Tag Archive for 'ethiopia'

The 60th Anniversary Celebration of Haile Selassie’s Visit to Oklahoma State University

(Image courtesy Oklahoma State University Division of International Studies and Outreach, IS&O)

Tadias Magazine
Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, June 14, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — It has been four decades since Emperor Haile Selassie mysteriously died in the hands of an Ethiopian military junta that had deposed him. And two years since the current generation of African Union (AU) leaders notoriously ignored his legacy in helping to establish the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the AU, that is headquartered in Ethiopia. But today if you go to Philadelphia’s historic district, just a few blocks from Independence Hall - where the forefathers of this country famously declared their independence from  British colonial rule on July 4th, 1776 — the National Liberty Museum has a portrait of Haile Selassie along with other world leaders such as the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela under the banner ‘Heroes Who Stood Up to Tyrants,” recognizing the Emperor for his global efforts to shame the fascist dicator Benito Musolini who orchestrated a brutal five-year occupation of Ethiopia. The Philly History blog also recounts Haile Selassie’s stop in Philadelphia in October 1963 where he visited Independence Hall and touched the Liberty Bell.

Haile Selassie, who remains the only Ethiopian leader to have received a State reception in America, was greeted at Union Station in Washington D.C. by President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In his speech (see video below) President Kennedy stated: “I know I speak on behalf of all my fellow Americans in welcoming his Imperial Majesty back to the United States. Since His Majesty visited the United States nearly a decade ago we have seen one of the most extraordinary revolutions in history. And that has been the appearance on the world scene of 29 independent countries in the short space of less than ten years, including over 150 million people. The conference recently held in His Majesty’s capital served, I think, to bring together in a great cooperative movement the people of most of these countries. And the success of that conference was due to in no small part to the leadership of our distinguished guest. His efforts to move his country forward to provide a better life for its people and his efforts throughout the world, which dates back over 30 or 40 years. For all of this your Majesty we take the greatest pride in welcoming you here. You do us honor and I can assure you that there is no guest that we will receive in this country that will give a greater sense of pride and satisfaction to the American people than your presence here today. Your Majesty, you are most welcome.”

This week Oklahoma State University will mark the 60th anniversary of Haile Selassie’s visit there on June 18, 1954 to thank the college for its contribution in modernizing agriculture and education in Ethiopia under the Point Four Program.

If You Go:
The 60th Anniversary Celebration: Emperor Haile Selassie’s Visit to OSU
Wednesday, June 18th, 2014, 9:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.
Wes Watkins Auditorium, 207 Wes Watkins Center, Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone:(405) 744-5356
Tickets are necessary only for the luncheon. The presentations are open to the public.
More info at: www.iso.okstate.edu

Click here to listen to the complete audio of President John F. Kennedy’s welcoming remarks to Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, at Union Station in Washington, D.C., on October 1st, 1963.

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Coca-Cola Issues Statement Regarding Teddy Afro’s Version of World Cup Song

(Photos courtesy Coca-Cola and Teddyafro.info)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The Coca-Cola Company, headquartered in Atlanta, responded to queries regarding the unreleased, Ethiopian version of Coke’s FIFA World Cup song performed by Teddy Afro. Coca Cola confirmed that Teddy’s contract was handled by a third party, Mandala Limited, a Kenyan production company based in Nairobi.

“Teddy Afro was brought into our Coke Studio in Africa to record a version of the Coca-Cola FIFA World Cup song, ‘The World is Ours’ with the goal of capturing the unique genre of Ethiopian music,” a representative of The Coca-Cola Company said in an email to Tadias Magazine. “The contract with Teddy Afro was executed by a 3rd party, Mandala Limited, a production House based Nairobi and Teddy Afro was compensated in full for his efforts.”

Per the contract, Coca-Cola said, “following recording the produced track become the property of Coca-Cola CEWA to be used at the Company’s discretion. The song has not been released and there are no plans for release at this time.”

The company noted that currently there are 32 local versions of the track that have been released worldwide, but it remains unclear why Coca-Cola chose not to release the Ethiopian version.

Teddy Afro is scheduled to perform at SummerStage in New York on July 5th, gracing the popular outdoor venue along with fellow Ethiopians, Hahu Dance Crew, and Mauritania’s beloved singer Noura Mint Seymali. As organizers of SummerStage note: “Over the past ten years, Teddy has emerged as the number one voice in Ethiopia, breaking records for album sales and show attendance. He is known far and wide as the rising star of East Africa. Using Reggae rhythms combined with traditional sounds his songs are sung exclusively in the national language of Ethiopia, Amharic. Influenced by Ethiopian Maestro Tilahun Gessesse and international Reggae superstar Bob Marley, he sings of freedom from tyranny and self-emancipation.”

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Genzebe Dibaba Wants More World Records: She and Coach Jama Aden Target Two Marks

Genzebe Dibaba. (Photo: Courtesy Athleticsweekly)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes

Published: Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba smashed three world marks in two weeks in February, and she plans to attack two more world records this summer. She broke the indoor 1500m and 3000m records and two-mile world best in the winter, before taking 3000m world indoor championships gold in March, and she and her coach Jama Aden considered several outdoor records before the season began.

“I think she can take the mile and two-mile, the 2000,” said the Somali-born Aden in an interview. Genzebe lost her first race of the outdoor season in Doha, Qatar on May 9, but Aden said she’s still on track for her record-setting goals.

“We are still attacking the world records in the 2K and the two-miles,” he said, speaking some days after the Doha race. “She’ll run Ostrava on the 17th of June. She’ll run in the 2K in Ostrava. And then the two-mile, we haven’t set up yet.”

A women’s two-mile race has since been announced for the May 30-31 Prefontaine Classic meet in Eugene, Oregon featuring world 5000m medalist Mercy Cherono of Kenya, who finished ahead of Genzebe in Doha. Genzebe is not listed in that Eugene field, but the current world record in the two miles, 8:58:58, set by Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar in 2007, may just be threatened at the meet.

The 2000m world mark that Genzebe will chase in Ostrava in the Czech Republic is 5:25.36, set by Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan in 1994.

In the Doha Diamond League 3000m on May 9, Genzebe was in the lead when she was passed by Cherono and her world indoor medalist compatriot Hellen Obiri. Genzebe eventually drifted to 6th place.

“The race was tough,” said Genzebe in an interview. “I don’t know if it was the weather.” Though she didn’t offer it as an excuse, when asked about the fact that she sat on the Doha track immediately after the race and loosened her shoes, Genzebe said she had hurt her foot while training in spikes a week ahead of the race, causing her to change the shoes she used afterwards, and to also race in Doha with a bandaged foot. “In the hot weather, I experienced a burning sensation in my foot,” she said.

She had expected a challenge from Cherono, she said. “I know Mercy Cherono has speed over 5000 and 3000,” she said, but Obiri’s eventual triumph in the race wasn’t a surprise either. “Obiri is a very strong athlete,” she said. Both of those women were on Kenya’s world record-breaking 4 x 1500m team at the IAAF World Relays this past weekend, and will likely continue to challenge Genzebe in her endeavors this season.

“She didn’t know what went wrong, and she also had a little bit of soreness, but it wasn’t a major problem,” said Aden of Genzebe’s race in Doha, where she finished in 8:26.21.

“8:26 is her personal best, and it was not bad, but everybody else ran very well,” added Aden, who also commented that the pacemaking had not been ideal. Genzebe had previously run 8:37.00 for the distance outdoors. Her Doha vanquishers also slashed their previous bests, with Obiri running an African record 8:20.68, and Cherono 8:21.14.

“I was expecting 8:18, 8:16, 8:14, somewhere in between,” added Aden of Genzebe (whose indoor world record is 8:16.60, a 10-second improvement over her previous indoor best). “She’s in good shape. She trained very well.”

Genzebe is looking forward to several highlights in the season, including the Diamond League 3000/5000 series and the season-ending Continental Cup, which she aims to qualify for at the African championships.

“I want to run very fast in Rome in the 5000, not seeking a world record, but a personal best,” she said of the Rome Diamond League meet on June 5. “And I will focus on the 2000m and [two] mile events.”

Genzebe’s 5000m best is 14:37.56, which she ran in 2011. She has never run 2000m or two miles before outdoors, but clocked her 9:00.48 indoor two-mile world best in her debut over the distance indoors on February 15. She will be hoping to transfer the form that saw her set that mark and her 3:55.17 world indoor 1500m record on February 1 to the outdoor track.

“I’ve trained very well,” she said. “My work with Jama has been going great.”

She began training with him in the fall of 2012, after being introduced to him by Tirunesh’s Olympic silver-medalist husband Sileshi Sihine. Aden coaches Djibouti’s world indoor 1500m champion Ayanleh Souleiman, Sudan’s former world 800m champion Abubaker Kaki and others in and near Addis Ababa, and Genzebe joined the group.

“The idea came from Sileshi, as a matter of fact,” said Aden, whose expertise singled him out as a good candidate to coach Genzebe in her middle-distance ambitions.

The former world junior 5000m track and cross country champion Genzebe gives Aden a lot of credit for her recent success. “I would say that everything is due to him, and not just my efforts,” she said. “He helped me in my running and brought me to this level.”

“She was always a good athlete,” said Aden. “She hadn’t been working in the gym or done much hill work. … Now she does fartlek and hills with the boys, and really mixes it with the big boys, like Souleiman, like Musaeb Balla [of Qatar], like Kaki.”

“I was running 400m in 55 seconds,” said Genzebe, describing some of her outdoor workouts under Aden. She added that a valuable aspect of her work with him is his constant attention to the details of her daily sessions.

Aden developed a coaching career over many years, after having represented Somalia in the middle distances in the 1980s, including at the Los Angeles Olympics. “I studied at Fairleigh Dickinson University and did my graduate studies at George Mason in exercise physiology,” he said, of the American schools in New Jersey and the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. “I worked with Abdi Bile when Abdi was running.” Bile was a two-time 1500m world medalist for Somalia, taking gold in 1987 and bronze in 1993, and also contesting the 1996 Olympics.

“I created my own method of training,” said Aden. “I don’t ignore speed, I don’t ignore endurance, I don’t ignore strength. That’s been working with my athletes.”

“His work helped me achieve these results,” said Genzebe of her three indoor world marks. Now, coach and athlete both hope that she can add a couple more world records to her resume before the summer is over.

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San Jose Mayoral Candidate Liccardo Releases Amharic Campaign Literature

San Jose, California Mayoral Candidate Sam Liccardo. (Photo: The Ethiopian American Council - EAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 23rd, 2014

San Jose, California (TADIAS) — It’s pleasantly surprising to see that San Jose, California Mayoral Candidate Sam Liccardo has released an Amharic version of his campaign literature entitled “Meet Sam Liccardo” (Sam Liccardoen Yitewawequ) targeting the city’s vibrant Ethiopian community. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey California is one of eight states where Amharic tops the list as the most commonly spoken African language. Mr. Liccardo has already received the backing of the Ethiopian American Council (EAC) which is headquartered in the city.

The document, that is also translated into Spanish and Vietnamese, highlights the candidate’s biography as well as his position on various issues pertinent to the residents of San Jose — ranging from public safety to the economy, making government more responsible and responsive, better transportation, smart environmental policies, and building partnerships to improve schools.

The English translation posted on Liccardo’s campaign website notes that “He represents San José’s Third District on the San José City Council, one of the most diverse communities in our city. Prior to winning election to City Council, Sam served in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor of sexual assault and child exploitation crimes and as a federal prosecutor. Sam’s work in the community includes teaching government and political science at San José State University, co-founding an innovative program to mentor children, serving on the boards of several affordable housing organizations, and advocating for a successful countywide transit ballot measure in 2000 that is helping to bring BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] to San José.”

The biography states: “Sam and his wife, Jessica García-Kohl, live in downtown’s Northside, which boasts San José’s oldest neighborhood association and the city’s most diverse group of residents. Sam and Jessica live not far from where Sam’s grandfather founded and ran a neighborhood grocery store, which was a center of life and assistance for generations of long-time residents and new arrivals to San José. After graduating from Bellarmine College Prep in San José, Sam attended Georgetown University. Sam graduated magna cum laude in 1991, and two years later, he enrolled at Harvard Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. After graduating with a law degree and a master’s degree in public policy, Sam returned to the Bay Area in 1996.”

The primary election is set for June 3rd, 2014. Stay tuned for our interview with Sam Liccardo.

Click here to read Sam Liccardo’s Amhraic message.

Amharic Most Commonly Spoken African Language in Eight U.S. States
Ethiopian American Council Endorses Sam Liccardo for San Jose Mayor
EAC to Endorse Tom Hucker for Montgomery County Council Seat
Isiah Leggett’s Press Conference with Ethiopian Media

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Summer Stage NYC Presents Teddy Afro and Hahu Dance Crew — July 5th

(Images: SummerStageNYC and DireTube)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 16th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian pop superstar Teddy Afro and the Addis Ababa-based dance crew, Hahu (winners of 2011 Ethiopian Idol), will perform at this year’s SummerStage in New York on July 5th. The free outdoor concert is part of an annual three-month music festival highlighting “performances spanning World and American music, modern dance, spoken word, electronic music, and family programming.”

The announcement notes that “Over the past ten years, Teddy has emerged as the number one voice in Ethiopia, breaking records for album sales and show attendance. He is known far and wide as the rising star of East Africa. Using Reggae rhythms combined with traditional sounds his songs are sung exclusively in the national language of Ethiopia, Amharic. Influenced by Ethiopian Maestro Tilahun Gessesse and international Reggae superstar Bob Marley, he sings of freedom from tyranny and self-emancipation.”

Hahu Dance Group is a contemporary group that aims to promote Ethiopian culture, art and indigenous knowledge globally. Hahu “represents Ethiopian multiculturalism, by including four traditional dancers each hailing from different ethnic groups, showing a true sense of community. The groups early works were inspired by the poor Addis neighborhoods and performances were focused on community awareness creation and empowerment,” the announcement states.

Also scheduled to share the stage with the Ethiopian artists is Noura Mint Seymali – one of Mauritania’s  nationally beloved music stars.

Central Park SummerStage is an open air venue, located at Rumsey Playfield, which is right off the 5th Avenue and 69th Street entrance to Central Park.

If You Go:
Saturday, July 5 at 3:00 PM
Rumsey Playfield – Central Park
New York, New York
You can learn more at www.facebook.com/SummerStageNYC

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A Mother’s Day Tribute to Ethiopian Women

Photo Courtesy: Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, May 11th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — In a Mother’s Day tribute to Ethiopian women around the world, the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) has gathered a collection of essays, poems and photos reflecting motherhood.

Among the featured contributors include Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengstie, exiled journalist Serkalem Fasil (wife of Eskinder Nega), migrant domestic workers issues activist and filmmaker Rahel Zegeye (a former migrant worker from Ethiopia who currently resides in Beirut, Lebanon), as well as Meron Ahadu, Dr. Tsehai Berhane-Selassie, Dr. Menna Demessie, Tizita Belachew, Helen Afework, Fekerte Gebremariam and Tsigereda Mulugeta.

The tribute to Ethiopian women also recognizes imprisoned Ethiopian female journalist Reyot Alemu, winner of the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

In a statement Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw, President of CREW said: “For generations, Ethiopian women have played major roles in their society. They are the center of the family and shouldered immense responsibilities. They are strong and courageous fighters for freedom. They have come a long way, but they still have a long way to go to achieve equality. The major obstacles in women’s advancement in Ethiopia are the abject poverty and the traditional harmful practices that hinder women’s progress. Because of these, women have continued to face enormous hardships. On the other hand, their resilience in the face of all impediments is quite amazing.”

You can read the “Tribute to Ethiopian Mothers” at www.centerforethiopianwomen.org.

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Global Voices Calls for the Release of Nine Journalists in Ethiopia

Zone Nine bloggers in Addis Ababa, all arrested on April 25. (Photograph credit: By Endalk/Global Voices)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Global Voices, an online network of bloggers, activists, writers, and translators from 137 countries, is calling for the release of nine journalists arrested in Ethiopia last week. In a statement the organization said it is “particularly saddened” that four of its translators — Befeqadu Hailu, Abel Wabela, Zelalem Kibret and Edom Kassaye — are among those detained.

“We are outraged by this flagrant violation of our friends’ rights to free expression and deeply concerned for their safety. We cannot remain silent,” the statement added. “Blogging is not a crime. On May 3 — World Press Freedom Day — we as a community demand that Ethiopian authorities release our blogger colleagues and friends, and all other jailed journalists in Ethiopia.”

Six bloggers from the Zone 9 collective and three freelance journalists were rounded up from various parts of Addis Ababa in a coordinated, two-days, federal police raid last weekend. Those imprisoned also include Atnaf Berahane, Mahlet Fantahun, Natnael Feleke (of the Zone 9 group) and journalists Asmamaw Hailegeorgis and Tesfalem Waldyes. The authorities have charged all of them with “working with a foreign organization to incite public violence.” Their court case has been adjourned until May 7th.

“Since 2012, the Zone 9 blogging collective has worked to foster civic engagement and critical commentary about social and political issues in Ethiopia,” noted the statement from Global Voices. “Despite difficult conditions, they have exercised their right to free expression in the interest of promoting peaceful dialogue and debate.”

Click here to read the statement at globalvoicesonline.org.

BBC Trending: Jailed Zone Nine Bloggers Spark Ethiopia Trend on Social Media
Ethiopian Government Charges Journalists With Inciting Public Violence (VOA News)
Nine journalists and bloggers arrested in Ethiopia ahead of Kerry visit (The Guardian)
Six Members of Zone Nine Blogging Collective Arrested in Ethiopia (TADIAS)

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Kerry Responds to Kristof ‘s Tweet About Arrests of Bloggers in Ethiopia

Secretary of State John Kerry and author Nicholas Kristof. (Photo credit: Department of State and WEF)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Tuesday April 29th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Secretary of State John Kerry responded to a tweet from New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof regarding the recent arrests of several independent journalists and bloggers in Ethiopia. Soon after news of the crackdown in Addis Ababa broke on social media this past weekend, Kristof had tweeted saying “Let’s hope that when John Kerry visits Ethiopia in coming days, he’ll forcefully raise issue of imprisoned bloggers & journalists.”

Kerry who is visiting Ethiopia this week as part of a three country tour of Africa (including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola) assured the award winning journalist that the matter remains high on his agenda. “Important issue,” Kerry replied. “US will stay committed to helping promote & protect press freedom in all corners of world.”

New York-based Human Rights Watch organization notes that “on the afternoon of April 25, police in uniform and civilian clothes conducted what appeared to be a coordinated operation of near-simultaneous arrests. Six members of a group known as the “Zone9” bloggers – Befekadu Hailu, Atnaf Berahane, Natnael Feleke, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kibret, and Abel Wabela – were arrested at their offices and in the streets. Tesfalem Weldeyes, a freelance journalist, was also arrested during the operation. Edom Kassaye, a second freelance journalist, was arrested on either April 25 or 26; the circumstances of her arrest are unclear but all eight individuals were apparently taken to Maekelawi Police Station, the federal detention center in Addis Ababa, the capital. The arrests also came days before Ethiopia is scheduled to have its human rights record assessed at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review in Geneva on May 6.”

All of the accused have been charged with “inciting public violence” and colluding with “a foreign organization.”

Below is the twitter exchange between Kerry and Kristof:



Ethiopian Government Charges Journalists With Inciting Public Violence (VOA News)
Arrests Upstage Kerry’s Ethiopia Visit (HRW)

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

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

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Go:
SEED Annual Award Dinner
SUNDAY, May 25th, 2014 at 6:30pm
Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20057
Phone: 202-687-3200
$75.00 for adults
$85.00 at the door
$35.00 for children under 12
Contact: 609- 407-0496 or 234 -380-1533
More info at www.ethioseed.org.

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Buzunesh Deba Ready for Boston

New York City marathon runner-up Buzunesh Deba. (Photograph: news.wsxnyc.org)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes

Published: Saturday, April 19th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — After placing second at the New York City marathon in November, when Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia was preparing for next Monday’s 2014 Boston marathon, she came down with a respiratory infection that cost her several weeks of training starting late January. She expected that interruption to affect her race at the New York City half marathon, which took place on March 16, in temperatures below the freezing point.

“It was very cold, and my muscles were tight,” said Buzunesh. “I was with the leaders til about 8 miles, I think.” Things changed at a turn on the course. “I was at the back of the pack when a strong wind came and it flung me back, and after that I was separated from the group,” she said in an interview. “It was very windy and I couldn’t close the gap. After that, at about 9 miles, it was again very windy, and there wasn’t anyone near me, and I got left behind.”

Nevertheless, in a field that included reigning Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Sally Kipyego, 2013 Frankfurt and 2011 Boston marathon champion Caroline Kilel of Kenya and others, the New York City resident Buzunesh managed to finish second behind Kipyego in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 59 seconds.

“Based on that result, I believe I’ll run well in Boston, with God’s help, because it’s my best time,” said Buzunesh. “In 2011, when I ran 2 hours and 23 minutes [to place second in the New York marathon], I had run 1:09:55 [for the half marathon].”

Her 2014 half marathon finish and its nearly 1-minute improvement on her personal best (PB) was all the more meaningful because of her interrupted training in the lead-up to the race. “In fact, when I went into the race, I was thinking I may even be forced to drop out because I’d been sick and might not have enough energy,” she said.

“The training I’ve done after that has gone well to date,” she said this week from her winter training base in high-altitude Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she spent most of the time since mid-December, before leaving Thursday for Boston. “I believe that that New York half marathon PB will help me in Boston, and it gives me confidence.”

“This year, we’ve increased the speed work she does,” said her husband and coach Worku Beyi, adding that she upped the number of fast repetitions of 400m, and that she has also prepared for the hills on the Boston course. “The place where we train in Albuquerque is very hilly,” he said. “We did our last long run on Sunday.”

He is aware of the challenges Buzunesh, whose fastest marathon time is her 2011 New York 2:23:19, faces in Boston. “Right now, Buzuye is 10th on the entry list in Boston in terms of time,” he said, using an affectionate form of his wife’s name. “They are very tough opponents.”

The stacked line-up for Monday’s women’s race includes Ethiopians Mare Dibaba, who ran 2:19:52 in Dubai in 2012 and won in Xiamen, China in 2:21:36 this January, and former world 10,000m silver medalist Meselech Melkamu, who won Frankfurt in 2012 in a course record 2:21:01.

The field also includes a bevy of fast Kenyans like the defending Boston champion and favorite Rita Jeptoo, who won October’s Chicago marathon in 2:19:57, current Chicago and former Boston runner-up Jemima Sumgong (PB 2:20:48), Eunice Kirwa (PB 2:21:41), and former Boston champions Sharon Cherop (PB 2:22:28) and Kilel (PB 2:22:34).

“We come hoping to win,” said Worku. “One thing I admire about Buzuye is that she has no fear.”

It was running with no fear that took Buzunesh to eight marathon wins in the United States including course record wins in the 2011 San Diego and Los Angeles marathons (defeating Mare Dibaba in the latter).

It was running with no fear that took Buzunesh twice to the podium in the prestigious New York City marathon, where in 2011, she finished behind compatriot Firehiwot Dado but ahead of runners like the former world half marathon champion Mary Keitany of Kenya, who had won London in 2:19:19 just seven months prior; and Kilel, who had a PB nearly a minute faster than Buzunesh going in to the race.

“She puts her hard work on display,” said Worku. In the 2013 New York marathon, Buzunesh ran from the front along with her training partner Tigist Tufa, maintaining the pace she had trained for, and disregarding the field behind her, building up a lead of nearly three minutes at one point.

She was only caught in the final miles of the race by then-London champion Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya, who won ahead of Buzunesh’s 2:25:56 second place. The women left in Buzunesh’s wake included the world champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, who had run 2:19:50 for second place in London a year earlier.

Both the New York and Boston races are among the major marathons of the world, assembling top fields.

Buzunesh’s 2014 half marathon PB may not result in a subsequent marathon PB in Boston, like it did in 2011 in New York. “I’ve heard the weather is variable: One time, it’s warm; another time, windy; another time cold,” she said. “The weather will be decisive, and there’s also the fact that I don’t know the course, so I’ll know better when I’m in the race.”

Buzunesh was entered in the Boston marathon in 2012, but didn’t run it due to an injury. Last year, she had run the Houston marathon in January, placing second there in 2:24:26, and she was in New Mexico during the running of the 2013 Boston marathon on April 15, when bombs went off near the finish line several hours into the race. With masses of non-professional runners on the course and spectators lining it, the explosions left three dead and many seriously injured.

“We were watching coverage of the race on television, when we saw what happened,” said Buzunesh. “I was so shocked.”

“It’s tragic what happened last year,” she said. “This year, the security level will be increased. It will be like New York was last year. It was very good. They had greatly increased security measures from the start all the way to the finish line.”

Race organizers and Boston law enforcement officials have outlined tightened security procedures and an increased police presence leading up to and on race day this year.

“I don’t think there’ll be anything to be concerned about or anything to fear for us elite athletes or the mass runners,” added Buzunesh.

Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa won the men’s race last year, and gave his medal to the City of Boston afterwards as a gesture of empathy for what the city and its residents experienced. Lelisa is back this year, and favored to win again, after a spectacular year. He added a world championship marathon silver medal in Moscow last August to his April Boston win, which itself came after a victory in Dubai that January. He won a fast Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) half marathon this February.

Kenya’s reigning Chicago champion Dennis Kimetto is regarded as Lelisa’s toughest opponent, and his compatriot, the former 10K world record-holder Micah Kogo, will also be looking to upgrade his 2013 Boston second-place finish.

The strong 2014 field includes Ethiopians Gebre Gebremariam, the former world cross country and 2010 New York marathon champion, who was third in Boston in 2011 and 2013; former Los Angeles marathon champion and 2014 Dubai runner-up Markos Geneti; and 2013 Rotterdam champion and 2012 Chicago third-placer Tilahun Regassa.

American Ryan Hall, who was third in Boston in 2009 and has since finished just off the podium twice, is also coming to the race from Ethiopia, having spent time training there.

Others coming from Addis Ababa include the nation’s 2013 world championships 10,000m bronze medalist Belaynesh Oljira, who was 5th in the Dubai marathon last year, and the 2012 and 2013 Tokyo marathon runner-up Yeshi Esayias in the women’s race.

The Boston marathon takes place on the Patriots’ Day holiday celebrated in Massachusetts on Monday, April 21, with the elite women’s race kicking things off at 9:32am Eastern time, while the men’s race starts shortly thereafter.

The race will be televised live throughout the U.S. on the Universal Sports channel.

Lelisa Desisa Delivers an Ethiopian Victory Amidst Sporting Disappointments

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Update: Isiah Leggett’s Press Conference with Ethiopian Media

The incumbent Executive of Montgomery County, Maryland Isiah "Ike" Leggett. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, April 5th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — How large is the Ethiopian community in Montgomery County, Maryland? “Well the county overall is 1.1 million residents and we have about 10% of that population from continental Africa,” answered Isiah ‘Ike’ Leggett, the County’s Executive, during a teleconference with Ethiopian media last week. “And from that ten percent, which is about 110,000, I think the best figure is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 directly in the county, but it overlaps with two other counties in our region and Washington, D.C.”

In fact, Mr. Leggett said that he had a recent meeting with a group from Washington, D.C. that established an office in Montgomery County to help them with providing some support to issue micro-loans to the Ethiopian community, for small businesses, restaurants, and people who are interested in purchasing tax services.  He emphasized: “We are trying to be more engaged and support some of those organizations from the economic development standpoint. Of course, we are promoting Ethiopian culture through our libraries, recreational facilities and within our schools as well. We are trying to address it from a cultural perspective, from an educational perspective, a business approach as well as simply trying to remove some of the obstacles for people who want to reside and stay in Montgomery County and in this country — to help them facilitate that process as well.”

Organized by the Ethiopian-American Council (EAC) the press conference, which took place on Tuesday, April 1st, was intended to introduce Mr. Leggett to the larger Ethiopian community and to announce EAC’s endorsement of his candidacy for a third term as Montgomery County Executive. Mr. Leggett took several questions from Ethiopian journalists on a range of issues that are pertinent to the Ethiopian-American community and residents of the county in general. Topics of discussion included immigration reform, jobs, education, business, access to health care, affordable housing, as well as his support for an Ethiopian community center and his trip to Ethiopia a year and a half ago to sign a sister city agreement between Montgomery County and the historic Ethiopian city of Gonder.

“I carried a delegation of about 60 people with me to Ethiopia for about ten days,” Mr. Leggett said of his trip in the fall of 2012. “We had an opportunity to travel throughout the country with a signing ceremony in Gonder to establish our sister city relationship. The Ethiopian community in the county had expressed very strong views that they thought, and I believed them, that we should establish one of our sister city relationships with Gonder.” He added: “We have several other [such agreements] including China and South Korea. But we thought given the history of Ethiopia and the many residential Ethiopians that are here in Montgomery county from Ethiopia who are contributing to our local economy, whether its in education or various professions, we were delighted that we had the opportunity to visit and to host many follow-up meetings with people from Gonder, Ethiopia and Montgomery county.”

Regarding his stand on immigration reform Mr. Leggett, who is also the current President of the County Executives of America (a position he assumed in August of 2013), said he feels strongly about the issue at a national level. “First of all we start with the general premise of the county that we treat people with dignity and respect and make certain that the resources that we have in the county are available to all people — that we do not discriminate or we do not have hard core kinds of restrictions as it relates to the immigrant population in Montgomery County,” he said. “That involves everything from health care to housing and to a variety of other resources that we provide in Montgomery County.” He added: “We have a very large number of Ethiopians that serve on boards and committees throughout Montgomery county and our county government. Thirdly, we try to promote all kinds of cultural, religious and educational activities, which the Ethiopian community is an active part of. And fourthly, it’s in the area of economic development that we’re reaching out [and] working with the Ethiopian [business] community.”

In addition, Mr. Leggett pointed out that his staff is constantly in contact with members of the Ethiopian community in Montgomery County “to make certain that we respond to many of their concerns” and to assist in creating an Ethiopian community center. Mr. Leggett continued: “For example, there is a very large festival event that was held in Maryland this past summer and Montgomery County played a part as host. We are working on a variety of fronts trying to ensure that we support a community center whereby there will be a common place where Ethiopians can consistently gather. And they do so now, but often times it’s at different locations, its not as consistent, it’s not as focused as we would want it to be. With a community center Mr. Legett shared that they can provide activities ranging  ”from cultural events to religious events, or simply a meeting place that they would have as a common location within our county.” Mr. Leggett emphasized that “more importantly, my office is and has opened its doors so that we can be supportive of what the Ethiopian community wants. I think that’s the best response we can have. The more important side to this is to be receptive to the Ethiopian community and things that they would like to see us do and to have an ongoing dialogue. If you have that as a model and you are prepared to work aggressively with that, very positive things can happen.”

According to his bio Leggett, who was initially elected as Montgomery County Executive in 2006 (and re-elected in 2010), was born in Deweyville, Texas in 1944. “Leggett attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and, after serving in the Vietnam War, earned a law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  In 1986, he became the first African-American elected to the county council in Montgomery County, Maryland and served on the council through 2002. He remains the only African-American ever elected to that body at-large.”

At the press conference last Tuesday Mr. Leggett repeatedly urged Ethiopian- Americans to volunteer in his campaign and noted that on the 27th of April, his wife is having “a large event in Silver Spring,” an engagement, he stated, for women across the board “so she is encouraging Ethiopian women and others to come.” He added: “That involvement provides a number of things because many years ago when I first moved into Montgomery County and got involved, I started by assisting other candidates and learning from them about the elements of politics and public service and I was able to expand from that to run for office myself at a lower level and eventually worked my way up to County Executive.”

Mr. Leggett said that he hopes to see Ethiopian-Americans vying for elected office in the United States in future years: “So that you are not looking at Iike Leggett who is running for Country Executive or some other office and representing the views of the Ethiopian community, but you have people from Ethiopia or people with strong background and connection with Ethiopia who are running themselves, that’s the progress that I want to see happen.”

Below are clips of the audio from the teleconference.

You can learn more about County Executive Isiah ‘Ike’ Leggett at www.ikeleggett.org.

Video: Leggett Leads a Delegation to Gonder Ethiopia, Montgomery County’s Sister City (2012)

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Third International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora

At the 2014 International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora. (Photo: by Kebadu Belachew)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — The lively and diverse crowd at the Third International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora — that was held at the Sheraton in Silver Spring, Maryland this past weekend (Saturday, March 22nd) — featured several speakers (both women and men) discussing current issues affecting Ethiopian women globally. Some of the presenters participated via Internet from Colorado, Kentucky and California.

The conference commenced with a motivational speech by Chereace Richards, a successful business woman and author of Faith, Focus, Action: The Journey to Becoming Who You Are, followed by a segment of Dagmawi Yimer’s movie Like a Man on Earth, a moving story of Ethiopian migrant workers in Libya. “We showed the clip of the film and Dagmawi gave a brief speech,” said Dr. Maigenet Shifferraw, President of CREW (Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women) who organized the conference. “The movie and his speech left a lot of people in the audience sobbing.”

Others presenters included data visualization expert Jomo Tariku, as well as the editor and senior researcher of the Bahrain-based migrant-rights.org Rima Kalush, an advocate for migrant rights in Middle Eastern countries. Dr. Maigenet shared that during her several previous communications with Rima, who joined the conference online from Caliofrnia, she never asked about her birth country. “To me, she is just a powerful and strong woman from the Middle East who is defying her own culture and works for migrant workers,” she said. “And at the conference, I asked where Rima was from originally and she said she is from Libya.” She added: “What a story to tell. Thank you, Rima, for all what you are doing. You are a role model to all.”

In a letter to supporters and participants Dr. Maigenet added: “Our first session began at about 10:30 a.m. by bringing Drs. Minga Negash and Seid Hassan via Skype from Colorado and Kentucky, respectively. [The speakers] set the framework for the conference by explaining the push and pull factors of migration in general and Ethiopian outmigration in particular. ”

Another panel was focused on the current situation of Ethiopian women migrant workers in the Middle East and about the returnees from Saudi Arabia. “Our moderator was the young and vibrant, Dr. Menna Demissie, who is senior policy analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation,” Dr. Maigenet said. “Speakers on this panel included filmmaker Dagmawi Yimer, technologist and designer Jomo Tariku,  Researcher Helen Afework, and our own Genet Derbe, a social worker and the treasurer of CREW.”

