more parents: I would be alone.”

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Maaza Mengiste’s Outstanding New Essay on Refugees

Ethiopian-American writer Maaza Mengiste is the author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze and winner of the 2018 NEA Fellowship. Maaza is also a contributor in the newly released collection of essays edited by the Pulitzer-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen -- himself a Vietnamese refugee to America. (Photo: @MaazaMengiste)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

April 11th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste is one of 17 writers featured in a newly released book by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen entitled The Displaced, which presents a collection of essays by fellow refugee writers from around the globe.

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

According to the press release The Displaced is “a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines, with proceeds to support the International Rescue Committee (IRC), brings together writers originally from Mexico, Bosnia, Iran, Afghanistan, Soviet Ukraine, Hungary, Chile, Ethiopia, and others to make their stories heard.”

The announcement describes the contributing writers as being “formidable in their own right — MacArthur Genius grant recipients, National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalists, filmmakers, speakers, lawyers, professors, and New Yorker contributors —- and they are all refugees, many as children arriving in London and Toronto, Oklahoma and Minnesota, South Africa and Germany. Their 17 contributions are as diverse as their own lives have been, and yet hold just as many themes in common.”

The press release added: “These essays reveal moments of uncertainty, resilience in the face of trauma, and a re-imagining of identity, forming a compelling look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.”

In a recent book review The Economist praised Maaza’s essay in the book noting: “The outstanding piece is by Maaza Mengiste, an Ethiopian-American who gives a lyrical, erudite and unsettling reflection on refugees as Lazarus figures whose existence is forever defined by a single miracle.”

In 2016 Maaza Mengiste was also one of the featured speakers at PEN World Voices Festival panel discussion in NYC hosted by PEN America highlighting “the responsibility of writers in humanitarian crises” such as what’s taking in many parts of the world today.

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (Amazon)
Tadias Q & A With Maaza Mengiste

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Watch: The Talented Kiriku Brothers from Ethiopia on NBC’s “Little Big Shots”

The Kiriku Brothers from Ethiopia on NBC's television show "Little Big Shots" on Sunday, March 18th, 2018. (Photo: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

March 19th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — The talented Kiriku Brothers from Ethiopia were featured on NBC’s hit series “Little Big Shots” on Sunday, March 18th, with host Steve Harvey declaring: “This is the greatest act I’ve ever seen on Little Big Shots!”

Little Big Shots is an American variety television show that highlights children demonstrating talents and participating in conversation with Harvey.

“Steve Harvey couldn’t believe what was happening on the Little Big Shots stage when Ethiopian duo, The Kiriku Brothers, brought their high-flying act to the show,” Yahoo News enthused. “The kids, apparently, met at circus camp, as kids do, and practice their routine for four hours every day. Which is necessary if you’re going to be pulling off the crazy stunts these kids were performing.”

The culture editor of the 2Paragraphs website added: “One of the most memorable and unique performances on Season 3 of Little Big Shots is delivered by the Kiriku Brothers. The foot juggling Kiriku Brothers have all kinds of tricks, including where one of the older ones uses his bare feet to juggle a younger brother with nothing else but his feet. (Note: the Kiriku Brothers aren’t all related.) The Kiriku Brothers troupe hails from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This isn’t the Kiriku Brothers first time on television. Two of the brothers were just on Spain’s Got Talent in February. Spanish singer/actress and Spain’s Got Talent judge Edurne Garcia hit her Golden Buzzer for the Kiriku Brothers.”

Watch: Little Big Shots – The Kiriku Brothers (Episode Highlight)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Is Ethiopia the Inspiration Behind the Black Panther Movie?

The new movie Black Panther is a big hit in Ethiopia as it is in the U.S. and around the globe. The Washington Post reports "Ethiopian audiences, in particular, have warmed to the movie," because of the similarities between the history of Ethiopia, which has never been colonized, and the film's fictional country of Wakanda, "a hidden mountain kingdom that was the only country in Africa not to be colonized." Ethiopia is Wakanda, “minus the techno-utopia,” says Tsedale Lemma, editor of Addis Standard. (The Washington Post by Paul Schemm)

The Washington Post

Africa’s real Wakanda and the struggle to stay uncolonized

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Marvel Comics movie “Black Panther” has wowed audiences across the United States and around the world, including Africans who have cheered on the African superheroes and their fictional Kingdom of Wakanda.

There is a little something for everyone in Wakanda for Africans. The show’s designers seem to have attempted to incorporate stylistic elements from all over the continent to create the film’s look, as this one impressive Twitter thread has documented.

Ethiopian audiences, in particular, have warmed to the movie, and more than a few have cited their own country as the inspiration for Wakanda, a hidden mountain kingdom in the movie that was the only country in Africa not to be colonized.

Indeed, Ethiopia itself has the distinction of being the sole country on the continent to resist the European scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, when the continent was divided up into colonial possessions.

In fact, a bit like Wakanda, Ethiopia, or Abyssinia as it was once known, was also long shrouded in mystery for Europeans during the Middle Ages, a mythical Christian kingdom of great wealth, surrounded by hostile Muslim states, hidden in the mountains and home to the legendary Prester John.

A number of Ethiopians have noted on social media the similarities between Wakanda and Ethiopia. Among them is Tsedale Lemma, editor of the Addis Standard, one of the few independent media outlets in the country, who took time out of reporting the country’s state of emergency to say that Ethiopia is Wakanda, “minus the techno-utopia.”

How much the legend of Ethiopia influenced “Black Panther” creator Stan Lee is up for debate, but the character first appeared in 1966, three years after Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie visited the United States and President John F. Kennedy, treating the world to the spectacle of African royalty claiming centuries of lineage.

Read more »

SEED Honors Ethiopia’s Universal Impact on the Pan-African World

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Book Review of ‘Struggle From Afar’: Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw Interviews Ethiopian Women Activists

Cover of the new book 'Struggle From Afar' by Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw. (Courtesy of Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

January 22nd, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — In her newly published book Struggle From Afar the late educator and social justice activist Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw, who passed way two years ago, left behind a gem for future researchers by meticulously documenting the history of Ethiopian women grassroots activism in the Diaspora.

In Struggle From Afar Dr. Maigenet also debunks the myth that Ethiopian female millennials are not as passionate about human rights issues as their parents’ generation or their male counterparts. “It would be unfair to say that, unlike our generation, all young Ethiopians are disinterested in social justice movements,” she writes, emphasizing that as one young Ethiopian woman told her that today they simply follow a “different platform.” Dr. Maigenet explains that a “different platform” meant “focus on the humanitarian component of social activism.”

Women activists interviewed and featured in the book include former opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa as well as the acclaimed actress and playwright Alemtsehay Wedajo. In addition, Dr. Maigenet also highlights intimate conversations with several women across various fields including Abeba Fekade, Berhane Ras-Work, Fekerte Gebremariam, Lemlem Tsegaw, Mary Tadesse, Meqdes Mesfin, Meron Ahadu, Tsehai Berhane-Selassie and Wessenyelesh Debela.

“When I interviewed the women activists for this book their political views was not my primary interest,” Dr. Maigenet states. “I was only interested in what motivated them to become activists to work on peace, democracy and human rights issues.” She adds: “I was also interested, for those who were political activists, what challenges they had in participating in the male-dominated arena of political activism.”

Moreover, Dr. Maigenet cites American civil rights hero Rosa Parks as an international role model of the power of nonviolent noncooperation and resistance by individual citizens that changed the course of history in their own countries and beyond.

Another remarkable person mentioned in the book is British suffragette leader Sylvia Pankurst (1882-1960), who became a lifelong advocate for Ethiopia because of her strong opposition to fascism during World War II. “She marched, spoke in conferences, and argued with members of the British Parliament against Italian fascism and the invasion of Ethiopia,” Dr. Maigenet points out. “She founded the New Times and Ethiopia News, which was published in London in the 1930′s. She later turned the paper into the Ethiopia Observer, published in Addis Ababa, after the end of the Italian occupation.” Sylvia Pankurst eventually moved to Ethiopia where she lived until her death on September 27th, 1960 and was buried in Addis Ababa with great honor. Dr. Maigenet noted: “This is an exemplary example of disciplined and sustained peaceful resistance.”

Dr. Maigenet passed away at the age of 68 on February 24th 2016. She was an Associate Professor in adult education at the University of the District of Columbia for 20 years. She also worked as an education consultant at the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Education.

The book Struggle From Afar is published by Fanos Books (a TSEHAI imprint) for the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), which Dr. Maigenet helped establish and served as its President at the time of her passing, and with a foreword by her husband Professor Getachew Metaferia.

CREW will be hosting a book release event this coming weekend in Silver Spring, Maryland.

If You Go:
Book release: ‘Struggle From Afar’
Saturday, January 27th, 2018
Doors open at 4PM
Silver Spring Civic Center
Silver Spring, Maryland

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The 10 Best Tadias Arts & Culture Stories of 2017 in Pictures

Beteseb Painting Session at the Smithsonian African Art Museum in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 2017. (Photo by Victor Mayeya Odori)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 26th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — As we close 2017 and wish our readers a happy, peaceful and prosperous new year, we also look forward to celebrating our 15th anniversary in 2018 with you.

The first issue of Tadias Magazine was launched in 2003 with the purpose of creating a platform that connects the Ethiopian American community and chronicling both the successes and challenges of the Ethiopian experience worldwide. Looking back we are happy to say that as documented in the rich archives of our publication Ethiopian Americans of all generations have risen to new heights in various fields and disciplines including in the sciences, arts, business, as well as serving as advisors to the President of the United States and as global cultural icons.

Below are the ten most popular stories that we featured this past year:

Beteseb Painting Session at Smithsonian in DC

In June 2017, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. hosted an evening of painting and Ethiopian Jazz “under the summer skies” with Beteseb Center and Feedel Band. We featured the Beteseb art program when it was first launched two years ago as a weekly Saturday painting session for amateur artists in a rental space on 18th street in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. We are delighted to see the program is still going strong.

Antu Yacob Performs “In the Gray” at United Solo Theatre Festival in New York

Antu Yacob’s Ethio-American play “In the Gray” was featured at the 2017 United Solo Theatre festival in New York City this past September. Antu was the first Ethiopian American to have a play staged at the festival, which is the largest solo theatre festival in the world. The 75-minute storytelling and performance art narrates Antu’s personal experience while growing up in the United States as she forms and re-negotiates her Ethiopian-American identity first as a teenager and later an adult pursuing a career in the theatre and film industry. In the Gray features Antu playing several engaging characters including herself, her 8-year-old son, as well as her muslim and Oromo activist mother who lives in Minnesota.

Four Ethiopians on 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 List

From top left: Tsion Gurmu, Legal Fellow at African Services Committee, Saron Tesfalul, Vice President, Bain Capital; Lilly Workneh, Senior editor, Black Voices, HuffPost; and Awol Erizku, Artist. (Photos: Forbes)

In November Forbes Magazine released its influential annual list of 600 young trailblazers in 20 different industries. The 2018 list features four Ethiopian American professionals in their twenties working in finance, media, art & style as well as law & policy. The Ethiopian Americans highlighted in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list include Tsion Gurmu, Legal Fellow at African Services Committee in New York City; Saron Tesfalul, Vice President at Bain Capital in Boston; Lilly Workneh, Senior Editor, Black Voices, HuffPost in New York; and Awol Erizku, Artist, also from NYC.

Scientist Sossina Haile Honored With GE Grand Central Video Installation

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

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

Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School Names Yohannes Abraham 2017 Fellow

Former White House advisor Yohannes Abraham. (Courtesy Photo).

Yohannes Abraham was a 2017 Fellow at the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School this Fall. “Yohannes Abraham has not only had a front row seat, but was an active participant in the complex process of shaping national and international policy [under President Obama],” said Cong. Bill Delahunt, Acting Director of the prestigious institution. “His willingness to share his White House experience with students will provide them a rare first-hand perspective on the challenges of governing.” Yohannes served as Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Public Engagement & Intergovernmental Affairs and Senior Advisor to the National Economic Council during the Obama administration. He is currently Senior Advisor to the Obama Foundation.

New “Deseta Emojis” App on iTunes Celebrate Everything Ethiopian

(Courtesy of Deseta Design)

In your next text message you may now include Deseta Emojis to express yourself with Ethiopian humor. The digital icons often used to communicate ideas and emotions comes courtesy of Deseta Design. Announcing that its keyboard app contains over 200 small emojis Deseta Design says that the current collection is available for download on the App Store (Android version coming soon). Deseta emojis include icons of injera, buna, jebena and goursha. The images “celebrate everything Ethiopian in all of its glory,” says Maro Haile, owner of Deseta Design, an NYC-based online creative venture.

Long Distance Runner Almaz Ayana: 2017 World Athlete of the Year Finalist

Almaz Ayana. (AP photo)

Our highlight of Olympic champion and world 10,000m titleholder Almaz Ayana’s second nomination for the World Athlete of the Year award last month was one of the most viewed stories of the year on the Tadias website. Almaz was the winner of last year’s Female World Athlete of the Year prize given by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). We wish Almaz Ayana continued success as she represents Ethiopia in future world events.

In New Release Meklit Pays Homage To Ethio-Jazz

This year musician Meklit Hadero released one of her best albums yet. The CD entitled When The People Move, The Music Moves Too includes a beautiful tribute to Meklit’s own musical role models hailing from Ethiopia and the United States in a song called I Want to Sing for Them All (watch the video above). As Vibe magazine points out: “I Want to Sing For Them All is her musical manifesto, and how she intertwines both of the music of American and Ethiopian heritages.” Meklit adds: “We came to this country when I was about two. I am an immigrant, so I guess you could say this is immigrant music. But I would not be who I am without Jazz, and Blues and Hip-Hop and Soul. This music is Ethio-American, just like me. I find joy in the bigness of that space.”

Gebisa Ejeta Receives $5M Grant for Grain Research

Gebisa Ejeta is an Ethiopian American plant breeder, geneticist and Professor at Purdue University. In 2009, he won the World Food Prize for his major contributions in the production of sorghum. (Photo: Purdue)

Per AP: “Gebisa Ejeta received the four-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Journal and Courier reported. “It is the second foundation that has donated to the cause. It’s very helpful a grant such as this for the kind of programs that they support in developing countries because it allows us to engage beyond the normal boundaries we operate,” Ejeta said. Ejeta developed a hybrid sorghum seed that’s drought-tolerant and resistant to striga, which strips food sources from its nutrients. Ejeta is credited with helping feed hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa with his work developments.”

Marcus Samuelsson to Host New PBS Show Celebrating Food, Art, Culture & Immigrants in America

Marcus Samuelsson, pictured outside his Red Rooster Harlem, will travel across the United States from DC to the Bay Area in California to spotlight the cuisine in local immigrant communities. (Photo: by Matt Dutile)

Next year Marcus Samuelsson is set to Host a New PBS show, tentatively titled No Passport Required that highlights food, art and culture from the vibrant Ethiopian restaurant scene in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to Little Kabul in Fremont, California and the Vietnamese shrimpers in Louisiana. “No Passport Required will celebrate America’s diverse cultural mosaic as Samuelsson travels to under-explored parts of American cities to showcase the people, places and culinary flavors of immigrant communities,” PBS announced, noting that the series will premiere in 2018.

15 Arts & Culture Stories of 2016 in Photos
Ethiopia: 2016 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014
Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013
Tadias Year in Review: 2015 in Pictures
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Tadias Year in Review: 2013 in Pictures
Top 10 Stories of 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Marcus Samuelsson to Host New PBS Show Celebrating Food, Art, Culture & Immigrants in America

Marcus Samuelsson, pictured outside his Red Rooster Harlem, will travel across the United States from DC to the Bay Area in California to spotlight the cuisine in local immigrant communities. (Photo: by Matt Dutile)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 1st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Next year Marcus Samuelsson is set to Host a New PBS show, tentatively titled No Passport Required that highlights food, art and culture from the vibrant Ethiopian restaurant scene in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to Little Kabul in Fremont, California and the Vietnamese shrimpers in Louisiana.

No Passport Required will celebrate America’s diverse cultural mosaic as Samuelsson travels to under-explored parts of American cities to showcase the people, places and culinary flavors of immigrant communities,” PBS announced, noting that the series begins production this year and will premiere in 2018.

The press release adds: “Chef Samuelsson — co-owner of New York’s critically acclaimed Red Rooster Harlem — embodies America’s extraordinarily rich cultural diversity. Born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, and a proud resident of Harlem, he’s inspired by this global background to infuse his culinary experiences with diverse elements of music, history, culture, and the arts. Today, he is a celebrated award-winning chef, restaurateur, author, philanthropist and food activist. Samuelsson’s accolades include earning five James Beard Awards, being named the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star review from The New York Times, and having the honor of cooking for the Obama administration’s first state dinner. He is an ambassador for UNICEF, co-founder of the Harlem EatUp! Festival, and the co-chair of the board of Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).”

“Chasing flavors has been my lifelong passion,” shared Samuelsson. “To now be able to bring viewers on that journey with me to these amazing communities in cities across the U.S. is truly a dream come true. We get to go deep into the markets, pull up to the roadside stands, and be welcomed into homes — all the places where people share and celebrate food together.”

PBS and VOX Media Announce New Series Hosted by Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Film ‘Breathe in the Roots’ Director Interview

Tsedey Aragie interviewing filmmaker Indrias G. Kassaye. (Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

September 15th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Last month we featured the D.C. premiere of Breathe in the Roots, a new film by Director and Producer Indrias G. Kassaye that features a young Brooklyn-based African American teacher’s journey of discovery to Ethiopia.

Indrias Kassaye is a writer, photographer, and producer who “believes in the importance of storytelling that champions the voices and experiences of local communities and everyday people.” After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Indrias moved back to Ethiopia with dreams of contributing to the development of his country and the African renaissance in general.” In his latest film Indrias tracks Ty Christen Joseph’s (Chris) “journey from Addis Ababa to Lalibela, one of Ethiopia’s holiest pilgrimage sites, on horseback – documenting his once-in-a-lifetime experience and showcasing a side of Ethiopia that mainstream media rarely covers.”

Tadias caught up with Indrias, Chris and some audience members following the Washington, D.C. screening at the Anacostia Arts Center.

Watch Video:

The Anacostia Art Center screening was the first of a series of screenings, photo exhibitions and discussion sessions in the DMV area.

The next event entitled “Filmmaker Shop Talk” is scheduled for Saturday, September 16th at Gateway Media Art Center in Mount Rainier, Maryland, followed by a screeening at Busboys and Poets in Hysattsville, MD on October 17th.

In addition, Port Of Harlem magazine is organizing a showing of ‘Breathe in the Roots’ at Alexandria Black History Museum in Virginia on October 26th.

(Courtesy photos)

Watch: Breathe in the Roots trailer (A film Directed & Produced by Indrias G. Kassaye)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Wondwossen Dikran’s New Comedy ‘SNAP!’ Playing on YouTube Red

Producer Wondwossen Dikran on the set of the new comedy special, SNAP!, from All Def Digital and Dormtainment currently showing on the online film platform YouTube Red. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

July 17th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American filmmaker Wondwossen Dikran is the producer of SNAP!, a new comedy special released last week by Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital (ADD) and Dormtainment. The latter is one of the first sketch comedy groups to launch their video content on YouTube. Wondwossen was previously featured as director of the independent film Journey to Lasta released in 2004.

Speaking about his new venture, Wondwossen tell Tadias: “The Co-founder of Dormtainment, Amanuel Richards, is my first cousin and this brought back a lot of the JTL crew. Russell Simmons and All Def Digital are the Executive Producers.” SNAP! is directed by Olumide Odebunmi, Wondwossen’s business & creative partner.

According to Dormtainment, the short comedy SNAP! is “about the hottest Atlanta Snap Rap Group of 2006 aka Stacks-4-Daze. Now the band members are all broke working dead-end-jobs in LA, but when they accidentally go viral on Worldstar they get a second chance at fame. Can they bring the stacks back?”

Describing his cousin Amanuel of Dormtainment Wondwossen shares, “He is much younger than I am, and I have been kind of encouraging him to come out to this side of the coast.” Amanuel — who was born in the U.S. to parents hailing from Ethiopia and the Virgin Islands — is also the co-director and lead actor in SNAP!.

“Once Amanuel came to LA several years ago Dormtainment began to get a lot of buzz. They had a show on Comedy Central, and they were doing a lot of work for LOL network,” says Wondwossen. “So when the opportunity came and they were approached by the multi-channel network, All Def Digital, they asked me to develop and produce this half hour pilot.”

All Def’s Chief Executive, Sanjay Sharma, states: “We are thrilled to have partnered with Dormtainment, one of our earliest partners on the YouTube platform, to produce this unique, hilarious special. They have such a loyal fanbase, and their ability to create highly engaging short form content, long form premium content, and even sell-out, live stage experiences is truly special. We are excited to get this project out for our fans and theirs, and for the broader world to see, as we continue to expand and work with some of the brightest up-and-coming talent in the industry.”

Wondwossen Dikran and Olumide Odebunmi working on set of ‘SNAP!’ (Courtesy photo)

For Wondwossen the main focus has been developing and producing content for the digital space. “We have found opportunity because the business is shifting from traditional models to various digital platforms,” he says. “We’ve been working with several agencies in developing talent for feature films, music videos, as well as high-end commercials and other branded content.”

In order to become a regular series the success of this pilot “basically depends on how much people respond to it based on the numbers and algorithms”, Wondwossen explains. “We encourage people to watch the pilot and give us your feedback, a like, a review, or whatever you think about it.” He added: “We would love as much eyeball as we can get.”

Click here to watch SNAP! on YouTube Red (if you don’t have an account you can sign up for their 3-month free trial)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Jessica Beshir’s Ethiopia Short Film ‘Hairat’ and 2 New Releases

Directed by Jessica Beshir the film 'Hairat" documents one man's nightly ritual in Harar. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: April 1st, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — In her short film Hairat, Jessica Beshir goes back to Ethiopia to the city of her childhood “to tell the story of one man’s extraordinary ritual that unfolds nightly in the outskirts of the walled city of Harar.”

Hairat, which was screened at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival this past January, will make its NYC premiere at the Lincoln Center as part of this year’s New York African Film Festival in May. The film was also shown this month at the Dallas International film Festival in Texas and the Rincon International film Festival in Puerto Rico. Hairat will premiere at the upcoming Arizona International Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival in Cannes, France later this month.

“An Imam in Harar spoke to me about the meaning of Hairat at length, but in short it means, ‘You are where you need to be,’” Jessica says.

Trailer | HAIRAT from Jessica Beshir on Vimeo.

In addition to Hairat Jessica also has two additional short films, Heroin and He Who Dances on Wood , premiering at various festivals across the U.S.

In Heroin, which make its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 20th & 21st, Jessica grapples with the question of free will as she “explores the creative process, inspiration and alternative reality of an artist.”

The short film He Who Dances on Wood highlights tap dancer Fred Nelson. BRIC TV describes it as “one man’s search for joy..culminated in a constant experience of rhythm in the world around him. Something so simple, yet beautiful, found its way into Fred’s life in the form of dancing on an old piece of wood.” He Who Dances on Wood will make its NY premiere at BAM’s New Voices in Black Cinema series on April 30th, and its international premiere at the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto taking place in early May.

Watch: ‘He Who Dances on Woods’ — A short film by Jessica Beshir trailer

He Who Dances on Wood (TRAILER) from BRIC TV on Vimeo.

Ethiopia: Director Jessica Beshir’s ‘Hairat’ Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

15 Arts & Culture Stories of 2016 in Photos

Poet Lemn Sissay at Ginny’s in New York at a Tadias Salon Series event on August 9th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 26th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — This has been a very productive and busy year for us beginning with the launch of Tadias Salon Series in Spring 2016 featuring the NYC release of the book Temsalet & Tsehai Publishers Presentation at the Schomburg Center in Harlem followed by a sold-out live show over the Summer with renowned British-born Ethiopian poet and author Lemn Sissay at Ginny’s Supper Club/Red Rooster Harlem. In Fall 2016 Tadias Magazine hosted Marcus Samuelsson at SEI in DC for a book signing and afterparty celebrating the release of his latest publication entitled The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem. In addition we were honored to attend the first Ethiopian American Policy Briefing held on June 8th, 2016 at the White House as well as being one of the emergng new media presenters at the 2016 Diasporas in Development conference held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on October 12th, 2016.

But, as always, the most exciting part of our job was covering some of the biggest Ethiopian Diaspora arts and culture stories including the recent historic appearance of legendary singer Mahmoud Ahmed at the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City and classical pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa’s phenomenal NYC show at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem. Furthermore, Mulatu Astatke’s one-of-a-kind live performance at the Temple of Dendur at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) was held on September 9th, 2016, which was presented in collaboration with the World Music Institute.

Below are a few images of the top arts and culture stories of 2016 curated from the Tadias instagram Page:

Mahmoud Ahmed Brings Down the House at Carnegie Hall Debut Concert on October 23rd, 2016

(Photo by Kidane Mariam/Tadias Magazine)

Mahmoud Ahmed performed live at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Sunday, October 23rd, 2016, becoming the first major artist from Ethiopia to give a solo concert at the world-famous venue. The 75-year-old Ethiopian cultural icon, who is one of Ethiopia’s most eminent musicians, played at Carnegie’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage and brought the audience to its feet for several songs. Read more and see photos »

Ruth-Negga: One of Top Movie Stars of 2016


34-year-old Ethiopian-born actress Ruth Negga has become the talk of Hollywood and Oscar mentions following her highly acclaimed performance in the new civil rights movie Loving, which depicts the 1967 historic U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in a case called “Loving v. Virginia.” Ruth who was born in Addis Ababa grew-up in Limerick, Ireland and has resided in London for the past ten years. Asked by The Hollywood Reporter on how she became an actress, Negga replied: “You know when you’re a kid and you get to pick a movie every Friday? I watched everything. There’s no particular genre that was appealing. I just loved the idea that you could dress up and play.” This month Vogue magazine declared “the Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga has become a star for our time.” Read more and see photos »

Congratulations to artist and instagrammer Girma Berta who won the 2016 Getty Images Grant

(Photo by Girma Berta)

Photographer Girma Berta, an instagrammer and artist from Ethiopia, was the winner of the 2016 Getty Images Instagram Grant. “Berta uses his iPhone to photograph vibrant, gritty street life in Addis Ababa, crossing street photography with fine art by isolating his subjects against backdrops of rich color,” Getty Images said. The grant is for videographers and visual artists who feature local stories and document “underrepresented communities around the world.” Read more and see photos »

Mulatu Astatke Live at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 9th, 2016


Mulatu Astatke returned to New York City for a live show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 9th, 2016. The concert, which was part of the MetLiveArts program, was presented in collaboration with the World Music Institute. “Known as the father of Ethio-jazz, composer and multi-instrumentalist (vibraphone, piano, keyboard, organs, and percussion) Mulatu Astatke leaped to international fame in the ’70s and ’80s with his unique mix of Western traditional Ethiopian music and admirers like Duke Ellington and John Coltrane,” stated the announcement from The Met. “Known for his fearless experimentation, his music begins and ends with improvisation.”

