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Ethiopia In Pictures: Portraits of Workers in Addis Ababa and Jimma – By Redeat Wondemu

(Photography by Redeat Wondemu)

The Washington Post Magazine

Text and photographs by Redeat Wondemu

Work and Purpose in Ethiopia: A photographic journey

In 1950, Irving Penn — one of the giants of 20th-century photography — began taking photos in Paris, London and New York for what would be known as the “Small Trades” series. The project consisted of portraits of people in the clothes they wore for work.

I discovered Penn when I needed direction on what kind of photographer I wanted to be. His portraits have a rich tonal range, from the whitest white to grays to the blackest black. He used natural lighting, and it usually came from one direction, giving the photos a dramatic quality.

Penn’s approach has served as inspiration for my portraits of workers in Addis Ababa and Jimma, Ethiopia. I spent much of my childhood in Addis Ababa, the capital, then moved to Chicago when I was 13; in 2019, I moved back to Addis Ababa to begin this project. I found people to photograph — professional and skilled workers, street vendors, hawkers, criers — and asked them to come to my makeshift studio as they were. At first, they were very skeptical, as you can see by their inquisitive looks. Like Penn, I wanted to separate my subjects from distracting elements, so I had them stand in front of a blank background.

Penn spent more than two decades perfecting his photos. I hope to do the same. At a time when Instagram floods us with images, studying the classics helps me stay focused. Penn’s dedication to his work inspires me to perfect my portraits instead of feeling overwhelmed by the next cool photography trend.

For now, I am excited to be sharing these images with you. As the world has finally realized the importance of essential workers, there has never been a better time to think about and celebrate the people shown here — many of whom do work that is undervalued and overlooked.


An operating room nurse.


A shoeshiner.


A veterinarian.

Read the full article and see more photos at washingtonpost.com/magazine »

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ART TALK: Rare Works by Modernist Skunder Boghossian Go on Sale in New York

“Boghossian is one of Ethiopia’s most highly regarded Modernist artists, and we are delighted to offer the collection from the artist’s family for the first time at auction,” Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams director of modern and contemporary African Art, says. “The dynamic works illustrate the diversity of multiple influences throughout his prolific career.” (Images: Skunder Boghossian, Union, 1966; The Big Orange, 1971/Bonhams)

Penta Magazine

Twenty works by Ethiopian modernist master Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian will be offered at Bonhams modern and contemporary African art sale in New York on May 4.

The paintings and works on paper, executed from the 1960s through the 1990s by Boghossian (1937-2003), have all been kept in his family until this auction. Estimates of the works range from US$2,000 to US$150,000.

Boghossian was born in 1937 during Benito Mussolini’s occupation of Ethiopia. He left the country to study art in London and then in Paris. In 1970, he emigrated to the U.S. and taught painting at Atlanta University and Howard University.

Boghossian was known to use bright colors to create superimposed dimensions of form and shape, inspired by Ethiopia’s long tradition of wall painting in churches and of illustrated manuscripts. He became the first contemporary Ethiopian artist to have works purchased by the Musée d’ Art Moderne in Paris (1963) and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1965).

“Boghossian is one of Ethiopia’s most highly regarded Modernist artists, and we are delighted to offer the collection from the artist’s family for the first time at auction,” Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams director of modern and contemporary African Art, says. “The dynamic works illustrate the diversity of multiple influences throughout his prolific career.”


Skunder Boghossian, The Jugglers (Bonhams)

Highlights from the collection include Union, a 1966 blue-color painting composed of forms of African symbolism and iconography, and The Big Orange, a 1971 canvas featuring various African animals and symbols. The two paintings are expected to sell for between US$150,000 and US$250,000 each.

Additionally, The Jugglers, a 1962 painting partially inspired by Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam (1902-82) is offered with an estimate of between US$70,000 and US$100,000. The two met in 1959 in Rome. In this painting, Boghossian took inspiration from Lam’s use of mysterious and primordial totemic images.

The collection is on view, by appointments only, at Bonhams New York galleries, from now until the auction on the afternoon of May 4.

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International Women’s Day: Spotlight on GGRF’s Work Empowering Girls in Ethiopia

Girls Gotta Run, a non-profit in Ethiopia, currently invests in and empowers 195 girls through running programs and education. (Photo: Girls Gotta Run)

Press Release

Girls Gotta Run Receives the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls Education Award!

This International Women’s Day is especially exciting as Girls Gotta Run celebrates it’s Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls Education award from the World Food Program USA.

In recent years, only about 50 percent of Ethiopian girls who enroll in primary school ever made it to Grade 5. COVID-19 has further threatened girls’ access to school and has made them increasingly vulnerable to child marriage due to nation-wide school closures for several months in 2020. As a result of this grant, Girls Gotta Run will be able to bring on a new cohort of girls who will not only attend school but get the unique training they need as leaders and changemakers through local run clubs and life skills classes. The creation of these safe spaces is critical in reducing girls’ sense of isolation and increases their capacity to assert their right to choose to stay in school and when to marry.

About the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education

After winning the World Food Prize in 2003, Catherine Bertini, the former Executive Director for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), recognized an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for women’s empowerment. Bertini used her winnings to establish the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education, a fund that supports innovative grassroots initiatives around the globe that boost access to training and educational opportunities for girls.

I am impressed with the innovative model Girls Gotta Run has developed of using sport to build girls’ confidence and to guide them in setting and obtaining goals. These are critical skills for girls to be able to succeed in school anywhere, including for the girls this grant will support in some of the most vulnerable areas of Ethiopia.”

- Catherine Bertini*

Girls Gotta Run

Girls Gotta Run is a non-profit that’s mission is to invest in girls by using running and education to empower themselves and their communities. Girls Gotta Run works with adolescent girls living in economically and socially disadvantaged families in two rural Ethiopian communities.

Their Athletic Scholarship Program targets girls who are at acute risk of dropping out of school, becoming socially isolated, entering early marriage and/or experiencing harmful cultural practices like female genital cutting. Mothers of girls in the program are also equipped with the knowledge, tools and mentorship needed to build financially resilient futures for themselves and their families. They currently reach 195 girls across two program sites in Ethiopia.


(Photo: Girls Gotta Run)

Upon completion of the three-year Athletic Scholarship Program, girls who are interested in continuing their education are invited to join the Alumni Project which provides tuition and a basic living stipend to girls in high school and university.

The Bertini Fund has supported dozens of girl-centered education programs over the years, ensuring that thousands of young women could access the schooling they deserve. You can see all of their stories here.

You can learn more and support GGRF at girlsgottarun.org.

Related:

Ethiopia: Girls Gotta Run Foundation Announces New Leadership

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

Why Girls Gotta Run: Tadias Interview with Dr. Patricia E. Ortman

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UPDATE: IMF Backs Ethiopia’s Plan to Rework Debt Under G-20 Framework

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

The International Monetary Fund backed Ethiopia’s plan to rework its debt under the Group of 20 common framework as it reached a staff-level agreement with the government on credit facilities.

To strengthen debt sustainability, the authorities aim to lower the risk of debt distress rating to moderate by re-profiling debt service obligations,” the lender said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. “In this context, the fund welcomes Ethiopia’s request for debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework.”

Ethiopia announced plans last month to rework its liabilities under the G-20 program that seeks to include private creditors into an agreement on debt relief for countries that need it following the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The nation’s Eurobonds plunged the most on record following the revelation, and then partly recovered after the government said it would only approach private creditors as a last resort.

Ethiopia Eurobonds Plunge as Nation Seeks G-20 Debt Review The IMF reached a staff-level agreement with Ethiopia on policy measures for the completion of the first and second reviews under the Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility arrangements, according to the statement. “Risks to the economic outlook are tilted to the downside,” the IMF said, projecting economic growth of 2% in 2020-21 and 8.7% in the following fiscal year.

Several economic and political uncertainties have hit the Horn of Africa nation from the pandemic to war in the northern Tigray region and a desert locust invasion. “A modest fiscal expansion is envisaged this fiscal year to accommodate the humanitarian assistance and reconstruction needs,” Sonali Jain-Chandra. who led the IMF staff team, said in the statement. “At the same time, the authorities are now moving to enhance domestic revenue mobilization.”

Related:

IMF, Ethiopia agree framework for loan deal reviews


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. (REUTERS Photo)

Reuters

Updated: February 24th, 2021

NAIROBI (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday it had agreed a blueprint for the completion of reviews of Ethiopia’s loan programme, taking account of the impact of the coronavirus and the country’s “domestic security situation”.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
Agreed in December 2019, the three-year programme is worth $2.9 billion. Performance under it has been strong, the IMF said.

The reviews, whose timetable the fund did not outline, were “focused on balancing the need to address ongoing challenges created by the pandemic and domestic security” while laying the foundation for growth, IMF Deputy Division Chief Sonali Jain-Chandra said in a statement

The security situation “has created humanitarian and reconstruction needs that require an adjustment of policies and support from the international community,” she added.

The statement made no direct reference to the war that began in November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the former ruling party in the northern region, after regional forces attacked federal army bases there.

Abiy declared victory less than a month later but low-level fighting continues.

Tuesday’s agreement is subject to approval by the IMF executive board.

Finance Minister Ahmed Shide and State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

The Fund also said it welcomed Ethiopia’s request for “debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework.”

Last month, Ethiopia said it planned to restructure its sovereign debt under the framework, designed to help with economic pressures induced by COVID-19, and was examining all options.

The IMF said that economic growth is projected to be 2% in 2020/21, largely the effects of the pandemic, but it is expected to rebound to 8.7% in 2021/22 in line with a global recovery.

Related:

S&P joins Fitch in downgrade of Ethiopia on potential debt restructuring


S&P said it estimated Ethiopia’s public debt repayment needs at about $5.5 billion over 2021-2024, including a $1 billion Eurobond due in 2024. The ratings agency added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed Ethiopia’s economic activity in the services and industry sectors. (Photo: Addis ababa skyline/Wiki Media)

Reuters

Updated: February 13th, 2021

S&P Global Ratings on Friday downgraded Ethiopia’s long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings to ‘B-’ from ‘B’ on potential debt restructuring, announcing the move days after Fitch Ratings downgraded the country.

“Exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopia’s structurally weak external balance sheet has deteriorated further, in our view”, S&P Global Ratings said.

On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped nearly 2 cents as Fitch chopped Ethiopia’s credit score by two notches after Addis Ababa signaled it could be the first with an international government bond to use a new G20 ‘Common Framework’ plan.

The scheme, which is open to over 70 of the world’s poorest countries, encourages their governments to defer or negotiate down their external debt as part of a wider debt relief program.

S&P said it estimated Ethiopia’s public debt repayment needs at about $5.5 billion over 2021-2024, including a $1 billion Eurobond due in 2024.

The ratings agency added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed Ethiopia’s economic activity in the services and industry sectors, including retail trade, hospitality, transportation, and construction.

S&P described the Tigray conflict in November 2020 that followed increased tensions between the federal and local authorities as “the most significant (conflict) since Prime Minister Abby Ahmed took office in 2018.”

“Another outbreak of armed conflict could spur wider ethnic tensions, weakening Ethiopia’s political and institutional framework and threatening the government’s transformative reform agenda”, it added.

Ethiopia Dollar Bonds Drop After Fitch Downgrade

Reuters

Updated: February 11th, 2021

LONDON – Ethiopia’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped nearly 2 cents after Fitch downgraded the country toCCC, citing the government’s plan to make use of the new G20common framework to overhaul its debt burden.

The country’s outstanding 2024 bond dropped to as low as 92.06 cents in the dollar, according to Tradeweb data, trading close to record lows hit in late January when Ethiopia surprised markets with its announcement to seek debt relief.

“(This is) the first negative spillover from last week’s decision to go for the G20 Common Framework, a process that no euro bond issuer has been though yet, and one that could take some time, especially as private sector creditors have to be included,” said Simon Quijano-Evans, chief economist at Gemcorp Capital.

Fitch said earlier that the downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of theG20 framework, “which although still an untested mechanism,explicitly raises the risk of a default event.”

Related:

Update: Ethiopia Will Approach Private Creditors Only as a Last Resort

Fitch Downgrades Ethiopia Due to Debt Restructuring


The downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of the G20 “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)” (G20 CF), which although still an untested mechanism, explicitly raises the risk of a default event. (Fitch Ratings)

Fitch Ratings

Fitch Downgrades Ethiopia to ‘CCC’

Fitch Ratings – Hong Kong – 09 Feb 2021: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Ethiopia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘CCC’ from ‘B’.

Fitch typically does not assign Outlooks or apply modifiers to sovereigns with a rating of ‘CCC’ or below.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

The downgrade reflects the government’s announcement that it is looking to make use of the G20 “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI)” (G20 CF), which although still an untested mechanism, explicitly raises the risk of a default event.

The G20 CF, agreed in November 2020 by the G20 and Paris Club, goes beyond the DSSI that took effect in May 2020, in that it requires countries to seek debt treatment by private creditors and that this should be comparable with the debt treatment provided by official bilateral creditors. This could mean that Ethiopia’s one outstanding Eurobond and other commercial debt would need to be restructured, potentially representing a distressed debt exchange under Fitch’s sovereign rating criteria. There remains uncertainty over how the G20 CF will be implemented in practice, including the requirement for private sector participation and comparable treatment. Fitch’s sovereign ratings apply to borrowing from the private sector, so official bilateral debt relief does not constitute a default, although it can point to increasing credit stress.

Within the context of Paris Club agreements, comparable treatment requirements are not always enforced and the scope of debt included can vary. The Paris Club states that the requirement for comparable treatment by other creditors can be waived in some circumstances, including when the debt represents only a small proportion of the country’s debt burden.

The focus of Ethiopia’s engagement with the G20 CF will be on official bilateral debt, as reprofiling of this will have the biggest impact on overall debt sustainability. Nonetheless, the terms of the framework clearly create risk that private sector creditors will also be negatively affected. The G20 statement on the G20 CF indicates that debt treatments will not typically involve debt write-offs or cancellation unless deemed necessary. The focus will instead be on some combination of lowering coupons and lengthening grace periods and maturities. The extent of debt treatment required will be based upon the outcome of the IMF’s Debt Sustainability Analysis for Ethiopia, which is currently being updated. However, any material change of terms for private creditors, including the lowering of coupons or the extension of maturities, would be consistent with the definition of default in Fitch’s criteria.

The bulk of Ethiopia’s public external debt is official multilateral and bilateral debt. Government and government-guaranteed external debt was USD25 billion in fiscal year 2020 (FY20, which ended in June 2020). Of this, USD3.3 billion was owed to private creditors. This includes Ethiopia’s outstanding USD1 billion Eurobond (1% of GDP) due in December 2024, with minimal annual debt service of USD66 million until the maturity; and USD2.3 billion government-guaranteed debt owed to foreign commercial banks and suppliers. Other SOE debt to private creditors which relates to Ethio Telecom and Ethiopian Airlines is a further USD3.3 billion. While this is not guaranteed by the government, it represents a potential contingent liability.

Ethiopia’s external finances are a rating weakness and this is the main factor behind the intention of using the G20 CF. Persistent current account deficits (CAD), low FX reserves and rising external debt repayments present risks to external debt sustainability. Ethiopia’s external financing requirements, at more than USD5 billion on average in FY21-FY22 including federal government and SOE amortisation, are high relative to FX reserves, which we forecast to remain at around USD3 billion. Reserves cover only around two months of current external payments.

The CAD narrowed to 4.1% of GDP in FY20 as imports declined, maintaining the trend since FY15 when the CAD was 12.5% of GDP. We forecast the CAD to hover around 4% of GDP, although this does not incorporate potential import costs associated with vaccines to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Smaller CADs have not eased pressure on FX reserves because net FDI has been lacklustre (averaging 2.7% of GDP in FY19-FY20) and net external borrowing has moderated with negative net borrowing by SOEs. The central bank has allowed sharper exchange rate depreciation, but the currency nonetheless remains overvalued, with a weaker rate in the parallel market. Proposed sales of mobile licenses and a stake in Ethio Telecom, the state-owned telecoms company, are an upside risk to FDI inflows and reserves in FY21-FY22.

The IMF assessed Ethiopia at high risk of external debt distress in its latest assessment in 2020, with Ethiopia breaching thresholds on external debt service/exports and the present value of external debt/exports. An improvement from high to moderate risk is a central aim of the three-year arrangement with the IMF agreed in late 2019 under the Extended Credit Facility and the Extended Fund Facility. Given the difficulty of substantially boosting exports in the near term, the main route to achieve this is via reducing debt service costs. Within the IMF programme, the authorities planned by the first review to undertake additional reprofiling of bilateral loans but this has not yet happened. The pandemic has placed further emphasis on debt reprofiling.

Ethiopia and the IMF reached staff-level agreement on the first review of the programme in August 2020, but this awaits board approval. The Fund’s press release recognised that performance had mostly been good, but also emphasised the need for financial support from Ethiopia’s international partners including through debt reprofiling.

Ethiopia’s ‘CCC’ IDRs also reflect the following key rating drivers:

Strong economic growth potential and an improving policy framework support the rating, while double-digit inflation, low development and governance indicators and elevated political risks weigh on the rating.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to present significant risks to Ethiopia, but the negative economic impacts since the onset have been somewhat contained so far. Given that the fiscal year ends in June, we do expect more of a hit to growth in FY21 than FY20, but forecast a return to growth rates in the 6%-7% range over the medium term. The government has maintained considerable budgetary discipline, with moderate increases in the general government budget deficit, to 2.8% of GDP, and government debt/GDP (31.5%), while total SOE debt/GDP (25.6%) has fallen. However, the pandemic presents risks of upward pressure on spending. Government financing has continued its transition towards market-based T-bill auctions and away from the long-standing system of direct advances from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE, the central bank). This is a core part of the IMF programme, which seeks to promote monetary policy reforms to help gradually tackle inflation that has remained extremely high at close to 20%.

The military conflict in the Tigray region from November 2020 has underlined ongoing political risks in Ethiopia as well as for Ethiopia’s international relations. Considerable domestic political uncertainty, related to the delayed 2020 parliamentary election (now planned for June) and ongoing ethnic and regional tensions within the country, remains a risk to Ethiopia’s credit metrics, in Fitch’s view. Greater political unrest could, for example, act as a drag on FDI and tax collection and exert further upward pressure on inflation. It could also lead to worsening relations with some bilateral partners and hold up donor flows, as illustrated by the suspension of some flows from the EU in December.

ESG – Governance: Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score (RS) of 5 for both Political Stability and Rights and for the Rule of Law, Institutional and Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption, as is the case for all sovereigns. Theses scores reflect the high weight that the World Bank Governance Indicators (WBGI) have in our proprietary Sovereign Rating Model. Ethiopia has a low WBGI ranking in the 25th percentile, reflecting in particular political instability, as well as low scores for voice and accountability and regulatory quality.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

The main factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action/downgrade:

- Structural Features: Stronger evidence that Ethiopia’s engagement in the G20 CF will lead to comparable treatment for private sector creditors consistent with a default event under Fitch’s criteria.

- External Finances: Increased external vulnerability that heightens the risk of default irrespective of the G20 CF, such as the emergence of external financing gaps and downward pressure on already low foreign-exchange reserves.

The main factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating action/upgrade are:

- Structural Features: Clarity that the G20 CF will not lead to a default event.

- External Finances: Stronger external finances with acceleration in exports, for example, leading to smaller CADs and higher foreign-currency reserves.

SOVEREIGN RATING MODEL (SRM) AND QUALITATIVE OVERLAY (QO)

In accordance with the rating criteria for ratings in the ‘CCC’ range and below, Fitch’s sovereign rating committee has not used the SRM and QO to explain the ratings, which are instead guided by the rating definitions.

Fitch’s SRM is the agency’s proprietary multiple regression rating model that employs 18 variables based on three-year centred averages, including one year of forecasts, to produce a score equivalent to a LT FC IDR. Fitch’s QO is a forward-looking qualitative framework designed to allow for adjustment to the SRM output to assign the final rating, reflecting factors within our criteria that are not fully quantifiable and/or not fully reflected in the SRM.

BEST/WORST CASE RATING SCENARIO

International scale credit ratings of Sovereigns, Public Finance and Infrastructure issuers have a best-case rating upgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a positive direction) of three notches over a three-year rating horizon; and a worst-case rating downgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a negative direction) of three notches over three years. The complete span of best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings for all rating categories ranges from ‘AAA’ to ‘D’. Best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings are based on historical performance. For more information about the methodology used to determine sector-specific best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings, visit [https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10111579].

KEY ASSUMPTIONS

We assume that Ethiopia pursues involvement in the G20 CF.

We expect global economic trends and commodity prices to develop as outlined in Fitch’s Global Economic Outlook.

REFERENCES FOR SUBSTANTIALLY MATERIAL SOURCE CITED AS KEY DRIVER OF RATING
The principal sources of information used in the analysis are described in the Applicable Criteria.

ESG CONSIDERATIONS

Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 5 for Political Stability and Rights as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and a key rating driver with a high weight.

Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 5 for Rule of Law, Institutional & Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and are a key rating driver with a high weight.

Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 4 for Human Rights and Political Freedoms as the Voice and Accountability pillar of the World Bank Governance Indicators is relevant to the rating and a rating driver.

Ethiopia has an ESG Relevance Score of 4 for Creditor Rights as willingness to service and repay debt is relevant to the rating and is a rating driver, as for all sovereigns.

Except for the matters discussed above, the highest level of ESG credit relevance, if present, is a score of 3. This means ESG issues are credit-neutral or have only a minimal credit impact on the entity(ies), either due to their nature or to the way in which they are being managed by the entity(ies). For more information on Fitch’s ESG Relevance Scores, visit www.fitchratings.com/esg.

Africa Report: Ethiopia Debt Restructuring Plan Faces Hurdles of Transparency


(Reuters photo)

The Africa Report

Ethiopia’s plan to seek debt restructuring under a G20 common framework agreed in November triggered a sell-off in African debt at the end of January on fears of a contagion effect.

The framework enables debtor countries to seek an IMF programme to strengthen their economies and renegotiate their debts with public and private creditors. But such a debt restructuring for Ethiopia would face barriers due a lack of transparency, analysts say.

Any attempt to reconcile balance of payments and published public external debt figures with underlying debt-creating flows shows information gaps and supports “a narrative of opaque lending”, argues Irmgard Erasmus, senior financial economist at NKC African Economics in Cape Town.

Along with Djibouti and Zambia, Ethiopia’s dealings with China “raise the probability of higher-than-estimated debt contracted by extra-budgetary units (EBUs) as well as potentially large contingent liabilities,” she writes in a research note.

China does not publish official or non-official bilateral debt agreements with central governments or state-owned enterprises, she notes.

The channel through which private-sector participation in the framework can be forced is not clear, Erasmus says.

“The agreement of the principles of the G20 Common Framework is positive but negotiations in actual restructurings are likely to be challenging,” says Mark Bohlund, senior credit research analyst at REDD Intelligence in London. Lack of clarity on what is owed to China is one obstacle. While he hasn’t seen any firm evidence of Chinese loans to Ethiopia being understated, there is “less transparency” on Chinese lending, he says.

The fact that India and Turkey, which are non-Paris club G20 lenders, are the largest bilateral creditors after China, may complicate an Ethiopian restructuring, Bohlund says.

A further stumbling block is reluctance from debtor nations to participate in fear of adverse credit rating actions. African countries intending to tap international debt markets this year, such as Tunisia, Ghana and Kenya, may be reluctant to join the initiative, Erasmus says.

Unrealistic growth outlook

For Africa, recent sharp declines in external borrowing costs for many countries amid global optimism on emerging markets provides a “silver lining” to the cloud of debt woes, according to Jacques Nel, head of Africa macro at NKC. “Markets are now open to lending to many sub-Saharan African sovereigns, which could provide the necessary fiscal breathing room in 2021.”

But official Ethiopian projections for annual economic growth of 8.4% are dismissed by Erasmus. NKC predicts growth of 2.2% given the “dire fiscal position and balance of payments risks.”

“The near-term outlook is clouded by political tensions ahead of the June election, reputational risks related to armed conflict in Tigray, an upsurge in desert locust infestation and forex shortages,” Erasmus writes.

That means the long-awaited liberalisation of Ethiopia’s high-potential sectors such as telecommunications and banking is now urgent. This would be the “crucial first step in addressing structural vulnerability and lowering government debt dependence,” Erasmus argues.

Read more »

UPDATE: Ethiopia May Engage Private Creditors After Debt Review


Ethiopia is looking to offset the impact of the pandemic on its economy. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

Updated: February 2nd, 2021

Ethiopia may approach private creditors for debt talks after it reviews liabilities with official lenders amid security risks that are adding to investors’ worries.

The nation’s Eurobonds plunged the most on record last week after State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign said the government will seek to restructure its external debt under a Group of 20 debt-suspension program. With no details on how the decision would affect holders of Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds, many investors responded by selling the securities.

Only after talks involving official creditors, which the International Monetary Fund is assisting with, will the government be able to inform other creditors on the “need for broader debt treatment discussions,” the finance ministry said in a press statement on Monday.

Yields on Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds climbed 26 basis points to 8.85% by 1:50 p.m. in London after jumping 207 points on Friday to the highest since May. The premium investors demand to hold the nation’s dollar bonds rather than U.S. Treasuries widened 31 basis points to 807, compared with the 538 average for African sovereign issuers, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes.

“In theory, a common framework should speed up the debt restructuring process, but it remains to be tested,” Morgan Stanley & Co. analysts Jaiparan Khurana and Simon Waever said in a note. “Questions around enforceability of the MoU terms to the private sector still persist, especially considering that the private sector is not a signatory.”

Ethiopia is the second African country after Chad to announce plans to review debt under the G-20 common framework, which aims to include China and private lenders into a global debt-relief push.

Ethiopia, like other African nations, is looking to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy. Ethiopia’s position is, however, exacerbated by fighting in the northern Tigray region and a border dispute with Sudan that’s threating to further destabilize the region.

“Possible implementation of the debt treatment under the Common Framework will address the debt vulnerabilities of the country, while preserving long-term access to international financial markets,” the finance ministry said in the statement. That will help in “unlocking more growth potential,” it said.

As with earlier bilateral debt relief, including via the Paris Club, Eurobond holders can choose not to participate in the program, according to the Morgan Stanley analysts. “The key issue would be how insistent bilateral creditors would be on the private sector participating,” they said.

Related:

Ethiopia to Seek Debt Relief Under G20 Debt Framework – Ministry


Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.(Getty Images)

Reuters

Updated: January 30th, 2021

Exclusive: Ethiopia to seek debt relief under G20 debt framework – ministry

Ethiopia plans to seek a restructuring of its sovereign debt under a new G20 common framework and is looking at all the available options, the country’s finance ministry told Reuters on Friday.

G20 countries agreed in November for the first time to a common approach for restructuring government debt to help ease the financial strain of some developing countries pushed towards the risk of default by costs of the coronavirus crisis.

Chad became on Wednesday the first country to officially request a debt restructuring under the new framework and a French finance ministry told Reuters on Thursday that Zambia and Ethiopia were most likely to follow suit.

Asked if Ethiopia was looking to seek a debt restructuring under the G20 framework, Finance Ministry spokesman Semereta Sewasew said: “Yes, Ethiopia will look at all available debt treatment options under the G20 communique issued in November.”

Ethiopia’s government bond due for repayment in 2024 which it issued back in late 2014 saw its biggest ever daily fall. It plunged 8.4 cents on the dollar from roughly par to just under 92 cents.

Ethiopia is already benefiting from a suspension of interest payments to its official sector creditors through the end of June under an initiative between the G20 and the Paris Club of creditor nations.

Under the new G20 framework, debtor countries are expected to seek an IMF programme to steer their economies back to a firmer ground and negotiate a debt reduction from both public and private creditors.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

The United Nations’ food agency says it has reached a deal with Ethiopia to expand access for aid workers and “scale up” operations in the country’s conflict-hit Tigray region. (Getty Images)

Al Jazeera

World Food Programme says it will ‘scale up’ operations in embattled northern region after reaching a deal with Addis Ababa.

The United Nations’ food agency says it has reached a deal with Ethiopia to expand access for aid workers and “scale up” operations in the country’s conflict-hit Tigray region.

David Beasley, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP), made the announcement late on Saturday amid growing fears of a humanitarian catastrophe in Tigray, a region of more than five million people.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on November 4 ordered air raids and a ground offensive against Tigray’s former governing party – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – after its forces attacked federal army bases in the northern region. Abiy declared victory on November 28 after the TPLF withdrew from the regional capital, Mekelle, and other main cities, but low-level fighting has continued.

Thousands of people are believed to have died and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes since fighting began. Both sides deny their forces have committed atrocities, and blame their rivals for the killing of civilians.

Top UN officials and international NGOs have repeatedly complained about access restrictions to Tigray.

The government and the WFP “have agreed on concrete steps to expand access for humanitarians across Tigray, and WFP will scale up its operations”, Beasley said on Twitter following a visit to the Mekelle.

“Nearly 3 million people need our help NOW and we have no time to waste,” he added.

A WFP statement said Ethiopian officials had agreed to speed up reviews of aid workers’ requests to move within the embattled region.

The WFP’s statement also said the agreement had agreed to government requests to provide emergency food aid to one million people in Tigray and help with transport to hard-to-reach rural areas.

Ethiopian Peace Minister Muferihat Kamil said in a separate statement the government was “moving with urgency to approve requests for international staff movements into and within Tigray”.

The new terms fall “under the existing agreement” between the government and the UN on aid, according to the WFP statement.

That agreement restricted UN access to areas under government control. In early December, a UN team visiting refugees in Tigray region was shot at after failing to stop at two checkpoints, according to the government.

But a senior UN official told the AFP news agency the progress was nevertheless “significant” and would facilitate access deeper into Tigray.

“It’s not good enough to just stick to the safe routes, the secure routes,” the official said. “Our role is to be determined to get to where the last person in need is, and the presence of militias should not really hamper us.”

The WFP statement noted that “armed escorts for humanitarian cargo and personnel will be undertaken as a last resort”.

Tigray remains largely cut off to media, making it difficult to assess the situation on the ground.

The UN official noted that “insecure areas [are] were “many and significant”.

A new UN report earlier this month said life for civilians in Tigray has become “extremely alarming” amid growing hunger and a “volatile and unpredictable” security situation.

“Reports from aid workers on the ground indicate a rising in acute malnutrition across the region,” it said, according to The Associated Press news agency. “Only 1 percent of the nearly 920 nutrition treatment facilities in Tigray are reachable.”

Starvation has also become a big concern. “Many households are expected to have already depleted their food stocks, or are expected to deplete their food stocks in the next two months,” according to a new report posted on Thursday by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which is funded and managed by the United States.

The report said more parts of central and eastern Tigray likely will enter Emergency Phase 4, a step below famine, in the coming weeks.

The government has played down fears of widespread starvation while touting its own efforts to meet the needs of the population. It says it has provided emergency food aid to 1.8 million people.

During a visit to Ethiopia last week, UN refugees chief Filippo Grandi stressed the need for a more efficient system of facilitating access for aid workers and distributing aid.

“We heard from everywhere, including from the local authorities, that more is needed” beyond what the government is providing, Grandi said.

“The situation as I said is very grave, is very urgent. Without further action, it will get worse.”

Related:

ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

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Forbes Names President Sahle-Work Zewde Among 100 Most Powerful Women

President Sahle-Work Zewde has been named among 100 Most Powerful Women in 2020 by Forbes magazine. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: December 10th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Forbes Magazine has named Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde among 100 Most Powerful Women in 2020.

According to the magazine “the women on the 17th annual power list hail from 30 countries and were born across four generations. There are 10 heads of state, 38 CEOs and five entertainers among them. But where they differ in age, nationality and job description, they are united in the ways they have been using their platforms to address the unique challenges of 2020.”

This year’s list of distinguished women from around the world include U.S. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, as well as U.S. Fair Fight founder and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams.

Regarding President Sahle-Work the publication noted:

In October 2018, Sahle-Work Zewde became Ethiopia’s first woman president and the only serving female head of state in Africa.

A seasoned diplomat and veteran of the United Nations, Zewde was appointed with a unanimous vote by parliament.

In her first address to parliament, Zewde promised to be a voice for women and stressed the importance of unity.

The appointment joins a series of unprecedented shifts as part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reforms focused on easing government control.

Traditionally a ceremonial role, Zewde’s appointment is a tremendously symbolic move for the conservative country, opening the door for gender parity.

You can see the full list at Forbes.com »

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Bethlehem Fleming: Meet the Activist Working to Turn the U.S. Senate Blue

Ethiopian American activist Bethlehem Fleming is organizing a critical constituency [in Georgia] in the races that will decide the Senate. “Bethlehem is a hero in this get-out-the-vote effort because she is looking for a needle in a haystack, those few thousand Ethiopian and Eritrean voters among 500,000 or so voters,” says Jana Miles, a DeKalb County Democratic Party committee member. “She is a remarkable story.” (Getty Images)

OZY

Ethiopian native Bethlehem Fleming is identifying and trying to turn out thousands of voters from her homeland in Georgia’s pivotal Senate runoff elections.

Bethlehem Fleming, a native of Ethiopia, has carried around for almost three years President Donald Trump’s vulgar denouncement of African nations as “shithole countries.” It enraged her, but not as much as the president’s scornful sequel from the Oval Office on Oct. 23, when Trump said Egypt might just have to bomb Ethiopia’s $4.6 billion Blue Nile Dam to settle a water dispute.

“I think that galvanized Ethiopians in this country to vote for Joe Biden,” says Fleming, 45, a hospital administrator who lives in DeKalb County, Georgia. “Trump says these things about other countries he has no idea about and makes people mad, and they use their vote against him.”