Speaking of Helen Afework, a young researcher and a graduate student at the European Masters in Migration Studies in Germany who is currently in New York on a fellowship program at the National Domestic Workers Association to study domestic workers in the United States, Dr. Maigenet said she became the recipient of the 2014 CREW scholarship sponsored by Tsehai Publishers.

“She read on Tadias Magazine the coverage about our upcoming 3rd conference and wrote us,” Dr. Maigenet recalled her conversation with Helen. “We contacted her and interviewed her. She was really God-send, and because of her extensive work on domestic workers in the Middle East, she became our 2014 CREW scholarship recipient.”  The scholarship is designed to encourage Ethiopian women researchers to present their papers and findings at CREW’s annual conferences. “With more sponsors we hope to invite at least two Ethiopian women researchers every year,” she said. “There are many who wrote us to sponsor them, but due to our limited resources, we were unable to do that.”

Tadella Fanta, a gender specialist with many years of experience in Ethiopia and other countries, addressed “the gendered nature of migration” based on research she had conducted regarding Ethiopian migrant workers in Yemen and Sudan. “She is one of the founding members of CREW, which has provided her a platform to present her research papers,” Dr. Maigenet said.

Dr. Maigenet noted that “a lot of people inquired later about how we brought all these dynamic young professionals and senior scholars [together],” Dr. Maigenet said. “It was through contacts from the National Press Club roundtable that was organized by Tadias Magazine in December 2013 where we were introduced to a number of the panelists.”  Dr. Maigenet also thanked additional media sponsor ESAT television and radio and CREW member Birtwait Girmay who is a producer, Voice of America (VOA) Amharic Service, Netsanet LeEthiopia radio, Addis Dimtse Radio, and ECADForum.

CREW looks forward to hosting a fundraising event in May.

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Meron Gebru: My Experience as a Diaspora Volunteer in Ethiopia

LIVE-Addis, a local NGO based in Addis Ababa, provides job training for the youth. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine

By Meron Gebru

Updated: Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Washington, D.C. — There is nothing like firsthand experience. Recently I spent three months in Ethiopia as a Diaspora volunteer through Cuso International working as a Women’s Livelihood Promotion Officer at LIVE-Addis, a local charity based in the capital. LIVE-Addis is devoted to enabling poor households to improve their livelihoods. What a rewarding time it was!

Aside from my sporadic visits to Ethiopia in the past few years, which often lasted for a couple of weeks, my idea of how things operated in Addis was very scant and was bound to be challenged. This opportunity gave me an intimate understanding of how the nonprofit community works, as well as how the different stakeholders in local economic development activities engage each other and what challenges they face on a regular basis.

My role at LIVE-Addis was to assess the capacity of the organization and help build its gender programming. I led several projects included designing an employment training manual, facilitating training, and providing job readiness workshops, while spending time with the motivated and dedicated staff who run the organization. Established in 2005 the non-profit has been implementing projects that support vulnerable and unemployed youth and women by connecting beneficiaries to a variety of vocational trainings that last 2 to 10 months, providing life skills education, business development classes, networking with employers, and granting seed money for those who want to start small businesses.

I also supported the organization in its annual friends’ day event where graduates are honored as well as asked to showcase their specific talents. I recognized this event as an important opportunity to invite potential employers so that the graduates could connect with them, demonstrate their expertise and learn about possible employment opportunities. To prepare, I trained candidates in job readiness aptitude, which included interviewing skills, job searching techniques, writing resumes, and initiating conversation with potential employers. After seeing its impact, the organization has institutionalized preparation of CVs and giving short coaching sessions to participants.

I believe volunteering is not merely giving back, but it is also receiving, in equal amount if not more, in personal growth. After applying for the position with Cuso International’s Diasporas for Development (DfD) Initiative, which is funded by USAID and Accenture, I was given a thorough volunteer assessment and training before my departure. I gained a great deal of knowledge, however, on the ground during my time in Addis Ababa including the cultural competency that plays a paramount role in conducting any kind of business. I believe volunteering creates a healthy partnership between people who live in different continents and who aspire for the same goal. Volunteers are ambassadors who link two cultures, especially in these days of globalization. Volunteers can play a vital role in promoting fair trade whether it is in knowledge, skills or materials.

If you are interested, Cuso International is currently recruiting skilled volunteers from members of the Ethiopian Diaspora as part their Diaspora for Development Project. You may apply directly on the Cuso International website.

About the Author:
Meron Gebru, who holds a graduate degree in Development Management, lives and works in Washington, D.C. area. Meron completed her undergraduate degree in Rural Development in Ethiopia before migrating to the U.S. seven years ago.

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Reflection on 118th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at Adwa

2014 marks the 118th anniversary of Ethiopia's victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896 and the following is a commemoration piece by historian Ayele Bekerie. (Courtesy Photograph: Adwa reenactment)

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD


Published: Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Adwa, Ethiopia (TADIAS) — When historians recorded major world events of 1896 they included several headlines about the Battle of Adwa such as ‘Abyssinia (Ethiopia) Defeats Invading Italians’; ’80,000 Ethiopians Destroy 20,000 Italians at the Battle of Adwa’; ‘Italian Premier Crispi Resigns’; and ‘Abyssinia and Italy Sign Peace Treaty.’ In other words, Adwa was placed on the world map and remained a historic story because of Ethiopia’s decisive victory against the Italian army on March 1st 1896 (Yekatit 23, 1888 according to the Ethiopian calendar).

Adwa has generated a significant amount of discourse and prose from writers across the globe. To Raymond Jonas, Adwa is “the story of a world turned upside down.” As he further aptly puts it, “Ethiopia stunned the world.” Many writers made note of the fact that an African army defeated a European army. Donald Levine, the great Ethiopianist scholar, marked the historical event by highlighting its racial implications in reverse order: “a non-white nation has defeated a European power.” Levine’s perspective makes a whole lot of sense when one notices that it was also in 1896 that the US Supreme Court by seven-to-one majority vote affirmed racial segregation. And it took 58 years to overturn racial segregation in the United States.

Encyclopedia Britannica narrated the following about the event of Adwa for posterity: “ The decisive Ethiopian victory checked Italy’s attempt to build an empire in Africa.” British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill penned the event in these words: “On the 1st of March 1896, the Battle of Adwa was fought and Italy, at the hands of Abyssinia, sustained a crushing defeat. Two results followed which affected other nations. First, a great blow had been struck at European prestige in north [east] Africa. Second, the value of Italy as a factor in European politics was depreciated.”

In the context of world history, “the Battle of Adwa marked the largest military triumph of an African state over a European army in the nineteenth century and helped Ethiopia retain its independence during Europe’s Scramble for Africa,” writes Stanford University Historical Education Group. Ethiopia’s retention of its independence paved the way for global anti-colonial movements. Paul Henze describes it best when he states “the defeat at the Battle of Adwa as the beginning of the decline of Europe at the center of world politics.”

Film Director and Producer Haile Gerima, framed the event as follows: “The victory ignited a lasting flame of hope, of freedom and of independence in the hearts of Africans throughout the world.” Bahru Zewde, a distinguished historian, understood Adwa’s global historical significance, for it “brought Ethiopia to the attention of the world.” The leading Afrocentrist, Molefi Kete Asante, further reiterates: “After the victory over Italy in 1896, Ethiopia acquired a special importance in the eyes of Africans as the only surviving African state. After Adwa, Ethiopia became emblematic of African valor and resistance, the bastion of prestige and hope to thousands of Africans who were experiencing the full shock of European conquest and were beginning to search for an answer to the myth of African inferiority.”

In fact, in 1896, outside of Adwa, there was no good news from the continent of Africa. European colonizers were almost on the verge completing their colonial agenda everywhere. In 1896, France dismissed Queen Ranvalona and later annexed Madagascar to its vast colonial empire. British troops defeated Zanzibar in a 38-minute war — A battle that started at 9:02am and ended at 9:40am, the record shows. It is equally important to note the resistance against colonialism in 1896 as evidenced by the uprising of the Matebeles in what is now the nation of Zimbabwe.

When Adwa is studied and understood in the context of world history, we find Adwa as one of the most significant beacons of hope for all oppressed and colonized people of the world. It is a victory that shattered the myth of European supremacy. It is a global historic moment that should be remembered and its bigger story should be shared by young and old in the world. Adwa, we call again, for its inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor at the Department of History and Heritage Management at Mekelle University.

The Significance of the 1896 Battle of Adwa
Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Tadias Interview With Bruktawit Tigabu: Her Amharic Classroom Library Project

Bruktawit Tigabu, founder of Ethiopia's Whiz Kids Workshop. (Photo: ©Rolex Awards/Ambroise Tézenas)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: February 27th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — As a primary school teacher in Addis Ababa, Bruktawit Tigabu wanted to improve literacy skills not only for children in her classroom but also for those who had limited educational opportunities. In 2006 she launched Whiz Kids Workshop and developed Ethiopia’s first educational TV show for preschool kids entitled Tsehai Loves Learning, which is watched by approximately 5 million children and also broadcast in schools, refugee centers, and clinics. 25 million listeners also hear Tsehai Loves Learning via radio. The educational TV show is highly successful and has earned several international accolades including the Japan Prize International Contest for Education Media and Next Generation Prize at Prix Jeunesse International (2008) and Microsoft Education Award (2011). Bruktawit was named a Rolex Young Laureate in 2010.

Following Tsehai Loves Learning Bruktawit released a TV series made by students called Involve Me in 2010. She was featured as one of the ‘Most Creative People of 2012′ by Fast Company and is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to launch her latest idea — building Tsehai’s Amharic Classroom Library Project and establishing 60 classroom-based libraries in several public elementary schools in Addis Ababa. Bruktawit’s dream is to have classroom libraries in schools across Ethiopia.

Below is our interview with Bruktawit Tigabu:

Bruktawit Tigabu. (Photograph credit: ©Rolex Awards/Ambroise Tézenas)

TADIAS: Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you started Whiz Kids Workshop. What inspired you to develop it?

BRUKTAWIT: I began my career as a teacher in my hometown of Addis Ababa. After a few years as a classroom teacher, I noticed most children entered the school system as late as age seven. This is because Ethiopia lacks public kindergartens. At Whiz Kids, we call this the early education gap and it is one of the main contributing factors to the high illiteracy rate in Ethiopia. These early years between ages three and six are developmentally critical to a child’s educational success; I knew something had to be done to fill this education gap for so many children. Whiz Kids Workshop began as an idea of how the power of television could close the gap. My husband Shane and I started out by making short films using some of the low-cost media technology that was becoming available to us at the time. We tested our films in classrooms and then conceived of the character of Tsehai, a curious young giraffe who loves books and music. Her show, Tsehai Loves Learning (Tsehai Memare Tewedaletch), has become a national hit that reaches millions weekly throughout Ethiopia on public television. Although our television show continues to reach and impact more and more children, we decided, a few years ago, to increase this impact by going beyond television into radio programming. This season, Tsehai’s radio programs will be reaching up to 25 million young listeners. We have also created Tsehai classroom libraries, where children and teachers can have a rich experience of our reading materials that include storybooks, workbooks, classroom posters and flashcards, developed by a large team of literacy experts, writers and artists.

TADIAS: Can you share some highlights of achievements and lessons learned from producing the Tsehai Loves Learning educational series?

BRUKTAWIT: Since we began in 2005, we have produced over 60 episodes of Tsehai Loves Learning that are viewed regularly by over 5 million children across the country. We continue to be the longest standing children’s TV series in the country. We have also been recognized for our work with over six international awards including Japan Prize in 2008, 2009 & 2010, Prix Jeunesse International – Next Generation Prize in Germany, 2010 Rolex Young Laureate award in Switzerland, and Microsoft Education Award 2011 of The Tech Awards in the USA. We recently won All Children Reading grant which helped us produce 32 episodes of Tsehai Loves Learning television and radio series.

We have learned many valuable lessons in this amazing journey of developing an educational series for children in Ethiopia. The three most meaningful are:

First, we never compromise on quality. Despite the challenge of producing for children, we have learned that to ensure and maintain quality—children’s production must be educational, fun, culturally and age appropriate, and relevant. To guarantee that we meet this standard, we spend close to a thousand hours of work for each episode of Tsehai Loves Learning. Besides the labor of love, we also use research, music, beautiful artwork and animation to bring it to life.

Second, dedication and persistence is a must to overcome the daily challenges of being a pioneer of such innovative work in Ethiopia. We face numerous challenges including financial, human resource capacity in the field, and bureaucratic hiccups on a daily basis. But we have learned that when we stay focused on our goal—reaching the millions of children who eagerly wait to see what we are producing and the vision of a better Ethiopia because we are providing children’s education– we are incredibly energized to persevere.

Third, building community — We have learned that no development or growth is sustainable or successful without the involvement of its community. We believe that every child in Ethiopia deserves the very best educational materials, regardless of their economic background. That’s why we are so excited to be reaching out to Ethiopians across the world to make this campaign succeed.

TADIAS: You recently announced the launch of an innovative crowdfunding campaign for an Amharic Classroom Library Project. Please tell us more about the initiative. Is this also in conjunction with the TV series?

BRUKTAWIT: Reading is a foundational skill for all learning in school. In some regions of Ethiopia, according to the 2010 Early Grade Reading Assessment, a majority of children have 0% comprehension, even at the end of grade 2. The same research showed that having teachers who provide focused reading instruction and story books, are a promising approach for identifying and beginning to remedy this critical problem. This is the reason we are building Tsehai classroom libraries beyond our TV and radio programs; to ensure sustainable reading success, the reading materials must be in the children’s hands.

Each classroom library revolves around a set of powerful elements that achieve reading success. Our classroom library materials includes 32 full-color, original storybooks that focus on one of the families of Ethiopian fidel; 32 beautiful classroom posters of all the fidels; 297 illustrated flashcards for learning the fidels; a wall-mounted sleeve used for teaching the fidels; five shelves for displaying the books, mounted at the right height for children to reach; and a mural featuring the beloved character Tsehai to create a special space for reading and exploration. We also include teacher training videos to demonstrate to teachers how to these materials in the classrooms most effectively.

Our initial goal will be to establish 60 classroom libraries in public schools in Addis Ababa. But if we go beyond our initial $25,000 goal it means we will be able to reach more schools in the country.

The new season of Tsehai Loves Learning is fully integrated into this initiative. Each of the 32 new episodes of the show features one of the books as an animated short within the show, with the characters reading them along with students and using the flashcards to learn the fidel. We will be including these episodes in each classroom library set on eight DVDs.

TADIAS: What is one thing you absolutely enjoy about running Whiz Kids Workshop?

BRUKTAWIT: I love to see people’s reactions to our work. It never gets old for me to see children sing along with Tsehai as they watch the show or to see a teacher’s reaction to the new classroom set we have developed for them. Most Ethiopian children know and love Tsehai; today’s teens grew up with her and adults keep telling me how much they wished for our materials to have been available when they were growing up.

TADIAS: Where do you hope to take your organization in five years?

BRUKTAWIT: Over the next five years we will continue to produce more innovative episodes of Tsehai Loves Learning that help children develop capacities in literacy, science, math, the arts, and moral values. We are going to keep building our library of books and supplementary materials, not only in Amharic, but in other Ethiopian languages. We want to create a nationwide movement based upon an appreciation of the importance of reading as the foundation of success in education and in life! This campaign is the beginning of raising awareness among parents, teachers, and school administrators to elevate the importance of helping children fall in love with books and learning to read by putting the right kind of learning materials into their hands. I can also see the Tsehai brand expanding beyond the borders of Ethiopia to develop curriculum in other African languages.

TADIAS: Is there anything in particular that you want to share with Tadias readers?

BRUKTAWIT: Having lived in the U.S. for a few years with my children, I know how hard it can be to maintain our language and culture while we are away from Ethiopia. We all know how important it is for us to help our children stay connected to our people and our heritage while we are far away, but it isn’t an easy task when they are immersed in another culture and strongly influenced by it.

With this new campaign, we are reaching out specifically to Ethiopians living abroad and giving them two important ways to meaningfully strengthen their connection with their country and people. By becoming contributors to our campaign, they will be the very first to get access to our new set of books, videos flashcards and posters to enjoy with their family. At the same time, they are making a direct contribution to the improvement of quality education in Ethiopia – critical to the development of our country.

To participate in the crowdfunding campaign to build Tsehai’s Amharic Classroom Library Project please visit: www.highercircle.com/campaigns/tsehai-loves-learning-libraries

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Rising Ethio-Jazz Singer Yeshi Demelash Prepares for U.S. Tour

(Photo: Cover image from Yeshi Demelash's album "Qene.")

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday February 26th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Musician Yeshi Demelash has been called “arguably the most talented contemporary female Ethiopian jazz singer.” Yeshi, who was born in 1984 in Gojam, is a former Ethiopian Idol judge and a graduate of Addis Abeba University’s Yared School of Arts where she majored in flute and minored in piano. She established her reputation as an Ethio-jazz singer two years ago with the release of her debut album entitled Qene, an ode to Ethiopia’s ancient literary and oral traditions.

Now Yeshi’s voice has captured the attention of New York-based producer Bill Laswell — the person behind the records of Jano and Gigi — and he is currently remixing one of her songs entitled Fano. Yeshi plans to work on a new album with Laswell when she arrives here this Spring to begin her first American tour.

Organizers say Yeshi will perform at SOB’s in New York on April 26th accompanied by her band, also named ‘Qene.’ Stay tuned for updates.

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‘Difret’ to Premier in D.C. Area – March 15th

Lawyer Meaza Ashenafi & Difret Actress Meron Getnet at 2014 Berlin Film Festival. (Photograph: Berlinale)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian film ‘Difret,’ which won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, will premiere in Washington, D.C. area next month during the 10th annual New African Films Festival at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center.

According to organizers “This year’s festival — the biggest yet — showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent.” Difret will be screened on March 15th in Silver Spring, Maryland — co-presented by AFI, TransAfrica and Afrikafé — followed by a Q&A session with filmmaker Zeresenay Mehari and producer Mehret Mandefro.

Based on a true story “first-time filmmaker Zeresenay Mehari has crafted a beautiful and important film, capturing Ethiopia in flux, grappling with traditions and looking towards the future,” the press release added. The character “Meaza [played by Meron Getnet] is an empowered lawyer who provides free legal-aid services to poor women and children in need. Her life changes forever when she takes on the case of Hirut, a 14-year-old girl charged with the murder of her abductor and would-be husband. Inspired by this young girl’s courage, Meaza embarks on a long, tenacious battle to save Hirut’s life.”

If You Go:
2014 New African Films Festival
‘Difret’ Premier: Sat. March 15th at 7:00 p.m.
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural center
8633 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Tadias Interview with Zeresenay Mehari & Mehret Mandefro
‘Difret’ Wins Panorama at Berlin Film Festival
Ethiopian film confronts marriage by abduction (BBC)
‘Difret’ Wins World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance Festival
Tadias Interview with Filmmaker Yidnekachew Shumete

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Tadias Interview: Dr. Enawgaw Mehari on Pan-African Health Conference

Dr. Enawgaw Mehari, Founder and President of People to People - P2P. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, February 24th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-born Neurologist Enawgaw Mehari, Founder and President of People to People (P2P), keeps a busy schedule at his job as a consultant at St. Claire Regional Medical Center and Neurology Course Director for University of Kentucky, but he always finds time to form global partnerships on healthcare related projects in Ethiopia. P2P, an Ethiopian doctors association that he founded in 1999, has a worldwide membership of over 55,000 as well as close ties with medical institutions in Ethiopia and the United States. Recently the California-based non-profit organization, US Doctors for Africa (USDFA), announced that it has partnered with P2P as its “Strategic Co-host” of the upcoming Pan-African Medical Doctors and Healthcare Conference to be held in Addis Ababa from May 21st through 23rd, 2014.

“It is so natural these two organizations have agreed to come together to host such a high level conference,” Dr. Enawgaw said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. Dr. Enawgaw noted that the gathering will highlight what he calls a “Triangular Partnership,” a term used by People to People — which also runs a free clinic in Kentucky for the working poor — to describe the relationship of three global groups: Diaspora, developing countries and Western institutions. “For so long the donor communities have given huge amount of money to Africa but have not invested sufficiently in capacity building,” he added. “People to People believes in a pragmatic vision that Triangular Partnership is the new paradigm.”

Dr. Enawgaw pointed out that Ethio American Medical Group (EDAG) and Global Ethiopian Medical Enterprise, both members of the Ethiopian Diaspora, have merged together to build a state of the art hospital in Addis Ababa. “The goal is to mitigate the migration of Ethiopians to other countries for their high caliber healthcare,” he said. “The group believes we are where we are and we have what we have and it is therefore natural to give back to the people who made our dreams a reality.”

Dr. Enawgaw emphasized that there are many distinguished Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopians who are making a difference in many ways “such as Dr. Girma Tefera from University of Wisconsin coordinating the emergency medicine program, Dr. Senait Fisseha from Michigan University helping St. Paul University with its post graduate training, Dr. Elias Siraj from Temple University supporting the Endocrinology program, Dr. Dawd Siraj and Dr. Makeda Semret from McGill University in Canada supporting the infectious disease program at Black Lion hospital, Dr. Kassa Darge supporting the radiology program at Black Lion, Dr. Zelalem Temesgen from Mayo Clinic developing HIV/AIDS online education program for Ethiopia, and Dr. Anteneh Habte supporting the palliative and hospice educational effort to be added to medical school curriculums. In addition, Dr. Fikre Girma from McMaster University in Canada has played a significant role in introducing CME for emergency medicine in Ethiopia. The Hakim Workneh and Melaku Beyan society has been playing important roles in medical education and the health care system in Ethiopia. The list is huge and I hope I am not in trouble for forgetting important names.”

The upcoming conference at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa headquarters in Addis Ababa, Dr. Enawgaw said, is open to medical students, medical doctors, health care specialists, policy makers and any one interested both at home and abroad. He said some of the topics at the conference will include “Technology, education, infrastructure, social media, medical ethics, mental health, brain drain, brain circulation, brain gain, women’s health, burden of diseases, and non-infectious emerging chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, heart attack and stroke.”

You can learn more about the conference at panafricanhealthconference.org.

Ted Alemayehu Prepares for Pan-African Healthcare Conference in Ethiopia

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Ted Alemayehu: Founder and President of US Doctors for Africa

Ted Alemayehu, Founder and President of US Doctors for Africa. (Photograph courtesy USDFA)

Tadias Magazine
By Aida B. Solomon

Published: Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Los Angeles (TADIAS) — The California-based non-profit organization, US Doctors for Africa (USDFA), is gearing up to host its largest healthcare summit to date — The Pan-African Medical Doctors and Healthcare Conference — to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from May 21-23, 2014.

In an interview with Tadias Magazine, Ted Alemayehu, Founder and President of USDFA said that the gathering, the first of its kind, is intended to mobilize solutions to common concerns that healthcare professionals from across Africa share. “We have invited almost every medical association from the continent,” Alemayehu said, pointing out the conference will also include “a ministerial panel” in which the Ethiopian, South African, Ugandan, Zambian and Nigerian Ministers of Health will be participating. Invited dignitaries including the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, President Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Chairperson of the African Union Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma will also be in attendance.

The three-day conference will be held at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa headquarters in Addis Ababa. The theme of the conference, Alemayehu said, is “Africa’s healthcare challenges of the 21st century.” Some of the topics to be raised include healthcare infrastructure, investment opportunities, women’s health, and the controversial issue of “brain drain” in regards to African healthcare professionals.

“One of the main reasons why our African doctors are leaving the continent is because of economic reasons; so how do we deal with that?” Alemayehu asks. “One of the ideas that we’re going to introduce is the launch of a Pan-African Doctors Fund.” He added: “The fund would match a healthcare professional’s salary in their native country. For example, instead of an Ethiopian doctor making 5,000 birr per month, the fund would help him earn 12,000 birr a month, a difference that would help retain much-needed doctors in the country. The fund will also support the training of African doctors and provision of up-to-date technologies.”

Alemayehu said his team is “extremely excited” about the conference. Fourteen years ago Alemayhu launched USDFA after coming across a shocking statistic in the LA Times: “In some countries there is one doctor for every 100,000 people.”

“That’s what really got me,” Alemayhu says. With a professional background in hospitality management and consulting, Alemayhu decided to sponsor five doctors on a four-week mission to South Africa, Ethiopia, and Kenya. The American doctors were able to establish partnerships and perform operations, and came back to Los Angeles with “tons of stories to share.” A nationwide profile on the Tavis Smiley Show jumpstarted USDFA, and the rest, as Alemayehu says, “is history.”

Tadias Magazine first sat down with Ted Alemayehu in 2003 as the non-profit was gearing up to launch several high-profile partnerships to expand their mission of providing training and assistance to doctors working in African countries. In 2006, USDFA was approached by the Clinton Foundation in conjunction with the Clinton Health Access Initiative campaign to increase low-cost quality treatment to those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. In 2009, USDFA organized the first ever African First Lady’s Health Summit in Los Angeles with over 25 participating countries and 19 First Ladies flown in from across the continent.

In regards to the upcoming conference in Addis Ababa, Alemayhu says he expects NGOs, foundations, corporations, and mobile clinic manufacturers to also be in attendance.

You can learn more about the conference at panafricanhealthconference.org.

Tadias Interview: Dr. Enawgaw Mehari on Pan-African Health Conference in Ethiopia

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Dr. Catherine Hamlin Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Dr. Catherine Hamlin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo courtesy: hamlinfistula.org)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Saturday, February 8th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Catherine Hamlin, an Australian-born, honorary Ethiopian citizen, recently celebrated her 90th birthday surrounded by the women whose lives she changed for the better at the fistula hospital she established with her husband in Addis Ababa in 1974.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 100,000 women are affected worldwide by obstetric fistula — an injury during the birthing process that women with obstructive labor suffer from when they have inadequate access to medical support.

Earlier this month the Ethiopian government sent a letter nominating Hamlin for the Nobel Peace Prize, and over the years Dr. Hamlin’s work has received global support and financial assistance from organizations such as Hamlin Fistula USA, Fistula Foundation, and Tesfa Ineste – an Ethiopian Diaspora initiative that helped establish the Harar Hamlin Fistula Center.

In 2014 the Hamlin College of Midwives enrolled 21 Ethiopian students for the Bachelor of Science degree, making the total count of midwifery students up to 89. “The opening of the Hamlin College of Midwives, about 12 kilometers from Addis Ababa, is the key to tackle, and even eradicate completely, this devasting childbirth injury” says Abaynesh Asrat, Board Member of Hamlin Fistula USA. “I think, as we did a phenomenal job collectively to build the Harar Center, we can once again use our intellect and our financial support, individually and collectively, three-fold, toward the education of more students to graduate from the Hamlin Midwifery College.”

Still working as a surgeon Dr. Hamlin recently told World News Australia Radio that she plans to continue her lifelong dedication to women suffering from obstetric fistula in Ethiopia. Several of her former patients now also work by her side performing some of the most challenging fistula repairs, which is a testament to her legacy of training the next generation of reproductive rights champions and being a beacon of light to many more thousands of women around the world.

At 90 this doctor is still calling by Nicholas kristof (NYT)
90 Year Old Surgeon Keeps a Steady Hand in Ethiopia (Australia Radio)

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Three Ethiopians Among 1000 Most Creative People in Business

In January 2014, Fast Company announced the Most Creative People in Business 1000, among them are Marcus Samuelsson, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, and Bruktawit Tigabu. (Photo Fast Company Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Thursday, January 30th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Three Ethiopians — Marcus Samuelsson, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, and Bruktawit Tigabu — were named among this year’s ‘Most Creative People in Business 1000,’ list compiled by Fast Company Magazine. The list highlights a “diverse group of modern Renaissance men and women across the economy and around the globe.” And Fast Company adds: “This is more than just a list: It is a rising community, an explosion of creative inspiration, the spur for so much breaking news across the quickly changing industries that Fast Company covers.”

Visit the MCP 1000 homepage here and click the name of a person to visit his or her profile page.

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A Memoir of First US Diplomat’s Meetings With Emperor Menelik

Portraits of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia and American Ambassador Robert P. Skinner. (Photos: PD-US)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, January 16th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – When Robert P. Skinner, the first American Ambassador to Ethiopia, arrived in Addis Ababa on December 18th, 1903, the Ethiopian capital was a brand new city with a permanent population of no more than 50,000. The Djibouti-Ethiopia railway was still under construction and partially finished up to Dire Dawa. The post office had just opened, and the telephone was the latest technology creating a buzz in town.

“After Adwa Menelik’s political independence was a recognized fact,” Skinner noted in his memoir initially published by Longmans, Green and Company in 1906. “The new railroad, the highways, the bridges, the telephones – all these things he probably cares very little for in themselves, but he realizes that nations must advance or they must fall.” Ambassador Skinner pointed out “if independent Abbyssinia falls, that contingency is most likely to result from dissensions from the Abyssinians themselves.”

Addis Ababa was already taking shape as the diplomatic capital of Africa with the presence of several embassies representing all the major powers of the day — including the British, French, Russians and the Italians. Ambassador Skinner had arrived in Ethiopia carrying draft copies of the very first U.S.-Ethiopia commercial treaty (both English and Amharic versions), that Menelik would later approve setting in motion more than a century of U.S.-Ethiopia relations. “What our diplomatic friends may have thought of the American mission considered politically may have been favorable or unfavorable, in any event they certainly contributed memorably to the personal pleasure of our visit by boundless hospitality, which ceased only when we went away, and after having assembled as guests under the flag of every nation represented officially in Ethiopia,” penned Skinner, who was accompanied by twenty four marines, a medical team and other assistants. “It filled us with new respect for diplomacy as a profession and fine art.”

The American Ambassador had quickly struck up a friendship with Menelik through a series of private meetings to iron out the details of the inaugural agreement between the two nations. According to Skinner, all prior business between the United States and Ethiopia had been conducted through a third party, often involving England, France or Italy.

“[Menelik's] thirst for information is phenomenal,” added Skinner. “I once suggested to the Emperor that he send some of his young men to our American schools and colleges. ‘Yes, that will come,’” said he. “‘Our young men must be educated. We have much to do.’” At the moment, however, both were focused on securing a bilateral accord that would guarantee a market for each country’s products. Skinner emphasized that in those years the total amount of Ethiopia’s foreign trade (import and export) was valued at no more than $2,316,000, of which the American share amounted to $1,389,600. Of this, Skinner recorded, American cotton goods generated $579,000 while Ethiopian exports of skins and hides earned $675,000 and coffee fetched $135,100.

“The practical question of whether it has been worthwhile to establish friendly relations with Ethiopia has been answered,” Skinner declared. “We naturally look to the future to develop the now non-existent commerce of really important volume.”

During a celebratory dinner, Skinner described how Menelik would send spicy Ethiopian food for them to taste. “These dishes were invariably seasoned with some sort of concentrated fire which seem to race through the system and scarify the whole alimentary tract,” Ambassador Skinner noted. “The Emperor nodded cheerfully over our difficulties and recommended Tej to relieve the situation.”

In regards to the country’s growing bureaucracy, Skinner noticed that “much stress has been laid by all returning travelers upon the presumed fact that nothing can be accomplished in Ethiopia of an official character without a judicious distribution of presents,” adding that “it would be untrue to say small gifts of money are not extremely necessary at times in Addis Ababa.”

His only regret, Ambassador Skinner admitted, is that he did not get a chance to meet with the legendary Empress Taitu. “Nothing in a way of public ceremonial occurred during our stay in which her presence was involved, and we departed too soon to have the pleasure of seeing her in private,” he recalled. “She is said to be a woman of great force of character, and in her youth, one of striking beauty.” He added: “She is now forty-seven years of age. She has been several times married and became the wife of the present Emperor in 1883. They have no children. This fact raises the question of succession in the mind of everyone visiting the empire.”

Back in the States, the treaty was passed by congress in less than three months, without any filibuster. It was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in the Spring of 1904. Robert Skinner, who was born in Ohio in 1866, spent most of his life as a career diplomat serving in France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Turkey. He eventually moved to Maine where he died at the age of ninety-four. Ambassador Skinner remains the chief architect of United States-Ethiopia relations.

Emperor Menelik II passed away on December 12, 1913, and a century later he still inspires books, movies, music, and political debates. But there could be no doubt of his epic role in preserving Ethiopia’s independence.

Below are photos of Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu:

First Ethiopian Delegation to the U.S. in 1919 Made Headlines
African American and Ethiopian Relations

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Interview With Zemedeneh Negatu

Zemedeneh Negatu. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, December 30th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — As a teenager in 1978 when Zemedeneh Negatu headed to the United States with his future uncertain, he had no idea that three decades later he would be named one of Africa’s 100 Most influential individuals for his role in promoting economic growth in the country of his birth and in Africa. The current Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia (EY) received the accolade last month from New African Magazine, which called him “a truly global citizen” and further noted that “anyone who has done business in Ethiopia will have come across Zemedeneh Negatu” or Zem, as he is affectionately known.

In a follow-up interview with Tadias Magazine during his recent trip to Washington, D.C., Zem said that his decision to return home in 1998 was inspired by “love at first sight” during a vacation trip to Ethiopia in April 1995 when he met his future wife, Julie Ricco, just days after he landed in Addis. “It was a Thursday,” he recalled laughing. “We spent the weekend in Langano and by Sunday we had decided to get married.” At the time he had just finished a two year expatriate assignment in Argentina as a consultant and was in the process of relocating to Brazil. “They were shipping my stuff from Buenos Aires to São Paulo and I had a little bit of free time so I thought why not visit home.” He added: “And I ended up meeting this beautiful woman that would change my life forever and to whom I have now been married almost 19 years and have a wonderful 11 year old son named Michael.”

After studying Business and Finance at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Zem worked as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) before landing a job in D.C. with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the global professional services firm, which would eventually take him to Latin America. “I have always been interested in emerging markets where you feel you are actually making a difference,” Zem said. ” I have gained a great deal of experience by working in South America where the business and investment environment in Argentina and Brazil in the 1990s was similar to what’s taking place today in Africa, where some of the fastest growing economies are located.”