Poet & Author Lemn Sissay Featured at Tadias Salon Series event in NYC on August 9th, 2016

Photos by Anastasia Kirtiklis for Tadias

Thank you again to everyone who joined us on Tuesday, August 9th, 2016 for a sold out Tadias Salon Series show at Ginny’s Supper Club as Lemn Sissay shared his incredible life journey & poems from his new book Gold From the Stone, and Grammy-nominated Ethiopian American singer and songwriter Wayna (@waynamusic) gave a soul-shaking music performance, along with DJ Mengie. Special thanks to Marcus Samuelsson and Ethiopia Alfred as well as our sponsors for making it happen.

Composer & Pianist Girma Yifrashewa’s Phenomenal Show in Harlem

Ethiopian Pianist and Composer Girma Yifrashewa at Ginny’s Supper Club in New York on Sunday, November 27th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

This year the Thanksgiving weekend program at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem, New York featured a special Ethiopia-inspired dinner menu prepared by Chef Marcus Samuelsson followed by a live performance by classical Ethiopian pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa. Girma’s amazing concert on Sunday, November 27th, 2016 included his original compositions that evoke “Ethiopian melody making,” as he told the audience, “decorated” with sounds of the classical music tradition in combination with Ambassel, Bati, Anchihoye and Tizita based on Ethiopian music’s unique tone scale system. Read more and watch video »

LA’s Azla Vegan Family Ethiopian Restaurant Featured on U.S. National Food Network TV Show

(Photo: Owners of Azla Vegan Nesanet Teshager Abegaze and her mother Azla Mekonen at Coachella Festival in Los Angeles, California)

Los Angeles, California, which is home to the only official Little-Ethiopia neighborhood in America, is also headquarters for Azla Vegan, a family-owned Ethiopian restaurant — located near the University of Southern California (USC) — that we featured in 2013 in an interview with owner Nesanet Teshager Abegaze as it first opened. This year, Azla Vegan was featured on the Food Network‘s television episode of “Cosmopolitan Comfort: Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.” Read more and see photos »

Ethiopia-inspired furniture at 2016 International Dubai Design Week

(Photo: Jomo Design Furniture, Actuel Urban Living)

Ethiopia-inspired furniture by U.S.-based Jomo Tariku, Founder of Jomo Design Furniture and Hamere Demissie of Actuel Urban Living was featured at the 2016 international Dubai Design Week festival in October. Jomo and Hamere’s works were selected as submissions from design weeks around the world including Design Week Addis Ababa, highlighting “the modern-inspired minimalist spirit of traditional Ethiopian design made locally by skilled artisans.” Hamere Demissie’s Actuel Urban Living previewed “a collection of furniture, rugs and textiles with a refined organic feel, while Jomo Design Furniture will display a contemporary take on traditional African chairs crafted in hardwoods, inspired by African hand carvings, baskets and traditional woven textiles,” according to the media release from Dubai Design Week.

Ethiopian American Reporter Bofta Yimam Named Weekend Morning Anchor at Action News 4 Pittsburgh

Ethiopian American journalist Bofta Yimam was promoted as Weekend Morning Anchor at Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 Television in 2016.

Congratulations to Bofta Yimam who was promoted to Weekend Morning Anchor at Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 Television (WTAE) this year. Bofta received three Emmy nominations and won the Regional Emmy Award (Nashville/Mid-South Chapter) for excellence in the ‘Continuing Coverage’ category in 2013. “There are so many avenues of journalism that you have to put yourself out there, and have a kind of go-for-it type of mentality,” Bofta shared in a past interview with Tadias. “You gotta get the skill sets and be willing to hit the ground running.” Read more and watch video »

Ethiopia-Italy Film “If Only I Were That Warrior” Released on DVD

(Image courtesy of Awen Films)

The new documentary film If Only I Were That Warrior — which chronicles the reactions of the international Ethiopian and Italian community regarding the recent building of a memorial for the Fascist General, Rodolfo Graziani (“The Butcher of Ethiopia”) in his hometown of Affile, Italy — has finally been released on DVD and is also now available for streaming online. Read more »

Alegntaye: Ethiopian Hip-Hop Artist Teddy Yo Featured in New Africology Video

(Teddy Yo 2016 new music video ‘Alegntaye’ produced by Africology)

NYC-based music & entertainment company Africology this year released their first music video production entitled “Alegntaye” featuring popular Ethiopian hip-hop artist Teddy Yo and Joe Lox.

Julie Mehretu: The Addis Show at Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Desta Center in Ethiopia

Julie Mehretu. (Photo by Joseph Maida)

Renowned Ethiopian American artist Julie Mehretu returned to Ethiopia this Summer for her inaugural show at The Modern Art Museum Gebre Kristos Desta Center in Addis Ababa. The exhibition entitled Julie Mehretu: The Addis Show — which was jointly presented by the Gebre Kristos Desta Center and the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa — was opened on July 8, 2016 and remained on display through August 6, 2016.

Celebrity chef and Author Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster book Offers a Taste of Multicultural Harlem

‘The Red Rooster Cookbook’ (2016) by Marcus Samuelsson pays homage to modern Harlem. (Photo: Book cover)

“When chef Marcus Samuelsson opened Red Rooster on Harlem’s Lenox Avenue, he envisioned so much more than just a restaurant. He wanted to create a gathering place at the heart of his adopted neighborhood, where both the uptown and downtown sets could see and be seen, mingle and meet – and so he did, in a big way. Ever since the 1930s, Harlem has been a magnet for more than a million African Americans, a melting pot for Spanish, African, and Caribbean immigrants, and a mecca for artists. Named after a historic neighborhood speakeasy, the modern Rooster reflects all of that, from the local art showcased on its walls, to the live music blaring from its performance spaces, to the cross-cultural food on its patrons’ plates and the evocative cocktails in their hands.” Read The Times review at »

Ethio-American Playwright Antu Yacob’s One Person Show ‘In the Gray’

Antu Yacob. (Courtesy photo)

What does it mean to be Ethiopian American? The answer depends on who you ask, but for Playwright Antu Yacob — whose parents immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia when she was barely five years old — the identity is not as clear-cut. In the Gray is the title of Antu’s latest one-person show, which explored precisely this question when it was staged in New York City as part of the Women in Theatre Festival by Project Y Theatre in Manhattan this past summer. “In the Gray” features Antu playing several engaging characters including herself, her 8-year-old son, as well as her muslim and Oromo activist mother who lives in Minnesota. “I knew that I wanted to write about my experience not only as an actor, but also as an Ethio-American professional in the entertainment industry,” Antu told Tadias in an interview following her show. As a playwright Antu says she tries “to experiment with social and political activism in an entertaining way” noting that “America is made up of so many different cultures, and there is room to honor that diversity without sacrificing the beauty of who we are as a people. As Ethiopian Americans we make up a part of the larger American experience.” Read more and see photos »

Ethiopia: Director Jessica Beshir’s ‘Hairat’ Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017

The film ‘Hairat,” which documents one man’s nightly ritual near Ethiopia’s historic city of Harar, is directed by Jessica Beshir. (Courtesy photo)

Last but not least, a big thumbs-up to Director Jessica Beshir whose documentary short film Hairat from Ethiopia was selected this year to be featured at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. “This is a visual and lyrical exploration of the nightly ritual between a man in Eastern Ethiopia and his feral companions,” the Sundance Institute wrote describing Hairat in a press release. In the film Director Jessica Beshir, who was born in Mexico City and raised in Ethiopia, “returns to the city of her childhood to tell the story of one man’s extraordinary ritual that unfolds nightly in the outskirts of the walled city of Harar.” Jessica’s short film is one of 68 works from around the world that will be screened at Sundance from January 19th through 29th, 2017. Read more »

Ethiopia: 2016 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014
Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013
Tadias Year in Review: 2015 in Pictures
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Tadias Year in Review: 2013 in Pictures
Top 10 Stories of 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias in Conversation with Marcus Samuelsson & DC Book Signing Pictures

Marcus Samuelsson at a book signing event at SEI restaurant in Washington, D.C. hosted by Tadias Magazine on Wednesday, October 26th, 2016. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, October 28th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — As part of the Tadias Salon Series Tadias Magazine hosted Marcus Samuelsson at SEI in DC on Wednesday, October 26th for a book signing and afterparty celebrating the release of his latest publication entitled The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem.

Below are photos from the event:

“When chef Marcus Samuelsson opened Red Rooster on Harlem’s Lenox Avenue, he envisioned so much more than just a restaurant. He wanted to create a gathering place at the heart of his adopted neighborhood, where both the uptown and downtown sets could see and be seen, mingle and meet – and so he did, in a big way. Ever since the 1930s, Harlem has been a magnet for more than a million African Americans, a melting pot for Spanish, African, and Caribbean immigrants, and a mecca for artists. Named after a historic neighborhood speakeasy, the modern Rooster reflects all of that, from the local art showcased on its walls, to the live music blaring from its performance spaces, to the cross-cultural food on its patrons’ plates and the evocative cocktails in their hands. THE RED ROOSTER COOKBOOK is as lush and layered as its inheritance. Traditions converge in these pages, with dishes like Brown Butter Biscuits, Chicken and Waffles, Jerk Bacon and Baked Beans, Latino Pork and Plantains, Chinese Steamed Bass and Fiery Noodles, Ethiopian Spice-Crusted Lamb, and Rum Cake. Lyrical essays and intimate interviews – including a foreword by New Yorker critic Hilton Als and conversations with unsung neighborhood heroes – convey the flavor of the place. Stunning archival and contemporary photos document Harlem’s past, present, and future.”

Marcus Samuelsson Releases “The Red Rooster Cookbook” with National Tour

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Alegntaye: Ethiopian Hip-Hop Artist Teddy Yo in New Africology Video

Ethiopian Hip hop musician Teddy Yo. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, October 27th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) – NYC-based music & entertainment company Africology recently released their first music video production entitled “Alegntaye” featuring popular Ethiopian hip-hop artist Teddy Yo and Joe Lox.

This year Africology artists have also been nominated in four categories at the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) in Nigeria. Voting for the nominees closes at the end of this month. Africology’s nominations for 2016 AFRIMA include:

1. Best African Group / Duo or Band – Jano Band – “Darigne”
Link to share to public –

2. Best African Group / Duo or Band [Rock} – Jano Band – “Darigne”
Link to share to public –

3. Most Promising Artist – Anteneh Minalu – “Wayo”
Link to share to public –

4. BEST AFRICAN ARTISTE /GROUP / DUO / BAND (in African Reggae, Ragga, Dancehall) – Anteneh Minalu – “Wayo”
Link to share to public –

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias Media Featured at DevTalk Conference at the Newseum in DC

Lunch break during the Diasporas in Development conference at the Newseum in D.C. on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016. (Photo: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, October 13th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — Tadias Magazine was one of the featured presenters at the 2016 Diasporas in Development conference held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, October 12th.

The program, which was organized by U.S. State Department, George Washington University, the International Organization for Migration and hosted by USAID, highlighted “practitioners with unique approaches to international development who shared their stories and Diaspora experiences in short, dynamic presentations.”

According to the Diaspora Global Innovation Exchange the numbers of people living outside their country of origin today has almost tripled worldwide — from 76 million to 232 million over the past four and half decades.

The Tadias presentation focused on three areas of our work. As a new media organization Tadias seeks to amplify voices from the Ethiopian American and Diaspora community by featuring successful individuals and role models for current and future generations. Tadias is also a platform used to encourage wider civic participation and engagement, whether it’s connecting together local and national groups working on getting out the vote for national elections or sharing highlights of community-based organizations and non-profits. Last but not least, Tadias aims to build networks with other communities in America and Diaspora to address similar issues we may face as a community and collaborate together to create greater awareness of social issues.

The event’s opening keynote was delivered by Kingsley Aikins, CEO and Founder of Diaspora Matters, a Dublin-based consultancy company that advises countries, cities, regions, companies, and organizations on how to develop strategies to connect with their Diasporas. Other topics covered included “case studies in successful business building; Diaspora engagement for economic and commercial impact as well as information on how to partner with Diasporas in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Tadias Magazine presentation poster at the Diasporas in Development conference held at Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016.

Here is a video that was part of our presentation that included clips of interviews with Ethiopian American national newsmakers as well as the Tadias Magazine roundtable discussion at National Press Club spotlighting issues related to Ethiopian migrants workers.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Bethelhem T. Negash

Published: Thursday, May 26th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Syoum Gebregziabher. (Courtesy photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight on Ethiopia’s First Aikido Association & Training Center

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Updated: Monday, January 25th, 2016

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

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

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

(Photo Courtesy of Aikido Ethiopia)

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

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

(Photo Courtesy of Aikido Ethiopia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aikido Ethiopia Association

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, January, 21st, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch: Bofta Yimam Emmy Award Acceptance Speech 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Tadias Year in Review: 2015 in Pictures

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

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

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

2018 in Pictures
The 10 Best Tadias Arts & Culture Stories of 2017 in Pictures
2016 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014
Tadias Year in Review: 2013 in Pictures
Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013
Top 10 Stories of 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie

Emperor Haile Selassie (L) and the author Asfa-Wossen Asserate, his grandnephew. (Photos: Haus Publishing)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, August 31st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The world does not seem to want to forget Haile Selassie, Ethiopia’s last Emperor who has been gone for more than forty years, continuing the debate regarding his complicated legacy as both a reformer and an autocrat. And in November 2015 a new book from Haile Selassie’s grandnephew, Asfa-Wossen Asserate, is slated to be released by Haus Publishing and distributed in the U.S. by the University of Chicago Press.

Asserate’s book entitled King of Kings: Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia provides an authoritative, insider’s perspective and a refreshingly balanced look at this fascinating international figure who was the global face of Ethiopia for most of the 20th century.

To be sure Haile Selassie governed a much different Ethiopia than today with a population three times less and a country dominated by a handful of politically connected feudal landlords that were either related to or favored by the royal palace. From his vantage point as a close family member the author — who is the grandson of Ras Kassa Haile Darge and the son of Ras Asserate Kassa– shares his personal memories of the Emperor as well as a rarely told and candid behind-the-scenes account of palace politics, family feuds and coup d’etats that eventually led to the coronation of Haile Selassie in 1930, and forty four years later, his swift downfall and unceremonious removal from power.

No challenging event in Ethiopian history, however, could better encapsulate the triumph and tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie than his historic appearance before the General Assembly of the League of Nations in 1936 — only six years after he took power. Asserate, who currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany, notes: “The forces of Mussolini’s Fascist Italy had invaded Ethiopia and the exiled monarch made a moving appeal to the world’s conscience. The words he spoke that day have gone down in history: ‘Catastrophe is inevitable if the great states stand by and watch the rape of a small country.’” Five years later in 1941, after Mussolini’s Blackshirts were driven out of Ethiopia by British and Ethiopian forces “he returned in triumph to reclaim the Ethiopian throne.”

Asserate’s book is also timely not only because there is a renewed interest in Haile Selassie by a new generation of artists, researchers and historians, but also because this year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, which was created in 1945 with the active participation from the Ethiopian leader.

Asserate’s description of the Emperor’s attempt at modernization, especially the fast-paced changes that were taking place in the capital Addis Ababa in the 1950′s, reminds one of today’s much publicized development projects in the city than activities taking place six decades ago: “Gradually, an urban infrastructure arose –with metalled roads, wide boulevards, shops, factories and warehouses, hotels and guest houses, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, plus a handful of cinemas. In addition, this period saw construction of new administrative blocks, schools and hospitals, as well as embassy buildings. The city’s growth attracted entrepreneurs and businessmen, advisors, educators and adventurers from all four corners of the world.”

Asserate adds: “And yet in many respects the center of Addis Ababa continued to resemble the residential seat of some 19th-centurey German provincial ruler rather than an international capital in the mid-20th century. The heart of the city was occupied by the imperial palaces: the Genete -Leul Palace, the emperor’s own residence at the time, and the Menelik Palace complex, also known as “the big Gebbi‘, with its numerous buildings, including the palace ministry. This was also the site of the Aderash, the cavernous hall that hosted regular state banquets, and which could accommodate up to three thousand people.”

King of Kings: Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is full of captivating details that only an insider could share; it is written with great poise and warmth for the enigmatic leader while at the same time cognizant of the swelling unhappiness and criticism the Emperor faced from his own people impatient with the pace of change.

Haile Selasse still Debated 40 Years After his Death (RFI)
From The Guardian Archive, 24 August 1974 Ethiopia’s Fallen Aristocrats
Book Review: ‘Prevail’: Personal Stories From Mussolini’s Invasion of Ethiopia
Review of ‘Long Ago and Far Away’: A Novel Set In Ethiopia by John Coyne

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Review of ‘Long Ago and Far Away’: A Novel Set In Ethiopia by John Coyne

John Coyne, pictured above in Addis Ababa in 1964, is the author of the new novel 'Long Ago and Far Away.' Coyne served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Ethiopia from 1962 to 1964. (Photograph by Michael McCaskey)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, June 1st, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Author John Coyne was one of the first batch of Peace Corp Volunteers sent to Ethiopia in 1962 where he taught at the Commercial School in Addis Ababa. Since then Coyne, who currently lives in New York, has re-connected with several of his students who have come to America. His most recent (13th) novel entitled Long Ago and Far Away uses Ethiopia as the cultural environment for a love story between two young Americans – a spy serving as a diplomat and a journalist commissioned to produce a tour guide of Ethiopia in 1973. The plot spans a period of 40 years, and goes back and forth in time and place between Ethiopia, the United States, and Spain. Interspersed with mention of historical books written about Ethiopia Coyne also includes a lesser talked about scenario where individuals related to the royal family had been restricted in their movements due to their suspected participation and support of an earlier attempted coup against Haile Selassie.

As the narrator, Parker Bishop, starts the novel with a criminal trial involving a Peace Corp Volunteer’s death he provides a glimpse of the months preceding the uprising of the army that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie. Coyne depicts the tension in the air surrounding the secrecy of a looming drought in the north of the country and brewing political instability, as well as the explorations of a foreign (ferenji) narrator who is not a complete outsider as he is familiar enough to communicate in the Amharic language. Yet these images that have become so stereotypical of the nation are swiftly challenged with Coyne’s perceptive descriptions of the conditions that ordinary people lived under in rural parts of Ethiopia, the beauty of small moments such as driving on highland roads enveloped by the bloom of Meskel flowers after the annual Summer rainy season, or sharing a cubaya (cup) of tea brewed in a tukul house in Fiche. It’s easy to feel Coyne’s magnetic pull to the land and its people and anyone who has ever spent time in Ethiopia may be instantly catapulted into a sense of nostalgia for the contradictions and uniqueness of the experience.

“It’s not all about Ethiopia, but Ethiopia is the spark of the book,” Coyne tells Tadias. “As a friend of mine said, Ethiopia is the character in the novel. You can’t read the book without learning about Ethiopia.” Coyne has also included a glossary and pronunciation section with phonetic spelling at the end of the book.

Long Ago and Far Away is a novel written with great love of Ethiopia and its essence stays with you long after you have finished reading the last words the lovers say to each other.

You can learn more and purchase the book at or at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Lamb Review: Sheer Brilliance Knits Together First Ethiopian Film at Cannes

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

The Guardian

By Jordan Hoffman

The first image in Lamb is a closeup of a small boy’s hand laying gently on the thick, auburn wool of of a sheep. It may be a one-sided relationship – it’s hard to get inside the head of livestock – but Ephraim (Rediat Amare) clearly loves this animal. He lives in a small village in Ethiopia with his father, an area troubled by drought. His mother has recently passed away and his father has decided that he will take the boy to live with cousins in a farmland area with rolling green hills while he goes to Addis Ababa looking for work.

The new family consists of a loving but all-business great aunt who keeps a whip by her side for occasional discipline, a stern uncle, an aunt concerned with her sick daughter, and another daughter who is past marrying age but seems more interested in reading newspapers than getting hitched and having children.

What’s most exciting about Lamb, the first Ethiopian film to play at Cannes (it appears in the Un Certain Regard section), is that it is an ethnographic film made entirely from the inside out. First-time feature director Yared Zeleke attended New York University’s film school, but grew up in Ethiopia’s urban slums during some of its most troubled years. While we’re following Ephraim into a new environment, there’s little explaining done for our benefit. We’re dropped in and left to figure it out for ourselves.

The family are subsistence farmers, and just barely getting by. They have no electricity or gadgets or western clothing. What they have instead are plenty of customs, like putting on an exaggerated show of mourning when Ephraim first arrives, and preparing for a forthcoming Christian feast. It is decided that Ephraim’s sheep will be slaughtered for this holiday, setting up something of a ticking clock. Heading down to the small marketplace, where car radios blaze with music familiar to fans of the Éthiopiques compilation , Ephraim scopes out a bus ticket. He isn’t sure if he wants to go to the city to find his father or to return to his old village. He knows he can’t stay here, though, with the local bully kids, an unsympathetic uncle and a sword looming over his beloved pet’s head.

Read more at The Guardian »

Watch: Ethiopia’s First-Ever Cannes “Official Selection” Drama ‘Lamb’ (Indiewire)
Lamb: Yared Zeleke’s Film at Cannes 2015 (TADIAS)
Cannes 2015: the complete festival line-up (The Telegraph)
Home work: Filmmaker Yared Zeleke’s Origin Stories (Manhattan Digest)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Fox News Visits LA’s Little Ethiopia

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, February 15th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Published: Monday, December 22nd, 2014

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

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

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

Dinaw Mengistu’s New Novel ‘All Our Names’

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

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

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

(Photos credit: Haile-Addis Pictures)

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

Taitu Cultural and Educational Center Celebrates 14th Anniversary

(Photo courtesy: The Taitu Cultural and Educational Center)

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

Aida Muluneh’s Addis Photo Fest

Photo courtesy: Addis Foto Fest (AFF)

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

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

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

Ethiopia Habtemariam: Billboard Women In Music 2014

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

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

Ethiopian American Painter Julie Mehretu at the Tate Modern in London

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

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

The 2014 Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Ethiopia

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

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

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

Abelone Melese. (UNICEF video)

Last, but not least, in November 2014 UNICEF Ethiopia named young rap star Abelone Melese, a citizen of Norway with Ethiopian origin, as its new National Ambassador at a signing ceremony held at the UNICEF Ethiopia office in Addis Ababa. The organization notes that “the event was attended by Patrizia DiGiovanni, Acting UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Mrs. Tove Stub, Minister Counsellor/Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy, members of the media and UNICEF staff.” Big congratulations to Abelone Melese!
Tadias Year in Review: 2015 in Pictures
Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015
Tadias Year in Review: 2014 in Pictures
Tadias Year in Review: 2013 in Pictures
Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013
Top 10 Stories of 2013

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Effective ‘Difret’ Looks at Abhorrent Practice in Ethiopia – LA Times

Kidnapped by men from the local village, the frightened young teenage girl, Hirut (played by Tizita Hagare) ponders the possibility of escape in a scene from the film "Difret." (Haile Addis Pictures / Cineart)

The Los Angeles Times

By Kenneth Turan

The compelling “Difret” is a small film with a lot on its mind. Authentic and affecting, this drama about fighting against the Ethiopian tradition of abducting young girls into marriage is potent enough to be that country’s official Academy Award submission and gain the support of Angelina Jolie as an executive producer.

Director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, who also wrote the film’s Amharic-language script, is a graduate of USC’s film school, and the strength of “Difret” is in that particular combination of classic storytelling and cultural specificity.

Based on an actual incendiary legal case that was a sensation in Ethiopia a decade ago, “Difret” not only deals with an abhorrent practice that is still going on, it provides a dramatic yet nuanced window into a culture we almost never see.

For as Mehari said in an interview at the Sundance Film Festival, where the film won the World Cinema Audience Award for drama, “Difret” (the word means “to dare” but can also refer to rape) is a work without specific evil-doers. “If there is a villain in my film,” he said, “it’s not a person, it’s the tradition.”

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

Read more at The Los Angeles Times »

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

Difret Los Angeles Premiere at Laemmle Music Hall Theater – Friday, December 12th
‘Difret’ Submitted for Oscar Consideration for Best Foreign Language Film
Tadias Interview with Zeresenay Mehari & Mehret Mandefro
‘Difret’ Wins Panorama at Berlin Film Festival
Ethiopian film confronts marriage by abduction (BBC)
‘Difret’ Wins World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance Festival
Tadias Interview with Filmmaker Yidnekachew Shumete

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu of Ethiopia Among Most Influential Africans of 2014

The New African Magazine has named Ethiopia's Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu as one of the 2014 Most Influential Africans. (Photos courtesy: The New African Magazine & SoleRebels)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The New African Magazine has announced its annual list of ‘Most Influential Africans.’ The 2014 list includes renowned Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Founder and CEO of SoleRebels, which opened its first flagship U.S. store in Silicon Valley, California last month. In its announcement the magazine states: “In every corner of the continent, wherever there is injustice, oppression or tyranny, Africans of every stripe – from young to old, male to female, brave to even braver – are fighting and working for a better tomorrow. Africa is on the move. Given this transformation, happening at every level in every country, it may seem foolhardy to pick out just a hundred or so individuals of note as the continent’s most influential people. But in every march and movement, there are always a few figures who lead the line and who stick their heads above the parapets before anyone else – these can be trendsetters, visionaries, heroes, and at times even rabble-rousers whose actions or lack thereof, make or break the continent. Wielding influence comes in diverse forms and this collection portrays just that.”

“I am deeply honored to be named to this list of incredible personalities,” Bethlehem said in a statement.

To find out who made the list and why, read more at »

‘SoleRebels’ Launches Flagship US Store
Silicon Valley: Here Come Ethiopia’s SoleRebels
People of Our Time Who Are Changing the World

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Jagama Kello (left) who becomes a General and Imru Zelleke (right) who rose to serve as Ethiopia's diplomat are some of the heroes featured in the new book by author Jeff Pearce. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – In a new book entitled Prevail: The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia’s Victory over Mussolini’s Invasion, Jeff Pearce, a journalist based in Toronto, focuses on rarely told and fascinating personal stories from the war, each of which is worthy of a big screen movie. Take, for starters, the account of Ambassador Imru Zelleke, 90, who now resides in the U.S. and whom the author interviews extensively about his experiences witnessing the first horrible incidents of Yekatit 12, the Graziani Massacre, and then was taken to an Italian concentration camp the next day. Imru’s narrative is paralleled with other Ethiopian heroes including General Jagama Kello; Ethiopian activist Dr. Melaku Beyan who led and forged close relations between African Americans and Ethiopians as part of his awareness and fundraising campaign in the 1930′s in the United States; and African American fighter pilot Colonel John Robinson (the Brown Condor) from Chicago who volunteered his services and commandeered Ethiopia’s only plane for the duration of the conflict. And, of course, the role of Emperor Haile Selassie, whom the author observes is held in high esteem today by foreigners, ironically, than his own people.