Fleming, who has been an American citizen since 2008, settled her score with Trump on Nov. 3. Now she wants a more authoritative rebuke of his presidency. Fleming is aiming the grievance vote at his proxies, Republican candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, in the U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5. Her community could be crucial to deciding which party controls the Senate, as Democrats would take control if they win both races.

Fleming will spend the next six weeks trying to make one-on-one contact with 4,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans in DeKalb County, which includes parts of Atlanta, and plead for them to vote for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the runoff. Fleming’s work is a specialized version of former gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams’ high-profile efforts to register and turn out voters of color throughout the state in recent years. These efforts are part of the turnout game required in these pivotal runoffs, which will be decided by which side can lure a bigger proportion of its November voters back to the polls.

Ted Terry, who is on the executive committee of the Georgia Democratic Party, estimates there are 30,000 to 40,000 registered voters who emigrated from Africa, in a state Biden won by just 13,000 votes.

Fleming has a daunting task over the next six weeks because the Georgia voter registration application, which is how most voter data is generated, has a box to check that simply says “Black.”

Immigrants from Africa who are registered to vote may have black skin, but they identify as Ethiopians, Kenyans, Sudanese, Somalians and many other nationalities. That makes it hard for Fleming to connect with people from her country.

The task is finding all those Ethiopian Americans, as well as voters from neighboring Eritrea. Fleming is working with Mike Endale, a Washington-based software developer of Ethiopian descent, who has created a software program to cull the names “most likely Ethiopian” from the half-million voters on the voter rolls in DeKalb. There are efforts underway in neighboring Fulton and Gwinnett counties to do the same.

“Bethlehem is a hero in this get-out-the-vote effort because she is looking for a needle in a haystack, those few thousand Ethiopian and Eritrean voters among 500,000 or so voters,” says Jana Miles, a DeKalb County Democratic Party committee member. “She is a remarkable story.”

Once she finds Ethiopians, Fleming’s cultural cachet — she can speak in her native Amharic when she calls — can stir them to vote, not just because of Trump’s put-downs, but on policy issues as well.

“I can’t see their faces, but I can sense their faces light up by how they start talking to me,” she says. “We make a connection and they are excited, and then we start talking about issues like health care and immigration and how Senate Democrats can help them. A lot of immigrants depend on health care.”

Fleming has also created election flyers with Ethiopia’s bright colors of red, yellow and green, and native script on one side and English on the other. The flyers are handed out at GOTV events, or pasted to poles in immigrant communities. Fleming appeared regularly on the radio during the general election to encourage her fellow naturalized citizens to get out and vote, and she’s stepped up her efforts considerably for the runoff.

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ART TALK: A Solo Exhibition of New Work by Julie Mehretu Opens in NYC

Mehretu’s new works reimagine abstraction and her language of gestural marks in an epic theater of saturated color...Presented in the North Gallery, the suite of seven paintings created during the Covid shutdown is embodied by emergent images whose traces are both metaphoric and visible. (Marian Goodman Gallery)

Press Release

Marian Goodman Gallery

“We clamor for the right of opacity for everyone.” — Edouard Glissant

Marian Goodman Gallery is delighted to announce about the space of half an hour, a solo exhibition of new work by Julie Mehretu that will open on Monday, November 2nd and be on view through Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020. This will be the third solo exhibition of the artist at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. The show coincides with her ongoing retrospective survey from 1996 to the present, which was shown first at LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, and is currently on view at The High Museum in Atlanta, prior to traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and to The Walker Museum of Art in Minneapolis.

Referencing the book of Revelation and presaging the threshold of foreboding silence in heaven after the breaking of the seventh seal, about the space of half an hour will include new paintings completed over the past year. Comprised of two distinct bodies of work, the first cycle of works was initiated prior to the pandemic, and the second cycle was made during the shutdown, in quarantine in upstate New York at Denniston Hill – an artist collective and residency program founded by Mehretu, Paul Pfeiffer and Lawrence Chua as a site for interdisciplinary creation, interrogation and debate.

Mehretu’s new works reimagine abstraction and her language of gestural marks in an epic theater of saturated color. Providing vistas of clarity and opacity, transparency and impenetrability, Mehretu builds her compositions with blurs of light and contour. Navigating disruption and cohesion through motion and gravity – swirls, marks, streaks, halftone patterns, and glitchy computer shapes – Mehretu punctuates her paintings with vibrant color, indenting recesses’ and opaque intervals of space and time below.

Presented in the North Gallery, the suite of seven paintings created during the Covid shutdown is embodied by emergent images whose traces are both metaphoric and visible. Translucent remains hover near the surface, as if a residue of this moment, a remnant of what is submerged within. The latter, the underlying source materials that initiate the works, are furtive and dynamic, metamorphosizing into vulnerable but prophetic forms that activate the canvas’s ground to surface layers through time. In her intuitive calibration of these escalating strata, Mehretu employs multiple techniques to conjure ephemeral areas of imagination, liberation, haunting, mourning and rest, inviting the viewer to merge and interact in the experience.

Beginning with a photographic image as a point of departure, whose original is blurred and erased, Mehretu adds layer upon layer in a temporal process of screen print, ink, acrylic, and drawing, using paint, airbrush, sandpaper and erasure to realize and respond to the potential of an image. Implicit is our invitation to participate as witnesses to evidence and catastrophes of our time, to conceive of new possibilities. Alluding to the mediation of reality that mutates in and perpetrates our collective consciousness, each canvas resonates with subjects, from a flickering of events moving across our psychological screens, to migration, dispossession, and global phenomena. These volatile truths channel the imagination, revealing a piercing engagement through digital abstraction, which provides a space for investigation, autonomy, and invention. Other images abound, portals to memory and history, as well as potentialities of other paths forward.

The group of monumental paintings on view in the North Gallery Viewing Room, which continue into the South Gallery, was created over the past two years and coincided with the most recent work in Mehretu’s current retrospective. Sweeping in scale, they contain a dynamic choreography of movement and swaths of pulsating color, evoking arenas of cataclysmic events. Subliminal subjects subconsciously call to mind a present trauma. Proliferating below the surface, they erupt in a riot of hues that are both exuberant and menacing. From the migration crisis, to global warming and California wildfires; ecological havoc and Hurricane Irma; from Charlottesville and the rise of the right in international politics, to incongruous celebrations of fascism and cultural ruin, Mehretu’s work is fueled by social concerns of our moment. Reaching beyond the present, her references range from the historic and literary to the biblical, as in the systemic maelstrom of mechanized urban space and uprising in Orient (after D Cherry, post Irma and summer); the summoning of light against sutured black shadows in A Mercy (after T.Morrison); or the dystopian flames of Hineni II, a reference to the book of Genesis and to prayers of sacrifice and humility.

In the Third Floor Viewing Room, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a suite of four new etchings from 2020, will be shown for the first time. Ambitious in scale beyond the confines of traditional printmaking, they display the visual complexity of her recent practice, containing gestures, marks, glyphs and depth of color reminiscent of her paintings. Published by Niels Borch Jensen, these works reiterate the parity between drawing, painting and print making as of the utmost importance to the artist.

Mehretu’s touring retrospective which has recently opened at The High Museum, Atlanta, is in its second venue following the inaugural exhibition at LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, which opened in November 2019. It will remain on view in Atlanta through January 31, 2021. A major catalogue was published by Prestel in 2019 to accompany the exhibition. The retrospective will also travel to The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, opening in March 2021, and to The Walker Museum of Art, Minneapolis. Julie Mehretu’s work has been exhibited extensively in museums and biennials including at the Carnegie International (2004–05), Sydney Biennial (2006), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010), dOCUMENTA (13) (2012), Sharjah Biennial (2015), Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2017), Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, UK (2019); and the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia (2019).

Named recently as one of the 100 most influential people of 2020 by Time Magazine, Julie Mehretu, (b. 1970, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) lives and works in New York City. She received a B.A. from Kalamazoo College, Michigan, studied at the University Cheik Anta Diop, Dakar Senegal, and received a Master’s of Fine Art with honors from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. She has since received many prestigious awards including the MacArthur Fellowship in 2005, the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts Award in 2015, and the Liberty Award for Artistic Leadership, New York in 2018. In 2017, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Letters.

We invite you to visit the exhibition about the space of half an hour which will be on view from November 2 onwards. Visitors are able to view the exhibition by appointment, which can be scheduled on our website.

More info at www.mariangoodman.com

Related:

Ethiopian-American Artist Julie Mehretu’s First Career Survey to Open in Atlanta


The Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. (Photo: Julie Mehretu’s Mogamma [A Painting in Four Parts], 2012 © JULIE MEHRETU, PHOTOGRAPH BY RYSZARD KASIEWICZ, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK, AND WHITE CUBE.

Harper’s BAZAAR

JULIE MEHRETU AT THE HIGH MUSEUM OF ART
(OPENING OCTOBER 24)

Julie Mehretu’s richly layered paintings, often formed through the accretion of colorful lines and brushstrokes over architectural plans and drawings, have explored themes such as race, history, migration, revolution, global capitalism, and technology for more than two decades.

Now, the Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. It showcases the evolution of Mehretu’s abstract style through a selection of works, including a reunited cycle of monumental ink-and-acrylic canvases from 2012 called “Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts),” each of which stands 15 feet tall.

Read more »

Related:

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art


Julie Mehretu – Stadia II, 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 in. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund 2004.50. © Julie Mehretu, photograph courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

October 31st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend the highly anticipated traveling exhibition — featuring a mid-career survey of Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu’s work dating back to 1996 to the present — will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California.

“The first-ever comprehensive retrospective of Mehretu’s career, it covers over two decades of her examination of history, colonialism, capitalism, geopolitics, war, global uprising, diaspora, and displacement through the artistic strategies of abstraction, architecture, landscape, movement, and, most recently, figuration. Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, will be explored in depth,” LACMA stated in its announcement, noting that the show brings together about “40 works on paper with 35 paintings along with a print by Rembrandt and a film on Mehretu by the artist Tacita Dean.”

The traveling exhibition, which is co-organized by the LACMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art, will subsequently come to New York for a display at the Whitney from June 26th to September 20, 2020, before moving to Atlanta at the High Museum of Art from October 24th 2020 to January 31, 2021, and finally the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from March 13–July 11, 2021.

Julie lives and works in New York. She was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. As LACMA notes: “Mehretu received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and, among many awards and honors, is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” (2005) and a U.S. State Department National Medal of Arts (2015).”


Julie Mehretu, Untitled 2, 2001, ink and acrylic on canvas, 60 × 84 in., private collection, courtesy of Salon 94, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


Julie Mehretu, Black City, 2007, ink and acrylic on canvas, 120 × 192 in., Pinault Collection, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tim Thayer. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


Julie Mehretu, Haka (and Riot), 2019, ink and acrylic on canvas, 144 × 180 in., courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging.


Related:

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey To Open at LACMA

Julie Mehretu at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), November 3, 2019 – March 22, 2020 (Level 1) and May 17, 2020 (Level 3)

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A MacArthur ‘Genius’ Will Likely Use His Grant to Support His Wife’s Work

Neuroscientist Damien Fair with his wife Rahel Nardos, a urogynecologist, and their son. (Courtesy photo)

Stat News

A MacArthur ‘genius’ will likely use his grant to support his wife’s work — in the name of science

There’s a rare and touching symbiosis in Damien Fair’s marriage. The prominent University of Minnesota neuroscientist was honored earlier this month with a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, but he likely will spend his earnings — a cool, no-strings-attached $625,000 — to support his wife’s life’s work.

Fair, who is 44, was singled out for his work in studying a child’s developing mind. He parses apart data showing how young brains look and operate — comparing neurotypical brain scans with those of children who have conditions like ADHD and autism.

His wife, Rahel Nardos, is a urogynecologist whose focus is global women’s health. Though her specialty is surgical reconstruction after childbirth injuries, she spends a lot of time working on ways to improve women’s access to medical care in low-resource settings.

After traveling the country and the world together, pursuing their respective careers, the duo now wants to combine forces. They’re brainstorming ways to support maternal health to improve the outcomes of women’s children — studying, perhaps, how certain environments during pregnancy might impact early brain development. Or maybe they’ll build new training programs abroad to improve medical expertise in countries that need it. Fair and Nardos haven’t quite decided yet.

“We’ve been talking about how to leverage each others’ expertise in underrepresented communities and in developing countries,” Fair said. “That’s one of the beauties of this MacArthur award: It lets you think outside the box.”

Fair grew up in Minnesota, the only child of a court reporter and a computer scientist. Nardos is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and came to the U.S. on a scholarship to pursue her medical training. The two met during their graduate school years at Yale University: Fair was studying to be a physician assistant, as a sort of stopgap toward deciding whether he wanted to become a doctor. (He didn’t.) Nardos was in medical school.

At Yale, Fair worked in a brain imaging lab that studied stroke — using functional MRI scans to “peer inside the brain without actually touching it,” he said. “I realized then that I had to do this for my career.”

He and Nardos married, and as he applied for neuroscience Ph.D. programs around the country, she sought out OB-GYN residencies. They both found positions at Washington University in St. Louis. Fair, working under Bradley Schlaggar, a pediatric neurologist who studied developmental disabilities, was immediately branded a superstar.

“He’s extremely creative and sort of brave about taking on complex problems — he embraces challenge,” said Schlaggar, who now is CEO of Baltimore’s Kennedy Krieger Institute, which works in tandem with Johns Hopkins University to study developmental disabilities in children. “He’s also extremely collaborative, and that helps catalyze more significant insights. He’s magnetic.”

Schlaggar said that Fair “really led the charge” in using functional MRI studies to probe connectivity in the brain. He was particularly interested in studying what happens in the brain when it’s at rest — and mapping out the intrinsic differences in how brains function. This mapping provides researchers with a better sense of how the brain is organized, and how its structure and electrical impulses are linked. This is particularly useful in certain mental health disorders, when there aren’t any obvious abnormalities in brain structure — but there are clear symptoms that indicate something has gone awry.

“Everything in the brain grossly looks the same: There’s nothing really different between someone who has ADHD and someone who does not,” Fair said. “We tend to treat disorders based on the labels, the outward appearance — but we’ve shown that this can be caused by completely different mechanisms in the brain.”

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Ethiopian Workers Are Forced to Return Home, Some With Coronavirus (NYT)

The return of Ethiopian migrant workers to their home country, some sick from the coronavirus, is straining Ethiopia’s healthcare system. (Reuters photo)

The New York Times

Stigmatized, out of work and facing dangers, migrant laborers are returning by the thousands — and may be fueling a growing outbreak in Ethiopia.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Unemployed and shunned as possible coronavirus carriers, Ethiopian migrant laborers are returning home by the thousands, placing a huge strain on Ethiopia’s poorly equipped medical system.

More than 30,000 workers have re-entered Ethiopia since mid-March, according to the government, some of them after suffering abuse and detention in unhealthy conditions in the countries they left, often on the Persian Gulf or in other parts of Africa.

At least 927 migrant laborers were infected with the virus when they returned, Ethiopian officials say, but the true number is probably much higher. The government has not updated that figure for more than a month, and it does not include those who have slipped back into the country unnoticed.

Ethiopia has had more than 16,000 confirmed infections and 250 Covid-19 deaths, according to figures compiled by The New York Times. Those are very low counts for a nation of 115 million people, but the numbers are rising and many cases go undetected by the country’s sparse testing.

Doctors fear the outbreak may be primed to explode, fueled in part by returning migrants whose journeys often include crowded, unsanitary conditions — jails in the countries where they worked, informal migrant camps in countries like Yemen and Djibouti and quarantine centers once they arrive back in Ethiopia.

Dr. Yohanes Tesfaye, who runs a government Covid-19 treatment center near the eastern city of Dire Dawa, said that within a month of opening, the center had treated 248 infected migrants. And, he warned, “we have a long border, so we can’t be sure” whether many more people with the virus are entering the country undetected.

All this is occurring in a country that has just one respiratory therapist, ill-equipped public hospitals and few medical resources in rural areas, and is also suffering the economic blow of the pandemic. Major hotels in the capital city, Addis Ababa, are almost empty, jobs in tourism and construction have disappeared and the flow of money sent home by workers overseas has dried up.

Adding to Ethiopia’s struggles have been deadly conflicts between ethnic groups that prompted the government to shut down the internet for more than three weeks before recently restoring it. Hundreds of people died in clashes and anti-government protests following the killing in June of the singer Hachaluu Hundessa.

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Related:

Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 17,999

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BLM Network Establishes $12M Grant Fund

A giant "BLACK LIVES MATTER" sign is painted in orange on Fulton Street, Monday, June 15, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has established a more than $12 million fund to aid organizations fighting institutional racism in the wake of the George Floyd protests. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has established a fund worth more than $12 million to aid organizations fighting institutional racism, in the wake of the George Floyd protests.

On Wednesday, the foundation, which has been influential in the emergence of the broader Black Lives Matter movement, said it was setting aside $6 million in donations to support black-led grassroots organizing groups. Last week, it unveiled a separate $6.5 million fund for its network of affiliate chapters.

Beginning July 1, affiliated chapters can apply for unrestricted funding of up to $500,000 in multi-year grants, the foundation announced. Grants from both funds will be administered through a fiscal sponsor, said Kailee Scales, managing director of the foundation.

“In this watershed moment for black power building … it is critical that we democratize giving to ensure all of us have access to the resources we need to reverse centuries of disinvestment in black communities, and invest in a future where we can all be connected, represented and free,” Scales said in a statement to The Associated Press.

According to the network’s website, the organization has more than a dozen active chapters, including Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Detroit, as well as in Canada. Its newest chapter is in South Bend, Indiana.

The foundation told the AP it has received more than 1.1 million individual donations at an average of $33 per gift since the death of Floyd, a black man who died May 25 pleading for air as a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck for what prosecutors said was nearly nine minutes. The surge of financial support adds to roughly $3.4 million in net assets the BLM global network had on hand last year, according to a 2019 financial statement of Thousand Currents, the fiscal sponsor which receives donations on the network’s behalf and then releases money to the group.

Creation of the funds signals a growth in infrastructure for the network, which had been at odds with some local chapter organizers, who felt network leaders weren’t providing enough financial support for initiatives such as rapid response to police brutality. Although there are many groups that use “Black Lives Matter” or “BLM” in their names, only 16 are considered affiliates of the global network.

For Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, the network’s first official chapter, the fund will increase its capacity to support families in need of legal aid, public communications strategy and other services after a loved one is killed by police, said organizer Melina Abdullah, who is a professor in the Pan-African Studies department at California State University, Los Angeles.

“We’ve been struggling for seven years now with very limited resources,” Abdullah told the AP. “We’re not paid. But we also have real costs, even if we’re not taking salaries.”

Renewed energy in the BLM movement has created a need for more resources, she added. “This fund will allow us to move forward in really strong ways.”

Racial justice groups across the U.S. have reported receiving tens of millions of dollars in donations, particularly for community bail funds posting bond for protesters arrested in demonstrations. The wealth is being spread across younger grassroots organizations and legacy institutions, such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Urban League.

The Black Lives Matter movement emerged in 2013 amid anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. The network of chapters was formed in 2014, following what organizers called Ferguson October, a national mobilization in response to the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“I’m really proud of the work we’ve been able to do in the last seven years,” Patrisse Cullors, co-founder and chairwoman of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, said in a statement. “What is clear is that Black Lives Matter shares a name with a much larger movement and there are literally hundreds of organizations that do impactful racial and gender justice work who make up the fabric of this broader movement.”

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Photos: Ethiopians Show Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in D.C.


Last week Ethiopian-Americans marched from the State Department to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to demand justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. (Photo by Teshalech Adot Ega)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 17th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) – In a matter of weeks the Black Lives Matter movement has gone mainstream with its own street name painted in huge yellow letters right across from the White House in Washington, D.C. As the Associated Press noted: “Now, Black Lives Matter Plaza turns up in driving directions from Google Maps.”

Last week Ethiopian-Americans marched from the State Department to the Lincoln Memorial to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to demand justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

Describing the formation of Black Lives Matter AP adds: “a coalition known as the Movement for Black Lives, formed in 2014, now includes more than 150 affiliate organizations that have organized around such causes as defunding police departments and reinvesting in struggling black communities. Its agenda focuses heavily on overhauling police training, the use of force and the punishment of rogue officers. The movement is also pressing to erase economic inequality and disparities in education and health care.”

Below are photos from Matt Andrea and related news stories:

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Pictures From Protests Across America (UPDATE)


Demonstrators chant Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo)


Protesters chant, “Say his name, George Floyd,” near a memorial for Floyd on June 2 in Minneapolis. (The Washington Post)


Protesters gather near a memorial for George Floyd at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue on June 2 in Minneapolis. (The Washington Post)


In this photo taken with a wide angle lens, demonstrators stand in front of Los Angeles City Hall during a protest over the death of George Floyd Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Los Angeles. Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)


A protester and a police officer shake hands in the middle of a standoff during a solidarity rally calling for justice over the death of George Floyd Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in New York. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo)


Abby Belai, 26, of Falls Church attended the protest at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020. Abby, whose parents moved to the United States from Ethiopia before she was born, said she felt compelled to be at the protest to show support for the generations of black Americans who had suffered and battled for their constitutional rights. “I worry for the children that see this stuff on TV and see their parents get racially profiled,” said Belai, 26, of Falls Church. “This shouldn’t continue for future generations, and we won’t stop until we are heard and seen and understood and accepted just like every person in this country and in the world.” (TWP)


Demonstrators hold up signs Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles during a protest over the death of George Floyd. Floyd died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)


Demonstrators pause to kneel as they march to protest the death of George Floyd, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)


Protesters from Brooklyn attempt to cross the Manhattan Bridge after the 8 p.m. curfew imposed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) but were blocked by police on June 2. (The Washington Post)


Ericka Ward-Audena, of Washington, puts her hand on her daughter Elle Ward-Audena, 7, as they take a knee in front of a police line during a protest of President Donald Trump’s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. “I wanted my daughter to see the protests, it’s really important. I’ve gotten a million questions from her because of it,” says Ward-Audena, “I think the most egregious statement was ‘when they start looting, we start shooting.’ That crossed a line for me.” Protests continue over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)


How the Black Lives Matter Movement Went Mainstream


A father shows his son the writing on the walls around the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House on Sunday. (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

The three words were once a controversial rallying cry against racial profiling and police violence. Now, “Black lives matter” is painted in bright yellow letters on the road to the White House. Celebrities and chief executives are embracing it. Even Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican former presidential candidate, posted the phrase on Twitter.

As consensus grows about the existence of systemic racism in American policing and other facets of American life, longtime organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement are trying to extend its momentum beyond the popularization of a phrase. Activists sense a once-in-a-generation opportunity to demand policy changes that once seemed far-fetched, including sharp cuts to police budgets in favor of social programs, and greater accountability for officers who kill residents.

“It’s now something where the Mitt Romneys of the world can join in, and that was something unimaginable back in 2014. That is the result of six years of hard work by people who are in the movement and have put forward so many discussions that really changed people’s hearts and minds,” said Justin Hansford, who was an activist in Ferguson, Mo., during the unrest after the police killing of an unarmed black teen there. He is now the executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University.

But activists’ demands to “defund” police departments have already become a point of division politically, with some prominent people who have expressed support for the movement — such as Romney (Utah) — saying they do not support what they see as an extreme policy position. President Trump has already suggested that his presumed Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, would be forced to cut funding to police under pressure from the left, even though Biden has also said he does not support defunding the police.

Where the conversation lands will be a test of just how mainstream Black Lives Matter has become.

Read more »

Calls For Police Reforms Gain Momentum as Protests Continue Across U.S.


Two young brothers from Frederick, Maryland, stand on the Black Lives Matter banner that is draped on the fence surrounding Lafayette Park, for a photograph as they attend a protest Sunday, June 7, 2020, near the White House in Washington over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

June 8th, 2020

Police Back Off as Peaceful Protests Push Deep Reforms

Calls for deep police reforms gained momentum as leaders in the city where George Floyd died at the hands of an officer pushed to dismantle the entire department.

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests demanding a reckoning with institutional racism that have sometimes resulted in clashes with police, but many officers took a less aggressive stance over the weekend when demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful.

Two weeks after Floyd, an out-of-work black bouncer, died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle the 800-member agency.

“It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” City Council President Lisa Bender said Sunday. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”

It’s not the first time an American city has wrestled with how to deal with a police department accused of being overly aggressive or having bias in its ranks. In Ferguson, Missouri — where a white officer in 2014 fatally shot Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old — then-Attorney General Eric Holder said federal authorities considered dismantling the police department. The city eventually reached an agreement short of that but one that required massive reforms.

The state of Minnesota has launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, and the first concrete changes came when the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints.

On Sunday, nine of the Minneapolis City Council’s 12 members vowed to end policing as the city currently knows it. Mayor Jacob Frey said he doesn’t support the “full abolition” of the department.

Protesters nationwide are demanding police reforms and a reckoning with institutional racism in response to Floyd’s death, and calls to “defund the police” have become rallying cries for many. A heavy-handed response to demonstrations in many places has underscored what critics have maintained: Law enforcement is militarized and too often uses excessive force.

Cities imposed curfews as several protests last week were marred by spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. More than 10,000 people have been arrested around the country since protests began, according to reports tracked by The Associated Press. Videos have surfaced of officers in riot gear using tear gas or physical force against even peaceful demonstrators.

But U.S. protests in recent days have been overwhelmingly peaceful — and over the weekend, several police departments appeared to retreat from aggressive tactics.

Several cities have also lifted curfews, including Chicago and New York City, where the governor urged protesters to get tested for the virus and to proceed with caution until they had. Leaders around the country have expressed concern that demonstrations could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases.

For the first time since protests began in New York more than a week ago, most officers Sunday were not wearing riot helmets as they watched over rallies. Police moved the barricades at the Trump hotel at Columbus Circle for protesters so they could pass through.

Officers in some places in the city casually smoked cigars or ate ice cream and pizza. Some officers shook hands and posed for photos with motorcyclists at one rally.

In Compton, California, several thousand protesters, some on horseback, peacefully demonstrated through the city, just south of Los Angeles. The only law enforcement presence was about a dozen sheriff’s deputies, who watched without engaging.

In Washington, D.C., National Guard troops from South Carolina were seen checking out of their hotel Sunday shortly before President Donald Trump tweeted he was giving the order to withdraw them from the nation’s capital.

Things weren’t as peaceful in Seattle, where the mayor and police chief had said they were trying to deescalate tensions. Police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters after rocks, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers Saturday night. On Sunday night, a man drove a car at protesters, hit a barricade then exited the vehicle brandishing a pistol, authorities said. A 27-year-old male was shot and taken to a hospital in stable condition, the Seattle Fire Department said.

Dual crises — the coronavirus pandemic and the protests — have weighed particularly heavily on the black community, which has been disproportionately affected by the virus, and also exposed deep political fissures in the U.S. during this presidential election year.

Trump’s leadership during both has been called into question by Democrats and a few Republicans who viewed his response to COVID-19 as too little, too late, and his reaction to protests as heavy handed and insensitive.

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah marched in a protest in Washington against police mistreatment of minorities, making him the first known Republican senator to do so.

“We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality,” Romney, who represents Utah, told NBC News.

On Sunday, Floyd’s body arrived in Texas for a third and final memorial service, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. A viewing is planned for Monday in Houston, followed by a service and burial Tuesday in suburban Pearland.

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Black Lives Matter Protests for U.S. Racial Justice Reach New Dimension

Protesters at the newly named Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. near the White House on June 6, 2020. (Reuters)

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. protests sparked by George Floyd’s fatal encounter last month with Minneapolis police crossed a new threshold as weekend rallies demanding racial justice stretched from Washington, D.C., to an east Texas town once a haven for the Ku Klux Klan.

They also inspired anti-racism protests around the globe, as demonstrators from Brisbane and Sydney in Australia to London, Paris and other European cities embraced the Black Lives Matter message.

In Washington, tens of thousands of people chanting “I can’t breathe” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” rallied at the Lincoln Memorial and marched to the White House on Saturday in the biggest protest yet during 12 days of demonstrations across the United States since Floyd died.

A common message of the day was a determination to transform outrage generated by Floyd’s death into a broader movement seeking far-reaching reforms in the U.S. criminal justice system and its treatment of minorities.

“It feels like I get to be a part of history and a part of people who are trying to change the world for everyone,” said Jamilah Muahyman, a Washington resident protesting near the White House.

The gatherings in Washington and dozens of other U.S. cities and towns – urban and rural alike – were also notable for a generally lower level of tension and discord than what was seen during much of the preceding week.

There were sporadic instances in some cities of protesters trying to block traffic. And police in riot gear used flash-bang grenades in a confrontation with demonstrators in Seattle.

But largely it was the most peaceful day of protests since video footage emerged on May 25 showing Floyd, an unarmed black man in handcuffs, lying face down on a Minneapolis street as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

The video sparked an outpouring of rage as protests in Minneapolis spread to other cities, punctuated by episodes of arson, looting and vandalism that authorities and activists blamed largely on outside agitators and criminals.

National Guard troops were activated in several states, and police resorted to heavy-handed tactics in some cities as they sought to enforce curfews imposed to quell civil disturbances, which in turn galvanized demonstrators even further.

The intensity of protests over the past week began to ebb on Wednesday after prosecutors in Minneapolis had arrested all four police officers implicated in Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin, the white officer seen pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly groaned “I can’t breathe” was charged with second-degree murder.

On Sunday morning, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was lifting a citywide curfew a day early.

Still, anger in Minneapolis remained intense. The city’s mayor ran a gauntlet of angry, jeering protesters on Saturday after telling them he was opposed to their demands for de-funding the city police department.

Perhaps nowhere was the evolving, multi-racial dimension of the protests more evident than in the small, east Texas town of Vidor, one of hundreds of American communities known decades ago as “sundown towns” because blacks were unwelcome there after dark.

Several dozen white and black protesters carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs demonstrated on Saturday in Vidor, once notorious as a Ku Klux Klan stronghold, highlighting the scope of renewed calls for racial equality echoing across the country five months before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

Elsewhere in the South, in Floyd’s birthplace of Raeford, North Carolina, hundreds lined up at a church to pay their respects during a public viewing of his body prior to a private memorial service for family members.

Floyd’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Houston, where he lived before relocating to the Minneapolis area.

In New York, a large crowd of protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan on Saturday afternoon, marching up a largely deserted Broadway. Thousands of others gathered in Harlem to march downtown, about 100 blocks, to the city’s Washington Square Park.

Police officers were present but in smaller numbers than earlier in the week. They generally assumed a less aggressive posture, wearing patrol uniforms rather than body armor and helmets.

In another sign of easing tension, Major General William Walker, commander of the D.C. National Guard, told CNN that the nearly 4,000 additional Guard troops deployed to the city from 11 states at the Pentagon’s request were likely to be withdrawn after the weekend.

George Floyd live updates: Protests grow, even spreading to notorious Texas town with racist history

As George Floyd was mourned near his birthplace in North Carolina on Saturday, crowds filled the streets in American cities large and small with protests against police brutality and systemic racism that continued to grow.

In California, demonstrators brought traffic to a halt on the Golden Gate Bridge. In Philadelphia, thousands massed in the streets as the mayor and the police commissioner knelt in a show of solidarity. A rally in Chicago drew an estimated 30,000 people. In Washington, D.C., some protesters furiously spray-painted “Defund The Police” in giant yellow letters a block from the city’s “Black Lives Matter” display..

The demonstrations, which researchers call the broadest in U.S. history, even spread to Vidor, Tex., a notorious “sundown town” with a racist history, including Ku Klux Klan activity.

Read more »


Protesters Flood U.S. Streets in Huge, Peaceful Push for Change (UPDATE)


Demonstrators protest Saturday, June 6, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Tens of thousands of protesters streamed into the nation’s capital and other major cities Saturday in another huge mobilization against police brutality and racial injustice, while George Floyd was remembered in his North Carolina hometown by mourners who waited hours for a glimpse of his golden coffin.

Wearing masks and calling for police reform, protesters peacefully marched across the U.S. and on four other continents, collectively producing perhaps the largest one-day mobilization since Floyd’s death 12 days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

The dozens of demonstrations capped a week of nearly constant protests that swelled beyond anything the nation has seen in at least a generation. After frequent episodes of violence following the black man’s death, the crowds in the U.S. shifted to a calmer tenor in recent days and authorities in many cities began lifting curfews because they experienced little unrest and no arrests.

On Saturday, authorities in some places seemed to take a lower profile and protests had a festive feel.

On a hot, humid day in Washington, throngs of protesters gathered at the Capitol, on the National Mall and in neighborhoods. Some turned intersections into dance floors. Tents offered snacks and water, tables with merchandise and even a snow cone station.

Read more »


The Associated Press

Protesters Support Floyd, Black Lives Matter on 3 Continents

BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of people rallied in Australia and Europe to honor George Floyd and to voice support Saturday for what is becoming an international Black Lives Matter movement, as a worldwide wave of solidarity with protests over the death of a black man in Minneapolis highlights racial discrimination outside the United States.

Demonstrators in Paris tried to gather in front of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, defying restrictions imposed by authorities because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were met by riot police who turned people on their way to the embassy, which French security forces sealed off behind an imposing ring of metal barriers and road blocks.

“You can fine me 10,000 or 20,000 times, the revolt will happen anyway,” Egountchi Behanzin, a founder of the Black African Defense League, told officers who stopped him to check his ID documents before he got close to the diplomatic building. “It is because of you that we are here.”

Pamela Carper, who joined an afternoon protest at London’s Parliament Square that headed towards the U.K. Home Office, which oversees the country’s police, said she was demonstrating to show “solidarity for the people of America who have suffered for too long.”