In Ethiopia, Zem said, the economy has dramatically changed in the last fifteen years. “There wasn’t much back then,” he said, sharing that his first investment was a factory for feminine health products that did not pan out. “So I decided to settle for what I know best and opened a consulting firm.” His firm, EY Ethiopia, has been at the center of some of the biggest and most publicized business deals in the country, including the recent purchase of Meta Beer by the British-owned corporation Diageo, the world’s largest spirits drinks maker famous for Guinness Beer and Johnnie Walker. “I like to believe that we have contributed in our own small way to put Ethiopia on the global map as an attractive emerging market,” he said. “Of course the country’s progress has made our effort much easier since we have references we can highlight to global investors such as the significant GDP growth and major infrastructure projects including the $5.0 billion dam on the Nile river, the largest in Africa, and even the new subway in Addis Ababa, which is the only one in Sub-Saharan Africa outside of Johannesburg”.

For Zem, however, his proudest accomplishment came when his firm won a bid to work with the country’s homegrown global brand, Ethiopian Airlines, that he helped advise in their Vision 2010 Plan. When EY Ethiopia was hired in 2004, Ethiopian Airlines had 11 aircraft and less than 400 million dollars in annual revenue. Five years later, Zem said, the airline’s revenues had jumped to 1.2 billion dollars. “Today Ethiopian Airlines generates more profits than all African airlines combined,” he added. And since then his firm’s airline clients have expanded to include Rwandair, Virgin Nigeria Airlines, Mozambique Airlines, ASKY Airlines in Togo and many others. Zem also pointed out that initially while working on the Ethiopian Airlines project he had to outsource some of the tasks to professionals from a foreign firm. “Over time we have managed to build that capacity locally,” he said. “So we are now fully staffed by Ethiopians just like Ethiopian Airlines and we have some of the most sophisticated Transaction Advisory professionals based in Addis who win cross border African deals not just against our traditional “Big 4″ competitors but even big Wall Street investment firms.”

Zem is a highly sought after speaker at many high profile global conferences including the World Economic Forum, New York Forum and Harvard Business School where he completed the LSE program. He’s appeared many times on the international media such as CNN and BBC and was recently a “Power Lunch” guest on CNBC television. Zem has won many awards for his achievements including “Managing Partner of the Year – 2013″ from a top UK corporate finance magazine and “Pioneer Diaspora Business Person of the Year” at the annual event held in Washington in July 2012.

As to those who want to follow in his footsteps to Ethiopia, especially the Diaspora in the U.S., Zem recommends optimism and perseverance as the secret to success. “I say come with the glass half full mentality than the glass half empty attitude and you will enhance your chances of success,” he emphasized. “I put my money where my mouth is and continue to personally invest in Ethiopia because there are still vast untapped opportunities compared to many other emerging economies.”

When asked how it feels to be named as part of the 100 Most influential Africans, Zem stated: “I am honored and humbled by the recognition and I know that there will be many more Ethiopians, including those in the Diaspora, who will make the list in the future.”

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Top Ten Stories of 2013

(File images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, December 28th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — 2013 began on a high note for us covering the Walyas historic participation at this year’s Africa Cup and their attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. At the same time, however, the tragic conditions faced by Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia, which became one of the largest human airlifts, was the most read story of the year on our site. So far more than 140,000 Ethiopians have been forcefully deported from Saudi Arabia and the number is likely to rise.

Below are the top ten most-read stories of the year.

1. The Plight of Ethiopian Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia

The well-documented plight of Ethiopian citizens residing in the Middle East came to the forefront in 2013 following the aftermath of last month’s wanton violence in Saudi Arabia that claimed the lives of several Ethiopian migrants. The incident elicited immediate and strong reactions from Ethiopians worldwide who took to social media and organized protests outside Saudi Embassies to express their outrage and draw much needed attention to the brutal treatment of migrant workers in the oil rich kingdom and other gulf states. The International Organisation for Migration has announced that Ethiopia has brought home close to 140,000 citizens from Saudi Arabia. According to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, more than 200,000 women sought work abroad in 2012 alone.

Ethiopians protest outside Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., November 14th, 2013. (Tadias)

Here are links to some of the stories under this topic: Tadias Magazine Roundtable Discussion at National Press Club (Video and Photos), An Appeal to Ethiopians Worldwide: Supporting the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, Fasil Demoz and Other Singers Over Plight of Eth. Refugees (Video), Interview With Rima Kalush: Migrant-Rights Org Seeks Long Term Solutions, Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter For Inhumane Treatment Of Migrant Workers, Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations, The Ethiopian Migrant Crisis in Saudi Arabia: Taking Accountability.

2. Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba Face Each Other at Diamond 5000 in Zurich (Video)

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

3. Ethiopia Celebrates Highest Ever World Championships Medal Haul in Moscow

Meseret Defar signs an autograph for fans in Moscow on Sunday, August 18, 2013.

Ethiopia collected its highest medal count ever at the 2013 Moscow world championships in athletics, earning ten medals, three of them gold. The next highest was nine medals, three gold, earned in 2005 in Helsinki, when Tirunesh Dibaba won the 10,000 and 5000m, with Meseret Defar taking 5000m silver. In Moscow, Tirunesh won the 10,000, while Meseret took the 5000, and Mohammed Aman’s 800m gold was Ethiopia’s first medal over the distance at any global championship. Read more.

4. Solomon Assefa: 2013 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader

IBM Research Scientist, Solomon Assefa, was honored as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders of 2013. 199 young global leaders were selected from 70 countries worldwide including 19 honorees from Sub-Saharan Africa and 12 from the Middle East and North Africa. Other notable honorees in 2013 include Chelsea Clinton, Clinton Foundation Board member and special corespondent for NBC News; Nate Silver, statistician and writer of New York TImes Five Thirty Eight section; and William James Adams (aka will.i.am), singer and founder of i.am.angel Foundation. There are currently 756 members of the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the annual summit was held in Yangon, Mynamar from June 2-5th, 2013. Solomon Assefa was also selected as one of the world’s 35 top young innovators by Technology Review in 2011. Read more.

5. Morehouse College Class of 2013 Valedictorian Speech by Betsegaw Tadele

How would you like to be a valedictorian at a graduation ceremony where the keynote speaker is the President of the United States? That’s exactly the opportunity that Betsegaw Tadele, a computer science major at Morehouse College, received when President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at the historically black institution. Read more.

6. Tadias Interview with Miss Israel Titi Aynaw

Yityish (Titi) Aynaw, Miss Israel 2013, visited New York earlier this year. At a gathering open to the press on June 11th, 2013 in Manhattan Titi spoke to the media, and Tadias briefly interviewed her. Read more.

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

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

It was was an exciting summer for Ethiopian music on the East Coast (See Washington City Paper’s highlight of various Ethiopian music events that took place in D.C. during the 2013 soccer tournament week) with live concerts that included the highly anticipated U.S. debut of Jano band (Watch video); the Addis Ababa-based duet, Munit and Jorg; the return of Fendika direct from Ethiopia; a joint performance by Teddy Afro and Mahmoud Ahmed (Washington Post: Mahmoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro Bring Echostage Home) as well as the first American tour by The London-based trio, Krar Collective.

8. Ethiopia Secures Place in 2013 Africa Cup and African play-offs for the 2014 World Cup

The Ethiopian national soccer team, The Walya Antelopes, made a historic return to the Africa Cup of Nations this year held in South Africa. The tournament was Ethiopia’s first after 31 years of absence. The team also went on secure a place in African play-offs for the 2014 World Cup.

9. Steeplechaser Sofia Assefa Follows in Olympian Eshetu Tura’s Footsteps

Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa won bronze in the women’s 3000m steeplechase at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

History was made in Russia’s Luzhniki Stadium as an Ethiopian made the podium in the steeplechase at a global championships for the first time ever on July 31, 1980, when Eshetu Tura took the bronze medal at the Moscow Olympic Games. Thirty-three years later, history repeated itself when Sofia Assefa also took steeplechase bronze in the same stadium at the 2013 athletics world championships, becoming the first Ethiopian — male or female — to medal in that race at the biennial event. Read more.

10. Journalist Bofta Yimam Wins Emmy Award For Excellence in Reporting

Ethiopian American Journalist Bofta Yimam won a Regional Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Nashville/Mid-South Chapter) for excellence in “Continuing Coverage” category. The winners were announced January 26, 2013. Bofta, who is a reporter for Fox 13 News in Memphis, Tennessee, was given the award for her reporting highlighting Kimberlee Morton (as in Kimberlee’s Law) that was signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in 2012. Bofta interviewed Kimberlee for the segment. The journalist, who has been in the field for less than six years, is a native of Washington, D.C. and a graduate of University of Maryland, College Park. She was nominated in three categories including for two works in excellence for “Light Feature” reporting category. Read more.

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

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Tadias Magazine Roundtable Discussion at National Press Club

Jomo Tariku presents at Tadias Roundtable at The National Press Club, Saturday, December 14th, 2013. (Photo: Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Tadias Magazine hosted a roundtable discussion on Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 14th.

The roundtable discussion presented a panel of scholars, legal experts and civic society leaders from the Ethiopian and Middle Eastern communities who informed the audience about the status of Ethiopian migrant workers in gulf states using data and research to promote a continued dialogue on short and long-term solutions. A Q&A session followed panelist presentations.

Panelists included Jomo Tariku, developer of a crowdmapping website on domestic help abuse in the Middle East; scholar Khaled Beydoun who focused on international anti-trafficking protocols and the legal issues facing Ethiopian migrants working in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and various gulf states; Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw, President of the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) in Washington, DC; Kumera Genet, Huffington Post contributor who has written extensively on the status of Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East; Dawit Wolde Giorgis, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.; and Rima Kalush, Editor and Head Researcher for Bahrain-based Migrant-Rights.org.

Several media organizations attended the event including Deutsche Welle German Amharic radio program, Voice of America, EBS, and ESAT. We also extend our thanks to Ethiomedia.com who helped publicize the event.

Below is a video trailer and slideshow of the roundtable discussion.

Video: Tadias Roundtable on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East at National Press Club

Photos by Matt Andrea:

The following are tweets from the audience:


Jomo Tariku developed a crowdmapping site that documents domestic help abuse in the Middle East. Jomo is a voracious reader of current events around the world, a tinkerer of web technologies and a volunteer for various causes. He is also in the process of documenting Ethiopian (TimeLineEthiopia.com) and soon African stories using freely available data and data visualization tools. Jomo was born to Ethiopian parents in Kenya in 1968. He was named after Jomo Kenyatta, founder of the Kenyan nation. Jomo completed his higher education in Industrial Design (BFA) at the University of Kansas. After almost 10 years of operating a design studio in Washington, DC, Jomo joined The World Bank as a Publishing Officer/Designer in 2011. In his spare time he is an advocate of peaceful means of solving difficult problems. Jomo is married with two sons and lives in Springfield, VA.

Khaled A. Beydoun’s insight on domestic and international legal matters has been featured on television and radio, including CNN, NPR, MSNBC, Al-­Jazeera, Voice America, and the Washington Post. Professor Beydoun’s scholarship focuses on immigration law, criminal law, critical race theory, and legal history. His research interests focus on the intersection of race and religion in criminal and immigration law. Professor Beydoun earned his J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and holds a B.A., with distinction, from the University of Michigan. In addition, he earned an LL.M. with an emphasis on Islamic Law from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Before joining UCLA School of Law as a Critical Race Studies Fellow, Professor Beydoun practiced in the areas of criminal law and civil rights advocacy. He served as an Appellate Defense attorney for the State Appellate Defender of Michigan, and served as a Racial Justice Fellow with the ACLU of Michigan. In addition, Professor Beydoun also served as the Middle East & North Africa Legal Analyst for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative in Washington, D.C. Professor Beydoun’s work has been featured in the Berkeley Journal of International Law, the Michigan Journal of Race and Law, the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, and his forthcoming work will be featured in the NYU Survey of American Law.

Maigenet Shifferraw is currently the president of the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) in Washington, DC. Dr. Maigenet earned her Ph.D. in education from the University of Wisconsin­, Milwaukee in 1982. She was an Associate Professor in adult education at the Department of Education at the University of the District of Columbia for twenty years. She has served as a consultant in education at the World Bank, the US Department of Education and other institutions. She has been a women’s rights advocate for the last thirty five years.

Kumera Genet blogs about African migrant issues for the Huffington Post and has built relationships with Lebanese and Arab American activists who support legal, economic, and cultural change in the Middle East to respect migrant workers. Kumera is originally from Austin, Texas, and has been living and working in the DC area for the past 6 years. He has worked in various youth serving organizations and non-­profits focusing on job readiness training, immigrant rights, parental engagement in education and community organizing.

Dawit Wolde Giorgis represents the newly formed global alliance on the issue of Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East. He is a Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.

Rima Kalush is the current editor and head researcher of Migrant-rights.org, a platform dedicated to advancing migrants’ rights throughout the Middle East. She has several years of research experience in diverse fields, ranging from North African history to California politics. Her pieces have been republished by digital journals including Jadaliyya, and her research has been referenced by institutions such as Gender Across Borders and the Institute for Global Labour Rights.

Roundtable Discussion on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East
National Press Club
Saturday, December 14, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (EST)
529 14th Street Northwest, Murrow Conference Room
Washington, DC 20045

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Addis and DC Sign Sister City Agreement

DC Mayor Vincent Gray and Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma toasting the signing of a Sister City Agreement between their respective cities on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Mayor Vincent Gray and Addis Ababa mayor Diriba Kuma signed a Sister City Agreement on Wednesday evening (December 11th) laying the groundwork for a closer relationship between residents of the two cities. In a press release the DC Mayor’s office stated that the agreement will be in force for a period of five years focusing on mutual interests including economic development, information exchange, cultural education and youth engagement.

“Inspired by the District’s vibrant Ethiopian diaspora and by the similarities shared by our two capital cities, I am proud today to call Addis Ababa the District’s newest Sister City,” Mayor Gray said. ” I am deeply grateful to the members of the Ethiopian community for their contributions to the District and view this signing ceremony and the partnering of our two cities as an opportunity for the residents of these two great capital cities to enrich each other culturally, educationally, economically and in quality of life.”

The Mayor added: “With such a large Ethiopian community right here in the District, the signing of this Sister City Agreement presents an unprecedented opportunity for the District and Addis Ababa to work and grow together, and I am very excited about the prospects of our bright future. These important agreements help to foster the international ties that strengthen civil society and goodwill between nations. I look forward to our fruitful collaboration and thank Mayor Kuma for visiting our great city for this truly special occasion.”

Addis Ababa is Washington, D.C.’s fourteenth sister city including Bangkok, Thailand; Dakar, Senegal; Beijing, China; Brussels, Belgium; Athens, Greece; Paris, France; Pretoria, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea; Accra, Ghana; Sunderland, U.K.; Rome, Italy; Ankara, Turkey; and Brasília, Brazil.

Belwo are photos. Stay tuned for video coverage of the event.

Photos: 2nd Annual DC to Africa Business Symposium

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Feature Film Difret Selected for 2014 Sundance Film Festival

The new film "Difret" will make its world-premiere in January at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, December 5th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — A new Ethiopian feature film Difret (formerly titled Oblivion) has been selected to be screened at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival under the World Cinema Dramatic Competition category. The film was selected for next year’s festival out of 2,043 international submissions. A total of 118 feature-length films were chosen, representing 37 countries. “This is a huge vote of confidence in our film and the years of hard work we’ve put into making it,” the Ethiopian filmmakers said in a statement. “Sundance is the most important film festival in the USA and we are incredibly honored to have the world premiere of DIFRET in Park City Utah, in January.”

Difret, which was funded through the online crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter, chronicles the true story of a teenager from a small, rural village in the Arsi region whose widely publicized arrest for murder in the late 1990s unleashed a historic court battle that resulted in the girl’s acquittal on the grounds of self-defense, legally ending the traditional practice of child marriage by abduction in Ethiopia.

“Throughout the process of making this film, you have been our tireless champions,” the independent filmmakers added thanking their supporters. “You have advocated for us, wrote letters of support for us, called friends on our behalf, utilized your social media pages and donated financially to this project. We salute you and offer our heartfelt gratitude to your unyielding commitment to this project and the filmmakers.”

In a press release Robert Redford, President & Founder of Sundance Institute stated: “That the Festival has evolved and grown as it has over the past 30 years is a credit to both our audiences and our artists, who continue to find ways to take risks and open our minds to the power of story. This year’s films and artists promise to do the same.”

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, noted, “We are energized by the rich diversity of voices, characters and places represented in the films selected for our 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Independent filmmakers continue to engage us with stories from worlds both intimately familiar and unknown.”

In addition to those announced today, the Festival will also present feature-length films in the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, New Frontier, Premieres and Documentary Premieres categories. Those announcements, as well as selections for the Short Film section and new Sundance Kids section of films for younger audiences, are forthcoming. Stay tuned for more updates.

Learn more about the film at Difret.com.

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Ethiopia Inspired Holiday Cards: Tadias Interview With Deseta Design’s Maro Haile

Design by Maro Haile. (Image courtesy of the artist)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, November 22nd, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — For Mariam-Sena (Maro) Haile, a Brooklyn-based artist and owner of the e-commerce website Deseta.net, it all started following the debut of her afro angel artwork on Facebook in 2011. “The idea of it actually started a few years back when friends who were throwing a monthly party asked me to design a logo for them, and that’s when I came up with the pink afro angel wearing lipstick and mascara,” she recalled. “I held onto that design, and two Christmases ago I designed a card that I called “3 happy angels” and posted it on Facebook, just for fun.” Friends re-posted the card, and asked if Maro was selling them. “That’s when I decided to print and sell my first line of Christmas cards. Over the past year I kept designing and selling new products in my shop” she added.

Since then a witty friend has nicknamed her “Hallmaro” (as in Hallmark), for her creative designs of holiday cards and other product lines called Deseta with the motto: “live happy.” In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine Maro shared that her playful drawings and paintings are inspired by Ethiopian culture but with her own twist that reflects her multicultural upbringing in the United States. She defines Deseta as follows: “deseta [deh-seh-ta]: n. happiness; how you feel when something puts a smile on your face. from Amharic, one of the many languages spoken in Ethiopia. also spelled/pronounced desta.”

Maro was born in Addis Ababa and grew up in Minnesota before settling in New York City in 2000. “I was born in Ethiopia, raised in a tiny town in the Midwest, and now have Brooklyn planted deep in my heart,” she said. “My target market ranges from shoppers who appreciate the unique, non-traditional aesthetic found in gift shops and boutiques to young families and friends of young families looking for printed accessories for their children.” Maro’s aim is to reach as diverse an audience as her background.

The online venture, she pointed out, ties in well with her profession. “A few years ago I landed a career as a product designer and developer; I work for companies that design and sell products for the home i.e. bedding, pillows, shower curtains, and rugs. I’ve learned so much about designing for big box retail stores and doing production with overseas factories, much to the amusement of my Ethiopian immigrant parents who thought their children would all pursue a career in academia or health.”

Maro’s father, a well known Geez scholar, relocated his family from Ethiopia to Minnesota after he was shot by a military junta during the Derg regime. That explains, she said, why she does not speak Amharic. “Starting deseta has been a great move for me,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, but never knew how or in what capacity.” I’ve always enjoyed being artsy since I can remember, but knew that becoming a full time studio artist was not for me.”

Another favorite product available at her store is a tote bag called Bole Girl. “I really like that design, but I do have conflicted feelings about it.” she said. “I know that the economy in Ethiopia is rapidly growing, and that Bole road is at the center of this development. This is a comforting notion for the little girl in me who has roots on Bole road, but grew up here as the only Ethiopian, only person of color for that matter, for miles. And constantly had to hear, ‘You’re Ethiopian?’ But “why aren’t you skinny like the Ethiopians on TV?’ and only knew of my country as a place that needed benefit concerts to come to its rescue. As you can imagine, I hated being Ethiopian when I was growing up. But with all the exciting economic development currently happening in Ethiopia, I know that not everyone has the same opportunity to take part in it, and that is a big problem. I also know that there is an elitist connotation to being a Bole girl, and I don’t want anyone to think that this design is intended to convey that sentiment. In the end, I just wanted to have fun with a positive image of Ethiopia, and that bag is for the little girl in many of us so that we can say yes, Ethiopia is fly and sophisticated, and we’re proud of it.”

When Deseta launched last year, Maro only had fine art pieces (commission work), and her line of holiday cards. “There was definitely an interest in the cards, as they were affordable products that were Ethiopian inspired, but with a universal, commercial appeal,” She noted. “Since then, I continued to design cards for other occasions, but I obviously don’t want to be just a card company as ‘Hallmaro’ is what a witty friend jokingly called me once. So I started to take my aesthetic to other everyday type goods, like tote bags, wall art for kids, and fun little temporary tattoos.”

The energetic entrepreneur is confident of developing a niche for Deseta, although she emphasized that “breaking into the world as an independent designer is tough and very competitive.” In fact, she said, Deseta is an reincarnation of what she tried to do five years ago when she initially came up with the brand name, registered the domain, and launched a line of nursery décor. “It was a fun and adorable line if I do say so myself,” Maro added. “But I did not have the resources to break into such a well saturated market, so I let it dissolve. It was frustrating, I had put a lot of work into it, but I really like what I’m doing now. I am creating new and unique designs that touch on our rich Ethiopian design heritage but also with a universal appeal. This process has been exciting, challenging, nerve-wracking and quite rewarding.”

Below are images of some of Maro’s Deseta designs.

You can learn more and purchase Deseta products at www.deseta.net, on Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/deseta and follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/desetaArtAndDesign.

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Mulatu Teshome Elected As Ethiopia’s New President

Mulatu Teshome has been elected by parliament as Ethiopia's new president. (Photo: World Bulletin)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Published: Monday, October 7th, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian parliament has elected Dr. Mulatu Teshome Wirtu to serve as Ethiopia’s President for the next six years.

Dr. Mulatu replaces the outgoing Girma Wolde-Giorgis who has held the position for the past 12 years.

Mulatu, a 57-year-old economist, was Ethiopia’s top diplomat in Ankara, Turkey prior to his election as President on Monday, October 7th, 2013. Mulatu has also served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to China and Japan, as well as several other government posts including as Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture. The new president, a father of one son, said he is humbled by the appointment and vowed to work hard to speed up the the country’s development.

Mulatu is the fourth president since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power some 21 years ago. The ruling party controls 546 out of 547 seats in the Ethiopian parliament, and the lone opposition parliament member, Girma Seifu, represents the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ).

Video: Dr. Mulatu Teshome becomes new president of Ethiopia

Ethiopia parliament elects Mulatu Teshome as new president (AFP)

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The Challenges of Independent Media In Ethiopia: Interview With Ron Singer

Men reading a newspaper in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo credit: Terje S. Skjerda/Flickr)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, September 26th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In his upcoming book entitled Uhuru Revisited author Ron Singer features a chapter on Ethiopia highlighting a collection of fascinating interviews with Ethiopian publishers, editors and journalists regarding the ongoing challenges of creating a culture of independence in the Ethiopian press. The book will be released in November by Africa World Press/Red Sea Press.

In an interview with Tadias Magazine, Singer said that two of the other nine chapters in the book focus on the massive corruption culture in Nigeria and the state of media in Kenya. “By many accounts, the country has been backsliding from its past reputation as Africa’s beacon of free media,” Singer says, referring to Kenya. Chaacha Mwita, former managing editor of The Standard, Kenya’s second-largest daily newspaper, shared a first-hand account of the infamous government raid on their offices during the 2007–08 election. In addition, the famous Kenyan whistle-blower, John Githongo, speaks about the growing monopoly of mass communication by politicians and wealthy businessmen, not just in Kenya, but in many countries beyond Africa.

The section on Ethiopia, Singer said, is based primarily on four interviews he conducted for the book during his two-week visit to Addis Ababa in February 2011. The individuals he met were Amare Aregawi, owner and editor of The Reporter; Tamrat G. Giorgis, publisher of Addis Fortune; now imprisoned journalist Eskinder Nega; and exiled journalist Dawit Kebede, editor-in-chief of Awramba Times. During 2009 in the U.S., Singer had already conducted two interviews with Abiye Teklemariam, currently a blogger, and founding editor of the defunct Amharic weekly Addis Neger.

By far Ron Singer’s most engaging conversations in Ethiopia took place at the Jerusalem Hotel, Arbegnoch (‘Patriot’) district, of Addis Ababa, with long-time dissident journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega. Singer noted that his second meeting with Eskinder was recorded from start to end by “a very ordinary-looking man,” who sat near their table in the otherwise empty dining room, aiming his mobile phone in their direction.

As Singer observes, Eskinder’s central argument is that the only way to sustain Ethiopia’s experiment with ethnic federalism is to accelerate the democratic process. “The alternative [to democratization] would be the break-up of Ethiopia,” Eskinder told the author. “All politics are the outcomes of history. Ethiopia has a unique history in Africa, much as, say, the Balkans, in Europe, or Japan or Thailand, in Asia, have had a unique history. The content of our politics is different from everywhere else in Africa. At the core of our politics is the national question. That’s the bone of contention in our politics.”

On February 14th, 2011 Singer received a follow-up email from Eskinder: “Meant to respond earlier but heavily armed riot police picked me up last Friday and took me to their second in command. He accused me of trying to incite an “Egyptian like protest in Ethiopia” and warned me that the government is losing patience with me. “We are tired of imprisoning you,” he told me. “This time it will not be imprisonment.” And I just don’t know if he is bluffing or not. Since then, they have made it a point to be visibly present wherever I am.”

Singer emphasized that private media ownership in Ethiopia is much more complicated than meets the eye. He pointed out that even The Reporter, which proclaims as its motto:“Free Press, Free Speech, Free Spirit,” and which is owned and edited by Amare Aregawi, a former TPLF rebel and a fellow combatant of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, gets in trouble from time to time for pushing the envelope too far. Amare mentioned in the interview that he has been taken to court 414 times.

Returning to Eskinder, Singer said the journalist, whose father was a senior official in the regime of Emperor Haile Selassie, may be liberal when it comes to political issues, but is conservative about economics. “We had a debate about American politics,” Singer recalled. “I told him with horror that I could see he was a Republican.”

As they ended their meeting, Singer joked with Eskinder: “Just in case we’re being photographed, I’ll give you a cold handshake, instead of a hug.”

To which Eskinder replied “Very American. It’s been nice talking to you.”

Stay tuned for our review of Ron Singer’s book: Uhuru Revisited.

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Mhadere Tigabe Crowned Miss Universe Ethiopia 2013

Mhadere Tigabe wins the 2013 Miss Universe Ethiopia contest. (Photograph: By Yemane Gebremedin)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Mhadere Tigabe has been crowned Miss Universe Ethiopia 2013 after winning the final contest held on Friday evening at the Radisson Blu hotel in Addis Ababa.

Mhadere will represent Ethiopia at the upcoming Miss Universe competition in Moscow, Russia on November 9th, 2013.

Below are photos courtesy of the organizers.

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Yohannes Aramde’s Bona Fide Step

(Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Heran Abate

Updated: Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba Face Each Other in Zurich on Thursday

Meseret Defar (left) pictured at the Moscow Ethiopian embassy earlier this month and Tirunesh Dibaba (right) photographed at the Ethiopian embassy in London following the 2012 Olympic Games. (Tadias file)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes

Published: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The world 10,000m and 5000m champions Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar will race for the first time in over a year at the IAAF Diamond League 5000 in Zurich on Thursday. A rare and much-anticipated clash between the two Olympic champions over both distances — and an opportunity for both to medal twice – failed to take place at the Moscow world championships this month due to the Ethiopian athletic federation’s preference that they each contest one event.

“If we had both raced twice, Ethiopia could have collected better medals,” said Meseret in an interview at the Moscow Ethiopian embassy some days after she and newcomer Almaz Ayana took gold and bronze in the 5000 there, and Tirunesh and teammate Belaynesh Oljira earned the same medals in the 10,000. “I complied with the request made of me, but my original intention was to contest both distances, and it’s the reason I ran a qualifying 10,000 in which I led for 20 laps.”

The 2004 and 2012 Olympic 5000 champion Meseret ran the year’s fastest 10,000m in June when seeking to make the world championships team.

In the Russian capital, the 2007 world champion Tirunesh regained the title ahead of Kenya’s Gladys Cherono, while the silver medal in the 5000 also went to a Kenyan, Mercy Cherono. Ahead of the championships when the 2008 double Olympic champion Tirunesh and Meseret were provisionally entered in both Moscow races, some athletics experts had speculated that Ethiopia could sweep the medals in the two distances.

“Yes, if we’d both run in the two events, I think we could have taken all the medals,” said Meseret. “Although the Kenyans could have come in between us, and perhaps they might have finished third and taken the bronze, but Ethiopia could definitely have taken gold and silver, I think.”

Ethiopia did sweep all six medals at the Helsinki world championships in 2005, where Tirunesh won both events and Meseret took 5000 silver.

“That could have happened, especially in the 5000 where all three of us are very strong,” said Meseret of the hypothetical Moscow 5000 team in which she would have been joined by Tirunesh and Almaz, who had run the year’s two fastest times. “We could have taken first through third.”

Both Tirunesh and Meseret said they were moved to consent to the federation’s request that they put aside their double medal hopes. “I pulled out of the [5000] race because the federation asked that both of us race one event each so that emerging athletes could gain experience, and Meseret and I agreed,” said Tirunesh after her victory.

“The younger athletes got the opportunity, and they ran very well and I’m so happy about this,” said Meseret.

The federation was content with the four medals earned in the two events and with its strategy to guarantee the most important objectives in each race. “It’s not so much a matter of medals, but a matter of golds,” said the organization’s technical director Dube Jillo in an interview in Moscow after the conclusion of the championships. “If we get the golds and these bronze medals, it’s sufficient. But our goal is developing athletes. The athletes who will tomorrow replace Tirunesh [and Meseret] have run here now, and it’s a matter of achieving that.”

“The maximum number of golds available in each race is one,” he continued. “What would be the purpose of having both do double duty? So we let each one concentrate on one event and run. Secondly, we have young athletes who are capable of medaling and we know this from their training and their competitions. And even if they don’t medal and we get just two golds, … we need to provide them with global championships experience.”

Of the young athletes who made the teams as a result, Ababel Yeshaneh was ninth in the 10,000m and Buze Diriba placed an impressive fifth in the 5000. Buze and Tirunesh’s world indoor 1500m champion sister Genzebe join Meseret and Tirunesh in the Weltklasse race in Zurich on Thursday. The stacked field includes three Kenyan silver medalists — both of the Cheronos who medaled in Moscow and the 2009 and 2011 runner-up in the world championships 5000, Sylvia Kibet – as well as their compatriot Viola Kibiwot who was fourth in Moscow.

The title match-up however is between Meseret and Tirunesh, who are one another’s fierce rivals on the track and last raced regularly in the 2006 IAAF Golden League which preceded the current Diamond league series of competitions. Sparks flew on the track as the pair traded victories and most notably, Meseret won the last race in the series where Tirunesh was headed for a jackpot prize for multiple victories and had to settle for a lesser award as a result.

They last met in the 2012 London Olympic 5000, where Meseret snatched victory in the final lap from Tirunesh, who was attempting the golden distance double, but had to settle for a 5000 bronze to go with her 10,000 gold. Prior to that, the two raced at the New York Diamond League meet where Meseret was a late entrant and lost to her rival in a moderately-paced 5000, in which both were seeking to make the Olympic team.

“I’ve raced many times with Meseret,” said Tirunesh when a reporter at the press conference following the Moscow 10,000 questioned hers and Meseret’s not doubling up there, and he also asked if she feared Meseret over 5000. “She’s beaten me and I’ve beaten her. But this is the world championships and we are competing against the world.”

“There’s nothing for me to fear,” she added.

“I like to run with her,” said Meseret when asked at her Moscow post-race press conference about racing her rival in future. “She is the strongest athlete and my biggest competitor.”

The next such contest takes place at 8:13pm Zurich time and 2:13pm Eastern United States time on Thursday and decides the winner of the 2013 race for points in the Diamond League women’s 5000. Tirunesh enters the Zurich race slightly fresher than Meseret as her last race was the 25-lap run in Moscow on August 11. Meseret has since run two rounds of the Moscow 5000 and won a 3000 in Stockholm last Thursday in a world-leading time, and she currently leads the race for points by a small margin.

The two women are also scheduled to meet over the half-marathon distance at the Great North Run in England on September 15.

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Meseret Defar: “It’s A Big Achievement For Me” After 5000m Gold in Moscow

Meseret Defar celebrates her win in the women’s 5,000 meters on Saturday at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes

Updated: Saturday, August 17, 2013

MOSCOW (TADIAS) – After missing out on the 5000m gold at the last two world championships, Ethiopia’s two-time Olympic champion Meseret Defar reclaimed the title in Moscow on Saturday night.

“It’s my sixth world championships and I won my second gold medal of the world championships,” said Meseret who last won the event six years ago in Osaka, Japan. “It’s a big achievement for me.”

“The race today was very tactical, the first kilometer was slow, then the pace started to increase,” said Meseret, who kicked for home with 200m remaining and won in 14:50.19 ahead of Kenya’s Mercy Cherono, while Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana earned bronze in 14:51.33.

“I am happy with my medal,” said Almaz, who led for many laps. “We did a good team race.”

“The Kenyan president was watching from the stands,” said Cherono, who caught Almaz on the homestretch. “He told me yesterday that he would look for me, so I had to struggle to make him proud.”

Meseret took 5000m bronze at the 2009 and 2011 world championships in which she had contested that event as well as the 10,000m. She and her compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba, who took gold over both distances in 2005, had wanted to make the same double attempt in Moscow, until Ethiopia’s athletic federation intervened.

“I thought of contesting both because I’m in very good shape,” said Meseret who ran the year’s fastest 10,000m time of 30:08.06 in Sollentuna, Sweden in June to make the Ethiopian Moscow team in the event. “In the 10,000m race with which I qualified for the championships, I ran 20 laps alone, leading the field. When I saw that, I knew I could run well and perform well, and I was personally convinced.”