“This is no time to eat ice cream or peel bananas!” Pearce quotes a speaker shouting from a wooden platform in Harlem, New York, where it is said that over twenty thousand people had turned out for a rally in support of Ethiopia. Closer to home, in South Africa, Nelson Mandela recalled in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom: “I was seventeen when Mussolini attacked Ethiopia, an invasion that spurred not only my hatred of that despot but of fascism in general. Ethiopia has always held a special place in my own imagination and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined.”

As Pearce points out Mandela was hardly alone in his sentiments. Across the Atlantic in New York City “people were told to listen to the speeches and donate as much money as possible. Cheers went up as the Ethiopian tricolor of green, yellow, and red was waved in the crowd.” Pearce explains that “For New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit — the capitals of black consciousness in 1935 — Ethiopia indeed mattered. It held a spiritual significance for black Americans as an African kingdom where Christianity had flourished since the fourth century. And it was defiantly independent, smack in the middle of the colonial map.” Pearce notes in his introduction that “The Ethiopia crisis could be felt as far away as South America and even touched Asia. The news was everywhere, inescapable, and the word was going out that Haile Selassie’s soldiers would not simply roll over and accept the inevitable.”

Imru Zelleke was a teenager when the Italians tanks rolled into Ethiopia. “It was no longer a vintage scene of colonial warfare; it was a grotesque tableau of anachronism,” Pearce says. “This was not a page out of the Book of Empire from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. This was December 1935. At first, the more ignorant warriors took these strange, lumbering metal things for monsters and ran. But one of them, fearless and proud, circled around and jumped onto a tank, pounding on its tin shell casing. Machine guns were blazing away and slicing men in half, and still the Ethiopians swarmed and flooded their numbers into the narrow gorge of what is called Dembeguina Pass, overwhelming the enemy. When it was finally dusk, the men and their brilliant commander, Imru, would slip away with fifty captured machine guns.”

In an interview with Tadias Magazine Pearce said that his aim is to bring the story alive in a way that is understandable to ordinary readers. “All of the books previously were sort of really for academics and there weren’t that many books geared towards ordinary readers,” Pearce told Tadias. “It’s an exciting story and it should not be left only to the academics, and the world should know how much this war mattered.” He added: “The way we turn on the news and we focus say on Syria today or Ukraine, it’s exactly what happened with Ethiopia and nobody learned their lessons. Look what Putin is doing in Ukraine. Well, we’ve seen that before with Mussolini and Ethiopia. It was exactly the same thing…Oh no I am not invading, oh no those are not my guys, I just want a little bit of it and we are only entitled to so much; well Ethiopians have seen that before.”

Initially, Pearce tried to write the story like a novel because he had heard about John Robinson (The Brown Condor), and there was not that much information available on Robinson at the time. Since then, of course, Thomas Simmons has written two books on it, and Pearce decided to collect more personal accounts. “Quite frankly, it’s safe to say that most Westerners are appallingly ignorant of Ethiopian culture and history. If you told them there were Ethiopian women who put their kids on their backs, picked up their stuff and went on to fight, they would not believe you. It’s an amazing story.”

Regarding the outpouring of international support from regular people particularly in black communities in the United States, Pearce emphasized: “The thing that people have to realize is that the civil rights struggle did not just happen overnight in the 60s. There was a strong movement aligning itself with Ethiopia in Harlem and other parts of America decades before that. People used to walk around Harlem in the 1930s saying “don’t call me the ‘N’ word, I am Ethiopian.”

As for Emperor Haile Selassie who was the globe’s face of Ethiopia at the time, “That’s a very difficult puzzle and tragic really,” Pearce said. “The thing about Haile Selassie is that on one hand you have this stupid book by the Polish writer [Ryszard Kapuściński] called ‘The Emperor,’ which is from page one a bunch of lies and total fiction, and on the other you have the version of how he was portrayed by the Derg. In between there is also some controversial news reports going back to the 1970s famine. But he has more than one side. He was never going to share power, but at the same time as leader, both before and after the war, he recognized that surrounding himself with talented bureaucrats and technocrats was the key to help him advance the country. Unfortunately, as time went on, you have a man who increasingly did not recognize that he probably should have stepped aside. But you have to recognize he is the same person that showed such great courage on behalf of Ethiopia during the war. You can’t take that away from him. One of the most astute observation that was made about Haile Selassie was by the prominent Ethiopian historian Bahru Zewde who said something to the effect that ‘Haile Selassie’s greatest fault was that he lived too long.’”

Pearce also relies on other noted scholars of Ethiopian history including Richard Pankhurst and William Scott who gave him access to their research. “This book is indebted to them and so many other historians,” Pearce said.

Below is a video and photos from the book courtesy of the author:

You can purchase the book at Barnes & Noble or at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: Hub of Africa Fashion Week 2014

The 3rd Hub of Africa Fashion Week was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on October 23rd and 24th, 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, November 1st, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The 2014 Hub of Africa Fashion Week took place at Galani Coffee and Gallery in Addis Ababa last week. Organizers note that the international runway show dubbed the “Editorial Edition” included a special event at Monarch Hotel on October 25th targeting buyers and fashion industry players. The participating designers were Modanik (DRC); Ruald Rheeder (South Africa); Katungulu (Kenya) Yohannes Sisters (Ethiopia); Abugida (Ethiopia); Cepha Maina (Kenya); Mela (Ethiopia); Sandstorm (Kenya), Assi’s Collection (Ethiopia) Rooi (Nigeria/London): and Mataano (Somalia).

Below are photos from the event courtesy of the organizers:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: Ethiopia at 2014 African Day Parade & Festival in Harlem

Photo courtesy: The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association in New York City (ECMAA)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Sunday, October 26th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) in New York City represented Ethiopia at the 8th Annual African Day Parade & Festival held last weekend in Harlem. Below are photos courtesy of ECMAA:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Pianist Girma Yifrashewa’s Stellar Performance in Bethesda

Ethiopian composer & pianist Girma Yifrashewa live at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Maryland on July 30th, 2014. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
By Matt Andrea

Published: Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – On Wednesday July 30th, Ethiopian composer and pianist Girma Yifrashewa performed to a sold-out audience of more than 300 at the legendary art deco Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, close to Washington, DC. His concert coincided with the release of his new CD Love & Peace by Unseen Worlds.

The show included exquisite renditions of Yifrashewa’s compositions Ambassel, Sememen, Chewata and The Shepherd With the Flute, which he performed as piano solos, as well as Elilta, Hope and My Strong Will, which he performed as ensemble pieces, accompanied by Besufekad Tadesse (Clarinet), Christein Kahrazian (Violin) and Elise Cuffy (Cello). While many describe Yifrashewa as a classical Ethiopian pianist, his music clearly defies category, as it fuses classical structure with traditional Ethiopian melodies and chromatics, in a blend that is truly sublime and transcendental.

Yifrashewa was introduced by Rick Brown, the proprietor of venue, and Tommy McCutchon, producer of Unseen Worlds. While supper clubs can often be somewhat noisy venues, the audience for this performance was very hushed and respectful. Each piece was exquisitely rendered and transported the audience to otherworldly realms. The concert concluded with standing ovations, followed by encores of classical and Ethiopian compositions.

The significance of this performance was reflected not only with the size of the audience, but also the prominence of those who attended, including Alemtsehay Wodajo, founder of the Tayitu Cultural Center; Francis Falceto, creator of the Ethiopiques series, which has brought world-wide attention to Ethiopian music; Charles Sutton, a pianist and massinko player, who served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia during the reign of Haile Selassie; and Alemayehu Gebrehiwot, who was instrumental in publishing the late Tesfaye Lemma’s book Ye Itiyopia Muziqa Tarik (The History of Ethiopian Music).

Unseen Worlds Records shares via Facebook: “With the success of this concert, Girma’s CD proudly entered the Billboard Classical Music Chart at #23!”

Below are photos from the event:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Video: Teddy Afro at SummerStage

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, July 12th 2014

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

Below is our video coverage of both events:

Photos: Teddy Afro at SummerStage 2014 Festival in New York

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

From the Birthplace of Coffee Cafe Buunni Serves Ethiopian Organic Specialty Coffee

Café Buunni is located at 213 Pinehurst Avenue (at 187th St) in New York City. (Tadias Magazine photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 30th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — In the enclave of Hudson Heights in Upper Manhattan, close to the highest point on the island, there is a quaint new addition to the neighborhood. Café Buunni serves certified organic, micro-roasted specialty coffee sourced from Ethiopia, the birthplace of the bean. This Washington Heights neighborhood is dotted with Art Deco style residential buildings, a bagel store, a vegan pizza joint and a Mexican restaurant aptly named ‘Refried Beans.’ Past a children’s playground and park, on the corner of 187 and Pinehurst Ave, a 30-year old shoe repair shop has been converted into a sunny, spacious cafe by its new proud owners Elias Gurmu and Sarina Prabasi.

Elias is an Ethiopian native and his wife Sarina is originally from Nepal. “We met in Ethiopia, in Addis,” Sarina tells Tadias Magazine. Sarina worked for a string of non-profit organizations including WaterAid, initially visiting Ethiopia in 1997 and then residing there for seven years. “It’s like a second home,” she says of the capital Addis Ababa. Elias ran several small businesses including a restaurant, a car service and also worked as the Addis Ababa distribution agent for DKT International – a family planning and HIV prevention organization.

“I wasn’t as busy as I am now,” Elias says reflecting on his small business days in Ethiopia. “Back then, I had six staff. I go to work in the morning and I ask my staff “what is the order today?” Then I go visit some customers; I know who the major customers are. That’s it. And then I have like 5-6 hours to just relax, hang out with friends.”

Elias and Sarina moved to New York three years ago in July. “We came to the States because Sarina got a job here,” Elias says. Sarina had visited New York before. When they decided to live here they visited the Hudson Heights neighborhood. “And we liked it. We had a few friends here as well,” Sarina adds. Elias pondered about starting a small business in the city. He wanted it “to be something related to Ethiopia.”

“My original idea was to bring coffee here from Ethiopia, to roast it and to distribute it online. So I started an online business,” Elias shares. He learned how to micro-roast from a friend and opened an online store: The word buunni is an Amharic term meaning “brown” or “brown-colored.” Bunna, the word for coffee in Amharic, cannot be trademarked so Elias and Sarina chose a descriptor instead. The online store was launched two and a half years ago and the distribution was mainly to individual clients.

“We started really grassroots,” Sarina shares. “Elias was going around to weekend markets, festivals, getting to know people and conversing with them saying “hey I roasted this myself.” He gave out samples of the micro-roasted coffee, and we have a small group of very loyal customers online. At that time we were not thinking about opening a café. We wanted to do wholesale online distribution for reasons such as low overhead.”

A year and half ago Sarina and Elias had traveled to Ethiopia to do some coffee tasting and selections and when they returned they noticed a ‘For Rent’ sign around the corner from where they live. The 30-year old shoe repair shop had closed.

“Should we?” they asked themselves, thinking about it being the right spot for a café. Elias was used to running several small businesses and he knew how difficult it was to operate a restaurant. They had a toddler (two years old at the time) and he knew the business would be a 24/7 operation. So they debated some more and finally decided to just do it. “Because even in this neighborhood there wasn’t a place for us to have coffee. And we thought there could be other people like us who would want to have coffee,” Sarina says. They took over the lease and opened Café Buunni. All of the coffee is certified organic and comes from small cooperative farms in Ethiopia. They roast the beans as ordered to preserve the freshness and quality. Café Buunni offers several Ethiopian coffees including single origin blends called Addis Ababa, a popular light roast named Yirgacheffe and a dark roast called Harar. They also have a Half-Caf Blend from Sidama decaf beans and a special holiday blend that is a combination of Harar and Tanzanian coffee.

As we interview Elias and Sarina, a customer who overhears our conversation says to Elias, “You’re not going to sell are you?”

“No I’m just speaking with journalists,” he assures her.

“This is a great place,” she tells us. “I really enjoy it. It’s better than Starbucks.”

Legend has it that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. Ask any Ethioipan how coffee was discovered and they will tell you the story of Kaldi, a 9th century goat herder who noticed the plant after his goats had nibbled on a few beans and started prancing around with excitement. Other versions of the legend point to the origin as a region in Ethiopia called Kaffa. However, the earliest reported coffee drinking was in Mocha, Yemen where Sufis in monasteries drank the strong brew to stay awake for their rituals and studies. According to Wikipedia, coffee was first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen.

The coffee ceremony in Ethiopia is as elaborate and rich in tradition as the Japanese tea ceremony. Most Ethiopians grow up used to seeing green coffee beans being roasted, then ground by hand in a mortar and pestle and then brewed in Jebena. “It’s such a different thing,” Sarina says reflecting on how coffee is consumed and thought of in Ethiopian culture. “It’s not just about having your coffee. It’s about enjoying your drink and having conversations and the community that goes along with it.”

“In Ethiopia we don’t talk about coffee, we talk around a coffee gathering,” Elias adds. “Who taught you to roast coffee? You just watch and do it the way it’s done and you’re not so much concerned with measurements.”

As we wrap up our interview with the owners of Café Buuni, another customer, an Ethiopian woman and her daughter, greet Elias and Sarina. She too says “It’s better than Starbucks.”

“You’re the second customer who just said that,” we tell her.

“Absolutely. I have no doubt in my mind, she says with a smile.

Learn more about Café Buunni at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

New Book by Ethiopian Author: How Obama Won the 2012 Election

Dereje Tessema, author of How this Happened—Election 2012. (Courtesy photograph/Gashe Publishing)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — During the 2012 presidential election, President Obama was supposed to be headed for a sure defeat on election day given that most polls had shown him trailing his opponent by a significant number, which was trumpeted by many pundits across the country, including by several in the Ethiopian American community. But how did they get it so wrong? “As one prominent pollster put it they were drinking the ‘Republican Kool-Aid’,” said Dereje Befekadu Tessema, author of the new book How this Happened—Election 2012: Perfecting the Science of Presidential Campaigning, pointing out that most of the major polling agencies missed predicting that election accurately because they were ‘out to lunch’ when it came to understanding “new ways of collecting data” from young people and minority communities that he argues the Obama campaign perfected. “The only person who got it right is Nate Silver, the statistician and author of the FiveThirtyEight blog then published in The New York Times.”

In its review of Dereje’s book (Gashe Publishing) ForeWord Clarion Reviews noted: “A meticulously constructed, frank examination of the 2012 US presidential election drawing from a plethora of sources, How This Happened follows up on Dereje B. Tessema’s earlier project of the same title, which covered the 2008 election. This exploration of how Barack Obama secured his second term expounds upon other Monday-morning analyses. Though few pollsters and pundits predicted a strong win, the Obama administration ended up being re-elected by a strong margin, and the author makes a case that the victory was well-earned. ‘The signature of the Obama campaign,’ Tessema asserts, ‘was its ability to maximize positive events and turn challenges [in]to opportunities.’”

Dereje, who teaches at Virginia International University in Fairfax, Virginia, told Tadias that he is in the process of organizing a “semi-professional” panel discussion at a university location in Washington, D.C. area to explore “the lessons learned from the past” as we approach another election season that he hopes will include a record participation by Ethiopian American voters.

“Both in the 2008 and 2012 elections Alexanderia, Virginia [home to a sizable number of Ethiopians] was the tipping point,” said Dereje in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine, emphasizing that the large turnout by Ethiopian American voters was crucial in the swing state.

Dereje said he was a volunteer with the Obama campaign in both elections. “How This Happened is a cleverly constructed, well contextualized insider’s history of the 2012 presidential campaign, one which will imbue supporters with a sense of pride, and which may prompt fruitful conversations with detractors,” Michelle Anne Schingler concluded in the Clarion Reviews. “It is a sure treat for those fascinated by the political process.”

You can learn more and purchase the book at:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

ArifZefen: Digital Access to Ethiopian Songs

ArifZefen is an Ethiopian music app for iPhone, iPad, Android and available on the web. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: December 25, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — Over the last decade CD sales have plummeted globally giving way to online music services such as Pandora Internet Radio and Spotify. For Ethiopian artists, however, the transition to digital music (still in progress) has been difficult given the lack of legal mechanisms and the proliferation of piracy in both online streaming and sales. But according to the founders of ArifZefen, a multi-channel music streaming service dedicated to the Ethiopian community worldwide, that may be changing soon. ArifZefen says it’s committed to the artists that are behind this wonderful music, and it’s conceived with the purpose of finding ways to compensate the musicians giving them control over their creative work. The California-based venture states: “Our vision is to create an economically sustainable, middle-income artist community in Ethiopia leveraging modern technology. We also assist artists to generate revenue from their work by helping them list their music for sale on some of the most popular music sales sites, like iTunes, and link to those points-of-sale directly from the app.”

Currently, ArifZefen is available as a free app on both iOS and Android and on their website that features both established and up-and-coming singers in various categories: Best Oldies Collection, Timeless Classics, Easy Listening, Contemporary Greatest Hits — including songs by Tilahun Gessese, Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, Teddy Afro, Jano, Eyob Mekonen, Kuku Sebsebe, Ephrem Tamiru, Rasselas, Jah Lude, Zeritu Kebede and more. “ArifZefen is committed to bringing a superior listening experience to fans of Ethiopian music, and it strives to capture our diverse musical heritage through a rich selection of music from all corners of Ethiopia,” a representative of the Bay Area company said in an email. “By bringing listeners into our free, ad-supported service, we migrate them away from piracy while offering them a better music experience. Aggregating a large number of listeners allows us to generate revenue and share the profit with the artists that we are committed to support, and sustain the music we love.”

ArifZefen also serves as a social platform by allowing users to share their favorite playlists on Facebook, Twitter, or via SMS and email. The company said it strives to provide a level playing field for all artists regardless of their popularity: “We do not decide what is good music and what isn’t, and we generally leave it to the community to pick and consume its music of choice.”

Learn more, listen and share your favorite Ethiopian music at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Yohannes Aramde’s Bona Fide Step

(Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Heran Abate

Updated: Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Among Ethiopians the well-known Scotch Whisky brand Johnnie Walker is humorously nicknamed Yohannes Aramde. And recently a collection of t-shirts depicting the gabi-clad version of the Scotsman, complete with his own dula, has become a hit in the Ethiopian Diaspora and at home. On social media Yohannes Aramde’s Twitter handle says it all, “#walkdifferent, #becauseyoudeservebetter.” The series was unveiled this past July during the 2013 ESFNA Ethiopian Soccer Tournament in Maryland by a trio of young Ethiopian designers and entrepreneurs residing in the U.S. — Teffera G. Teffera, Zerabrook Minassie and Ambaye Michael Tesfay.

Unlike John “Johnnie” Walker who started to sell whisky in his grocery shop in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1820, the Ethiopian Yohannes Aramde is Teffera G. Teffera’s imagination that comes in the capacity of a merchant who, in departure from his Scotsman twin’s profession, barters in rich stories. These t-shirts come in colors equivalent to the whiskey’s different labels: red, black, green and blue. True to form, the standard and price is also set in ascending order of color, with blue selling the highest.

In a recent interview Teffera said the trio design and sell products that capture the bilingual vernacular of the Ethiopian-American community. He said the three are united by their shared experiences as young adults who grew up in Ethiopia and Washington, D.C. while they completed higher education.

As a basis for the design, Yohannes Aramde was nurtured by the distinct ways that the Ethiopian diaspora has weaved its traditions and mannerisms so thoroughly into the social fabric of Washington, D.C. For Teffera in particular, he felt strongly that the environment that inspired the concept is the same demographic that they are trying to reach. For a few months after graduating in May 2011, he toyed with designs that his friend Dagmawit Mekonnen visualized while Ambaye and Zerabrook advised every step of the way.

The result was Yohannes Aramde whose persona for Ethiopians provokes comical food for thought. Here, he sets down his dula, picks up his buna or perhaps tela, to re-situate historical icons and cultural symbols into a compelling perspective that reflects the modern Ethiopian experience in the Diaspora. Yohannes Aramde seems as much learned in the kine (literary tradition of wax and gold) of Ethiopia’s forefathers as he is in the social media explosion of the 21st century through its vivid presence via t-shirts, tweets and Instagram pictures.

In one design, a solemn Emperor Menelik charges an Uncle Sam’esque forefinger in a would-be war recruitment poster for the Battle of Adwa. In another, the colors of the Ethiopian flag converge onto the American flag’s layout, at once a startling and clever meditation of the dual experiences of its client-base.

Below are photos from the collection courtesy the designers. As a fun twist, the owners say there is a 5PM to 9PM weekday ‘happy-hour’ when you shop on their website — you will get a $5 discount.

Learn more at You can follow updates on Twitter and Instagram.

About the Author:
Heran Abate is a creative non-fiction writer. Born and raised in Ethiopia, she recently graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut where she studied Sociology and Hispanic Cultures and Literatures.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meseret Defar Defeats Tirunesh Dibaba at Diamond 5000 in Zurich (Video)

Meseret Defar won the Women's 5000m at the 2013 Diamond Race in Zürich. (Photo: Diamond League)

August 29, 2013

In the first clash of the year between the two Ethiopian giants of women’s distance running at the Weltklasse Zürich meet tonight, the final 100 meters belonged firmly to the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World 5000 champion Meseret Defar. Defar emphatically kicked away from Tirunesh Dibaba to win the women’s 5000 as well as the Diamond League crown in 14:32.83 after a 58 low last 400 (58.48 leader to leader but Defar was in second at the bell).

Dibaba was second in 14:34.82 as those two were leaps and bounds better than everyone else over the final 600. 2013 5000 silver medallist Mercy Cherono was third in 14:40.33 – the only other woman in the race within 10 seconds of Defar.


Video: Meseret Defar Defeats Tirunesh Dibaba at Diamond League 5000 in Zurich

Defar defeats Dibaba in Diamond 5,000m battle (AFP)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Los Angeles’ Little Ethiopia Prepares for 2013 Cultural Street Festival

The 2013 Little Ethiopia Cultural Street Festival in Los Angeles will be held on Sunday, September 8th.

Tadias Magazine
By Aida Solomon

Published: Monday, August 19, 2013

Los Angeles (TADIAS) – It was 11 years ago this month on August 7, 2002 that the city of Los Angeles designated through a unanimous council vote that the neighborhood on Fairfax Avenue, between Olympic and Pico Boulevard, be recognized as Little Ethiopia, making it the first street in the United States to be named after an African nation.

For the last 12 years the Little Ethiopia Business Association has been hosting a popular cultural street festival that attracts a diverse crowd from L.A. and beyond to the area. Organizers say this year’s celebration is scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 8th, 2013 between Olympic and Whitworth Avenue with events including live music, vendors, fashion show, comedy, and much more.

The 2013 festival will also feature Alemtsehay Wodajo, an accomplished actress, poet and songwriter, as well as city and state officials. According to Berhanu Asfaw, President of the Little Ethiopia Business Association, students from a local elementary school will also perform the Ethiopian National Anthem. The keynote speaker is Dr. Menbere Aklilu, owner of Salute e Vite Ristorante in Richmond California.

Below are photos from past events.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

New Book Highlights Stories of 70 Accomplished Ethiopian Women

A collection of stories and photographs of accomplished and inspiring Ethiopian women. (Book Project by Mary-Jane Wagle with photos by Aida Muluneh )

Tadias Magazine

By Tigist Selam

Published: Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – An upcoming coffee table book aims to inspire young girls in Ethiopia and elsewhere through a collection of stories and photographs highlighting 70 accomplished Ethiopian women. The book features female leaders from diverse backgrounds and professions including farming, business, the arts, activism, international diplomacy and more. According to a Kickstarter fundraising announcement the portraits are captured by award-winning photographer Aida Muluneh.

The author, Mary-Jane Wagle, a former community development and women’s health care specialist from Los Angeles, has lived in Ethiopia off and on since 2011 and works in partnership with the Network of Ethiopian Women’s Association.

“We never hear about accomplished Ethiopian women, even though Ethiopia is a country of nearly 90 million people,” she noted in the statement posted on “Not because there aren’t any, but because their stories haven’t been recorded and few outside their own circles know anything about them.” Mary added: “This project aims to change that by telling the stories of 70 remarkable Ethiopian women who are pioneers in their fields and have expanded opportunities for girls and women in their communities.”

Thus far a third of the honorees have been photographed for the book and nearly all have been interviewed with help from a team of female university student volunteers.

“In the first phase of our work, we created a website, Ethiopian Women Unleashed, where we are posting profiles of the more than 130 women we interviewed as we worked on making selections for the book, along with profiles of a few historical women,” Mary wrote.

You can learn more and support the project at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Habtemariam, Senior VP of Motown, Makes Billboard’s 40 Under 40

Ethiopia Habtemariam is Senior Vice President of the storied Motown Records label and Executive Vice President and head of Urban Music for the parent company Universal Music Publishing Group. (UMPG)

Billboard Magazine

By Gail Mitchell

In her dual role, Ethiopia Habtemariam, 33, maintains one single focus: “Quality songwriters, producers and artists who will have careers for a long time. Nothing novelty,” she says. Universal Music Publishing Group’s urban division is having a hot year, thanks to Miguel (his own “Adorn” as well as work on Janelle Monáe’s new album The Electric Lady) and chart successes penned by roster mates J. Cole (his No. 1 Billboard 200 album Born Sinner), Rock City (Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Ciara) and Ester Dean (Selena Gomez). Another UMPG artist, Big Sean, will release his sophomore set on Aug. 27. Also on the roster: Def Jam singer/songwriter Jhené Aiko. Launching its revamp last November with Ne-Yo’s R.E.D. (which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200), Motown recently scored top 10 R&B album debuts with Chrisette Michele and India.Arie. Habtemariam is ramping up several forthcoming projects, including a Babyface and Toni Braxton duets album and one with Erykah Badu. Also on the Motown docket: projects by newcomers B. Smyth, Stacy Barthe (another UMPG urban roster member), Kevin Ross, BJ the Chicago Kid and Scotty Rebel.


Ethiopia Habtemariam: The New Boss at Motown (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Ethio-jazz Band: Teenage Ethiopian Americans Bring Parents Music to Life

Music often divides generations, but one group of Ethiopian Americans in California are challenging that norm. They've embraced music from their parents and are playing it in their band. (Photo by Noam Eshel)

Public Radio International

Updated: Sunday, July 28, 2013

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that kids hate their parents’ music, or at least do their best to ignore it.

Garage bands don’t borrow CDs from their parents so they can practice disco covers. Unless it’s in some kind of ironic hipster way.

There’s nothing ironic about the music being played in one particular suburban garage near Oakland, Calif. The Young Ethio Jazz Band are teenagers who rock out with their parents’ music.

The band played its first gig in San Francisco last winter. Now it’s slated to open for another act at Yoshi’s, a famous jazz club in San Francisco, and then it plays in the Ethiopian Heritage Festival at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

All of the kids are second generation Ethiopians between 11 and 16 years old. Before they started playing together a year and a half ago, most of them had the stereotypical reaction to their parents’ music.