The British government urged people not to gather in large numbers and police have warned that mass demonstrations could be unlawful. In England, for example, gatherings of more than six people are not permitted.

Carper said the coronavirus had “no relevance” to her attendance and noted that she had a mask on.


A woman kneels during a Black Lives Matter rally in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. Floyd, a black man, died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police while in custody on May 25 in Minnesota. (AP)

“I am showing the government that I am heeding to their rules and everybody is staying away,” Carper said. “But I need to be here because the government is the problem. The government needs to change.”

In Sydney, protesters won a last-minute appeal against a Friday ruling declaring their rally unauthorized. The New South Wales Court of Appeal gave the green light just 12 minutes before the rally was scheduled to start, meaning those taking part could not be arrested.

Up to 1,000 protesters had already gathered in the Town Hall area of downtown Sydney ahead of the decision.

Floyd, a black man, died in handcuffs on May 25 while a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck even after he pleaded for air and stopped moving.

His death has struck a chord with minorities protesting discrimination elsewhere, including deaths of indigenous Australians in custody.

In Sydney, there was one early scuffle when police removed a man who appeared to be a counter protester carrying a sign reading, “White Lives, Black Lives, All Lives Matter.”

The rally appeared orderly as police handed out masks to protesters and other officials provided hand sanitizer.

“If we don’t die from the (coronavirus) pandemic, then we will die from police brutality,” Sadique, who has a West African background and said he goes by only one name, said in Sydney.

Bob Jones, 75, said it was worth the risk to rally for change despite the state’s chief health officer saying the event could help spread the coronavirus.

“If a society is not worth preserving, then what are you doing? You’re perpetuating a nonsense,” Jones said.

In Brisbane, the Queensland state capital, organizers said about 30,000 people gathered, forcing police to shut down some major downtown streets. The protesters demanded to have Australia’s Indigenous flag raised at the police station.

State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch encouraged Queenslanders to speak out.

“Whether you’re talking about the U.S. or right here in Australia, black lives matter,” she said. “Black lives matter today. Black lives matter every day.”

Indigenous Australians make up 2% of the the country’s adult population, but 27% of the prison population. They are also the most disadvantaged ethnic minority in Australia and have higher-than-average rates of infant mortality and poor health, as well as shorter life expectancies and lower levels of education and employment than other Australians.

In South Korea’s capital, Seoul, protesters gathered for a second straight day to denounce Floyd’s death.

Wearing masks and black shirts, dozens of demonstrators marched through a commercial district amid a police escort, carrying signs such as “George Floyd Rest in Peace” and “Koreans for Black Lives Matter.”

“I urge the U.S. government to stop the violent suppression of (U.S.) protesters and listen to their voices,” said Jihoon Shim, one of the rally’s organizers. “I also want to urge the South Korean government to show its support for their fight (against racism).”

In Tokyo, dozens of people gathered in a peaceful protest.

“Even if we are far apart, we learn of everything instantly on social media,”

“Can we really dismiss it all as irrelevant?” Taichi Hirano, one of the organizers, shouted to the crowd gathered outside Tokyo’s Shibuya train station. He stressed that Japanese are joining others raising their voices against what he called “systematic discrimination.”

In Berlin, thousands of mostly young people, many dressed in black and wearing face masks, joined a Black Lives Matter protest in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, or Alexander Square, on Saturday.

Some held up placards with slogans such as “Be the change,” I can’t breath” and “Germany is not innocent.”

Turning grief into change, movement targets racial injustice

The Associated Press

Momentum for what many hope is a sustained movement aimed at tackling racial injustice and police reforms promised to grow Saturday as more protesters filled streets around the world and mourners prepared to gather in the U.S. for a second memorial service for George Floyd, who died a dozen days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Formal and impromptu memorials to Floyd over the last several days have stretched from Minneapolis to Paris, Rome and Johannesburg, South Africa. In North Carolina, where he was born, a public viewing and private service for family was planned Saturday. Services were scheduled to culminate in a private burial in the coming days in Texas, where he lived most of his life.

Floyd’s final journey was designed with intention, the Rev. Al Sharpton said. Having left Houston for Minneapolis in 2014 in search of a job and a new life, Floyd is retracing that path in death.

Sharpton has plans for a commemorative march on Washington in August on the anniversary of the day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. He said the event would be a way to engage voters ahead of November’s general election and maintain momentum for a movement that has the power to “change the whole system of justice.”

Read more »

D.C. Mayor Renames Street Outside White House ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ (UPDATE)


Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks after announcing that she is renaming a section of 16th street ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ in Washington DC on Friday. (Photograph: EPA)

The Washington Post

‘Black Lives Matter’: In giant yellow letters, D.C. mayor sends message to Trump

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed a street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” on Friday and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

The actions are meant to honor demonstrators who are urging changes in police practices after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, city officials said.

They come after several days of the mayor’s strong objections to the escalation of federal law enforcement and the military response to days of protests and unrest in the nation’s capital.

Local artist Rose Jaffe said she and others joined city work crews to paint the giant slogan, starting around 4 a.m.

The art will take up two blocks on 16th Street NW, between K and H streets, an iconic promenade directly north of the White House.

Shortly after 11 a.m., a city worker hung up a “Black Lives Matter Plz NW” sign at the corner of 16th and H streets NW. Bowser (D) watched silently as onlookers cheered and the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day played from speakers.

“In America, you can peacefully assemble,” Bowser said in brief remarks to the crowd.

Read more »

Protests shift to memorializing Floyd amid push for change


Celebrities, musicians, political leaders and family members gathered in front of the golden casket of George Floyd at a fiery memorial Thursday for the man whose death at the hands of police sparked global protests. (AP video)

The Associated Press

The tenor of the protests set off by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police has taken a turn from the explosive anger that has fueled the setting of fires, breaking of windows and other violence to a quiet, yet more forceful, grassroots call for more to be done to address racial injustice.

Many of the protests were more subdued for a second night as marches Thursday turned into memorials for Floyd, who was the focus of a heartfelt tribute Thursday in Minneapolis that drew family members, celebrities, politicians and civil rights advocates. At his service, strong calls were made for meaningful changes in policing and the criminal justice system.

At demonstration sites around the country, protesters said the quieter mood is the result of several factors: the new and upgraded criminal charges against the police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest; a more conciliatory approach by police who have marched with them or taken a knee to recognize their message; and the realization that the burst of rage after Floyd’s death is not sustainable.

“Personally, I think you can’t riot everyday for almost a week,” said Costa Smith, 26, who was protesting in downtown Atlanta.


The body of George Floyd departs from Frank J. Lindquist Sanctuary at North Central University after a memorial service Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (AP photo)

Despite the shift in tone, protesters have shown no sign that they are going away and, if anything, are emboldened to stay on the streets to push for police reforms.

In New York City, Miguel Fernandes said there were “a lot more nights to go” of marching because protesters hadn’t got what they wanted. And Floyd’s brother, Terrence, appeared in Brooklyn to carry on the fight for change, declaring “power to the people, all of us.”

At the first in a series of memorials for Floyd, The Rev. Al Sharpton urged those gathered Thursday “to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’” Those at the Minneapolis tribute stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the amount of time Floyd was alleged to be on the ground under the control of police.

Floyd’s golden casket was covered in red roses, and an image was projected above the pulpit of a mural of Floyd painted at the street corner where he was arrested by police on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. The message on the mural: “I can breathe now.”

Sharpton vowed that this will become a movement to “change the whole system of justice.”

As the protests have taken root over the past week, they have become communities unto themselves.

In New York, where residents have been stuck at home for nearly three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, residents who can’t go to a restaurant are happy to be able to go a protest. People bring their dogs and share snacks and water bottles. They have been heartened by police who have joined them.

“It’s great to be alive, it’s history right now,” said protester Kenyata Taylor.

Read more »


George W. Bush calls out racial injustices and celebrates protesters who ‘march for a better future’


Describing himself as “anguished” by the death of George Floyd, who died more than a week ago after being suffocated under the knee of a white police officer, Bush urged white Americans to seek ways to support, listen and understand black Americans who still face “disturbing bigotry and exploitation.” (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Former president George W. Bush addressed the nationwide protests in a solemn, yet hopeful statement Tuesday, commending the Americans demonstrating against racial injustice and criticizing those who try to silence them.

Bush closed his statement, which came a day after peaceful protesters were cleared by force to make way for President Trump to come outside, by pointing to a “better way.”

“There is a better way — the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice,” Bush said in the statement. “I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.”

Describing himself as “anguished” by the death of George Floyd, who died more than a week ago after being suffocated under the knee of a white police officer, Bush urged white Americans to seek ways to support, listen and understand black Americans who still face “disturbing bigotry and exploitation.”

The nation’s 43rd president’s statement does not mention Trump, but his call for compassion and unity presents a stark contrast to the current president’s more inflammatory rhetoric.

“The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving,” Bush said. “Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place.”

“We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised,” he added.

Bush also seemed to offer a veiled criticism of the agressive stance taken by some police against protesters, saying it’s a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future.”

Read more »

Biden will attend George Floyd’s funeral, family attorney says


U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden bows his head in prayer during a visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del., on June 1st. Biden is delivering a speech in Philadelphia, addressing “the civil unrest facing communities across America.” (AP photo)

An attorney for Floyd’s family told “PBS News Hour” on Tuesday that former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is expected to attend Floyd’s funeral in Houston next week.

The family will also hold memorial services this week in Minnesota and North Carolina. A public viewing and formal funeral will follow in Houston.

“And we understand vice president Biden will be in attendance,” Ben Crump, the family’s attorney, said.

Read more »

Watch: Biden blasts Trump’s ‘narcissism’ Addressing the ‘Unrest Across America


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In NYC Queen of Sheba Restaurant Provides Lunch For Frontline Workers

Food from Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant in New York. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: May 15th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) – The restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit small businesses in New York City during the current COVID-19 pandemic, yet many still have their doors open not only for delivery and take-out but also to serve frontline workers. This week the popular Ethiopian restaurant Queen of Sheba, located in Midtown Manhattan, provided lunch to frontline workers at Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn in appreciation of their hard work.

Queen of Sheba Restaurant was one of a network of eateries assembled by the organizers of NY African Restaurant Week. “We partnered with some of our chefs and restaurants to say thank you and to provide lunches to our heroes (front-line workers) at the Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn,” they stated via a Facebook post. “We honor the sacrifices of all the front-line workers and special thanks to Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant , Brooklyn Suya restaurant, and to Delicious African Orchards for the lunches.”

Medical professionals including physicians, nurses, patient care technicians and support staff are the backbone of the fight against the Coronavirus that has so far claimed more than 300,000 lives worldwide and infected nearly 5 million globally. The vast majority of those cases are right here in the United States with fatalities fast approaching the 100,000 mark nationwide and with almost 2 million infected. New York, which has been considered the epicenter of the crisis in America, bears the brunt of the death toll that has surpassed 20,406 as of this writing.

Below are photos courtesy of Queen of Sheba:


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‘Hope’ Artist Honors Essential Workers

The work is part of a series from Adobe honoring essential workers. (Shepard Fairey, Guts Not Glory, part of Adobe's "Honor Heroes" campaign. Courtesy of the artist and Adobe)

Art World | Artnet News

‘Hope’ Artist Shepard Fairey Has Made a New Series of Freely Downloadable Posters to Celebrate the Bravery of Healthcare Workers

Street artist Shepard Fairey has joined forces with Adobe to create a new series of works that celebrate the health care workers and volunteers on the front lines of the global pandemic. Titled “Honor Heroes,” the works represent essential workers of all stripes, from mail carriers and grocery store employees to teachers and sanitation works, as well as doctors, nurses, and first responders.

One work, Fairey’s Guts Not Glory, depicts a medical professional armed with a stethoscope in his graphic, color blocked style. “Guts Not Glory is an illustration of one of the many healthcare workers whose selfless acts of compassion and service are always meaningful, but at this moment are especially heroic,” Fairey said in a statement. “I’m inspired to glorify those who don’t seek glory, but rather to serve humanity when it is most challenged. I want the portrait to emanate the comforting warmth and empathy healthcare workers provide in the midst of anxiety and crisis.”

Fairey, who rose to fame with his OBEY Giant street art in the 1990s, has struck a chord in the past with poster-style works that respond to current events. He designed the instant classic Hope poster for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and, eight years later, he created a suite of feminist images, titled “We the People,” for the Women’s March that protested the election of Donald Trump.

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Social Distancing Works, Data Show

Two weeks into mandatory stay-at-home orders in the San Francisco Bay area and Washington state, there’s evidence the curve of infections is flattening compared with other U.S. metro areas. (Photo: People wait at a bus stop in the Union Square neighborhood of San Francisco/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

Social Distancing Works. The Earlier the Better, California & Washington Data Show.

SAN FRANCISCO — Mandatory social distancing works. The earlier the better, preliminary data from two weeks of stay-at-home orders in California and Washington show.

Those states were the first to report community cases of covid-19 and also the first in the nation to mandate residents stay at home to keep physically apart. Analyses from academics and federal and local officials indicate those moves bought those communities precious time — and also may have “flattened the curve” of infections for the long haul.

While insufficient testing limits the full picture, it’s clear the disease is spreading at different speeds in different places in the United States. California and Washington continue to see new cases and deaths, but so far they haven’t come in the spikes seen in parts of the East Coast. Social distancing efforts need to continue for several more weeks to be effective, experts say.

The data give “great hope and understanding about what is possible,” said Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, during a Tuesday briefing. “In New Orleans, and Detroit, and Chicago and Boston right now, [we’re] trying to make sure that each of those cities work more like California than the New York metro area.”

It has been 16 days since counties in the San Francisco Bay area told some 6 million residents to stay at home, and 13 days since the order extended to all of California. As of Tuesday, the number of confirmed infections per capita in densely populated New York City was 15 times that of the Bay Area. In New York City, a flood of coronavirus patients has overwhelmed local hospitals and 1,096 people have died. New York state ordered people to stay home 11 days ago.

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In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown

The factory workers opted to isolate themselves to better guarantee their ability to keep making protective gear. (Image: CONSOMED/AFP)

BBC

Coronavirus: 150 Tunisians self-isolate in factory to make masks

Employees at a Tunisian factory are churning out 50,000 face masks a day and other protective medical gear after opting to go into lockdown at work.

The 150 workers, mainly women, have isolated themselves at the Consomed factory for a month.

They were spurred on by patriotism as the country battles coronavirus, their manager Hamza Alouini told the BBC.

Employee Khawla Rebhi said she greatly missed her family, but her colleagues’ good cheer provided some compensation.

“My husband and 16-year-old daughter supported and encouraged me to do this,” Ms Rebhi, who is in charge of the production line, told the BBC.

The factory usually exports its protective gear, but its focus now is to produce enough for the health sector at home.

The North African nation, which went into lockdown on Sunday, has 227 confirmed cases of coronavirus and six patients have died in the last week.

Among those who moved into the factory, which is in a rural area south of the capital, Tunis, a week ago are cooks, a doctor and pharmacist.

There are separate dormitories for 110 women and 40 men – and enough stocks to last a month.

Read more »


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Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

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Yelugnta & Gemena: NYC Workshop Aims to Break Taboo of Mental Illness in Ethiopian Community

Yelugnta and Gemena workshop poster courtesy of ECMAA.

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 7th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend a timely public workshop is being held in New York City highlighting the taboo topics of mental health in the Ethiopian Community including intimate partner violence (IPV) as well as the growing prevalence of autism among young children.

The event, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 7 at African Services Committee in Uptown Manhattan, is organized by ECMAA, African Services Committee, Ethiopian Edir Mutual Assistance Association, Habesha Health and the Medhanialem Tewahedo Church.

“The Amharic word Yelugnta drives many decisions and feelings in our community. Yelugnta keeps everyone responsible for each other and helps guide people’s decisions,” the announcement states. “Literally, Yelugnta means “what will people say” and Gemena “my secret”.” It added: “Both Yelugnta and Gemena, more detrimentally keep people from asking for help, keep them alone and from talking about things that could be judged or talked about. It keeps everyone silent and suffering alone.”

Organizers stress that the goal of the program is to break the silence and to “create a space to enable frank discussion in a way that is responsive to the community; provide a common language for open communication; and identify skills and resources needed to seek help and provide preliminary support.”

The upcoming workshop will have two parts:

“The first, an opening interactive session with Betty Bekele as a facilitator will cover the overarching goals for the day focusing on Yelugnta and Gemena. The first session will end with the sharing of lessons learned from the Thrive NYC First Aid Mental Health workshop. The second half of the day will consist of two consecutive sessions for more in-depth and practical discussion about topic specific challenges and resources including intimate partner violence – with Sanctuary for Families and African Services Committee; and Autism – with Azeb Araya from the Ethiopian and Eritrean Special Needs Community, Fana Said and Mulugeta Semework. At the end of the day, participants will leave with concrete resources and information about members of the community who will make themselves available as a contact for future questions/issues.

Actions and Guidelines to Ensure Success:
To create the safe place for open discussion, the following guidelines are critical:
1. Focus is building space for open communication, not fixing specific problems.
2. During the day and beyond, emphasize confidentiality and good intent as well as no judgement,
3. Provide practical information and tools to manage communication and build confidence.

Join ECMAA in planning this event and guiding its content to make it as specific to the community as possible. Contact them at ecmaany@gmail.com to learn about how you can participate.


If You Go:
Yelugnta, Gemena and Communication in Our Community Workshop
March 7,2020
from 10AM to 4PM
African Services Committee
429 West 127th Street
New York, NY
More info at www.www.ECMAANY.org.

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Your Ethiopian Professionals Network (YEP) Celebrates its 9th Anniversary

YEP’s nine year anniversary celebration will be held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday, November 23, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

November 22nd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend in Alexandria, Virginia Your Ethiopian Professionals Network (YEP) celebrates its 9th year anniversary on Saturday, November 23rd.

“The black-tie event will be held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and will feature notable community figures, influencers, traditional Ethiopian food and music, and an award ceremony,” YEP announced noting that the theme this year is Leading with Purpose. More than 300 professionals from a wide range of industries and sectors will be in attendance.”

Founded in 2010 YEP’s mission is “to inspire, educate and empower the Ethiopian professional community to make a positive impact in the world and envisions a strong community that shares ideas, skills and resources to enrich lives.” Through the years YEP has hosted educational and networking sessions as well as various inspirational speakers.

The announcement adds that YEP’s award ceremony will honor individuals and organizations “who are doing a great job in their sector and our community.”


If You Go:
YEP Nine Year Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, November 23, 2019 from 6:00 PM to midnight
US Patent and Trademark Office
600 Dulany Street
Madison Auditorium
Alexandria, VA 22304
Click here to buy tickets
More info at www.yepnetwork.org

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The Young Ethiopians Working for Peace

The group call themselves “peace ambassadors”, and they are leading the way in putting a fractured and traumatised society back together again. (Photo: Imnet Irba, a 25 year old recent school graduate, leads monthly peace trainings in Gedeo zone/ Tom Gardner/TNH)

The New Humanitarian

BULE HORA, ETHIOPIA

In a hotel dining room in the southern Ethiopian town of Bule Hora, a group of young Ethiopians pin drawings of trees to the wall. Each tree, they explain, represents one of them – some of them ethnic Gedeos, the rest Guji Oromos – and together they make up a forest, symbolising their multi-ethnic society.

The group call themselves “peace ambassadors”, and they are leading the way in putting a fractured and traumatised society back together again.

“The forest represents our unity,” says one, a murmur of assent rippling through the room.

But fostering reconciliation and rebuilding peace, when memories of violence remain so fresh, will take more than well-meaning workshops.

It is now more than a year since, according to official estimates, up to one million Gujis and Gedeos were left homeless after ethnic violence broke out. Reconciliation, despite the deep blood and cultural ties between the two communities, is proving a long and fraught process.

Whole families, the majority of them Gedeo, were chased from their lands by armed gangs who torched farms, looted properties, and beat, raped, and murdered civilians.

It was the largest single displacement in a year in which nearly three million people nationwide were forced from their homes, as ethnic and land-fuelled conflicts exploded across the country following the softening of the ruling party’s authoritarianism when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power last April.

Six months ago, the Ethiopian government sent almost all of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to their old villages, despite fears for their safety, as part of a massive campaign to reduce the IDP caseload. Today, it claims that less than 100,000 remain throughout Ethiopia – though aid workers have questioned those figures.

In Kercha, the West Guji district where the bulk of the violence occurred, the conflict’s scars are still visible. Makeshift shelters with tarpaulin roofs mark the spots where, according to the government, at least 21,000 houses were burnt or torn down.

A heavy presence of local militia and special police patrol the streets, and many locals, as well as returnees, still rely on food handouts as much of last year’s harvest was abandoned or destroyed.

‘Everyone is regretting what they did’

But there are welcome signs of progress, too.

About 130 peace ambassadors are now dotted across 13 districts along the border between Gedeo and Oromia’s West Guji. These young men and women, all volunteers, hold meetings and workshops in their villages, hoping to restore trust between the two communities.

“I teach them the values of living together, values which were degraded or lost during the conflict,” said Dubi Lema, who works at the Environment, Climate Change, and Forest Authority in Kercha Town, and in his free time helps reconcile his neighbours.

“Now relations are so good – everyone is regretting what they did,” she told The New Humanitarian. “It’s very peaceful.”


Gelgelo Genee, Teremaj Belachew, Ibsa Ware, left to right, are “peace ambassadors” in Kercha, West Guji. (Tom Gardner/TNH)

Ambassadors like Dubi and Imnet are helping to support the work of local officials, who for the last few months have been organising regular peace meetings between the two ethnic groups.

They are supported and trained by the Catholic Relief Services, an international NGO, which, like other aid groups, was prohibited from engaging in reconciliation work until after Abiy took office last year.

“In our zone, there is no peace problem now,” said Abera Buno, the top official in West Guji. “The IDPs have come home, and they are rebuilding their lives.”

He told TNH that the local government is planning to build a “peace training centre” on land at the border between Gedeo and West Guji.

Meanwhile, local elders known as Abba Gadas are setting up “peace committees” in each kebele or village district. Some of the young ambassadors are organising football teams or church choirs of mixed ethnicities, and Dembela Muleta, head of the disaster risk management office in Bule Hore, said the government is introducing “peace clubs” in schools.

Almost all those interviewed by TNH on both sides of the Gedeo-Guji border, in districts which have long been multiethnic, said children were back to attending the same schools and people were once again socialising with neighbours from the other ethnic group, drinking coffee and eating meals together as they had done in the past.

The approach to peace and reconciliation is notable for its emphasis on traditional institutions common to both groups, such as the Abba Gadas, and on forgiveness before accountability.

“Now we have peace, there is no need to revisit the past – we advise people to move forward and to forgive whatever happened before,” said Takele Sereka, an Abba Gada in Kercha Town.


Takele Sereka (left) an Gedecha Wako (right), two Tom Gardner/TNH

Limits to reconciliation

Publicly, the government says it is holding people to account for the violence. In April, Abiy said 300 people had been arrested for their suspected involvement. Around the same time, the West Guji police chief said 89 people had been given prison sentences for instigating killings and evictions.

But, on the ground, the reality seems different.

Buno, the top West Guji official, said those arrested had not yet been sentenced.

The head of the local militia in Magala village, Ebisa Elema, said nobody in his badly affected district had been arrested for involvement in ethnic violence, and none of the returnees interviewed by TNH said they were aware of any arrests or prosecutions in their neighborhoods, either.

“The government advised us to excuse everybody and to forget about the past,” said Atnafu Bali, a Gedeo returnee near Kercha town.

Some believe this approach is sensible in a society where formal state institutions are not widely trusted, and where violence is often politically motivated as well as simply criminal.

“Court litigation is a kind of win-lose approach,” said Gelchu Jarso of Bule Hora University, who is helping lead the peace process. “Reconciliation through indigenous institutions is much better.”

But relying on traditional institutions, such as the Abbas Gadas, has not always proven effective.

In the months after the conflict first broke out in 2018, the government organised several high-level peace meetings led by Abbas Gadas. Violence resumed shortly afterwards.

“These days, the youth do not listen to the elderly people,” said Dagne Shibru, an expert on Gedeo-Guji relations at nearby Hawassa University.

He also noted that reconciliation customs shared by the two communities in times of conflict have been weakened in recent years by the rapid spread of Pentecostal churches, and that the Gada system had itself been undermined by perceptions that it was “politicised”.

“Abba Gadas are often members of the ruling party,” Dagne noted.

Takele, the Abba Gada in Kercha, admitted that once the conflict started the Guji youth simply stopped obeying their elders. “They said to us: ‘No, we cannot tolerate this again’.”

A fragile peace

There are other signs that, beneath the surface, the peace here is a fragile one.

One is ongoing land disputes, the root cause of the conflict.

“It is known that the Gedeos are claiming land,” said Gedecha Wako, another Abba Gada in Kercha, before his colleague Takele asked him to drop the subject. “The issue started with Gedeos claiming the area – they said the land belongs to their region.”

As violence escalated, many land certificates were either lost or destroyed as houses were burnt. And, for some returnees, proving ownership can be difficult since many lacked documentation in the first place, including personal identification cards.

The local government has set up legal aid clinics and a working group to support people who do not have documentation, which it said had dealt with roughly 10 percent of more than 500 cases so far.

But in some villages officials demanded high fees for reissuance of documents. In one it was reported by returnees that their land had been sold by local authorities without their knowledge.

Daniel Robe in Magala village told TNH privately over the phone – after first being interviewed in front of some neighbours – that he had returned to find his land occupied. He took his neighbour to court but still not all of it has been returned to him.

Italem Demsew, a 25-year-old peace ambassador from Gedeo zone, said that when some of her relatives returned to West Guji they were told they had to pay their neighbours, who had been living in their home, a “protection” fee to have it back again.

Incidents like these were relatively common, according to humanitarian organisations working in the area.

“I don’t think anything has changed in terms of how the two perceive each other,” said an aid worker with international NGO, who asked to remain anonymous. “Remember: they lived together for decades and then this happened overnight.”

Another concern among aid workers is that in most districts on the West Guji side, Gedeos are no longer represented in local kebele governments or militias.

But Gelgelo Genene, a peace ambassador, was – like all his colleagues – guardedly optimistic about prospects for lasting peace between the two communities.

He pointed out that his father has three wives – two Gedeos and one Guji – and 30 children.

“We can’t separate even if we wanted to,” he said.


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President Sahle-Work Zewde Speaks at 2019 Women Deliver Conference in Canada

President Sahle-Work Zewde. (Photo: WD2019 website)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: June 3rd, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – This week in Vancouver, Canada more than 8,000 civil society leaders, academics, activists and journalists are gathering for the Women Deliver 2019 Conference,” the world’s largest international convention focusing on today’s most pressing issues dealing with gender equality. Among the main speakers featured include Ethiopia’s first female President, Sahle-Work Zewde, who is set to address the global gathering during the event’s kick-off program on Monday, June 3rd along with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

According to the organizers the President of Ethiopia will participate in a high-level panel moderated by BBC News journalist Lyse Doucet with participants that include Environmental Activist Farwiza Farhan, Women’s Rights Advocate Natasha Mwansa, Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau, and the United Nations High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment & Economic Growth Dr. Alaa Murabit.

The Women Deliver 2019 Conference is taking place in Vancouver, Canada from Monday, June 3rd to Thursday, June 6th.

It is “the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women in the 21st century,” notes the event’s website. “It will serve as a catalyst for advocates working to achieve a more gender equal world. The conference will present new knowledge, promote world-class solutions, and engage a broad spectrum of voices. It will focus on several issues from health, nutrition, education, economic and political empowerment to human rights, good governance, and girls’ and women’s agency and equality.”

Below is a brief bio of President Sahle-Work Zewde as provided by the conference organizers:

SAHLE-WORK ZEWDE

Sahle-Work Zewde was elected as the fourth and first woman President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on 25 October 2018.

She spent her first professional years in the Ministry of Education. She later joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1988 and started her long diplomatic carrier as ambassador to Senegal with accreditation to Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and the Gambia. She served in Djibouti and IGAD- Inter Governmental Authority on Development for 10 years before moving as ambassador of Ethiopia to France, Tunisia and Morocco and Permanent Representative to UNESCO. After her return to Ethiopia she was appointed Permanent Representative to the African Union and Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.

President Sahle-Work Zewde joined the United Nations in 2009 and served as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General/SRSG/ and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) thus becoming the first African woman to become an SRSG.

In 2011, she was appointed as the first dedicated Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) at the level of Under-Secretary-General. In June 2018, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Ms. Zewde as his Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU). She was the first woman to hold these three positions at the United Nations.

Ms. Zewde is a mother of two boys. She speaks Amharic, French and English fluently.


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Ethiopia’s garment workers are world’s lowest paid

According to a new study released this week by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights "Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide," AP reports. (Photo: Global Apparel Forum)

The Associated Press

Correction: Ethiopia-Garment Workers’ Pay story

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — In a story May 7 about (topic), The Associated Press reported erroneously that the apparel retailer Gap sources clothing made in Ethiopia. Gap does not source clothing made in Ethiopia and the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights regrets its error in identifying Gap in its report about labor in Ethiopia.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Report: Ethiopia’s garment workers are world’s lowest paid

Report: Ethiopia’s garment workers are the world’s lowest paid at $26 a month

By ELIAS MESERET

Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide, a new report says.

The report by the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights comes as Ethiopia, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, pursues a bold economic experiment by inviting the global garment industry to set up shop in its mushrooming industrial parks.

“The government’s eagerness to attract foreign investment led it to promote the lowest base wage in any garment-producing country — now set at the equivalent of $26 a month,” according to the authors of the report, Paul M. Barrett and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly.

In comparison, Chinese garment workers earn $340 a month, those in Kenya earn $207 and those in Bangladesh earn $95.

Drawn by the newly built industrial parks and a range of financial incentives, manufacturers for many international brands employ tens of thousands of Ethiopian workers in a sector the government predicts will one day have billions of dollars in sales.

The new report is based on a visit earlier this year to the flagship Hawassa Industrial Park that opened in June 2017 in southern Ethiopia and currently employs 25,000 people. Ethiopian leaders often show off the industrial park, 140 miles (225 kilometers) south of Addis Ababa, to visiting foreign dignitaries.

According to the report, most young Ethiopian workers are hardly able to get by to the end of the month and are not able to support family members. “I’m left with nothing at the end of the month,” one factory worker, Ayelech Geletu, 21, told The Associated Press last year.

The minimum monthly living wage in Ethiopia is about $110), according to Ayele Gelan, a research economist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research.

“Given relatively little training, restive employees have protested by stopping work or quitting altogether. Productivity in the Hawassa factories typically is low, while worker disillusionment and attrition are high,” the report says.

Ethiopian politics are also unexpectedly disrupting factory operations. “The Ethiopian government should address ethnic tension in Hawassa and elsewhere,” the report says.

It calls on the government to implement a long-term economic plan for strengthening the apparel industry and establish a minimum wage that ensures decent living conditions.

Abebe Abebayehu, head of Ethiopia’s Investment Commission, told the AP that most garment and apparel factories prefer to locate in places with low labor costs.

“If that was not the case, Chinese companies wouldn’t have come to Ethiopia,” Abebe said. He also questioned the report’s monthly pay figure of $26 per month: “That is a basic salary but in Ethiopia the factories also provide a workplace meal and other services.”

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

Related:
Made in Ethiopia: Changes in Garment Industry’s New Frontier (NYU)

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Worknesh Degefa Wins Boston Marathon

Worknesh Degefa breaks the tape to win the women's division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa cruises to Boston Marathon title

BOSTON (AP) — Worknesh Degefa had never set foot on the Boston Marathon course before she toed the start line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts on Monday morning.

It didn’t stop the 28-year-old Ethiopian from conquering it on her first trip down the famed route.

Degefa broke away from the rest of the field early and ran alone for the last 20 miles to win the women’s Boston Marathon.

Degefa crossed the finish line in Boston’s Back Bay in a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes, 31 seconds.

She is the eighth Ethiopian woman to win the race, and the third in seven years. Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat was second, coming in at 2:24:13. American Jordan Hasay was third, crossing the line in 2:25:20. Defending champion Des Linden, who represented the United States in the marathon at the past two Summer Olympics, finished fifth in 2:27:00.

“Winning the Boston Marathon is super special to me,” Degefa said. “Even though I’d never seen the course before, last year I watched all the marathon coverage. I kept that in my mind.”

And for most of the race she kept the rest of the field far behind her.


Worknesh Degefa wins the women’s division of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo)

It was Degefa’s first major marathon victory. She won the Dubai Marathon in 2017, setting an Ethiopian national record.

Linden took advantage of a rainy and windy course with temperatures in the 30s to claim last year’s title in the slowest time for a women’s winner in Boston since 1978.

A heavy band of rain moved through Hopkinton at the start line about 6:30 a.m. but tapered to a drizzle and then stopped before the women’s race began. It didn’t rain during the race, allowing the Ethiopian and Kenyan contingents to push the pace.

A half marathon specialist, Degefa took her first lead after Mile 4 headed into Framingham, followed by Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba and Kenya’s Sharon Cherop. Degefa increased the margin between Mile 5 and 6 and opened a 20-second advantage by Mile 7.

“I knew that I had some speed, so I pushed myself after Mile 5,” Degefa said.

Degefa’s pace slowed in the final three miles and she looked behind her a few times to try to glimpse one of her fellow competitors.

Kiplagat became visible again in the distance around Mile 25, but there was no time for her to close the sizeable gap.

Despite not being able to get on the podium for a second straight year, Linden had a lot of support on the course. The crowd serenaded her with loud cheers when she was introduced. At the finish, a young girl held a sign that read “Des 4 Prez.”