Meseret’s personal best for the distance is 29:59.20.

“In the end, based on the federation’s request that we both run one event each to allow upcoming athletes to participate, both of us agreed and gave the opportunity to the youngsters,” she said.

The two-time Olympic 10,000m champion Tirunesh won the Moscow world championship race on Sunday, leading her teammate Belaynesh Oljira to bronze.

“Giving the younger athletes the opportunity has made me feel good, and Tirunesh got the gold as you saw, and I’m very pleased,” said Meseret, who was keen to uphold national pride along with her less-established teammates in the 5000m.

The two star athletes have shared the long distance titles at global championships on prior occasions, with Tirunesh winning the 10,000m and Meseret the 5000m at the 2007 world championships and 2012 Olympics.

Meseret suffered just one loss this outdoor season, to Tirunesh’s sister, the world indoor 1500m champion Genzebe Dibaba, in Shanghai in June. “One week before that race, I was ill,” said Meseret.”I was coughing and had a bad cold.”

“After that, after I recovered from my illness, I was back to my best when I performed well and ran a fast time in Oslo,” added Meseret, who in Norway ran the third-fastest 5000 of the year, 14:26.90, winning ahead of Viola Kibiwot of Kenya, who will be in Saturday’s final, and Genzebe.

The year’s fastest 5000m runner, Tirunesh, clocked 14:23.68 in July in Paris, where her surprise runner-up was the 2013 Ethiopian steeplechase champion Almaz Ayana in 14:25.84.

“She’s a very strong and good young athlete,” said Meseret of the relative newcomer Almaz. “As you have seen, she recorded a remarkable performance in Paris and she’s very strong now too.”

The Athens 2004 Olympic champion Meseret regained that title in London last year after taking bronze in Beijing in 2008, and she has now succeeded in staging a similar comeback at the world championships, trading up her Berlin 2009 and Daegu 2011 bronzes.

Steeplechaser Sofia Assefa Follows in Olympian Eshetu Tura’s Footsteps
Tirunesh Dibaba Wins Women’s 10,000, Mohammed Aman Wins Gold in 800

Video: Meseret Defar qualifies for – 5000m Women – (10 AUG 2013)

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Steeplechaser Sofia Assefa Follows in Olympian Eshetu Tura’s Footsteps

Ethiopia's Sofia Assefa won bronze in the women’s 3000m steeplechase Tuesday at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Sabrina Yohannes

Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2013

MOSCOW (TADIAS) – History was made in Russia’s Luzhniki Stadium as an Ethiopian made the podium in the steeplechase at a global championships for the first time ever on July 31, 1980, when Eshetu Tura took the bronze medal at the Moscow Olympic Games. Thirty-three years later, history repeated itself when one of his athletes, Sofia Assefa, also took steeplechase bronze in the same stadium at the 2013 athletics world championships on Tuesday night, becoming the first Ethiopian — male or female — to medal in that race at the biennial event.

“Repeating Eshetu Tura’s achievement places me in the history books,” said Sofia, who also followed in his footsteps last year in London, when she became the first female steeplechaser from her nation to medal at the Olympics, earning bronze. “I’m very happy, praise God.”

Sofia’s accomplishment in Moscow was made all the more dramatic after she fell at a jump during the race and recovered to finish in 9:12.84 behind Kenya’s African champion Milcah Chemos and national champion Lydia Chepkurui, who ran 9:11.65 and 9:12.84.

With two laps to go, Sofia was comfortably tucked in the lead pack, in fifth place behind the two Kenyans and Ethiopia’s All Africa Games runner-up Hiwot Ayalew and Etenesh Diro. “The race was tough … but I was doing well,” said Sofia. “I took a running leap and crashed into the hurdle. When I fell, I was very worried, because it’s very difficult to fall and get up again. I only had 700m left. The effort you make to catch up costs you a lot of energy.”

Sofia was quickly dropped by the leading four runners and overtaken by Kenya’s Hyvin Jepkemoi, leaving her adrift in sixth place. “But I just kept going, thinking that I’ll leave with whatever God gives me, whatever I get,” she said.

She gradually regained contact and resumed her fifth place position at the bell and coming into the final turn, she overtook Hiwot and chased the Kenyan pair down the homestretch, gaining ground but unable to reel in either. “If I hadn’t fallen, I think that even if I didn’t win, we would at least have finished closer together,” she said. “I don’t know, maybe I might have been second.”

She didn’t think she would have beaten Chemos. “She’s strong and she always beats me,” said Sofia, who has beaten Chemos in one steeplechase race each season since 2009 compared to the nearly two dozen times the Kenyan has bested Sofia. “But I would have stayed with them and fought hard til the very end, and if I had been beaten, I would have been beaten,” added Sofia. “But God be praised, this for me is sufficient.”

She was still in a slight daze over her fall and eventual outcome when she encountered Ethiopia’s newly-crowned 800 meter champion Mohammed Aman in the mixed zone for athletes and media, and he embraced and congratulated her. She started talking to him about her fall and her voice trailed off. “Ayzosh,” he comforted her in Amharic. (“It’s OK.”)

She had just come from the track where she had been handed an Ethiopian flag and congratulated by members of the team who had been on hand to see her medal, including Eshetu Tura and the head national steeple coach Bizuneh Yaye, though neither she nor they had brought up Eshetu’s Moscow bronze. “I didn’t think of it at the time,” she said. “But both of them were there, and they’re very happy.” Upon being reminded of the decades-old historic achievement she’d emulated in the same city and stadium, she added, “Even though it’s with another bronze, it’s great that it was repeated.”

Eshetu also earned a steeplechase silver medal representing Africa at the 1977 International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Cup, a continental team competition that was a predecessor to the current IAAF Continental Cup, in which both Sofia and Ethiopian men’s steeplechaser Roba Gari medaled for Africa in 2010, he with a silver and she with another bronze. (The competition is not, however, seen as a global championship in the same sense as the Olympics or world championships.)

In the season leading up to her Moscow bronze, Sofia had five podium finishes in the IAAF Diamond League series of one-day competitions. Prior to emulating Eshetu’s Olympic feat in London last year, she had four. “I had high expectations because I had run well in the Diamond League,” said Sofia, who had run her personal best and Ethiopia’s national record 9:09.00 in the Oslo Diamond League meet on June 7, 2012 behind Chemos’ 9:07.14 African record. “The whole time I was running [at the London Olympics], I was thinking about medaling,” said Sofia. “I may not have had the confidence to be first, but I thought I might place second or third.”

After the Olympics, she arrived in Ethiopia without fanfare. “I didn’t return with the team,” she said. “I had races scheduled and I went straight to the site of a race from London. I saw the team’s homecoming reception in Addis Ababa on the internet and it was nice. As I didn’t even [finish my race] in Stockholm, I wished I had gone back with them.”

She received plenty of praise from Ethiopia’s only other Olympic medalist in her event , Eshetu, and her other coaches, including former steepler and 1980 Moscow 5000m runner Yohannes Mohammed. “The coaches are great,” she said. “They were very happy. They always encourage me, telling me I can run even better.”

A year after London, Sofia has indeed increased her global medal tally, and made her mentors proud. Coming into Moscow, she had hoped to reach a higher step on the podium, and that future hope remains. “I have bronze,” she said. “I believe I have to put in my effort to, God willing, achieve something better — be it silver or gold.”

Ethiopia Celebrates Highest Ever World Championships Medal Haul in Moscow

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AMISOM Summit in Uganda: African Leaders Discuss Security in Somalia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the meeting for the African Union Mission in Somalia on Sun, August 4th, 2013. (AP)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Washington D.C (TADIAS) – Leaders of five troop contributing countries to the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia, AMISOM, met on Sunday in Kampala, Uganda for an emergency session where they discussed ways to harmonize ongoing efforts to neutralize al-Shabab militants in Somalia by encouraging the government in Mogadishu to “reintegrate” more moderate groups into the national army.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the current chairman of the African Union, attended the regional gathering along with heads of state from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Sierra Leone. All of them have peacekeeping troops in Somalia under the AU peacekeeping mission.

AMISOM was first deployed six years ago to support the transitional government in Mogadishu.

The leaders also discussed achievements and challenges of the mission, which in recent months has seen al-Shabab gaining grounds, still making it a security threat to the central government.

Sunday’s conference was chaired by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, whose country deployed the first troops under the AMIOSM mandate in 2007. As of this year the force consists of 5,432 from Burundi, 999 from Djibout, 4,040 (Kenya), 850 (Sierra Leon) and 6,223 Ugandan troops.

The UN, EU and the AU as well as the U.S. are among the international financial backers of the continental peacekeeping mission.

Ethiopia announced last week that it has no immediate plans to withdraw its troops from the country.

UPDATE: Senior Ethiopian Air Force Pilots Among Those Killed in Mogadishu Crash
Ethiopian Military Plane Crash Lands in Mogadishu (Photos)
African leaders want disputed Somali city annexed (AP)
AU to Mark World Humanitarian Day in Addis Ababa (TADIAS)
Ethiopia: Muslims Clash With Police During Eid Protests (Africa Review)

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Poet-Playwright Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin

Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin. (Cover Illustration: Ezra Wube/Tsehai Publishers)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Washington D.C (TADIAS) – The life and accomplishments of Ethiopian poet and playwright, Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, was celebrated last Friday in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The event highlighted Fasil Yitbarek’s book entitled Soaring on Winged Verse, which is the official biography of Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin — one of Africa’s most important literary figures. The gathering, which was hosted by Taitu Cultural Center during its popular monthly poetry night YeWeru Gitm Mishit on July 26th, was attended by a large number of people from the Ethiopian community including families and friends of the late Poet Laureate who would have marked his 77th birthday this August.

The biography was printed by Tsehai Publishers in 2011 and is dedicated “to those whose creative inspirations springs from their love of Ethiopia.” In his book, Fasil chronicles the remarkable story of Mr. Tsegaye’s humble beginnings in rural Ethiopia from the town of Boda, near Ambo, to become one of the most recognized men of letters in the country as well as one of the most prolific and acclaimed writers of his generation. The poet’s distinguished resume spans luminary works of more than 45 plays and an influential collection of Amharic poetry entitled Isat Woy Abeba (Blaze or Bloom).

Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin passed away in February 2006 at the age of 69 while receiving medical treatment in New York. His body was flown back to Ethiopia and buried at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa.

In a Q&A with Tadias Magazine, Fasil said Soaring on Winged Verse is based on several interviews, which he conducted in New York with the late Tsegaye some ten years ago at the poet-playwright’s request.

“We used to meet once a week for a couple of hours and I was able to record about 30 cassettes on various occasions,” Fasil said. However, Tsegaye passed away before they completed the interviews for the book, and he fondly recalled their weekly sessions as “unforgettable moments in my life.” Fasil said he was able to fill the gap through further research of both published and unpublished sources.

“I was lucky to be chosen by Tsegaye to write this book.” Fasil added.

Yodit Tsegaye, one of Tsegaye’s daughters agreed, “We really appreciate Fasil’s determination to finish the memoir,” she said. “This book tells us what we didn’t know about our father.”

Below are photos from the event.

You can learn more about the book and order your own copy at www.tsehipublihers.com. “Soaring on Winged Verse” is also in the process of being translated into Amharic.

Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, Ethiopian Poet Laureate, Dies at 69 (The New York Times)
Tadias Interview: Samuel Wolde-Yohannes on his Book ‘Ethiopia: Culture of Progress

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Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking

Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen, near the Saudi border, waiting to return home. (Photo courtesy BBC News)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: Monday, July 22, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In its World News TV program broadcast globally this past weekend, BBC exposed the continuing plight of thousands of Ethiopian migrants attempting to reach Saudi Arabia in search of jobs. That is if they can survive the unimaginable cruelty imposed upon them by criminal gangs. As reported from Yemen, the exploitation that awaits many along their journey includes kidnapping, torture and rape.

Back in May, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, speaking as the current Chairman of the African Union, emphasized the need for Africans to work with a view to change the image of the continent as portrayed by the international media. But when it comes to negative publicity about Ethiopia, who is better positioned than the Prime Minister himself to lead that change?

The Ethiopian tragedy in the Middle East has festered unmonitored by Ethiopian authorities for several decades and it can only be solved with a concerted effort at the highest levels of government. At this point it is a moral obligation and human rights issue for Ethiopians everywhere.

The image crisis will not go away without changing the facts on the ground. It goes without mentioning the still flourishing business in Ethiopia of trafficking young, poor, uneducated women for domestic work in the region.

Changing Africa’s image abroad must begin at home and we urge Prime Minister Hailemariam to take leadership in ending the agony of Ethiopian citizens in the Middle-East.

Update: Ethiopia Halts Issuing Work Visas to Saudi Arabia (Sudan Tribune)
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)
Interactive Timeline: Ethiopian Domestic Help Abuse Headlines From the Middle East (TADIAS)

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Family to Repatriate Body of Athlete Meskerem Legesse to Ethiopia

Former Olympian Meskerem Legesse, 26, was due to give birth to her second child in three weeks when she collapsed at a restaurant and died of unknown causes on Monday, July 15th, 2013. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Published: Friday, July 19, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) – Family members of 26-year-old athlete Meskerem Legesse who died on Monday after collapsing at a Chinese restaurants in Hamden, Connecticut said that they are preparing to repatriate the body of the former Olympian to her birth country Ethiopia.

The heartbreaking incident took place while Meskeram was at the eatery with her her 2-year-old son.

Family members told Tadias that arrangements are being made to fly her body to her hometown in Arba Minch early next week. Her children are now with their father whom Meskerem was planning to marry.

“We are preparing to take her body to Ethiopia on Tuesday,” a relative said from Westport, Connecticut where Meskerem had resided.

“Many people including several Ethiopian athletes are currently contributing money to take her body back to Ethiopia,” said the family member who asked not to be mentioned by name.

Asked how much money is required to repatriate Meskerem’s body to Ethiopia, her relative said, “The hospital did not ask for specific amount.” The person added: “We were told just to bring whatever we have at hand. We are planning to go to the hospital on Saturday, and to take her body home on Tuesday.”

Tadias learned that Meskerem suspended her athletic career after she collapsed during training in 2009 in Arizona. She was shortly diagnosed as having a heart problem. Meskerem was due to give birth in three weeks, and doctors were able to save her baby, her second in addition to her 2-year-old son.

“Her baby is in a hospital and is improving everyday,” added the relative.

The family member said her pregnancy was considered to be high risk due to her heart problem. The cause of death is still under investigation.
UPDATE: Olympian Meskerem Legesse’s Body Arrives in Ethiopia for Burial
Pregnant Former Olympian Meskerem Legesse Dies, Her Baby Saved (AP)

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EU Delegation Denied Access to Imprisoned Journalists in Ethiopia

Imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu, recipient of the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award and winner of the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Friday, July 19, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)- A delegation of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights conducted a visit to Addis Ababa this week to meet with AU and Ethiopian officials and to assess the human rights situation in Ethiopia. The EU parliamentary delegation was led by Barbara Lochbihler of Germany and included Jacek Protasiewicz of Poland, Jörg Leichtfried of Austria, and Jean-Jacob of France.

The group was turned away from Kaliti prison, where most of Ethiopia’s prominent imprisoned journalists and political leaders are held.

Reached by phone the head of the EU delegation, Barbara Lochbihler, said officials at the prison administration asked the delegation to leave the area without giving them any explanation. She said they had received permission in advance through the EU delegation in Ethiopia to visit the Kality prison facility. She said the meeting was scheduled from 8:00 am to 9:00 am on Wednesday morning.

“However, when we arrived there, we were denied access,” Barbara said. She noted that the delegation had a similar visit earlier this year to Yemen without such an incident. “We are protesting this action,” she said. “It is honestly disappointing.”

Barbara indicated that the delegation was scheduled to visit journalists Reyout Alemu, Eskinder Nega, Woubishet Taye and other imprisoned opposition party officials.

“The Government of Ethiopia must guarantee freedom of opinion, speech and the right of peaceful assembly at all times, in accordance with its Constitution and obligations under international law,” the European Union said in a statement.

In an interview with the Associated Press Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said Ethiopia has no political prisoners. “We do have, like any other country, people who were convicted of crimes including terrorism who are currently serving their sentence,” he said. “We are not going to release anyone just because some European Union members said so.”

Getachew dismissed the EU appeal saying: “They [the prisoners] would only be freed when either they complete their sentence or probation on good behavior.”

Regarding their visit to the AU headquarter, a priority issue for the EU delegation was the fight against impunity. In this respect, Ms. Lochbihler declared, “Africa has played a pivotal role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Cooperation among international, regional and national levels is crucial to promote global justice and peace. We owe to the African victims of atrocious war crimes that those responsible are brought to justice.”

As to Ethiopia, the visitors took note of some “encouraging developments,” such as the adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan and the establishment of the Human Rights Commission and of the Ombudsperson.

“While welcoming the efforts of the Ethiopian authorities in the field of economic and social rights, notably in relation to poverty alleviation, the EP delegation called for the opening of the domestic space for civil society, which could only contribute to the overall development of the country,” EU said in a statement. “They stressed that civil society organizations should be allowed to function freely, without interference, harassment and undue restrictions.”

The European delegation’s visit to Addis included meetings with representatives of the government, parliament, opposition parties, as well as with representatives of civil society organizations.

Meanwhile, former President of Ethiopia and UDJ Chairman Negasso Gidada has told international media that police in four districts of Addis Ababa had detained 40 opposition supporters on Tuesday for distributing pamphlets asking people to sign a petition that also demanded the release of jailed opposition members, religious leaders and journalists. “It is harassment,” Negasso said in a phone interview with Bloomberg News. “There is no law that says you need permission to distribute leaflets.”
Letter From Ethiopia’s Gulag: By Eskinder Nega (The New York Times)
EU urges Ethiopia to release journalists, revise terror law (Reuters)
Police Detain UDJ Activists Calling for Terror Law Repeal (Bloomberg News)
Ethiopian Opposition Holds Rare Protests in Gondar and Dessie (AFP)

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BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen (Video)

Ethiopian Migrants in Haradh, near the Saudi border, waiting to return home. (Photo courtesy BBC News)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, July 20th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In a major program that is airing this weekend on BBC’s World News, international correspondent Yalda Hakim uncovers abuse and exploitation on a massive scale as BBC investigates one of the most dangerous journeys on earth, and the plight of thousands of Ethiopian migrants attempting to reach Saudi Arabia in search of employment.

In a statement BBC said its World News documentary “traces the steps of the 80,000 Ethiopians who attempt to reach Saudi Arabia every year, but first they must cross the Red Sea, trek 500 kilometres through the desert and then evade Saudi border guards.”

BBC added the biggest danger the migrants face, however, is from Yemeni criminal gangs who kidnap and sell them to so called “torture camps,” where they are held and tortured for ransom.

The program travels to Bab Al Mandab on the south-eastern tip of Yemen, where the migrants come ashore, and then onto to Haradh, a Yemeni town on the Saudi border where the torture camps are located.

“With access to victims, the smugglers themselves and the torture camps, Yalda hears stories of unimaginable cruelty and uncovers evidence to suggest that the Yemeni military may also be involved in the trafficking and sexual abuse,” BBC said.

Below are links to the program and photos.

Watch: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen
Watch: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’
BBC News: Ethiopians trapped in Yemen are being evacuated

The following photographs are courtesy of BBC World News

BBC World News journalist Yalda Hakim at a camp in Yemen housing Ethiopian migrants. (Courtesy photo)

Yalda Hakim at a Migrant camp in Haradh run by The International Organization for Migration. (BBC News)

If You Tune In:
Our World: Yemen: The Most Dangerous Journey on Earth
On BBC World News (all times GMT):
Friday July 19th 2013 at 23:30,
Saturday 20th 2013 at 11.30 and 16.30
Sun 21st 2013 at 17.30 and 22.30

Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)

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Tadias Video Interview: Ethiopian Rock Band Jano Live in DC (UPDATED)

Jano band performing at Howard Theatre in Washington, DC on July 4th, 2013. (Photo credit: A. Kiiza)

Tadias Magazine
By Tsedey Aragie

Updated: Monday, July 15, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – The sound of Ethiopia’s new generation, the rock band Jano, delivered one of the most exciting and highly anticipated live musical performances scheduled during the 2013 Ethiopian soccer tournament festivities held in Washington, D.C. last week.

The following is Tadias Magazine’s exclusive and in-depth video interview with members of the band who played for the first time in the United States on July 4th at the historic Howard Theatre.

Watch: Color and sound updated — JANO Band July 4th – Howard Theatre (TADIAS Interview)

Tadias Video Interview: Grammy-nominated Singer and Songwriter, Wayna
CNN Features Ethiopian Rock Band Jano
Summer of Ethiopian Music Continues: Krar Collective in NYC, Young Ethio Jazz in D.C. (TADIAS)
Tadias Interview: NYC Abay Team’s Success at 30th ESFNA Tournament
Mahmoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro Bring Echostage Home (The Washington Post)
Debo Band & Young Ethio Jazz Band at Yoshi’s in San Francisco – July 17th (TADIAS)
Highlights of Ethiopian Music During Soccer Tournament Week (The Washington City Paper)
Summer of Ethiopian Music: Jano to Fendika, Teddy Afro to Mahmoud Ahmed (TADIAS)
Hailu Mergia: A Beloved Ethiopian Musician of a Generation Ago (The Washington Post)
Reissues Songs From Hailu Mergia, Local Cab Driver (The Washington City Paper)

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Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media

(Images Aljazeera English/YouTube)

Tadias Magazine

Published: July 11, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Aljazeera’s recent airing of a segment entitled Oromos Seek Justice in Ethiopia: Why is the Largest Ethnic Group Also one of the Most Persecuted? is receiving quite a bit of attention and circulation on several websites and on social media among the Ethiopian Diaspora. The episode, which featured a panel including Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo rights advocate; Fido Ebba, Foreign Affairs Representative of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); and Mohammed Ademo, a journalist and editor of OPride.com, was by no means a balanced representation of the Oromo ethnic group. Nor did it encompass the diversity of views of Oromos in Ethiopia and the Diaspora. However, the reaction to the panel discussion and the panelists is just as worrisome.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, whether we like it or not, we have entered an unchartered territory when it comes to regulating how we receive, process and deliver information. The speed with which we are informed or mis-informed is unprecedented.

In the Ethiopian Diaspora, it seems that it has become fashionable for talking heads to pontificate, categorize, label, and re-write history at will, for an entire ethnic population, to fit their immediate agenda, and without much regard for mutual tolerance of our differences in ideologies or opinions.

We are reminded of Rwanda in the 90′s, even before Twitter and Facebook, when hard-lined propagandists played a crucial role in driving the country to genocide using primarily only radio and print media to spread false news and encourage hate and violence. From early April to mid-July in 1994, within a matter of 3 months, between 500,000 and one million people were wiped out in what is now described as the biggest ethnic genocide in recent memory. It’s widely accepted that the mayhem was mostly fueled by media propaganda.

Ethiopia is a nation with over eighty million people. It is one of the most diverse cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious populations in the world. Like many other countries around the globe, the country’s problems are also as vast as its population. The solutions must come from all of us being mindful of encouraging tolerance and mutual respect. Using social media to discuss ethnic politics has its drawbacks as it has its benefits, and it’s time to recognize our individual and collective responsibilities to not disseminate one-sided, unthoughtful rhetoric.

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Tadias Interview: NYC Abay Team’s Success at 30th ESFNA Tournament

New York's Ethiopian Soccer Team celebrating in the stands at the 30th ESFNA anniversary tournament on Saturday, July 6th, 2013 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. (Photo: Courtesy NYC Abay)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – New York’s hometown Ethiopian soccer team, Abay, have returned back to NYC after a successful participation at the recently concluded 30th Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) tournament held at the University of Maryland, College Park last week. New York’s team advanced to first division during the annual soccer competition, along with Chicago, after finishing second place at the lower division final games held during the closing ceremonies on Saturday, July 6th.

“I think overall the tournament this year was quite a phenomenal event,” said Samuel Tesfaye, New York Abay’s team Secretary. A large and energized crowd had flocked to Comcast Center, College Park from across the country. “It was one of the best spirited tournaments I have seen in some time,” Sammy said in an interview with Tadias Magazine.

Sammy made the trip from New Jersey to D.C. with his children and noted the big crowed at the arena in Maryland, youthful vibe, the colorful vendors, the ubiquitous presence of the Walia uniform sported by all ages and genders. “For the most part,” Sammy said, he was “also impressed by how ‘smoothly’ things were run.”

Except on the day of the opening [Sunday, June 30th]: “We were informed by the Federation that our Tuesday game with Portland has been moved to Monday,” Sammy recalled laughing. “On Monday we showed up at the field at the apportioned time and there was no Portland.” He added: “Apparently, Portland’s flight was not arriving until the next day. Naturally we demanded to win by forfeit, but they said ‘no’ and rescheduled the game for Tuesday. What can you do?”

Abay was demoted to second division nine years ago after the team came near bottom at ESFNA’s 21st tournament held at Seahawk Stadium in Seattle, Washington in 2004. “We’ve been trying to climb up ever since,” Sammy enthused. “It feels good to be back in the big league.”

Below is a slideshow of images courtesy of Tadias staff, our readers, the Abay team and other promoters who attended the soccer tournament as well as highlights of various musical and cultural festivities that took place in D.C. and the surrounding areas last week.

Click here for our Washington, D.C. correspondent Tsedey Aragie’s exclusive video interview with the Ethiopian Rock band Jano, who played for the first time outside of Ethiopia on July 4th at the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Mahmoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro Bring Echostage Home (The Washington Post)
Debo Band & Young Ethio Jazz Band at Yoshi’s in San Francisco – July 17th (TADIAS)
Highlights of Ethiopian Music During Soccer Tournament Week (The Washington City Paper)
Summer of Ethiopian Music: Jano to Fendika, Teddy Afro to Mahmoud Ahmed (TADIAS)
Hailu Mergia: A Beloved Ethiopian Musician of a Generation Ago (The Washington Post)
Reissues Songs From Hailu Mergia, Local Cab Driver (The Washington City Paper)

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Ethiopia: Children TV Host Bruktawit Tigabu Speaks at African First Ladies Summit

Bruktawit Tigabu, Co-Founder of Whiz Kids Workshop and creator of the Ethiopian Childern TV Show ‘Tsehai Loves Learning,' has been invited to participate as a panelist in the 2013 African First Ladies Summit “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa,” in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, July 1st, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – As President Barack Obama and his family wind down a three-country Africa tour this week in Tanzania, their stay in Dar es Salaam will coincide with the African First Ladies Summit. Hosted by the George W. Bush Institute the summit features keynote addresses by President and Mrs. Bush as well as expected appearances by First Lady Michelle Obama, Ethiopia’s First Lady Roman Tesfaye, Tanzania’s First Lady Salma Kikwete and other African first ladies.

In addition, Bruktawit Tigabu, the co-founder of Whiz Kids Workshop PLC and co-creator of the Ethiopian educational children’s TV program ‘Tsehai Loves Learning,’ has been invited to participate as a panelist to discuss interventions that utilize public-private partnership models, cross-sector collaborations and technology to improve access to literacy and teacher training.

“The summit will bring together African First Ladies, government officials, private organizations, NGOs and academics to discuss best practices that can reap sustainable, replicable results, benefit women and strengthen society,” the Bush Institute said in a statement. “Many African countries are committed to introducing critical interventions in education, health and economic opportunity led by First Ladies that will benefit women and strengthen society. Investing in women results in better outcomes for entire families, communities and nations.”

“‘Tsehai Loves Learning’ is an educational preschool program, broadcast nationally on Saturday mornings by the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency,” Whiz Kids Workshop PLC said in a press release. “New episodes of ‘Tsehai Loves Learning’ are currently in production, which aim to make reading simpler, more engaging, rewarding and fun.”

Watch webcast of the African First Ladies Summit at bushcenter.org.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Video: President Obama Holds Town Hall with Young People in South Africa (VOA News)

Moving Beyond Obama: Empowering Ethiopians to Influence US Foreign Policy (TADIAS)
Obama Receives Huge Welcome in Tanzania (Video)
Tadias Interview: Ambassador David Shinn on Obama’s Africa Trip
UPDATE: Obama Africa Trip Highlights Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania (TADIAS)

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Senior Ethiopian Football Federation Official Sacked Over World Cup Gaffe

The Ethiopian Football Federation sacked its general secretary on Monday after Ethiopia admitted fielding an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier, a gaffe likely to cost the team three points. (Getty Images

Euro Sport

In a raucous meeting, Ethiopian football’s governing body voted to sack Ashenafi Ejigu but rejected the resignation offer by vice president Berhanu Kebede, who had previously been blamed by the body for the mix-up.

Some members of the football association and journalists at the meeting called for the whole management to be sacked.

Sahilu Gebremariam, the federation’s president, said he was likely to submit his own resignation in an upcoming election for seats in the body’s executive committee.

“This was a massive blunder so we all should have resigned,” he told Reuters. “But we have responsibilities ahead so we voted to stay until September.”

Ethiopia’s 2-1 win over South Africa in Addis Ababa on June 16 had given them an unassailable five-point lead in their group and place in the final phase of African qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But hours later, world governing body FIFA said it was investigating allegations Ethiopia had played suspended midfielder Minyahile Beyene against Botswana on June 8.

Minyahile had been booked twice in previous matches and World Cup rules state a player who receives two cautions in the qualifying campaign must serve an automatic one-match ban.

He was shown a yellow card in the 1-1 draw with South Africa a year ago and again in a 1-0 win over Botswana in March.

Ethiopia, who have never qualified for the World Cup finals, are expected to be docked three points meaning a place in the final qualifying round will be up for grabs in Group A.

If the points are redistributed, Ethiopia will have 10, South Africa will be on eight and Botswana on seven with each team having one match left to play in round two.

Officials said they mistakenly fielded the midfielder. Vice-president Berhanu, also team leader during the match against Botswana, said he had lost a letter from FIFA that notified the Ethiopian body of Minyahile’s bookings.

“I never use pens and papers during matches, let alone keep records of cautions,” said team coach Sewnet Bishaw. “I only focus on ways to win the match.”

Ethiopia play the Central African Republic on Sept. 6, while South Africa lock horns with Botswana.

Ethiopia Admits Using an Ineligible Player (BBC News)
In Pictures: Ethiopia Celebrates 2-1 Victory Over South Africa (TADIAS)

FIFA Probing Three Teams – Ethiopia, Togo, Equatorial Guinea

(Image credit: FIFA.com)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Monday, June 17th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – FIFA, the Switzerland-based international governing body of soccer that overseas the World Cup, announced that it has opened disciplinary proceedings against three member associations, (Ethiopia, Togo and Equatorial Guinea) each for having allegedly “fielded an ineligible player” in the preliminary competition for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup competition in Brazil.

The organization accused The Ethiopian Football Association of employing an ineligible player in the match between Botswana and Ethiopia on June 8th, 2013. The Ethiopian federation has yet to respond.

Disciplinary proceedings were also lodged against The Togolese Football Federation concerning the game between Togo and Cameroon on June 9th, 2013.

The Equatorial Guinea Football Federation was charged for violating the same rule during the country’s face-off with Cape Verde Islands on March 24th, 2013. “And a decision was recently passed by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on this matter,” FIFA said referring to the case against Equatorial Guinea. “The EQG appealed against the decision to the FIFA Appeal Committee, and the appeal proceedings are on-going.”

For Ethiopia the news came only hours after the team defeated South Africa 2-1 on Sunday in Addis Ababa raising the Walyas’ hope of advancing to the final round of playoffs for the 2014 World Cup qualifying games.

“The disciplinary proceedings against the three associations relate to article 55 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and article 8 of the Regulations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil,” FIFA announced.

Disciplinary proceedings opened against three member associations (FIFA)
World Cup: Fifa probe casts Ethiopia progress into doubt (BBC News)

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Hydropolitics Between Ethiopia and Egypt: A Historical Timeline

From top left: Emperor Haile Selassie, President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, President Hosni Mubarak, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Mohamed Morsi. (Photos: Creative commons)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — Hydropolitics flare up is not new to Africa’s Nile Basin region. The world’s longest river, which flows northwards and criss-crosses eleven countries, has been a particular point of tension between Egypt and Ethiopia for a long time; especially when it comes to the equitable sharing of the water resource for economic development.

In 1959, the colonial-era Waters Agreement between Egypt and Sudan was signed before all the upriver countries had achieved independence — namely Tanzania (1961), Uganda (1962), Rwanda (1962), Burundi (1962), and Kenya (1963) — excluding Ethiopia from the deal. Emperor Haile Selassie who was incensed by the snub, responded by ending the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s 1,600 year relationship with the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria.

According to a newly launched historical data visualization web site, TimeLine Ethiopia, the colonial era agreement had allocated 55.5 billion cubic meters of water annually to Egypt while Sudan was given 18.5 billion cubic meters, which represented 99% of the average annual flow of the Nile river.

That same year Haile Selassie decided to commission a $10 million American-led study entitled “Land and Water Resources of the Blue Nile Basin: Ethiopia.” The seventeen volume report finalized in 1964 served as the blueprint and beginning of Ethiopia’s mission to build multiple dams on the Blue Nile and its tributaries.

Egypt, under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser, retaliated against Haile Selassie’s initiative by clandestinely supporting armed insurrections in the northern parts of Ethiopia in order to foment civil war and unrest in the country. According to Wikipedia Nasser was also simultaneously busy overseeing the construction of a high dam in Egypt to satisfy his country’s “ability to control floods, provide water for irrigation, and generate hydroelectricity seen as pivotal to Egypt’s industrialization.”

Fast forwarding to current times, when Ethiopia’s former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi re-initiated the project to accomplish unrealized ambitions for Ethiopia, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, did not welcome the effort.

In 2013 Ethiopia’s diverting of waters to complete the Grand Renaissance Dam project has been met by high-level Egyptian agitation including discussions of sabotage on live television.

Below is an interactive timeline of the Nile dispute courtesy of TimeLine Ethiopia.