“In the very beginning, I was really confused about the music,” said Yohanas Abanew, who plays keyboard in the band. “I just said ‘well this doesn’t really sound like music that I would really want to play.’”

Then he started practicing an Ethio-jazz song in his high school band.

“It really woke me up,” he said. “This is my culture, and I really need to learn this music.”

Yonathan Wolday had a similar revelation. He’s a tall, lanky 16-year-old who plays trumpet. Wolday is wearing a gray sweatshirt with a picture of a diamond and the letters “DMND.” A pair of white ear phones hang out from his collar and onto his chest.

His parents are from Ethiopia, and the songs they listen to are in Amharic, the official language in Ethiopia. Wolday doesn’t understand it well, and that initially turned him off from the music. He didn’t really start listening to the songs until he began playing in the band.

Even now, it’s hard to believe he’s channeling the music of his parents’ generation. Whenever the band stops practicing, you can hear simple rap bass lines pulsating out from his dangling ear buds.

Read more at PRI.

Click here to listen to the program.

Watch: Video of Young Ethio Jazz Band at Rasselas Jazz Club

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Washington Post: Mahmoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro Bring Echostage Home

Teddy Afro (Photo credit: Danny Studio)

The Washington Post

By Mark Jenkins

The two Ethiopian singers who performed early Saturday morning at Echostage, Mahmoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro, represent different styles and different generations. The 72-year-old Mahmoud sailed Semitic-style melodies over instrumental accompaniment that drew on 1950s jazz, while the 36-year-old Afro emphasized reggae, with some forays into funk-rock. Despite the stylistic differences, each drew a similarly ecstatic response from the crowd, which was heavily Ethiopian and Eritrean and large enough to pack the main floor of the 4,000-capacity club, Washington’s largest concert venue.

The concert was the biggest in a week of shows scheduled to complement this year’s Ethiopian Sports Tournament. The crowd was initially greeted by DJs who played a mix of Ethiopian pop and Jamaican dance-hall; video screens displayed pan-African symbols and the former Ethiopian flag, which has been redesigned several times since Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed in 1974 — an event that also interrupted Mahmoud’s career.

The live music didn’t begin until 12:35 a.m., when a sextet began to play dub-style reggae. The band was soon joined by Afro (born Tewodros Kassahun), who began with the first of several anthemic numbers about his native land and home continent. The audience sang along, often providing the rejoinder for the call-and-response choruses, as hundreds of arms pumped the air.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Tadias Interview: NYC’s AbayTeam Advances to 1st Division at 30th ESFNA Tournament in DC
Debo Band & Young Ethio Jazz Band at Yoshi’s in San Francisco – July 17th (TADIAS)
Highlights of Ethiopian Music During Soccer Tournament Week (The Washington City Paper)
Summer of Ethiopian Music: Jano to Fendika, Teddy Afro to Mahmoud Ahmed (TADIAS)
Hailu Mergia: A Beloved Ethiopian Musician of a Generation Ago (The Washington Post)
Reissues Songs From Hailu Mergia, Local Cab Driver (The Washington City Paper)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Summer of Ethiopian Music: Jano to Fendika, Teddy Afro to Mahmoud Ahmed

(Photographs courtesy Massinko Entertainment, Lynne Williamson, La Beautiful Mess, and Munit Mesfin)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – It is poised to be an exciting summer for Ethiopian music on the East Coast with live concerts that include the highly anticipated U.S. debut of Jano band; the Addis Ababa-based duet, Munit and Jorg; the return of Fendika direct from Ethiopia; a joint performance by Teddy Afro and Mahmoud Ahmed; as well as the first American tour by The London-based trio, Krar Collective.

Jano, which leads the pack in publicity and expectation, was recently featured on CNN in preparation for their upcoming show at the historic Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. on July 4th.

The super-group Fendika that consists of six world class dancers and Azmari artists, once again bring its exhilarating mix of Ethiopian music and dance to audiences in the United States, highlighting the wealth of diversity of Ethiopia’s musical traditions. Fendika is currently in the Midwest, and is scheduled to perform on July 2nd at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in Washington D.C., followed by a concert at the Lincoln Center Atrium, in NYC on July 4th, as well as in Boston at Hibernian Hall on July 7th.

Living legends Mahmoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro will share the stage on July 5th at Echostage in D.C.

Also in Washington, we are told, Ethiopian and German duet, Munit and Jorg, will launch their U.S. tour with a concert on July 1st at Tropicalia Dance Club. Organizers said the show will open with a performance by Feedel Band and will be hosted by the Seattle-based hip-hop musician Gabriel Teodros.

Below is a slideshow of flyers and photos courtesy of the promoters.

If You Go:
Jano in DC
Thursday, July 4th, 2013
The Howard Theatre
620 T Street, Northwest,
Washington, D.C.20001
Phone: (202) 803-2899
More info on the show: 201 220 3442

Legend & Superstar
Mahmoud Ahmed | Teddy Afro
Echo Stage in DC, July 5th
PHONE: 202.440.4301

Fendika Back in the U.S.
July 2: Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Washington DC
July 4: Lincoln Center Atrium, NYC
July 6: Lincoln Center Meet the Artist Saturdays
July 7: Hibernian Hall, Boston
July 10: Cedar Cultural Center workshop and concert, Minneapolis
July 12-14: Montana Folk Festival with Debo Band

Munit & Jorg in DC
w/ Feedel Band + Dj set by Tooth Pick
Hosted by Gabriel Teodros
Monday July 1st
Tropicalia (lower level)
2001 14th st NW
Washington, D.C.
Click here for ticket info.
Learn more about Munit and Jorg on their Facebook page.

Krar Collective, DJ Sirak in New York
July 21st, 2013 | 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm | Central Park
More info and directions at

Watch: CNN’s Errol Barnett interviews Jano Band in Addis

Tadias Interview: NYC’s AbayTeam Advances to 1st Division at 30th ESFNA Tournament in DC

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Photos From New York Concert by Pianist Girma Yifrashewa

Classical pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa at Issue Project Room in New York where he performed on Saturday, June 8th, 2013. (Photo by Tseday Alehegn/Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Monday, June 10th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Classical pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa performed live to a full house at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn on Saturday, June 8th. The event was Girma’s first solo appearance in the United States since he made his U.S debut four years ago when he was invited to participate in the International Symposium and Festival “Africa meets North America,” which took place in October of 2009 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As part of his current tour, the talented pianist will return to the West Coast next month for a performance in Seattle, Washington on July 26th.

In New York, Girma delighted his audience not only with his expert renditions of classics by Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, and Gershwin, but also with his own arrangements based on traditional Ethiopian melodies including “The Shepherd with the Flute” — a short reflective and romantic piece originally composed by the late Professor Ahenafi Kebede.

The second part of Girma’s show was entirely dedicated to his own compositions including Ambassel, Chewata, Sememen, and his favorite Elilta. During his introduction of Elilta, as he concluded the evening, Girma asked the audience what elilta was, and Ethiopian members of the audience vocalized the joyful custom. The concert ended on a celebratory note as the pianist received a standing ovation.

Below is a slideshow of photos from the concert.

Girma Yifrashewa: From Chopin to Ethiopia (The New York Times)

If You Go:
Girma Yifrashewa in Seattle
July 26, 2013
Good Shepherd Center Chapel
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, 4th floor
Seattle, WA
Learn more at:

Ebs tv Instrumental Music- Girma Yifrashewa- ILILTA from EBS TV on Vimeo.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopian Band Krar Collective, DJ Sirak at Summer Stage in New York

"Krar Collective" at an impromptu performance at Muya Ethiopian restaurant in London. (Photo: Vimeo)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The London-based Ethiopian trio, Krar Collective, will make their debut appearance at the annual Summer Stage concert in Central Park next month along with Oliver Mtukudzi and The Black Spirits, a group with origins in Zimbabwe that have been performing since 1979, and the Paris-based West African musician Fatoumata Diawara who was born in Ivory Coast and raised in Mali. DJ sets will be led by Ethiopian-born Sirak Getachew of NYC.

“The Krar Collective have developed a distinctive style based on the reworking of traditional songs from their native land,” said an announcement from the City Parks Foundation (CPF). “Krar Collective provide their audiences with a colorful blend of dynamic roots music from different regions and ethnic traditions, but with a contemporary edge, plugged-in and funked-up.”

For DJ Sirak, who arranged the groups’s participation at this year’s Summer Stage (his third), the open air show is an extension of his passion for the art as the co-founder of Africology, an entertainment venture started together with his friend, Kalab Berhane, a few years ago here in New York to promote African music to American audiences. His past work at the venue include DJing with the Idan Raichel project, the Israeli musical ensemble featuring singers from Ethiopia.

“Our goal is serve as a conduit for both up-and-coming and accomplished African artists of all kinds to explore the world stage,” Sirak told Tadias. It’s a step by step process.”

Regarding his own skills as a disc jokey, “[Sirak's] endeavors as a DJ help to break down the cultural barriers through the medium of music,” CPF notes in its press release. “Sirak matches the beats of artists like the Notorious B.I.G and dead prez to the up-tempo drums and breaks from his homeland.” CPF stated: “The fusion is his way of bridging the culture gap between the communities of the Americas and Africa. His sets not only spice up the dance floor, but also add heat to the debate over the origin of rhythm driven hip-hop beats.”

Sirak said he is looking forward to collaborating with Krar Collective in July. “They are following Fendika,” he said. “I like their new and creative way of presenting our traditional music to a global audience.”

In an article published in September of 2012, The Guardian highlighted Krar Collective as “one of the most rousing, reliable new African bands of the year.” Per CPF: “Their first album, Ethiopia Super Krar, featuring their 6-stringed krar lyre, kebero drums and the powerful vocals of singer Genet Assefa, serves up some mind-blowing Ethiopian grooves.”

If You Go:
July 21st, 2013 | 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm | Central Park
More info and directions at

Video: Watch Krar Collective on BBC Africa Beats
Summer of Ethiopian Music: Jano to Fendika, Teddy Afro to Mahmoud Ahmed (Tadias)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Marcus Samuelsson Wins James Beard Foundation Book Award

The James Beard Foundation has selected chef and author Marcus Samuelsson as winner of its 2013 book award for his highly regarded memoir - 'Yes, Chef.' (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Saturday, May 4th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Marcus Samuelsson has won the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award in the Writing and Literature category for his bestselling memoir Yes, Chef, which documents his remarkable life journey from Ethiopia to Sweden and the United States.

The James Beard foundation announced the winners for the Book, Broadcast and Journalism categories on Friday, May 3rd. The other nominees in Writing and Literature included Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating, and Thomas McNamee, who wrote the acclaimed biography The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat. The latter explores the work of the food critic and journalist Craig Claiborne and his prolific contribution to culinary writing in America.

(Courtesy photo)

Click here to see the complete list of this year’s winners (PDF).

Learn more at James Beard Foundation:

Video: Interview with Marcus Samuelsson About His Memoir ‘Yes, Chef,’ (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Son Saves Up To Pay Off His Mom’s Mortgage — Video

(Images: Screen shots from the iProjectAtlas video)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In the following video that is making the rounds via social media among Ethiopians, a young man in Canada surprises his mother on his birthday with a check that pays off her mortgage.

“At one point in my life I hadn’t been home for two and half years, I hadn’t spoken to anyone or sent any emails,” he says in the video posted on iProject Atlas. “I knocked at the door, she opened it, she said hi, she smiled and she just asked me what I wanted for dinner.” He added: “No questions asked, no whys, nothing, she just accepted me. Over time as she is getting older she is having a harder time keeping up with the bills so I have been saving for the last few years, have been getting ready and kind of wanted to do something for her.”

Why on his birthday? “I realize birthdays are a tradition and that tradition dictates that one should celebrate their existence on the day on which they were born every year,” the young man says in this written description of the video. “I just wanted to say that I am by no means a perfect son, for a long period I neglected my mother’s needs, I ignored her calls and brushed her off until I needed something. Just before I started putting money aside my Father passed away. It had a great effect on me because of the kind of person he was. I decided to make a change, value the only parent I had left.”

Watch the Video: Dear mother from iProject Atlas

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

From California Comes Arada Fashion

(Image credit: Courtesy of Arada Fashion Wear)

Tadias Magazine
By Aida Solomon

Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013

Los Angeles (TADIAS) – Long before Ethiopian fashion became vogue in the U.S., California resident Henock Abey, also known as Henock Arada, 26, has been producing innovative apparel designs that incorporate elements of Ethiopian culture with western style. He started his Arada Fashion collection in 2001 to meet the growing demand, especially among young people in the Ethiopian community and beyond, of merging traditional patterns and symbols into elegantly casual, trendy street styles.

Born and raised in the Arat Kilo neighborhood of Addis Ababa, Henock says he “learned how to hustle” at a young age. That explains why it did not take him very long to dive into his art and business after immigrating with his family to Los Angeles as a teenager in 1999. Henock attended Westchester High School, where he says his interest in design, fashion and video communication was sparked.

“I wanted to combine our culture with a modern look to give people something they have never seen before,” Henock says, speaking of his work that includes a popular mini-dress.

He started-out with branded t-shirts depicting the Arada logo and humorous captions such as “I am Arada” and iconic Ethiopian crosses, mostly marketed to a niche customer base at various festivals, online, as well as in stores targeting the African Diaspora community. More recently he has expanded his portfolio to include skirts and bags.

As to his parents’ reaction to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions at such an early age? Henock laughs before he answers: “My parents are used to me coming up with new ideas, so they weren’t that surprised.”

What started out as a hobby selling graphic t-shirts soon began to grow into a full-time work. By 2002 Henock had staged his first fashion show in Los Angeles to a widely positive reception in the community.

And soon afterwards he took his Made in Arada collection on the road showing in Washington D.C., Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Dallas. His designs proved to be a hit garnering a following, which includes over five thousand on Facebook. He says his next fashion show will be at the 2013 Ethiopian soccer tournament in Washington D.C. in July.

Henock’s future plans include opening his own store in the U.S. and Addis Ababa as well as giving back to charity and church. “Set yourself apart and don’t listen to the negativity,” he said.

Below are photos courtesy of Arada Fashion Wear.

You can learn more about Arada Fashion at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Leaves 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Walya Fans Apologize

(Photo: Gallo Images)


Updated: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

South Africa (Tadias) – Ethiopia lost 2-0 against Nigeria on Tuesday in its final game in Group C at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in Rustenburg, South Africa, ending the team’s historic return to the continental tournament after 31 years of absence.

The Walya Antelopes could not overcome the Super Eagles to book their place in the last eight for the quarterfinals. The defending champions, Zambia, were also eliminated in the first round after a goalless draw with Burkina Faso yesterday at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

The Burkinabe’s lead Group C in advancing to the next stage followed by Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian fans who made their own headlines last week for unruly behavior apologized by waving a banner during the game against Nigeria.

“We apologise for our behaviour, but we love the game” was written in huge letters on the banner against the background of the green, yellow and red colours of the Ethiopian flag. According to Reuters: “It was unfurled at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace during the team’s final Group C match.”

Nigeria tops Ethiopia, advances in African Cup (AP)
Ethiopia fans apologise for bad behaviour (Reuters)

Coach Sewnet Says Ethiopia Likely to Miss Top Players in Key Match

Ethiopia’s head coach Sewnet Bishaw gestures during a news conference at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (Photo: AP)


AP Sports Writer

RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — Ethiopia’s chances at the African Cup of Nations have taken a hit with the team’s two top players expected to miss the decisive Group C match against Nigeria on Tuesday.

Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw said Monday that midfielders Asrat Megersa and Adane Girma may not recover from the injuries they sustained in the first half of the team’s match against Burkina Faso.
Ethiopia is last in the group but will still have a chance of advancing if it beats Nigeria in Rustenburg.

Ethiopia is last in the group but will still have a chance of advancing if it beats Nigeria in Rustenburg.

In its first tournament appearance in more than 30 years, Ethiopia earned a surprising 1-1 draw with defending champion Zambia in the opener, then fell 4-0 to Burkina Faso after Asrat’s and Adane’s injuries.

“Two very important players were out and I’m afraid that they are not coming back,” Bishaw said. “Adane and Asrat are not in a good position right now. It will be up to the doctor’s decision before the match.”

Read more.

Africa Cup: Coach Sewnet Says Ethiopia Looking Ahead to Next Game With Nigeria

Coach Sewnet Bishaw says his team will aim for goals in its next Africa Cup clash with Nigeria. (MTN)

Tadias Magazine
News Brief

Updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013

South Africa – After a 4-0 defeat by Burkina Faso on Friday following 1-1 opener against defending Champion Zambia earlier in the week, Ethiopia will face Nigeria on Tuesday for its third and final game in the first round in Group C at the current Africa Cup of Nations underway in South Africa.

The Walya Antelopes still has a chance to advance to the quarterfinals but they must win the next match. The remote possibility also depends on the outcome of the Burkina Faso and Zambia contest scheduled for the same day.

Coach Sewnet Bishaw says he was surprised by the trouncing on Friday but promised to go on the offensive on Tuesday against Nigeria.

“We didn’t expect this result from the very beginning. We hoped that we would play again like the first game and take a point against Burkina Faso,” Coach Sewnet told reporters.

“We’re not going to the field to defend, because defending will only give you one point. Now we must try to play against Nigeria to score goals to have three points.”

He added: “Maybe if we have three points, totally we will have four points, and we may qualify to the next stage. “Not only will we just score one or two goals, we need to score lots of goals also, otherwise, it is a matter of dignity and to maintain the level of football of our boys.”

Burkina Faso Beats Ethiopia 4-0 in African Cup

Addis Hintsa Tekle of Ethiopia and Djakaridja Kone of Burkina Faso compete for the ball during the 2013 African Cup of Nations match between their teams at Mbombela Stadium on Friday, January 25, 2013 in Nelspruit, South Africa. Burkina Faso won the game 4-0. (Gallo Images/Getty Images Europe)

Tadias Magazine
News Brief

Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013

South Africa – Ethiopia lost 4-0 against Burkina Faso on Friday in its second game in Group C at 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

The dominant performance by Burkina Faso included two goals by Alain Traore who led the 10-man Stallions into victory over the Walya Antelopes. The third score came from Yusuf Kone on the 80 minute mark and the final by Jonathan Pitroipa at the end of the game.

This time, it is was the Burkinabe goalkeeper Abdoulaye Soulama who was red-carded. He was dismissed around 60 minutes into the match for handball outside his penalty area.

Ethiopia used substitute goalkeeper, Zerihun Tadele, in place of Jemal Tassew, who was suspended for two games following his red card last Monday during the Walyas opener against Zambia.

Matthew Kenyon of BBC Sport in Nelspruit says “Ethiopia haven’t been at the Nations Cup for 31 years and this is a lesson in what happens in tournament football. It’s not fair — it’s presumably not fun — but it’s why we love the game so much. Burkina Faso have been superb tonight and thoroughly deserve an awesome victory. Man of the match must be Alain Traore – but Pitroipa and the skipper Kabore run him close. Burkina Faso top the group.”

It is also the first time the Burkinabe have ever won a game outside of Burkina Faso.

The website Super Sport noted: “Burkina’s last victory in the continental showcase came way back in 1998, but Traore ended that sorry state of affairs in style to push the west African nation to the top of Group C and within touching distance of the last eight.”

“With quarterfinal qualification going down to the wire, Burkina Faso take on Zambia here while Ethiopia face Nigeria in Rustenburg, with both matches scheduled for Tuesday.”
The Stallions silence Walya Antelopes (Yahoo News)
Burkina Faso trounce Ethiopia (SuperSport)
Burkina Faso 4 – 0 Ethiopia (BBC)

Ethiopia, Burkina Faso Face Off

Adane Girma of Ethiopia battles with Chris Katongo of Zambia during the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations match at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, South Africa on Monday, January 21st. (Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
News Brief

Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013

South Africa (TADIAS) – Fresh off their spectacular return to Africa Cup earlier this week, after more than three decades of absence and an impressive 1-1 opening against defending champion Zambia, the Walyas who electrified Ethiopian fans around the world are preparing for their next game today against Burkina Faso at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, South Africa.

For audiences in the United States the game will be televised on ESPN3 beginning at 1 p.m Eastern and can be watched on the Internet and mobile devices.

In South Africa coach Sewnet Bishaw told the Associated Press that his team’s strategy is in place for today’s match. “We will try to play as many passes as possible because the Burkinabes are huge and physically very strong,” coach Sewnet said. “We will have a better team for the second game and use players with speed and good passing abilities.”

Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football has slapped Ethiopia’s football federation with a $10,000 fine for unruly behavior by fans last Monday, which included throwing plastic bottles, cups vuvuzelas, and other objects onto the field. The organization said it will suspend half of the penalty if the Ethiopians behave for the rest of the tournament.

It all began as a protest when goal keeper Jemal Tassew was given a red card for an aggressive tackle involving Zambia’s Chisamba Lungu. Jemal was taken off the field on a stretcher. His sending off started the wild outcry causing a security alert and delaying the game by several minutes. Jemal will not play against Burkina Faso on Friday as he is also suspended for two games.

According to AP: “Ethiopia drew by far the largest support base for Monday’s Group C double-header, with thousands of Johannesburg-based immigrants bussing in for the occasion. Sewnet predicted that the number of fans would double for the team’s next game.”

Burkina Faso coach Paul Put told BBC that after Monday’s performance his team can’t afford to take Ethiopia lightly. “We have a lot of respect for the Ethiopian team,” the coach said. “Any team that can draw with Zambia after playing against them with only 10 men after 30 minutes, that says a lot.”
Ethiopia aim high ahead of Burkina Faso match (AP)
Burkina Faso vs Ethiopia (BBC)
Ethiopia seek to deepen Burkina’s Cup woes (AFP)
Great Start for Ethiopia at Africa Cup of Nations (TADIAS)

In Pictures: Photographs of the Walya Antelopes – Ethiopia’s National Soccer Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Burkina Faso Beats Ethiopia 4-0 in African Cup

Addis Hintsa Tekle of Ethiopia and Djakaridja Kone of Burkina Faso compete for the ball during the 2013 African Cup of Nations match between their teams at Mbombela Stadium on Friday, January 25, 2013 in Nelspruit, South Africa. Burkina Faso won the game 4-0. (Gallo Images/Getty Images Europe)

Tadias Magazine
News Brief

Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013

South Africa – Ethiopia lost 4-0 against Burkina Faso on Friday in its second game in Group C at 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

The dominant performance by Burkina Faso included two goals by Alain Traore who led the 10-man Stallions into victory over the Walya Antelopes. The third score came from Yusuf Kone on the 80 minute mark and the final by Jonathan Pitroipa at the end of the game.

This time, it is was the Burkinabe goalkeeper Abdoulaye Soulama who was red-carded. He was dismissed around 60 minutes into the match for handball outside his penalty area.

Ethiopia used substitute goalkeeper, Zerihun Tadele, in place of Jemal Tassew, who was suspended for two games following his red card last Monday during the Walyas opener against Zambia.

Matthew Kenyon of BBC Sport in Nelspruit says “Ethiopia haven’t been at the Nations Cup for 31 years and this is a lesson in what happens in tournament football. It’s not fair — it’s presumably not fun — but it’s why we love the game so much. Burkina Faso have been superb tonight and thoroughly deserve an awesome victory. Man of the match must be Alain Traore – but Pitroipa and the skipper Kabore run him close. Burkina Faso top the group.”

It is also the first time the Burkinabe have ever won a game outside of Burkina Faso.

The website Super Sport noted: “Burkina’s last victory in the continental showcase came way back in 1998, but Traore ended that sorry state of affairs in style to push the west African nation to the top of Group C and within touching distance of the last eight.”

“With quarterfinal qualification going down to the wire, Burkina Faso take on Zambia here while Ethiopia face Nigeria in Rustenburg, with both matches scheduled for Tuesday.”
The Stallions silence Walya Antelopes (Yahoo News)
Burkina Faso trounce Ethiopia (SuperSport)
Burkina Faso 4 – 0 Ethiopia (BBC)

Ethiopia, Burkina Faso Face Off

Adane Girma of Ethiopia battles with Chris Katongo of Zambia during the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations match at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, South Africa on Monday, January 21st. (Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
News Brief

Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013

South Africa (TADIAS) – Fresh off their spectacular return to Africa Cup earlier this week, after more than three decades of absence and an impressive 1-1 opening against defending champion Zambia, the Walyas who electrified Ethiopian fans around the world are preparing for their next game today against Burkina Faso at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, South Africa.

For audiences in the United States the game will be televised on ESPN3 beginning at 1 p.m Eastern and can be watched on the Internet and mobile devices.

In South Africa coach Sewnet Bishaw told the Associated Press that his team’s strategy is in place for today’s match. “We will try to play as many passes as possible because the Burkinabes are huge and physically very strong,” coach Sewnet said. “We will have a better team for the second game and use players with speed and good passing abilities.”

Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football has slapped Ethiopia’s football federation with a $10,000 fine for unruly behavior by fans last Monday, which included throwing plastic bottles, cups vuvuzelas, and other objects onto the field. The organization said it will suspend half of the penalty if the Ethiopians behave for the rest of the tournament.

It all began as a protest when goal keeper Jemal Tassew was given a red card for an aggressive tackle involving Zambia’s Chisamba Lungu. Jemal was taken off the field on a stretcher. His sending off started the wild outcry causing a security alert and delaying the game by several minutes. Jemal will not play against Burkina Faso on Friday as he is also suspended for two games.

According to AP: “Ethiopia drew by far the largest support base for Monday’s Group C double-header, with thousands of Johannesburg-based immigrants bussing in for the occasion. Sewnet predicted that the number of fans would double for the team’s next game.”

Burkina Faso coach Paul Put told BBC that after Monday’s performance his team can’t afford to take Ethiopia lightly. “We have a lot of respect for the Ethiopian team,” the coach said. “Any team that can draw with Zambia after playing against them with only 10 men after 30 minutes, that says a lot.”
Ethiopia aim high ahead of Burkina Faso match (AP)
Burkina Faso vs Ethiopia (BBC)
Ethiopia seek to deepen Burkina’s Cup woes (AFP)
Great Start for Ethiopia at Africa Cup of Nations (TADIAS)

In Pictures: Photographs of the Walya Antelopes – Ethiopia’s National Soccer Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Great Start for Ethiopia at Africa Cup of Nations: Zambia 1-1 Walya

Adane Girma, right, celebrates with teammate Saladin Said, left, after scoring the goal that tied the game against Zambia. The goal was Ethiopia's first at the Nations Cup in more than three decades. (Photo: AP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The Walya Antelopes, the Ethiopian national soccer team, made a historic return to the Africa Cup of Nations Monday, successfully drawing 1-1 against the defending champion Zambia at Mbombela Stadium in Mbombela, South Africa. The game was Ethiopia’s first in the tournament after 31 years of absence.

Striker Collins Mbesuma scored the first goal for Zambia near half-time, and Adane Girma help equalize for Ethiopia in the second half.