On a day in which the marathon fell on April 15 for the first time since the April 15, 2013 bombings, Linden said it had lots of significance for the city and for herself.

“That run down Boylston was very special to me,” Linden said. “I feel like I’ve built a name for myself in this community with these fans and they really appreciate what I’ve done over the years.

“It’s also a sign that I’m pretty old that they actually know me now.”


Related:
Ethiopia Runners Sweep Paris Marathon

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Africa’s Women Are Rising: OP-ED by President Sahle-Work Zewde (FT)

Ethiopian president Sahle-Work Zewde: for young women particularly, seeing other women in leadership positions and non-stereotypical professions helps to expand their horizons © Getty

Financial Times

By Sahle-Work Zewde

Africa’s women are rising to challenge gender discrimination

Change is sweeping Africa. Systemic barriers to gender equity are falling and a growing number of women leaders are reshaping the continent.

Across the continent, women are increasingly challenging traditional norms by claiming positions of power and influence in our public arenas. Rwanda, Seychelles and my own country of Ethiopia now have cabinets split evenly along gender lines, with some of the most powerful posts occupied by women.

A new generation of African leaders is investing in social and human capital, universal health coverage, education and gender equality. This is a story that’s particularly important to tell as we approach International Women’s Day.

Globally the proportion of seats held in parliament by women has slowly risen from just 12 per cent in 1997 to 24 per cent in 2018. Amid this, a handful of African countries stand out. In Rwanda, over 60 per cent of members of parliament are women, and in Namibia, South Africa, Senegal and Mozambique, at least 40 per cent of parliamentarians are women.

This represents a dramatic shift in representation, inclusion and democratisation of opportunity. For young women particularly, seeing other women in leadership positions and non-stereotypical professions helps to expand their horizons. For institutions and governments, tapping the full potential of their talent pools brings diversity of perspectives and experience when hard decisions must be made.

But to enable more women to serve as leaders, we need to redistribute power and ensure equal pay at work. The International Labour Organization estimates that the gender pay gap is higher in sub-Saharan Africa than any other region in the world.

Gender equality and respect for women’s rights starts at home, where power and wealth are still in the hands of men. Yet women tend to spend more out of household budgets on providing for their families than men do. A report launched today, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, reveals that gender equality in the workplace is still a far cry. The Global Health 50/50 report: Equality Works, which looks at the policies and practices of nearly 200 organisations active in global health, shows that seven out of 10 of such organisations are headed by men.

Read more »


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Former UN Official Sahle-Work Zewde Becomes Ethiopia’s First Female President

Sahle-Work Zewde leaves Parliament after being elected as Ethiopia's first female president, in Addis Ababa on Oct. 25, 2018. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post

By Paul Schemm

Ethiopia appoints first female president in its modern history in latest reform

ADDIS ABABA, Ethi­o­pia — Ethiopia’s Parliament on Thursday approved the East African country’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, a veteran of the United Nations and the diplomatic corps.

The position of president is ceremonial in Ethiopia, with executive power vested in the office of the prime minister. But the appointment is deeply symbolic and follows up on last week’s cabinet reshuffle. Half the ministers are now women in Africa’s second-most populous country.

“In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life,” tweeted Fitsum Arega, the prime minister’s chief of staff and de facto government spokesman.

Parliament accepted the resignation of Mulatu Teshome, who had served as president since 2013.

In remarks to Parliament after she took her oath of office, Sahle-Work emphasized the importance of respecting women and the need to build a “society that rejects the oppression of women.” She also promised to work for peace and unity in the country.

Read more »


Related:
‘Congratulations Madam President’: Reactions & Pictures to Ethiopia’s Historic Week
The Power of Ethiopia’s Gender-Balanced Cabinet
In Ethiopian leader’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women (The Washington Post)

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


The latest episode of the Helen Show on EBS TV features a timely topic: professional women
and motherhood. The show’s host Helen Mesfin speaks with Mimi Hailegiorghis, who is
a Department Head of Systems Performance Engineering at Mitre Corporation, & Tseday Alehegn,
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine.

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Eskinder Nega: I’ve Spent a Fifth of my Life in Prison Just for Doing the Work of a Journalist

Ethiopian Journalist Eskinder Nega after being released from prison in Feb 2018. (Photo Courtesy: AFP/Getty Images/Yonas Tadesse)

Time

By Eskinder Nega

I became a journalist by accident. I was in my twenties. For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, we had independent magazines. I knew we had to venture into freedom of expression and push the boundaries, so I wrote articles criticizing the Ethiopian regime’s abuse of power. My newspaper became the first to be charged under the press law; my editor and I the first to be imprisoned.

I am 48 now. Since 1993, I’ve been imprisoned on nine separate occasions on various charges. I’ve spent almost one fifth of my life in prison—simply for doing the work of a journalist. This year I was released after spending more than six years in prison. Even though I am a peaceful person, the Ethiopian government convicted me on terrorist charges. Throughout the world, such charges are frequently leveled against dissident journalists like me who challenge their governments.

I’ve seen every side of prison life. I have been kept in dark cells, measuring less than two square meters. As I slept it was as though my head was touching the wall and my feet were touching the door. It was so dark I couldn’t see my hand. I was allowed to go to the bathroom twice a day. A shower was out of the question.

Once, when the state had locked me up for my journalism, the authorities tortured me. They beat me on the inside of my feet, the most common type of torture in the world. But I didn’t experience the worst of it.

My son was born in prison. The Ethiopian government had imprisoned my wife and I after the 2005 elections. He had to go and live with his grandmother because the conditions were so bad. My wife and I would meet during court sessions, but apart from that we were not allowed to see each other. My son is 11 now and lives in the United States. I haven’t seen him since I was imprisoned in 2012. The prospect of meeting him is both exciting and terrifying. I am not perfect and I am not the legend he thinks I am. I hope he won’t be too disappointed when he gets to know me.

Read more »


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Revisiting the Works of Ethiopia’s 17th-Century Philosopher Zera Yacob

Near Lalibela, the location of Zera Yacob’s cave. (Photo: Magnum)

Aeon Media

The African Enlightenment: The highest ideals of Locke, Hume and Kant were first proposed more than a century earlier by an Ethiopian in a cave

The ideals of the Enlightenment are the basis of our democracies and universities in the 21st century: belief in reason, science, skepticism, secularism, and equality. In fact, no other era compares with the Age of Enlightenment. Classical Antiquity is inspiring, but a world away from our modern societies. The Middle Ages was more reasonable than its reputation, but still medieval. The Renaissance was glorious, but largely because of its result: the Enlightenment. The Romantic era was a reaction to the Age of Reason – but the ideals of today’s modern states are seldom expressed in terms of romanticism and emotion. Immanuel Kant’s argument in the essay ‘Perpetual Peace’ (1795) that ‘the human race’ should work for ‘a cosmopolitan constitution’ can be seen as a precursor for the United Nations.

As the story usually goes, the Enlightenment began with René Descartes’s Discourse on the Method (1637), continuing on through John Locke, Isaac Newton, David Hume, Voltaire and Kant for around one and a half centuries, and ending with the French Revolution of 1789, or perhaps with the Reign of Terror in 1793. By the time that Thomas Paine published The Age of Reason in 1794, that era had reached its twilight. Napoleon was on the rise.

But what if this story is wrong? What if the Enlightenment can be found in places and thinkers that we often overlook? Such questions have haunted me since I stumbled upon the work of the 17th-century Ethiopian philosopher Zera Yacob (1599-1692), also spelled Zära Yaqob.

Yacob was born on 28 August 1599 into a rather poor family on a farm outside Axum, the legendary former capital in northern Ethiopia. At school he impressed his teachers, and was sent to a new school to learn rhetoric (siwasiw in Geéz, the local language), poetry and critical thinking (qiné) for four years. Then he went to another school to study the Bible for 10 years, learning the teachings of the Catholics and the Copts, as well as the country’s mainstream Orthodox tradition. (Ethiopia has been Christian since the early 4th century, rivalling Armenia as the world’s oldest Christian nation.)

In the 1620s, a Portuguese Jesuit convinced King Susenyos to convert to Catholicism, which soon became Ethiopia’s official religion. Persecution of free thinkers followed suit, intensifying from 1630. Yacob, who was teaching in the Axum region, had declared that no religion was more right than any other, and his enemies brought charges against him to the king.

Yacob fled at night, taking with him only some gold and the Psalms of David. He headed south to the region of Shewa, where he came upon the Tekezé River. There he found an uninhabited area with a ‘beautiful cave’ at the foot of a valley. Yacob built a fence of stones, and lived in the wilderness to ‘front only the essential facts of life’, as Henry David Thoreau was to describe a similar solitary life a couple of centuries later in Walden (1854).

For two years, until the death of the king in September 1632, Yacob remained in the cave as a hermit, visiting only the nearby market to get food. In the cave, he developed his new, rationalist philosophy. He believed in the supremacy of reason, and that all humans – male and female – are created equal. He argued against slavery, critiqued all established religions and doctrines, and combined these views with a personal belief in a theistic Creator, reasoning that the world’s order makes that the most rational option.

In short: many of the highest ideals of the later European Enlightenment had been conceived and summarised by one man, working in an Ethiopian cave from 1630 to 1632. Yacob’s reason-based philosophy is presented in his main work, Hatäta (meaning ‘the enquiry’). The book was written down in 1667 on the insistence of his student, Walda Heywat, who himself wrote a more practically oriented Hatäta. Today, 350 years later, it’s hard to find a copy of Yacob’s book. The only translation into English was done in 1976, by the Canadian professor and priest Claude Sumner. He published it as part of a five-volume work on Ethiopian philosophy, with the far-from-commercial Commercial Printing Press in Addis Ababa. The book has been translated into German, and last year into Norwegian, but an English version is still basically unavailable.

Read more »


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DC: ‘A Taste of Ethiopia’ Art Show Featuring Nahosenay Negussie’s Work

(Artwork by Nahosenay Negussie)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

December 12th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) — Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center (CHACC) in Washington D.C. is hosting an exhibition entitled “A Taste of Ethiopia” featuring the artwork of Ethiopian painter and graphic designer Nahosenay Negussie along with a reception on Friday, December 15th.

“My art considers the object as a social indicator, a ‘sign bearer,’” says Nahosenay in his artist statement. “Considered as instruments of political power, ideological vehicles, demonstrations of ostentatious luxury and economic power, but also as incarnations of emotions and experiences, the historical archetypes of decorative arts consummately provide me with useful material.”


Nahosenay Negussie. (Photo: CHACC)

Born in 1987 in Addis Ababa, Nahosenay studied Graphic Design at Addis Ababa University Alle School of Fine Arts and Design. He graduated with honors in 2013 and co-founded ‘Moged’ Fine Arts Studio.

“During his stay in art school and after graduated he participated in different artistic activities, workshops, charity programs and showed more than eight group exhibitions,” states the press release. Nahosenay has exhibited his work in several places including “the National Museum, UNECA, Radisson Blue Hotel, Alliance Ethio-Francis and Alle School of Fine Arts,” while his paintings are found among public and private collectors in Ethiopia and internationally.


If You Go:
“A Taste of Ethiopia”
Opening reception Friday, December 15th (6PM to 9:00PM)
Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center
3200 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave,
SE Washington, DC 20032
202.505.1938
info@chacc.org
www.chacc.org

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In Ethiopia Workers Struggle to Make Ends Meet at $250m Industrial Zone

The government hopes its investment will lure foreign firms and boost the economy – but low wages and poor infrastructure may see it falter. (Photograph: William Davison)

The Guardian

Park life: workers struggle to make ends meet at Ethiopia’s $250m industrial zone

Concentrating intensely, Haimanot Ayele picks up three pins from a pile and places them into a hole on a wooden board. He repeats the exercise for 90 seconds – a test of his dexterity.

The 23-year-old has travelled 56 miles to the city of Hawassa, in southern Ethiopia, to try out for a job in the textile business at the Chinese-built industrial park – a facility that should eventually cover 300 hectares (741 acres) – which was opened by the government in July 2016 to boost the economy and help it break free from aid.

The site in Hawassa is one of a number of similar facilities the authorities are building across Ethiopia. Manufacturers at Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP), situated on the outskirts of a city flanked by a picturesque Rift Valley lake, are supported with cheap electricity, free water and on-site administration services. Tax breaks are generous and rents are low, set at about $25 (£18.50) per square metre a year by the government, which compares with an average of $245 per square metre at auctions in Hawassa in 2015.

‘We fear for our lives’: how rumours over sugar saw Ethiopian troops kill 10 people

As wages in Asia rise, the strategy is to lure manufacturers seeking lower costs to one of the world’s least developed countries, which is still dominated by subsistence agriculture. Ethiopia’s government wants to create jobs for a growing population and generate hard currency from exports to invest in upgrading the economy. The schemes are also part of European migration policy: donors have pledged to mobilise $500m for two other industrial parks, as long as Ethiopia ensures that a third of the 90,000 jobs expected to be created go to refugees.

So far, the approach seems to be working in Hawassa, at least in terms of job creation. Since opening, HIP’s 52 units have already been leased out by 18 firms, including PVH, the US owner of brands such as Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. PVH suppliers occupy about a third of the other sheds at HIP. As well as profiting from cheap overheads and labour costs, PVH – whose $8.2bn turnover last year was close to Ethiopia’s projected 2017-18 tax revenue ($8.5bn) – will also benefit from duty-free access to US and European markets under deals for poorer nations…

But there are challenges. Of most concern are wages.

Read more »


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DC Ethiopian Community Center Hosts Citizenship Workshop

(Photo: Ethiopian Community Center, Inc. (ECC) in Washington, DC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

September 18th, 2017

Washington, DC (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian Community Center in Washington, D.C. is hosting a timely event this coming weekend for qualified individuals to start their citizenship application process.

The organization announced that it will hold “a free citizenship workshop and application assistance for eligible permanent residents” on Saturday, September 23rd at Edna Cromwell-Frazier Community Room.

The workshop is being arranged in collaboration with the DC Affordable Law Firm, a non-profit “low bono” firm that provides affordable legal services to DC residents.

ECC also states that “immigration lawyers, paralegals and interpreters will be available to provide free services.”


If You Go:
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Time: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Edna Cromwell-Frazier Community Room
1400 14th Street, NW
(corner of 14th and U Streets, NW)
Washington DC
Please bring all your immigration documents and court papers.
www.EthiopianCommunityDC.org


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Catch LA’s Azla Ethiopian on Food Network

FIlming of Azla Mekonen and her daughter Nesanet Teshager Abegaze at Azla Vegan in Los Angeles for an episode on the Food Network. (Photo by Evan Drolet Cook)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — 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 first featured in 2013 in an interview with owner Nesanet Teshager Abegaze as it first opened. This week, Azla Vegan will be featured on the Food Network‘s television episode of “Cosmopolitan Comfort: Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.”


Azla Mekonen and her daughter Nesanet Teshager Abegaze with Guy Fieri of Food Network at their family owned business Azla Vegan in Los Angeles. (Courtesy photo)

According to the Food Network the segment on Azla Vegan will air on Friday, September 16th and Saturday September 17th hosted by the show’s star Guy Fieri.


Food by Azla Vegan. (Photo by Kayla Reefer)

“This trip, Guy Fieri’s grabbing all kinds of cosmopolitan comfort food,” the Food Network announced. “In Los Angeles, a mother-daughter team dishing out authentic Ethiopian specialties.”

“In the summer of 2013, head chef Azla joined forces with her youngest daughter, Nesanet to open the first Ethiopian restaurant in South Los Angeles,” shares the restaurant’s website. “Azla’s culinary expertise and commitment to traditional wisdom is complemented by Nesanet’s extensive studies and work in the education, wellness, and marketing industries. Nesanet’s training in Biological Sciences at Stanford University and UCLA, her studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and yoga instructor certification greatly inform ingredient choices and food preparation techniques at Azla. In addition to serving delicious, nutrient dense food, the Azla team is committed to building community through arts and cultural programming, all while providing space for a return to the ceremonious nature of breaking bread with friends and family.”


You can learn more about the show at www.foodnetwork.com and Azla Vegan at www.azlavegan.com. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Soundcloud handles are @azlavegan.

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BeFront Spotlights Julie Mehretu’s Work

(Photos: BeFront Magazine)

BeFront

Julie Mehretu’s Work Among 5 Inspiring African Creatives

In celebrating woman’s month, we decided to put together a collection of inspirational designers and creatives, hailing from different corners of the continent. Each selection represents a category on our platform. All the women listed below are renowned in their own respect, propelling their creative agendas to staggering heights.

Julie Mehretu (Art) | Addis Ababa / New York

Julie is an Ethiopian-American abstract artist that creates architectural inspired layered patterns and prints that capture dense urban environments.


© Emmet Malmstrom


© Julie Mehretu

Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa. She received her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu’s paintings and drawings refer to elements of mapping and architecture, achieving a calligraphic complexity that resembles turbulent atmospheres and dense social networks. Her work conveys a layering and compression of time, space and place and a collapse of art historical references, from the dynamism of the Italian Futurists and the geometric abstraction of Malevich. Mehretu’s work is held in collections at the Museum of Modern Art.

Read the full article at Befrontmag.com »


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Spotlight on Ethiopian American Basketball Player Krubiel Workie

Krubiel Workie is an Ethiopian American basketball player currently training with the Denver Nuggets. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, June 11th, 2016

New York (TADIAS) — A son of refugees Krubiel Workie was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado — a suburb of Denver that is home to a sizeable population of immigrants from Ethiopia. A talented basketball player, Krubiel is presently training with The Denver Nuggets.

“I was invited by former Nugget Anthony Carter and Steve Hess, Coach for Strength and Conditioning, to practice with the Nuggets,” says Krubiel, who graduated from St. Joseph College in Maine in 2015. “I have been with the Nuggets every Summer since 2012. Currently, I am training at Chauncey’s Gym everyday.”

“The game of basketball is not just a game for me, it’s my life,” Krubiel tells Tadias. “I grew up in the rough side of Denver and basketball kept me out of trouble. I would wake up everyday and the only thing I could think about was the game. And I believe that if I can put my mind to it anything is possible.”

Watch: Krubiel Workie College Basketball Highlights:

“I got my work ethic from my immigrant parents. They instilled in me the importance and the sense of hard work,” says Krubiel. “My father used to say: Do you want to have fun now and struggle later? Or you want to work hard now and have fun later? It’s your choice.”

Krubiel’s strong work ethic is helping him prepare for an upcoming basketball boot camp this Summer in Nevada where professional basketball coaches, agents and recruiters will be scouting for new NBA talents.


Krubiel Workie. (Courtesy photo)


Krubiel Workie with his father. (Courtesy photo)

—-
You can connect with Krubiel Workie on Instagram at krubiel_workie or on Twitter @blessed1flight.

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Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku Hosts NYC Fundraiser for Seeds of Africa Foundation

Atti Worku at Seeds of Africa Foundation fundraiser in New York, December 8th, 2015. (Photo: Sunny Norton)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, December 18th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Last week Seeds of Africa Foundation held another successful fundraiser in New York continuing Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku’s campaign to build a state-of-the-art education facility in her hometown of Adama/Nazret in Ethiopia.

To date the non-profit has raised over $1.3 million of its total $2.2 million goal to fund the creation of the educational institution. “It will meet the most rigorous international academic standards and prepare its students to succeed in high school, college and beyond,” Atti says.


Questlove and Atti Worku. (Photo credit: Sunny Norton)

“The event celebrated the organization’s mission to educate and nurture children and their families by providing quality education and community development programs in Adama, Ethiopia with The Dream School Campaign,” Seeds of Africa Foundation says in a statement. “Featured in WABC, NBC, Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, D Magazine and more, Seeds of Africa is a leading organization offering a successful business model for assisting communities in Africa with the tools to accomplish educational and entrepreneurial development.”

“The Founder Atti Worku, Miss Ethiopia 2005 and a former fashion model, created the organization in 2006 after seeing a gap in access to quality education and community development programs for children, young adults and other communities in her home country of Ethiopia.”

During the NYC event, which was held on Tuesday, December 8th, entertainment was provided by Questlove — founding member of musical group The Roots and Musical Director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon — who performed a curated DJ set list including Prince, Michael Jackson, and Blondie.


You can learn more about Seeds of Africa at www.seedsofafrica.org.

Related:
Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku Receives Diaspora 2015 Youth Excellence Award
Atti Worku Raises $1.3 Million for School Initiative in Nazret
Former Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku’s Dream School Initiative in Nazret, Ethiopia
Interview with Atti Worku: Founder of Seeds of Africa Foundation

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Ethiopia Fireworks Usher in 2008, But Rising Commodity Prices Damp Festivities

Oromo traditional dance during celebrations in Ethiopia. (Photo: Anadolu Agency + DIPLOMAT.SO)

Anadolu Agency & Diplomat News Network

Addis Ababa , Ethiopia – Ethiopians marked the New Year “ENKUTATASH” on Saturday with traditional celebrations, although skyrocketing commodity prices put a damper on festivities.

Ethiopia’s unique calendar is comprised of 12 30-day months and a thirteenth month consisting of only five days, which become six every four years — as is the case this Ethiopian leap year.

The first of Meskerem — the first month in the Ethiopian calendar — fell on Saturday, September 12.

In capital Addis Ababa, fireworks lit the midnight sky Friday night, even though, according to prominent theologian Daniel Kibret, “counting down to 00:00 hours doesn’t tally with the Ethiopian system of counting days”.

According to Kibret, the day — under the traditional system of counting time — technically begins at 6 a.m.

Dr. Zerihun, another scholar in the field, told Anadolu Agency that Ethiopia “maintains the ancient Julian Calendar, which corresponds with the Egyptian Coptic calendar”.

“Calendars outside Ethiopia and Egypt underwent two revisions,” he explained. “In the second revision, Pope Gregory added eight years to it.”

“Until 530AD, the same Julian Calendar system was used,” he added.

Inflation

This year’s New Year celebrations, however, were accompanied by soaring commodity prices.

According to Ethiopia’s official statistics agency, the inflation rate — particularly for food — rose to 14.7 percent in August from 13.9 percent in July.

Many of those who visited Shola Gebeya, one of the busiest New Year markets, said food prices — especially prices for meat — had increased markedly compared to the same period last year.

Read more »


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Elias Sime to Exhibit Latest Work at James Cohan Gallery in New York

Elias Sime, from The Ants and Ceramicists, 2009-2014, mixed media on canvas. (Photo: Adam Reich)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, August, 28th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian artist and sculptor Elias Sime’s New York exhibition opens on September 10th at James Cohan Gallery in Manhattan.

“Sime’s most recent works from the series Tightrope are made from the discarded innards of computers and machines,” the gallery announced in a press release noting that Sime collects most of his materials from the “Addis Ababa open-air market, Merkato, specifically the Menalesh Tera section.”

“For Sime, the objects he uses are not trash” the press release adds. “Once struck by an object, Sime will tirelessly collect his chosen material in pursuit of an idea: “The size of my art is determined by the idea behind the composition. If the idea overwhelms me, the size of the work keeps growing until I have said enough.”

Elias Sime graduated from Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts in 1990 and has since been dubbed “a driving force in the East African art scene.” The Zoma Contemporary Art Center (ZCAC) in Ethiopia’s capital, a gallery space offering an international residence program, was designed and built by Sime in 2002. Together with the founding director of ZCAC, Meskerem Assegued, Sime has traveled extensively throughout Ethiopia to study diverse indigenous ritual practices.


The Zoma Contemporary Art Center in Addis Ababa. (Photo: ZCAC)

Sime’s work has been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2008, and he has participated in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit entitled “The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End”; a piece titled Selechas is now part of the permanent collection at the museum. Sime has also exhibited his art at Santa Monica Museum of Art and Dakota Museum of Art in the United States, the Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal, and at the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna.

In his upcoming exhibition at James Cohan Gallery, “Sime’s work is a history of use and disposal, desire and disregard. While some emphasize the power and spiritual intensity felt when viewing Sime’s works, others note the figurative and abstract traditions of Ethiopia’s modern history, evident in the objects Sime creates. From social realism — a remnant of Soviet involvement in Ethiopia following the 1974 revolution — to mid-century abstract avant-garde movements imported from the west in the 1950s and 1960s, Sime’s art recycles forms as much as objects.”


If You Go:
Elias Sime
September 10 – October 17, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 10, 6 – 8 PM
JAMES COHAN GALLERY
533 WEST 26TH STREET NEW YORK NY 10001
TEL 212.714.9500 FAX 212.714.9510
HOURS TUESDAY – SATURDAY, 10 – 6PM
www.jamescohan.com

Elias Sime Eye of the Needle, Eye of the Heart at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA) from James Cohan Gallery on Vimeo.

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Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku Receives Diaspora 2015 Youth Excellence Award

Atti worku after receiving the honorary Award from African Youth Excellence Inc. in Worcester, Massachusetts on Saturday August 8th, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Former Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku, Founder of Seeds of Africa Foundation, has been honored with the 2015 African Youth Excellence Award. The prize, which is given annually by the U.S.-based research and youth advocacy organization AYE, celebrates “the achievements of a dynamic young African leader in the Diaspora.”

Atti, who graduated from Columbia University in 2014 focusing her studies on sustainable development, education and social movements, has raised over 1.3 million dollars so far to build a state-of-the-art education facility in her hometown of Nazret/Adama in Ethiopia.

In her keynote address during the AYE award ceremony held in Worcester, Massachusetts on August 8th Atti (Miss Ethiopia 2005) shared with the audience that her dream of building a school started years ago in her mom’s backyard. ”My dream was so big that it scared me but if I did not dream big, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Atti said in her speech. “You are your own biggest asset, and people will help and support you when you show them what you are willing to do yourself.”

Atti was born and raised in Adama as the youngest sibling in her family and attended St. Joseph’s school in Adama from kindergarten to twelfth grade. After graduating from high school she moved to Addis Ababa where she attended HiLCoE school of computer science and technology. After college she started a modeling career, traveling internationally, and ultimately moving to the U.S. “Take the first step” she says. “Do not fear failure because it is inevitable. Be open-minded because the world has more in store for you than what you can imagine. Finally, be kind to others — pay it forward — I know I wouldn’t be here today if several people did not take a chance on me.”

Below are more photos from the 2015 African Youth Excellence Award:


Atti Worku speaking at the African Youth Excellence Award in Worcester, Massachusetts on Saturday August 8th, 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Seeds of Africa Foundation)


Atti Worku (Center) at the African Youth Excellence Award in Worcester, Massachusetts on Saturday August 8th, 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Seeds of Africa Foundation)


At the 2015 African Youth Excellence Award. (Photo: Courtesy of Seeds of Africa Foundation)

Join Seeds of Africa Foundation in their #BackToSchool Campaign to cover students’ books, uniforms, food and medical expenses for the first month of the 2015/16 academic year.


Related:
Atti Worku Raises $1.3 Million for School Initiative in Nazret
Former Miss Ethiopia Atti Worku’s Dream School Initiative in Nazret, Ethiopia
Interview with Atti Worku: Founder of Seeds of Africa Foundation

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Icon and Rule-Breaker Asnaketch Worku

Asnaketch Worku. (Photo from the film Asni)

BBC News

The Fifth Floor, a weekly programme of the BBC World Service, features Icon and rule-breaker Asnaketch Worku and why the singer and actress who mesmerised 50s and 60s Ethiopia is still loved today.

Listen to the program here:


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Worku Abiy: Ethiopian Israeli Orphan Fulfills Dream of Becoming IDF Officer

Worku Abiy, 23, from Ethiopia in his Israel Defense Forces uniform. (Photo: IDF Spokesman's Unit)

Ynetnews

By Omri Efraim

Among hundreds of excited cadets at an officer training course graduation ceremony on Wednesday stood one soldier who felt that his presence there was a victory against all odds. Worku Abiy, 23, a lone soldier and orphan from Ethiopia who arrived in Israel at the age of 15, never imagined he would one day wear an IDF uniform.

“If someone would have told me a decade ago, when I was a lonely orphan in Ethiopia, that I would stand here one day with this uniform and these ranks, I would not believe it,” says Abiy

Abiy underwent a long journey to get to where he is today. When he was 3 years-old, his mother died and he lived with his father until the age of 14 – when his father passed away too. Without any parents, Abiy wandered between the houses of various distant family members until 2007. At the time, Abiy was living with his cousin and his family who decided that they were moving to Israel and took Abiy with them.

When they arrived in Israel, Abiy and his relatives were transferred to an absorption center in Afula in northern Israel. Two years later, when Abiy’s relatives left the absorption center, Abiy began to study at the Yemin Orde boarding school near Zikhron Ya’akov.

Read more at Ynetnews »

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DC Workshop on African Diaspora Marketplace Business Competition 2015

(Photo Courtesy: USAID)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

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

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

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

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


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

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Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku & Fatuma Sado Head Houston Marathon Field

Ethiopia's Bazu Worku and Fatuma Sado are among the expected headliners at the 43rd Houston Marathon on Sunday, January 18th, 2015 (Photo credit: African Athletics and gbtimes)

Houston Chronicle

By Dale Robertson

Bazu Worku will return to attempt a rare three-peat in the 43rd Chevron Houston Marathon, and Meb Keflezighi, the reigning Boston Marathon champion, will be seeking his third U.S. Half Marathon championship in the Aramco Half Marathon on Sunday, Jan. 18.

Keflezighi, a naturalized American citizen born in the East African country of Eritrea, won the Aramco this year and used the victory as a steppingstone to become the first U.S. runner to conquer Boston in 31 years…Worku, who is from Ethiopia, won a year ago with a time of 2:07:32, significantly faster than his first-place time of 2:10:17 in 2013. The only other runner to triumph in three consecutive races was Worku’s countryman, Stephen Ndungu, from 1998-2000.

The top woman in the field will be Ethiopia’s Fatuma Sado, who is making her Houston debut. Sado ran a personal-best 2:25:39 in winning the 2012 L.A. Marathon. Biruktait Degefa, last year’s fourth-place finisher with a personal-best 2:26:33, figures to contend as well. Defending women’s half marathon champion Serena Burla will be the fastest American in this year’s marathon field.

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Ethiopia: Booming Business, Underpaid Workers

Low wages have attracted foreign players to Ethiopia, but labourers are hoping for better salaries. (Photo: Within a few years foreign companies have helped build up Ethiopia's nascent industry/Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera

By Simona Foltyn

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Lunch break is over at the Huajian shoe factory and workers assemble in perfectly aligned two-row formations, march, salute, and return back to their work stations.

“Our factory is a bit like a military organisation. The labour here is not highly educated so we have to use a very simple way to communicate and organise them,” said Nara Zhou, Huajian’s spokeswoman, as she walks through the aisles of the large factory hall.

Red banners with writing in Chinese, Amharic and English hang from the ceiling, bearing lofty slogans such as “China-Africa friendly and harmonious enterprise, to win honour for the country”, and “High level of democracy”.

They are excerpts of speeches given by the company’s president, Zhang Hua Rong, a former military officer who established Huajian’s operation in Ethiopia in 2012, Zhou explained.

Within a few years, foreign companies such as Huajian have helped build up Ethiopia’s nascent footwear industry from scratch.

Today, the company employs about 3,000 workers in Ethiopia and generates $20m worth of exports by producing shoes for international brands such as Guess, Naturalizer and Toms destined for US and European markets.

With a growing number of brands such as H&M starting to source from Ethiopia and existing companies ramping up production capacity, the three percent of Ethiopia’s exports that came from textiles and leather in 2013 may well double in the next couple of years, according to government estimates.

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos from the Dallas event:

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New Film Puts Spotlight on Legendary Ethiopian Artist Asnaketch Worku

Legendary Ethiopian artist Asnaketch Worku is the subject of a new film entitled "Asni: Courage Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia" by Ethiopian filmmakers Rachel Samuel and Yemane Demissie. (Courtesy photo)

BBC News

13 November 2014

Asnaketch Worku ‘Ethiopia’s Edith Piaf’

A new film looks at the life of the Ethiopian singer, actor and dancer Asnaketch Worku, who the film’s director calls “Ethiopia’s Edith Piaf”.

Rachael Samuel’s new film is called Asni and focuses on the life of the musician.

Asnaketch was deemed very controversial in the Ethiopia of the 1950s and 60s, which was a very conservative country at the time.

Sophie Ikenye reports.

Read more and watch the video at BBC News »

Related:
New Film by Rachel Samuel Profiles Legendary Musician Asnaketch Worku

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5,000 Ebola Health Care Workers Needed In West Africa: World Health Organization

Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (Tika) members deliver medical treatment and raise awareness of Ebola outbreak in Kolda, southern Senegal on October 24, 2014. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Associated Press

KAMPALA, Uganda — Authorities are having trouble figuring out how many more people are getting Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone and where the hot spots are in those countries, harming efforts to get control of the raging, deadly outbreak, the U.N.’s top Ebola official in West Africa said Tuesday.

“The challenge is good information, because information helps tell us where the disease is, how it’s spreading and where we need to target our resources,” Anthony Banbury told The Associated Press by phone from the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, is based.

Health experts say the key to stopping Ebola is breaking the chain of transmission by tracing and isolating those who have had contact with Ebola patients or victims. Health care workers can’t do that if they don’t know where new cases are emerging.

“And unfortunately, we don’t have good data from a lot of areas. We don’t know exactly what is happening,” said Banbury, the chief of UNMEER.

Banbury, who visited the three most affected countries last week, said it was “heartbreaking” to see families torn apart by Ebola as they struggle to care for sick loves ones while also hoping to avoid infection. He said he is hoping for a new approach in Liberia as the U.N. and its partners work to improve the capacity of communities to safely bury victims.

Over the past week, Banbury met with the presidents of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where the vast majority of the more than 10,000 Ebola cases have occurred, the U.N. said.