Tom Campbell: America Would Be Wrong to Favor Egypt in Water Rift (OC Register)
Egypt’s Nile Threats Weaken Case to Secure Water: Shinn (Bloomberg)

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In Pictures: Ethiopia Celebrates 2-1 Victory Over South Africa

Fans celebrate in Addis Ababa on Sunday after Ethiopia defeated South Africa 2-1 to advance to the final round of playoffs for the 2014 World Cup qualifying games. (Photo by Marie Claire Andrea for Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, June 17th, 2013

Addis Ababa (TADIAS) – The following photographs were taken in Addis on Sunday following Ethiopia’s 2-1 victory against South Africa making the Walyas one step closer to qualifying for the World Cup for the first time.

The images are from Edna mall, where thousands gathered around bars, restaurants and big screens to watch the game.

World Cup qualifying: Ethiopia progress, South Africa knocked out (BBC News)

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Ethiopia & Egypt: Visualizing Nile Data – Access to Electricity vs Fresh Water

Nile Basin countries GDP, population, and hydroelectric power production data from The World Bank, World Development Indicators. (data.worldbank.org)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, June 15th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In 2009, over 99% of Egypt’s residents had access to electricity, while in Ethiopia, a country of 80 million, less than 18% of the population had access to power. In neighboring Sudan 35% of its roughly 30 million inhabitants received energy generated by the Nile river.

In 2011 the annual fresh water withdrawal in Egypt was recorded as 68.30 billion cubic meters. The same year Sudan also took in 37.14 billion cubic meters of fresh water. In comparison, Ethiopia’s withdrawal of fresh water for the same period was a meager 5.56 billion cubic meters.

These statistics come from the World Bank’s “World Development Indicators” and are now compiled by a newly launched website that employs data visualization and creative interactive timelines of Ethiopian history and current affairs.

“While working on my first historical item to publish, on the Solomonic Dynasty, the whole Nile issue exploded into the international news scene,” said Jomo Tariku, the site’s founder, who works as a designer and publishing officer at the World Bank’s Development Data Group in Washington, D.C. that includes the Open-Data team. “So I thought that was a perfect vehicle to do a data-based analysis, as much as possible, on facts and not emotions.”

Ethiopia and Egypt, next to Nigeria, are both among the top-three most populated countries in Africa. Jomo told Tadias that research driven stories are something he deals with on a daily basis, and he hopes that this would particularly assist journalists in providing a balanced coverage of the rather heated current exchange between the two nations on the Nile matter.

“Our main site and the most visited one at the World Bank is under our wing at data.worldbank.org,” Jomo said. “Our other popular asset that really makes the World Bank stand out compared to any organization that has vast amounts of data is our databank tool that lets you query our indicators and build your own analysis.”

Graph: Access to Electricity vs. Total Fresh Water Withdrawals (Source: data.worldbank.org)

“What inspired this project?” we asked Jomo. “Even though I have been meaning to do a data visualization site on the continent and Ethiopia, discovering a similar Ghanaian site really got me off my lazy chair,” Jomo said.

So what’s the next topic he is researching? “I will publish one on Abebe Bekila by Monday,” Jomo said. “I am sticking with Wikipedia and World Bank but I will be using any free data source I can find to generate the visualizations.”

You can learn more and add to the information at www.timelineethiopia.com.

Ethiopia: Dam Causes No Harm On Ethio-Egypt Ties (All Africa)
Hydropolitics Between Ethiopia and Egypt: A Historical Timeline (TADIAS)
Egypt Map Shows Why Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam Is Such A Big Deal (Huffington Post)
Law Professor Urges Ethiopia to Take Nile Issue to International Court (TADIAS)

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Law Professor Urges Ethiopia to Take Nile Issue to International Court

The construction of the Grand Renaissance hydroelectric dam in the Asosa region of Ethiopia. (Photo: AP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In the late 1990s, long before the Egyptian cabinet got caught on live television discussing to sabotage Ethiopia’s $4.7 billion Grand Renaissance hydroelectric dam project, a law professor and his students at Stanford University were quietly researching the legal case that could assist Ethiopia in the event that the inter-country conflict ended up at the International Court of Justice for resolution.

“I was very happy when I learned Ethiopia was going ahead with the Blue Nile Gorge project; and then very concerned when the Egyptian cabinet meeting conversation leaked, referring to Egypt’s going to war against Ethiopia,” said former Congressman Tom Campbell who is currently the Dean of Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California. “What totally irresponsible statements.”

In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine, Mr. Campbell recalled that two of his Stanford law students, Paul Epstein and Ken Fleuriet, had prepared a draft brief that dealt with just these questions.

“International law requires upstream and downstream users to engage in equitable use of a river’s water,” he said.

Egypt, which operates its own multiple dams built on the Nile, is vigorously opposing Ethiopia on the basis of a colonial era agreement that served only the interest of Egypt and Sudan. In a review article entitled “Who Owns the Nile? Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia’s History-Changing Dam” published at Ohio State University, Andrew Carlson notes that “After achieving its independence in 1922, Egypt negotiated the Nile Waters Agreement of 1929 with the East African British colonies. This accord established Egypt’s right to 48 billion cubic meters of water flow, all dry season waters, and veto-power over any upriver water management projects.” Despite that over 85% percent of the waters flowing to Egypt came from the Blue Nile originating in Ethiopia, Carlson states that Ethiopia’s emperor Haile Selassie “was not consulted.” An additional colonial-era agreement between Egypt and Sudan, which Egypt claims should be followed today also left out five other upriver countries from fair use.

“Does Ethiopia have the legal right to dam the Nile?” we asked. The answer, Mr. Campbell gave is a resounding “Yes.”

“Unquestionably Ethiopia has the legal right to build the dam,” he replied. “The issue had been one of funding: the U.S. had supported Egypt at the World Bank, and the World Bank had not funded the project. I believe Ethiopia found alternative funding from China.”

Mr. Campbell added. “While Egypt wants more of the Nile to be diverted to new settlements in the Sinai, Ethiopia wants water to prevent the devastating drought that occurs every seven years. This favors Ethiopia. Further, Ethiopia’s storage of water in the Blue Nile gorge will result in far less evaporation per cubic meter of water than Egypt’s storage in Lake Nasser, a shallow lake with huge loss to evaporation.”

Mr. Campbell emphasized that this essentially means sharing the river, based on traditional uses, and the value of the proposed new use. “The International Court of Justice exists for just this kind of dispute resolution,” he argued.

In their brief Epstein and Fleuriet asked: “Beyond the broad notions of fairness and justness embodied in the concept, just what are the particulars of ‘equitable utilization?’ In very large measure the modern doctrine of equitable utilization is nothing more than a compromise between the two extreme positions. Equitable utilization recognizes a right of upper riparians to develop and exploit their water resources, but also imposes upon them a burden to take the needs of their downstream neighbors into account.”

“My advice is for Ethiopia to commence a legal process in the International Court of Justice.” Campbell urged. “The sooner this goes to the ICJ the better, as any military threat would, on top of being highly irresponsible, then be perceived by the world community as an attempt to short cut the process of the ICJ.”

Hydropolitics Between Ethiopia and Egypt: A Historical Timeline (TADIAS)
How Egypt Might Try To Stop Ethiopia’s Dam Project (Forbes)
Egyptian warning over Ethiopia Nile dam (BBC News)
Ethiopia rejects Egyptian protests over Nile dam (The Guardian)
Ethiopia says Nothing Will Stop Nile Dam Project (AP)

Watch: Communications Minister Bereket Simon on the Nile issue (Al Jazeera English)

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Photos From New York Concert by Pianist Girma Yifrashewa

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

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Monday, June 10th, 2013

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

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

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

Below is a slideshow of photos from the concert.

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

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

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

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Tadias Interview: Aida Muluneh on Her Ethiopia Exhibition ‘So Long a Letter’

Mixed media image created using photograph, pen drawing and paint. (Photo courtesy Aida Muluneh)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, June 6, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Last month, the award-winning Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh held a successful solo exhibition at TO.MO.CA gallery in Addis Ababa entitled So Long a Letter, which featured her photographs mixed with pen drawings on leather and mounted on wooden board frames. In a recent interview with Tadias Aida said the show was inspired by one of her favorite books “So Long A Letter” — a semi-autobiographical novel originally written in French by the Senegalese author Mariama Bâ.

“In a sense it was my ‘So Long Letter’ to all the women in the country who often go unrecognized or are under-appreciated in our society,” Aida said. “I have always loved the book and the fact that it was written in a letter format.”

Aida said the book left a lasting impression on her because the author was exploring issues that were close to home: “Women in Africa.” She added: “With this in mind, I wanted to do an exhibition featuring all the various women that I had encountered in the course of the almost six years that I have lived here in Addis Ababa.”

Aida, who returned to Ethiopia in 2007, was born in 1974, but left the country when she was five years old and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Canada in 1985.

In 2000, Aida graduated with a degree in Film from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She later worked as a photojournalist for the Washington Post exhibiting her work in-between throughout the United States. Her images are part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, the Museum of Biblical Art, as well as various private galleries and collections in New York and across the country.

Today, Aida said, she finds herself in the middle of a thriving art movement in Ethiopia. “I have to say that the art scene here in Addis has flourished more than one can imagine and I would have to give recognition to the many artists and groups who are fighting the good fight to bring art into the forefront of society,” she noted. “The younger artists are exhibiting in various spaces and I have to say that almost every week there is an opening, this to me is a promising factor for the future of contemporary art in Ethiopia.”

Through her solo exhibitions as well as her work as Founder and Director of the first annual international photography festival, Addis Foto Fest, in Ethiopia, Aida is an active participant and organizer in the burgeoning local arts scene that has begun to attract increased worldwide attention. She emphasized that she continues to curate and develop cultural projects with domestic and global institutions through her company DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art), a creative consulting venture based in Addis Ababa.

“We have to move from the shadows of our artists of the past and carve out our own visual language, which is happening even amidst the criticism and lack of support from older generation artists,” she argued. “With all of that said, we are all in our own way walking down the long path of doing something that we believe in and feel passionate about.”

Regarding the process of putting together her most recent exhibition Aida said it was a two-part project. “The classical black and white images that most often people recognize from my work was one part,” she explained. “Which came about by editing through my archives of images that I have shot in the past six years.” She added: “The other part is new work that I created, which is more of a personal design on combining image, pen drawing and paint. On the selection, the material used also has leather and in a sense for me its bringing together digital and analog forms of expression into one frame.”

You can learn more about the show and Addis Foto Fest on Facebook.

Video: Tadias interview with Aida Muluneh taped in New York in 2010 (Tadias Magazine)

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Emahoy Sheet Music Project Launched

Mary Sutton and Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou in Jerusalem, April 2013. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Mary Sutton who studies piano performance at Portland State University in Oregon came across the work of the legendary pianist and composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, having listened to volume 21 of the Ethiopiques CD series released in 2006, which featured 16 of the Jerusalem-based Ethiopian nun’s original pieces.

Mary grew up playing piano and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. She recently told Tadias that she was immediately drawn to Emahoy’s “unique” sounds before realizing that there was no published sheet music of her compositions available for other pianists to play. That was prior to her trip to Israel in April to meet with Emahoy, who gave her the permission to create one.

“Initially I tried to get in touch with Emahoy by email,” Mary recalled. “She wrote me back, but at the time she was having computer problems so her reply came back blank.” She added: “I followed up with a letter without knowing she would receive them.” Eventually the two were able to connect via Skype and meet in person. “I was introduced to her by an Israeli journalist,” Mary said.

Returning to Jerusalem this summer to begin the process of readying the manuscripts for publication, Mary shared that she is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for the project. “This Kickstarter is just the beginning of a lifetime of a work which has fallen into my hands,” she noted via the online platform. “And as all of Emahoy’s music serves a charitable purpose, I will not be getting paid.”

Emahoy, who was ordained a nun at the age of 21 at the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wollo region, moved to Jerusalem in 1984 at the height of the military Derg regime in Ethiopia. However, that was not her first forced exile from her country. According to the Emahoy Music Foundation, she was taken as a prisoner of war by the Italians in 1937 and deported along with her family “to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples.”

Emahoy was born “Yewubdar Gebru” in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923 to a privileged family; her father was Kentiba Gebru, mayor of Gonder and vice president of Ethiopia’s first parliament under Emperor Haile Selassie. Her mother was Kassaye Yelemtu. “Yewubdar was sent to Switzerland at the age of six along with her sister Senedu Gebru,” the foundation notes on its website. “Both attended a girls’ boarding school where Yewubdar studied the violin and then the piano. She gave her first violin recital at the age of ten. She returned to Ethiopia in 1933 to continue her studies at the Empress Menen Secondary School.”

After the war she resumed her musical studies in Cairo, under a Polish violinist named Alexander Kontorowicz. Later she returned to Ethiopia accompanied by Kontorowicz and she served as administrative assistant in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Imperial Body Guard where Kontorowicz worked as the director of the band. Her first record was released in Germany in 1967.

It was five years ago this summer, on July 12, 2008, that Emahoy, then 85-years-old, gave a rare public presentation at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C., playing live for the first time in 35 years. “Her extraordinary performance was viscerally and emotionally moving,” wrote Makeda Amha, her great niece, in an article published in Tadias Magazine following the concert. “Her astounding ability as a classical pianist and her skill to warmly express “Reverie,” was a pleasure to listen to, as was “Presentiment,” a sweet, poetic Sonata in B-Flat Major.”

Below is a video of Emahoy playing Presentiment filmed by Omer Gefen in April 2013 at the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem where she currently lives.

To learn more and support Mary Sutton’s project, please visit: www.kickstarter.com.

From Jerusalem with Love: The Ethiopian Nun Pianist (TADIAS)
Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guebrù: Jersualem’s Best Kept Musical Secret for 30 Years

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Sneak Peek Preview: Watch New Ethiopian Movie ‘Difret’

'Difret' is written and directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, pictured above with the lead actress Tizita Hagere, center right, and her friends. (Photo courtesy Haile Addis Pictures)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, May 30th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – You may remember our highlight last year of a group of independent Ethiopian filmmakers in the U.S. who successfully raised seed money via Kickstarter, an online fundraising platform, to finance the production of a feature length movie called Difret. Originally titled Oblivion, the film chronicles the true story of a teenager from a small, rural village in the Arsi region whose widely publicized arrest for murder in the late 1990s unleashed a historic court battle that resulted in the girl’s acquittal on the grounds of self-defense, legally ending the traditional practice of child marriage by abduction in Ethiopia.

This week the producers released a short clip of their nearly complete project, revealing for the first time that the main character, 14-year-old Aberash Bekele, is powerfully portrayed by a new teen actress named Tizita Hagere, while Aberash’s feisty lawyer Meaza Ashenafi is played by one of Ethiopia’s leading actresses, Meron Getinet.

“We did two rounds of casting and looked at many professionals and youngsters from various local schools,” Leelai Demoz, one of the co-producers, told Tadias. Regarding the audition process, Leelai said, they screened over 400 people who tried out for the film’s various roles. As to the newcomer Tizita, she was spotted by the director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari. “It was one of those moments where as soon as he saw her performance at one of the auditions he noticed that she embodied the character he had envisioned,” he said.

The epic story opens with Aberash’s ordeal one fateful afternoon in 1997 when she was abducted while walking home from school. She was singled out from her friends by a group of horsemen, led by a 29-year-old farmer, who had planned to kidnap and marry her. That was the person she was accused of killing. “He hit me about the face,” Aberash told the authorities at the time. “I nearly lost consciousness. He was such a huge man, I couldn’t push him away. Then he forced my legs apart. He beat me senseless and took my virginity.” Aberash eventually fatally shot the man. She said that she discovered the gun in a room where she was being held, picked it up, and ran away. Following a chase she turned the weapon on her attacker; She was arrested and charged with murder.

“Making this film has really been a humbling experience because of the support of the community,” Leelai noted: “So many people have come through in so many ways and risen to the challenge.”

“Difret was the Amharic title and as we thought about it, it felt right to keep it for the English version as well,” Leelai said mentioning the recent change of the film’s English heading.

The video was released on kickstarter.com, where the team has launched a second round of campaign for funds to help them finish the final stages of editing work in preparation for the movie’s submission to international competitions later this year.

“In the next two months, we have to start the post production sound mix,” Leelai emphasized. “This process is where every track of audio is mixed and perfected.” He added: “It is labor-intensive and expensive process. In some cases, we have to re-record some audio. We also need to do color correction. This is what gives the film a uniform look. Any differences in exposure or color temperature are fixed. At the end, we will have a film that looks and sounds amazing. This part is where you don’t want to cut corners.”

Below is the two-minute video with an introduction from the director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari.


You can Learn more and contribute to the kickstarter campaign for Difret at www.kickstarter.com.

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The African Union Turns 50: Voices From Ethiopia — Past and Present

The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy AU Commission)

Tadias Magazine
By Nuhamin Daniel and Benno Muechler

Updated: Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Addis Ababa (TADIAS) – It must have been some time around 1970. Solomon Kurabachew doesn’t remember exactly when he met his future wife, but at the time he was employed as an accountant at the OAU, where Lakatch, now his wife of 40 years, also worked as a secretary. In a recent interview at their home here in Addis Ababa, the couple shared with us their memories of how they met each other because of their work at the Organization of African Unity, which is the predecessor to the African Union (AU). On Saturday, May 25th the AU celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Each day after work, Solomon said, he drove home with two colleagues past the Emperor’s palace. And on the way once he spotted Lakatch and two of her friends waiting for a taxi. “So, one day when the three of us saw them again, we thought: ‘Oh, these girls are always standing here,’” Solomon recalled. “Why not give them a lift?” At first, Mr. Solomon said, the connection started out as “Selam and ciao.”

“Then lastly, me and one of my friends decided to talk to them so my friend and I stepped out of the car –one of the guys stayed in the car –and we said hello to the women and offered to give them a lift,” he remembered. “They said ‘No.’” But that was before Lakatch relented in giving him her phone number.

When Solomon began working at OAU in 1968, Mobutu Sese Seko was the chairman and the OAU’s nickname was the ‘Dictators’ Club.’ The heavily criticized institution is still a work in progress, but over the past five decades it has also been source of job security for many professionals like Solomon and Lakatch. And in recent years the newly inaugurated state-of-the-art conference center and office complex — a $200 million gift from the government of China — has added to the local economic boom.

For Fantahun Haile Michael, AU’s current project coordinator, the entity is not perfect, but “It’s the the only continental forum we do have.”

In an interview at his office inside the new building, Mr. Fantahun, who previously served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to North Korea and Zimbabwe, said the AU has no power to make binding decisions for all of Africa’s 54 states, but it does its best given all the constraints.

“Ultimately we’re trying to change the continent in order to better, for good, the lives of African citizens,” he said. As to his own employment at the AU: “It’s not about thinking about our own life, our well-being because we’re paid well,” he said. “That’s not something that should give us ultimate happiness. Ultimate happiness is how much we’re trying to change Africa.”

There sat another gentleman under a tree in the morning sun, dressed in a worn-out gray sweater, outside the AU compound, away from the basketball court, where from Mr. Fantahun’s office window view a few women played dribble. Teshome Kinfe Woldegiorgis, 24, is waiting for customers. Teshome washes cars and makes about 100 Birr a day, that’s before he quit his job at the AU that paid less.

“When I started at the AU, I was really excited,” said Teshome who made 400 Birr a month. “But that changed when I saw how conditions were.

Teshome grew up in the neighborhood around AU. After finishing grade 10 at school, he tried to make ends meet as a shoe shiner. One of his customers worked at the AU and got him a job as a waiter. Teshome served top officials like UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. After two years, he left his job.

“I remember that my feet were bleeding one day because I had to walk so much. And all that for only 400 Birr a month. I applied for other jobs that were better paid, but I never got a reply. You spend the whole day with top officials like the AU chairperson, Jean Ping. But you can’t even afford a new pair of pants with the money you earn every month.“

Kebede Assefa is one of those city residents who had to move to make way for the construction of the new AU building. He works as a barber some hundred meters down the street in a district of huts made of mud and iron sheet. A smelly river with yellow foam on the surface meanders under a bridge. The area will be demolished soon. Fortunately, this time, the city gave those losing their properties at least new housing. It was different when his old dwelling was demolished some years ago, he said. He is still waiting for compensation. Nevertheless, Mr. Kebede, who has only one leg since his car accident and now cuts hair while leaning on a crutch, thinks positively of the AU. “What can you say if the area here is to be developed?” he asked. “This district is really ugly. We need to grow. Why should it remain like this?”

At Solomon and Lakatch’s living room, “It was love at first sight,” Lakatch said, after Solomon noted that she had given him her phone number on his second try. Like the AU, the family of Solomon and Lakatch has grown since the early 1970s. The pictures of their four married children and five grandchildren hang on the walls of their living room. Also, just like the AU, the couple moved to a new home. While this one is much smaller and was not built by the Chinese, the old house next door accommodates a Taiwanese and a German who would probably have never come to Addis if the AU had not made the city become a regional center for aid agencies and the international media.

Mr. Solomon left the OAU in 1986 and worked at the delegation of the European Union in Addis until his retirement age. Maybe the AU will become an EU one day, he said. “Yes, working at the EU was more comfortable, but having double the number of EU member states makes life also more difficult for the AU.”

“At the African Union, on the other hand, there are so many different characters,” Mr. Solomon said while Lakatch boiled coffee in a pot placed on charcoal in the background. “It’s not a small organization. There are the French, the English-speaking, the Arabs. There are a lot of communication gaps between us. But at the EU, there are only two languages — French and English. You can communicate, you can understand each other.”

Nuhamin Daniel is a journalist based in Addis Ababa. Benno Muechler is a freelance correspondent for German Public Radio (Deutschlandfunk) from Ethiopia.

Photos: United Nations Marks OAU-AU 50th Anniversary (TADIAS)
AU Celebrates At Landmark Summit in Ethiopia (Video)
Ketema Yifru: The Architect Behind the OAU (The Ethiopian Reporter)
The OAU: Fifty years on (BBC News)
African Union Celebrates 50th Year (AP)
Watch: AU anniversary video spotlight (Economist)
Yadesa Bojia Reflects on African Union Flag on 50th Anniversary (TADIAS)

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Yadesa Bojia Reflects on African Union Flag on 50th Anniversary

Ethiopian-born artist Yadesa Bojia is the designer of the current flag of the African Union that was adopted in 2010. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, May 20th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – On the evening of September 28th, 2009, Yadesa Bojia, an Ethiopian American artist based in Seattle, Washington, was babysitting his children at home while watching CNN when he recognized an image on the TV screen of one of his artworks. “That’s my design!” he exclaimed. He was looking at the new African Union flag created using a sketch that he had submitted for competition two years earlier. “By then I had almost forgotten about it because at that point I had not yet heard back from AU,” Yadesa (a.k.a. Yaddi) recalled in a recent interview with Tadias.

Yaddi spotted the flag on Lary King Live whose guest was Muammar Gaddafi, the Chairman of the African Union as well as the head of the African Union Commission (AUC) at the time. The Commission was tasked to come up with an updated insignia for the continental body, and the interview conducted at the Libyan Mission in New York showed Gaddafi flanked by the new banner. “I could not believe my eyes,” Yaddi said.

Immediately, Yaddi contacted the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to enquire about the new flag. “What flag?” the perplexed women on the other end of the receiver replied. “Sir, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“To top it off the next morning there was Gaddafi again on CNN wearing my design all over his clothing,” Yaddi remembered laughing. “I was losing my mind.”

Yaddi would eventually learn that his work was selected earlier that year by the Commission out of approximately 127 entries submitted in the span of two years from artists residing in several African countries and including two contestants from the Diaspora.

Three months after he first saw the flag on CNN, Yaddi finally received a formal letter from the African Union announcing the adoption of his design as the continent’s new emblem. The letter included an invitation along with a paid travel package for him and his family to attend the flag’s inauguration ceremony during the 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State held in Addis Ababa on January 31st, 2010.

The design depicts a green Africa, the color portray the hopes and aspirations of the continent, resting on rays of a white sun that symbolizes the people’s desire for friendship and co-existence with all countries around the planet. The map is circled by a ring of golden stars each representing member states, wealth and a bright future.

“I was told by an official from the Ethiopian ministry of Foreign Affairs that when Meles found out the winner was an Ethiopian, he told them to go find the guy,” he said. “Once I got to Addis, on the second day of events, I was approached by the protocol chief who informed me that the Prime Minister wanted to see me. So my wife and I had the chance to meet with the PM privately who told me that he was proud of my work.” He added: “In addition, I also met with President Zuma of South Africa, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and other leaders who were very complimentary of the flag. Not to mention the five hours I spent with President Girma Wolde-Giorgis at the national palace.”

(Courtesy photos)

Although he received wide publicity in Ethiopia, Yaddi pointed out that his favorite moments were in the subsequent days spent in Addis, where people who recognized him would come up to him to give him a hug and a kiss. “A street vendor gave me a coin from the Menelik era that he was selling,” said Yaddi fighting back tears. “He sternly protested my offer to pay. The man told me that he just wanted to show his appreciation to me and he did not want any money for it.”

Yaddi says he continues to be proud of his contribution to AU and Ethiopia’s role over the past 50 years under starkly different successive regimes in keeping the organization alive. He is reminded of a forceful defense of this legacy by the late PM Meles Zenawi during his tenure as Prime Minister when there was a concerted effort to move the head office outside of Ethiopia.

“It was people like Nyerere, Nkrumah, who decided that Addis Ababa should be the headquarters of the OAU; Addis Ababa ruled at that stage by Emperor Haile Selassie,” Meles had argued. “Who trained Mandela? Who supported Mugabe in his fight against Rhodesia?” Meles asked. “There is one fact that nobody can deny — that irrespective of who is ruling Ethiopia, Ethiopia has always been committed to African independence and liberation.”

Indeed, it was 50 years ago this month that under the leadership of Emperor Haile Selassie 32 heads of state signed the founding charter to AU’s predecessor the Organization of African Unity (OAU). And to mark the occasion, Yaddi said, he has collaborated with his friend reggae musician Iré Taylor (Reginald Taylor) for a poetic and musical tribute.

“I wanted to commemorate the Golden Jubilee by remembering those who worked hard to establish the OAU, leaders like Haile Selassie, and applaud the Union’s historic and unwavering stand against apartheid in South Africa, as well as the present economic promise of African Nations and the selection of the first woman chair,” he said.

You can watch the video on You Tube here. The music is also available on iTunes, spotify, Amazon, and Zune.

Watch: African Union New Flag Design Winner Yadessa Zewege on ETV

Watch: ETV Interview Part 2

Watch: Tanzania’s President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Poses for a photo with Yadesa Bojia

Watch: African Union African Union Yaddi & Iré (Official Music video)

Photos: United Nations Marks OAU-AU 50th Anniversary (TADIAS)
Yadesa Bojia Interview with Voice of America
Moammar Gadhafi on Larry King 9/28/09

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How Big is Corruption in Ethiopia? $16.5 Billion Lost to Cash Smuggling

Global Financial Integrity says Ethiopia lost US$16.5 Billion to illicit financial outflows in the last decade.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Last week police in Ethiopia conducted a high-profile corruption sweep in Addis Ababa, the biggest of its type in the Capital in more than ten years, arresting several people, including a Minister and his deputy in charge of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority.

But how big is corruption in Ethiopia on the global scale? We placed a phone call to the Washington, D.C office of Global Financial Integrity (GFI), which tracks illicit financial flows out of developing countries worldwide.

According to Clark Gascoigne, a spokesperson for GFI, the organization’s latest available research data show that the amount of money that Ethiopia lost to smuggling of cash out of the country, both by the government and the private sector between 2001 and 2010, totals 16.5 billion U.S. dollars.

Mr. Gascoigne pointed out GFI’s statistics are based on official data provided by the Ethiopian government, World Bank, and IMF.

“Our numbers indicate all funds that illicitly left the country in a ten year period including by individuals and private companies illegally funneling their money out of Ethiopia,” he said.

Ethiopia also ranks 113 out of 176 countries in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, the global civil society coalition that encourages accountability initiatives by regular citizens.

Meanwhile, the Federal Anti-Corruption Commission in Ethiopia said that Melaku Fanta, a Minister and the Director General of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority, and his deputy, Gebrewahed Woldegiorgis, are two of the highest ranking officials apprehended so far on bribery, kickback, tax evasion, illegal trading and fraud accusations.

The other individuals taken into custody on similar indictments in the recent roundup include Ketema Kebede, who is the proprietor of KK Trading, Simachew Kebede, owner of the Intercontinental Hotel, and investor Mihretab Abreha, as well as Nega Gebre Egziabeher of Netsa Trading PLC.

So far 51 suspects arrested, most from tax, customs and business sector (AP)
The Grand Fall: Ethiopia Detains Top Taxmen (Addis Fortune)
Ethiopia arrests minister, 11 others over corruption (Reuters)
Melaku Fanta and other 12 detained on corruption charges (Walta Info)
Ethiopia’s Expanding Sectors Prone to Corruption (VOA News)

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Letter From Harar: Dr. Clyde Kindell’s ‘Fond Memories of Ethiopia’ — Photos

In these photos taken in the 1960s, Dr. Clyde Kindell, President of Alemaya College, hosts Emperor Haile Selassie and Jomo Kenyatta at the agricultural school in Harar. (Courtesy photographs)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, May 9th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In the summer of 1966 when Dr. Clyde R. Kindell, the last American President of Alemaya College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts in Ethiopia, was preparing to return home to the United States, he received a letter from the Governor of Harar whom he had befriended during his eight-year stay in the country, which he kept as a memento.

The document, shared with Tadias, was written on June 11th, 1966 and signed by Fitwarai Tewahade Woldeyes. “Dear respected friend, I am very sorry to hear from your letter of 30th Ginbot 1958 EC [Ethiopian Calendar] that you are completing your term as the president of the Agriculture College of Alemaya and going back to your country,” it said. “I consider your departure as losing one of those highly esteemed Ethiopians not as a foreigner going back to his country.”

The governor goes on to inform Dr. Kindell that had he been younger he too would have chosen to enroll at Alemaya College. Nonetheless, “I am very grateful to learn from your diligence, honesty, and tact of making others work through cooperation,” he wrote. “Please, therefore, accept my heartfelt thanks and I wish you a bright future in all your endeavors.”

Upon his return to the United States, Dr. Kindell became president of Murray State College in Oklahoma, where he worked for 27 years until he retired in 1994.

In a recent phone conversation with Tadias Magazine from his current home in Denison, Texas, Dr. Kindell, now 86-years-old, shared his recollections of Ethiopia.

“To this day I am still in touch with the children of Fitwarai Tewahade, including Mel,” he said, referring to filmmaker and businessman Mel Tewahade, producer of the documentary Point Four, which explores the history of America’s “Point Four” foreign policy and its impact in Africa and Asia.

“I have fond memories of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people,” said Dr. Kindell, who traveled to Ethiopia under Oklahoma State University’s Point Four agricultural program in the late 1950s. “My daughter was born in Jimma.”

Mel Tewahade told Tadias the letter was penned by his late father as a farewell and thank you to Dr. Kindell. “Since my father was the Mayor of the city of Harer and governor of surrounding region, he had frequent interaction with the American staff at Alemaya and that’s how the two developed their friendship,” he said.

Mel said that part of his father’s job was “to ensure that Americans were safe and any misunderstanding between them and the residents living around Alemaya was quickly and peacefully resolved, as well as security matters, such as attempting to reduce the use of Khat (Chat) in and around the school and developing a market for Alemaya grown potato.”

Dr. Kindell, who was 31-years-old when he first arrived in Ethiopia, served for two years as the Director of Instruction and Research at the Jimma Agriculture Technical School before taking the helm at Alemaya in Harar. He noted that he reported directly to Emperor Haile Selassie, who was the Chancellor of the nation’s university system.

“The Emperor was like a father figure to me,” Dr. Kindell said. “He would scold me from time to time, mostly for not learning Amharic fast enough.”

Dr. Kindell shared his “vivid memory” of an encounter he had with Emperor Haile Selassie in November 1963 as the Emperor prepared to leave for Washington, D.C. to attend President Kennedy’s funeral. “The Emperor had great respect and admiration for John F. Kennedy because they had met and Kennedy had sought his advice,” he said. “He was very saddened by his death.”

Speaking of Kennedy, Mel added that he has released another movie called Peace Corps in Ethiopia highlighting one of Kennedy’s legacies. “It was screened at Kotebe Teacher Training College in September 2012,” he said. “It was shown at the 50th year reunion of returned Peace Corps volunteers who served in Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

“The film is the history of Peace Corps involvement in Ethiopia from 1962 to 1976″ Mel said. “We interviewed several volunteers and asked them to share their experience. Senator Harris Wafford of Pennsylvania and former director of Peace Corps in Ethiopia, outlines the contribution that Emperor Haile Sellasie made to the success of the program, and the support that Peace Corps got from President Kennedy and the director of Peace Corps Sargent Shriver.”

As to his own reminiscence of growning up near the school, Mel pointed out that the view from his father’s car window still remain fresh in his mind. “My most favorite of this time was the drive I used to make with my dad to Alemaya,” he said. “The lake was beautiful and there were plenty of fruit stands around the town of Alemaya. It was breathtaking.”

And back on the phone Dr. Kindell recalled, “So one day my wife and I had the Emperor over for dinner and all his family and other dignitaries were present,” he said. “I finally manged the courage to say, ‘Your Majesty, Ene bizu amarigna memar alchalkum.’”

Dr Kindell continued: “He sort of chuckled, and never bothered me about my language skills again.”

Below is a digital copy of the letter courtesy of Mel Tewahade:

Photos: Dr kindell hosting Emperor Haile Selassie and Jomo Kenyatta at Alemaya College

To learn more about Mel Tewahade’s film “Point Four,” please visit the website www.pointfourethiopia.com.

Filmmaker Interview About the Movie ‘Point Four
Haile Selassie in America: Q & A with Professor Ted Vestal

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The International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia: Q & A with Haddis Tadesse

The International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia is located on the campus of Hope University in Addis Ababa. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, May 5, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE), which opens in September 2013 on the campus of Hope University in Addis Ababa, began as a vision of Ethiopian American social entrepreneurs living in the Seattle, Washington area, including Haddis Desta Tadesse, the Country Representative for the Gates Foundation in Ethiopia. “We had found success in the U.S. and like many Ethiopians, we still have strong ties with and care deeply about the future of Ethiopia,” Haddis said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. “We admire how developed countries harness their land, labor, capital and infrastructure.”