Ethiopia finished with only 10 players after goal keeper Jemal Tassew was given a red card for an aggressive tackle involving Zambia’s Chisamba Lungu. Jemal was taken off field on a stretcher.

His sending-off had visibly angered Walya fans, some of whom unfortunately threw bottles and other objects on to the pitch causing a security alert and delaying the game by several minutes. According to Reuters it also created a disagreement between the Ethiopian and Zambian coaches.

“The goalkeeper is there to defend,” coach Sewnet Bishaw told reporters. “I do not think it was a sending-off, which is why the fans were so angry.”

“They were not angry with the Ethiopian team, but with the referee.” his Zambian counterpart Herve Renard responded. “I have looked at the replay and of course it was a sending- off. He had to go. The rules are quite clear, you cannot fly into an opponent like that.”

The Zambian coach added: “I congratulate the Ethiopian team they played very well and it was not a surprise to me.”

Ethiopia still faces Burkina Faso and Nigeria in the first round. The Walya’s next match is against Burkina Faso on Friday, January 25th.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Video: Goal by Adane Girma – Zambia vs. Ethiopia (Euro Sport)

Ethiopia holds champion to make its point (CNN)
Zambia frustrated by Ethiopia (Aljazeera)
Ethiopia Draw Champion Zambia in African Cup (AP)
Ten-man Ethiopia hold Zambia on Nations Cup return (Reuters)

Video: Jemal Tassew takes red card and injury after foul

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Ethiopia Inspired by Their Past (BBC Sport)
Bonuses Promised to Ethiopian Players (BBC)
In Pictures: Countdown to Africa Cup 2013 (TADIAS)
Coach Says Ethiopia Ready Despite Second-guessing (TADIAS)

In Pictures: Photographs of the Walya Antelopes – Ethiopia’s National Soccer Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: Teddy Afro & Abogida Band in South Africa

Teddy Afro with Abogida Band in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday, January 19, 2013. (Essatu Images)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Monday, January 21, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Teddy Afro performed in Johannesburg, South Africa this weekend at ‘Africa Cup Kick-Off Party’ supporting the Walyas.” The event took place at Sandton Convention Center on Saturday, January 19th.

Below are photos from the concert courtesy of the promoters.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Pictures: Countdown to Africa Cup 2013

South African President Jacob Zuma showed off his dribbling skills in front of television cameras and photographers on January 15th during a visit to the country's national team in advance of the opening of the 2013 Africa Cup competition this weekend. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Johannesburg – The 29th Africa Cup of Nations soccer games will commence on Saturday, January 19th at the National Stadium in Johannesburg with South Africa’s team, Bafana Bafana, playing against Cape Verde.

The host team received a visit from President Jacob Zuma today. “Zuma took time off his busy schedule to give a word of encouragement to the national team as they go into battle with some of the best on the continent,” the South African Football Association (SAFA) said in a statement.

The South African President dribbled a ball and held a private meeting with the players while also facing the media to address critics who say his country is not well-prepared for the continental gathering.

“Critics will always be there, some of them are paid to be critics and they are doing their job,” Zuma said. “I think we have done our best. Bear in mind that this tournament was supposed to be in Libya, so this tournament was not given the normal time for preparations and people who are making criticism forget that.”

Zuma added: “We had to start very late as a result of that. I am happy and I think we are ready and I think the country is ready. Fortunately, we have the facilities. We might not have done everything precisely because of how we got to host this edition but we are more than ready.”

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said his team is grateful for the visit. “It is a privilege when the number one citizen of the country comes to meet the players and give support,” the coach said. “It is always important for the players and the whole team that he made time in his busy schedule to be with us today. We really feel honored.”

Zuma displayed his soccer skills before he was given two Bafana Bafana jerseys by team captain Bongani Khumalo.

In Pictures: President Jacob Zuma Visits Bafana Bafana (Photos from the team’s Facebook)

Related News:
Ethiopia aim high: Team Committed To Excelling At The Africa Cup Of Nations (

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Walya Antelopes: Coach Says Ethiopia Ready for Africa Cup Despite Second-guessing

Coach Sewnet Bishaw (BBC)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: Monday, January 14, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – As South Africa prepares to host the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations later this week the prospects of the Ethiopian national team, which is participating in the tournament for the first time in 31 years, is also receiving attention in mainstream media, albeit a bit dismissive and putting the Ethiopian coach on the defensive.

Regardless of the outcome at the upcoming competition, Ethiopian fans around the world (some already on their way to South Africa) are excited to see their country return to the Africa Cup after more than three decades of absence.

And, despite the noise, coach Sewnet Bishaw recently told Reuters his team is prepared to give it its best shot. “Our confidence is sky high,” he said. “We are looking at going as far as we can with the first aim being the quarter-finals.”

Coach Sewnet’s remarks came in response to Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger’s statements that made headlines recently when he suggested that none of Walya’s players are part of the international big league. “It is maybe the only international competition today where you do not know all the players,” Wenger said at a press conference last week. “This time in South Africa you will have Ethiopia; if I ask you to name five Ethiopian players, I am sure you will have a problem,” Wenger added.

“He (Wenger) is absolutely right,” Coach Sewnet’s said in his reply. “But that will help our team, that we are unknown in this tournament.” Coach Sewnet’s answer was reflective of his disciplined team. “I am sure that will not be the case at the end of the tournament for everyone, including Arsene,” he added.

The team faces the defending champions Zambia on January 21st for its opening match. We wish coach Sewnet Bishaw and the Walya Antelopes all the best and are proud of their accomplishments!

Video: Ethiopia Returns to Africa Cup 31 Years Later – The Guardian

In Pictures: Countdown to Africa Cup 2013 – Is South Africa Ready? (TADIAS)
Soccer-Ethiopia out to prove a point to the world and Wenger (Reuters)
Ethiopia Football Team Feels Pressured to Succeed (VOA News)
Ethiopia return to Africa Cup of Nations after 31-year hiatus (The Guardian)
Ethiopia Returns to Nations Cup After 31-Year Absence (VOA News)
Ethiopia Hold Tunisia to Draw in Warmup Match for African Nations Cup (Yahoo Sports)
Ethiopia’s Squad for Africa Cup Include 3 Foreign-based Players (TADIAS)
FEATURE-Soccer-Ethiopia’s ‘Walyas’ look to make up for lost time (Reuters)
Three Foreign-based Players Named in Ethiopia Squad (Reuters)
Nations Cup 2013: Ethiopia name squad (BBC)
Ethiopia Gearing up for Africa Cup 2013 (TADIAS)

In Pictures: Photographs of the Walya Antelopes – Ethiopia’s National Soccer Team

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Asylum: The Story of Zena Tafesse Asfaw

Zena Asfaw, the author of an upcoming book called "Asylum," speaks at a Los Angeles Press conference on Thursday, November 8th, 2012 calling on President Obama and the new Congress to pass immigration reform. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, November 17, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Two days after President Obama was re-elected for a second-term, owing in large part to the support of young voters, minorities and immigrant communities, a rally and a press conference was held in Los Angeles, urging the President and the new Congress to pass immigration reform in 2013. Among the speakers who were invited by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) to address the gathering held on Thursday, November 8th was a political refugee from Ethiopia named Zena Tafesse Asfaw.

Zena knows a thing or two about forced migration. Zena’s own personal story is part of an upcoming book called Asylum, which details her painful and at times shockingly daring journey as a fugitive from her country, illegally criss-crossing three continents and several countries with forged documents — including Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, and Mexico — before arriving to her final destination in the United States, where she sought and received asylum.

Parts of her tragic odyssey became public four years ago when she testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration while looking into problems associated with medical care at various immigration-detention facilities in the United States. At the hearing that took place on June 4th, 2008, Zena recounted a near death experience during a five-month imprisonment in San Pedro, California while awaiting a decision on her petition for political asylum. She told Congress that she was forced by a nurse and guard to take the wrong medication that almost cost her life.

In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine, Zena said her stay in San Pedro was the most difficult aspect of her situation. “Prior to that I was on the road for more than a year, with very little money, without a home and in strange lands where I did not speak the language,” she said. “By the time I got to America, I was exhausted, too stressed, unable to sleep and was experiencing female health problems.” Zena added: “So I approached the medical unit for help. I was prescribed medication that was supposed to help me relax, two pills each night administered by the attending nurse. The medication was working fine for weeks until one day there was a different nurse on duty. This nurse gave me seven pills to take at the same time. The pills were different in color and bigger than my regular pills. I asked her if she was sure that those were my pills because I was supposed to take only two at night. She became angry and shouted loudly to swallow them. Then she instructed the security guard to check my mouth to make sure I did not hide the pills in my mouth. The guard used a flashlight to examine my mouth. That night I became very sick, I was shaking, sweating, and vomiting blood. I could not keep anything in my stomach. It would take me more than a month to recover. To make a long story short, I am certain that I was forced to take medications that was not mine.”

But Zena’s ordeal under the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the United States, is only the end-tail of a long and sad journey that began in Ethiopia in 2005. She was then a young woman in her 20′s training to become an airline ticketing and reservation agent, while working at USAID and living in the home of the country’s USAID director at the time.

When violence broke out in Addis Ababa following a controversial national elections, Zena says “I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Zena added “I was doing errands along with the family driver. There was a lot of girgir (Chaos) in the city and many students were being arrested. I was crossing the streets towards the car, when a policeman shouted at me to get on my knees.” Zena continued: “After checking my mobile and finding a text message from a relative that he thought was a supporter of the opposition, I was arrested and taken to jail where I spent 12 days. Until then, I thought of myself as a very strong person. That day, however, I felt the world came crashing down on me.”

She said she was eventually released on a $10,000 bail signed by her uncle. “I was upset, I wanted to sue, I wanted justice, I wanted to do something,” she said. “My life in my own birth country could never be the same again.” She added: “In the end, I was advised by those who loved me that the best thing for me was to leave Ethiopia.”

And so begins her epic sojourn into exile with a car trip to the Kenyan border and then through a smuggler to South Africa where she obtains a fake passport for her travel across the ocean to São Paulo, Brazil, where she ends up in a hostel mostly crowded with African immigrants from Eritrea, Somalia and West African countries. Zena said she befriended two Eritreans there who had the same mission as she did: to get to the United States.

In an excerpt from her upcoming book, shared with Tadias Magazine, Zena notes that along the way she received financial and other assistance from her former employers in Ethiopia whom she kept in touch via occasional phone calls from the road.

In a chapter entitled On the road to Bolivia from Sao Paulo, while traveling with her new friends from Eritrea, Zena describes a dramatic scene in the mountains of Bolivia where their bus came under fire by rebels. “On the second day of our bus journey, all hell broke loose — the Bolivian guerrillas against the government forces emerged…men came out of the forest, from behind rocks, from nowhere with rifles and machine guns blazing,” She wrote. “We all ducked down in our seats and I crumpled up as tight and as close to the floor as possible. Bullets were whizzing overhead and men were shouting something in Spanish. I didn’t speak the language so I didn’t know what they were saying but it was angry and intense. In that blur of violence, I glanced to my left to see how the boys were. My one friend was flopping around in the aisle like a large fish out of water. At first, I thought he’d been hit by a bullet, but there was no blood. Then his friend said he was having a seizure.”

Zena said her Eritrean friends survived the incident as well, but she said they separated in Ecuador after the bus trip. “Both of them have finally made it to America.”

Zena, who currently works and lives in Los Angeles, gives a lot of credit to her attorney David Paz Soldan, with whom she connected by memorizing his number, which she discovered posted on a board inside a room where she was being questioned by immigration officers in L.A. after she turned herself in to airport security upon her arrival in the United States on November 15, 2006. “He manged to get asylum approved, he got me my work permit and my green card,” she said. “He is an incredible human being who never failed to give hope and always delivered on his promise.”

In his endorsement of Zena’s book, Mr. Soldan wrote: “Zena’s tale is the most tragic yet inspirational story that I have encountered in all my years as an immigration attorney. Her strength and perseverance in overcoming the insurmountable obstacles placed before her are an affirmation to the human spirit and her will to survive. I consider myself fortunate to have met Zena, and it is a pleasure to see her continue to grow and achieve her goals.”

This article has been abridged from the original version.

Zena Asfaw can be reached at

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Review of Pianist Samuel Yirga’s Album

Samuel Yirga plays Ethiopian standards with a voracious talent that helps him savor each musical flavor. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Art Talk

WBUR 90.9 (Boston’s Public Radio News Station)

By Milo Miles

Although he’s only been playing for 10 years, Yirga is quite the sponge. His mix of folk vernacular and jazz improvisations in vintage Ethiopian tunes most recalls a similar folky fluency in South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, who likewise has no use for categories of high and popular art. Yirga ranges around even further on Guzo [his debut album] with his reworking of “I Am the Black Gold of the Sun,” originally recorded in 1971 by the group Rotary Connection. Yirga revitalizes the graceful beauty of the tune without going lush or sentimental. All that dates the track is the corny words, and those are handled with understatement by singers Nicolette and Mel Gara.

I didn’t expect Guzo to be one of the stronger arguments for the album format I’ve heard in quite a while, but it is. Yirga finds his way into Ethiopian standards, displays his flair for jazz over solo and ensemble pieces, and performs effortless homages to vintage soul, holding everything together with voracious talent that helps him savor each musical flavor. This is much more impressive when Yirga develops momentum and unity over the course of 11 tracks that show how much more he is than his parts.

Be sure to check out Yirga’s website for extra music and videos, particularly a vibrant live recording in London. Those who want to hear him as part of a band should explore his work with the group Dub Colossus. And anyone who wants to know more about Ethiopian music in general should grab the recent anthology The Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia, which includes classics from the Golden Age as well as Samuel Yirga and other adventurous moderns. While the Golden Age of Ethiopian music is in the past, a new one may be beginning.


‘Ethiopia: Inspiring Journey’ A Coffee Table Book by Esubalew Meaza

Image courtesy of infoAddis Publishing.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, October 15th, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – If you live in the East Coast, you may have noticed a new book for sale at various Ethiopian stores and restaurants called Ethiopia: Inspiring Journey by Esubalew Meaza – a 180-page collection of photographs and descriptions of historical places, people, rare animals, cultural and religious ceremonies from different parts of the country.

Esubalew, the book’s author and photographer, is based in Alexandria, Virginia, and says he was motivated because of the shortage of similar books written from an Ethiopian perspective.

“I did the book because of my desire to promote Ethiopia’s tourist attractions, but during my research I found that most such books are produced by outsiders who lack the subtle understanding of Ethiopian culture and language,” Esubalew (also known as Esu) said in an interview. “I will give you an example, I was once reading a post by a blogger who had visited Ethiopia, specifically Nech Sar National Park near Arba Minch. I was amused by his description of a “Crocodile Market.” He was correct in a sense that he was literally translating Azo gebeya, which for Ethiopians means where the crocodiles gather. But for the readers of the blog-post, however, it sounded like a place where people buy crocodile meat, which was completely wrong.” He added, laughing, “I have never seen an Ethiopian eat Azo. So I thought it was my duty to correct this kind of misunderstanding.”

Esu, who is currently an IT project manager for the U.S. Department of Defense and a father of two, said he took the photos between 2005 and 2011. “I traveled back to Ethiopia in 2002 for the first time in 17 years but did not start the project until 2005,” Esu said. “I was a high school student when I moved to the United States so it was an incredible feeling for me to reconnect with the country, and I still keep going back.”

The publication is endorsed, among others, by Mr. Habte Selassie Tafesse, one of the pioneers of the Ethiopian tourism industry, who wrote: “the book is a perceptive, lively and a faithful photographic rendering of Ethiopia’s cultural, historical and physical features.”

Esu noted that some of his favorite sections of the book highlight Ethiopia’s hidden wildlife treasures including red jackal or Simien fox and the mountain nyala, as well as the Addis Ababa lions, which DNA tests recently confirmed to be genetically unique.

Esubalew Meaza at Sof Omar Cave in Bale. (Courtesy photo)
You can learn more and back order the book on Amazon. You may reach the author at

New Coffee-table Book Highlights Ethiopian Diaspora Success

Image credit: Tsehai Publishers.

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu, winner of the 2012 MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grant,” is one of several Ethiopian-Americans highlighted in an upcoming coffee table book by California-based Tsehai Publishers. The publication documents the professional success of first and second generation Ethiopians in the United States and the Diaspora.

Additional features include entrepreneurs, artists, authors, musicians, and scientists such as Dr. Sossina M. Haile, Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology and an expert in materials science and fuel cells; Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged, Director and Curator of the Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences and the paleoanthropologist who discovered the 3-year-old Selam (nicknamed Lucy’s baby), which lived 3.3 million years ago in Ethiopia and is considered the earliest known such fossil excavated in the history of Paleontology; Dr. Dagmawi Woubshet, Assistant Professor of English Literature at Cornell University; as well as chef Marcus Samuelsson, artist Julie Mehretu, Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Wayna (Woyneab Miraf Wondwossen), and Grammy-nominated musician and philanthropist Kenna (né Kenna Zemedkun), who in 2010 led a group of celebrity friends to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in order to raise awareness about the international clean water crisis.

“The book is an attempt to change global perception of Ethiopia by focusing on the many accomplishments of successful younger Ethiopians living throughout North America and Ethiopia today,” said Elias Wondimu, the book’s Publisher and Editorial Director. “These individuals are the sons and daughters, and younger siblings of those who lived through the 1970s Ethiopian political turmoil. By focusing on these individuals, we want to tell their parents’ story of resilience and share with the world the proud heritage that they commonly inherit as Ethiopians.”

Elias said the book’s working title, Yezare Abebawoch: Yenege Frewoch, is borrowed from the famous line by the former Ethiopian television children show host Tesfaye Sahlu. “In his infinite wisdom each time before telling a story, Ababa Tesfaye used to address his captive television audience — the children of yesteryear’s — as ‘flowers of today, seeds of tomorrow,’” he said. “The book focuses on these individuals who are doing beautiful work today, creating seeds for an even more wonderful future. It is the flowers of today that create the seeds of tomorrow. We are also trying to inspire Ethiopian children with these stories.”

Tsehai Publishers is seeking public funding for the book via Kickstarter, an online funding platform. Click here to learn more and support the project.

Image credit: Tsehai Publishers.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

From Australia Comes Ethiopian Calendar With Mobile App

The calendar layout features an Ethiopian coffee ceremony theme. (Image courtesy of Jember Calendar)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The Australia-based designers of the Ethiopian wall calendar, Jember, have announced that their latest version comes with a mobile app for Android smartphones. The app can be downloaded from their website.

“The Jember app hosts a complete Ethiopic calendar with a full list of major and minor Ethiopian holidays and other personal event reminder functionality,” says Yohannes Tafesse, one of the developers of the application. “In addition, it allows users to easily keep track of the Ethiopic date system.”

“The application is also designed around various elements of the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony,” he said.

Yohannes pointed out that the iPhone version is not yet available. “We wanted to first see how it’s received on Android platforms,” he said. “The plethora of devices running the Android operating system, ranging from tablets to smartphones, is our best chance for getting Jember in the hands of more people.” He added: “Having said that, however, an iPhone version for Jember is inevitable.”

Yohannes and his business partner, Ermyas Teshome, both of whom are residents of Melbourne, Australia, say they came up with the idea out of personal necessity.

“Living in the West means working under the Gregorian calendar system, which can leave one rather disconnected from the Ethiopian date system,” Ermyas said. “This is a problem because most of the holidays, birthdays and other events of our friends and families back home are in the Ethiopian date system. For me, this has meant either forgetting the special days of loved ones or calling a few days late and in some cases a few days early, which can be just as embarrassing. So Jember really emerged as a means of solving our own problems with the date system.”

“The reviews of the app are quite good so far,” noted Yohannes. “We will be releasing an update to the calendar app [Version 2] by the end of this week. The update includes some of the usability enhancements requested by our existing users. We hope everyone will like it and let us know what they enjoy about using Jember and what they would like to see improved.”
Click here to learn more about the Jember calendar app.
Join the conversation on Facebook.

The Ideas Exchange: Conversation With Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

SoleRebels' Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The trailblazing Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder of the green footwear label SoleRebels, will be featured in episode 1 of an 8-part BBC series called The Ideas Exchange — a new TV show that teams up with executives from various industries around the world to discuss their experiences by interviewing each other.

In the first segment that is scheduled to air on BBC World News this weekend, Bethlehem is paired with the CEO of Lego Group, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, who is credited for transforming the privately held Danish company into a once again profitable global brand.

“It’s a 30 minute program that showcases Jorgen and myself, our backgrounds, how we got to where we are and why,” Bethlehem said an interview with TADIAS. “In the second half, it transitions into a face-to-face meeting between the two of us at LEGO headquarters in Billund, Denamrk where we engage in an intensive and wide ranging interview of each other.” She added: “It’s a very interesting discussion.”

Bethlehem who also made Forbes magazine’s recent list of “The World’s Most Powerful Women: Women to Watch” said she is confident about the future expansion of her company. “I would say that the SoleRebels journey is only getting started and its about to get a whole lot more exciting,” she said. “We are opening soleRebels branded retail stores around the planet starting in Taiwan’s second largest city, Taichung, on October 1st.”

Bethlehem said more retail loactions will follow in Zurich, New York City, Seoul, Chicago, and London. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to put SoleRebels in closer proximity to our growing fan base.”

Click here to watch the preview. Watch BBC World News for all episodes of The Ideas Exchange.

Ideas Exchange opens for talks (BBC)

Kubee Kassaye of New York Earns Top Culinary Prize

Kubee Kassaye, a chef at the five-star Peninsula Hotel in Manhattan, has won the 2012 Legacy Award for culinary achievement by the prestigious philanthropic society, Les Dames d'Escoffier International. She was one of six women to earn the coveted distinction. (NY Daily News)

New York Daily News

Kubee Kassaye loves to experiment in the kitchen. On any given day, the young chef will whip up American, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and her native Ethiopian cuisine in her Parkchester kitchen.

“I just love the different techniques and style of food. It’s like an artwork,” said Kassaye, 28.
Her dream is to one day open an Ethiopian/Italian restaurant. And now she’s one step closer.

Continue reading at the New York Daily News.

Ethiopian Olympic Athletes Feted

Seated from left to right: Yanet Seyoum Gebremedhin, Tirunesh Dibaba, Werknesh Kidane, at an event in London on Monday evening celebrating their success at the 2012 London games. (Photo courtesy of Sabrina Yohannes.)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes

Updated: Friday, August 17, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian athletes at the 2012 Olympics received a hero’s welcome even before they left London when the Ethiopian embassy there hosted a gala dinner in their honor Monday night.

Ethiopia earned seven medals, three of them gold, in athletics in London. The nation’s largest haul ever was in Sydney in 2000, where four out of a total of eight medals were gold; while in Beijing, four out of seven medals were gold.

Ethiopia’s ambassor to the UK, Berhanu Kebede, praised the London team.

“They are first in Africa in athletics and 24th overall and achieved excellent results, and are capable of doing even better,” he said. “They have tremendous potential. … We feel great pride. They have changed the image of Ethiopia and many people have come to know about Ethiopia.”

The nation leads the continent and trails just the United States, Russia, Jamaica and the United Kingdom on the athletics medal table, in which the order of countries is based on number of golds followed by number of silvers and then bronzes.

Kenya follows Ethiopia with two golds, though the country’s overall medal count in athletics, 11, is greater than its East African neighbor’s.

Out of 33 countries that medaled in athletics, only those six took more than one gold, with the rest of the table consisting of those with just one title or only lesser medals.

After a poet referred to the athletes as jewels and another speaker told them they had left Ethiopians abroad “awash in feelings of joy,” gold medalists Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba and silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel briefly took to the stage and addressed the gathering at London’s Porchester Hall on Monday night. Wood paneling and red velvet drapes covered the walls and chandeliers hung from the ceiling in the room, which was filled to capacity by a 450-strong crowd decked out in traditional Ethiopian and formal wear.

“You have contributed to our success,” the 5000m Olympic champion Defar told the gathering, citing the reception given to members of the Olympic delegation upon their arrival at Heathrow Airport among other displays of support London-based Ethiopians had provided.

Defar went on to point out the greater success at the London Olympiad of Ethiopia’s female athletes. Five of the seven medals and all three golds were earned by women.

Her comments received general cheers and applause and ululations from some women in the audience, and prompted London 5000m silver medalist Gebremeskel to draw laughter when he felt the need to begin his remarks by stating that he was not necessarily speaking on behalf of the male athletes, but rather the whole team. The London women’s 10,000m champion and 5000m bronze medalist Dibaba echoed Defar’s comments.

The two women and former world cross country champion Werknesh Kidane were resplendent in traditional white Ethiopian dresses, while a wider array of national costumes was on display on members of the audience, a troupe that performed traditional dances, and models taking part in a fashion show of clothes inspired by traditional designs.

“We wished to express the respect we have for [the athletes],” said the ambassador, explaining the goal of the event. “And secondly, to celebrate Ethiopia as a nation of great athletes, past and present. Furthermore, we feel this allows those who don’t know Ethiopia to experience our culture, our dress, our way of life.”

The evening included many non-Ethiopian guests, some having some connection to Ethiopia, and a buffet dinner of Ethiopian and Western fare. The highlight for most in the room, however, was clearly the proximity to the star athletes, who untiringly obliged their requests for photographs and occasional autographs.

Seated from left to right: Werknesh Kidane and Meseret Defar. (Photo courtesy of Sabrina Yohannes)

Steeplechaser Nahom Mesfin (at right) and 1500m runner Dawit Wolde (not pictured) spontaneously escort London double medalist Tirunesh Dibaba, holding a banner Ethiopian flag behind her. (Photo by Sabrina Yohannes)

“I’ve run in London many times,” said Dibaba. “Many Ethiopians live here and they are always by our side, encouraging us. They left their work behind and came to the stadium to support us and their support means a lot to us. It gives me a morale boost and motivates me to run harder to please them.”

She also expressed pride in the female athletes’ performance in London, where Tiki Gelana won the women’s marathon and Sofia Assefa took bronze in the women’s steeplechase.

“It happens that way sometimes,” said national track coach Hussein Shibo on Tuesday. “The women’s performance has risen over the years.” He went on to enumerate the nine gold medals won by Ethiopian women at recent Olympiads since Barcelona in 1992 when Derartu Tulu became the first black African woman to win gold, and he compared that to the seven Ethiopian men’s golds in that time frame. (Ethiopia boycotted the 1984 and 1988 Games.)

“The numbers are close,” he said. “However, the women have shown growth and we are happy that they have come from behind and reached this level. In the 1500, if Abeba’s race hadn’t gone wrong and if Genzebe hadn’t been injured; and if [800m runner] Fantu hadn’t been injured, the women might have totally dominated the results. So perhaps we can say this time belongs to the women.”

Abeba Aregawi and Dibaba’s sister Genzebe were top contenders in the women’s 1500, but while Aregawi finished outside the medals, Dibaba was injured during the qualifying rounds. Injury also kept Fantu Magiso out of the women’s 800.