Meanwhile, the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said the three countries need at least 5,000 more health workers to effectively fight the epidemic.

Kim said Tuesday that he is worried about where those health workers can be found given the widespread fear of Ebola. Quarantining health workers returning to their home countries — as some U.S. states are doing — could also hurt recruitment efforts. The World Bank president spoke alongside U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and African Union Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the AU is headquartered.

As more countries close their borders with or severely restrict travel from the affected countries, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf pleaded Tuesday with the world to not turn its back on those suffering.

“We’d just like the international community to continue to see this as a global threat, that stigmatization, exclusion, restriction is not the appropriate response to this,” she said.

Read more »

Related:
Ethiopia to Deploy 210 Health Workers in Ebola-Hit West Africa
In first case, Doctor in New York City is Diagnosed With Ebola
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Ebola: Africa’s Image Takes a Hit
U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Lab to Combat Epidemic

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Ethiopia to Deploy 210 Health Workers in Ebola-Hit West Africa

Ebola response roadmap prepared by the Word Health Organization, October 17th, 2014. (Credit: WHO)

Business Standard

Ethiopia said Friday it will deploy about 210 health professionals to Ebola-affected countries to support the response against the epidemic in West Africa.

In addition, the East African nation has also decided to provide financial support of $500,000 to the response in the highly affected countries, Xinhua reported.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, Keseteberhan Admasu, Ethiopia’s health minister, said the health professionals drawn from the public and private sectors would be deployed in two rounds.

The mission from Ethiopia comprises medical doctors, nurses, field epidemiologists, environmental health professionals and public health specialists.

The Ethiopian minister noted that the support is a sign of solidarity to African brothers and sisters.

With its programme dubbed the AU Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), the African Union (AU) has deployed volunteers in the affected countries.

The pan-African bloc recently appealed for more human resources from its member states and development partners to fight the Ebola epidemic.

Despite efforts made to combat and control the epidemic, Ebola outbreak continues to ravage the affected countries in West Africa and the transmission remains persistent and widespread especially in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

Read more »

Related:
Doctor in NYC is Diagnosed With Ebola
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Ebola: Africa’s Image Takes a Hit
U.S. Embassy: No Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Ebola in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Launches Ebola Testing Lab to Combat Epidemic

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New York Exhibition of Recent Works by Awol Erizku (June 19 – August 15)

Awol Erizku, 26, is an Ethiopian-born artist who grew up in New York. (Photo: Hasted Kraeutler Gallery)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Friday, June 20th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — An exhibition of new photographs, sculptures and installations by Awol Erizku opened yesterday at Hasted Kraeutler gallery in New York. The show entitled The Only Way Is Up runs through August 15, 2014.

Born in Ethiopia in 1988 Awol Erizku, who grew up in the Bronx, received his B.A. from The Cooper Union college in 2010, and completed his M.F.A from Yale in 2014.

“Awol Erizku is a cultural collagist, a creative synthesizer bridging eras and cultures, unifying the vocabulary of the art-elite and the New York City streets, the high and the low, the past and a very singular present, The Only Way is Up, takes its title from a Quincy Jones record he often listened to with his parents as a child—an album whose message was to empower and uplift,” states a press release from Hasted Kraeutler gallery. “Although Erizku’s work abounds with signifiers and indicators of African American culture, it speaks more broadly to a universal quest for self-discovery.”

Paramount among Awol’s interests, the gallery notes, “is the re-contextualization and re-purposing of ready-made objects—especially those vested with powerful associations or connotations. Like a contemporary anthropologist, he prowls the urban landscape of his daily life for items and materials that speak to him, procuring vintage T-shirts, used records, or even plastic bags of recycled soda cans—keeping his eyes open for things other people might disregard. He then subverts their expected function making them his own.”

The press release adds: “Erizku’s works are shaped by similarly timely uses of contemporary lexicon. Featuring an irregular square of synthetic black leather hung on the wall, which serves as a sort of canvas for evidence of Erizku’s urban wanderings, an old Michael Jackson record is juxtaposed with the word “#TRILL”—a combination of the words “True” and “Real”—written in neon. In another, a tourist-gift-shop style Obama T-shirt is placed in dialogue with “#WAVY.” Both words are evocative of an urban vernacular that describes a state of euphoria, and, when viewed in the context of the cultural and political icons Erizku has placed them with, they produce a compelling, unexpected harmony.”

If You Go:
Awol Erizku: “The Only Way Is Up”
Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
537 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
Show ends on August 15, 2014
Phone: 212 627 0006
www.hastedkraeutler.com

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2014 Skoto Gallery Summer Show Features Work by Wosene Kosrof

Berkeley, California-based painter and mixed-media artist Wosene Kosrof is best known for his work that incorporate Amharic alphabetic characters into his prolific compositions. (Photo credit: Alan Bamberger)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, June 20th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The 2014 Summer Show at Skoto Gallery (one of the first contemporary African art galleries in the United States), which opened on Thursday, June 19th, features selected works by a diverse group of international artists, including Ethiopian-born painter Wosene Kosrof.

Wosene, who was raised in Ethiopia but has lived in the United States for over 30 years, uses Amharic scripts as a foundation in his playful signature compositions that he calls “Fidel Chewata.” Wosene’s works are inspired by “movies, bookstores, photography, landscape, fashion, colors, conversations,” he says. “I am a loner so listening to jazz, sitting at cafes, watching street lights, people, car movements, all give continuous formation to my paintings.”

The Skoto exhibition highlights fifteen additional artists: Ade Adekola, Obiora Anidi, Ifeoma Anyaeji, SoHyun Bae, Uchay Joel Chima, Sokey Edorh, Diako, Peter Wayne Lewis, Aime Mpane, Ines Medina, Chriss Nwobu, Pefura, Piniang, Ines Medina and Juliana Zevallos.

If You Go:
SKOTO GALLERY
Summer Show 2014
June 19 – July 31, 2014
529 West 20th Street,
5FL.
New York, NY 10011
Gallery Hours
Tuesday to Saturday
11 AM – 6 PM
212-352 8058
info@skotogallery.com
www.skotogallery.com

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David Mesfin: 2014 Hyundai FIFA World Cup Ad Features Work by Ethiopian Artists

David Mesfin (R) & Wondwossen Dikran (L) working on the Hyundai FIFA World Cup AD. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — David Mesfin credits his love of visual communications to his teenage days in Addis Ababa in the late 1980′s where he used to hang out at a place called Neon Addis — a design and advertising firm that produced neon signs, billboards, and other forms of print ads. Today he is at the forefront of his field in the United States and his latest project as an Associate Creative Director includes new multi-platform commercials for Hyundai car company entitled “#BecauseFutbol” (becausefutbol.com) designed for the 2014 FIFA World Cup getting underway this week in Brazil.

The TV spots – created by the advertising agency Innocean USA — also come with microblogging on the social networking website Tumblr, and will be broadcast on ESPN and Univision “as part of Hyundai’s exclusive whistle-to-whistle automotive advertising sponsorship of the World Cup series.” The ad also made an appearance in New York’s Times Square yesterday via Hyundai’s large billboard space. For the Tumblr site, David told Tadias Magazine that he worked with “two amazing Ethiopian artists,” Ezra Wube and Wondwossen Dikran.

“Few things bring us together like the World Cup,” David enthused. “The excitement and passion for the game all culminate into something so extraordinary, that for 30 days the world pauses and allows permission for anything.” He added: “Grown men cry, blood pressure rises, families reunite in living rooms, strangers embrace, fathers and sons bond at 3 a.m. Why? Because Fútbol. Once we defined the Because Fútbol slogan and the TV spots, I began experimenting with converting short videos of emotionally charged Fútbol fans to GIF animations,” David shared. “It began with one video of an Argentinian Fútbol fan yelling at the TV while watching a game.”

David proposed, and the ad agency and client agreed, that Tumblr was the best social media platform to display the images and to engage the soccer fan community. “While working on the project I reached out to two Ethiopian friends who I thought would be the right people for this project: Ezra Wube and Wondowssen Dikran,” he said. “We set the objective to create and curate over 120 original pieces. It could be photography, illustration, digital rendering or GIF animation. What type of content might a fútbol fan enjoy and share? We also looked at different thematic ideas such as celebration, defeat, community, rivalry, ritual and more.” So far only two of the Hyundai Because Fútbol ads have been released: Boom and Avoidance. ‘Avoidance’ features a man trying in vain to avoid the unavoidable — the FIFA World Cup frenzy- where this month teams from 32 different countries will battle for a chance to be crowned the globe’s soccer champion.

Wondowssen Dikran’s involvement with the Hyundai 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign began when his company, Activator Pictures, was approached by the ad agency Innocean USA to produce a couple of spots that were going to be used in the campaign. “Being familiar with David Mesfin’s previous work for the brand, I was very excited to jump on board as the producer, along with Activator’s Creative Director Olumide Odebunmi, to put together a game-plan to implement the vision that Hyundai and Innocean both believed in,” said Wondowssen who is also the filmmaker behind the 2004 Ethiopian movie Journey to Lasta. “As a fanatic Futbol fan, this was a very exciting project to be involved with because we got to work with some very talented freestyle soccer players from Southern California. They were all young, full of energy and totally devoted to the sport.”

“One more interesting insight we have to share is a guinea pig called ‘Tony The Wiz’ who is going to predict key match-ups during the World Cup,” David added. “He will also make some appearances on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter in real time. I’m really looking forward to this.”

Wondowssen shared: “Our company has always wanted to work with David Mesfin and his creative team, and when the opportunity presented itself, we jumped right in. Activator is very proud of the work we have done on this particular campaign. It is not everyday that you get to do work that represents prestigious brands such as Hyundai and FIFA.”

Credits:

Client: Hyundai Motor America

Spots: “Boom” and “Avoidance”

Agency: INNOCEAN USA

Executive Creative Director: Greg Braun

Creative Directors: Barney Goldberg and Tom Pettus

Associate Creative Director, Art: David Mesfin

Senior Copywriter: Nick Flora

VP, Director of Integrated Production: Jamil Bardowell

EP/Content Production: Brandon Boerner

Associate Creative Director: David Levy

Senior Copywriter: Ryan Durr

VP, HMA Account Services: Marisstella Marinkovic

Account Director: Lester Perry

Account Supervisor: Casey Nichols

Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks

Director: Aaron Stoller

Managing Director: Shawn Lacy

Executive Producer: Holly Vega

Producer: Mala Vasan

Directors of Photography: Jess Hall and Jokob Ihre

Editorial Company: Union Editorial LLC

Editor: Jim Haygood

Vice President/Executive Producer: Megan Dahlam

Music Company: The Rumor Mill

Telecine Place: CO3
Online Place: Resolution

Record Mix Place: Eleven Sound

Mixer: Scott Burns

Tumblr Artists: Adhemas Batista, Adam Osgood, Dušan Čežek, Ali Graham, Matthias Brown, Daniel Nyari, Kieran Carroll and Ezra Wube

Production Company: Tool of North America

Managing Partner, Digital: Dustin Callif

Producer: Simi Dhillon

Managing Director, Live Action: Oliver Fuselier

Creative Director: Michael Sevilla

Creative Director: Bartek Drozdz

Senior Designer: Josh Jetson

Jr. Designer: Yuee Seo

Senior Developer: Simon Lindsay

Senior Developer: Richard Mattka

Senior Developer: Josh Beckwith

Tech Manager: Vincent Toscano

Head of Digital Production: Joy Kuraitis

Digital Producer: Simi Dhillon

Content Creators: Activator Pictures, ilovedust, Golden Wolf

Update:
Hyundai USA Releases World Cup AD “Epic Battle” Video by Wondwossen Dikran

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Yemeni People Traffickers Prey on Ethiopia Migrants Seeking Work (Bloomberg News)

Ethiopian immigrants wait near Obok, north of Djibouti's capital, for smugglers' boats to cross the Gulf of Aden into Yemen. (Photographer: Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images)

Bloomberg News

By William Davison

Jun 1, 2014

Sintayehu Beyene left Ethiopia planning to earn money to begin a carpentry business — he ended up captive in Yemen where Kalashnikov-wielding traffickers stole what little he owned.

Grabbed from a boatload of migrant workers as it landed on a Yemeni shore, he says the armed gang whisked him inland to a desert camp. Beaten and detained for nine days with about 30 other people, he was forced to hand over the 1,400 Ethiopian birr ($72) he was carrying before being released. He crossed to neighboring Saudi Arabia, where wages are sometimes more than double the rates paid in Ethiopia, only to be deported a month later when authorities cracked down on illegal migrants.

“They robbed and beat me,” Sintayehu, 31, said in a May 22 interview in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, recalling his treatment at the camp in northern Yemen five months ago. “They took all the money I had.” Sintayehu may have got off lightly, according to Human Rights Watch. Ethiopians and other migrants arriving in Yemen have been captured and tortured by human traffickers planning to extort ransoms that can be more than $1,000 from their families, the New York-based advocacy group said in a May 25 report. One witness cited by HRW described captors gouging out a man’s eyes with a water bottle.

Read more.

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Kefelegn Alemu Worku: Amazing Tale of Derg Prison Torturer Sentenced in Denver

Kefelegn Alemu Worku, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Friday in Denver for US immigration crimes, was a notorious prison guard accused of killing and torturing dozens of people in Ethiopia. (DP)

Colorado Springs Independent

BY BRYCE CRAWFORD

FRI, MAY 23, 2014

Today, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the state of Colorado sent out a press release detailing a 22-year prison sentence given to 62-year-old Ethiopia native Kefelegn Alemu Worku, who was living in Denver until he was arrested for crimes perpetrated as a prison guard in the 1970s.

It’s a compelling tale that just goes to show what a small world it is. The release is copied in its entirety below.

DENVER MAN WHO LIED ABOUT WAR CRIMES HE COMMITTED IN ETHIOPIA IN ORDER TO COME TO THE UNITED STATES AND BECOME A CITIZEN SENTENCED TO 22 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON

Defendants citizenship stripped by the judge as a result of his conviction

DENVER – A Colorado man who used a false identity and lied to gain immigration status in the United States to hide his role in the torture and murder of civilians in Ethiopia in the 1970s was sentenced today in federal court to serve 22 years in federal prison. John Doe, a/k/a Habteab Berhe Temanu, a/k/a Habteab B Temanu, a/k/a “TUFA”, a/k/a Kefelegn Alemu, a/k/a Kefelegn Alemu Worku, age approximately 62, a Denver resident of Ethiopian descent, was sentenced this morning by Senior U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane to the lengthy prison term for unlawful procurement of citizenship, making false statements on immigration documents and identity theft, U.S. Attorney John Walsh and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Kumar Kibble announced. The defendant lied on immigration forms about his involvement in the torturing and murder of people in Ethiopia during the Red Terror. Following his prison sentence, Judge Kane ordered Worku to serve 3 years on supervised release, at which time he will begin proceedings with U.S. Immigration authorities. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Kane stripped Worku of his U.S. citizenship he had obtained after immigrating to the U.S. Taking Worku’s citizenship is required based on the conviction of these crimes. The defendant appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, and was remanded at its conclusion.

The man we now know as Kefelegn Alemu Worku was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on August 20, 2012. He was arrested a short time later. A superseding indictment was obtained on June 18, 2013. The defendant was convicted of all counts of the superseding indictment on October 11, 2013 following a five day jury trial before Judge Kane. The counts of conviction were the unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization; aggravated identity theft; and fraud and misuse of Visas, Permits and Other Documents. Worku was sentenced today, May 23, 2014.

According to court documents, and arguments at trial and at sentencing, the defendant did knowingly use the identification of another person, Habteab Berhe Temanu, to unlawfully procure citizenship or naturalization. Further, the defendant made false statements in connection with his application for naturalization which was submitted in November 2009, and which statements the defendant re-affirmed under penalty of perjury in March 2010, including falsely identifying himself as Habteab Berhe Temanu; falsely representing that he was the father of five children; and falsely responding “No” to the question: “Have you ever persecuted (either directly or indirectly) any person because of race, religion, national origin, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

In May 2011, HSI received information from an informant who was a naturalized U.S. citizen, originally a native of Ethiopia, that he had recently encountered a person in Denver who he recognized as Kefelegn Alemu Worku, a prison guard during a period in the late 1970′s in Ethiopia known as the “Red Terror.”

In the late 1970′s in Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam assumed unofficial control of the Provisional Military Administrative Committee also known as the Dergue. The Dergue was a committee of nearly 120 military officers that established a Marxist regime and abolished Ethiopia’s Constitution and arrested the former emperor and members of the imperial government for alleged crimes against the Ethiopian people. Mengistu seized full control in 1977 which unleashed a two-year campaign known as the “Red Terror.”

During the Red Terror, tens of thousands of Ethiopian men, women and children suspected of being members or supporters of the anti-Dergue group were arrested, tortured and summarily executed. One prison that held, tortured and killed individuals was known as “Kebele 15″ or “Kefetegna 15″ which in English roughly translates as “Higher 15.” This prison housed approximately 1500 prisoners who had been imprisoned due to their political opinions and affiliations. During the Red Terror families of the killed or missing were often required to pay the government for the bullet used to kill the family member. Historical accounts indicate that a minimum of 10,000 people were killed in the city of Addis Ababa alone in 1977, with probably comparable numbers in the provinces in 1977 and 1978.

The witness explained that he had become a political prisoner in Ethiopia in 1978 when he was arrested and sent to the Higher 15. He witnessed Worku torture fellow prisoners and learned that other prisoners were being executed at the hands of prison guards, including Worku. The informant managed to escape the prison in September 1979. Two additional Ethiopian refugees who are now naturalized U.S. citizens who testified at sentencing also identified the defendant as Worku and recounted how Worku had personally participated in beating and torturing them at the same prison during the same time period.

HSI agents, using information obtained from the informant, determined that Worku was using the identity of Habteab B. Temanu and living in an apartment in Denver. Immigration records confirmed that Worku, using Temanu’s identity, came to the United States in July 2004 as a refugee. He lived in Denver until his indictment.

“Today, justice was done. By sentencing defendant Worku to the maximum possible term for his crime, Judge Kane sent a stern, determined message that the United States will not allow its generous asylum laws to be manipulated to create a safe haven for murderers and torturers from abroad,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Our system of justice has successfully removed the defendant from the immigrant community he once terrorized, and in so doing vindicated not only our laws, but the rights of the defendant’s many victims now living here in our country.”

“Homeland Security Investigations aggressively pursues Human Rights and War Crimes Violators like Kefelegn Alemu Worku,” said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. “Our HSI investigation and partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute Worku show that we will not allow the United States to become a safe haven for war criminals. In the unlikely event that Worku ever completes his lengthy prison sentence, he will be transferred to ICE custody and placed in deportation proceedings. A federal immigration judge will then determine if he will be deported to Ethiopia.”

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda Taylor.

Photos: Denver Post and federal authorities.

Related:
A Notorious Derg Era Ethiopian Jail Guard Sentenced to 22 Years in U.S. Prison
Denver Jurors Convict Man Accused of Being Ethiopian Prison Torturer
How an Ethiopian torturer hid in Denver for 7 years in plain sight
Man responsible for murder, torture caught in Denver area

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New Film by Rachel Samuel Profiles Legendary Musician Asnaketch Worku

Director Rachel Samuel (above) features the life of Asnaketch Worku in new film 'Asni' (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The first time that Rachel Samuel met Asnaketch Worku, she was shocked. The famous artist was “bedridden in her two room house, sick and laying on her bed in the living room,” recalled Rachel, who is the Director of Asni: Courage Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia, featuring the life of one of Ethiopia’s legendary musicians.

“This was not the Asnaketch I remembered from that black and white ETV video when I was little” Rachel added: “But that shock didn’t last more than a few minutes. As she started telling us about her past, the strength of her soul immediately became apparent.” Rachel was mesmerized by “how candid, direct and passionate about life” she found Asnaketch to be. ”She seemed to me to be a rare breed. Thinking of her in conservative Ethiopia in the 1950-60’s I wanted to know more,” Rachel added.

Once dubbed The Lady With the Krar for her trademark choice of the traditional Ethiopian music instrument, Asnaketch Worku, who died three years ago at the age of 76, was one of the most popular Ethiopian singers of her time — whose legend Rachel is now trying to revive through the big screen. “I thought her story needed to be told,” Rachel said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. “I didn’t want yet another great Ethiopian artist to slip away without honoring their artistic contribution internationally.”

The film took a little over four years to complete as Rachel and her husband worked on the personal project whenever they had the time and chance. “Asnaketch revealed herself slowly as we got to know each other over the years, and once trust was established, to get the best of her took a few interviews,” Rachel shares.

Locating historical footage was a significant challenge. “Ethiopian Television, which is the only source in the country, was difficult to deal with,” Rachel admits. The film was edited and co-produced by filmmaker Yemane Demissie who is also an Associate Professor at NYU’s Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television.

Prior to her latest venture as a documentary filmmaker, Rachel spent many years working for some of the biggest advertising agencies in San Francisco. “But whenever I had to manage photo-shoots, I always wanted to be behind the camera,” she pointed out. “So one day, I talked to my art director asking him if he knew someone I can learn photography from. He said he just might. That incredible man that taught me photography was Mark Leet.”

“I remember walking into his studio on South Market, with its high ceiling, lights, cameras all over the place. He handed me an Olympus OM1 and said ‘here, take this camera, here are bunch of films, go shoot and come back next week and show me your work.’ That’s how it all started,” Rachel recalled.

It was not until she met Asnaketch, however, that Rachel decided to make a full length documentary. “Asnaketch was an incredible person,” she enthused. “In Ethiopian society, we often especially as women, don’t do what we’d like to do because of yilunta, Asknaketch knew herself and lived the way she wanted to. That’s the [film's] takeaway.”

Below is the trailer for Asni:



“Asni” will screen in New York on Thursday May 1st at 6:30pm at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU (721 Broadway room 006). Rachel Samuel will be present to discuss her work. Learn more about the film at www.asnithemovie.com.

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How Community Health Workers Dramatically Improve Healthcare

Hani Wondwesen is waiting with two children at a clinic in Addis Ababa where they will have pediatric appointments (Ankita Rao/Kaiser Health News)

The Atlantic

Hermon Girma is stirring bean stew over a wood-fed stove when she hears someone at the gate. She sends her 3-year-old son to slide open the piece of corrugated metal that separates her home and others from the cobblestone street in Kirkos, a neighborhood in Ethiopia’s burgeoning capital city, Addis Ababa.

Tigist Seyoum, a sturdy 35-year-old woman with a large black purse and cornrowed braids, leans down to kiss the boy’s cheek as she enters. The community health worker and the boy’s mother sit on a sofa in the Girmas’ home—two tidy, small rooms crammed with furniture. They chat about neighborhood gossip and the family’s health, including checking on birth control prescriptions.

Community health workers like Seyoum have helped Ethiopia reduce child mortality by two-thirds since 1990 and death from malaria, a common disease, by 55 percent. Since their deployment, contraception use among women—from longer-lasting injections to daily birth control pills—has doubled from 15 to almost 30 percent in six years.

Read more at The Atlantic.

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David Mesfin Working on New TV AD Featuring 2015 Hyundai Sedan

David Mesfin. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, January 3rd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — David Mesfin will be spending this weekend shooting an AD featuring the brand new Hyundai vehicle that is going to be announced on January 13th at the Detroit Auto Show. David tells Tadias he will be working with Academy Award winning film director Janusz Zygmunt Kamiński who is the cinematographer behind all of Stephen Spielberg’s movies, including Schindler’s List, Catch Me If You Can, Private Ryan, and Minority Report.

The shoot will take place on January 4th and 5th in Los Angeles. “The launch date for the project is during the 2014 Super Bowl,” David said, adding that “it’s not a super bowl spot. However it’s interesting content that would support the super bowl spot online.” David said Kaminski is the Director of Photography on the project.

David Mesfin also worked as an Associate Creative Director on last year’s Hyundai TV commercial featuring the remix of reggae legend Bob Marley’s popular song Three Little Birds produced by Stephen Marley and Jason Bentley. He also engineered the high profile “Hyundai Epic Playdate” ad that aired during the 2013 Super Bowl.

Below is a video of the 2013 Hyundai AD featuring the Bob Marley remix song.

Watch: Next Oil Change — 15 seconds AD (Hyundai USA)

Watch: Making of “Three Little Birds” Remix Hyundai AD (Hyundai USA)


Related:
Three Ethiopian Animators Vie For Doritos Superbowl AD Grand Prize

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Ethiopian Workers Forced Out of Saudi Arabia: What Awaits Them at Home?

Ethiopian police broke up a protest outside the Saudi embassy in Adds Ababa, Nov 15, 2013. (Photo: Yohannes Gebreegziabher)

Deutsche Welle

“I have witnessed terrible things,” one young man said at the airport in Addis Ababa after arriving from Saudi Arabia. “Saudi youth militias did bad things to us Ethiopians. They killed some of us, they kidnapped and raped women and then killed them as well.”

The man is one of around 50,000 Ethiopians who worked illegally in Saudi Arabia were arrested and deported in recent weeks. The government in Addis Ababa has so far officially confirmed the death of three of its citizens.

“In the deportation prison they gave us dry biscuits, water and 900 Ethiopian birr spending money [about 35 euros],” a young woman in the airport terminal said. “I was able to buy the pants I’m wearing, otherwise I have nothing. What will become of me?”

The statements of the mostly young men and women who were forced to leave Saudi Arabia are similar. Many told of violence and xenophobia that forced them to leave. Now the returnees said they are worried about their future in Ethiopia, which is still one of the poorest countries in the world.

No one knows how many Ethiopians are living illegally in Saudi Arabia, government spokesman Getachew Reda told DW. The Foreign Ministry in Addis Ababa, estimated the number of returnees to be 80,000, and the number of people deported from Saudi Arabia is expected to grow.

Defenseless migrants

Until now, Ethiopia has only seen a mass exodus of its citizens: Each year, tens of thousands of young girls leave the country to earn their living in Saudi Arabia or in the neighboring Gulf states as maids or babysitters. The labor ministry estimates 200,000 women left the country in search of work in 2012 alone.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, and the International Labor Organization have documented how migrant workers are exposed to physical violence, unhealthy working conditions and discrimination in Arab countries. They blame the “kafala” or “sponsorship” system, which, has also been criticized in connection with human rights violations in Qatar, host country of soccer’s 2022 World Cup.

The system requires all foreign unskilled laborers to have a sponsor, generally their employer. Because the employer is responsible for their visa and legal status, workers are at their employer’s mercy. Human Rights Watch recently charged that employers have extraordinary power over the lives of these employees, who thus have no right to organize or bargain collectively.

Dreary jobs for Saudis, too

Behind the recent escalation in the traditionally close relationship between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia is the high unemployment rate of over 12 percent in the kingdom. The comprehensive campaign against illegal aliens is meant to free up service jobs, which had almost entirely been performed by foreigners, for Saudi citizens. Until recently, there were 9 million foreign workers living among 27 million Saudis.

However, the campaign of deportations quickly spiraled out of control. Deportees reported that the authorities and Saudi citizens had resorted to violence. In Manfuha, the run-down immigrant neighborhood of Riyadh, Ethiopians armed with knives, stones and bottles fought street battles with Saudi youth militias and security forces, leading to deaths on both sides.

One hand doesn’t wash the other

The Ethiopian government is attempting a balancing act between indignation and quiet diplomacy. A demonstration in front of the Saudi Embassy in Addis Ababa was broken up by force. Saudi Arabia is one of Ethiopia’s largest trading partners and investors. Every year thousands of Muslim pilgrims also travel from Ethiopia to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

“Was it not the Prophet himself, who sent his followers into exile in Ethiopia to bring them to safety there?” enraged Ethiopians asked in chat forums, referring to the historical ties between the two countries. “Do you show your gratitude by allowing Ethiopians to be mistreated?” they asked the Saudi king in a petition.

The mass repatriation is not just a burden on the cash-strapped Ethiopian treasury: The cost of bringing its citizens home is estimated at nearly 2 million euros. The economic damage is likely to be even higher due to the loss of remittances from tens of thousands of Ethiopians abroad, according to Addis Ababa economist Getachew Belete.

“Every day, ten planes land here with returnees,” Belete said. “Each of these people supported families at home. A worker in Saudi Arabia feeds an average of five family members in Ethiopia.”

In the face of high unemployment, Getachew said he feared many of the returning women could turn to prostitution – social dynamite in deeply religious and conservative Ethiopia.

But a young woman who has just arrived at the airport in Addis Ababa has other plans. “We’ll wait for now until the dust has settled, and then we’ll go back to Saudi Arabia, but this time with legal status,” she said.

The Ethiopian government has imposed a six-month ban on traveling to Saudi Arabia. But like hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians, she prefers the possibility of exploitation and violence in the Middle East to poverty in Ethiopia.

Read more news at DW.

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50,000 Ethiopian Workers in Saudi Arabia Sent Home

Ethiopians hold protest in Paris on November 21st, 2013 against Saudi abuse of migrants. (Photo: AFP)

AFP

Addis Ababa — Ethiopia has flown home over 50,000 citizens in Saudi Arabia after a crackdown against illegal immigrants in the oil-rich state, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

“We projected the initial number to be 10,000 but it is increasing,” foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told AFP, adding that the final total once the mass airlift ends is now expected to be around 80,000.

Ethiopia started repatriating citizens living illegally in Saudi Arabia after a seven-month amnesty period to formalise their status expired on November 4, sparking violent protests between Saudi police and Ethiopian migrants preparing to leave the country.

The Ethiopian government said three of its citizens were killed in clashes.

Dina said the government is spending $2.6 million (1.9 million euros) on the repatriation programme to bring citizens home, the majority women.

Ethiopia has said relations with Saudi Arabia remain “sisterly”, with Dina saying the government’s main priority was to bring citizens home.

“We are focussing on the repatriation… we have not evaluated that one, we have not assessed that,” he said, referring to Ethio-Saudi ties.

Large numbers of Ethiopians — often women seeking domestic work — travel to the Middle East each year looking for jobs.

Around 200,000 women sought work abroad in 2012, according to Ethiopia’s ministry of labour and social affairs.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said many face physical and mental abuse, low pay, discrimination and poor working conditions.

Reports of mistreatment of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia has sparked outrage in Ethiopia.

In an emotional speech this month, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said the government was in “around the clock crisis management” mode trying to bring citizens back.

With 91 million citizens, Ethiopia is Africa’s most populous country after Nigeria, but also one of the continent’s poorest, with the majority of people earning less than two dollars a day.

Around 27 percent of women and 13 percent of men are unemployed, according to the ILO.

Related:
Saudi Arabia Deports 50,000 Ethiopian Workers (SKY News)

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Beyond Outrage: How the African Diaspora Can Support Migrant Worker Rights

Ethiopians protested at Saudi Mission to the U.N. in New York, Nov. 18th, 2013. (Photo: Kidane Mariam)

The Huffington Post

By Kumera Genet

In the past weeks, Ethiopians have protested at Saudi Embassies around the world because of recently posted videos documenting wanton violence against Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. This occurred during a Saudi crackdown on unregistered foreign workers in the Kingdom, which followed a seven month amnesty period. After the November 4th deadline, Ethiopian migrant workers in Riyadh attempted to protest the police tactics in the round up and became the target of angry vigilante mobs that beat and killed at least 3 Ethiopian workers, and injured many more. This violence is only symptom of the larger problem that is the lack of legal protection for migrant workers around the world. The situation is particularly acute in the Middle East, and the abuses against Africans in the region have become increasingly publicized in the past decade.

Abuse and mistreatment of migrant workers in the Middle East is well understood in the African Diaspora. It has been a year and a half since the tragic death of Ethiopian domestic worker Alem Dechasa-Desisa in Beirut, who committed suicide after being publicly beaten and threatened with deportation. Outrage followed that incident, but change has been slow or non-existent in Lebanon and the region since then.

It is time to move beyond outrage and to consider governmental and non-governmental strategies that the Ethiopian Diaspora, African Diaspora, activists in the Middle East and any willing allies can use to work towards ending the abuse of migrant domestic workers and refugees in the Middle East.

Some of my suggestions are:

Support Local Activists and Organizations in the Gulf and Lebanon

How many of us know that there is an annual Migrant Domestic Worker’s Day march in Beirut? It has been coordinated for the past two years by local organizations to advocate for the ending of the ‘Kafala’ labor sponsorship system that ties migrant worker’s residence permit to a specific employer in Lebanon.

Read more.

Related:
Migrant-Rights Org Seeks Long Term Solutions: Tadias Interview With Editor Rima Kalush

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Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter For Inhumane Treatment Of Migrant Workers

(Photo: Stringer / Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopians have taken to Twitter to express their outrage and draw much needed attention to the ongoing brutal treatment of tens of thousands of migrant workers stuck in Saudi Arabia. So far police and vigilante civilians have killed at least three Ethiopian citizens.

BuzzFeed highlighted a Twitter campaign that started yesterday with a message from user Abdi Lemessa who wrote: “#SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to stop killing our brothers and sisters.”

The hashtag has since ignited a social media storm over the kingdom’s abuse of migrant workers.

Below are several tweets:



Related:
NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations (TADIAS)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Immigration Crackdown (Global Voices)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Saudi Arabian Immigrant Crackdown: 23,000 Ethiopians Surrender to Authorities (AFP)
23,000 undocumented Ethiopians surrender to authorities (Arab News)
Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter (TADIAS)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia in Visa Crackdown (AFP)

Video shows mass exodus of immigrants in Saudi Arabia

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Cooperative Economy Works for Ethiopian Village

Awra Amba, Ethiopia. (VOA)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

AWRA AMBA, ETHIOPIA — The Ethiopian village of Awra Amba differs from other rural villages when it comes to beliefs, education levels and general development. Some think the cooperative economic approach of the village could be applied to other rural areas in Ethiopia.