Haddis added: “We also admire Ethiopia’s quest for prosperity and recognize the role that strong, capable leaders play in making that happen. We therefore thought that one contribution we could make to Ethiopia would be to establish a school for the academically talented girls and boys from around the country, and offer them an education that would prepare them in leadership skills equal to the best schools in the world.”

To this end, Haddis said, the group has launched a preparatory program for 20 students who are attending weekend and summer classes to prepare them for high school.

Below is our Q & A with Haddis Tadesse:

Haddis D. Tadesse (Photo courtesy Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

TADIAS: We understand that the school is one of the first of its kind to be set up in Ethiopia. Please tell us about the challenges and opportunities facing the new leadership academy.

Haddis Tadesse: We may be unique in today’s Ethiopian environment but the concept is not new to Ethiopia. General Wingate Secondary School played a similar role and produced many leaders in various disciplines. We also understand there is one other school in Ethiopia currently that targets gifted students. From what we know, we believe that our approach is unique in Ethiopia. While using the Ethiopian curriculum as a base and preparing students for the national exams, our curriculum is developed by experts taking best practices from around the world, introducing academic rigor, critical thinking at many junctures, responsibility for the environment through service programs both on and off campus, a strong sense of community within the student body based on collaboration and developing leadership skills. So far, the students seem ready and receptive to this program, as are their parents. As students will come from various school systems across the country and different proficiency levels, development and skills, they will require individual attention. That requires hiring capable teachers who know how to educate and nurture very smart kids and that requires capital to execute effectively. So, the financial burden will be our challenge.

TADIAS: How does admission to the school work?

Haddis: Similar to most selective, high quality independent schools around the world, admission is based on various criteria, including the student’s academic record, recommendations and interviews which examines the overall capacity and potential of the student. We have experts who are helping us with this effort including people who helped establish the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

TADIAS: Is it tuition based? If so, are there scholarship opportunities available for those who cannot afford it?

Haddis: The majority of our students would come from poor environments and they will not pay any tuition. However, we will have some paying students from families who can afford to pay and seek high quality education as well as from other country nationals who reside in Ethiopia.

TADIAS: Does the school have a relationship with other institutions of higher learning that would allow the students to continue their education after they graduate from ILAE?

Haddis: We have a relationship in Ethiopia with Hope University College, as we share their campus, facilities and to some extent will be exchanging teachers, but also have a primary relationship with the Northwest School in Seattle, an established, prestigious independent school. We will be having student exchanges through technology, and through them, will also have partnerships in Spain, France, China, Taiwan and El Salvador. In addition, we have a relationship with the University of Washington and Cascadia Community College. But our goal is not to send our scholars abroad. Our hope is that they will enter college in Ethiopia and other great universities in Africa and return to Ethiopia in positions of leadership and write a new chapter in the long history of the country.

TADIAS: What’s your vision for the academy five years from now?

Haddis: Five years from now we will have graduated our first class. We will most likely be on our own campus with dormitories, and have a student population from around the country. Every year after that, we hope to graduate students who will become CEOs of major business, political and social leaders, noble prize winner scientists, and many others.

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

Haddis: We are profoundly moved by the potential of these talented students and happy that we can affect the lives of at least a few people in Ethiopia. We deeply appreciate the generous support we have received to date. I also want to thank Tadias for your interest and support. I am a big fan.

You can learn more about The International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia at www.ilacademy.org.

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Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East

Meskerem Assefa, seated center in Yellow dress, is an Ethiopian domestic workers rights advocate based in Beirut, Lebanon. (Photo: At a panel discussion in New York, March 2013 / Courtesy of ESAC)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – One year after the video-taped beating and eventual suicide of Alem Dechasa in Lebanon that shocked and galvanized the Ethiopian community worldwide, domestic workers rights advocate Meskerem Assefa of Beirut recently traveled to New York to highlight the continuing problem in the region. She was invited by the Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee as one of the featured guest speakers at the organization’s annual Women’s History Month panel on March 23rd in Manhattan focusing on Ethiopian women in the Middle East.

“Every time I get the opportunity to speak to the media in Lebanon, I say stop abusing our girls,” Meskerem said in a follow-up interview. Meskerem, who moved to Beruit 11 years ago with her husband, is a Lebanese national by marriage.

“I have a bit more rights than most Ethiopian women in the country so I speak on their behalf whether they like it or not because silence and fear are the worst enemy,” she added. “And as an individual that’s the least that I can do.”

Meskerem said there are an estimated 80,000 Ethiopians living in Lebanon alone, half of them illegals operating under the radar of both the Ethiopian and Lebanese governments. She pointed out that this group is the one that is most exposed to abuse. Furthermore, there is a growing crisis of immigrant children that are born out of wedlock by domestic workers.

“These kids are not citizens of the country, they have no rights, no education, or access to medical insurance,” she said. “For me this is most heartbreaking.”

“Over time we are getting help from the Lebanese people and various local NGOs that working to change the law and improve the situation on the ground,” Meskerem said. “We can only get a solution by continuing to organize and speak out.”

“I wish that I could also do more to help the children,” she said. “I have tried to organize games, dance, and other activities for some of them; I know that’s not enough but there is no budget.”

Meskerem emphasized the necessity for more Ethiopians to step up and get involved. “I am asking that all those who can assist should contribute to solve this issue together,” she said. “Even those in Ethiopia with the intellect and resources must do their part. What’s the point of being Ethiopian if you do not feel this piercing your heart.”

“Stop sending these girls without basic training and their full knowledge of what they are getting into,” she asserted.

Meskerem noted that she had opened an information center in Addis Ababa a few years ago. “I paid rent for two years out of my own pocket and I had to close it because there was no help and interest,” she said.

Woizero Zewditu Fessehaa, chairperson of The Ethiopian Social Assistance Committee, who hosted Meskerem during her New York stay, agreed that lending a hand to activists like Meskerem and establishing an officially sanctioned certification center in Ethiopia ought be a priority. “The young women in Ethiopia need be told before they leave their country not to expect to be fed butter with a spoon when they reach their destination,” she said. “That requires collaborative efforts from each and everyone of us.”

Ethiopia Cancels 40,000 Work Visas for Saudi Arabia-bound Housemaids (Arab News)
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Photos: BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C.
The Plight of Ethiopian Women in the Middle East: Q & A With Rahel Zegeye

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Vipassana Meditation in Ethiopia

The following article is a reader submission from Ethiopia. The author, Yacob Gabremedhin, pictured above, is a 37-year-old certified yoga teacher as well as co-owner of a civil engineering consulting company in Addis Ababa. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
Reader Submission

By Yacob Gabremedhin

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Imagine sitting quietly at a retreat center in Debre Zeit for 10 days, meditating for more than 11 hours a day. That’s where I had my first real experience in meditation.

I started out in January 2009, a year after the first Vipassana meditation course had been offered. And there I was sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, in complete silence with 30 other participants receiving instructions both in Amharic and English. The first course in Ethiopia was organized in 2008 by former students who took similar lessons abroad.

Having been born and raised in Addis, where I attended Cathedral and Saint Joseph schools, and later part of the Technology Faculty at Addis Ababa University, I read and dabbled a bit in such things, this was not my first introduction to meditation. But it would prove later to be the most meaningful and lasting.

Ten days of silent meditation from 4 AM to 9 PM — no reading, no talking, no cell phones, internet or music. This is Vipassana meditation. It means ‘seeing things as they really are.’ Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. It is the process of self-purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness the person then proceeds to notice the changing nature of body and mind, and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. For this reason, it can be practiced freely by everyone, at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion, and it will prove equally beneficial to the individual and those around them.

In the last 45 years alone business and national leaders across the globe including the President of India have taken Vipassana training. The Roman Catholic Church has allowed more than 6000 priests and nuns to take the course. There are coachings especially tailored for executives as well. Not to mention that federal governments of different countries, such as India, Israel and the US have come to understand the effectiveness of the technique and started teaching it in prisons as well. An introduction to Vipassana as rehabilitation was filmed in 2007 inside a maximum-security prison called the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Alabama. The documentary, The Dhamma Brothers, was featured on Oprah the same year and was awarded ‘Best Documentary’ prize at the “Wood Hole Film Festival” in Massachusetts.

Courses are run solely on a donation basis. There are no charges for the classes, food or accommodation. All expenses are met by contributions from those who, having completed a lesson and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the same opportunity.

All trainings given around the world are completely identical in format, timetable, activity and organization. The only difference is in the cuisine as each country serves mainly local dishes. All selections, however, must be vegetarian. In Ethiopia, we prepare yetsome megib (fasting food); injera or bread with shiro and misir wot, salads and cooked veggies.

The initial Vipassana mediation course in Ethiopia was led by former students who had studied with S.N. Goenka, who started teaching in 1969 after learning the tradition from Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma. In Debre Zeit approximately 30 students enrolled in the first retreat held from January 30th to February 11th, 2008.

To date, eleven such gatherings have been held in the country. Though those who come to attend are mainly Ethiopians residing in Addis and other large towns, students have also come from other nations in Africa, Europe, Asia the US, Canada and more. A number of Ethiopians residing in America have also taken classes here.

Having had an unforgettable experience at the end of my first session four years ago, I still continue to practice regularly whenever time and other resources allow, including a couple of workouts in Northern California and Georgia where I traveled to visit family and friends.

Today, as meditation continues to grow in Ethiopia, so are efforts to strengthen the establishment of a Vipassana Trust. Vipassana is not for adults only. There are also trainings designed for children. The program offers young people, between the ages of 8 and 16 years, an introduction to Anapana meditation, which is a practice of the observation of natural breath to focus the mind.

Those seeking to get in touch can contact us at: info@et.dhamma.org.

For more information about Vipassana Meditation courses in Ethiopia and rest of the world, readers can visit the website: www.dhamma.org.

Below is a slideshow of images from Debre Zeit:

Do you have a story to share with Tadias Magazine? We warmly welcome our readers’ submissions. Send your story idea to the editors at articles@tadias.com.

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Le Figaro Names Three Ethiopians to ‘Africa’s 15 Most Powerful Women’ List

Tirunesh Dibaba, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu and Liya Kebede are 3 of the 15 women that made Le Figaro's 2013 list. (Images - Creative Commons)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

April 25th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Le Figaro has named three Ethiopians to its list of Africa’s 15 most powerful women, including the long distance track athlete and three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba, and Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, the founder and CEO of the international Ethiopian shoe brand SoleRebels.

The French newspaper also selected Ethiopian-born model Liya Kebede who lives in the United States among Africa’s power women. Other leaders include Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the current President of Liberia, as well as the South African actress and fashion model Charlize Theron, and Kenyan activist, lawyer, and blogger Ory Okolloh who works as Google’s Policy Manager for Africa.

Click here to read the list at www.madame.lefigaro.fr

Afrique: quinze femmes puissantes (Le Figaro)
New Book Highlights Stories of 70 Accomplished Ethiopian Women (TADIAS)

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PM Hailemariam Asked About Reeyot Alemu In France24 Interview

Reeyot Alemu, winner the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

Published: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In a wide-ranging interview with France24 this week, Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn energetically fielded a number of questions in his role as the current chairman of the African Union about the continent’s troubled spots, including the situation in Mali, the elections in Kenya, the prospect of peace in Somalia, and the border issue with Eritrea. But when the topic changed to domestic matters and the imprisoned journalist Reeyot Alemu, winner of the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize, so did the tone of the Prime Minister.

“For us our due process of law is, you know, according to the international standard and practice and we will continue on this way whether whoever says it,” he said. “What matters is the peace, security and democracy in the country, rather than what somebody says.”

Reeyot, who is now 32-year-old, was arrested in June 2011 inside a high-school class room where she worked as an English teacher. She was wanted for her opposing views in her part-time job as a columnist for the then Amharic weekly Feteh. She is currently serving a five year sentence in Kality prison. UNESCO said last week that she was recommended for the prestigious award by an independent international jury of media professionals in recognition of her “exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.”

“The whole important thing in this issue is that rule of law is one of the pillars of democratic process in the country,” the PM told the French television station, without mentioning Reeyot by name. “So we have responsibility also not only to have, you know, any kind of issues in the country, but to secure our people from any kind of terrorist actions.”

Hailemariam added: “In this regard, I think what’s important is that we are following all the international standard including the UN charter for human rights and democracy, which we have signed and ratified in my country. So I think it is according to the international, universal declarations that we are operating in the country.”

“Do you think there is room for improvement?” the reporter for France24 asked. “Do you agree that things could be better in this regard that there should be more vibrant press and a more vibrant opposition to make Ethiopia a real and full democracy?”

“I think there is no doubt about it,” the PM said. “Not only in Ethiopia, even in much more civilized democratic nations like France you have always something to improve. So how can we say there is no need of improvement in a fledgling democracy and a democracy of only fifteen years of age.”

The PM argued that establishing a culture of democracy takes time. “Therefore, we have a fledgling democracy, we have to learn lots of things, there are a number of rooms for improvement, including, the press, media and all kind of things,” he said. “We are learning from the international practices and my government is open to learn and improve things at home.”

The UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded annually during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, which will take place this year in Costa Rica. The UNESCO jury highlighted Reeyot’s critical writing published in several independent Ethiopian newspapers on various political and social issues focusing on poverty and gender equality.

We urge Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to do the right thing for Ethiopia and exercise his authority under the constitution to pardon Reeyot Alemu.

Watch: PM Hailemariam Desalegn interview with France24

Reeyot Alemu Wins the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize (RTT)
Reeyot Alemu: Ethiopia’s Jailed Truth Teller (The Daily Beast)
Eskinder Nega: An Ai Wei Wei Story in Ethiopia (TADIAS)
Prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia (Al Jazeera)
UN Finds Detention of Eskinder Nega Arbitrary (United Nations)

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How the Name “Mulugeta” Got into Social Media Frenzy

CNN crew Juliette Kayyem, Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper sifting through their mobiles for updates on Boston bombing investigation. (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 27, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Prior to the massive manhunt across Boston last week that eventually zeroed in on the two Chechen-born brothers suspected in the Marathon bombings, there were some cringing moments for the Ethiopian community during the media’s now infamous frenzy when tweets begun to appear with the name “Mulugeta” apparently picked up from local police radio communications.

According to The Atlantic Magazine at 2:14am Eastern on Friday, April 19th, “an official on the police scanner said, ‘Last name: Mulugeta, M-U-L-U-G-E-T-A, M as in Mike, Mulugeta.’ And thus was born the newest suspect in the case: Mike Mulugeta. It doesn’t appear that Mulugeta, whoever he or she is, has a first name of Mike. And yet that name, ‘Mike Mulugeta,’ was about to become notorious.”

“A single tweet references Mulugeta at the time his name was said on the scanner. A Twitter user named Carcel Mousineau simply said, ‘Just read the name Mike Mulugeta on the scanner.’ It was retweeted exactly once. In the unofficial transcript of the scanner on Reddit, at least as it stands now, the reading of the name was recorded simply: ‘Police listed a name, unclear if related.’”

What came next was a rapidly unfolding of false news. “This is the Internet’s test of ‘be right, not first’ with the reporting of this story,” Greg Hughes, who had been closely following developments online, tweeted. “So far, people are doing a great job.” Then, as The Atlantic noted, at 2:43am he declared, “BPD [Boston Police Department] has identified the names: Suspect 1: Mike Mulugeta.”

Tadias became aware of the trending conversation on Twitter when another post from the user Whodini Bolero turned up later that morning:

“The information was spreading like crazy,” the report added, quoting Kevin Michael (@KallMeG), a cameraman for the Hartford, Connecticut CBS News affiliate, who tweeted, only seven minutes after Hughes’ announcement, that “BPD scanner has identified the names: Suspect 1 — Mike Mulugeta.” The unconfirmed identification was subsequently retweeted by several media professionals, including Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed, reaching “far and wide.”

The Atlantic also highlights that last week’s “Misinformation Disaster” was not limited to Twitter and Facebook. Cable Television and wire services, such as CNN, Fox News and the Associated Press all wrongly reported two-days early that an arrest had been made, earning a rebuke from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Click here to read The Atlantic Magazine’s story.

UPDATE: Suspect Charged in Boston Bombing
The FBI Criticizes the News Media After Several Mistaken Reports of an Arrest (NYT)
Mistaken reports highlight dangers for media (Tampa Bay Times)
NBC’s Pete Williams: Media Hero of the Boston Bombing Coverage (The Atlantic)

Watch: Pete Williams Reports for NBC’s Nightly News

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Video: Boston bombing suspect finally in custody (NBC News)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Ethiopian Airlines Ready to Return 787 Dreamliner Service

(Photo by Gediyon Kifle for Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, April 19th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Airlines is awaiting FAA’s consent to return its grounded 787 fleet back in the skies.

According to the Associated Press, Ethiopian CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said the airlines anticipates to hear from America’s Federal Aviation Administration in the coming days.

Per Reuters: “U.S. regulators are close to approving a key document that could start the process of returning Boeing Co’s grounded 787 Dreamliner to service within weeks, according to several people familiar with the matter.”

Ethiopian Airlines put the planes out of service for inspection following a safety warning issued by the FAA back in January requiring that all Boeing 787 jets should not operate until the risk of battery fires is addressed. The crisis began when one of the planes owned by the Japanese All Nippon Airways was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan when a cockpit warning indicated a battery problem and a burning smell.

“Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators,” the airlines said at the time. “However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA.”

Ethiopian airlines has been operating the Dreamliner since mid-August of 2012.

Exclusive: FAA nears decisive step in restoring 787 to flight (Reuters)
Ethiopian Airlines readies grounded 787 for flight (AP)
Ethiopian Airlines Grounds 787 Dreamliner

In Pictures: Ethiopian airlines 787 Dreamliner lands in D.C. (Photos: Tadias File – Aug 2012)

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Reeyot Alemu Wins the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize

Reeyot Alemu, recipient of the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award, has won the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. (Photo: Getty Images)

RTT News

By RTT Staff

Imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu has won the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

Alemu was recommended by an independent international jury of media professionals in recognition of her “exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” UNESCO said in a press release on Tuesday. The Jury took note of Reeyot Alemu’s contribution to numerous and independent publications. She wrote critically about political and social issues, focusing on the root causes of poverty, and gender equality. She worked for several independent media. In 2010 she founded her own publishing house and a monthly magazine called Change, both of which were subsequently closed. Alemu was arrested in June 2011, while working as a regular columnist for Feteh, a national weekly newspaper. She is currently serving a five year sentence in Kality prison.

The UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was created in 1997 by UNESCO’s Executive Board. It is awarded annually during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, which will take place this year in Costa Rica.

Click here to read more at RTT News.

Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu wins 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize (UN)
Reeyot Alemu: Ethiopia’s Jailed Truth Teller (The Daily Beast)
Reeyot Alemu Threatened with Solitary Confinement (CPJ)
Prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia by Birtukan Mideksa (Al Jazeera)
UN Finds Detention of Eskinder Nega Arbitrary and Calls for Immediate Release (Freedom Now)
Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award (TADIAS)
L.A. Times November 1, 2012: Reporter jailed in Ethiopia among women journalists honored in Beverly Hills, California.
Portraits Of Courage: Female Journalists Honored At International Women’s Media Foundation Awards (The Daily Beast)

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Eskinder Nega: An Ai Wei Wei Story in Ethiopia

File photos of Eskinder Nega with his son Nafkot and his wife Serkalem Fasil. (Photographs courtesy www.Freeeskindernega.com)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In the early 1990′s when Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was a young man living in the suburb of Washington, D.C., which is home to one of the largest populations of Ethiopian-Americans in the United States, he dreamt of one day opening an independent newspaper company in his native country. Unfortunately, two decades later Eskinder, now 45 years old, is languishing behind bars, locked away for 18 Years at Kality prison nearby where he was born and raised in Addis Ababa separated from his wife, 8-years-old son, profession, and branded as a terrorist.

Eskinder, who has been in and out of jail eight times since he returned to Ethiopia almost twenty years ago, stands convicted of attempting to subvert the country’s constitution, which in principle affords its 80 million plus citizens all of the universally accepted due process guarantees and human rights — including that “no one can be deprived of his liberty for exercising his freedom of expression or being a critic of the government.”

Last year around this time there was a glimmer of hope among Eskinder’s compatriots at home and in the Diaspora rightly encouraged by the news that PEN America had awarded him its prestigious “Freedom to Write” prize. Tadias Magazine had the opportunity to attend and cover the ceremony on May 1st, 2012 at the literary organization’s annual gala dinner held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. We interviewed a number of people on camera including Eskinder’s wife, Serkalem Fasil — herself a former journalist who gave birth to their son Nafkot in 2005 during her own stint as a political prisoner — who accepted the award on her husband’s behalf, as well as her former cellmate the renowned Ethiopian opposition leader and former prisoner of conscience Birtukan Mideksa, who is currently in exile and a Harvard fellow in the United States. Both Serkalem and Birtukan’s spirits were buoyed by PEN’s success stories of advocating on behalf of those that are selected to be honored. Forty-six women and men have received the award since 1987; 33 of the 37 honorees, who were in prison at the time of their nomination, were subsequently released.

“International human rights law does not prohibit prosecution of members of terrorist organizations or those who support cooperate and assist terrorism by any means,” Ethiopian authorities wrote to members of the European Parliament in February who had urged Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn back in December to consider the release of the imprisoned journalist. “Rather, it prohibits any form of discrimination and impunity of prosecution.”

Since the Pen Award, however, impunity and unchecked power by a single party is what appears to be preventing officials from resolving the matter once and for all. Instead the ruling party agents have turned to a strategy of Chinese-style campaign, disturbingly similar to the attack against Ai Wei Wei — the contemporary artist and outspoken critic of the Chinese government. Eskinder’s personal story mirrors Ai Wei Wei’s in more ways than one. Both individuals had studied in America in their youth and returned to their birth countries to work. Both Ai Wei Wei and Eskinder turned to blogging as a means of expression, both were incarcerated for refusing to stop writing and asserting their right to self-expression. And both men had firmly decided to stay in their native country to continue their work despite the fact that unjust harassment was looming over them and they knew they were putting their lives at stake.

While Ai Wei Wei has received overwhelming international support from art institutions and human rights organizations, Eskinder’s story hasn’t reached the critical spotlight needed to win his rightful release.

The labeling of Eskinder as a ‘terrorist’ is designed to deflect criticism and to intimidate international agencies into covering their eyes and ears regarding domestic human rights abuses in Ethiopia. Meanwhile, local officials are busy exploiting the flow of financial assistance from the same donor countries that are eager to hunt real terrorists residing in the populous Horn of Africa region.

The Ethiopian authorities, of course, don’t see anything wrong with the fact that the Federal Police seem to be habitually confusing a “pen” for a deadly weapon. Today, Ethiopia is listed among the top ten most censored countries in the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that compiles the annual data, says the nation is one of only two African countries along with Eritrea that still holds the distinction.

In the last decade Ethiopia has shown an impressive potential for economic progress as well, but also mimicking China in downplaying respect for human rights. Without specifically mentioning Eskinder Nega, there has been a development of late in the Ethiopian parliament that is apparently aimed at fixing the general issue concerning freedom of expression in the country. But let us cross our fingers that this time it’s not part of the fly-by-night and feel-good charm offensive intended to cloud the festering problem.

On the world stage, it is also encouraging to see the finding by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Eskinder’s ongoing detention as a violation of international law. The panel of five independent experts from four continents held earlier this month reported that the government violated Eskinder’s rights to free expression and due process. The UN body called for Eskinder’s immediate release following sustained lobbying efforts by his international pro bono lawyers and support by his friends in exile, including Birtukan Mideksa, who recently wrote a well received Op-Ed piece on Al Jazeera English highlighting her anguish over the muzzling of progressive Ethiopian voices.

As fellow journalists it too is our desire to bring this hard-fought momentum one step closer to the finishing line. We lend our voice in urging all freedom loving citizens of the globe to stand with Ethiopians in demanding the unconditional release of our colleague, the award-winning journalist, publisher and blogger Eskinder Nega.
UN Finds Detention of Eskinder Nega Arbitrary and Calls for Immediate Release (Freedom Now)
Prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia by Birtukan Mideksa (Al Jazeera)
Letter from Ethiopia: Regarding The Case Against Eskinder Nega
Video & Photos: Eskinder Nega Honored With Prestigious PEN Award

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Photos from Three Goats Org Inaugural Launch at Ginny’s Supper Club

Three Goats Org launch party at Ginny's Supper Club -- Sunday, April 7th, 2013. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Monday, April 8th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Below are photos from the launch of Three Goats org at Ginny’s Supper club on Sunday.

The New York based non-profit was established by model and philanthropist Maya Gate Haile inspired by her visit to Togowichale, Ethiopia two years ago. She had traveled to the small border town located between Ethiopia and Somalia to deliver much needed resources collected from a fundraiser she had hosted with her husband, Marcus Samuelsson, at their home in Harlem in November 2011. In return for her efforts the people of the town gave her three goats as a token of their appreciation.

“I was very touched and although I could not bring the gift to New York, I promised to bring the story with me,” Maya said at Sunday’s gathering in Harlem. “That’s how the organization was named.”

Three Goats aims to promote and support social entrepreneurial projects in various regions of Ethiopia. Programs include providing access to clean water via wells and innovative water purification systems as well as focusing on increasing retention rates and access to education for young girls.

Here are images from the launch event at Ginny’s Supper Club in New York on Sunday, April 7th, 2013.

Three Goats Org Inaugural Launch at Ginny’s Supper Club

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Tadias Interview: Alemtsehay Wedajo, Founder of Tayitu Cultural Center

Alemtsehay Wedajo acting in Macbeth staged by Tayitu Cultural Center in D.C. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Washington, D.C.-based Ethiopian actress, playwright and poet Alemtsehay Wedajo has composed over 400 Amharic lyrics for many legendary singers from Ethiopia, including Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, Muluken Melese and the late Tilahun Gessese. But she is best known for her signature works in theatrical productions, such as Yalteyaze (Available). Last year scenes from this play were selected for performance at the University of Southern California’s celebrating “Voices from the Black Diaspora” — a USC Arts and Humanities initiative exploring “Visions and Voices” the multiple ways that identity is transformed and articulated in a global world.

“Early in my younger years, 13 to be exact, my teachers recognized my interest and talent in the arts particularly in poetry, playwriting and acting,” Alemtsehay told Tadias Magazine.

Later when she immigrated to the United States after working for several years as an actress and as the first female director at Ethiopia’s National Theatre in Addis Ababa — where at same time she launched the ‘children theater section’ at the Ministry of Culture serving as its head for nearly a decade — she said her parents were still not pleased. “With all these accomplishments in my profession as a performer, my family, particularly my father, were never satisfied since I did not complete a university education,” Alemtsehay said.

“So, after I came to America, working two jobs and raising two children, I started attending college and completed my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.”

Alemtsehay is also the founder of Tayitu Cultural Center, formerly known as Tayitu Entertainment, a U.S.-based non-profit organization which held its first book release event and reading session in Washington D.C. in August 2000. Since then, the program has become one of the primary platforms for Ethiopian drama presentations in the United States. For the past 13 years Tayitu Cultural Center has put together more than 30 stage shows and traditional musical concerts. Alemtsehay emphasized that the center conjointly trains young Ethiopian-Americans in Amharic-poetry writing and acting. Tayitu has nurtured a number of aspiring artists and comedians in addition to hosting a popular monthly poetry night called YeWeru Gitm Mishit, showcasing emerging and veteran talents not only in literature, but also in painting, filmmaking and music, as well as highlighting various communities.

“Regardless of the trauma of adjusting to a new life in America and supporting my family, my love for my profession never faded away,” she said. “Being a woman is not easy.”

The association was named after Empress Tayitu Bitul who is famous for her historic role at the battle of Adwa during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1896. “My two big dreams are to build a statue of Tayitu in Addis Ababa and to establish a permanent Ethiopian Cultural Center in Washington D.C.,” Alemtsehay said. “My other female role model is the beloved great actress and singer the late Asnakech Worku.”

As for the current generation of young people who want to follow in her own footsteps, “Have faith, dream high, be strong and do not quit,” she advises.

Photo from African Poetry night organized by Tayitu Cultural Center. (Courtesy photograph)

Alemtsehay Wedajo (Courtesy photo)

You can learn more about the artist and Tayitu Cultural Center at www.tayituentertainment.com.

Taitu Cultural Center Opens Amharic Library in D.C.
Netsa Art Village: Ethiopia’s Cutting Edge Contemporary Art Movement

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The Significance of the 1896 Battle of Adwa

March 1st, 2013 marked the 117th year anniversary of the Battle of Adwa and historian Ayele Bekerie shares an essay on the historic victory. (Photo: Mountains of Adwa/File)

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD


Published: Friday, March 1st, 2013

Mekelle, Ethiopia (TADIAS) – In 1896, eleven years after the Berlin Conference, the Ethiopian army decisively defeated the Italian military at the Battle of Adwa. It was a resounding victory because it aborted Italia’s ambition to establish a colonial foothold in Ethiopia. On March 2, 1896, The New York Times reported with a headline: “Abyssinians Defeat Italians; Both Wings of [General] Baratieri’s Army Enveloped in an Energetic Attack.” On March 4, 1896, The New York Times featured another story about “Italy’s Terrible Defeat.” NYT also stated “three thousand men killed, sixty guns and all provisions lost.” It further indicated how high the defeat’s impact has reached by referring to the Pope who “is greatly disturbed by the news.” “The terrible defeat” sent shock waves throughout Europe and the colonized world. It was the first time that a non-white people had defeated a European power. According to Teshale Tibebu, the victory the Ethiopians had achieved over Italy was different than other battles won by African forces. This was permanent.

While Europeans saw the defeat as a real threat to their vast colonial empires in Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean, the colonized subjects in these territories understood the event as the beginning of the end of colonialism. Adwa as Davidson aptly puts it has become a prelude to decolonization in Africa. Clearly the victory at the Battle of Adwa lends itself to multiple meanings and interpretations, depending upon perspectives and stances in relation to colonialism. The purpose of this piece is to look into the interpretations of the event from the perspectives of the colonized and how the victory brought about the idea of global Ethiopia. It can be argued that the Battle has further enhanced the symbolic significance of Ethiopia in Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean. Ethiopia has become a symbol of the anti-colonial movements throughout the world. The Battle may have also given geographical and historical certitude to Ethiopia. The Battle of Adwa is another significant symbol in the imaginary of the idea of Ethiopia. This paper looks into the symbolic importance of Adwa in the conception and development of pan-African solidarity and identity.

Ethiopia at the time of the Battle was a highly traditional empire-state where kings and nobilities ruled over a predominantly agrarian people. Modes of rules were not only dictated by customs and personal whims, they were also exploitative. Adwa then ushered a new paradigm to alter or reform the tradition, to replace it with a modern system of centralized and unified government. While the symbolic significance of the Battle successfully echoed the call for freedom and independence and an end to colonial domination abroad, the full meanings of Adwa have yet to be fully realized within Ethiopia. Adwa suggests the power of indigenous multiple voices voluntarily cooperating to defeat and challenge the European colonial order.

Virtually all the regions, religions, linguistic groups, aristocrats and peasants pulled their resources together to formulate and execute a strategy of victory. By their actions the Ethiopians were not only affirming the power and immense possibilities of unity in diversity, but they were placing issues of freedom and internal reform at the top of the national agenda. Adwa necessitates a new set of directions interspersed with broader definition and application of freedom so that all those who participated in the Battle would be able to participate in the affairs of their country. As Maimre puts it, “from the perspectives of the thousands who participated in the campaign of Adwa, the resistance to the Italian invasion embodies the aspiration for freedom, equality and unity as well as the rejection of colonialism.”

Adwa reminds the Shoan nobility to let freedom ring from northern highlands to the rift valleys, the river basins, the plain lush fields of Arussi and the salty Danakil depressions. Adwa presents a unique opportunity to reconfigure the empire-state. Unfortunately, absolutism and imperial glory overshadowed and undermined the emancipatory route suggested by the historic event of Adwa. Adwa presses on the monarchy to modernize and to let the people involve in the political process through constitutional means. Unfortunately, the leaders resisted internal reform or introduced ineffective and nominal elements of modernity. Absolute monarchy, imitative and nominal modernization and detached and non-transformative tradition were pursued and, to this date, insist on clinging to the status quo. The status quo is the cause of immense poverty and disenfranchisement for the vast majority of the people in the country.

Adwa’s magnificent victory is a model in as far as people of various cultures, religions and languages willingness to assemble for a purpose. 100,000 Ethiopian troops took positions on the fields and mountains of Adwa to encircle and defeat the enemy. The multi-cultural army paid the ultimate sacrifice when about nine thousand of its soldiers died at the Battle. With their sacrifice, they set the stage for the birth of a new Ethiopia where the reach of freedom, politically and economically, would be more egalitarian. The model, unfortunately, was not pursued in post-Adwa Ethiopia. The model of voluntary cooperation and coexistence has yet to be implemented in the twenty first century Ethiopia. The model has yet to break the cycle of poverty and endless violent conflicts in the Horn of Africa.

While the victory is certainly a major milestone in Ethiopian history, Menelik and his successors failed to fully appreciate and adopt the new reality that emerged (locally and internationally) as a consequence of the victory. The meaning and reach of freedom hampered by intolerance to internal criticism and resistance to reform the monarchy. Internationally, most historians agree that Adwa opened the way for the ultimate demise of colonialism in Africa and elsewhere.

Adwa is significant because it disturbed the colonial order in the world. Colonial subjects interpreted Adwa as a call to resist and defeat colonialism and racial oppressions through out the world. With Adwa, they have a permanent symbol and a constant reminder that colonialism was wrong and it ought to be defeated. No system is just in as long as it treats human beings as objects and fodders to exploitative and profitable economic systems. Citizen subject is a right that cannot be denied and that should be exercised if at all freedom is a universal right of peoples and communities. Adwa, to most historians, is an African victory. The 1884-85 Berlin Conference was convened to divide up the entire continent of Africa and assign colonial territories to European powers. The Europeans allocated the Horn of Africa to Italy. Italy’s unsuccessful military push in Ethiopia was a part of the European colonial order in Africa.