In many events, the competition is more fierce on the men’s side, while some countries’ cultures keep women out of sports. Ethiopian women have had the example of Tulu and 1996 Atlanta marathon champion Fatuma Roba to follow, augmented by the successes of Tirunesh Dibaba and Defar.

Injuries affected the men’s results in London too, with Beijing double champion Kenenisa Bekele making his way back from injury-filled years and the year’s second-fastest 5000m runner in the world, Hagos Gebrhiwet, having been injured in the lead-up to London, while Athens Olympics fourth-placer Gebregziabher Gebremariam suffered an injury while in London before the 10,000m race.

Bekele, who was fourth in that race, left London and headed back to Ethiopia a couple of days after it. His brother Tariku took bronze.

“The overall results are very good,” said London Olympic team leader Nega Gebregziabher on Monday, adding however, “We had expected a lot, and of those, we have achieved a few.”

“With some of the younger athletes, for example, in the 1500, the 800 and also the men’s 5000, in which we could have won, due to their youth and inexperience, we suffered losses,” he said. “We will assess our performance and guage what we must do going forward.”

Mohammed Aman was also widely expected to medal in the men’s 800.

“We have the world championships coming up [next year] and these youth are fully capable of being successful,” added Gebregziabher. “Ethiopians everywhere greatly encourage our athletes, and admire our athletes, and it’s important that they boost their morale and provide encouragement, and we are confident that they will.”

Meanwhile, an even younger athlete was taking in the proceedings at Porchester Hall with special appreciation. Ethiopia’s first ever female Olympic swimmer Yanet Seyoum Gebremedhin, 18, was seated next to Dibaba at the dinner.

“She’s a very strong athlete and a role model for us,” said Gebremedhin. “I’m so happy to be representing my country alongside her. I’ve always wanted to meet her.”

Her wish was granted when the athletics team arrived in London and Gebremedhin found herself staying on the same floor in the Olympic Village, and receiving words of encouragement from her and Defar and other team members.

“They all advised me to work hard and not give up hope,” said Gebremedhin, who watched their races with interest. “Swimming and running are very different, but I’ve learned many lessons,” she said. “They fight til the very end.”

Though not expected to medal, Gebremedhin had encouraging results of her own and hopes to inspire those who are younger still. “I improved my personal record, which is Ethiopia’s record,” she said. “I hope others will learn from my experience. I’ve competed for six years and to reach the Olympics in six years is very good, but I don’t have a coach and I work on my own. If we had coaches, we could do better and not just improve our own personal bests, but, I believe, make history.”

At the 2012 Olympics, Dibaba and Defar did make history. Tulu lost and then regained the 10,000 crown in 2000, but in London, the Beijing 2008 champion Dibaba became the first to successfully defend the title, while Defar became the only woman to win the 5000m twice, after she first won in Athens in 2004.

“It’s very pleasing that at this critical competition, at the Olympics, the whole team has performed this well,” said Defar.

Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar to Contest One Event Each at 2013 World Championships in Moscow

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

A Project to Document History of Armenian-Ethiopians

A kickstarter campaign aims to produce a documentary on the history of the Armenian community in Ethiopia. (Photo: The Boyadjian family / Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, August 2, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – In the early 1900s, when Armenians were faced with genocide orchestrated by the Ottoman empire, scores of families escaped and some arrived and settled in Ethiopia. Armenians make up one of the oldest immigrant communities in Ethiopia. Vahe Tilbian, a 4th generation Ethiopian-Armenian, told TADIAS magazine that “historically Armenians worked as goldsmiths, carpenters, builders, teachers, embroiders, silk makers, and carpet makers.” His great grandfather Tavit Aslanian was a carpet maker in Empress Zewditu’s palace, his paternal grandfather was a tailor in Addis and his maternal family members were cobblers.

Armenians have likewise contributed heavily to Ethiopian modern music. Kevork Nalbandian was an Armenian who composed the first national anthem for Ethiopia as well as served as the musical director of Arba Lijoch. His nephew Nerses Nalbandian was involved in the founding of the famed Yared Music School as well as led the Municipality Orchestra.

A kickstarter campaign has now been launched to produce a documentary of the unique history and contributions of Armenian-Ethiopians. The Tezeta campaign is directed by Aramazt Kalayjian.


Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Debo Band’s First Album: Interview with the Group’s Founder Danny Mekonnen

Debo Band is an 11-member Boston-based group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, July 6, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – In its recent, thumbs-up highlight of Debo band’s self-titled first album NPR noted: “The particular beauty of Debo Band is that you don’t have to be an ethnomusicologist to love it: It’s all about the groove. Debo Band transforms the Ethiopian sound through the filter of its members’ collective subconscious as imaginative and plugged-in 21st-century musicians. Klezmer-haunted wails dart in and out between disco thumps. The swooning, hot romance of [Yefikir Wegene] bursts up from the same ground as the funky horns of Ney Ney Weleba. From that hazy shimmer of musical heat from faraway Addis, a thoroughly American sound emerges.”

In an interview with Tadias Magazine, Danny Mekonnen, the group’s Ethiopian-American founder, agreed with NPR’s description, yet also pointed out that even he finds it difficult to explain the music. “It’s funny now that I am talking to the press more and more I am asking myself the same question”, Danny told TADIAS. “What is it?,” he said, admitting that he is not sure how he would categorize Debo’s music genre.

“I don’t think its Ethio-jazz because to me Ethio-jazz is a very specific thing branded by Mulatu Astatke. Its gentle,” he said. “Initially I didn’t want to start an Ethio-jazz band because I was interested in a lot of different things and influenced by unapologetic funk music as well, such as someone like Alemayehu Eshete, which is really about groove, dancing, and strong lyrics. That kind of energy.”

Debo’s debut album features originals, such as DC Flower and Habesha, the latter based on the Diaspora experience where a young man is mesmerized by an attractive East African woman walking down the street that could be either Ethiopian or Eritrean, while the former is an instrumental giving prominence to Embilta flutes and traditional drums. “The two songs are noteworthy because we are carving our space as a Diaspora, Ethiopian-American band,” Danny said.

Danny, who holds a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from Harvard University, said he became exposed to Ethiopian music at an early age while growing up in Texas, mostly from his parents cassette-tape collections of old songs from the 1960′s and 70s. “I was just soaking it up like a sponge,” he said. “I was attracted to it because of its horn melodies and its closeness to American jazz.” He continued: “Later, in the early 2000′s I was introduced to the Éthiopiques CD series, which gave me really accessible context including photos. That also led me to meet some great people in the Diaspora. So when I entered Harvard I had already started Debo band and my scholarly focus was on Ethiopian music.”

Even though Debo’s sound is heavily indebted to the classics of the 1960′s and early ’70′s, Danny said he is sympathetic to those who say the overwhelming focus on that era alone undercuts the contributions of subsequent generations of Ethiopian musicians. “Unfortunately the focus on the so called ‘Golden Age of Ethiopian music’ sort of discredits what came after it,” he said. “For example, if you listen to Teddy Tadesse’s Zimita album, that was a pretty heavy record, very progressive, and at least ten years ahead of its time. You can hear its influence in singers that came later like Gossaye and Teddy Afro.” He added: “Zimita was entirely arranged by Abegaz Shiota. Abegaz and bass guitarist Henock Temesgen are two of the many contemporary Ethiopian musicians that I have the highest respect for. They were part of Admas Band that worked with everyone from Aster Aweke to Tilahun Gessesse and Mahmoud Ahmed.”

Danny said his friend Charles Sutton, Jr. – the Peace Corps volunteer who in 1969 arranged for Orchestra Ethiopia, then led by Tesfaye Lemma, to tour the United States under the name “The Blue Nile Group” – was also instrumental in helping him to connect with older Ethiopian musicians in the U.S. “Charlie arranged for me a private lesson with Melaku Gelaw, one of the top washint and kirar players of that generation,” Danny said.

According to Danny, Mr. Sutton was also responsible for suggesting the name “Debo” as the group’s identity. “I told Charlie I was searching for a band name and he spoke to an Ethiopian lady friend of his and she came up with the word,” Danny shared.

“Debo means communal labor or collective effort in Amharic” Danny said. “An easy word to pronounce for non-Ethiopians, short four-letter word and very simple. But it also strikes up a fun conversation among Ethiopians because it’s an old archaic word and not part of their daily usage.”

“Ethiopians tell me that it sounds like Dabo (bread),” Danny said laughing.

If You Go:
Debo Band is getting ready for their CD release tour starting next week and will be performing at The Bell House in Brooklyn, the U Street Music Hall in Washington D.C. as well as at the renowned Philadelphia Folk Festival in Schwenksville, PA. For a detailed listing of their upcoming tour please visit Debo Band’s website. You can learn more about Debo’s new album and pre-order at

Watch: Debo Band Live (NPR)

Golden Age Pop – from Ethiopia (WNYC)

Ethiopia at Summer Stage NYC: Q & A With Guitarist Selam Woldemariam

Guitarist Selam Seyoum Woldemariam, former member of legendary Ethiopian bands, Ibex and Roha, will be featured in Tomás Doncker's upcoming performance at NYC's SummerStage Theater presented by Time Warner. (Photo: Selam at Howard Theatre in D.C. on May 26th, 2012 / by tsedey foto)

Tadias Magazine
By Tsedey Aragie

Updated: Monday, July 2, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Guitarist Selam Woldemariam is scheduled to take part in this month’s Summer Stage concert in New York, paying a musical tribute to Ethiopia’s storied resistance against Italian occupation during world war II. The show entitled The Power of the Trinity is an adaptation of a play by American writer, the late Roland Wolf. The stage production is directed by Alfred Preisser and the music is scored by New York-based musician Tomás Doncker.

According to City Parks Foundation NYC’s annual “SummerStage” concerts, sponsored by AT&T, brings over 100 performances to eighteen parks throughout New York City. Selections range from pop, latin and world music to dance, spoken word and theater. Selam will perform at Springfield Park in Queens on July 27th and 28th, as well as at Central Park in Manhattan on July 31st. The show will conclude at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem on August 5th.

Below is our recent interview with Selam Woldemariam:

But first, here are video clips from Selam’s recent appearance at the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. during a Memorial Day weekend concert featuring Mahmoud Ahmed and Gosaye Tesfaye.


WordPress plugin

Q & A With Guitarist Selam Woldemariam:

TADIAS: Please tell us about your upcoming NYC show. How did you get involved with the project?

Selam Woldemariam: I got involved with the project 3 years ago, when I met Tomás Doncker. At the time the sons of the playwright Roland Wolf were working to continue their father’s work. They were setting out to complete the play he wrote about the second Italian invasion and Haile Selassie’s leadership role. Roland Wolf’s sons met with Tomás Doncker about doing the score for the play. This was the driving force behind the Power of the Trinity project. Doncker was interested in creating a fusion of Ethiopian music and was particularly inspired by the Ethiopiques CD series number seven. Doncker did not expect to find the musicians from the Ibex band still doing the music thing. So this led to the meeting between Tomás Doncker and I in Washington D.C. one afternoon. I served as a production consultant in the play and co-wrote 3 to 4 songs on the album. The play will feature an all-American cast and I have been working with the cast so that they deliver their lines with an Ethiopian twist.

TADIAS: Tomás says you are the Jimi Hendrix of Ethiopia.

SW: (Laughter). I call him ‘Gash Tomás.’ I’m happy to have worked with him; he is a man of his word. He is an inspiring individual that really brought out the best part of me. He was so enthusiastic about learning how to play Tizita. It was one of those unique situations that allowed us to really have an open meeting of the minds that doesn’t come around often.

We also played together at the Blue Note Jazz club in New York — where one of our sets was completely sold out. Tomás Doncker is also an incredible songwriter he composed an album of 11 to 12 songs it was great to work with him. My job was to maintain the authenticity and infuse commonly known melodies like Tizita, Anchi Hoye, Bati, and Ambassel; translating important highlighted words from the songs. I chose Tsegaye Selassie from Lasta Band for his unique voice that is most known for the ancient, raw folk sounds that are heard throughout the old city of Roha, which is known as Lalibella. Commonly known as Lalibeloch, they would go out into the city and sing spiritual songs early in the morning. We added 3 to 4 new compositions, which included Mahmoud Ahmed’s newest Guragigna song.

TADIAS: How would you describe the music and what are your expectations for SummerStage?

SW: The genre is classified as global soul, because it connects the world with the sounds of Africa, specifically traditional Ethiopian melodies, which is classified as pentatonic. I am excited about playing on some of the most prestigious stages in NY. I expect a large turnout with people from all over the globe, because it is a transient and global sound. It is very different. I believe that this is a great opportunity for people to experience Ethiopian music.

TADIAS: Please tell our readers more about yourself. (where you were born, grew up, and how you developed your passion for music?)

SW: I was born in Addis Abeba where my father was the Director of one of the first school that was established for the vision impaired. I grew up in Kazanchis on the compound of the school. The Missionaries from the Protestant Church were the teachers at the school, and this is where I was first exposed to music and singing. My father was later commissioned to be the director of the second school in Asmara. That’s when I started to get involved with music. In Asmara we put a quintet band together, which was a church group that I formed at the age of 11. We were very popular; we had so many supporters and were highly encouraged. Right after I finished high school I joined the Black Soul Band with members Alemayehu Eshete, and Slim Jones, and toured with Orchestra Ethiopia in 1973. Orchestra Ethiopia is mostly known for Tesfaye Lemma and his group, who did their first and last tour in 1969 when they traveled to the U.S. with Charles Sutton. The band broke up so Hailemariam G. Giorgis the keyboard player and I went to play at the Venus club. Months after, the Zimbabwean guitarist left Ibex Band and so they were looking for a guitarist. This is when I joined the Ibex band and shortly after brought Hailemariam with me. This is when it all began. The first recording was Ere Mela Mela by Mahmoud, which later became Ethiopiques number seven. That’s when people began to recognize me as a guitar player. We produced most of Mahmoud’s music, and an album for Tilahun Gessese, and one for Aster Aweke, these recordings spanned from 1975 to 1978. The most important recording at that time was the Ibex Instrumental where musicians like Abegaz, Henock, and Fasil started their humble beginnings. They all have mentioned this music during their interviews. During this time in 1979, is when the vinyl era began to decline and the cassette tapes appeared in the market. Then, three members of the Ibex Band: Giovanni Rico, Fekadu Amdemeskel, and I, formed the Roha Band. During this time Roha band recorded close to 250 albums. Most of the Roha recordings were done in the basement of Ghion Hotel that was our Motown.

TADIAS: We understand that you are also writing a book. Can you tell us about it?

SW: Yes, this will be a book about my reflection on Ethiopian music. It’s a subject that not many people write about. I have kept a memoir of the events and concerts that took place when we were on tour. I studied History at Addis Abeba University where I graduated in 1988; my senior essay was titled “Origin and development of Zemenawi music in Ethiopia (1896-1974)”. I prefer to say Zemenawi and not “Modern” because the word “modern” implies that the music is somehow better in terms of quality, which I don’t believe it is. I have pictures and of course a database of music that was produced during the era of what is known as the ‘Golden Years of Ethiopian Music.’ I’m currently looking for a grant to finish the work.

TADIAS: Regarding your guitar, why are you so in love with Gibson 335 ES?

SW: (Laughter). When I joined Ibex band at the end of 1974, my guitar was a Yamaha and then I started to listen to Crusaders and the guitar player Larry Carlton. And he plays the Gibson 335 ES and I have been greatly influenced by Carlton who is known for his elements of Blues. I had a good friend of mine who brought me the guitar back in 1979 from NYC. During the communist regime it was not so easy to get things into the country. Some time after I received the guitar, I heard through the grapevine that someone was selling the same guitar. Come to find out my friend had bought two and was trying to sell the other. So I caught up with him and took the guitar for half the price because he tried to sell my style guitar behind my back. So I have two Gibsons, which I refer to as the twins.

TADIAS: Thank you, Selam, and best wishes from all of us at TADIAS!
If You Go:
SummerStage Theater Presented By Time Warner
Written by: Roland Wolf
Adapted & Directed By: Alfred Preisser
Original Music Composition by Tomás Doncker
7.31.2012 | 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm | Central Park
Live global-soul music sets the backdrop for SummerStage’s world premiere of The Power of the Trinity.

Click here for complete schedule.

‘Yes, Chef,’ a Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson

In his newly published Memoir, "Yes, Chef," Marcus Samuelsson recounts his remarkable story of how he became one of the few widely accepted top black chefs in the world. (Photo:

The New York Times

‘Yes, Chef,’ a Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson

The universal rule of kitchen work, Marcus Samuelsson says in his crisp new memoir, “Yes, Chef,” goes as follows: “Stay invisible unless you’re going to shine.” That rule applies to writers too, especially to those who would write food memoirs. Because you like to put things in your mouth does not mean you have a story to tell.

Mr. Samuelsson, as it happens, possesses one of the great culinary stories of our time. It begins in Ethiopia, where he was born into poverty and where, at 2, he contracted tuberculosis, as did his mother and sister. The three of them trudged more than 75 miles in the terrible heat to a hospital in the capital city, Addis Ababa, where his mother died.

Read more at The New York Times.
Samuelsson Memoir Traces Rise From Ethiopia to Obama (Bloomberg News)
Yes, Chef’ by Marcus Samuelsson (Boston Globe)

Dallas & D.C: Tale of Two Ethiopian Soccer Tournaments

The 29th Annual Ethiopian Soccer Tournament will take place in Dallas from July 1st to July 7th, 2012, while a new, separate tournament will be held the same week in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chicago 2009 / Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Last winter, when the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA), a 29-year old non-profit in charge of hosting the annual Ethiopian Soccer Tournament, elected new officers and sent out a press release announcing Dallas as the location of the 2012 Soccer Tournament, we reported that the much publicized disputes among the board members seemed to have been amicably resolved. Since then, however, things have dramatically changed.

“There is an ongoing lawsuit and because of our lawyer’s advice, I can not tell you the details of how our organization was formed,” Elias Dimberu, a public relations officer for the newly established AESAONE (All Ethiopian Sports Association ONE), told TADIAS in a recent response to our inquiry. AESAONE is aggressively promoting a rival tournament at the RFK stadium in Washington, D.C. scheduled from July 1st through 7th — the same time the ESFNA sponsored tournament takes place in Dallas.

“There is no court gag order so you can speak to me about whatever you need,” said Johnny G. Berhanu, the spokesperson for the older ESFNA. “The truth is that they are all former members of ESFNA, including the ex-president who lost an election, who have chosen to set up various entities basically disregarding not only the law but the bylaws of ESFNA as well.” He added: Our bylaws say no board member of ESFNA can use ‘proprietary data’ including business contacts for their own personal use for at least two years after they leave the organization. These guys stole our corporate identity, they took our sponsor accounts. They tried locking us out of our bank account and our website. Believe it or not, we were first alerted to the whole plot by a Verizon fraud department worker, who called to tell us that a couple of those guys were trying to take out two new cell phones using our name.”

The AESAONE PR Officer disagrees, while admitting that the group was forced to re-brand itself after facing a trademark infringement lawsuit in April for its previous name, ESFNAONE. “We’ve changed the name as required by law,” Elias responded.

“It took the judge less than fifteen minutes to approve a temporary restraining order against them, which has since been extended,” Johnny remarked regarding the lawsuit. “They can never, ever be able to use our name and confuse the public again.”

And the soccer teams? “There is no shortage of Ethiopian soccer players in the Diaspora,” answered Elias. “In fact, there are way too many.” He added: “People forget that there is more than one Ethiopian team in every major city. We already have 28 teams registered from the U.S., as well as one from Australia and one from England.” According to Elias, the D.C. tournament is sponsored by MIDROC, the company owned by Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi. “They are covering the entire tournament for three years, whatever the cost, no strings attached,” he said.

“The man has given them 2 million dollars and they are going around trying to buy players, offering them up to $10,000 in some cases,” Johnny charged. “I personally know someone in Canada who rejected their bribe.”

“That’s hearsay,” Elias objected. He points out that AESAONE was a sponsor and actively recruiting teams during the traditional Memorial Day weekend regional tournaments in the West coast, the Midwest and the South. “There were ten California teams participating in Sacramento, for example,” he said. “Nine in Atlanta and another ten quality ones in Minnesota.” He added: “For the first time, there will be teams coming from Florida, Arizona, South Dakota and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.”

Elias continued: “In terms of money, we are covering transportation costs, including airfare, for 20 players of each team that are participating in our tournament. We are also providing each team with five hotel rooms. In addition, all teams receive one full jersey. And in case of emergency, each players gets up to $100,000 insurance coverage for injury which they can use throughout the year. Furthermore, for the first time we have arranged coach bus service, back and forth, between the stadium and the hotel.”

Addressing the ongoing lawsuit, Elias declined from sharing details except to state, “We are in settlement negotiations at the moment.”

But Johnny is willing to talk. “ESFNA is asking to recover court expenses and other damages from them,” Johnny said. “So far we have spent about $13,000 in lawyers fees and could go up to $20,000.” He continued: “There is business loss and related issues when they used the ESFNAONE name to promote their event causing serious confusion in the community. As part of the final settlement, we are asking that at a minimum they change their tournament date.”

“That’s logistically impossible,” Elias declared. “There is a reason why we chose the week of July 4th.” He continued: “Most of the players are students and the only major summer holiday where we can attract the players is the 4th of July. The next holiday is Labor Day weekend in September, which is too late.”

“Don’t you think they can do this in August and attract more people?” Johnny asked. “Ultimately, I want you to look for the motive.”

“Our motive is to create an organization that stands for one community, regardless of religion and politics,” Elias responded. “Sports being the pillar, to celebrate our culture.”

“Let me tell you something,” Johnny answered. “I am a volunteer and democratically elected member of ESFNA’s board. After two years if people don’t like what I am doing, they can vote me out.” He added: I am not going to go on a vendetta against the organization that I willingly serve. I am not saying they don’t have the right to start a business. This is the United States of America, they can do whatever they want. I am saying be lawful in your actions and be truthful to the public about your intentions.”

Johnny is using his three week vacation to travel from Canada to volunteer his time working on the Dallas soccer tournament logistics. Ironically, Elias who is working on the D.C. tournament resides in Texas. “Yep! I live right in the heart of Dallas,” he said.

Competition and choices are not bad for any community, but we hope the two sides can find a way to let vendors and the public enjoy both events without forcing them to take sides or choose one over another.

Related Links:
The 29th Annual Ethiopian Soccer Tournament in Dallas
Ethiopian Soccer Tournament in D.C.

East African Diaspora New Media Orgs in U.S. Receive Attention

Flourishing New media organizations run by the East African Diaspora in the United States are getting broader coverage. (Photo credit: Alpha Abebe/Focus on the Horn)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, May 28, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The growing and vibrant African Diaspora media in the United States is helping to disseminate the ‘hopeful’ and in some ways more nuanced stories about Africa. The new trend is receiving steadily increasing coverage. In a recent article entitled Ethiopian Diaspora Media Compete Over Message, VOA featured radio and satellite TV shows based in Washington, D.C. metro area including The Nunu Wako Show on EBS and Abebe Belew’s Addis Dimts radio. Nico Colombant at VOA noted that during the much publicized G8 meeting at Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland last week, several media crew including “citizen-journalists” taking photos and videos of demonstrations in nearby towns were members of the Ethiopian Diaspora.

A post entitled Generations of East African Diasporas in Cyberspace on Focus on the Horn — a website run by graduate students at Oxford University — also highlights the growing Africa-focused new-media organizations.

“As a new generation emerges from the offspring of East African migrants, they too have created online spaces to negotiate their relationships to their countries of heritage,” writes Alpha Abebe, a PhD student at Oxford. “In many respects, they have entered into this scene far more equipped –- more access to resources, more tech savvy, and more platforms.” She adds: “However, their social, political and economic ties to these countries would appear to be less direct, begging the question –- what does their web presence look like?”

“As you would imagine, it is quite diverse,” Alpha says. “There is, where one can buy a stylish Horn-of-Afro-centric tshirt and share dating advice on the same website.” She continues: “Then there is, an aggregator of Oromo and regionally related news stories. is an online magazine often profiling the stories of Ethiopian-Americans who have found mainstream success. (currently on hiatus) was a pioneer in many respects, and created platforms for political debate, showcasing of art, and building community among young Ethiopians and Eritreans in the diaspora. Add to this the vast number of virtual spaces, including websites, facebook pages, twitter feeds, etc. that mobilized a rapid humanitarian response to the recent famine in Somalia, among a generation of people in the Somali diaspora – many of whom have never stepped foot on the continent. Finally, there is, a new player on scene, created to challenge mainstream narratives about the Horn through the stories and contributions from people in the diaspora.”

Social media networks are also playing an important role. The Twitter handle @afritwit with over 3,700 followers, for example, publishes stories that portray the complexities of the African continent by “pooling African Twitter users.” This trend in ‘tweeting from an African perspective’ and curating a pool of African Twitters has also caught the attention of international news agencies such as France 24, which claimed to have published the first Twitter map of Africa. The technology news site,, also published its research online focusing on how Africans are utilizing Twitter, and found that “60% of the continent’s most active Twitter users are aged 21 to 29.”

Diaspora Africans are adopting the idea of press freedom and have developed organizations for African journalists. The Association of African Journalists and Writers (AAJW) on Facebook is one such organization that is newly minted in New York. AAJW describes its role as developing “a unified platform for African media and writers to connect, network, collaborate, and promote better reporting and understanding of Africa and African communities.”

It seems that the old post-colonial tinged discourse on Africa is on its way out as mass media embraces the diversity of voices from the African continent and among Diaspora Africans.

Ethiopian Diaspora Media Compete Over Message (VOA)
Generations of East African diasporas in cyberspace (Focus on the Horn)
Alexandria News Outlet Loosens Shackles of Censorship for Ethiopians (The Alexandria Times)
Less Emphasis on Digital, More Emphasis on People for D.C. Ethio­pians (The Washington Post)

Interview with Juniority TV Show Producer Philmona Tessema

Philmona Tessema, Creator/Producer of Juniority - a TV show project in Los Angeles. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Updated: Thursday, May 10, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Wouldn’t it be fun to have the news interpreted by children as opposed to gray-haired pundits? That’s what Philmona Tessema, producer of the TV pilot Juniority, wants to do if she succeeds in raising enough funds for her upcoming youth-led show.

The plan is to feature a weekly guest panel of youngsters who would offer “no-spin commentary” on current affairs ranging from politics, YouTube videos, celebrity gossip and other topics hosted by comedian Brian Moote. In the long term the show will include correspondents from overseas reporting events in other countries.

“As adults, I think we condition ourselves to speak and think a certain way, but deep down inside, we all want to see the straight picture, plain and simple,” Philmona said in an interview with TADIAS. “I wanted to make a show where people can get a fresh take on the issues our world faces today, regardless of race, creed, or religion. Kids, to me, were the answer.” She added: “Not only are they not afraid to speak about what’s on their mind, but they are funny too!”