Only about 500 people reside in the tiny village in northern. The community was established in the early 1970’s by Zumra Nuru, who was seeking another way of life.

Four decades later, the community is being examined by government institutions and development organizations. The way of life there is based on equality and working for the good of the community.

Zumra Nuru, founder of Awra Amba, said the village is doing so well because everyone works for each other. He said they harmonize their work efforts, and that all the members of the cooperative believe they are working toward the same point, and that is why they are succeeding.

Growing economic base

The village cooperative was established in the early 1990′s. Every member of the community earns the same annual salary. Last year the amount was 6200 birr [about $300] per member.

While that seems low, 10 years ago there was only 50 birr [about $3] for every member. Incomes are generated mostly from farming, textiles, tourism and selling goods in neighboring villages and cities.

Members of the community work six days a week. Five days of work are for the cooperative, one day of labor is to support elders, orphans and those who are weaker. The last day of the week can be spent as individuals like.

Semenesh Alemu weaves textiles for the cooperative. She said the money that members of the community share, though, is still not enough. She said the money is good if you compare it with how she used to live before. But she works extra on her personal day to subsidize her family.

Cultivating younger generation

Another way Awra Amba is trying to develop the village is by actively trying to create jobs for the younger generation of university graduates.

Gebreyehu Desalo studied agricultural-economics and returned home to work in the financial office of Awra Amba. “I don’t want to have a life that’s different from my community. I grew up here and they teach me throughout my life, and I’m working with them. And I’m sharing equally as a member.”

Staying in the village means it is unlikely Gebreyehu will ever be able to purchase a car or a personal laptop. There is one laptop for the community, but one day the village hopes to be able to afford more.

Ethiopia ranks 173 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. But since the standard of living in Awra Amba is better than in other rural areas, efforts have been made to investigate how and if the approach of Awra Amba can be applied on a bigger scale in Ethiopia.

Efforts are underway to establish similar cooperative communities in different parts of Ethiopia. But this is happening without consultation with Awra Amba members and its founder Zumra, and it is unclear what the results will be four decades from now.

Interventions by outside development organizations in villages have mostly failed, as the needs of the community do not always coincide with what external players provide.

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Ethiopia Bans Citizens From Travelling Abroad for Work

Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen, near the Saudi border, waiting to return home. (Photo courtesy BBC News)

BBC News

Ethiopia’s government has temporarily banned its citizens from travelling abroad to look for work, the state-run Erta news agency reports.

The foreign ministry was quoted as saying countless Ethiopians had lost their lives or undergone untold physical and psychological trauma because of illegal human trafficking.

The decision was meant to “safeguard the well-being of citizens”, it added.

The travel ban will remain in place until a “lasting solution” is found.

The ministry said the government had taken various measures to limit the suffering of its citizens, including setting up a national council and a taskforce to educate them.

But those measures had not been able to address the problem sufficiently, it added.

Employment agencies will also be barred from facilitating travel abroad.

Read more at BBC.

Related:
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)

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Contemporary Art in Ethiopia: Ephrem Solomon Reflects on His Work

Pianting by Ephrem Solomon: Exist Yellow Chair, 2013, wood cut and mixed media, measuring 73x73cm.

The Guardian

By Karen Obling

Ephrem Solomon’s work differs from the prevailing artistic style in Ethiopia in many ways. Although his art is also two-dimensional and on canvas, a strong graphic emphasis makes it stand out from the ever-dominant paintings, be they figurative or abstract.

Solomon was born in Addis Ababa in 1983, and developed an interest in art early. After high school he studied fine art and graphic design, which shows in his portfolio. His works is often very descriptive and literal, focusing on the world around him; the city of Addis, its people, places, spaces and nature. Objects such as the signature chair and slippers are incorporated as a reflection on broader political and social themes.

“My works portrays the distance between what the governed people need and want and what the response is from the governors. I have tried to picture, as precisely as possible, the actual and innocent feeling of the governed,” Solomon says.

Read more at The Guardian.

Related:
Yohannes Aramde’s Bona Fide Step
Symposium In D.C. to Launch the Skunder Boghossian Fellowship Award
Photographer Michael Tsegaye On His Upcoming Exhibition in Oslo

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Ethiopia Signs $800 Million Mobile Network Deal With China’s ZTE

ZTE Corporation is a Chinese multinational telecommunications company based in Shenzhen, China. It is the world's fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer. (ZTE)

Reuters Africa

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia signed an $800 million deal with China’s ZTE (000063.SZ) on Sunday to expand mobile phone infrastructure and introduce a high-speed 4G broadband network in the capital Addis Ababa and a 3G service throughout the rest of the country.

The agreement with ZTE, China’s second-largest telecoms equipment maker, is half of a $1.6 billion project split with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd HWT.UL, the world’s second largest telecom equipment maker. Huawei signed the agreement last month.

Both firms will provide low interest loans to Ethiopia through an arrangement known as vendor financing, Ethiopian officials and both firms said.

Africa’s rapidly expanding telecoms industry has come to symbolize its economic growth, with subscribers across the continent totaling almost 650 million last year, up from just 25 million in 2001, according to the World Bank.

China has extended its economic influence on the continent in recent years, winning road construction tenders in Kenya, signing deals for construction of energy projects in Uganda as well as running mining projects in various countries.

Andualem Admassie, acting chief executive officer of state-run Ethio Telecom, said the agreement would enable the Horn of Africa country to double subscribers to more than 50 million.

“The expansion is vital to attain Ethio Telecom’s objective of increasing telecom service access and coverage across the nation, as well as to upgrade existing network to new technology,” he said in a speech.

Ethio Telecom is the only mobile operator in the country of more than 80 million people, one of the last remaining countries on the continent to maintain a state monopoly in telecoms.

Read more at Reuters.com.

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Update: Ethiopia Halts Issuing Work Visas to Saudi Arabia

An Ethiopian official has told Sudan Tribune that Ethiopia has revoked at least 35,000 work visas for housemaids headed to Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Gulf Air)

Sudan Tribune

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government has suspended issuing work visas to business migrants from Saudi Arabia, according to a source from the Ethiopian ministry of labour and social affairs.

The decision follows Saudi Arabia’s ban last week on domestic labourers from Ethiopia, forcing tens of thousands of undocumented Ethiopian workers to leave the kingdom.

The Ethiopian official, who is not authorised to speak to the media, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that Ethiopian authorities had revoked up to 35,000 work visas for housemaids destined for work in Saudi Arabia.

The official said the Ethiopian ban on Saudis will remain in place permanently unless a new labour agreement that respects the rights of migrating workers is reached between the two countries.

The move is also part of Ethiopia’s efforts to prevent abuses of its nationals and control illegal recruitment by agents.

If Ethiopia insists on freezing work visas that it had already issued, the money which had already been spent by Saudi nationals to process workers’ travel costs will have to be refunded.

Read more at Sudan Tribune.

Related:
Ethiopia Cancels 40,000 Work Visas for Saudi Arabia-bound Housemaids (Arab News)
Interactive Timeline: Ethiopian Domestic Help Abuse Headlines From the Middle East (TADIAS)
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)
BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen (TADIAS)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)

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Bazu Worku & Merima Mohammed Win Houston Marathon

Rising star Bazu Worku won the men’s division at Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday, while Merima Mohammed persevered through injury to win the women’s race. (Houston Chronicle)

Rising star Worku wins men’s division at Chevron Houston Marathon

Houston Chronicle

Bazu Worku sported a slight smile as he crossed the finish line in the 41st Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday.

But that smile broadened considerably as he made his rain-soaked victory lap with the Ethiopian flag draped over his shoulder — the reality of his first marathon win beginning to seep through.

Read more.

Merima Mohammed perseveres through injury to win women’s Houston Marathon

By Corey Roepken

Merima Mohammed has been leaving her mark all over the world for the last four years. On Sunday, she left a running imprint on Houston that will not soon be forgotten.

Despite suffering from a lingering left leg injury, Mohammed ran away from the lead pack with five miles left and coasted to victory in the 41st Chevron Houston Marathon.

Click here to read more at Houston Chronicle.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In UAE, Illegal Migrant Workers From Ethiopia and Philippines Rush to Seek Amnesty

(Image credit: blottr.com)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Hundreds of amnesty seekers in the United Arab Emirates are rushing into the Philippine consulate and the Consulate-General of Ethiopia on the first day of a two-month amnesty program for illegal residents.

According to Khaleej Times, one of UAE’s English daily newspapers, more than 200 amnesty seekers have reached the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO), located at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai.

No official figures have been released regarding the number of Ethiopians that have come forward.

A Filipino woman named Cherry R. told the publication that she resigned from her job upon the demands of her company when she ran into trouble with several banks for delinquent accounts. “I wanted to leave the UAE but I was informed by a friend, who went to check with the police and the immigration on my behalf, that two banks had imposed a travel ban. Even at the time my father died, I could not go home. This amnesty is a great opportunity for me to go home or to legitimize my status,” she said.

“At the Ethiopian Consulate-General, Fananesh A. said she has been illegally staying in the UAE for five years, and though she wanted to go home, she could not go back due to travel ban from banks. “With this amnesty, I am looking forward to seeing my family again.”

The report added that her friend Abenet S. was absconding from her employer, which stopped her from leaving the country. “My father died and that day I cried for days because I could not go home. I felt I was put in a cage. Now is my time to go.”

Click here to read the full story.

Related:
New conditions drawn up for Ethiopian domestic workers headed to UAE (7DAYS Dubai)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

A Walk in Support of Ethiopian Domestic Workers in the Middle East

Image courtesy of the 'Middle East Domestic Help Abuse Reporting’ website dedicated in memory of Alem Dechasa.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Friday, October 19th, 2012

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – The Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), an advocacy organization based in Silver Spring, Maryland, has announced a “walk” to be held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, October 20, 2012. “The purpose of the walk is to create awareness about the plight of Ethiopian women domestic workers in Middle Eastern countries who are living under deplorable and slave-like conditions,” the group said in a press release.

The organization said the event is part of the continuing effort following the tragic death of 33-year old Alem Dechasa in Lebanon earlier this year that has unleashed innovative solutions by Ethiopian professionals in the Diaspora to bring much needed attention to the plight of domestic migrant workers around the world.

Alem Dechasa died in early March a few days after her videotaped beating was posted on YouTube that showed her being dragged and pushed into a car outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut.

“Over the past decade the number of Ethiopian women domestic workers in the Middle East has increased dramatically and is unlikely to stop any time soon,” the press release said, citing a 2012 trafficking in Persons Report published in June by the US Department of State, which noted: “Many Ethiopian women working in domestic service in the Middle East face severe abuses, including physical and sexual assault, denial of salary, sleep deprivation, withholding of passports, confinement, and murder.”

CREW said: “It calls upon human rights and women’s organizations in the Middle East to work with us to avert further tragedy.”
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If you go:
October 20th, 2012
9:30AM-12:30PM
From 14TH & PENNSYLVANIA AV, NW (Freedom Plaza)
To US Capitol back to Freedom Plaza
For more info call: 202.466.1644
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Interview with Atti Worku: Founder of Seeds of Africa Foundation

Atti Worku, Miss Ethiopia 2005, founded The Seeds of Africa Foundation six years ago. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – In 2005, when Atti Worku, was named Miss Ethiopia, she used her newly found public-platform to start the non-profit ‘Seeds of Africa Foundation,’ which operates a center for education and community development in her hometown of Adama (Nazret) in Ethiopia.

In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine, the founder and executive director said her New York-based organization began work in 2006 on what she calls the “Take-Root center,” a multi-faceted project that combines school for children and young adults with community development services, a prototype that the organization hopes to duplicate in other African countries.

“Our goal is to move beyond traditional aid models, providing more than just short-term relief efforts by giving our community the skills they need to support themselves and rise above poverty,” Atti Worku said. “Unequal childhoods can lead to exponentially more inequality in adult life.”

Atti is now a student attending Columbia University and shared her thoughts on education with Tadias. “By educating our children and providing the resources, we can combat the initial inequalities stemming from a vicious cycle of poverty, ensuring that the next generation will reach their full potential as leaders, educators, athletes, actors, musicians, and artists,” She says. “At this point in time, Seeds of Africa’s programming includes supplementary educational and tutorial services for students enrolled in local schools, as well as a full time curriculum for pre-kindergarden students. We also offer adult education classes and community development seminars and support.”

Atti was born and raised in Adama as the youngest sibling in her family and attended St. Joseph’s school in Adama from kindergarten to twelfth grade. After graduating from high school she moved to Addis Ababa where she attended HiLCoE school of computer science and technology. “After college I began my career as a model, traveling internationally, and ultimately moving to the U.S., where I am studying Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York,” she said.

According to Atti, her inspiration to create Seeds of Africa came at a very young age. “When I was in middle school, I became distinctly aware that my peers and I who were fortunate enough to attend St. Joseph’s performed well in school largely because of the individual attention we received and the resources we had available to to us – a library, science lab and computer lab,” she said. “In addition, our school, as well as our parents, set high expectations of us and supported our academic goals.” She added: “In contrast, the public school system lacked the necessary tools and had high teacher to student ratios, which often resulted in lower expectations of student performance. As a result, children who attended public schools struggled to perform and at times dropped out.”

Atti said her organization works with children ages 5 through 15, as well as with their families. “Seeds of Africa has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years,” she said. “Major accomplishments have included expansion to a new center which has enabled us to double our student body and welcome our first full-time pre-k class.”

The community development side of the organization has also been flourishing. “In the past year, we have been excited and honored to work with such partners as Canadian-based Working to Empower and the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia (FGAE),” she shared. “We are also thrilled to now offer adult literacy courses with access to our new library, courtesy of a U.S. based partner Hawthrone Elementary.”


Photo courtesy of Seeds of Africa Foundation.


Photo courtesy of Seeds of Africa Foundation.
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You can learn more about Seeds of Africa at www.seedsofafrica.org.

Tseday Alehegn is Co-Founder & Editor of Tadias.

Eight Artists Selected for Sundance Institute Theatre Workshop in Addis

Azeb Worku Sibane is one of the artists chosen to take part in this year's Sundance Institute Theatre Stage Directors Workshop being held in Ethiopia. (Photo via Flickr)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Published: Monday, April 16, 2012

Addis Ababa, EthiopiaSundance Institute today announced eight artists selected to participate in its 2012 Theatre Stage Directors Workshop that is underway in Addis Ababa this week. They are Tesfaye Eshetu Habtu of Ethiopia, Habiba Issa of Tanzania, Aida Mbowa of Uganda, Rogers Otieno of Kenya, Wesley Ruzibiza of Rwanda, Freddy Sabimbona of Burundi, Azeb Worku Sibane of Ethiopia, and Surafel Wondimu of Ethiopia.

“The one-week exchange and development program taking place throughout the week is part of the Sundance Institute East Africa (SIEA) initiative, which supports the work of theatre artists in East Africa by creating exchange and exposure opportunities between U.S. artists and East African writers, directors, and performers,” the organization said in a press release.

“Sundance Institute has long believed that the best way to support artistic growth is by offering hands-on experiences and collaboration with other artists,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute. “In that spirit, the Theatre Stage Directors Workshop has brought together a range of theatre artists from across the creative spectrum to collaborate on their new work.”

“In the tenth year of our East Africa initiative, we continue to let our previous experiences in the region refine the structure of our program and the support we offer,” said Himberg. “By focusing our efforts this year on the directorial process, our hope is to contribute to the growth of creative leaders in the region and by doing so, stellar work for future audiences to enjoy.”

Below are bios of the participating artists courtesy of Sundance Institute:

Tesfaye Eshetu Habtu (Ethiopia) was born in 1982 in Merawi, located in West Gojjam, Ethiopia. At Teachers’ College, he received a diploma in History. Tesfaye entered Addis Ababa University’s School of Theatre Arts and received his BA degree with great distinction. He joined the faculty of the School of Theatre Arts and has been teaching as a Lecturer in Drama and Theatre for the past three years, while completing an MA in Cultural Studies. Inspired to work as a theatre director, Tesfaye has directed nine traditional dramas from different regions of Ethiopia, all of which were filmed and presented on Ethiopian national television. One of these productions was presented at the 2008 East African Theatre Institute (EATI) Festival in Addis Ababa, winning First Prize. He worked as an Assistant Director on the feature length film Our Local Artists. Amongst other writings, Tesfaye published his article Historical Evolution and the Ethiopian Drama in Multicultural Societies.

Habiba Issa (Tanzania) has been working as an actress and stage director since completing her degree at the Bagamoyo College of Arts, Tanzania in 2003. She directed the play Dhamana Mabatini written by Godwin Kaduma. In 2007, she directed Kuku na Mayai Yake. After that she was named the Artistic Director at The Parapanda Theatre Lab Trust in Dar es Salaam. Two of her most successful productions with Parapanda (Tanzania’s leading theatre company) were Mfalme Salatani na Mwanawe Guidon by Alexander Pushkin in 2010, and Nguzo Mama by Penina Muhando in 2011. Habiba seeks to become a more knowledgeable person with independent thinking about composing and directing stage works so that she can share that information with her colleagues at Parapanda (“the mother of stage arts in Tanzania”) and other Tanzanian artists.

Aida Mbowa (Uganda) is a Ugandan director and scholar presently pursing a dual PhD in Drama and Humanities at Stanford University, focusing on dramatic literature and music in the wake of political movements, such as decolonization in East Africa and the African American Black Power Movement. In 2009, she co-directed a multi-media multidisciplinary performance with 10 Stanford students in collaboration with students and practitioners from Makerere University in Kampala, which performed at both the Uganda National Theater and at Stanford University. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Aida studied in East Africa with the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts International and completed her Bachelor’s degree, graduating magna cum laude with a BA in Performance and Identity Studies from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. In June 2011, she moved back to East Africa to finish writing her dissertation Dialogic Constructions of a New Black Aesthetic: East Africa and African America, 1952-1979. She has two articles en route to publication. The first, Abbey Lincoln’s Singing Screaming and the Sonic Liberatory Potential Thereafter, will appear in New Perspectives on Performance Studies: Music Across the Disciplines (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012). The second article, Between Nationalism and Pan-Africanism: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Independence Men, will appear in the anthology Revisiting Modernization in Africa, currently under review with University of Indiana Press.

Rogers Otieno (Kenya), born in rural Kenya and known to his friends as ‘Rojeh’, is one of the brightest young faces of Kenya’s emerging arts scene. An avid performer from childhood, his first stage was the top of his school room desk where he would mimic his teachers. After school he joined a church performance group, which eventually led him to work at the Kenya National Theatre where he learned the ropes of professional theatre. For the past three years, Rogers was the Associate Director in charge of training at Nairobi’s The Theatre Company. Rogers’ original play My Moving Home holds the record for longest running play in Kenya in 2010. Performed in Kiswahili, Sheng (Kenyan street-slang) and English, the play uses music, narration and largely improvised dialogue to imitate the interactive style of street theatre that Rogers feels is closest to the East African traditional method, allowing for interaction with the audience. Rogers has also performed on several Kenyan television programs. For the last 11 years, he has been involved in performance, producing and directing live events throughout Kenya and internationally.

Wesley Ruzibiza (Rwanda), one of Rwanda’s leading dancers and choreographers, is a 2010 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab on Manda alum. Born in Congo in 1980, Wesley began studying contemporary dance in 2000, at the National University of Rwanda. He trained in African contemporary dance techniques with Arts Azimuts, part of the University Centre for Arts & Drama. His professional training continues both nationally and abroad, including through artists’ exchanges and Germaine Acoigny’s renowned Ecole des Sables in Dakar, Senegal. Appointed as head of Dance Department in 2002, he has given workshops on contemporary dance at the NUR University Centre for Arts & Drama and at various programs in Rwanda and abroad. Wesley’s choreographic pieces have been showcased for major cultural events, such as the opening of the Panafrican Festival of Dance (FESPAD), Rwanda’s Heroes’ Day, Genocide Commemoration Day, and the Under 20 African Soccer Cup. Wesley was selected for a choreographic training in Ouagadougou and Paris, which led to the creation of the first professional contemporary dance group in Rwanda, the Amizero Company, of which he is now the director. Amizero Kompagnie’s play Baho won the Silver Medal for Rwanda at the Sixth Annual Jeux de la Francophonie, Lebanon. Wesley holds a B.A. in Dance in Traditional and Contemporary African Style from Ecole de Sables. Wesley has also worked with an international multicultural project for children, The Longest Story in the World, touring in countries including Romania, The UK, and Bangladesh.

Freddy Sabimbona (Burundi), actor, director, producer and journalist – as well as the founding Director of the satirical comedy group Troupe Lampyre – started directing in 2007 with a play entitled Le retour d’un jeune homme responsable qui s’abstient after working for five years as an actor in Bujumbura, Burundi. Born in Washington DC in 1982, Freddy studied at the Lumière University Faculty of Law before turning to a career in the performing arts. Since founding Troupe Lampyre, he has participated in numerous international festivals and various programs focused on resolving ethnic conflict, including travels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, L’Ile de La Réunion and France. In July 2011, he directed Mr. President, a play which talks about politics in Burundi from 1988 until 1993.

Azeb Worku Sibane (Ethiopia) lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She has worked professionally for more than 15 years in diverse roles including actress, production manager, translator, theatre director and playwright. Sibane has performed at Ethiopia’s National Theatre since 1992 and has appeared in works such as Ha-hu Weyim Pe-Pu by Laureate Tsegaye Gebremedhin and Keadmas Bashahge by Bealu Girma. In 2006 Sibane directed and acted in Eight Women, originally a French comedy drama that she also translated. The production was staged entirely by women, empowering women in Ethiopia to realize professional works successfully. Additionally, she has performed in numerous plays at the Addis Ababa Cultural Center and in live transmissions at the Ethiopia National Radio. In 2007 Sibane performed at The Swedish Theatre Biennale in Örebro as part of the Performing Arts Cooperation between Sweden and East Africa Project (PACSEA), which promoted knowledge and relationship building between the two regions. In 2008 Sibane was selected for an ApexArt Residency in New York City, where she performed The Devil’s Scarf and The Lion’s Whiskers.

Surafel Wondimu (Ethiopia) is a playwright, actor, director, poet, journalist and literary critic born in 1974 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He graduated from Addis Ababa University (AAU) with degrees in English Literature and in Contemporary Cultural Studies from the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. Currently, Surafel serves on the AAU Faculty of Humanities as a Lecturer and Assistant Dean. He also runs the private company Aesop Communication, which runs a weekly 19-hour radio program on FM 97.1. Surafel’s work as an artist and journalist for the Ethiopian National Theater and Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency includes: Sekeken, Death Day Party, Tesfa, The Inspector General, The Hidden Specter, and Dismissed. At the 9th Albugaa Theater Festival in Khartoum, Sudan, Surafel was awarded for writing and direction of his own work. In his academic and artistic endeavors, Surafel grapples with questions that stem from the very locale that he lives in and relates it to his daily life experience in this constantly mutating world. His central question is ‘what does it mean to be human for a citizen of this divided world, an African, and Ethiopian?’. He wants to experiment with forms of Ethiopian folk drama to bring ‘traditional’ dramatic elements into the modern mainstream theater, thereby redefining the epistemological location of Ethiopian theater.

Learn more about the Sundance Institute’s theatre program at www.sundance.org.

Related:
Sundance Institute East Africa Presents Reading by Meaza Worku Berehanu

The African Public Health Network at Johns Hopkins Presents Faces of Africa 2012

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health's Faces of Africa Week features "Black Gold" - the multi-award winning movie about Ethiopian Coffee farmers, their contribution to world coffee supplies, and the imbalance in the international market. (Photo credit: Blackgoldmovie.com)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Monday, April 9, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The African Public Health Network (APHN) at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland will host its annual Faces of Africa event series this week. The student and faculty-run association announced that the theme this year is “Africa: Solidarity for Lives, Sustainability for the Future.” Faces of Africa commences today with a film screening of the documentary Black Gold - The Ethiopian Coffee Story, followed by a discussion about fair trade and foreign aid led by Dr. Stefan Baral, Associate Director for the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

If you go, here are the list of events for the week courtesy of APHN:

**MONDAY (April 9th)-Film Screening
W2030 @5:00-6:30pm
BLACK GOLD – The Ethiopian Coffee Story.
Refreshments will be served. A brief discussion about fair trade & foreign aid (TRADE vs AID) led by Dr. Stefan Baral to follow the movie and Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.

Video: Black Gold – Trailer

Black Gold: Trailer from Speakit on Vimeo.

————————————————–
***TUESDAY (April 10th)-Keynote Address
Sheldon Hall @4:30-6pm
Join Pape Amadou Gaye, MBA – President and CEO, IntraHealth International who will discuss “Perspectives of Progress: Contextualized Interventions and Sustainable Strategies for Public and Population Health Across Africa”. Reception to follow immediately at courtyard 1.

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***WEDNESDAY (Aprilt 11th)-ReACH Panel on Somali crisis
Feinstone Hall @4:00-6pm
Raising Awareness of the Crisis in the Horn – expert panel, moderated by Robert S. Lawrence, MD (Director, Center for a Liveable Future). The first “food disparity” reception will follow immediately after panel. Follow along on Twitter and submit questions for Q&A (#REACHFOA2012). This event will be webcast live at www.jhsph.edu/REACHFOA2012.

————————————————–
***THURSDAY (April 12th)-Transition to NCDs presentation
W3030 @12:15-1:15pm
Bill Brieger, MPH, DRPH will address the “Future of Public Health in Africa: Transition to NCD’s”, focusing on the double burden of infectious disease and non-communicable disease, focusing on cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health issues in Africa. Student Panel follows. Lunch will be provided

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***FRIDAY (April 13th)-Celebrate Africa
Sommer Hall @4:00pm
FASHION SHOW; TASTE OF AFRICA and DANCE PARTY to follow on the 9th Floor. Celebrate the beauty and diversity of Africa with dress, dance, music, drama, and cuisine. Kicks off with fashion show in Sommer Hall with Food and dancing to follow in the 9th floor cafe.

Faces of Africa 2012 is sponsored by: the African Public Health Network, Student Assembly, Student Life, Alumni Relations, Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Center for a Livable Future, Center for Global Health, JB Grant International Society, Anna Baetjer Society, the Health and Human Rights Group, Black Graduate Student Association.

Learn more at www.jhsph.edu.

UN Urges Lebanon to Investigate Death of Worker Abused on Tape

UPDATE: The UN special rapporteur on slavery has urged the Lebanese government to carry out a full investigation into the death of an Ethiopian domestic worker. (Alem Dechasa, 33, died on 14 March, a few days after she was filmed being beaten by men and dragged into a car in the Lebanese capital, Beirut)

Los Angeles Times

Lebanon is being urged by human rights groups to investigate the death of an Ethiopian domestic worker who killed herself after she was videotaped being publicly abused in Beirut, spurring outrage over her mistreatment.

The eyewitness video above was aired by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. and quickly spread through social networks. The footage shows 33-year-old Alem Dechasa crying out and struggling to resist as a man forces her into a car. Dechasa killed herself last month, days after the video had spread. Dechasa claimed that a recruitment agent beat her and threatened to send her back to Ethiopia after she was dismissed by two employers, according to Human Rights Watch. Twice the agent tried to take her to the airport to send her to Ethiopia, but she resisted and screamed. In the incident caught on video, the agent reportedly tried to leave her at the Ethiopian Consulate, saying she had mental problems. She was ultimately sent to a psychiatric hospital, where she hanged herself with bedsheets, according to the Ethiopian consul general.

Read more.

Related:
UN urges Lebanon to investigate Ethiopian maid’s death (BBC)

Ethiopians in Lebanon Protest their Consulate’s Apathy, Callousness (The Daily Star)

By Justin Salhani

BEIRUT: A crowd of Ethiopians gathered outside the Ethiopian Consulate in Badaro Sunday afternoon to protest its neglect of their community in Lebanon.

Following a Sunday church service nearby, a few dozen women and one man walked to the consulate and demonstrated outside.

The assembled expressed their frustration with consular officials’ perceived callousness, saying that when Ethiopians contact their consulate in Lebanon via telephone they are often ignored or hung up on.

“We are living here,” said a woman named Berti, adding that “the [consulate] should help us, but they only want money.”

Another woman, named Sarah, told The Daily Star that many Ethiopians travel to Lebanon illegally through Sudan. She said that if such an Ethiopian encounters trouble in Lebanon, the consulate will absolve itself of responsibility and refuse assistance, but if the same person should want to renew her passport, the consulate would help in the interest of making a profit.

The Ethiopian Consulate was unavailable for comment.

Read more AT The Daily Star.

Ali Mahfouz Charged with Contributing to the Death of Alem Dechasa


In this YouTube video grab taken from the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International, Ali Mahfouz, right, speaks to LBCI reporters. The video became public on March 8, 2012.
(LBCI)

The Daily Star

March 23, 2012

BEIRUT: Beirut’s general prosecutor has charged Ali Mahfouz with contributing to and causing the suicide of Alem Dechasa-Desisa, the Ethiopian domestic worker who committed suicide after a widely publicized beating outsider her consulate.

A judicial source told The Daily Star that Mahfouz was charged Thursday, adding that he is not currently in custody.

Read more at the The Daily Star.

Ethiopia’s consul general in Lebanon says I have learned a ‘big lesson’ (The Daily Star)


Ethiopia’s consul general in Lebanon, Asaminew Debelie Bonssa, said he has learned from the abuse and death of Alem Dechasa-Desisa, but he believes the problems of Ethiopian domestic workers in the country would best be solved by legalizing their labor. (Read more at The Daily Star)

By Annie Slemrod

March 24, 2012 01:51 AM

Speaking to The Daily Star from the office from where he heard Dechasa-Desisa’s screams over a month ago, Bonssa maintained Friday that the type of violence she was subjected to is uncommon at the consulate.

In an incident outside the consulate that was caught on film and publicized by a local television station two weeks later, Dechasa-Desisa was dragged and forced into a car by a man, later identified as Ali Mahfouz. Bonssa said an intervention by consular officials was not included in the clip, and that she was immediately taken by police to Pyschiatrique de la Croix Hospital, known as Deir al-Salib. Doctors told him she hanged herself there on March 14, using strips of her bed sheets. Read more.

Related:
Ethiopia Seeks Full Investigation Into Alem Dechassa’s Death (The Guardian)


Lebanon is the most popular destination for Ethiopian domestic workers in the Middle East but reports of abuse against Ethiopian domestic workers have grown worse as it grows in frequency. (Read more at the The Daily Maverick, South Africa)

The Guardian

By Rachel Stevenson

Beirut – Ethiopia is lobbying Lebanon to investigate fully the death of an Ethiopian housemaid who killed herself after being beaten on the street in Beirut.

Video footage of Alem Dechasa being attacked outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut was broadcast on Lebanese television two weeks ago, causing outrage in the country about the mistreatment of the thousands of migrant workers in the country.

Read more at the Guardian.

Related:
Ethiopians in Toronto Hold Vigil for Alem Dechassa (Sway Magazine)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse (TADIAS)
Lebanon cannot be ‘civilised’ while domestic workers are abused (The Guardian)
Petition to Stop the Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon (Change.org)
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopia Sues Lebanese Man Over Beating of Domestic Worker (The Daily Star)
Ethiopian Abused in Lebanon Said to Have Committed Suicide (The New York Times)
In Lebanon Abuse Video of Ethiopian Domestic Worker Surfaces (TADIAS)

Below is a slideshow from the vigil for Alem Dechassa in Washington D.C. on March 15, 2012.

WordPress plugin


In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse

A website dedicated to the memory of Alem Dechassa documents & reports migrant worker abuse in the Middle East.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The tragic death of 33-year old Alem Dechassa in Lebanon has unleashed innovative solutions by Ethiopian professionals to bring much needed attention to the plight of domestic migrant workers in the Middle East. Alem Dechassa died on Wednesday, a few days after her videotaped beating was posted on YouTube that showed her being dragged and pushed into a car outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut.

“Like everyone else I was heartbroken after watching and then hearing of the apparent suicide of Alem Dechassa,” said Jomo Tariku, who resides in a suburb of Washington, D.C. with his wife and two kids and works as a designer at a large NGO in data visualization. Jomo has now created a ‘Middle East Domestic Help Abuse Reporting’ website dedicated in memory of Alem Dechassa. “When tragedies like this happen there is always a call to action and I quickly noticed that finding data on the severity of this issue was hard to come by.” He added: “The reason behind building this site is to collect the required data to lobby for change in the treatment of migrant workers in the Middle East.”

The crowdsourcing website notes: “there has been a long history of Ethiopians and other migrant workers being abused in the Middle East, which sometimes results in suicide, kidnapping, enforced servitude, murder, defacement, mutilation, scarification by sharp objects, boiling water or chemicals, rape, torture, burning, beating, hot ironing, starvation. In our research to obtain data on various aspects of foreign domestic workers in the Middle East, we noticed a lack of reliable sources, so now we are asking all concerned global citizens to report, log and share the heinous practice of abusing immigrant domestic workers by Middle Eastern employers.”

Jomo said: “Anyone can report an incident via the internet or a smartphone.” An SMS function will also be added shortly so that abused domestic workers can communicate and report live incidents to the site.

You can log reports at the website: https://domestichelpabuse.crowdmap.com.