In preparation for this essay, I conducted field and library research in Ethiopia and abroad. I visited the town of Adwa in September 2006 and March 2012. Adwa is only 25 miles west of the ancient city of Aksum. I made the journey to Adwa in search of memorial markings, to participate in the 116th Battle of Adwa Anniversary, to pay tribute to the war heroes and heroines, to converse with residents and to visit relevant institutions and museums. The Battle of Adwa is known locally as 1886, the Ethiopian calendar year for 1896.

I also had a chance to examine archival documents in the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Addis Ababa University and the National Archive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The National Archive has, among other books, manuscripts and papers written in local languages and scripts, a rich collection of documents encompassing the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries of the Common Era in Ethiopian history. I particularly read and copied relevant documents from the archival collections of Belata Mersea Hazen Wolde Qirqos, Doctor Dejazemach Zewde Gebre Selassie, Dejazemach Kebede Tessema, and Aleqa Taye Gebre Mariam. Recent publications of memoirs in Amharic by former palace officials or associates, such as Fitawrari Tekle Hawariat Tekle Mariam and Dejazemach Zewde Retta, have also helped a great deal to elucidate historic events. Tsehafe Tezaz Gebre Selassie’s Tarike Zemen Ze Dagmawi Menelik Neguse Negest Ze Ethiopia (Historical Period of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia) is a useful source of the Battle. Gebre Selassie served as a personal chronicler of the Emperor.

The collection donated to the National Archive by Belata Merse Hazen Wolde Qirqos includes a critical essay entitled Atse Menelikena Ethiopia (Emperor Menelik and Ethiopia) written by a great Ethiopian scholar, Gebre Hiwot Baykedagn. His essay criticizes Ethiopian historians for failing to engage in critical interpretations of the past. He also points out the achievements and failures of Emperor Menelik II. Another scholar who was trained in Europe, Afeworq Gebreyesus wrote the biography of Emperor Menelik. The work is regarded as serious and fruitful. Gebre Hiwot Baykedagn criticizes the book for lack of balance in the appraisal of the leadership of Emperor Yohannes II in comparison to Emperor Menelik. In addition, almost ten years ago, I participated in a book project to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Battle of Adwa. The book, One House: The Battle of Adwa 1896-100 Years, edited by Pamela S, Brown and Fasil Yirgu, has contributors, such as the Late Laureate Tsegaye Gebre Medhin, Richard Pankhurst, and Teshale Tibebu. My contribution is entitled “How Africa Defeated Europe.”

Menelik’s (Abba Dagnew) success at the Battle of Adwa may be attributed to the following factors: One, he surrounded himself with great advisors, such as Empress Taitu Bitul, Fitawarari Habte Giorgis Dinegde (Abba Mechal) and Ras Mekonnen, a nephew and father of Emperor Haile Selassie.

Menelik was a popular leader, skillful diplomat, and good listener. Menelik believed in reconciliation. Those who revolted against him once defeated they were immediately pardoned and allowed, unfortunately, to retain their original privileged position. Menelik was keenly aware of the colonial expansionist ambition of the French, British and Italians in the region. As a result, he actively sought and acquired modern weapons from Europe. He even bought a large quantity of weapons from the Italians. He also fully exploited the rivalries among the three colonizers. More importantly, out of a long war experience, together with his ministers, regional kings, he developed a winning war plan.

Menelik’s war declaration was widely heeded and welcomed throughout the country, a clear affirmation of his popularity. Menelik’s declaration is an important literary document in the context of preparation, the will to fight and become victorious at the Battle of Adwa. Menelik appealed to love of family, religion and country. He reminded Ethiopians that the intention of the enemy is to take away the core values and traditions cherished by the people. Menelik declared (translation mine):

“Up until now, through the grace of God, who permitted me to live by destroying my enemies and expanding the territorial boundaries of our country. It is also through the grace of God that I am ruling. Therefore, I have no fear of death. More importantly, God has never let me down and I am confident that he will let me be victorious again.”

“At this time, another enemy has entered our territory by crossing our God given sea. His objective is to destroy the country and to change the religion. As a result of a major cattle disease that devastated a large number of our livestock and brought great sufferings to our farmers and pastoralists in the last few years, I remained quiet and patient to numerous hostile provocations. And yet the enemy continued to dig dipper in the ground like a hog.”

“Now God willing or with God’s help, I will not surrender my country. My fellow country folks, I do not believe that I disappointed you in the past. You have not also disappointed me. If you are strong, then help me with your strength to fight the enemy. If you are not strong, I seek your moral support for the sake of your children, wife and religion. If, on the other hand, you seek lame excuse not to join the national campaign against our enemy, I will be upset and I will not have mercy on you, I will punish you. My campaign begins in October, and I expect volunteers from Shoa to gather in Woreilu by mid October.”

This article is well-referenced and those who seek the references should contact Professor Ayele Bekerie directly at: abekerie@gmail.com.

About the Author:
Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor at the Department of History and Cultural Studies at Mekelle University.

The 1896 Battle of Adwa: Empress Taitu Bitul, The Visionary Co-Leader
Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site (Tadias)

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Women’s History Month 2013: Spotlight on Empress Taitu Bitul

Empress Taitu Bitul, one of the key leaders at the decisive Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896. Ayele Bekerie reflects on her contributions in celebration of Women's History Month 2013. (Photos: wikimedia)

Tadias Magazine
By Ayele Bekerie, PhD


Updated: Friday, March 1st, 2013

Mekelle, Ethiopia (TADIAS) – Empress Taitu Bitul was actively involved in Menelik’s government. She exemplified the possibility of reform and transformation from within. She was a persistent critic of the nobilities and ministers of Menelik. Born in Wollo from a Christian and Muslim family, Taitu had a comprehensive early training in traditional education. She was fluent in Ge’ez, the classical Ethiopian language. Mastering Ge’ez was a rare achievement for a woman at that time. Education is often the privy of male children, who continue their traditional schooling in the churches and monasteries for an extended period of time. Those who passed the arduous levels of scholarship would be allowed to serve as deacons and later priests in the thousands of churches and monasteries throughout the country. Their studies include Ge’ez literature, chant, choreography and translation. Besides, Taitu was a great benefactor of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. She contributed land and building materials to several important monasteries. She also supported the Ethiopian Church in Jerusalem, Israel.

Taitu was married to Menelik at the age of forty-three and she was four years older than him. Apparently Menelik’s reverence for Taitu was in part dictated by custom. He was being respectful to an elder. On the other hand, the deference might have been earned as a result of the loyalty Taitu brought to the marriage from important northern regions of Begemedir, Lasta and Yeju. Clearly the marriage was more than romance; it was in fact, a political marriage intended to calm the competing Rases of the northern region. According to Qegnazematch Tadesse Zewelde, Taitu was co-equal with Menelik, who consulted her prior to making important decisions.

Taitu was known for her courage and uprightness. She urged the Emperor to reject the now infamous Wuchale Treaty of 1889 as soon as the discrepancies between the Italian and the Amharic versions were discovered by Aleqa Atsme Giorgis, a historian and a councilor to the Emperor. Taitu led her own battalion at the Battle of Adwa. At the Battle of Mekelle, she advised Ras Mekonen to cut off the water supply to the Italians in order to disgorge them from their entrenched and heavily fortified positions at Endeyesus Hill on the eastern part of Mekelle City. Tadesse also identifies Taitu as the receiver and analyzer of intelligence information collected by spies, such as Basha Awalom Haregot and Gebre Igziabher. Historians characterize the intelligence data obtained by Awalom and Gebre Igzabher as crucial importance to the Ethiopian victory at the battle. The information enabled Menelik to attack the Italians, at a site of his choosing, at Adwa instead of Adigrat, near the Eritrean border where the Italians expected to have a relative logistical advantage. The Italians were hoping that he would meet them in Adigrat, close to where they had a well-protected military base.

Because of the many absences of the Emperor from the capital city, Taitu virtually managed the affairs of the government in consultation with key ministers. Menelik conducted several campaigns both in the north and southern part of the country against his old and new rivals.

From the royal residence in Addis Ababa, a city that she founded, Taitu made a concerted effort to break the monopoly of political power by Shoan nobility. She used every opportunity to diversify the power base through marriage and other means. Through weddings, she weaved a complex web of partnerships between the Shaon nobilities and those of the northern highlands. It is true that she favored her relatives to be close to power. She presided over many arranged marriages favorable to her cousins whom she anticipated to take over from Menelik. And yet she spoke her mind and consistently defended national interests. Regardless, her removal from power at the end of Menelik’s reign and his prolonged illness soon after the battle, the opportunity to further pursue the full meaning of Adwa was not seized.

Following the war Taitu and Menelik shared the enormous task of building a newly reconstituted country with diverse population and cultures. Differing qualities of two great Ethiopians crystallized into an effective and successful leadership. Independence and cooperation defined Taitu’s relationship with Emperor Menelik II. Their marriage was that of equals characterized by trust, respect and reciprocity.

Taitu Bitul was an authentic Ethiopian leader. Her deeds at a critical moment in Ethiopian history not only saved Ethiopia from European colonization, but it also paved the way to decolonize Africa. Her advice and action resulted in the defeat of the Italian army at the 1896 Battle of Adwa. Taitu epitomized Ethiopian leaders at their best. She consistently fought hard for the public good. She knew and defended national interests by overcoming challenges both from within and from without. Her leadership immensely contributed to the process of nation building and modernization at the beginning of the 20th century.

Unfortunately, Taitu was forced out of power unceremoniously during Menelik’s long illness and later death. Lij Iyasu, the heir to the throne, failed to cooperate with her or at least to seek her counsel. Iyasu was overthrown by anti-Taitu group of Shoan nobility, three years after he assumed power at the age of fourteen. To her credit, Empress Zewditu who succeeded Iyasu maintained good relations with Taitu, but power had shifted to Ras Taferi, the regent who became Emperor Haile Selassie.

Taitu’s pioneering and enduring work in politics, economics, culture, social welfare, military have added to the definition and implementation of a national agenda. She pushed for common issues that united Ethiopians. The founding of Addis Ababa as a new capital city allowed people to migrate and settle in this new town from all regions of the country.

While the two books made an effort to document the biography of Taitu, Ambassador Mengiste Desta offers a more detailed chronology and contextual explanation than Tadesse Zewelde. Tadesse, on the other hand, utilizes primary sources and eyewitness accounts in his readable narrative.

Mengiste also turns his publication into a campaign to build a memorial for Taitu in Addis Ababa. He is urging committees organized to carry out the project to bring it to fruition. In an attempt to highlight the importance of a public tribute, the forward of Mengiste’s book is written by the Coalition of the Ethiopian Women Association that was established in 1996.

Menelik’s skills of military strategy and diplomacy are combined with Taitu’s good judgment, loyalty and vision of seeking and maintaining cohesive national interests. Taitu, unlike Baafina (the ex-wife who sought to undermine the king), consulted, caucused, shared and reinforced strong leadership with the Emperor. The married couple and partners became formidable leaders to face and resolve many challenges both in times of war and peace. They made Ethiopia’s transition to modernization an irreversible march of time.

It is also important to remember that Taitu brought to the union her northern experience and knowledge given her link to Gondar, Semen, Begemedir and Yeju nobilities. In addition to her insight of the inner workings of Atse Yohannes and Atse Tewodros’s palaces. In other words, the marriage can be characterized both as political and as the saying goes yacha gabecha.

Taitu insisted on remaining a respected person (not a dependent) by seeking ways to improve her life through education, a rare and groundbreaking approach given our entrenched and backward notion and praxis on gender. She studied Ge’ez in Gojam at Debre Mewe monastery. She also composed poetic verses both in Ge’ez and Amharic. Taitu, who is known as the light of Ethiopia, also played harp and kirar (a remarkable combination of spiritual and secular musical instruments) and designed decorative curtains for churches and monasteries.

What is more impressive is Taitu’s contribution to governance and nation building. She fully engaged herself in activities that significantly contributed to national interests. She named Addis Ababa (New Flower) as a permanent seat of the central government. She ran the administration during the frequent absences of Menelik from the Capital, originally located at Addis Alem before it was moved to nearby Entoto. She built a house in a land fenced to mark holding by the Shoan king, Negus Sahle Selassie, who is Menelik’s grandfather. The building commenced while Menelik was in Harar in a military campaign for an extended period of time. Upon his return, he approved the initiative and moved with her into the new house in Addis Ababa. (Negus Sahle Selassie shares credits with Taitu in regards to the founding of the city)

Taitu opened Addis Ababa’s first modern hotel, now known as Itege Hotel, a little more than a century ago and she also became its first manager. The restaurant serves local and international cuisines. Again Atse Menelik supported her entrepreneurship by becoming a regular customer of the establishment and by encouraging the nobilities and government officials to patronize the business. Besides inaugurating yengeda bet, she has launched and encouraged both local and international tourism.

In an attempt to modernize the Ethiopian economy and to counter the heavy handedness of the Abyssinan Bank, a foreign firm, Taitu started a domestic financial institution where indebted traders were able to obtain loans and continue commerce.

She set up the first wool factory in collaboration with experts from Turkey and India thereby paving the way for possible Ethiopian industrial age. Taitu also used local raw materials to manufacture candles. Church costumes were designed and made by tailors in an organized fashion thanks to her innovative efforts.

On a religious front, Taitu established the historic Menbere Tsehay Entoto Mariam church. She also commissioned the construction of a multi-storied home in Jerusalem to be used by priests and pilgrims from Ethiopia.

These are some of the accomplishments of Taitu. By any measurement, she is a treasure that deserves a national monument and her legacy continues to inspire the young generation to know, build and defend the country.

This piece is well-referenced and those who seek the references should contact Professor Ayele Bekerie directly at: abekerie@gmail.com.

About the Author:
Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor at the Department of History and Cultural Studies at Mekelle University.

Today in History: 117 Years Ago Colonial Ambitions Were Put in Check
Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site (Tadias)

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Gemini Health Care Group’s 5th Annual Fundraiser Gala – March 9th in Virginia

(Photos courtesy of GHCG)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Friday, February 22, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Gemini Health Care Group announced that it will hold its 5th Annual Fundraiser Gala on Saturday, March 9, 2013 from 7 PM to 12 AM at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. The U.S.-based organization, which focuses on providing pediatric services and training in Ethiopia, was founded by Ethiopian American physician Dr. Ebba K. Ebba, formerly an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and currently in private practice in Jacksonville, Alabama.

In a statement Dr. Ebba said this year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Irwin Redlener, founder and president of the Children’s Health Fund (CHF), which provides health care to homeless children in New York while supporting a national network of pediatric mobile clinics and fixed site facilities in rural and urban communities targeting medically underserved children.

“In addition, each year we honor individuals who have made significant contribution to medicine or to the community in general,” Dr. Ebba said. “This year, we will be honoring a couple of pioneering Ethiopian physicians, Dr. Taye Mekuria and Dr. Bekele Afessa, who dedicated their lives and career to the advancement of medicine. Mr. Melakou Guirbo, a determined organizer working to inspire and mentor young Ethiopians in the Washington, D.C. area, will also be honored for his community service.”

The evening program includes dinner, music, live and silent auctions featuring a variety of prizes ranging from artworks donated by local artists to round-trip airline tickets to Ethiopia.

If You Go:
Gemini Health Care Group
5th Annual Fundraising Gala
Saturday, March 9, 2013
7pm – Midnight
The Sheraton National Hotel
900 S. Orme Street,
Arlington, VA 22204
To RSVP call 703-980-7168 or 914-826-6421
More info at www.ghcg.org

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Teddy Afro Live at B.B. King Blues Club

(Image credit: Massinko Entertainment)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Teddy Afro and Abogida Band will perform live at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Manhattan later this month in continuation of their current world tour, which included a concert in support of the Walyas at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. Organizers said Teddy will be the first Ethiopian to perform at the acclaimed NYC venue that is renowned for showcasing world-class musical talent.

Brooklyn-based musician Tomás Doncker will open the evening highlighting his traveling musical production that pays tribute to Ethiopia’s role during World War II and featuring collaborative work with guitar legend Selam Woldemariam.

The event’s announcement noted that Teddy, who has dominated the Ethiopian music scene for nearly a decade, has garnered a global base of loyal and adoring fans as well as political foes who are opposed to his iconoclastic views expressed in his socially conscious lyrics that cover topics including politics, history, peace, love, justice, and equality.

The iconic Ethiopian artist was born in the Kuas Meda area of Addis Ababa, on July 14, 1976. “His late father, Kassahun Germamo, was a renowned Ethiopian songwriter, while his mother, Tilaye Arage, was a professional dancer,” the press release said. “Despite his parents being involved in the entertainment industry, they discouraged Teddy from becoming a musician.”

The announcement added: “Since signing with an Ethiopian record label in 2001, the pop star has officially released 6 albums: Abugida (2001), Tarik Tesera (2004), Yasteseryal (2005), Yasteseryal Edition 2 (2005), Best Collection-Nahom Volume 14 (2006), Tikur Sew (2012). His latest album, Tikur Sew (black person), smashed Ethiopian record sales and is on pace to become the number one selling Ethiopian album of all time.”

If You Go:
Teddy Afro with Abogida Band
February 22, 2013
B.B. King Blues Club
37 West 42 St (212) 997-4144
New York, NY 10036
Showtime @ 11:59PM
Doors Open @ 11:00PM
Tickets $40.00 in advance, $50.00 day of show
Reserved VIP Booth on floor available for 4 & 6 people
$50 adv/$60 Day of Show per ticket – Must buy entire booth
A booth for 4 = $200/$240
A booth for 6 = $300/$360
Click here to learn more.

Video: Teddy Afro – Lambadina

Watch: Teddy Afro New 2012 – Tikur Sew official music video

In Pictures: Teddy Afro & Abogida Band in South Africa

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Tiki Gelana Named Female World Athlete of the Year

London Olympic Marathon champion Tiki Gelana was named World Athlete of the Year for 2012 at a ceremony in Marugame, Japan on Sunday, February 3rd, 2013. (Photo: Tiki Gelana sits on the ground after winning the women's marathon final at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 5, 2012 - Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Monday, February 4, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Tiki Gelana, 25, winner of the women’s marathon at the London Olympic Games last summer, has been named World Athlete of the Year for 2012 by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS). She was given the award at a ceremony in Japan on Sunday becoming the first Ethiopian woman to receive the coveted long-distance running prize that comes with a Golden Shoe sponsored by the athletic footwear company ASICS.

Previous Ethiopian winners of the prestigious award include her male compatriots Gezahenge Abera in 2000 and Haile Gebrselassie in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

“President Emeritus of AIMS Hiroaki Chosa and AIMS Board Member and Vice President of the Japanese Athletics Federation Dr Keisuke Sawaki presented Gelana with the acclaimed Golden Shoe Trophy during an awards ceremony after she had won the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon earlier in the day,” reported the International Association of Athletics Federations.

“She started 2012 with a runaway win and personal best of 1:08:48 in the Marugame Half Marathon but that was just a warm-up for a decisive five-minute victory in the Rotterdam Marathon, where she became the fifth woman to break 2:19 for the distance when she ran a national record of 2:18:58.”

Click here to read more at IAAF.org.

In Pictures: Tiki Gelana Wins Gold Medal at the 2012 London Olympic Women’s Marathon

Tiki Gelana Was Ready For The London Olympic Marathon (Runner’s World)

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From California Comes Arada Fashion

(Image credit: Courtesy of Arada Fashion Wear)

Tadias Magazine
By Aida Solomon

Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are photos courtesy of Arada Fashion Wear.

You can learn more about Arada Fashion at Facebook.com/Made.IN.Arada.

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Black History Month: NYC Exhibition on the African Diaspora in India

The Schomburg Center in New York will host a five-month exhibition entitled "Africans in India" from February 1 - July 6, 2013. (Images from the show courtesy of the Schomburg Center)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Saturday, January 26, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In celebration of Black History Month the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will host a five-month exhibition highlighting the history of Africans in India, which is scheduled to open for the public on February 1st.

“The exhibition will feature the extraordinary achievements of Africans who made their mark on Indian history,” the Schomburg Center said in a press release. “At the Africans in India preview, on January 30th, 2013, Her Excellency Ambassador Nirupama Rao of India will give remarks.”

This historical showcase, curated by Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf, curator of Digital Collections at the Schomburg, and Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins, collector and co-editor of African Elites in India: Habshi Amarat, is the first of its kind that retraces the lives and achievements of the many talented and prominent Africans in India.

“Since the 1400s, people from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and adjoining areas, have greatly distinguished themselves in India. The success was theirs but it is also a strong testimony to the open-mindedness of a society in which they were a small religious and ethnic minority, originally of low status,” says Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf. “ As foreigners and Muslims, Africans ruled over indigenous Hindu, Muslim and Jewish populations.”

Besides the presence of written documents, Africans have been immortalized in the rich paintings of different eras, states, and styles that form an important component of Indian culture.

“Although they were a common sight for centuries, the Africans who were an integral part of the history and culture of the Indian subcontinent have not received, in the present, the recognition they deserve,” the announcement said. “This groundbreaking exhibition brings out of obscurity the lives and achievements of some of the talented and prominent Sidis of yesterday and inscribes their unique story in the fascinating history of the global African Diaspora.”

Related Programs:
First Fridays at the Schomburg
Friday, February 1 at 6 p.m.
Featuring DJ Rheka playing classic Bhangra and Bollywood

Curator’s Talk with Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf
Tuesday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Join Curator Diouf on a tour of the exhibition

Talks at the Schomburg: Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins and Dr. John McLeod
Thursday, March 21 at 6: 30 p.m.
Robbins and McLeod will discuss the history of Africans in India

Bengali Harlem
Saturday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. with Vivek Bald
Bald will discuss his book Bengali Harlem and the Lost History of the South Asian American. Presented in collaboration with afrolatin@forum
Click here to learn more at the exhibition website.

Related Article
New Exhibition Highlights the History of Africans in India (TADIAS)

Below are images from the show courtesy of the Schomburg Center.

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Burkina Faso Beats Ethiopia 4-0 in African Cup

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

Tadias Magazine
News Brief

Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ethiopia, Burkina Faso Face Off

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

Tadias Magazine
News Brief

Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Editorial: Our Role in Shaping U.S.-Africa Policy in Obama’s Second Term

President Obama gave his second inauguration address on Monday, January 21, 2013. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – As we extend our best wishes to President Barack Obama for a successful second term in office, we also urge the White House to pay more attention to the diverse voices in our community and to engage the Diaspora as the U.S. formulates better policies towards Africa in the next four years. After all, as citizens, we are voters and taxpayers, and therefore stakeholders in what the United States does in Africa.

Influencing U.S. foreign policy also requires a culture of respectful political discourse among ourselves, which has not been the hallmark of the Diaspora during Obama’s first term, particularly by Ethiopian pundits in the United States.

In one of the many memorable lines delivered at his second Inaugural Address this week, President Obama said: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.”

It is a message that political leaders, activists and scholars in our community should take to heart if they are to be effective moving forward in communicating on behalf of a wider constituency and in shaping future U.S.-Africa and U.S-Ethiopia relations.

Obama Stresses Unity in Second Inaugural Speech (VOA News)

Video: Sights and Sounds from the 2013 Inauguration (NBC)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more updates.

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

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

Video: Jemal Tassew takes red card and injury after foul

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

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

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Africa Cup Kick-Off Party: Teddy Afro & Abogida Band in South Africa

(Image courtesy of the promoters)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Teddy Afro will perform live in Johannesburg, South Africa this weekend at “Go Walya Africa Cup Kick-Off Party.”

The event, which is organized by the group Sefer Addis, is scheduled to take place at Sandton Convention Center (near Mandela Square) on Saturday, January 19th.

Organizers said Teddy will be accompanied by Abogida Band.

If You Go:
Tikur Sew in South Africa
January 19th, 2013
Sandton Convention Center
Johannesburg, South Africa
Call: +27835534388 or +27712104358

In Pictures: Photographs From Teddy Afro’s Concert in DC (November 23rd, 2012)

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Ethiopian Airlines Grounds 787 Dreamliner

(Photo by Gediyon Kifle for Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian Airlines has temporarily grounded its 787 Dreamliners for inspection following a safety warning issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA said on Wednesday that the 787 should not operate until the risk of battery fires is addressed.

The crisis began when one of the planes owned by the Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways, was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan when a cockpit warning indicated a battery problem and a burning smell. Ethiopian follows Chile’s LAN, Air India and the European Aviation Safety Agency who have all sent out grounding orders.

“Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators,” the airlines said in a press release. “However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA.”

Ethiopian airlines, which has been operating the Dreamliner since mid-August last year, said it is working closely with Boeing to comply with the US FAA approved special inspection. “The airline aims to return the Dreamliners to service as soon as possible, after full compliance with the new procedure,” the press release said.

“Ethiopian would like to apologize to its esteemed passengers for any inconvenience this may cause in their travel experience.”

Boeing 787 Crisis Widens, as Global Regulators Ground Dreamliner

In Pictures: Ethiopian airlines 787 Dreamliner lands in D.C. (Photos: Tadias File – Aug 2012)

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

Coach Sewnet Bishaw (BBC)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: Monday, January 14, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Exhibition Highlights the History of Africans in India

Bamba Muller, 1848-1887, the daughter of an Ethiopian and German banker, who became Maharani Bamba Duleep Singh when she married the last ruler of the Sikh Empire in northern India. (Photo courtesy of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – There is plenty of historical evidence that Ethiopian traders traveled to India as early as 2,000 years ago. The kingdom of Axum had established a very active commerce with India and Axumite gold coins minted between 320 and 333 AD had found their way to Mangalore in South India where they were discovered in the 20th century. Ivory, silver, gold, wine, olive oil, incense, wheat, rice, cotton cloth, silk, iron, copper, skins, salt, and sesame oil were some of the main items traded on both sides of the Indian Ocean and as far as China. Axum was also involved in the slave trade.

According to Dr. Sylviane Anna Diouf, an award-winning historian who studies the African Diaspora and the co-curator of an upcoming exhibition at New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture entitled Africans in India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers, there was another wave of Africans who arrived in India beginning in the 1100s both as free and enslaved people, among them Ethiopians.

“The most celebrated of the Ethiopian leaders was Malik Ambar (1548-1626). Born in Kambata, southwestern Ethiopia, he was enslaved as a young man and taken to Mocha in Yemen,” Dr. Sylviane said. “He was later sent to Arabia where he was educated in finance before being brought to Baghdad, Iraq. [Malik's birth name was Chapu] Converted to Islam, Chapu was renamed Ambar (ambergris in Arabic). He was sold and sent to India where he arrived in the early 1570s. He became a slave of Chengiz Khan (believed to have been an Ethiopian), the prime minister of the sultanate of Ahmadnagar.” She added: “Freed upon Chengiz Khan’s death in 1575, Ambar left Ahmadnagar to become a commander in Bijapur where he was granted the title Malik (the Great). In 1595, he went back to Ahmadnagar, putting himself and his army in the service of another Ethiopian, Abhang Khan. By the turn of the 17th century, Malik Ambar had an army of 10,000 African cavalry and infantrymen. In 1600, he gave his daughter in marriage to a 20-year old prince, installed him as sultan, and ruled in his place as regent and prime minister. Fateh Khan, Malik Ambar’s son, inherited his father’s position as prime minister. Fateh Khan married the daughter of another Ethiopian, Yaqut Khan, one of the most powerful nobles of Bijapur. In 1636, Fateh Khan poisoned Sultan Murtaza Nizam Shah III and installed the sultan’s son in his place. Fateh Khan held the real power until the Mughals conquered the sultanate.”

Dr. Sylviane, who is also the Curator of Digital Collections at The Schomburg Center and Director of The Schomburg-Mellon Humanities Institute, said trade between East Africa and India was boosted with the spread of Islam. Indian Muslims from Gujarat migrated to African trading towns in Kenya, Zanzibar and the Comoros Islands where they worked with African and Arab merchants. While African traders traveled to and from India, some settled.

One of the images included in the show depicts a painting of Bilal, known to be of Ethiopian origin, was among Prophet Muhammad’s earliest converts. “He became the first muezzin of Islam, the man who calls to prayer from the mosque minaret.”

The African men and women who were taken to India through the early slave trade were known there as Habshi and Sidi (Siddi, derived either from sayyidi, my lord in Arabic; or from saydi, meaning captive or prisoner of war). They came mostly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and adjoining areas. Muslim, Ethiopian Christian, and Indian traders preyed on people they all considered “pagans.” Those bought for the Muslim world were converted to Sunni Islam. Trained as soldiers they were highly prized for their military skills. It is among these men that the generals, commanders, and rulers emerged.

During his travels in India, from the 1330s to 1340s, Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta had remarked that the Habshis of Gujarat “are the guarantors of safety on the Indian Ocean; let there be but one of them on a ship and it will be avoided by the Indian pirates and idolaters.”

Besides appearing in written documents, Africans in India have been immortalized in the rich paintings of different eras, states, and styles that form an important component of Indian culture, also leaving an impressive architectural legacy.

“The imposing forts, mosques, mausoleums, and other edifices they built — some more than 500 years ago — still grace the Indian landscape,” Dr. Sylviane said. “They left their mark in the religious realm too. The 14th century African Muslim Sufi saint Bava Gor and his sister, Mai Misra, have devotees of all origins. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Zoroastrians frequent their shrines.”

Politically speaking the “Abyssinian Party” as it was called dominated the Bijapur Sultanate starting in 1580 and conquered new territories until the Mughal invasion in 1686. The Africans were de facto rulers because sultans were frequently involved in mysticism and the arts, and often left the governing responsibilities to their vizier or chief ministers. Bijapur was thus governed, if not ruled, by nine successive African viziers.

In regards to commerce, in the 1300s Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta met Ethiopian merchants in what are now India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. The most famous African trader was Bava Gor (Sidi Mubarak Nob). He came from East Africa during the 14th century and made Ratanpur in Gujarat his home. He became the patron saint of the agate bead industry and is credited with increasing the trade of quartz stone between East Africa, the Persian Gulf, and India.

The exhibition at the Schomburg Center that is also curated by Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins is scheduled to open early next month. It features 109 images displayed in 33 panels, including photographic reproductions of paintings which are held in different collections in Europe, India and the United States. They come from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, the British Library in London, the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland, the Francesca Galloway in London, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Musée des Arts Asiatiques Guimet in Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the San Diego Museum of Art, as well as the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection, The Kenneth and Joyce Robbins Collection, The Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace in London, and the Freer Gallery of Art.

Below are images from the show courtesy of the Schomburg Center.

If You Go:
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037-1801
Click here to learn more at the exhibition website.

SELEDA: Ethiopian Art Exhibition in the Bay Area

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‘Girl Rising’ Film & Campaign Coming in Spring

The film and campaign, created and launched by an award-winning team of former ABC News journalists, delivers a single message: educating girls in developing nations will change the world.

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Updated: Friday, January 4, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – At the Clinton Global Initiative’s Annual Meeting in New York City two years ago, New York Times columnist and author Nicholas Kristof moderated a panel discussion focused on better preparing girls for the world, launching the 10×10 project – a film and social action campaign that highlights the significance of investing in girls and compels people to action. Ethiopia is among the countries featured in the upcoming documentary entitled Girl Rising, which is scheduled for release in Spring 2013.

The feature-length film displays the power of access to education in the life of a girl residing in a developing nation; each girl’s story is told by a talented writer from her native country. The script writer for the segment on Ethiopia is Maaza Mengiste, author of the critically acclaimed novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze. In preparation for the documentary, Maaza spent time with a young girl from a village outside of Bahir Dar.

Click here to read our interview with Maaza Mengiste.

Below is the trailer.

Learn more about ‘Girl Rising’ Film + Campaign (10 x 10)

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Cover image credit: (10 x 10)

2012 in Pictures: Politics, London Olympics and Alem Dechasa

Images from some of the biggest stories of 2012. (See credits and full slideshow below)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, December 29, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – From the death of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to the apparent suicide of Alem Dechasa, and from the surprise results at the London Olympic games to the decisive re-election of President Barack Obama, 2012 has been a year of many lessons and historic transformations.

The televised abuse of Alem Dechasa, the Ethiopian woman that was violently mistreated outside the Ethiopian embassy in Lebanon last March, and her suspicious suicide a few days later, was one of the most watched and heartbreaking stories we covered this year: (In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse)

The mysterious absence, illness and death of PM Meles Zenawi was by far the biggest political news of the year in our community. On July 15th the 57-year-old prime minister failed to show up for an African Union meeting that he had religiously attended without absence since the early 90′s. What followed next was several weeks of bizarre secrecy by the Ethiopian government and repeated pronouncements of vague assurances by officials about the status of the PM’s health. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was eventually declared dead on August 20th and was given a state funeral on September 2nd, 2012 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. The confusing summer frenzy also exposed the weakness of the flummoxed political opposition in the Diaspora as disorganized and fractured, neither inspiring confidence nor prepared for public leadership and responsibility.

What was inspiring in 2012, however, was the spectacular performance of our women athletes at the London Olympics. Ethiopia earned seven medals this year, three of them gold, courtesy of Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar and Tiki Gelana — making the country the leader in Africa on the athletics medal count and globally trailing only the United States, Russia, Jamaica and England.

Here are images from some of the biggest stories of 2012.

2012 in Review: Ten Arts & Culture Stories (TADIAS)

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2012 in Review: Ten Arts & Culture Stories

The late artist Afewerk Tekle speaking at Stanford University on March 7, 2004. (Photo: Tadias Magazine File)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – In 2012 we lost Ethiopia’s most famous painter, Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle, who died last Spring at the age of 80 and was laid to rest at the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa on April 14th. Speaking about his life-long dedication to the fine arts, Afewerk Tekle once said: “At the end of the day, my message is quite simple. I am not a pessimist, I want people to look at my art and find hope. I want people to feel good about Ethiopia, about Africa, to feel the delicate rays of the sun. And most of all, I want them to think: Yitchalal! [It's possible!]” Our coverage of Afewerk’s passing was one of the most shared articles from Tadias magazine this year: (In Memory of Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle: His Life Odyssey).

Below are other arts and culture stories that captured our attention in 2012.