A Film & Video project in Los Angeles, California by Philmona Tessema.

Will kids also be involved in developing the content for Juniority? “Yes, Philmona answers. “Our host, comedian Brian Moote, guides the discussions, and makes sure things never get too serious, but the show is largely unscripted and kids are presented a variety of topics and are allowed to say whatever they want,” she adds. “We’ve heard some pretty interesting responses from kids, some funny, some cute, and some that are actually quite eye-opening and inspiring.”

Philmona, who holds a double-degree in Cinema & Television Arts and Theater from California State University, Northridge, was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before moving to the States in 2005. “My greatest role model is my mother who is a very hardworking woman,” she said. “In Ethiopia, she was well-known for the successful sewing school she ran on Bole Road in Addis called MOMECU. She started it on her own, turning part of our home into a classroom where my siblings and I saw first-hand the fruits of her labor.”

Regarding the show, “We’re planning on holding more auditions very soon so anyone interested can contact us to audition,” she said. “We’re looking for anyone who has an opinion and isn’t afraid to speak up.” She added: “We currently have yet to cast an Ethiopian, but would love to get them involved.”
You can learn more about Juniority at

Video: A New Film on Bob Marley Offers Rare Insight into a Legend’s Life

A new documentary on Bob Marley takes an intimate look into a short but productive life of the first reggae superstar. (Magnolia Pictures)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Few have popularized Ethiopia and the banner of green, yellow and red on the global stage as much as Bob Marley, and we are always happy to see the legend being celebrated. A new film entitled Marley, directed by Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald, is the first documentary approved by the music star’s family. According to Marley, the following day after his historic concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City in September 1980, Bob Marley was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. He died eight months later at the age of 36. Marley’s funeral service was held on May 21st, 1981 at Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston, Jamaica and at The National Arena. It was officiated by the late Abuna Yesehaq Mandefro, the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere at the time.

“Three years earlier Marley had chosen to ignore the danger signs when a malignant melanoma was discovered in one of his toes,” writes NYT movie critic Stephen Holden. “He refused to have it treated — it probably would have meant an amputation — because he would no longer be able to dance onstage.” Holden added: “That stubbornness says a lot about Marley, whose obsessive drive seems only to have accelerated the more famous he became. He was so immersed in writing that he was said to sleep only four hours a night. Even when gravely ill he displayed a superhuman energy and willpower. Two of his children — David, aka Ziggy, now 43, and Cedella, now 44 — remember him as a disciplinarian who was hyper-competitive when they played games. All together he had 11 children from 7 relationships.”

The fascinating two-and-a-half-hour biographical documentary gives us insight into Marley’s entire life, featuring rare interviews with his family, friends, and others, including Bunny Wailer and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Marley’s timeless songs are still used as anthems for global social movements. “His music has only grown in importance since his death,” noted The New York Times review. “His music and image proliferated at Arab Spring demonstrations.”

“You have only to listen to him or see a filmed performance to understand the potency of a voice synonymous with fervent hope.”

Read more at The New York Times.

Watch: Bob Marley | M A R L E Y trailer | Extended version

Conversations With Filmmakers of ‘Town of Runners’

Narrated by the athletes' friend Biruk - pictured above - the movie follows two girls over three years as they try to become professional runners. (Photo credit:

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Friday, April 20, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – As the countdown to the 2012 Olympic Games in London gets underway, a remote town in the Arsi region of Ethiopia called Bekoji is receiving international attention as the world’s capital of long-distance running. During the Beijing Olympics four years ago, runners from Bekoji won all four gold medals in the long-distance track events. The highland Arsi region is home to many of Ethiopia’s Olympic Champions, including Haile Gebrselassie, Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele and Derartu Tulu.

A new film co-produced by British-Ethiopian Dan Demissie and directed by notable filmmaker Jerry Rothwell introduces us to the town of Bekoji through the eyes of two teenage female athletes as they progress from school track to national competitions. The 86 minute documentary is also part of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, which is currently underway in New York.

In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine, the film’s award-wining director said the movie was inspired by Dan Demissie’s interest in the Ethiopian town and its legendary coach. “Dan came across the coach’s work in Bekoji when doing research and we knew that’s where we wanted to focus,” Rothwell said. “The coach used to be a school teacher, he has an incredible passion for what he does and all the athletes trust him.”

The story centres on Mr. Sentayehu Eshetu, a former elementary school Physical Education instructor, who discovered and trained several of the country’s top runners, most significantly Derartu Tulu, the first African woman to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Narrated by their friend Biruk who runs a kiosk on the main road into town, the documentary follows two girls, Alemi and Hawii, over a three-year period from 2008 to 2011, as they strive to become professional runners. Through their struggle, the film gives a unique insight into the ambitions of young Ethiopians balancing their lives between the traditional and modern world.

Demissie proposed the idea of Town of Runners to Met Film Production back in 2008, while still a student at Met Film School. During his three years there he worked on the Bekoji project while fulfilling graduation requirements, and has now started graduate studies at the National Film and Television School in the U.K.

Demissie said working on the movie was personally rewarding for him. “It was my first time going to Ethiopia and I got to know the place where I was from,” Demissie told Tadias. “It sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s true I fell in love with Ethiopia.” He said: “It was the best experience of my life.”

Dan Demissie (left) and Jerry Rothwell. (Photo credit:

The coach Mr. Sentayehu Eshetu. (Photo credit:

“I always saw how Ethiopia was portrayed in the media,” Demissie continued. “It’s always famine and war and all of these kinds of negative stereotypes that wasn’t a fair representation.” He added: “I wanted to make a film that countered that image, give it more of a balance. It was my dream to make a film about Ethiopia. I read about this small town and I thought that it was a good story. It’s about people creating their own destiny. That’s what attracted to me it. Later on I found out that I had distant relatives in the region.”

For Rothwell, neither Africa nor running is new. “I’d spent 5 years of my childhood in Kenya and my hero at that age was Kip Keino [the retired Kenyan track and field athlete and two-time Olympic gold medalist] and then much later my daughter had taken up the sport seriously and so I was spending a lot of time by athletics tracks in the U.K.,” Rothwell said. “And Ethiopia is just such a beautiful place to shoot, it is such a rich country.”

“It was almost a coming-of-age film,” Rothwell added. “It was wonderful to see a teenager grow from being 14 years old grow to 17, and to have shared so much time with them.”

But Demissie pointed out that language was a problem for the mostly European film crew. “Back in England, I listened to my parents speak Amharic at home and I would respond in English. In Ethiopia, however, we were in a place where they talked Oromiffa and Amharic, so that was pretty challenging at times,” he said.

Rothwell quipped: “It was great to see Dan getting better at his Amharic.”

“Sometimes there is just so much bureaucracy,” Demissie added, speaking about other challenges of making a film in Ethiopia. Rothwell agreed: “Because there is control of the media, it was difficult at times to get permission to shoot.”

And where are Alemi and Hawii today? “Hawii is on her way back to the running club and she is building herself up there after her injuries,” Demissie said. “Alemi left her running club, but we are not so sure why. It just recently happened.” Rothwell shared: “When we first started to ask the coach about runners, we were interested in how achievement would affect the subjects. It wasn’t about who were the best runners. We followed the coach to one of his competitions and we saw how strong their friendship was.”

The Town Of Runners soundtrack features legendary band leader and father of Ethio Jazz, Mulatu Astatke, and additional recordings from Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guébrou, as well as a score by the British composer Vincent Watts.

“It’s a great score and the pre-recorded music is amazing,” Demissie said. “I want to thank the project manager Samuel Tesfaye who was key on the ground. We couldn’t have done it without him.”

Town of Runners will screen at Tribeca Online Film Festival on Thursday, April 19, at 6:45 PM.

Watch: Extended trailer – Town of Runners

Watch the trailer – Town of Runners

Town of Runners – review (Guardian)
The Ethiopian town that’s home to the world’s greatest runners (Guardian)

Photos: DC’s Historic Howard Theatre Reopens After 30-Year Hiatus

The historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. reopened on Monday, April 9th, 2012. (Photo: By Matt Andrea / For Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Sunday, April 15, 2012

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – After three decades of being out-of-use, the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. reopened on Monday, April 9th following a $29 million renovation. The ribbon cutting and community day event was attended by local residents and officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray, Rep. Eleanor Norton, Councilmember Jim Graham and former DC Mayor and current councilman Marion Barry.

During its heyday the Howard Theatre, which opened in 1910 a few blocks away from Howard University, was one of the most prominent symbols of African-American culture in the United States. The music legends that graced its stage include Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, the Supremes, and many others.

The restored venue also attracted celebrities to the opening gala on Thursday, April 12th. The star-studded guest list included Bill Cosby, Dick Gregory, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, and Motown records founder Berry Gordy.

“I remember seeing a show here once with James Brown,” Mayor Gray said, speaking at the April 9th ceremony. “In the middle of his show, James Brown stopped, put everybody out of the band, and went through the band and played every instrument, that was the caliber person he was.”

New York chef and restauranter Marcus Samuelsson, who attended the event, is in charge of the menu for the newly refurbished music hall.

Below is a slide show of photos from the opening by Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine.

WordPress plugin

Less Emphasis on Digital, More Emphasis on People for D.C. Ethio­pians

Dereje Desta is the founder of the Fairfax, Virginia based Zethiopia Newspaper. (Photo: New America Media)

The Washington Post
By Erica Morrison

Tuesday, April 10, 12:12 PM

When Dereje Desta came to the D.C. area in August 2001, he discovered two things: It was home to the largest population of people from his home country of Ethiopia, and they did not have a newspaper.

With 20 years of journalism and newspaper reporting experience from his home country, he decided to start his own paper, Zethiopia. The paper is produced from his office in Fairfax, Va., where there is also a large and growing Ethiopian community.

Read more at the The Washington Post.

Marcus Samuelsson Opens Ginny’s Reminiscent of Harlem Speakeasys

Ginny’s Supper Club is located downstairs inside the Red Rooster Restaurant at 310 Lenox Avenue (125th Street), in New York. Phone: (212) 792-9001.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Last night we listened to live Cuban jazz and salsa at Ginny’s Supper Club — the new speakeasy lounge below Red Rooster, and enjoyed the cocktail menu of shrimp & walnut along with drink classics such as Harlem Mule and Rooster Colada — names hailing from Harlem’s renaissance in the 30′s.

Following Red Rooster’s success in Harlem, Chef, Author and Owner Marcus Samuelsson launched Ginny’s Supper Club this past Monday, March 19th. Grub Street profile of Ginny’s proclaims: “Harlem just keeps getting buzzier” and highlighted the cocktail & relishes menu. New York Times describes Ginny’s as “rich with mellow evening atmosphere that evokes the Cotton Club and other uptown hotspots of yore.” The bar and 120-seat lounge has the vibe from Harlem’s Golden Age, and Ginny’s customers are as culturally diverse and elegantly stylish. We thoroughly enjoyed the live music.
Ginny’s Supper Club Looks Back in Harlem (The New York Times)
Harlem’s Red Rooster: A rare diversity in dining (AP via Seattle PI)
What to Eat at Ginny’s Supper Club (New York Grub Street)

Cover image: Photo by Tadias Magazine.

Tomas Doncker’s New CD Blends Ethiopian with R&B and Urban Sounds

Tomas Doncker (center) with Selam Woldemariam (left) performing during Doncker's tour launch party on December 1, 2011 in New York. (Photo by Kidane Mariam for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk | Review

Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Tomas Doncker’s new album entitled Power of the Trinity blends Jazz, R&B, Ethiopian beats, reggae and urban sounds, reflecting the diverse borough where he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. The CD, produced in collaboration with some of the best known Ethiopian musicians, is also a traveling musical featuring dance performers from the United States and Africa.

“The CD is what I like to call a global soul meditation and how I feel that we are all connected,” Doncker said in an interview. “I grew up in Brooklyn NY, in Crown Heights and I attended St. Ann’s school from 1st grade until the 12th grade.” He added: “Crown Heights at that time was a very dangerous neighborhood. Lots of gangs and violence, but we still managed to maintain a sense of community, at least among the families on my block.”

Receiving a scholarship to attend St. Ann’s made it possible for Doncker to meet people from diverse backgrounds and learn about other cultures. “It changed my life and helped to mold me into the artist that I am today,” he said. “My mother was my first role model, and she was a musician as well.”

Doncker said his latest album is inspired by a play named for Emperor Haile Selassie. “I was asked to score a play called Power of the Trinity by NYC Playwright Roland Wolf and in my research I realized that collaborations with this particular group of artists would really capture and enhance the feeling that I was looking for,” Doncker said. “The process of producing this CD and working so closely with these artists was one of the most rewarding artistic experiences of my life.”

Among others, the CD features guitarist Selam Woldermariam, whom Doncker dubs “The Jimi Hendrix of Ethiopia.”

“I call him the Jimi Hendrix of Ethiopia because Americans understand what I am talking about that he’s got some unique guitar talent,” Doncker said.

The following interview was taped follwing his CD release and tour launch party last December.


Click here to join the conversation on Facebook.

Video: Things “Habesha Girls” Say & Do

Tadias Magazine
New Media | Art Talk & Review

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – A recent video created by Beshou Gedamu offers a comedic perspective on everyday conversation and activities among Ethiopian and Eritrean youth in the Diaspora. “Shit Habesha Girls Say is inspired by the Shit Girls Say video,” Beshou said in a brief interview. “I caught on pretty late and decided to take upon myself to do one about Habesha girls.”

“I wanted to do it from a different angle and actually cast women who would play those parts,” Beshou said regarding her production. “I have no experience in film-making so I had to get help and content.” She added: “I decided to use crowdsourcing to gather content and the help I needed. I owe it all to social media like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and my network. The hardest part was actually coordinating and finding time to accommodate everyone’s schedule.”

A video released earlier than Beshou’s, featuring a mostly male cast with the same title, also portrayed “habesha girls.” That video was directed by Aynalem Geremew.

Here are both videos:

Video by Beshou Gedamu

Video created and directed by Aynalem Geremew featuring actor Yonathan Elias

Young Amanuael Rocks the Stage at Australian Talent Show

Amanuael sings Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" on Young Talent Time 2012 - an Australian television variety program, wowing the audience and the judges. "I just want to rock the stage and I want everybody to remember the name Amanuael," says the young talent.


Special Screening of Ethiopian-Israeli Film ’400 Miles to Freedom’

The screening will take place in New York on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, followed by a discussion with Director Avishai Mekonen

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Friday, January 27, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Special screening of the new film 400 Miles to Freedom that is produced by Ethiopian-Israeli filmmakers Avishai and Shari Mekonen will be held at the Museum of Tolerance in New York on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012.

The film documents Avishai’s life story beginning in 1984 when he was ten years old. On an arduous journey with his family from Gondar to Israel he is kidnapped from a refugee camp by child traffickers in Sudan and temporarily separated from his mother.

“The film is about identity, diversity, human rights, and sends a message about child trafficking,” Avishai said in a recent interview. “What happened to me is a small thing compared to what’s happening all over Africa today.”

“For Ethiopians, it’s important to know that this happened during the war in the 1980s, during the Mengistu era,” Avishai told TADIAS. “Mengistu was not targeting Jews specifically; everyone was a target.” He added: “In the refugee camp in Sudan, there were christians, muslims, Somalis. The film is based on my experince. It’s telling our history from our own perspective.”

400 Miles is also the director’s lifelong search for spiritual and religious identity. “At times heart-wrenching and at others educational, [the film] moves you to take a long look at your own sense of identity as Avishai navigates both his past and his present, a world where the legitimacy of his Jewish faith seems to be constantly challenged,” noted the Jewish online portal Jspace. “As I started working on the film, the story became a little bit personal. It took me back to ask about myself, about my identity,” Avishai Mekonen said. “When I was in Ethiopia, being Jewish, it was not easy. I actually went back and asked myself about that, because when we went to Israel, our identity was being questioned by the rabbis and I couldn’t understand why.” Eventually the husband and wife team end-up in the United States where they discover a diverse racial and cultural community practicing Judaism.

The special screening will take place on Thursday, February 23rd. Q&A with the director will follow the screening.

If You Go:
Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
Museum of Tolerance New York
226 East 42nd Street, New York City
Order your ticket here.

Watch the trailer:

The Nile Project: Connecting Nations Through Music

The Nile Project by singer Meklit Hadero (above) and Ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis is a traveling music show that brings together modern and traditional musicians from the Nile countries. (Credits: Facebook)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Updated: Monday, January 9, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The last time we spoke to Meklit Hadero, she was in Addis Ababa, inaugurating UN Women’s campaign for gender equity with a free concert at the UN compound. A week earlier she had been named a 2012 TED Senior Fellow.

Meklit’s collaborative research as a TED Fellow is entitled The Nile Project — an ambitious undertaking to create a multicultural musical platform for artists residing in the Nile basin countries. The Nile is the longest river in the world running through ten countries including Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt; the Nile countries also share a complex history of hydropolitics.

The Nile Project takes inspiration from The Silk Road Project, founded by Cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, with the vision to form international and interdisciplinary collaborations among artists and musicians worldwide.

Meklit’s partner in The Nile Project, Mina Girgis, was born in Egypt and is an ethnomusicologist who serves as Director of a community music center in northern California. “I grew up in Cairo and as a young kid I used to cross the Nile everyday to go to school,” he said in a fundraising video released on “As a kid you just take the Nile for granted and you think about it as a barrier than a river that connects Egypt to a lot of other cultures.”

Meklit’s connnection to the Nile grew out of her trip to Ethiopia in 2001. “My mom took me to the city of Bahir Dar in Northern Ethiopia to the shores of Lake Tana, which is the source of the Blue Nile,” she shares.

Meklit and Mina met last summer and came up with the idea to assemble a band composed of musicians from the various Nile basin nations. They plan to play and record music while touring the river on a boat made of recycled water bottles. In addition, they would like to bring along historians, scientists and other experts interested in the Nile Project to share information about the river through TED talks.

“Our floating caravan is going to include more than just musicians,” says Meklit. “We’re bringing together hydrologists, anthropologists, climate scientists, fishermen, all people whose life and work centers around the river.”

In the long term, they hope to lanuch an international tour with the new musical ensemble. The first step is to promote their kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their trip on the Nile as they audition and select local musicians to join the project.
For more information, read about the kickstarter campaign here.


The Irresistible Meklit Hadero Blends Ethiopia and San Francisco

Ten Arts and Entertainment Stories of 2011

21-year-old Abel Tesfaye, a Toronto-based R&B singer, better known by his stage name "The Weeknd," is one of the most talked about international musicians of 2011. He gained popularity last March after releasing his first album, House of Balloons. He is an artist to watch out for in 2012. Watch his video below.

Tadias Magazine

By Tigist Selam

Updated: Monday, January 2, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – As we enter the new year and review last year’s contributions in the area of arts and entertainment, 2011 was a year of new beginnings from comedy, to music and fine arts, which should bode well for 2012.

Below are 10 favorite highlights. Happy New Year!

The Simpsons Eat in Little Ethiopia

I almost fell out of my chair when I watched the Simpsons episode in Little Ethiopia last November. Like many Ethiopians who tweeted and posted the video in social media, I was excited to share something funny that recognized Ethiopian culture – albeit in a respectful way. I laughed at every moment of the segment. Little did we know that the Simpsons (and Hollywood) would make 2011 the year of Gursha. My favorite part is when Bart and Lisa feed each other leftover injera at home and Homer Simpson telling his wife: “Marge, the kids are acting ethnic!” Hilarious! Watch it here, if you haven’t already.

Ethiopia Habtemariam: The New Boss at Motown

In 2011, a young Ethiopian American music executive was appointed as the new head of the legendary Motown label now owned by the Universal Music Group. The company named Ethiopia Habtemariam, 31, Senior Vice President of Universal Motown Records. The promotion makes Ms. Habtemariam one of the most prominent women, as well as one of the most influential blacks in the music industry.

Abel Tesfaye’s Rapid Rise to Fame

My 17-year old cousin introduced me to the new R&B/rapper sensation Abel Tesfaye, a 21-year old Ethiopian artist born in Canada who has taken the music industry by surprise. He exploded into the music scene in spring 2011 after releasing his first nine-song free album, House of Balloons, via the internet. Abel, who goes by his stage name The Weeknd, has already been highlighted by Rolling Stone magazine, MTV News, BET and more. John Norris of MTV has dubbed him “the best musical talent since Michael Jackson.” And his first album, House of Balloons, has been named one of The Best Albums of 2011. But The Guardian wasn’t so enthusiastic. “The singing and songwriting on House of Balloons aren’t especially strong by R&B standards,” noted the UK newspaper. “What’s getting the Weeknd so much attention is [his] command of mood.” While a review by the Frontier Psychiatrist declared that the songs are “brilliant, disturbing, and not safe for work.” As to the lyrics: “So unsafe it should come with a child-proof cap.” Nonetheless, TIME magazine says: “Tesfaye has explored some of the dankest, darkest corners of our world, and thus has crafted some of the most compelling and captivating music for its genre.” There could be no doubt that Abel is a gifted musician and endowed with a soulful voice. He is an artist to watch out for in 2012. The following video is entitled The Knowing, the last track from the House of Balloons album. The mysterious meanings in this futuristic video is open to interpretation but its Ethiopian influence is obvious.

Debo Band & The Fendika Dancers Rock New York

The event held on Thursday, August 11th, 2011 was attended by thousands of people. It was described by The New York Times as “generous, warm, high-spirited real entertainment for a big audience.” The Debo/Fendika collective was the second Ethiopian music ensemble to ever perform at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors event, following in the footsteps of Ethiopia’s leading musicians Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, and legendary saxophonist Getachew Mekuria, who made a historic appearance here in 2008. Watch TADIAS’ video coverage of the 2011 Lincoln Center Out of Doors concert at the Damrosch Park Bandshell in New York.

Yemane Demissie’s Film on Haile Selassie

The 8th Annual Sheba Film Festival in 2011 featured the New York premiere of Yemane Demissie’s film Twilight Revelations: Episodes in the Life & Times of Emperor Haile Selassie. The screening took place at the Schomburg Center on Thursday, May 26th. The documentary, which features rare archival footage coupled with exclusive interviews and firsthand accounts, takes a fresh look at the mixed legacy of one of the most controversial African leaders in modern history. Check out the trailer here.

Zelalem Woldemariam Wins Focus Features’s Award for Short Films

I am a huge fan of NBC Universal’s Focus Features program and last year they named Ethiopian Filmmaker, Zelalem Woldemariam, as one of the recipients of its 2011 grant for short films from Africa. His upcoming film entitled Adamet (Listen) is about preserving culture. “My film is about an Ethiopian drummer who learns about his identity and traditional music in an unexpected way,” Zelalem said during an interview with Tadias Magazine. “I have always been fascinated by our music and I have wanted to do a film that showcases this rich and colorful part of our culture for a long time.” You can learn more about the self-taught filmmaker at

Music Video: Bole Bole directed by Liya Kebede

Like hip hop, house music is fast becoming a universal language among youth worldwide and so too among Ethiopians. A new music video called Bole Bole, which was staged at Studio 21 in New York and directed by Supermodel Liya Kebede, is getting a lot of buzz online. The lyrics are entertaining.
Click here to watch Bole Bole.

Singer/Songwriter Rachel Brown

Ethiopian-American Singer/Songwriter Rachel Brown is another artist to watch for in 2012. After graduating from Harvard, the up-and-coming musician has been carving a niche for herself both in New York and around the country. With her effortless style, self-confidence and beautiful voice, she is mesmerizing. We look forward to hearing more of her in 2012. Listen to Rachel at

Ezra Wube’s Hisab: The Hustle and Bustle of Addis

I’ve followed Ezra Wube’s work since 2004. I simply can’t take my eyes off some of his paintings. I continue to giggle at his recent short animation film Hisab (stop action animation painted on a single surface canvas). The video tells an urban folklore by bringing to life the sights and sounds inside Addis Ababa’s popular blue-and-white minibus (a cross between a bus and a taxi). The short film’s main characters are the city’s four-legged residents – donkeys, dogs and goats. Watch the video below.

Point Four: New Film Features Rarely Seen White House Photos

Some rarely seen historical images from the Kennedy White House years, with the President and First Lady hosting Emperor Haile Selassie, are part of an upcoming film entitled Point Four — a documentary about Haramaya University (previously known as Alemaya College). Haramaya University is an agricultural technical college that was established in 1956 in Ethiopia as a joint project between the two nations. Watch the trailer here.

The list was updated on Sunday, January 1, 2012 to include Ethiopia Habtemariam.

Charity Focus: Ten Projects in Ethiopia

Eden Projects, a California based non-profit, works on reforestation programs in Ethiopia (photo courtesy: One Day's Wages)

Tadias Magazine

By Tseday Alehegn

Friday, December 30, 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, let’s end it on a high note by donating to any of these ten charities with high-impact projects in Ethiopia:

Eden Reforestation Projects

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) East Africa has the second highest rate of deforestation on the African continent. It is estimated that if this rate is not curbed Ethiopia will lose its remaining forests within the next 27 years. Eden Reforestation Projects is a California-based non-profit that has been operating in Ethiopia for the past six years and planting seedlings to promote reforestation programs around the country. The organization’s mission notes that “environmental destruction, through radical deforestation is a major cause of extreme poverty and oppression in impoverished nations.” Eden Reforestation Projects has planted thousands of hectares of seedlings in Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Haiti. Your $10 donation can help plant at least 100 trees while at the same time providing employment for a worker in Ethiopia.

Truth Aid

Founded by Dr. Mehret Mandefro, Truth Aid is a nonprofit social venture that produces media to raise awareness about important social issues. The organization is currently fundraising for a new film entitled Oblivion, a feature length narrative movie based on a true story about the legal precedent-setting court case that outlawed the practice of abduction for marriage in Ethiopia – also referred to as telefa. It tells the story of a 14-year old girl named Aberash Bekele who was accused of murder after killing the 29-year old man who raped, beat, and abducted her in an attempt to marry her by force. Tadias has featured Lawyer Meaza Ashenafi whose organization, Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association, was defending Aberash Bekele during the trial.


Population Media Center

Imagine listening to community-developed soap opera on radio and learning about significant health issues such as HIV/AIDS and ending violence against women. This innovative project was developed by Population Media Center, which was founded in 1998 by Bill Ryerson, with the mission of using entertainment for social change. The projects target audiences by developing content using local producers and writers. The project also includes a radio talk show component for youth.

Worldwide Orphans Foundation

This New Jersey-based non-profit was founded in 1997 by Dr. Jane Aronson, a pediatric infectious disease and adoption medicine specialist, and now operates in five countries including Ethiopia. Worldwide Orphans Foundation focuses on providing community and capacity building programs including access to health clinics, HIV/AIDS treatment and training centers, and education and enrichment programs for orphans in Ethiopia. Dr. Sophie Mengistu, Country Director in Ethiopia, helps lead the WWO’s Family Health Clinic equipped with an on-site laboratory and pharmacy. Worldwide Orphans Foundation also runs the WWO Academy, which is a private school for orphans and vulnerable community children as well as WWO Camp Addis — a residential program providing athletic, academic, and nutrition resources for teens and children from the academy.