Related:
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Lebanon cannot be ‘civilised’ while domestic workers are abused (The Guardian)
Petition to Stop the Abuse of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon (Change.org)
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopia Sues Lebanese Man Over Beating of Domestic Worker (The Daily Star)
Ethiopian Abused in Lebanon Said to Have Committed Suicide (The New York Times)
In Lebanon Abuse Video of Ethiopian Domestic Worker Surfaces (TADIAS)

Ethiopia Sues Lebanese Man Over Beating of Domestic Worker

LBCI TV reporters identified the abuser seen in the video footage, via his license plate number, as Ali Mahfouz, right. (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International)

UPDATE: Ali Mahfouz Charged in Contributing to Death of Alem Dechassa

The Daily Star
By Annie Slemrod

Updated: March 15, 2012

BEIRUT: The Ethiopian consulate in Lebanon has filed suit against Ali Mahfouz, the man who was caught on tape beating domestic worker Alem Dechasa outside her consulate. Dechasa, 33, committed suicide Wednesday.

Asaminew Debelie Bonssa, Ethiopia’s consul general in Lebanon, told The Daily Star Thursday that “we have already sued him [Ali Mahfouz].” He declined to give the details of the lawsuit, saying it was “a legal issue that cannot be made public,” adding that the suit was in process before the consulate was aware of Dechasa’s death but that with this development “everyone is expecting something out of this.”

In a video released by LBCI last week, Dechasa was seen moaning as a man, later identified as Mahfouz, beat and tried to force her into a car outside the Ethiopian consulate, aided by another man.

Read more at The Daily Star.

Ethiopian Woman Beaten on Camera Kills Herself: Vigil for Alem Dechassa


TV broadcast shows 33-year-old Alem Dechassa being forced into a car outside the Ethiopian consulate in Lebanon. (LBCI)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The Ethiopian domestic worker that was violently mistreated outside the Ethiopian embassy in Beirut, as shown in a viral video last weekend, has committed suicide, Ethiopia’s Consul General confirmed to local media in Lebanon.

Alem Dechasa, 33, hanged herself using her bed sheets Wednesday morning, the Daily Star newspaper reported.

“My body is shaking and my heart is broken” said Ms. Zewditu Fessehaa, Chairwoman of the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee in New York City, whose organization has been mobilizing efforts to assist the victim. “It’s depressing, it’s very sad and it’s unfair. She added: “As a mother I want to appeal to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to do something. Our daughters are being treated like dogs and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Ethiopian General Consul Asaminew Debelie Bonssa spoke to the Daily Star following a visit to the hospital where she was found dead. According to the newspaper, the Ethiopian consulate official said he saw Alem Dechasa Saturday and she appeared fine. The diplomat also said doctors told him they checked on her at 5 a.m. this morning and when they returned at 6 a.m. she was dead. Bonssa said he was “deeply shocked by the news.”

In New York, the ESAC chairwoman called for a collective response. “I want to appeal to everyone. We need to pull together to stop this madness,” Ms. Fessehaa said. “The cruelty directed against domestic workers is a human rights issue.” She added: “It needs an in-depth understanding, and an innovative solution within and beyond the Ethiopian community. We need people from every profession to assist us to make sure that our sister did not die in vain.”

Meanwhile, a vigil to mourn Alem Dechasa’s death is scheduled in front of the Lebanon embassy on Thursday, at 11 AM in Washington D.C.

Related:
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C. (TADIAS)
Maltreated maid in video aired on Lebanon TV kills herself (MSNBC)
Maid Commits Suicide After Attack Video (Reuters via The Root)
Maid hangs herself after scandal (Independent Online)
Lebanon: Abused Ethiopian maid kills herself – VIDEO (Global Post)
In Lebanon Abuse Video of Ethiopian Domestic Worker Surfaces (TADIAS)

Video: Woman seen in Lebanon abuse video kills herself days after this footage emerged

Video: Ethiopian Domestic Worker Beaten Outside the Ethiopian Consulate in Lebanon (LBC)

In Lebanon Abuse Video of Ethiopian Domestic Worker Surfaces

TV broadcast shows the woman being forced into a car outside the Ethiopian consulate in Lebanon. (LBCI)

UPDATE: Ethiopian Woman Beaten on Camera Kills Herself: Vigil for Alem Dechassa

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, March 11, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The recent, disturbing video of an Ethiopian woman who was violently mistreated outside the Ethiopian embassy in Lebanon, appears to have caught the Lebanese media and authorities by surprise. For many Ethiopians, however, the incident is the latest example of the prevalent culture of violence against female Ethiopian migrant employees in many Middle Eastern countries.

“It is time to end the unchecked exploitation of migrant women in the Middle East,” said Ms. Zewditu Fessehaa,” Chairwoman of the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee in New York City. ESAC recently hosted a public forum to highlight the plight of Ethiopian female domestic workers in the Middle East. “As the world can see from this video the treatment of domestic workers in that part of the world is inhumane, barbaric, unjust and must be stopped,” Ms. Fessehaa said.

Meanwhile, local media in Lebanon say that the government is calling for an investigation. “The scenes of the Ethiopian domestic worker being beaten outside the Ethiopian consulate were considered as a crime by all those who saw them,” reported the Beirut based Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International. “The Lebanese state mobilized its efforts, especially the cabinet and the Lebanese public opinion that strongly denounced what happened, calling for harsh sanctions against the perpetrator of such acts in the future.”

LBCI reporters identified the abuser seen in the video footage, via his license plate number, as Ali Mahfouz. “Ali tried to justify his act by denying that he beat her; he stressed that the worker tried to commit suicide more than once and that he tried dealing with her humanely, but she refused to go to the airport for deportation,” he told the TV station. Labor Minister Salim Jreissati told LBC that the Ministry of Labor “decided to take the necessary measures to punish the perpetrator who turned out to be an employee in the domestic workers’ office. Jreissati said that the ministry summoned the domestic workers’ office for an urgent meeting on Monday, adding that a formal complaint will be registered.”

In New York, Ms. Fessehaa said she is urging everyone to speak out on behalf of the workers. “Men or women, it is time to break the silence on this urgent crisis,” she said. “We need to demand that our women are treated with dignity and humanity.” She added: “We need to start thinking about alternative solutions to the larger problem that continues to lure them to unsafe work conditions in foreign lands. This issue must be permanently solved.”

Tadias Magazine has contacted the Ethiopian consulate in Lebanon to shed light on the actual circumstances of the woman, her whereabouts, and whether or not she has received assistance. We will update the story if we receive a response.

Watch: Ethiopian Domestic Worker Beaten Outside the Ethiopian Consulate in Lebanon (LBCI)


Related:
Related:
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C. (TADIAS)
Maltreated maid in video aired on Lebanon TV kills herself (MSNBC)
Maid Commits Suicide After Attack Video (Reuters via The Root)
Maid hangs herself after scandal (Independent Online)
Lebanon: Abused Ethiopian maid kills herself – VIDEO (Global Post)
In Lebanon Abuse Video of Ethiopian Domestic Worker Surfaces (TADIAS)

Video: Woman seen in Lebanon abuse video kills herself days after this footage emerged

Sundance Institute East Africa Presents Reading by Meaza Worku Berehanu

Sundance Institute East Africa is hosting a reading of Meaza Worku's play called "Desperate to Fight" in New York on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at Baryshnikov Art Center. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk | Events News

Updated: Saturday, March 10, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – A new comedy-drama by Meaza Worku Berehanu, an emerging Ethiopian playwright from Addis Ababa, offers a witty, sophisticated, and paradoxical story about relationships, love, and marriage, from the heart of the gender struggles in contemporary Addis Ababa. In Meaza’s play entitled Desperate to Fight the main character is a single woman named Martha who has been divorced three times, and now she contemplates if she should tie the knot for the fourth time. Tormented by the sounds of a newly and seemingly happily-wedded couple living next door, Martha wrestles with her past and the memories of her former husbands.

“She is a woman of principle who believes a life in black and white,” Meaza told Tadias Magazine in a recent interview. “In the story we see her mother try to fix her up with a widower who is intending to be a fourth husband.”

She added: “The mother also tries to caution her about the biological clock so that she gives it a try for a child. The character is challenged by the expectation of family and individual belief. It is a play about perusing love and happiness in life.”

Sundance Institute East Africa is hosting a reading of Desperate to Fight on Wednesday, March 14 at Baryshnikov Art Center in Manhattan. The program supports the work of stage-artists in East Africa by creating exchange and exposure opportunities between U.S. and East African writers, directors, and performers. Meaza ‘s invitation to NYC is a continuation of the Institute’s Eastern Africa region Theatre lab. Her play was among four that were selected after a competition for playwrights in six East African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda .

“Since I was a child I have had a very encouraging environment to express myself and dramatize them,” Meaza said. “I love reading, listening to people, and radio and watching movies and all these were inspirations to me to love and work on plays and drama.” She shared: “After college I started to write short stories for radio, and then I discovered I have a big inclination for writing.”

The mother of two was born in Asmara in 1978. “When I was a one month baby my family moved to Addis Ababa,” she told us. “I grew up in Addis and I still live in Addis.” She said: “I went to a public school for primary and secondary education. Then I joined Addis Ababa University and got my Bachelors degree in Theatre Arts in the year 2000. For the past ten years I have been involved in theatre, television and radio drama production as a writer and director. I am married and have two children.”

Desperate to Fight has also been selected for the International Women Play-writers Conference that will be held in Stockholm, Sweden this coming August .

“I am very honored and pleased to have all these opportunities, to meet people like you and share,” Meaza said.

If You Go:
Wednesday, March 14 at 7:00pm
Baryshnikov Art Center
450 West 37th St (btw 9th/10th Ave), Studio 4A

RSVP at theatre@sundance.org with your full name by Monday, March 12. For more information about Sundance Institute East Africa, visit www.sundance.org.

Video: Nation to Nation Networking (NNN) Fourth Annual Award Gala

The Nation to Nation Networking (NNN) Fourth Annual International Diaspora Award Dinner was held on Thursday, October, 13, 2011 at Three West 51st Street in New York City. (Watch the video below)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – The Nation to Nation Networking (NNN) gala dinner this past October brought together individuals and organizations from a diverse set of cultural and national backgrounds who worked in the fields of science, education, health care, media, and development programming. We take this opportunity to thank NNN for its foresight and dedication to build bridges across cultures.

Ms. Abaynesh Asrat, Founder & President of Nation to Nation Networking (NNN) formed the organization with a focus on result-oriented programs including: creating awareness about significant roles that can be played by the Diaspora, providing youth & family services for immigrant communities, organizing multicultural programs, and developing locally sustainable projects in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

Tadias Magazine is proud to have been one of the award recipients during the gala dinner, and we celebrate the accomplishments of fellow honorees. Award recipients included Ms. Fay Bennet Lord, former Chair of the United Nations Global Concerns Committee and MC for the evening; Ms. Tania Leon, Composer and founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem; Dr. Arline Lederman, vice President of the Board of Solar Cookers International; Dr. Padmini Murthy, Chair of the Women’s Rights Committee of the American Public Health Association; and Elkhair Balla, Investment Banker, Social Entrepreneur and Founder of B Holding Group among others. Dr. Dessima M. Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations spoke at the beginning of the night’s program and emphasized the importance of recognizing and nurturing young talent.

Below is a summary clip from the evening’s program:

Watch: Nation to Nation Networking Fourth Annual Award Gala

Tadias Honored With Service Award from Nation to Nation Networking

Tadias will be recognized with a Service Award at the 2011 Nation to Nation Networking Award Gala in New York on Thursday, October 13. (The above image shows old print issues. Tadias is now an online magazine. Photo by Kidane Mariam)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New York - Tadias Magazine will receive the Exceptional Service Award for ‘Bridge-Building Across Cultures’ from Nation to Nation Networking (NNN) at its 4th Annual International Diaspora Award Dinner on Thursday, October 13, 2011.

NNN is a U.S. based non-profit organization that works to foster understanding among different communities in the United States and beyond. Its founder is Ethiopian-American Abaynesh Asrat. Past recipients of the award include Elinor Ruth Tatum, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the New York Amsterdam News, the oldest and largest African-American newspaper in New York, and one of the oldest ethnic papers in the country.

Tadias is a New York based online magazine tailored towards the Ethiopian-American community.

We are honored and humbled by the recognition.

If You Go
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Three West 51st Street, New York City, NY 10019
Dinner at 6:45, ceremony – 7:45 PM

RSVP by October 6, 2011. To sponsor the event, buy ads in the tribute book or purchase tickets please call 917-375-3636. Suggested Contribution of $150. All contributions are tax-deductible. NNN, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) federally tax-exempt organization. PayPal payment option will be posted shortly. You can also make checks payable to: Nation to Nation Networking, Ltd. (or ‘NNN, Ltd.’) and mail to: NNN, Ltd. – P.O. Box 286702 – New York, NY 10128.

Scientist at Work: A Fossil Hunt in Ethiopia

Above: A view of Mush River near Addis Ababa, with its dark
fossil-bearing shales. Photograph by Bonnie F Jacobs via NYT.

The New York Times
By BONNIE F. JACOBS

Posted: December 29, 2010, 4:55 pm

Bonnie F. Jacobs, a paleobotanist at Southern Methodist University, writes from Ethiopia, where she is studying fossils of ancient plant and animal life. The current field season in the Mush Valley of Ethiopia is financed by a grant to Ellen Currano of Miami University, Ohio, from the National Geographic Society Committee on Research and Exploration.

Monday, Dec. 27

This winter’s field season in Ethiopia is my tenth since I began working there, and despite my experience I am filled with anticipation. Our project is a relatively new one — studying rocks and fossils from an important period of history, 22 million years ago — and the location, Mush Valley, is also somewhat new to our team (last year was our first collecting trip here).

Mush Valley is only about 160 kilometers northeast of the modern capital city, Addis Ababa, but it feels as though it could be a thousand miles away. Very little of city life intrudes into the villages of Upper and Lower Mush.

What really takes me away from it all are the rocks and fossils exposed by and alongside the Mush River. They provide us an exciting opportunity to document life, climate, landscape and atmosphere 22 million years ago. As we excavate blocks of fine-grained sediment — primarily shale — looking for clues to the past, the pivotal role played by that ancient time period is always on our mind.

Why is it important to know about the Ethiopian Plateau 22 million years ago? The Mush Valley preserves plants and animals from a time soon after a land connection was established between Afro-Arabia and Eurasia — a land connection that marked the end of Africa’s island status and that was used by animals to migrate between the two previously separated land masses. By looking at the fossil record from that period of time — before the Red Sea was formed — we can gain a clearer view of which species survived this great migration and which did not.

Read more at NYT.

Latest related post from NYT:
January 4, 2011: Evidence of Mammals and Legumes, 22 Million Years Old

Passing of Ethiopian Soccer Legend Mengistu Worku

Above: Mengistu Worku (Bottom R) was an Ethiopian soccer
player recognised as Ethiopia’s best soccer player of all time.
(The victorious Ethiopian team at the 3rd African Cup, 1962.)

Source: EthioSports.com

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Mengistu Worku 70, Ethiopia’s greatest footballer of all time and the last head coach who took the Ethiopian national football team to the African Nations Cup in Libya in 1982, has died here today.

Mengistu recently returned home after undergoing medical treatment in Bangkok, Thailand for the two years.

The 3rd African Cup winner has been in Bangkok for two years undergoing medical treatment but his condition has worsened. Mengistu was said to have returned home along with a medical doctor and special medical equipments for follow-up treatment. {Read more}

Related (Photos and bio):
Ethiopian soccer legend Mengistu Worku passed away (Ethiopian Review)

Watch: A tribute to Ethiopian Soccer Legend Mengistu Worku

Galerie Alternance Features Works By Fikru Gebre Mariam

Above: Featured in exhibition at prestigious Galerie Alternance,
Fikru’s paintings have reached new levels of public recognition.

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Published: Friday, July 9, 2010

New York (Tadias) – An exhibition featuring recent works by internationally acclaimed Ethiopian artist Fikru Gebre Mariam will open at the prestigious Galerie Alternance in France this weekend.

In his 2009 profile of Fikru on Tadias Magazine, Donald N. Levine described the works as mostly depicting Ethiopian subjects, but expressed in geometric abstraction. “They convey a blend of rich hues, emotional intensity, immediacy of impact, and a touch of austerity,” Levine writes. “If asked to compare them to European artists, I would say that Fikru’s compositions offer a blend of Modigliani figures in a Giacomettian “Still Ladies” stance presented with Braquean geometric abstraction.”

In fact, the painter – who divides his time between his studios in Paris and Addis Ababa – tells the author that Braque was indeed his favorite artist. “Even so, there is no mistaking the deeply Ethiopian flavor of these paintings,” Levine says.”They display hints of Ethiopian miniatures and church paintings. They are imbued with African earth tones. They use the colored garments of Harari women. They capture the somber mood of much Ethiopian life.”

Levine goes on to describe how Fikru Gebre Mariam’s life in Paris and Addis Ababa influences his work. “The world of Ethiopian painters is, like much else about contemporary Ethiopian life, divided between those who have remained at home and attempted to be true to Ethiopian realities, and those who have emigrated and whose offspring evince a passion to emulate Western styles to a high degree. With studios in Paris and Addis Ababa, where he spends half a year each, Fikru savors all he can of both worlds. He insists that it is essential for his art that he remains close to his Ethiopian roots–and indeed has continued to live in his father’s gibbi (home) until now. At the same time, Fikru finds it no less essential to spend half of each year abroad. As he wrote me, “I believe the freedom of being out of Ethiopia has amazing value in my life and work. Both in Europe and the U.S., especially in Paris . . .visiting museums and art galleries bring dramatic important changes in my work. It is like seeing yourself in the big mirror, even if you think you know yourself.”

Fikru is a graduate of the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts, founded by the distinguished artist Ale Felege Selam – who introduced modern methods of teaching drawing and painting, which he had studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s. There, the artist became a protégé of instructor Tadesse Mesfin, who Levine says “not only taught him painterly skills but gave him a graphic theme which he would embrace, struggle with, and grow through, ever since.”

Here are recent images courtesy of the artist:

New Commissioned Works by Julie Mehretu on View at the Guggenheim

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1970, Julie Mehretu was raised in Michigan. She received an MFA in painting and printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997.

Tadias Magazine
Events News
Source: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Published: Friday, April 30, 2010

NEW YORK, NY — An exhibition of six new large-scale paintings by American artist Julie Mehretu, is presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as part of the Deutsche Bank Series at the Guggenheim, May 14 to October 6, 2010.

Commissioned in 2007 by Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the suite of semiabstract works is inspired by a multitude of sources, including historical photographs, urban planning grids, modern art, and graffiti, and explores the intersections of power, history, dystopia, and the built environment, along with their impact on the formation of personal and communal identities.

Berlin plays a significant role in the investigation of memory and the urban experience in the Grey Area suite, first conceived during a residency by Mehretu at the American Academy in Berlin in 2007. During this residency, the artist was struck by the continuously shifting profile of Berlin, a historically charged city where vestiges of war coexist with new architectural development. For Mehretu, the visible evidence of destruction and recovery on the facades and streetscapes of Berlin also conjures the physical aftermath of war around the world, as in the paintings Believer’s Palace (2008–09), which references the partially destroyed palace that sat atop Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad bunker, and Atlantic Wall (2008–09), which renders the interiors of bunkers built by Germany along the Western European coastline during World War II.

Video: Interview with Julie Mehretu

About Julie Mehretu
Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1970, Mehretu was raised in Michigan. She studied at Kalamazoo College in Michigan (BA, 1992) and at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar in Dakar, Senegal (1990–91). She received an MFA in painting and printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu has participated in numerous international exhibitions and biennials and has received international recognition for her work, including, in 2005, the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the prestigious MacArthur Fellow award. She has 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). Mehretu currently lives and works in New York and Berlin.

Exhibition Catalogue
An illustrated 96-page catalogue titled Julie Mehretu: Grey Area accompanies the exhibition and includes essays by Joan Young and Brian Dillon. Designed by Tracey Shiffman, with Alex Kohnke and Summer Shiffman of Tracey Shiffman Design, Los Angeles, and in collaboration with Julie Mehretu, the catalogue features source materials selected by the artist, as well as a selection of photographs by Mark Hanauer tracing the development of the series in the artist’s Berlin studio. Priced at $45 and offered in a hardcover edition, the catalogue may be purchased online at the Guggenheim Store.

Curator’s Eye Guided Tours:
Free with museum admission
Guggenheim curator Joan Young leads tours of Julie Mehretu: Grey Area on Fridays, June 4 and August 13, 2 pm.

About The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. Currently the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation owns and operates the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice, and also provides programming and management for two other museums in Europe that bear its name: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by architect Frank Gehry, is scheduled to open in 2013.

Visitor Information
Admission: Adults $18, students/seniors (65+) $15, members and children under 12 free. Admission includes an audio tour.

Museum Hours: Sun–Wed, 10 am–5:45 pm; Fri, 10 am–5:45 pm; Sat, 10 am–7:45 pm; closed Thurs. On Saturdays, beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum hosts Pay What You Wish. For general information, call 212 423 3500 or visit guggenheim.org.

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British oil worker shot in Ethiopia named as Jason Read (BBC)

Above: The victim, aged 39, was from the southern English
town of Portsmouth. He was an employee of British firm IMC
Geophysics International.

BBC
Friday, 9 April 2010
A British geologist working for an oil company who was shot dead in Ethiopia, has been named by the Foreign Office as Jason Read. The 39-year-old, who was from the Portsmouth area, was killed during an ambush on Monday near Danot in the conflict-stricken Ogaden region. He worked for IMC Geophysics International – which was subcontracted to Malaysian oil giant Petronas. The company has said it was “shocked and saddened” by the killing. Read more.

More News via Google (04/10/2010)

Ethiopia Hails Little-Known Rebel Group’s Demise
Voice of America – Peter Heinlein
Ethiopia says a little known rebel group in the eastern Somali region has renounced the use of force and agreed to join the political process, weeks before … Read more.

China builds Ethiopia stadium
Straits Times
ADDIS ABABA – ETHIOPIAN league champions Saint George on Friday signed an agreement with a Chinese construction company to build the nation’s first … Read more.

Ethiopia’s First Science Academy (Science Now)
Ethiopia launches first science academy (Nature.com)
Ethiopian Banking: Moving fast without haste (Africasia)

4-time Boston Marathon women’s champ Ndereba withdraws from race due to injury
The Canadian Press
The women’s elite field still includes last year’s winner Salina Kosgei of Kenya and runner-up Dire Tune of Ethiopia. Officials also say Dmytro Baranovskyy…Read More.

Emaciated children signal crisis in north African country
Temple Daily Telegram – Jason Straziuso – ‎Apr 8, 2010‎
Two years of drought and tribal clashes in this Sudan region bordering Ethiopia have laid foundations for a humanitarian crisis the UN mission dubs the … Read more.

Book That Saved Jewish Lives
Five Towns Jewish Times Online – Rafael Medoff
In late 1984, Israel struck a secret deal with the Sudanese government to let Israeli planes land near the Ethiopia-Sudan border and bring Ethiopian Jews to … Read more.

Ethiopian Supermodel Works to Improve Health of Third World Mothers (NBC)

Above: Liya Kebede holds a baby while on a visit to Africa for
the World Health Organization. (Courtesy of WHO).

NBC News
Liya Kebede: Supermodel on a mission
Wed., May 6, 2009
Each month, we highlight a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This month we speak with supermodel, actress, WHO ambassador and mother, Liya Kebede, about her work on health issues related to childbirth. You may recognize Kebede as the former face of Estee Lauder or from the cover of magazines including Vogue’s May 2009 issue. Kebede, who is Ethiopian, founded her own organization to reduce mortality among mothers, newborns and young children and well as to help mothers and children stay healthy. Read more.

Related: J. Crew Partners with Ethiopian-born Supermodel

J. Crew Partners with Liya Kebede to Carry her Handmade
Children’s Collection, Lemlem

(NEW YORK) – When J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons and team met supermodel, mother of two, and International Goodwill Ambassador Liya Kebede, a relationship was born. Lyons approached Kebede to appear in the April catalog, but both quickly realized their relationship needn’t end there. Read More.

Slain Ethiopian Man Was Hard Working, Victim of Robberies

Lorna Zemedu Araya, 25 (left) of Atlanta and Quincy Marcel Jackson, 27, (right) of Riverdale, are facing murder charges related to the slaying of Lemma.

By ANDRIA SIMMONS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tedla Lemma came to this country seeking a better life and political asylum from the former communist government in Ethiopia.

But for Lemma at least, America was not a land of safety or opportunity. It was a country where he would toil as a cashier for up to 17 hours a day. He saved nearly every penny, only to fall prey three times to violent robbers and die at their hands on March 25, 2008.

That was testimony given on Tuesday by Lemma’s brother, Sirak Lemma, in the Gwinnett County trial for one of the alleged killers, Quincy Marcel Jackson.

Jackson, 27, of Riverdale, and four other suspects are accused of committing three home invasion robberies between late 2007 and early 2008. Read More.

Couple faces murder charges (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Slain man’s family relieved

By ANDRIA SIMMONS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 07/17/08

Relatives have been visiting Tedla Lemma’s grave almost daily since he was killed in a home invasion four months ago.

His sister-in-law, Rosemary Lemma, returned there Wednesday with newfound peace after learning police had captured the alleged killers.

“I know he is laughing, saying ‘You thought you would get away with it,’ ” Rosemary Lemma said. “I just can’t believe it’s finally coming to a close.”

Quincy Marcel Jackson, 27, of Riverdale, and Lorna Zemedu Araya, 25, of Atlanta, are being held without bond at the Gwinnett jail on murder charges related to the slaying of Lemma.

Araya was arrested on Monday. Jackson was taken into custody Tuesday night, Gwinnett Police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said.

quincy_cover.jpg
Quincy Marcel Jackson

Read More.

A lecture at Columbia University on Ethiopian artist Zerihun Yetmgeta’s works

Source: Columbia University

Published: Thursday, February 5, 2009

New York (Tadias) – Dr. Abebe Zegeye (pictured above) of the University of South Africa and Yale University will be presenting a lecture at Columbia University on February 12, 2009. The lecture is entitled : The Magical Universe of Art : Ethiopian artist Zerihun Yetmgeta’s works.

Ethiopia has a cultural tradition, and an artistic heritage that go back many centuries. One of this fascinating African country’s most prominent artists, Zerihun Yetmgeta, has decided to exhibit his works in his home town, the city of Addis Ababa. Yetmgeta’s exhibition The Magical Universe of
Art, is a collection of works that looks back over the artist’s shoulder upon 40 years of dedicated work. It follows the maturation of his artistic passion over the years, right up to the present. His art, always exceptional, has grown more fulsome, his talent for transposing traditional motifs of Ethiopian Christianity ­ its legends, magical practices, belief in spirits and demons and Œevil eyes – into contemporary art. Over time, his work has become more prodigious, more intricate and more laden with hidden meaning. This talk will provide further insight and explore Yetmgeta’s extraordinary talent.

If you go: Date: Feb 12, 20:30-4:30; Location: Room 1512 International Affairs Building, 435 118th St.; Columbia University.

Short- term paid work: Assistance with Film Translation Needed

Assistance with Film Translation:

Our film is an independent documentary that follows one girl as she is adopted from an orphanage in Addis Ababa by a (white) American family. Weynshet, the main subject of the film, is 12 when we meet her in Addis, 13 when she meets her adoptive parents and comes to America with them. We document her transition and transformation over the next 2 years and end with her first return trip to Ethiopia for a visit,at 16. It’s a film that ultimately deals with many of the experiences of international adoptees, as well as extending into the experiences of immigrants to the US. We filmed in Addis a number of
times over the last 3 years and much of our material is in Amharic.

For the moment we are looking for a good translator: someone who knows both Amharic and English well. And who understands the cultural nuances of both worlds, especially of contemporary Ethiopia/Addis Ababa. It can be difficult work to translate as the material is documentary video – not interviews – but real scenes unfolding, sometimes with questionable microphone coverage. It can also be very satisfying for someone with an interest in documentary film or journalism and also in teenagers or immigration, etc. It’s short- term, periodic, paid work.

People who are interested should send a note to my email address: susan@jumbofilm.com.

Santa Monica Museum of Art Displays Work by Ethiopian Artist Elias Simé

HuffingtonPost.com
Peter Clothier
Posted January 28, 2009

It is not often, these days, that I walk into an exhibition space and feel those familiar symptoms–the heart beating harder, faster, the head spinning with awe, the blood running through the veins–by which I recognize that I’m in the presence of genius. And I don’t mean just that intellectual brilliance we too often associate with the word in its casual use, but something closer to its profounder meaning, a transcendent connection between humanity and what I can only describe with the word “spirit.” It’s an expression of greatness, of the awesome potential of the imagination, of the boundless, passionate creativity that can spring from a single, singular human mind.

It’s this complex of feelings that overwhelmed me as I stepped across the threshold and into that space of the Santa Monica Museum of Art that is now devoted to the work of the Ethiopian artist Elias Simé, in a show called “Eye of the Needle, Eye of the Heart,” co-curated by the multi-disciplinary arts impresario Peter Sellars and the noted Ethiopian curator and anthropologist Meskerem Assegued. If I can help you step into that space yourself, you’ll be able to understand what I mean by “boundless creativity…”

Come with me, then. Your eye will likely be attracted, first, by the hundreds of goatskins, stuffed with straw and decorated with bright, totemic markings, laid out on the floor and arranged in groups that suggest love in all of its myriad forms, whether intimate, sexual even, between two beings, or family love, parents with children, or community groupings whose bond is love of a different, more inclusive kind. It will move on, then, to an arrangement of regal thrones at the center of the gallery floor, each constructed of sensuously carved wood, animal horns, skins and shells, their presence evoking the ritual of kingship, the authority of the seated ruler.

Read More at HuffingtonPost.com

Ethiopia – kidnapped Aid Workers are Japanese & Dutch

September 26th, 2008

JOHANNESBURG– Two aid workers, believed to be a Japanese woman and a Dutchman, working for the nongovernmental organization Medecins du Monde, were abducted Monday afternoon in the eastern region of Ethiopia, the group said Wednesday.

An armed gang is suspected to have kidnapped the two in the Ogaden region, which is close to the Somali border, while they were working. They are believed to have been taken to the central part of Somalia.

An administrator in Somalia’s central area sent security officials to a village there “to investigate an alleged sighting of a sport-utility vehicle with armed men and two white people, but the vehicle had left by the time they arrived,” according to an AP report.

The Paris-based aid group, which has been operating in the Ogaden region, has set up an emergency team.

The group said it is in close contact with the relevant authorities and is trying to help secure the pair’s release.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

Aid workers kidnapped in Ethiopia

BBC

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Two aid workers working for Medecins du Monde in Ethiopia have been abducted from the Ogaden region that borders Somalia, the French aid agency says.

Eyewitnesses say the man and woman, whose nationalities are not known, have been taken to Somalia’s central region of Galguduud by well-armed gunmen.

Kidnapping of foreigners is common in Somalia. Correspondents say most are released after ransoms are paid.

Read More.

Haile Gerima Is Having a Hollywood Moment. It’s Left Him Conflicted

The Ethiopian American filmmaker Haile Gerima said he had “no trust in, no desire to be a part of” Hollywood. The director, an eminence of American and African indie cinema, is being recognized by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and Netflix. But he has long rejected the industry. (NYT)

The New York Times

Haile Gerima doesn’t hold back when it comes to his thoughts on Hollywood. The power games of movie producers and distributors are “anti-cinema,” he put it recently. The three-act structure is akin to “fascism” — it “numbs, makes stories toothless.” And Hollywood cinema is like the “hydrogen bomb.”

For decades, Gerima, the 75-year-old Ethiopian filmmaker, has blazed a trail outside of the Hollywood system, building a legacy that looms large over American and African independent cinema.

But as he spoke with me on a video call from his studio in Washington, D.C., Gerima found himself at an unexpected juncture: He was about to travel to Los Angeles, where he would receive the inaugural Vantage Award at the opening gala of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is also screening a retrospective of his work this month. A new 4K restoration of his 1993 classic, “Sankofa,” debuted on Netflix last month.

After 50 years, Hollywood has finally come calling. “I’m going with a lump in my throat,” Gerima said with his typical candor. “This is an industry I have no relationship with, no trust in, no desire to be a part of.”


Gerima’s ideas about self-distribution influenced Ava DuVernay and other filmmakers. (Photo: The New York Times)

Gerima tends to speak directly and without euphemism, his words propelled by the force of his conviction. The filmmaker has been at loggerheads with the American film industry since the 1970s, when he was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. There, he was part of what came to be known as the L.A. Rebellion — a loose collective of African and African American filmmakers, including Charles Burnett (“Killer of Sheep”), Julie Dash (“Daughters of the Dust”), Larry Clark (“Tamu”) and others, who challenged the mainstream cinematic idiom.

Gerima’s first project in film school was a short commercial called “Death of Tarzan.” An exorcism of Hollywood’s colonial fantasies, it provoked a response from a classmate that Gerima still remembers fondly: “Thank you, Gerima, for killing that diaper-wearing imperialist!”

The eight features he has since directed bristle with the same impulse for liberation, employing nonlinear narratives and jagged audiovisual experiments to paint rousing portraits of Black and Pan-African resistance. In a phone interview, Burnett described Gerima’s work as coursing with emotion: “People have plots and things, but he has energy, real energy. That’s what characterizes his films.”

The stark, black-and-white “Bush Mama” (1975) charts the radicalization of a woman in Los Angeles as she navigates poverty and the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of welfare. “Ashes and Embers” (1982) — which opens with the protagonist driving into Los Angeles with dreams of Hollywood before being abruptly stopped by the police — traces the gradual disillusionment of a Black Vietnam War veteran. In “Sankofa,” one of Gerima’s most acclaimed films, an African American model is transported back in time to a plantation, where she’s caught up in a slave rebellion. Other films, like “Harvest: 3,000 Years” (1976) and “Teza” (2008), explore the political history of Gerima’s native Ethiopia.