A Glimmer of Hope

In 2010 Tadias interviewed Eric Schmidhauser at A Glimmer of Hope and learned about the organization’s comprehensive method of community development. A Glimmer of Hope focuses on lifting families out of extreme poverty by providing clean water, building schools and health clinics, and providing microfinance loans. 100% of your donation goes directly to the projects in Ethiopia. Since its inception, the organization has constructed more than 4,000 water projects, 335 school buildings, 170 local health facilities, and provided more than 17,000 micro-finance loans. Net result: 2.5 million lives changed for the better.

Artists for Charity

Abezash Tamerat founded Artists for Charity after traveling to Ethiopia in 2003 and “saw first-hand the devasting effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa.” Since then she has opened the Artists for Charity Children’s Home in Addis Ababa to provide shelter, education, and medical assistance for HIV positive orphans. In addition, AFC runs the Desta Project, which brings international volunteers to live as artists-in-residence and collaborate with the children to create artistic products for income generation for the AFC home. Their Art Pen Pal program also encourages the AFC children to exchange art, ideas, and stories with students in other countries.

Mobility without Barriers Foundation

This international organization is one of the few operating in Ethiopia that focuses exclusively on providing support for children with physical disabilities. Mobility without Barriers designs and develops all-terrain mobility cycles to significantly improve the range and ease of travel for individuals with disabilities. The organization also addresses issues of social isolation, literacy, and poverty and helps to advance the quality of life of marginalized children. In addition to the mobility cycle program, the foundation also provides training for supplemental income-generating projects such as beekeeping and honey production and fabrication of components for mobility cycles.
Ethiopia Reads

Author Jane Kurtz, chairs this Denver-based non-profit that encourages children throughout Ethiopia to read by jumpstarting Ethiopian Children’s Book Week, building school libraries, and publishing high-quality, multi-lingual books for children in English and several Ethiopian languages. Ethiopia Reads has built libraries in both public elementary and junior secondary schools. Mobile library unit initiatives have also been developed for children in rural areas. With just $2 you can help provide funding for one language story book for a child. Ethiopia Reads is currently raising funds to complete the building of a library in the town of Awassa.

Girls Gotta Run Foundation

Founded in 2006, Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) is an organization run completely by volunteers who are enthusiastic about providing resources and support to Ethiopian girls training to be professional runners and world champions. The funding provided by GGRF helps to empower the young girls to remain in school, avoid early marriage and childbirth, and cover their sports training expenses. Currently GGRF runs three teams with more than 30 female runners.

Gemini Health Care Group (GHCG)

Gemini Health Care Group (GHCG) is an Ethiopian-American organization based in Jacksonville Alabama, that focuses on providing medical services to children in Ethiopia. “We may not change the world,” says Founder Dr. Ebba K. Ebba. “But we can save a child.” GHCG is currently raising funds to build a children’s hospital in Addis Ababa.
Ten Arts and Entertainment Stories of 2011

Dallas 2012: Fresh Start for ESFNA, Hopes to Reunite After Dispute

ESFNA has announced that the 2012 Ethiopian Soccer Tournament will be held in Dallas, Texas. (Photo: Chicago 2009 / Tadias File)

Tadias Magazine
By Jason Jett

Updated: Saturday, December 24, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – After near dissolution, the 28 year-old non-profit, Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA), recently held elections for new leadership. The organization was steeped in disputes for the past 15 months prior to the current resolution.

On December 11th a newly elected board announced that the organization’s annual summer soccer tournament and cultural festival would be held in Dallas, and noted that the upcoming guest of honor will be a sports figure from Ethiopia.

ESFNA’s executive board decision to rescind an invitation to former Ethiopian Judge and opposition leader, Birtukan Mideksa, in October 2010 initiated the disputes. Judge Mideksa had been chosen by the ESFNA board as a guest of honor for its July 2011 event, but internal strife ensued over whether the invitation was appropriate or not. The controversy escalated as resignations followed amid public criticism, including accusations of corruption and malfeasance. Ultimately an invitation was extended to Judge Mideksa and the tournament went on as scheduled in Atlanta albeit under a cloud of threats of boycott by several groups as well as calls for new elections.

“As most that follow ESFNA know, 2011 was a difficult year for the organization because of some decisions that it took or did not take during and following its annual October meeting in 2010 regarding a guest-of-honor selection,” read an official statement from the organization. “All in attendance knew this was a special meeting where all differences were going to be placed on the table and discussed so that the organization could identify mistakes it committed, learn from its mistakes and place safeguards not to repeat it. It was understood that after the discussion we will be united, and go forward even stronger than before.”

The tournament, and the ESFNA itself, was salvaged during a three-day meeting of the organization’s board in Northern Virginia. The board elected Getachew Tesfaye of the St. Michael football club in Maryland as the new president of ESFNA, and likewise installed a new treasurer and business manager.

“There have been questions about our political views,” Tesfaye said when the tournament-site selection was announced after months of delay. “This is a soccer federation. We do not discriminate based on political party, religion or tribe. If you serve the interests of Ethiopia, you are welcome to our tournament.”

Dallas was selected as the 2012 host over Seattle, Las Vegas and Denver, which also submitted bids to host the event. The new president told Tadias Magazine that Denver’s hosting proposal was nearly as persuasive as the one selected, but a down economy influenced the decision to return to Dallas a fourth time.

“We have not held a tournament in Denver yet, and did not want to take a chance amid the current financial situation,” he explained. “All tournaments held in Dallas have been well-attended by the Ethiopian community. Also it is central, and many teams and people can drive to Dallas. We took all that into consideration.”

Also in acknowledgement of the weak economy, the 2012 venue — a stadium in Addison, a suburb of Dallas — is significantly smaller than the 2011 site, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Regarding the guest of honor, Tesfaye said two prominent sports figures are being considered and an announcement is expected early in the new year.

Yohannes Berhanu, the new Public Relations Officer of ESFNA, said there is hope that internal divisions are now laid to rest, and that the organization will be viewed as a sports and cultural entity moving forward.

“The ESFNA was never into politics,” he said, while acknowledging the appearance of influence by big money. “The problem is interest groups or sponsors give some tendencies that goes this way or that way — like the big donors, or when we rally against what happens in Ethiopia.”

“In Atlanta there was a tribute to people who had been massacred,” he said. “That was human rights, something any human would do. We were with the people, but not on any side. We are not political, we have to accommodate everyone.”

Addressing guest-of-honor selections, Berhanu added, ” It could be anybody who does something big, like donate $240,000 [Sheikh Al Amoudi, who has donated to ESFNA, was a 2002 tournament guest of honor] or Judge Birtukan Mideksa. We wanted to recognize her for standing up for herself.”

“We are all Ethiopians. We came here and started the federation with four teams, and now there are 29 teams. People with political ties want to bring their own identity and go forward with that. That has nothing to do with ESFNA.”

The sport federation was formed in 1984, and the first annual tournament was held that year in Houston. Berhanu likened the federation’s inclusiveness to that of community groups.

“When they started this thing, they never thought it was going to become this big,” Berhanu said. “But wherever Ethiopians are, they love the sport, culture and getting together.” He added: Like a church or a community organization, we open our doors to everybody. Everybody comes with their own agenda.”

Of the athletes, he noted some are former members of the Ethiopian national team and are well-known and highly regarded.

“They are known not only for what they do in the soccer field, but in bringing people’s spirits up,” he said. “They are like Haile Gebrselassie. The players do a lot for us. People feel homesick, and the players are getting them together and giving them sports. It keeps them going.”

“We should be all working for the same goal,” continued Berhanu. “We have a country that needs our help and a community which needs our support. Otherwise, we will not grow as quickly as other communities.”

The New York Abay Team: Soccer With an Empire State of Mind

The Simpsons Episode Well-Received by Ethiopians On Social Media

Last month's episode of "The Simpsons" experiencing delicious Ethiopian cuisine at an imaginary restaurant in Los Angeles was popular among Ethiopians on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and elsewhere. (Above image: From The Simpsons "The Food Wife" episode)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, December 2, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – It is not everyday that we encounter a positive portrayal of Ethiopian culture in Western comedy and literature. So it was refreshing to see the recent episode of The Simpsons, one of America’s favorite animated-cartoon family sharing a meal at a fictional restaurant in L.A’s Little Ethiopia. The segment, which aired in November, was a hit among Ethiopians who tweeted and posted a portion of the episode in social media circles.

“It was tastefully and respectfully done,” said Woizero Negest Legesse, Director of the Little Ethiopia Cultural and Resource Center in Los Angeles. “Who knew gursha would become so popular?”

“I saw the clips on YouTube and it was great,” said Leelai Demoz, an Ethiopian-American Academy Award-nominated television and film producer. Mr. Demoz said he was impressed by the due diligence that went into creating the neighborhood and cultural scenes. “I thought it was a very well done clip by someone who has obviously spent a lot of time in Little Ethiopia,” he enthused.

“We are so happy because The Simpsons put on the map not only this neighborhood, but also our food and culture in general,” Woizero Negest said. “As a matter of fact we are writing a thank you letter to the them.” She added. “We want to invite them back for a coffee ceremony.”

Chef Marcus Samuelsson blogged: “We love it when we see Ethiopian culture injected into pop culture.” He added, “The episode was accurate in finding traditional Ethiopian music and also highlighting the custom of gursha where Ethiopians lovingly offer food to one another.”

The Simpsons’ adventure starts when their car breaks down in Little Ethiopia, the stretch of Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles between Olympic and Pico Boulevards. The area is lined with Ethiopian businesses and restaurants. Luckily for them, their car malfunctions right across from an eatery. Initially Marge (the mother) is visibly concerned. But she has no choice but to follow her hungry kids (Bart and Lisa) into a restaurant. The reluctant mom was still uncomfortable with the milieu of the Ethiopian restaurant such as its display of CDs for sale. The humor does not stop there. Soon enough her taste buds will be dancing eskista while eating some delicious-looking traditional Ethiopian food served on a large platter. “Holy casserole-y!” says Marge. “That’s good gloop!” Bart agrees with his mother: “I wish I lived in Ethiopia.” But Lisa is the most descriptive. “Exotic, vegetarian, I can mention it in a college essay,” she says. “Mom, this is amazing!”

Mr. Demoz said when done right animated shows are powerful tools for creative and entertaining expression of social messages, but they are also hard work. “With animation you have so much freedom to express oneself, that the taste buds dancing seems like a logical and normal thing to see,” Mr. Demoz said. “I have never worked in that form so I am in awe of their talents. I have spent time with animators on a TV show and I can tell you that what seemed like a short three minute clip, took months and months to execute.”

“Who knew their car would break down right in Little Ethiopia?” said Woizero Negest. “We are delighted it did.”

Photos: LA’s Little Ethiopia Street Festival (2011)
In Pictures: The Street Named Little Ethiopia in L.A. (2008)

Watch: Victory Dinner for NYC Marathon Champions

Firehiwot Dado and Buzunesh Deba, the top-two finishers at the 2011 New York City Marathon, share a toast with friends and fans at the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Thursday, November 10, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – Firehiwot Dado and Buzunesh Deba were greeted like homecoming queens with cheers and applause as they arrived for dinner at the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant in Manhattan on Sunday evening, following their stunning victory at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon.

Firehiwot Dado, 27, won her debut NYC Marathon in 2:23:15, followed by her childhood friend, New Yorker Buzunesh Deba, four seconds later. It was one of the closest women’s finish in the race history.

“This is my first time coming to New York,” Firehiwot said. “It’s one of the top five [international] competitions. That I won prepares me and gives me hope for the next Olympics.” She added: “My goal is to win gold at the Olympics.”

The New York media had shown up at the midtown eatery after learning that the local hero would be dining there. Buzunesh Deba was visibly emotional as fans, friends, and strangers waited for a chance to hug and kiss her.

Buzunesh, 24, who led Firehiwot until the two overtook Mary Keitany of Kenya, said running in her Bronx neighborhood had inspired her to pick up the pace and added that she was pleased with the result because “my friend won.”

“We lived in the same town, and ran on the same team,” Buzunesh told Tadias earlier in the day.

“I want to thank the people of New York and the people of my country and everyone that supported us,” Buzunesh said. “Frehiwot and I showed good competition and with God’s grace we were victorious.”

Watch: Homecoming Reception For New York Marathon Winners at Queen of Sheba Restaurant

Watch: Firehiwot Dado & Buzunesh Deba take the top-two spots at 2011 NYC Marathon

Watch: Geoffrey Mutai Wins 2011 Men’s NYC Marathon – From Universal Sports

Photo credit: Firehiwot Dado and Buzunesh Deba, 1-2 in New York. (Getty Images)

Harlem to Horn: Fundraiser for Famine Relief

The benefit event was held in September at the Harlem residence of Chef Marcus Samuelsson and his wife model Maya Haile.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Friday, October 7, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – The following is a video coverage of “Brunch for the Horn of Africa,” the fundraiser for famine relief held last month at Marcus Samuelsson and Maya Haile’s home in Harlem. The sold-out event was attended by a diverse crowd from New York and nearby states.

“The big part of this event is to inspire people to do it in their homes” said Marcus. “A brunch like this can raise awareness about a part of the world that is very troubled right now.” He adds: “This is something that as Ethiopians we can’t avoid…12 million people whether it’s on the Somali side or Ethiopian side it doesn’t matter.”

“It sends a signal that it’s very possible for all of us to do something to organize small groups to work within our mahber, book clubs, schools and organizations and set something up to help those who are in our home and our country,” said the author Maaza Mengiste, who attended the event. “I am very proud that as Abehsa we are helping each other, whether we live in Ethiopia or we are in the Diaspora, we can still reach out to those in need.”

“Famine is terrible because it’s something that is preventable,” said Robert Kayinamura, a Harlem resident who also attened the brunch. “I think it’s important not only to create awareness about this event but to continue to be aware of things in Africa.”

Watch: Harlem to Horn: Fundraiser for Famine Relief (Taped on 9/18/2011)

The New York Abay Team: Soccer With an Empire State of Mind

The New York Abay soccer team, which finished fourth at the 2011 Ethiopian soccer tournament in Atlanta, is hoping to beef up the team with new generation of New Yorkers and New Jersey residents. (Photo: Bemnet Tekleheimanot makes a sliding tackle during practice on the rain-soaked synthetic turf at the Van Cortland Park Stadium on Sunday, August 21, 2011. By Jason Jett for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Jason Jett

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – Perhaps it comes with the turf — given the city’s many success stories — that the New York Abay soccer team believes it should dominate the competition.

So a loss last month in the semifinals of the annual Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) soccer tournament, this year held in Atlanta, has leaders of the New York squad assessing how to better represent their world-capital city.

“We also finished in fourth-place in the Africa Cup last spring,” said Coach Binyam Tsehaye, referring to a March tournament in Macombs Dam Park at the New Yankee Stadium that fielded local teams representing 12 nations. “We seem to be always finishing fourth. We need to be finishing first. We want to represent our community better.”

Towards that goal the team has launched a recruitment drive focusing on New York and New Jersey youths unaware of the opportunity to continue participating at a highly competitive level in the sport they or their fathers grew up playing in Ethiopia.

New York Abay was formed in the late 1980s. Some of the original members now provide management and mentoring services, while the active players have participated for a decade or less.

Aman Tsehaye, like his brother Binyam a resident of West Orange, N.J., has lived in the area since 1989 but did not learn about the local Ethiopian soccer team until 2002. He joined immediately.

Aman Tsehaye noted the team has lost membership as older players started their own families and found they no longer had time for the sport. Several members were lost when their jobs were relocated to Virginia, he added.

Coach Binyam Tsehaye views the action, interjecting instruction, advice and reminders to be prepared for physical play during a New York Abay training at the Van Cortland Park Stadium on Sunday, August 21, 2011. (Photo by Jason Jett for Tadias Magazine)

In addition to the new youth movement the Tsehayes stressed that New York Abay, named for the Blue Nile River originating at Lake Tana near the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, seeks veteran, experienced players.

“There are a lot of former stars in Ethiopia now living in the New York area,” said Binyam Tsehaye. “We see them occasionally, at restaurants or events. It would be good to have them on the team. They don’t have to play every game, just two or three times a year.

“With all the pros in the area we should have one of the best teams,” he added “But you have to understand the pressure they are under to support family here and back home.”

Of course some of those same pressures are felt by current team members, several who work odd jobs or attend school and find it taxing to participate in the team’s Sunday- morning practices at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Samuel Tesfaye, a defenseman who resides in Manhattan, noted New York City itself is a challenge for a soccer squad.

“Competition is a way of life in New York,” he said. “It is not easy to play soccer in city parks, every place is so crowded. It’s difficult to find a spot you don’t have to pay to use, so we end up having to go to the Bronx. Other teams have an easier time in their communities, but in New York you have to apply and pay a lot of money to get a good field.”

And it can get less hospitable when the team leaves the city for a competition.

Tesfaye said New York Abay typically finds itself in an hostile environment while playing at so-called neutral sites.

When it lost 0-2 to Virginia in the July 6 ESFNA semifinal game at the Georgia Dome, most of the crowd was cheering for the opposition.

“You know how it is,” he said. “In other cities everyone loves to hate New York.”

Tesfaye and other team members said they suspect it was not only the fans in the stands who were against the New York team during the tourney in Atlanta.

“In the Virginia game the referee was a teenager, who had been a linesman in previous games,” said Tesfaye “At most he was 18 or 19 years old, and we thought that was an issue. The referee was very young, had no experience and was afraid to make tough calls.”

Tesfaye said the referee failed to whistle two hand-ball violations by the opposition, one as Virginia scored a goal on a header and the second after New York Abay moved the ball into the penalty box threatening to score a goal of its own.

“In Atlanta, unfortunately it did not turn out our way,” Binyam Tsehaye said. However, he is upbeat about the team’s chances in a regional soccer tournament to be held at Pier 40 in New York City on Sept. 4.

During a break in activity Fitsum Kahsay, one of the youngest members of the team, leaves practice early to accommodate his school schedule. (Photo: At the Van Cortland Park Stadium on Sunday, August 21, 2011. By Jason Jett for Tadias Magazine)

“We have a lot of young kids who have been playing together for a few years now and are jelling,” he said. “I think we can do well in this tournament. We are going to go out there and do our best. We want to represent our community better.”

Coincidentally, Sept. 4th is the final day of the World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea, with Ethiopian legends Kenenisa Bekele, Sileshi Sihine, Imane Merga, Gebregziabher Gebremariam and Sofia Assefa expected to compete that morning.

Binyam Tsehaye and Tesfaye do not see soccer, or football as it is known universally and among Ethiopian fans who crowd in living rooms and taverns for every broadcast of the national team or the English Premier League, taking a backseat to running.

“Football is the No. 1 sport in Ethiopia,” said Tsehaye. “Runners are more famous, but we all say that football is our national sport. We just are better at running compared to the rest of the world.”

“This is a team sport,” he said of football. “There is always more satisfaction winning as a team than as an individual.”

For New York Abay members the rewards are chiefly measured in personal satisfaction and camaraderie.

“It’s about bragging rights,” said Tesfaye. ” There is some money. The winner of the tournaments gets a monetary prize and trophy.”

Teams members did not hesitate to say they see no reason why they should not be the ones claiming the awards at the end of the upcoming Pier 40 tournament.

Prospective members are welcome to attend a team practice 11 a.m. Sundays at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. The sessions are held in the Van Cortlandt Park Stadium at Broadway and West 240th Street, or in soccer fields north of the stadium.

More photos of the New York Abay team on our new Facebook Page. (Click Here)
Learn more about the Sept. 4th games hosted by Downtown United Soccer Club.

Arsenal takes look at Gedion Zelalem, a 14-year-old Ethiopian-German living in DC – The Washington Post

Ethiopia’s Global Shoe Brand Goes Online

SoleRebels officially introduced its state of the art e-commerce website, where its line of environmentally-sensible footwear products are made available to worldwide consumers. (Photo courtesy of SoleRebels).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Sunday, August 7, 2011

New York (Tadias) – SoleRebels, one of Africa’s leading green-footwear brands, has announced the launch of its new e-commerce website. The Ethiopia-based company’s eco-fashion shoes – nicknamed the ‘Nike of Africa‘ – are produced using indigenous practices such as hand-spun organic cotton and artisan hand-loomed fabric. Recycled tires are also incorporated for soles. The end result is environmental-friendly and top quality, vegan footwear.

SoleRebels founder and managing director Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who recently became the first Ethiopian to win the annual African Business Awards, says her company intends to grab a share of the growing online shoe industry.

“We are very excited about the launch of this new site as it will allow global consumers to buy direct from the soleRebels source using multiple online payment formats from credit cards to PayPal,” Bethlehem said. “We strongly believe that consumers want to touch, feel and interact with the soleRebels brand and the soleRebels site is the place for them to do that.”

SoleRebels footwear is also available for purchase on several online shopping sites including Amazon and

You can visit the SoleRebels e-commerce website at

2011 African Business Awards: Ethiopian Named Outstanding Businesswoman
CNN’s African Voices Highlights SoleRebels & Founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Ethiopian Fashion on Display at Africa Fashion-Week New York (Photos)

Above: A diverse group of models showcased Fikirte's designs made solely from handmade Ethiopian traditional fabrics at the 2011 Africa Fashion Week New York.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Friday, July 22, 2011

New York (Tadias) – Ethiopian Designer Fikirte Addis was one of 21 individuals from Africa and the African diaspora whose work was highlighted at Africa Fashion Week New York, which took place from July 14th to 16th in the Broad Street Ballroom in New York City’s Financial District.

The runway show, produced by young African social entrepreneurs from the Diaspora, is an effort to introduce clothing products made in Africa to high-end U.S. markets.

“The event underscores how eager this generation of young, upwardly mobile Africans in the U.S. is to redefine the continent’s image,” The Washington Post noted in its pre-event coverage. “They have come of age during the Obama presidency – an era when first lady Michelle Obama rocked a bright pink Mali-inspired top designed by Nigerian-born designer Duro Olowu.”

Per WaPo: “If fashion is a guidepost to cultural change, then the expanding scope of African fashion indicates a new momentum among Africans in this country. Many of them are sons and daughters of immigrants who are now in the middle and upper classes, and they have more freedom to choose creative professions.”

“It’s our moment, and it’s just beginning. Young African designers are becoming real players now. People have been taking resources from Africa for generations. But our generation, raised in both worlds, is changing that,” said Adiat Disu, 24, the Nigerian-American producer of the fashion week.

Fikirte Addis, who was also the winner of the Origin Africa Fiber to Fashion 2011 in Mauritius, was sponsored by USAID to participate in the New York event.

Below are photos of Fikirte’s designs presented at the 2011 Africa Fashion Week New York.

Photos courtesy of New York based Emma C. Photography via laprincessaworld.

You can learn more about Africa Fashion Week New York at

Click here to read Fikirte Addis’ Press Release.

African Fashion Week spotlights emerging designers (The Washington Post)
Tadias TV Interview With Couture Bridal-Fashion Designer Amsale Aberra

$30,000 Raised for First Ethiopian Church in New Jersey (Photos)

Above: Fundraising Dinner at Mesob restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey generated $30,000 towards new church project.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Sunday, July 3, 2011

New York (Tadias) – At a fundraiser on Monday, June 27, a sold-out crowd donated $30,000 to a campaign aiming to raise funds to help renovate a recently purchased building in West Orange, New Jersey to house Amanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the state’s first Ethiopian owned church property, organizers said.

The event held at Mesob Restaurant in nearby Montclair was an intimate dinner, which brought together a diverse group of people that gave at least $100 per person.

“The kick-off fundraising event is one of many efforts to raise funds to convert the building we are buying into a church,” Tezeta Roro, a member of the Church’s Fundraising Committee and the event’s Master of Ceremonies, said via email. “As you may know, renovating funds are not usually granted for non-residential properties along with a mortgage so we are tasked with raising enough funds for the renovation for which this event is one of many to come.”

The Debre Genet Amanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was founded in West Orange, New Jersey, in 2006. “Before that a few of us used to go to Church in New York…I went to Church in New York for about 18 years,” said Mr. Tekeste Ghebremicael, Vice Chairman of the Church’s Board of Directors. “Yes, this is the first Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the state of New Jersey. We are making history. We hope to open several other Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches in New Jersey in the future.”

Mr. Tekeste adds: “During the [previous] 18 years the Ethiopian and Eritrean community in New Jersey grew big enough that it is now able to establish and sustain its own local church.”

Regarding the Kicking off dinner, Tezeta stated: “Our goal was to raise $30,000 at the event. Tickets were sold out. The event went very well. The fundraising committee worked diligently by holding late night conference calls and working with our networks to make the final product fruitful. We are more than satisfied with the turnout. It shows how Ethiopians, non-Ethiopians…can come together to make a difference.”

The building is located at 15-19 Meeker Street in West Orange, New Jersey.

Video: Slideshow of Photographs – The kick-off Fundraising Dinner at Mesob on June 27, 2011

Speaking about the property, Mr. Tekeste said the following in an emailed statement:

“The new Church will be located at 15-19 Meeker Street West Orange, New Jersey. It is only about 8 houses from where we are now worshiping. The new Church will have 3 different buildings. In the front there is a building that has two three bedroom apartments on the second floor and an office with a warehouse on the first floor. This building is fully rented. In the back there is this huge two floor building that stores 14 to 17 antique cars in the first floor and the second floor is rented for now, however it will be converted to a church and an assembly hall with a full kitchen and male and female bathrooms. On the side there are 5 bays and one small office that are rented to different contractors. There is space to park about 45 to 50 cars. We have completed negotiations to purchase the building with the sellers. However, we are awaiting approval from the West Orange Township Zoning Department for Zoning Variance approval. We have hired Zoning expert Lawyers, Architects, Traffic experts, and Structural Engineers to help us process this application. It will take about 3 months from now for the whole process to be completed. Our experts do not expect any complications during the approval process. It is just a formality that is required to legally change the use of the building from a warehouse to an assembly hall (Church). The remaining part of the building will generate an income of $7,000.00 per month excluding the 2nd floor we are going to use as a church and assembly hall. We are buying these 3 buildings for $725,000.00 and we are borrowing $500,000.00. We do have a written Mortgage Commitment and our monthly mortgage payment including Insurance and Property Taxes will be less than $7,000.00. This means once we conclude the purchase of these buildings they will generate enough income to support the monthly mortgage payment while we are using the Church and Assembly Hall for free.”

Publisher’s Note: This story was updated on Sunday, July 3, 2011 with additional comments from Mr. Tekeste Ghebremicael, Vice Chairman of the Church’s Board of Directors.

You can learn more about the renovation project of the newly purchased building and/or donate online at

Cover image: Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant – Montclair, NJ. (Photo by Charlene n Kevin)




















Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.