For the filmmaker and his wife and producing partner, Shirikiana Aina, these visions of fierce Black independence are as much a matter of life as art. Most of Gerima’s movies have been produced and distributed by the couple’s company, Mypheduh Films, which derives its name from an ancient Ethiopian word meaning “protector of culture.” Mypheduh’s offices are housed in Sankofa, a bookstore and Pan-African cultural center across the street from Howard University, where Gerima taught filmmaking for over 40 years. This little pocket of Washington is Gerima’s empire — or his “liberated territory,” as he likes to call it.

“When I think of Haile’s cinema, I think of the cinema of the maroon,” Aboubakar Sanogo, a friend of Gerima’s and a scholar of African cinema at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, said in an interview, invoking a term for runaway slaves who formed their own independent settlements. “It’s very much a cinema of freedom. Hollywood is the plantation from which he has escaped.”

If Gerima is now ready to dance with the academy (which, incidentally, has never awarded a best director Oscar to a Black filmmaker), it’s because of the involvement of a kindred soul: Ava DuVernay.

The “Selma” filmmaker, who co-chaired the Academy Museum’s opening gala, has been the driving force behind the Haile-ssance of 2021. Array, DuVernay’s distribution and advocacy collective, spearheaded the restoration of “Sankofa.” The company also rereleased “Ashes and Embers” on Netflix in 2016, in addition to distributing “Residue,” the debut feature by Gerima’s son Merawi, last year.

Speaking by phone, DuVernay said that in collaborating with Gerima, she felt she had come full circle: Years ago, she modeled Array on the example set by Gerima and Aina’s grass-roots distribution initiatives.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

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

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

Press Release

WALKER ART CENTER

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

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

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

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

If You Go:

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

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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

LUXURY BRIDAL HOUSE AMSALE BRINGS BRIDES INTO A ROMANTIC, NATURE-INSPIRED DREAMSCAPE WITH ITS FALL 2022 COLLECTION

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.


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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.


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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)


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About AMSALE

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)


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(Courtesy photo)

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Whistleblower: Facebook Fueling Violence in Ethiopia

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

CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UPDATE: In Ethiopia Parliament Confirms Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister

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

Reuters

By Dawit Endeshaw

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at Reuters.com »

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NYT on International Legacy of Ethiopia’s Music Legend Alemayehu Eshete

Alemayehu Eshete in concert at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park [in New York] in 2008. His admirers compared him to both Elvis Presley and James Brown. He became a swaggering star in the late 1960s, when Addis Ababa experienced a golden age of night life and music. Decades later, he was rediscovered. (Getty)

The New York Times

Alemayehu Eshete, a soulful Ethiopian pop singer widely known as the “Abyssinian Elvis” who became a star in the 1960s when a cultural revolution took hold of Addis Ababa, died on Sept. 2…

For years under Haile Selassie’s imperial rule, Ethiopia’s music industry was controlled by the state. Orchestras dutifully performed patriotic songs at government events, while defiant bands played Little Richard songs at night in clubs. It was forbidden to record and distribute music independently.

“All the musicians used to work for the government,” Mr. Eshete said in a 2017 documentary about the era, “Ethiopiques: Revolt of the Soul.” “When they told you to perform, you had to perform. We were treated like average workers, not like real artists.”

But in the late 1960s, as Selassie grew old and the grip of his rule loosened, Addis Ababa experienced a golden age of night life and music, and Mr. Eshete became a swaggering star of the so-called “swinging Addis” era.

The sound that dominated this period was distinct: an infectious blend of Western-imported blues and R&B with traditional Ethiopian folk music. It was typified by hypnotic saxophone lines, funky electric guitar stabs and grooving piano riffs.

As a teenager, Mr. Eshete was smitten with American rock ‘n’ roll, and his idol was Elvis Presley, so when he started singing in the clubs of Addis he imitated his hero. He sported a pompadour and wore big collared shirts as he gyrated onstage.

.“I dressed like an American, grew my hair, sang ‘Jailhouse Rock,’” he told The Guardian in 2008. “But the moment that I started singing Amharic songs, my popularity shot up.”

He was soon enlisted in the fabled Police Orchestra, a state-run band composed of Ethiopia’s finest musicians, and he began playing with the ensemble at government functions in the city. After hours, he found refuge in the underground music scene.

In 1969, the defiant act of Mr. Eshete and a young record shop owner named Amha Eshete (no relation) galvanized the scene.


The acclaimed “Éthiopiques” album series, begun in 1997, ignited international interest in Ethiopian music. Two releases in the series are devoted to Mr. Eshete’s work. (Photo: Buda Musique)

Amha Eshete decided to found a label, Amha Records, to commit to vinyl the Ethiopian pop music that bands were performing in clubs. Few musicians were willing to flout the law with him until Alemayehu Eshete stepped forward and offered to record the funky tune “Timarkialesh,” and Amha then had it manufactured as a 45 r.p.m. single in India.

Read the full article at nytimes.com »

Related:

Remembering Alemayehu Eshete: Ethiopian Music Legend Passes Away at 80

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

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

Press Release

By Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia

September 17, 2021

An Open Letter to President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Dear Mr. President,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. President,

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

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

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

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

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

God bless Ethiopia and its people!

September 17, 2021

Related:

Press Release

The White House

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

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Dear Madam Speaker: (Dear Madam President:)

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

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

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

Sincerely,

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

—-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The White House

September 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—-

The White House

Background Press Call By Senior Administration Officials on Ethiopia

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

PRESS BRIEFINGS
Via Teleconference
(September 16, 2021)

12:02 P.M. EDT

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

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

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

And with that, over to our first speaker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the polarization inside Ethiopia deepens; the grievances grow.

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

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

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

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

MODERATOR: Yep. We can open it up.

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean, bottom line: This must stop.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Q Hello, can you hear me?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.

Q Oh, okay. Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

12:43 P.M. EDT

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Q&A With Filmmaker Jessica Beshir: ‘Faya Dayi’ Screens at AFI in Silver Spring, Maryland

Next month on October 01, 2021 Jessica Beshir will participate in a Q&A session with the audience following the screening of her documentary 'Faya Dayi' by the American Film Institute at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo via Linkedin)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 23rd, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — One of the marks of a successful movie is the lively conversations and reactions it generates among its audience as Filmmaker Jessica Beshir’s Sundance-premiered Ethiopian film Faya Dayi continues to do on social media and other forums.

Next month Jessica Beshir will participate in a Q&A with the public following the screening of her documentary by the American Film Institute at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“A film ten years in the making, Faya Dayi was conceived by director Jessica Beshir as an act of reconnecting with the Ethiopian homeland she left at the age of sixteen, when her family fled to Mexico to escape the chaos and oppression of the Mengistu and Derg political regimes,” the announcement notes. “Later, in 2011, during one of her return trips to Ethiopia, Beshir began collecting observations and impressions of the country by shooting footage that told the stories of several Ethiopians and the social, religious, and economic forces influencing their lives.”

The press release adds: “Among those forces was the ascendency of khat [ጫት ch'at] as a national cash crop. A plant with hallucinatory properties that has been traditionally harvested and chewed for ritualistic purposes, khat was, in Beshir’s youth, one of many lucrative crops bolstering the Ethiopian economy. But in the intervening years, climate change, along with other factors, had forced farmers to grow khat to the near exclusion of all other plants, and its excessive presence in the country increased recreational khat usage among the younger generations. Climate change had also dried up lakes, while economic necessity and political tumult had forced people living in rural areas to look for new prospects overseas or in the capital city of Addis Ababa.”

In explaining her experience of cinema while growing up in Ethiopia and what led her to become a filmmaker Jessica recalls that she was raised in a military camp located adjacent to a Russian military base in Harar. “In the Russian camp, there was an open-air movie theater,” she rememberers. “Us kids dug a hole under the barbed wire and snuck through it to the movie theater.”

She continues: “We’d go there every night to watch Russian films—mostly war films that were meant to elevate the morale of the Russian soldiers stationed in Ethiopia. One of our friends was trained by the Russians to project the films. He would change the reels of the films in the back of a Land Rover, and his leverage with the other kids was that if you were nice, he would show you how he changed the reels. Before that, it never occurred to me that movies were actually made by people. Seeing something of the magic of how movies are constructed, and experiencing the communal aspect of moviegoing, made me feel less alone and transported me during a time of war and trauma. I gravitated to filmmaking in large part because of that.”

Jessica shares that after returning to Ethiopia from many years in exile it was not her original intention to make a film about ጫት ch’at. “I returned to reconnect to my family, especially my grandmother, who was getting very old. And in reconnecting with family and friends, I noticed that everything in the country now revolved around khat, which had always been around but not in such an all-encompassing way. What had changed was that all of the country’s social and economic life centered on this drug, and I wanted to ask why this was and why so many people were medicating themselves.”

Blow is the rest of the interview with Jessica Beshir courtesy of the American Film Institute and AFI Silver Theatre. Faya Dayi will open at AFI on Friday, October 01, 2021. Organizes note that proof of vaccination –or– negative Covid PCR test is required for entry. You can learn more and purchase tickets here


Faya Dayi. (Courtesy photo)

Interview With Filmmaker Jessica Beshir about ‘Faya Dayi’

What do you remember about your childhood and early adolescence in Ethiopia, and how did those memories inform the conception of Faya dayi?

I remember everything that happened up to the time I was sixteen and my family left Ethiopia. My generation reached adulthood a lot sooner than we otherwise would have because we grew up during a cold war. My father was director of a military hospital—war was ever-present, and that couldn’t help but shape our outlook.

In returning to the country many years later, I didn’t set out to make a documentary on khat. I returned to reconnect to my family, especially my grandmother, who was getting very old. And in reconnecting with family and friends, I noticed that everything in the country now revolved around khat, which had always been around but not in such an all-encompassing way. What had changed was that all of the country’s social and economic life centered on this drug, and I wanted to ask why this was and why so many people were medicating themselves.

What was clear was that the country was in a state of decay. There was new infrastructure in Harar and other cities, but mostly the country was falling apart due to the misrule of an oppressive governmental regime. And that regime had also limited freedom of speech, which led to people’s retreat into private worlds. Even after this regime faced protests and was ultimately unseated from power, there was a huge disillusionment when substantial change did not come about.

So, there was a desire for khat, due to its ability to foster a state of insularity, but then many factors influenced the rise of khat as a cash crop. Climate change altered which crops the farmers were able to cultivate, and inflation made it impossible for the farmers to cultivate coffee and other crops. Before, khat was relegated to the Harar region, but now its development had spread to the rest of the country, so my filming concentrated on the farms and land in Harar, around the area where I had grown up. I felt it was important to be very specific—there are more than eighty ethnic groups and languages in Ethiopia. The specific Oromo identity in Harar—I’d never seen that reflected on film, and I wanted to transmit the people’s intonation of language, their cadences. This was crucial to the overall tapestry of the film.

To what extent did you predetermine or spontaneously arrive at the film’s sounds and images?

When I began shooting, I had a specific intention for what I wanted—one that would allow for multiple possibilities that could reveal themselves in the editing room. And I was excited to discover those possibilities, those forms. For example, I knew I wanted to convey a sense of interiority, but through evocation rather than through a direct telling. I also wanted the locations I shot to speak through images. One was the labyrinthine space of this close walled city, Jugol; another was comprised of the vast farms. I wanted the vastness of the farms to correspond to the vastness among the experiences I shot, with different people having different experiences within the same geographical space. I thought, If voices were to emerge from these farms, what would these voices say?

In conversations with my editors, I conveyed that the film’s form should be alive, that it should have its own mode of expression. At times this form didn’t always make rational sense, but it was transmitting something—something more elliptical, perhaps. This elliptical mode was probably influenced by the oral tradition of storytelling with which I grew up. Oral tradition is about the journey and all the things you see and experience before you arrive at a narrative destination. I wanted the structure of the film to be like an octopus, where one story strand was like a tentacle, and if something occurred in that strand it would reverberate throughout the entire body of the film.

Faya dayi took ten years to make. How did that decade-long process start, and what were some of the major milestones along the road toward completing the project?

The first thing I wanted to do upon my return to Ethiopia was to spend time on the farms. My grandmother is not a farmer—she lives far away from where I filmed—but there was a certain kinship there because I was listening to her language, the Oromo language. I met most of the farmers by spending time with them at a café that was owned by a friend. That’s how I started talking with them and learning about the khat farms. I also befriended the children of these farmers, and over the years of shooting I saw and recorded the way these children became political and participated in the peaceful protests, in 2014–15, against the government. That was an invigorating leap in the filming process, in seeing these kids come of age and getting involved in what was occurring throughout the country. A major moment in the shoot was seeing the drying up of the lakes. The first time I saw this, I couldn’t take it. I was heading down in a van to Haramaya, and I asked the driver if we could stop to take a picture of this sacred lake, and when we did, it wasn’t there—grass had grown over it, cows were herding there, it was gone. There was always new information I was obtaining and through which I learned about the changes that were unfolding throughout the country.

Another one was interviewing a university professor who did his PhD on khat studies, who had spent his whole life with and around this plant. He doesn’t appear in the film, but one thing he said stuck with me, that once in a while a visiting professor from the West would teach at the university for a few months and then a while later would publish a study on khat. All of a sudden, he had to read about khat from out there. What I picked up from that was: Where’s our voice in this? I wanted to do justice to the story of the people who live here, their stories and their dignity. Khat came from a religious, ritualistic practice of imams, just like peyote for the shamans. It’s not just a plant for kids who want to get high.

What research in the areas of politics, sociology, religion, and myth informed the production of Faya dayi?

A lot of the time I spent during my return to Ethiopia involved research. My friend’s grandfather, who lived in the labyrinthine city, was the one who first spoke with me about khat’s roots in the Sufi tradition. And not just in a religious sense but also in a social sense—it was what united people coming back home from work to have lunch, since they would chew khat and then go on with their day. It provided a boost of energy for people like farmers, who performed physical labor. It was a means to an end, but now it’s become the end itself, especially for the youth.

From my friend and her grandfather, I met several Sufi imams. These imams who you see in the film, I spent a lot of time learning from them about Azurkherlaini, about whom Ethiopians have their own individual perceptions. That myth is so alive in the people’s imagination and thought process, it’s alive in the recitation and prayer of the imams. I wanted to somehow visualize the various conceptions of Azurkherlaini, and, to get to that interiority, I wanted to represent the people’s reality on the ground as opposed to casting some weird guy who looks like Azurkherlaini.

How did you achieve the film’s distinctive black-and-white cinematography?

I knew I was going to shoot in black and white, but at times I questioned myself about that, because khat is a green leaf and obviously that wouldn’t come through in black and white. But in the end, I decided to go with black and white because so many elements of the film refer to light and darkness. For example, the fable of Azurkherlaini talks about “the black” and the darkness of night—there were all of these dichotomies in that myth that could be evoked through black and white. Plus, the nature of khat and the trade of it, and many of the film’s stories, contain the sides that black-and-white photography evokes. I wanted to focus on the interiority of the people in the film instead of the potential sensationalism of the subject of khat, and so the dreaminess of the cinematography evokes the people’s frustration, dread, loneliness, impotence, resignation, and so on. •

If You Go:

For showtime and dates please visit AFI Silver Theatre.

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Spotlight: In NYC ECMAA Hosts Ethiopian Day Picnic, Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Photo: Courtesy of the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 15th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — As the Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, the organization announced that it will host its popular annual Ethiopian Day Picnic on September 19th in New York City — marking its first live public event since the pandemic.

In a newsletter ECMAA said the gathering this month is a symbol of our capacity to recover from difficulties and persist as a community. “Resilience and perseverance are not valued highly enough [and] we don’t celebrate managing challenges and still standing and growing,” the press release said. “We will celebrate this and ECMAA’s 40th anniversary at the annual Ethiopian Day Picnic.”

The announcement added:

In 1981, a group of refugees who felt that they could decided to gather and figure out how to help those who’ve newly arrived. In 2021, we’re Ethiopians of significantly varying backgrounds living in the tri-state area still creating a community while we rush and struggle through day to day life in New York City.

We’ll get together as a full community in this large setting for the first time since March of 2020…We celebrate still standing after many ups and downs for ECMAA from its inception, we celebrate still standing as a we face a global pandemic that forced us to separate and yet still grow stronger in support of each other, we celebrate our place of birth or heritage even as it struggles with multiple challenges that can shake us, we celebrate the flowers that still bloom, our children that still grow and our community to keeps working at being a resource to the community. We celebrate as we also mourn the losses our community and our country has sustained. We’re long-distance runners – marathoners who keep going despite the challenges that come our way. We are ECMAA and invite you to come honor our past, celebrate life and solidify our future.


(Photo: Courtesy of ECMAA)


(Photo: Courtesy of ECMAA)

The Ethiopian Day Picnic will take place on Sunday at Sakura Park in Manhattan. Organizers urge participants to be respectful and abide by current CDC guidelines in regards to COVID-19. “Although the picnic takes place outside we advise everyone to maintain social distancing and wear masks when not eating or drinking,” ECMAA said. “We all want to have fun and be safe.”

According to the program scheduled activities at the family-friendly outdoor event include fun and games featuring Sem Ena Werk quiz for adults while children “enjoy some dancing and tunes, catch up, with old friends, challenge the kids to tug-of-war, but make sure you’ve met someone you’ve not met before and have some cake.”

If You Go:

Ethiopian Day Picnic,
Sunday, September 19, at 2pm in Sakura Park in Manhattan.
More info at www.ecmaany.org

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Real Estate in Ethiopia: Q&A About KEFITA with CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE

In the following interview with Tadias, Dietrich E. Rogge, the CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE, a German-based developer, discusses their new state-of-the-art condominium development called KEFITA under construction in Addis Ababa. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 6th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopians in the Diaspora are receiving growing opportunities to invest in real estate in Ethiopia. Some of the new high-rise buildings — mostly in Addis Ababa (built by both local and international developers including from Asia, America and Europe) — offer international standard amenities while incorporating local architectural styles as well as easy access to shopping, transportation and other daily necessities.

In the following interview with Tadias, Dietrich E. Rogge, the CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE, a German-based developer, discusses their new state-of-the-art condominium development called KEFITA under construction in the kebena area (officially known as the District of Signal), one of Addis Ababa’s oldest neighborhoods.

“It is our vision that KEFITA shall be a best-in-class real estate development combining international best practices while also being a genuinely Ethiopian building both in terms of design and amenities,” Dietrich told Tadias. “What we highlight with KEFITA that makes it uniquely Ethiopian is the facade.” He added: “If you look at the building closely, it mirrors the interwoven nature of the tibeb, the traditional garment of the Ethiopian cultural dress. Along with that, the building is covered with living plants indigenious to Ethiopia. Our hope is to create connectivity among both Ethiopians and international residents at KEFITA. And with that, create long-term value for all its owners.”


The KEFITA building under construction in Addis Ababa by ROCKSTONE Real Estate. (Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

As Dietrich noted when he first traveled to Ethiopia about a decade ago, he immediately “fell in love with the country, its genuine culture, the warmth of its people and the metropolitan character of its capital, Addis Ababa.” He shares: “Until then, my own exposure to Ethiopia had been limited to meeting a very friendly Ethiopian through mutual friends while I was studying and living at MIT in the US from 2000 to 2002.”

In addition to incorporating modern international designs with Ethiopian architectural sensibilities, the KEFITA building also is set to become the first such residential building in the country to receive the green building certification.

Below is our full Q&A with Dietrich E. Rogge, CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE Real Estate

TADIAS: Dietrich, thank you so much for your time. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background, how you were introduced to Ethiopia and what led you to work in Addis?

DR: Thank you so much for having me today Liben. I appreciate having this interview and being able to introduce myself to you as well as your audience. To give you some context, I am based in Munich Germany. I started ROCKSTONE in 2013, today we have 3 offices – Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich – in Germany, and by 2018 we expanded into Lisbon in Portugal and thereafter Madrid in Spain to diversify into other European countries. Still, I had the genuine desire to expand further internationally, and Africa was my top priority. Next to diversifying my business, the drive into other countries is on a personal level very much driven by my own fascination for travel, countries and authentic cultures. Fortunately, one of my closest friends and also now business partner in ROCKSTONE ETHIOPIA had been living and working in East Africa for over 10 years. We decided to explore real estate business opportunities in East Africa. When it came to where to start, he immediately pointed to Ethiopia. When I first arrived in Addis, I understood what he meant. I instantly fell in love with the country, its genuine culture, the warmth of its people and the metropolitan character of its capital, Addis Ababa. Until then, my own exposure to Ethiopia had been limited to meeting a very friendly Ethiopian through mutual friends while I was studying and living at MIT in the US from 2000 to 2002.


Dietrich E. Rogge, CEO & Founder of ROCKSTONE Real Estate. (Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: Please tell us about the KEFITA building project and the inspiration behind it?

DR: It is our vision that KEFITA shall be a best-in-class real estate development combining international best practices while also being a genuinely Ethiopian building both in terms of design and amenities. What we highlight with KEFITA that makes it uniquely Ethiopian is the facade. If you look at the building closely, it mirrors the interwoven nature of the tibeb, the traditional garment of the Ethiopian cultural dress. Along with that, the building is covered with living plants indigenious to Ethiopia. Our hope is to create connectivity among both Ethiopians and international residents at KEFITA. And with that, create long-term value for all its owners. On a business level it quickly became clear to me that, similar to other metropolises – i.e. Berlin, Lisbon or Los Angeles – around the world, there is also a housing crisis in Addis. That’s because each year large cities attract more new residents than they are able to build new housing along all segments of the market. There are also a couple of specific reasons why this dilemma exists in Addis, namely, lack of trust in the real estate market, lack of building quality, and lack of foreign capital. Next to addressing these specific reasons by forming a very strong team together with our local partner Bigar, and US-based private equity firm Cerberus, all of whom have a long-term interest in Ethiopia, we defined a clear strategy.

TADIAS: KEFITA is located on Embassy Row in the District of Signal, which is one of Addis Ababa’s oldest neighborhoods. How did you choose the location and what do you like most about the area?

DR: That’s a great question, and I am happy you are asking since choosing the right location is obviously a centerpiece of any real estate development and it is entirely fair to ask a foreigner his view on Addis. We initially looked at locations in Bole and Old Airport, which are the more recent traditional neighborhoods for high-end residential developments in Addis. We carefully studied how Addis is expected to develop over the coming years in terms of density, traffic, schools, retail, security and leisure. Signal is well positioned to outperform other parts of the city over the coming years in terms of its quality of life due to its proximity to the city center, great schools, improving infrastructure, and best of all, Mount Yeka with all its outdoor activities.


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: In addition to incorporating modern international designs with Ethiopian architectural sensibilities, the KEFITA building also is set to become the first such residential building in the country to receive the green building certification. Can you share what that means and how it fits with the city’s long-term plans for environmentally conscious developments?

DR: Sure, and let me happily expand on that subject since it is very important to us. As we discussed earlier, integrating best practices into Kefita on all levels is one main driver of our product and development process. From the very beginning, our entire design process has been driven toward green-conscious living. Next to reducing the carbon footprint of the building, specific measures include using local materials as much as possible, minimizing electricity consumption, collecting rain water and managing waste. Among others on the building side, that includes superior structural and fire safety design and a range of Kefita specific amenities for our community. A green building also best ensures the long-term value of the investment. I would really like to emphasize this last point since return on investment and building quality go hand in hand. Next to its location, the long-term value preservation or increase in value of any real estate is driven by the longevity of its design and construction quality. If the structure has flaws or moisture permeates into the building or energy consumption is inefficient or sound insulation is not taken care of just to name a few, then these issues obviously have a negative effect on the long-term value of any real estate. Hence our building standards we believe are a very strong signal to send to the Ethiopian real estate market and will help elevate the overall standard and building quality of new buildings in the future.

TADIAS: Where are you now in terms of the construction stage and when will the building be completed?

DR: We received the building permit last year, completed the underground construction in 2020 as well, and started with the actual building construction early this year. KEFITA is on track to be completed in 2023 for all residents to move in. The completion date is very important to us since on-time completion is a huge problem in the market and it translates into a lack of trust in developers. Therefore we have created a financially very strong team, started construction only once the design was completed and the entire construction contract had been awarded. In addition, our best practices approach extends into the purchase agreement which protects buyers on various topics as well as states binding delivery dates.


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: How can people in the Diaspora buy property in the building? What’s the process and requirements?

DR: From the start, the Ethiopian Diaspora had always been in our minds as a key customer segment for KEFITA. We know that we are well positioned to serve that segment. We believe that our product is a good balance between Ethiopian authenticity, a modern building in terms of quality, technology, services as well as sustainability. Last not least, it fits all rental criteria of the International community in Addis. All of these is what the Diaspora has in mind but struggles to find as an investment opportunity. The prerequisite for owning real estate in Ethiopia requires an Ethiopian Origin ID, also known as the Yellow Card. All of our Diaspora buyers will need to provide a copy of their ID as well as Passport to initiate the sales agreement. The process involves meeting and talking with one of our sales representatives, learning our different offerings for apartment types, identifying their mode for financing, either cash or through one of the Ethiopian banks, and finally signing an Apartment Purchase Agreement. If based in Ethiopia, prospective buyers can reach out to Lily Mesfin, lm@rockstonere.com. For those based in the USA and abroad, reach out to Nya Alemayhu at ny@rockstonere.com.

TADIAS: Can you tell us more about the various apartment sizes and price ranges?

DR: We have 100 apartments ranging from 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom at approximately 1,000 square feet to a full floor penthouse at 6,500 square feet. In between this range exists 2 bedrooms + 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms + 3 bathrooms, and 4 bedrooms + 4 bathrooms. Some of our 2 bedrooms are convertible to 3 bedrooms, as well as some 3 bedrooms that can be converted to 4 bedrooms. All of the apartment types aside from the 2 bedrooms + 1 bathroom are designed with a helper’s room, as is common in most Ethiopian residences. The pricing ranges from $280,000 for a 2 bedroom + 1 bathroom apartment to $2,100,000 for our crown jewel garden terrace apartment.

TADIAS: Is there a mortgage or payment plan available?

DR: We have a payment schedule that is contingent on construction progress. The initial investment is 25% and all subsequent payments are in alignment with construction progress. The payments are spread out about 3-4 months apart. If one seeks a mortgage, we can refer to a few banks based in Addis Ababa so that prospective buyers can make the best decision as to what suits them. There are nuances with financing new construction projects in Addis Ababa and also which type of currency is used. Our sales team can also help illuminate this process more deeply. For a deeper inquiry, reach out to sales@kefita.com


(Courtesy photo)


(Courtesy photo)

TADIAS: What are your plans for future developments in Ethiopia?

DR: Although KEFITA is only our first project in Ethiopia, it won’t surprise you that we have a long-term plan for ROCKSTONE Ethiopia with more projects to come. These will obviously include additional residential developments but we are also looking into offices, logistics, and retail – commercial real estate. We very much believe in strong and lasting Ethiopian growth and want to happily be part of that over the coming years.

TADIAS: Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience here in the United States and beyond?

DR: On a personal level, my experience in Ethiopia has been wonderful and I am very fortunate to have come close to and made friends with Ethiopians over the past years. These relationships have evolved into great friendships. I really look forward to having more time for traveling within the country and enjoying all its treasures and beauties. Last but not least, I also hope to come to the US very soon to present KEFITA in person and likewise, I invite you all to meet our team and myself whenever you are in Addis.

TADIAS: Thanks again, Dietrich, and wishing you all the best from all of us at Tadias!

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Remembering Alemayehu Eshete: Ethiopian Music Legend Passes Away at 80

Born in 1941 Alemayehu Eshete rose to fame in the 60s, matching his Ethiopian heritage against jazz improvisation and soulful appeal...Multiple reports from Ethiopia have confirmed the passing of Alemayehu Eshete. (Getty Images)

Clash Music

Ethiopian artist Alemayehu Eshete has died, it has been reported.

Born in 1941 the singer rose to fame in the 60s, matching his Ethiopian heritage against jazz improvisation and soulful appeal.

Performing with the famed Police Orchestra in Addis Ababa, Alemayehu Eshete enjoyed his first hit ‘Seul’ in 1961 before forming his own Alem-Girma Band.

Releasing 30 singles across a 15 year period, Alemayehu Eshete became one of the defining Ethiopian artists of his era – at one point dubbed the Ethiopian Elvis.

Political shifts in the country substantively altered the cultural climate, but a new generation of crate-diggers – spurred on by the Ethiopiques compilation series – embraced his music.

Writing, recording, and touring until the very end, multiple reports from Ethiopia have confirmed the passing of Alemayehu Eshete.

Ethiopia: Popular Ethiopian Music Legend Alemayehu Eshete Dies (Allafrica)


Legendary Ethiopian singer Alemayehu Eshete, 80, died in Addis Ababa on Thursday.

Nicknamed “the Ethiopian Elvis”, the musician died of a heart attack shortly after he was admitted to hospital, bringing to an end a musical career that spanned four different political epochs in the country.

He had, five years ago, undergone a heart surgery in Italy to fix blockages in arteries. This forced him to limit his performances.

Born in 1941, the singer was one of the most popular musicians to emerge in the early 1960s. He also played modern Ethiopian music.

Eshete highly influenced Ethiopian modern music through his outstanding pieces that were loved by many. He was actively involved in Ethio-jazz music from the 1960s.

Compose songs

He was among the first Ethiopian singers to compose songs in English and other foreign languages.

“Temar Lije” or “My Son, You Had Better Learn” is one of his popular songs that motivated many to acquire modern education.

The popular song is still used by Ethiopian parents to discipline and counsel their children, and to raise awareness on the importance of education.

In 2015, the song won an award in Germany.

He also won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in Ethiopia. His stylish dress code and hairstyle made him popular among the youth in the 1960s and 1970s.

Eshete was one of the first musicians to record music to vinyl in Ethiopia.

Since his death, his colleagues and fans have continued to send messages of condolence.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said: “I’m saddened to hear that Alemayehu Eshete, a role model for many singers, has passed away.”

“Ethiopia will always be honored in his works. Those who worked for Ethiopia will not die, but will rest in glory,” the Prime Minister added.

Timeless tunes

Selam, a Swedish Independent Cultural Organisation, which has an office in Addis Ababa, also paid tribute to Eshete: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Alemayehu Eshete. Known for his best timeless tunes, ‘Temar Lije’ and ‘Addis Ababa Bete’, Eshete was one of the most popular legendary Ethiopian singers. Our most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends”

Born and raised in Jimma, Eshete who was fascinated by Hollywood films. He attempted to go to Hollywood with his friend at a younger age.

He started his journey to Hollywood with his friend with a hundred birr ($ 2) he picked from his father’s pocket. However, before he could achieve his goal, he was caught at Eritrea’s Massawa Port and sent back home. He loved Rock music.

He played much of the English vocals of American vocalists Pat Bonn, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley.

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A Local’s Guide to Ethiopia: Q&A With Anna Getaneh, Founder of African Mosaique

Former model Anna Getaneh is the founder of African Mosaique, an international fashion house based in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Anna Getaneh by Michel Temteme)

Condé Nast Traveler

Anna Getaneh worked as a model in New York and Paris before eventually settling down in Ethiopia. Now, as the founder of African Mosaique, a high-end boutique and fashion incubator set in her elegant childhood home in Addis Ababa, she’s a champion for Ethiopian textiles and craftsmanship.

This interview is part of The World Made Local, a global collaboration between the seven international editions of Condé Nast Traveler in which 100 people in 100 countries tell us why their home turf should be your next destination.

How would you describe Addis Ababa, and Ethiopia, in your own words?

Addis Ababa, surrounded by beautiful mountains, is so unique in that it’s both old and new, ancient and modern, traditional and contemporary, all interwoven in harmony. There is often the smell of fresh coffee—it’s the leading national drink, and on every corner you’ll find the finest coffee being served. Street sounds are numbed by the prayer hymns from the churches or mosques.

Tell us about your connection to Addis Ababa.

I always had this nagging sense that I would come back. I have been coming back and forth for many years; each time I came there was a sense of connection and deep attachment, and every time I left I felt deep sadness, a void. And today there is nowhere else I would rather be. It’s been great for the kids, too, to connect with their culture and learn the language.

What should we do if we had 24 hours in the city?

Kategna and Kuriftu Entoto for great local food in a modern setting. For casual dining, Five Loaves, Effoi (great pizza), Asa Bet, and Gourmet Corner. Do Fendika for music, drinks, and art; there’s always an exhibition. If you like markets, Shiro Meda is the best for textiles and traditional clothing. I recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency: They are literally in the heart of the city, by Meskel Square, with great food, ambience, and locally inspired interiors and uniforms. To relax, hit up the newly built Entoto Park, with 17 restaurants, cafés, an adventure park, camping area, biking lanes, and a spectacular view of the city. Finally, go to Addis Fine Art for great local artists, and Jazz Club at Ghion Hotel for great jazz.

A happening neighborhood to check out?

Piazza, the old city center, is always bustling, with narrow streets, small cafés, and jewelry shops. If you’re looking for big-city lights, the Edna Mall area is the happening place, with streets filled with restaurants, hotels, and bars.

Give us the elevator pitch: Why should we all travel to Ethiopia (when we’re able to)?

It’s an ancient country that has so much to offer: The new generation of Ethiopia wants to be recognized for its rich and deep-rooted culture, its unique and historic role in Africa, its wildlife, the food, the art, and the music. It should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Follow Anna Getaneh on Instagram @anna_getaneh

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The New Yorker: Chester Higgins’s Life in Pictures

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

The New Yorker

By Jordan Coley

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

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


“Ocean Spray, Accra, Ghana,” 1973.

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


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


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

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

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

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