Marcus Samuelsson’s Memoir ‘Yes, Chef’

Marcus Samuelsson released his best-selling memoir Yes, Chef back in June. From contracting tuberculosis at age 2, losing his birth mother to the same disease, and being adopted by a middle-class family in Sweden, Marcus would eventually break into one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, rising to become a top chef with a resume including cooking at the White House as a guest chef for President Obama’s first State Dinner three years ago. Since then, Marcus has morphed into a brand of his own, both as an author and as owner of Red Rooster in Harlem. Earlier this year, Tseday Alehegn interviewed Marcus about his book.

Watch: Tadias interview with Marcus Samuelsson

Dinaw Mengestu Named MacArthur ‘genius’ Fellow

Ethiopian American novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu was named a MacArthur genius Fellow in September. The Associated Press reported Dinaw’s selection along with the full list of 22 other winners. Dinaw is the author of The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears and How to Read the Air. In addition to the two novels, he has written for several publications, including Rolling Stone, Jane Magazine, Harper’s, and The Wall Street Journal. According to MacArthur Foundation, the “genius grant” is a recognition of the winners “originality, insight, and potential” and each person will receive $500,000 over the next five years. Below is a video of Dinaw discussing the award.

Ethiopia at Miss Universe 2012

Helen Getachew (Photo credit: Miss Universe)

After years of absence from the Miss Universe pageant, Ethiopia graced the global stage this year represented by 22-year-old Helen Getachew. The competition was held in Las Vegas on December 19, 2012. Women from over 80 countries participated in the 61st annual contest. The new Miss Universe is Miss USA Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old beauty queen from Rhode Island and the first American to claim the coveted title since 1997. Olivia was crowned Miss Universe 2012 by Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes of Angola. Over the next year Olivia will hit the road on behalf of her cause: HIV/AIDS prevention as mentioned on her official pageant profile.

A Prodigy Reviving Ethiopian Jazz & A Rock Band from Ethiopia Called Jano

Samuel Yirga (Photo courtesy of Worldisc)

Two distinctly different Ethiopian musical acts emerged in 2012 that are sure to dominate the entertainment scene in the coming year. Samuel Yirga (pictured above) is a U.S.-based pianist from Ethiopia whose debut album Guzo has won critical acclaim. Here is how NPR described the artist and his work in its recent review of his new CD: “A 20-something prodigy, Yirga is too young to have experienced the Ethio-jazz movement of the early 1970s, but he has absorbed its music deeply — and plenty more as well. With his debut release, Guzo (Journey) Yirga both revives and updates Ethiopian jazz.” Likewise, the new Ethiopian rock band Jano is also influenced by legendary musicians of the same era, but as their producer Bill Laswell put it: They don’t join the ranks of Ethiopian music, they break the rules.” Below is the latest music video teaser by Jano.

Teddy Afro Abroad

Teddy Afro pictured during a surprise party thrown for him at Meaza Restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia following his performance at Echostage in Washington D.C on Friday, November 23rd, 2012. (Photo: By Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

In 2012 Teddy Afro gave us Tikur Sew, which is undoubtedly the most talked about music video of the year in our community. And Teddy’s current world tour is winning him new international support outside of his loyal Ethiopian fan base. (Click here to watch a highlight of Teddy’s growing popularity on the global stage by China Central Television – CCTV)

Two Ethiopian American Bands Make a Splash: Debo & CopperWire

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

In its thumbs-up review of Debo band’s self-titled first album released this year, NPR noted: “The particular beauty of Debo Band is that you don’t have to be an ethnomusicologist to love it: It’s all about the groove. Debo Band transforms the Ethiopian sound through the filter of its members’ collective subconscious as imaginative and plugged-in 21st-century musicians…The swooning, hot romance of Yefikir Wegene bursts up from the same ground as the funky horns of Ney Ney Weleba. From that hazy shimmer of musical heat from faraway Addis, a thoroughly American sound emerges.” Similarly, another Ethiopian American musical ensemble that made a splash this year is the sci-fi trio ‘CopperWire’ that produced the futuristic album Earthbound. The hip-hop space opera takes place in the year 2089 featuring three renegades from another world who hijack a spacecraft and ride it to Earth, and eventually land in Ethiopia. Watch below CopperWire’s music video ET Phone Home.

Fendika Dancers’s First Solo American Tour

Melaku Belay and Zenash Tsegaye of Fendika Dancers (Courtesy photo )

After thrilling New York audiences at Lincoln Center in summer 2011, members of the Addis Ababa-based musical troupe, Fendika, returned to the East Coast for their first solo tour in 2012 with stops that included New York, Washington, D.C, Boston, Hartford, Connecticut and Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Mahmoud Ahmed, Gosaye Tesfaye and Selam Woldemariam at the Historic Howard Theatre

Mahmoud Ahmed performs at Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 26th, 2012. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Mahmoud Ahmed and Gosaye Tesfaye performed at the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. during a Memorial Day weekend concert on Saturday, May 26th, 2012. It was the first time that Ethiopian music was featured at the iconic venue, which re-opened in April following a $29 million renovation. The event was organized by Massinko Entertainment, and also included an appearance by guitarist Selam Woldemariam whose collaborative concerts with Brooklyn-based musician Tomas Donker at Summer Stage in New York was part of the biggest entertainment stories that we covered this year.

Journalist Bofta Yimam Nominated for Regional Emmy Awards

Bofta Yimam is an Ethiopian American reporter currently working for Fox 13 News in Memphis, Tennessee. (Courtesy photo)

Last but not least, Ethiopian American Journalist Bofta Yimam who is a reporter for Fox 13 News in Memphis, Tennessee, was nominated this year for Regional Emmy Awards by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Nashville/Mid-South Chapter) for her journalism work. The winners will be announced on Saturday, January 26th, 2013 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville where the ceremony will be telecast live beginning at 8:00 PM. Below is a video of Tsedey Aragie’s interview with Bofta Yimam.

2012 in Pictures: Politics, London Olympics and Alem Dechasa

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Interview With Filmmaker Brenda Davis

Still photograph from the movie 'Sister," which tells the story of health workers in Ethiopia, Cambodia and Haiti whose daily work is to help women give birth. (Photo: Family at a district hospital in Tigray, Ethiopia/Image credit: Swati Guild)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Sunday, December 16, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Earlier this month I attended one of the screenings of the documentary film Sister as part of the recently concluded African Diaspora International Film Festival here in New York.

An intimate portrait of a universal topic, the documentary frames maternal and newborn death as a human rights issue while shedding light on the faces behind the statistics. The film takes place in Ethiopia, Cambodia and Haiti as it explores innovative ways to deliver healthcare to childbearing women in remote parts of the world. The main characters are a Haitian traditional birth attendant, an Ethiopian male health officer, and a rural midwife in Cambodia.

The filmmaker, who is a Canadian citizen and a resident of New York City for the past 20 years, said she chose to highlight Ethiopia because the country is trying “new strategies and local solutions” to tackle the issue. “I am especially fascinated by Ethiopian healthcare professionals who used to be field medics during the civil war in the North who have now been retrained with further skills for civilian work.”

“In 2008, I was documenting a heath record training for health workers from Africa and Asia,” Brenda said. “I spent 3 weeks with them and involved in several activities including filming lectures in the city. One of the attendees was a health-care officer from Ethiopia named Goitom Berhane. When I got home and started transcribing their stories I found myself just weeping. And I told myself I have to make a movie about this.” Berhane eventually ends up being prominently featured in the film.

“The subject has been floating around me my whole life,” she continued. “As a child, my grandmother Martha had 16 children and only 11 lived and one of them was my mom.” She added: “And I was born by an emergency cesarian. I was the last of eight children.”

Brenda said that she finds parallels to her own family story and what most young women face in developing countries today. “There is a great research paper called ‘Under the Shadow of Maternity’ about childbirth and women’s lives in North America at the turn of the last century and the issues were the same. My grandmother was giving birth to stillborn babies between 1919 and 1939. People did not have all the resources, all the information; they did not know, they did not ask the right questions. It was a mystery to them. They were poor, they did not have access to family planning.”

Brenda’s interest is to document “current and local solutions” to the age-old health problem.

For news and updates about the film follow @Sister_Doc on Twitter, SisterDocumentary on Facebook, or visit: sisterdocumentary.com.

Watch the teaser trailer here

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Update: The Year’s Top 10 ‘Jailers of Journalists’

Photo: Imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu, recipient of the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award. (Image credit: International Women’s Media Foundation)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists released its 2012 census of imprisoned journalists yesterday identifying 27 offending countries with 232 writers, editors, and photojournalists behind bars this year, an increase of 53 from 2011 and the highest since the organization began the survey in 1990. According to CPJ, the 2012 figure surpasses the previous record of 185 journalists imprisoned in 1996.

The report said the trend was driven primarily by terrorism and other anti-state charges levied against critical reporters and editors.

CPJ highlighted Turkey, Iran, and China as the three leading jailers of journalists, while Eritrea and Ethiopia are the only African countries that are listed among the top ten press offenders.

“Rounding out the top five jailers were Eritrea, with 28 journalists in prison, and Syria with 15; the worst abusers of the rule of law,” the organization said. “None of the journalists in jail in either country have been publicly charged with a crime or brought before a court or trial.”

More than half (118) of those held globally were online journalists and more than a third were freelancers.

CPJ singled out Burma for “some improvement” this year: “For the first time since 1996, Burma did not rank among the nations jailing journalists. As part of the country’s historic transition to civilian rule, authorities released at least 12 imprisoned journalists in a series of pardons in 2012.”

Of the 27 countries imprisoning journalists, the top 10 jailers were:

Turkey: 49
Iran: 45
China: 32
Eritrea: 28
Syria: 15
Vietnam: 14
Azerbaijan: 9
Ethiopia: 6
Saudi Arabia: 4
Uzbekistan: 4

Click here to read the full report at CPJ.
Court delays Eskinder Nega’s appeal (Africa Review)
MEPs urge Ethiopia to release journalist (The Guardian)
Record number of reporters jailed globally (BY kirubel Tadesse/AP)
Federal High Court Expresses Doubts About Eskinder Nega’s Conviction (VOA)
Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award (TADIAS)

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Meet Helen Getachew: Miss Universe 2012 Contestant From Ethiopia

Helen Getachew of Ethiopia, 22, is a contestant at the 2012 Miss Universe pageant. (Photo credit: Miss Universe)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Saturday, December 8, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – 22-year-old Helen Getachew will represent Ethiopia at the 2012 Miss Universe competition, which is scheduled to take place on December 19th at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, where the welcome party for the candidates is already underway.

Helen arrived in the United States a week ago. And according to organizers she attended a reception thrown on her behalf in D.C. last weekend (her first overseas public event) and she is already off to Nevada where she is prepping for the big show.

Organizers said Helen was selected to participate in the international contest on October 12th following a runway exhibition held at Radisson Blu Hotel in Addis Ababa in front of a group of judges, representing both the local fashion industry and global modeling agencies. “The event was infused with a fashion show and live entertainment, with guests in attendance from the [diplomatic corps], media, and fashion industries,” the press release said, highlighting that Ethiopian Airlines is Helen’s official transport sponsor.

The statement added: “It’s very exciting to have Ethiopia back competing at this event since the country has not been represented for the past few years.”

Last year, more than one billion TV viewers from across 190 countries witnessed the crowning of Leila Lopes from Angola as Miss Universe 2011.

According to the pageant’s website, public voting has already begun for the 2012 competition at: www.missuniverse.com.

For latest updates, you can visit Miss Universe Ethiopia’s Facebook page.

Photos: Helen Getachew Represents Ethiopia at 2012 Miss Universe Contest in Las Vegas, NV

Helen Getachew in her own words: “I would enjoy working for a nonprofit organization, but my dream in life is to create one myself.” (Missuniverse.com)

Helen Getachew. (Courtesy photo)

22-year-old Helen Getachew will represent Ethiopia at the 2012 Miss Universe competition. (Courtesy photo)

Photos: Miss Universe Ethiopia Fundraiser at Bati Restaurant in Brooklyn
Spark Communications Acquires License for Miss Universe Ethiopia

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Menna Mulugeta Vying to Win ‘The Voice of Germany’ Talent Show

Menna Mulugeta, who was born and raised in Germany, is one of only 32 singers remaining at this year's 'The Voice of Germany' talent competition. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, November 23, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – While we wrap up the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, 21-year-old Menna Mulugeta is rehearsing for a musical talent competition in Berlin, Germany as part of The Voice of Germany reality singing contest, which is part of an international series created by Dutch television producer John de Mol.

In a statement emailed to Tadias Magazine, Menna said she is one of 32 singers remaining in the widely publicized TV show with millions of viewers.

Menna, who was born and raised in Germany, said she spent time in Ethiopia rediscovering her roots and honing her musical skills following her graduation from high school in 2011. She recently recorded her first album of original songs.

Regarding The Voice of Germany contest, she pointed out that she is now at the stage where “the television audience influences the results of the competition by voting for their favorites.”

Menna’s next live appearance is on Friday, November 23rd 2012.

Click here to listen to samples of Menna’s songs on her website.
Click here to support Menna at www.the-voice-of-germany.de.

Teddy Afro in DC: ‘Tikur Sew’ Concert on Black Friday

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Asylum: The Story of Zena Tafesse Asfaw

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

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, November 17, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article has been abridged from the original version.

Zena Asfaw can be reached at zenaasylum@yahoo.com.

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Metasebia Yoseph’s Transmedia Project: ‘A Culture Of Coffee’

Metasebia Yoseph, a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., is the writer and creative director of 'A Culture of Coffee' - a transmedia project highlighting the history and culture of coffee in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Judging by her Amharic you wouldn’t guess that Metasebia Yoseph was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She is currently a graduate student at Georgetown University studying Communication, Culture and Technology and also the writer and creative director of a transmedia project called A Culture Of Coffee, which focuses on the development of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony and its significance within the culture.

“I try,” Metasebia said, humbly referring to her language skills and pointing out that she spent a year in Ethiopia working at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies’ Ethnographic Museum in Addis Ababa after graduating with a B.A. degree in Art History from the University of Maryland in 2008.

Metasebia said her stay in Ethiopia was what gave inspiration for the project. “I met people who produce artifacts, the Amharic Bible, and so many other things,” she said in a phone interview. “That experience very much impacted me in ways that encouraged me to build a bridge between my upbringing here and my Ethiopian heritage.” Metasebia added: “My parents are part of the first wave of Ethiopian immigrants to the United States. I am a first generation Ethiopian American. What better way to highlight that link than our rich and famous coffee culture?”

Metasebia is not waiting until graduation to get the ball rolling. “My partner and I have already registered an organization focusing on cultural development,” she said. “The corporation has been formed and we are in the process of getting our 501(c)3 status.”

According to Metasebia, the multimedia efforts will culminate in the production of an artful coffee table book in the near future, for which “I will be traveling to Ethiopia in December and finalizing research,” she said.

Metasebia recently launched a fundraising page for the coffee-table book project. She noted: “We are offering donors who give us $100 or more the opportunity to be mentioned in the upcoming Book: From Ethiopia With Love as a co-collaborator.”

Click here to learn more and support the project.

Watch: A Culture of Coffee Launch Event at Kaffa Club

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‘The Athlete’: Catch A Movie About Abebe Bikila at Film Festival Flix

“Atletu (The Athlete)," produced and directed by Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew, is a tale of extraordinary determination and of a singular man, Abebe Bikila. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Aida Solomon

Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Los Angeles (TADIAS) – It is no secret that Ethiopia has produced some of the world’s greatest long distance runners. Rasselas Lakew’s independent film Atletu (The Athlete), pays tribute to the first runner that paved the way for generations of African athletes in the Olympic Games — the marathon hero Abebe Bikila.

Directed by Davey Frankel and Ethiopian-born Rasselas Lakew, Atletu, which was released in 2009, is currently featured as part of Film Festival Flix’s monthly theatrical series and an online platform that brings lesser-known movies to audiences around the country. Lakew, who co-wrote the script and also stars as the legendary runner, will attend the screenings along with the co-director.

In the film, Abebe Bikila is introduced to the audience well after his physical prime, while visiting family in Jato, Ethiopia in 1969. Driving a creaky Volkswagen on a dirt road, Bikila takes a literal and figurative drive down memory lane, passing through the breathtaking countryside of his childhood as actual footage of Bikila’s past races are juxtaposed together.

Bikila, who served as a member of the Imperial Bodyguard of Emperor Haile Selassie, became the first African to win a gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics, which he run barefoot, and setting into motion the legacy of long-distance running in Ethiopia. He won his second consecutive gold four years later in Tokyo in a new world record time, becoming the first athlete to win the Olympic marathon twice. The film’s archival footage highlights Bikila’s historic finish in Italy as he ran through the streets of Rome – passing by the stolen Ethiopian Obelisk monument while cruising to victory.

A symbolic slap in the face to Ethiopia’s former occupier, Italy, Bikila catapulted into international stardom. Several years after the Rome Olympics, however, Bikila realizes that other young stars from his country are conquering the sport. Atletu touches upon Bikila’s reckoning with being an aging legend in his country, as he focuses his attention on the upcoming 1972 Munich Games.

Unfortunately Bikila’s qualification for Munich is further deterred by a car accident that he suffers on his trip back to Addis Ababa from the countryside. Declared a quadriplegic, Bikila has to endure months of rehabilitation in the U.K., and his final race is never fulfilled.

Rasselas Lakew’s portrait of Bikila is stoic and understated, garnering him the “Best Actor” award from the 2011 Brooklyn Film Festival. Although Lakew studied Geology in college, he was drawn to filmmaking in the hopes of creating African narratives created by Africans. Lakew, who now lives and works in New York, took film-studies courses at Montana State University film school in the early 90′s. Lakew says Bikila’s remarkable story is a neglected one, a “man of the mountains” who “conquered Rome” with his bare feet.

With stunning cinematography, a memorable soundtrack, and archival footage that is sure to stir pride and please any heart, Atletu (The Athlete) is a modern ode to one of Ethiopia’s legendary heroes.

Watch: Atletu (The Athlete) Movie Trailer

Abebe Bikila: Athletic Legend Honored With Google Doodle (TADIAS)

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SoleRebels Expands to Asia (Interview & Photos)

(Photo courtesy of SoleRebels)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: November 11th, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – When the Ethiopian footwear company SoleRebels opened its first stand-alone retail store in Asia earlier month, becoming the first African brand of its kind to do so, the mayor of Kaoshiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, sent a bouquet of flowers welcoming the business to his town.

And according to SoleRebels’ CEO Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, customer reaction thus far has been just as enthusiastic.

“It’s been amazing,” she said. “People in Taiwan love the brand; they love the products, the look, the feel, and how we are presenting it to them. It’s fresh, exciting and very vital that they responded in kind.”

Bethlehem said the store opening anchors the company’s Asia retail rollout with a total of three Taiwan locations slated to open by end of 2012. “Our next Taiwan location will open in three weeks in Taichung,” she said. “This store will be about four times the size of the Kaoshiung store and will have some amazing surprises visually and from a merchandising perspective.”

Bethlehem added: “In about a month and a half we will open our first of two Singapore locations. And early next year, we will enter the booming Indonesian market. We also plan to open multiple U.S. locations in 2013 as well.”

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Founder & CEO of SoleRebels. (Courtesy photo)

The store features a variety of styles, including sandal, slip-ons and lace-ups with price points ranging from $50 USD to $95. The company’s eco-fashion shoes are produced using indigenous practices such as hand-spun organic cotton and artisan hand-loomed fabric. Recycled tires are also incorporated for soles. The end result is environmental-friendly and top quality, vegan footwear.

“Our business model centers on eco-sensibility and community empowerment,” Bethlehem said. “We are pleased to have such great customers around the world who love our brand and our products.”

Below is a slideshow of photos courtesy of SoleRebels from its store opening in Taiwan.

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What Does the Re-Election of Obama Mean for U.S.-Ethiopia Relations?

(Photograph by © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – U.S.-Africa relations was not part of the conversation in the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections, but what does the re-election of President Barack Obama mean for American diplomacy with Ethiopia?

“The election campaign had almost nothing to do with African issues,” said David H. Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia. “As a result, I don’t see the re-election of President Obama and the new Congress, which is little changed, having much impact on US-Africa or US-Ethiopia relations.”

According to Shinn once the United States deals with the looming fiscal crisis, we will see more attention focused on Africa by the Obama Administration, including “a major visit” to the continent. “Kenya will certainly be on the list,” Ambassador Shinn said. “The other countries will be selected based on their progress with democratization and economic development in that order.”

Ambassador Shinn, who is currently an Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC and a frequent commentator on East African Affairs, added: “Assignments in the Senate and House on committees related to Africa will be important, but I don’t see much change there either.”

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam, who teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and a contributor to various Ethiopian websites, said although he is one of many Ethiopians who have been disappointed by the Obama administration’s ‘see-no-evil’ approach to Ethiopia, he nevertheless was pleased by the Ethiopian American voter participation in the 2012 elections as well as by the re-election of President Obama.

“I fully supported President Obama’s re-election despite lingering disappointments over his administration’s policy of willful blindness to flagrant human rights violations in Ethiopia,” Professor Alemayehu said. “But I believe in a second term he will vigorously pursue a foreign policy agenda that balances America’s global strategic interests with its commitment to promote the values of freedom, democracy and human rights in Africa and elsewhere.”

He added: “I was glad to see a healthy and civil debate among Ethiopian Americans on whether to support President Obama or Gov. Romney. In America, we have the constitutional right to vote, organize and express ourselves without fear or penalties. I agree wholeheartedly with the president’s election night speech regarding the value of a vigorous and civil debate in a democracy: “These arguments [over the direction of the country] we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.” I remember with great sadness that in November 2005, hundreds of Ethiopians lost their lives and thousands were imprisoned for peacefully challenging what they believed to be theft of an election and the silencing of the voices of dissent and democratic opposition in Ethiopia since that time. I am very pleased to see the high level of excitement, enthusiasm and participation of young Ethiopian Americans in this election. Nearly one-fifth of President Obama’s support came from young people. It is heartening to see that young Ethiopians are an important part of the youth vote.”

Ambassador Shinn said he is optimistic that a more robust form of democracy will eventually take root in Ethiopia as well, but that initiative must come from the Ethiopian side. “With a new government in Ethiopia and a government in Washington with a new lease on life that is committed to encouraging democratic principles, I am hopeful there will be progress in Ethiopia,” he said. “But this depends more on Ethiopia than it does the United States.”

Former Ethiopian opposition leader Judge Birtukan Midekssa, who is currently a visiting fellow at Harvard University Law School (President Obama’s alma mater), noted she’s appreciative of “the dynamic” nature of the democratic culture in the United States. “What is impressive is that the deep commitment of the American people to various institutions of their country, their willingness to play by the same rules when it comes to conducting elections, and the enormous value they give to the whole process. In my opinion, these are all part and parcel of what is at the epicenter of this remarkable achievement,” she said. “I think all the candidates, campaign volunteers of both sides and everyone involved deserve to be congratulated for making the election a success.”

Birtukan highlighted: “As it was the case in most of the previous elections, the US presidential race of this year also encourages and inspires multitudes around the world, including Ethiopia that is laboring to give birth to democracy in its own unique national color. It is my strong expectation that President Obama and his administration would renew their commitment to show more solidarity with the people in the African continent as outlined in his Accra speech at the beginning of his first-term.”

For Ayele Bekerie, an Associate Professor of History and Cultural Studies at Mekelle University in Ethiopia and a scholar of African and African American studies, the re-election of Obama is a vindication for Obama’s historic presidency. “Obama wins and that means Americans have accepted his leadership,” he said. “The voters have given Obama a second chance and he has to perform now. I believe his election is good news for U.S.-Ethiopia relations.”

We called the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C seeking input from Ambassador Girma Birru for this article. The Ambassador was unavailable to comment. We will update the story when we receive a response.

President Obama Wins Second Term

Video: Watch the world reacts to Obama’s victory (NBC News)

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Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award

Elias Wondimu, second from left, accepted the award on behalf of Reeyot Alemu at the International Women's Media Foundation's annual Courage in Journalism awards luncheon on October 24, 2012 in New York. (Photo: Award recipients, from left, Asmaa al-Ghoul, Zubeida Mustafa and Khadija Ismayilova/by Stan Honda/IWMF)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Several years ago in Addis Ababa, when a young, idealistic woman named Reeyot Alemu, who was working as a high school English teacher, began contributing part-time to local independent newspapers and writing mostly opinion articles that were critical of various government policies, she knew that she could potentially upset those in power. Reeyot, however, had no idea that her courage would one day earn her prestigious international recognition, albeit while in Kality prison.

Reeyot, now 31, is currently serving a five-year term on terror charges, and was among four women who where honored last week by the International Women’s Media Foundation for their courageous work in journalism. Reeyot, a former columnist for the the publications Awramba Times (now in exile and online) and the Amharic weekly Feteh (now blocked), was given the 2012 “Courage in Journalism” award at a ceremony held in Manhattan on Wednesday, October 24th.

“When I nominated Reeyot for the Award, I wanted to show the face of courage in her, so that girls in our country will not be discouraged from becoming a voice to the voiceless,” said Elias Wondimu, who accepted the award on her behalf and read a letter penned by her for the occasion.

“When I became politically aware, I understood that being a supporter or member of the ruling party is a prerequisite to living safely and to get a job,” Reeyot wrote in a letter sent from prison. “I knew I would pay the price for my courage and was willing to pay the price.”

Mohammed Ademo, a New York-based freelance journalist, who is the Co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of OPride.com, as well as a graduate student at Columbia University, attended the luncheon and covered the ceremony for the Columbia Journalism Review.

“I thought the event was great. The courageous journalists honored here today inspire all of us who are in the business of storytelling,” Ademo told Tadias Magazine. “These are but few of those brave souls who are committed to exposing corruption, informing the public, and holding autocratic regimes accountable, often at a great personal peril.” Ademo continued: “This award means so much to journalists like Reeyot Alemu, who are silenced for simply speaking truth to power.”

In his widely publicized interview with Voice of America last month, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn took a hardline stance on the subject, strongly defending the continued imprisonment of a number of journalists. “Our national security interest cannot be compromised by somebody having two hats,” PM Hailemariam said, echoing the official claims, which accuses the prisoners of being “double-agents” for terrorist organizations. “We have to tell them they can have only one hat which is legal and the legal way of doing things, be it in journalism or opposition discourse, but if they opt to have two mixed functions, we are clear to differentiate the two,” the PM told VOA’s Peter Heinlein.

“How on earth can we compare a person who criticizes a government’s policy through writing and accuse them of being terrorists?” Elias asked.

Ademo said: “Reeyot’s only crime is carrying out her journalistic responsibility, being a voice for the voiceless. I wish her good health, perseverance, and peace of mind.”

Elias added: “Due to lack of proper training, our journalists are not and can not be perfect, but the way to remedy this should not be criminalizing their perceived mistakes, but to correct and educate them.”

Reeyot’s former colleague, the award-winning exiled journalist Dawit B. Kebede – Managing Editor of Awramba Times, said, for him, the award is personal. “I am very happy for Reeyot and for many reasons,” Dawit said in a phone interview. “But the number one reason is because Reeyot deserves it. This award is an important recognition not only of Reeyot’s personal struggles, but it is also a way to inspire young people to understand the unfairness of silencing those with critical voices.” Dawit added: “It also encourages those that are incarcerated along with her, including my friend Wubishet Taye, Deputy Editor of Awramba Times, and Eskinder Nega.”

Dawit pointed out that Wubishet had applied for pardon at the same time as the recently released two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, but was not granted similar clemency. “In my opinion, it was the most discriminatory and shameful pardon process,” Dawit said. “As an Ethiopian it is embarrassing to bypass your own people because they happen not to be backed by powerful Western influence. So the foreigners receive forgiveness, but not the Ethiopians.”

Reeyot Alemu, recipient of the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award. (Photo: International Women’s Media Foundation)

Regarding Reeyot, Mohamed Keita, Africa Advocacy Coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said this Ethiopian is now part of an exclusive club of extraordinary women whose life stories are seen as role models for young people around the world. “With the IWMF award, the world’s leading women journalists are embracing Reeyot Alemu as one of their own,” Keita said. “The Courage in Journalism award validates Reeyot’s legitimate right to write critically about her government and its policies, as she did, and recognizes not only the injustice of her imprisonment but her improbability as a terrorist suspect.”

For former judge Birtukan Midekssa, who is currently the Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow at Harvard University Law School with a joint appointment at W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Reeyot is both a friend and an inspiration.

“It took me only a short while to get fascinated by her defiant spirit and her determination to be true to herself — both as journalist and as a responsible citizen — after I came to know my good friend Reeyot,” Birtukan said. “It is obvious that she did not commit any offence that could lead to lock her up except saying no to the menace of EPRDF government to silence her journalistic voice while it intensifies its forceful coercion against Ethiopian citizens.” She added: “She fiercely opposed the unacceptable authoritarianism which pervades the political sphere; she criticized the officials for incarcerating political prisoners including myself; she shed light on unaccountable and irresponsible transactions of the government.”

Birtukan said it is particularly striking to her that Reeyot knew in advance what she was getting into. “But she chose to bear the consequence instead of refraining from freely expressing herself,” she said. “Though it is enormously painful for me to see her young life confined by illegitimate use of government power.”

Birtukan added: “Her persistence, strength, courage and the international recognition she earned as a result, lead me to have more faith in Ethiopian youth that they will take charge of the destiny of our nation to eventually lead it to free and prosperous life.”

Government officials maintain all the jailed journalists have broken the law and are guilty of the crimes under which they were convicted.

Meanwhile, IWMF noted it’s concerned about Reeyot’s health. “Recently, she has fallen ill; in April of this year she underwent surgery at a nearby hospital to remove a tumor from her breast,” the organization said.

L.A. Times November 1, 2012: Reporter jailed in Ethiopia among women journalists honored in Beverly Hills, California.
Azerbaijan, Gaza, Ethiopia Women Win Media Awards (AP via ABC News)
Portraits Of Courage: Female Journalists Honored At International Women’s Media Foundation Awards (The Daily Beast)

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UPDATE: Interview with Buzunesh Deba: Eyeing the 2012 NYC Marathon

Bronx resident Buzunesh Deba at the end of a morning training session at Fort Washington Park in Manhattan on Saturday, October 20th, 2012. (Photo by Jason Jett for Tadias Magazine)

UPDATE: 2012 New York City Marathon Canceled

Tadias Magazine
By Jason Jett

Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Having come so close to winning last year’s New York City Marathon, finishing second by a mere four seconds, Buzunesh Deba will be chasing victory again in one of the world’s greatest marathons which eluded her and instead was grasped by Ethiopian compatriot Firehiwot Dado a year ago.

Firehiwot, who pulled away from Buzunesh over the last 200 yards of the 26.2 miles event, will not defend her crown this year after withdrawing from the race last week with what her manager said was a foot injury.

This time around Buzunesh faces 2012 London Olympics marathon winner Tiki Galena and 2011 World Marathon Champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, among a deep elite international field.

This will be Buzunesh’s fourth New York City Marathon; she finished seventh in 2009 and 10th in 2010. A resident of the Bronx, she will be a hometown favorite and she knows the course well.

She also knows most of her competition — both their faces and their paces. There is no awe or intimidation when she speaks of the other elite runners, only self-confidence and the conviction that if she runs as well as she is capable she will win.

“I believe I will win, it is my dream,” said Buzunesh. “God will decide.”

She trains diligently, some say maniacally, six days a week, but she says the seventh day she devotes to attending St. Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church in Yonkers, New York. An Orthodox Christian, her bedroom is decked with illustrations of the Virgin Mary. And, born in the Asela region of Ethiopia, Buzunesh said: “When I am running, and I get tired, I call on God,” she said. “That is my power.”

Buzunesh has trod through some valleys since her podium finish a year ago in Central Park. She spent the winter training at altitude in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was accompanied by her husband Worku Beyi, who is also her coach and manager. Their relocation was made easier by sharing living quarters and training schedules with friends Genna Tufa, Serkalem Abrha and Atalelech Asfaw — all among a group of Ethiopian runners who left New York for the benefits of living and training at high altitude.

Returning to New York in April, Buzunesh was poised to stake her claim at a World Marathon Majors championship by following her second-place finish in New York with a win at the Boston Marathon. (Top-finishers in the New York City, Boston, Chicago, London and Berlin marathons compete for the $500,000 prize awarded every two years.)

Training had gone well winter into spring leading up to Boston. However, after completing her final pre-marathon track workout just days before the race Buzunesh miss-stepped, turning an ankle, as she walked off the synthetic surface and onto the stadium infield.

Neither prayer nor treatment could chase away the pain in time for Buzunesh to compete in the Boston Marathon. Ultimately, she was not able to return to running until mid-summer. Unable to train, Buzunesh became a spectator of the sport as she followed the race results of her friends and rivals during sleepless nights.

“When I am training, I go to bed early,” she said. “But when I could not run I would be up two and three o’clock in the morning on my computer.”

Buzunesh finally resumed training in August, and competed for the first time this year at the Rock n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sept. 16. She finished eighth, in a time of 1:14:54.

The result was mind-boggling to running experts, fellow competitors and even enthusiasts: Buzunesh had run 1:09:18 over the half-marathon distance in winning the 2011 Rock n’ Roll San Diego Marathon in 2:23:31. Yet she ran five minutes slower over an equally fast Philadelphia course (Sharon Cherop of Kenya won the race in 1:07:19, followed by Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia in 1:07:44.).

Buzunesh was disappointed, of course. And Worku did a bit of head-scratching before reasoning it was simply a bad day.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I saw her that day and she looked heavy.”

“She was not able to run fast that day, but she had had only six weeks of training at the time,” he added. “She will have had six more weeks before New York.”

There are critics that doubt Buzunesh will be competitive this year, let alone win. They point to Philadelphia, and note that she has barely raced this year.

“Look at her Philadelphia Rock n’ Roll results,” said Hicham EL Mohtadi, an agent-manager of runners based in New York City including Ethiopian Mekides Bekele. “She had lots of time off from competing on a high level due to injury. She still is not at full-force. I don’t see her being a factor in this year’s marathon.”

Mohtadi noted that despite these issues he is still rooting for Buzunesh. He added: “Though I’d love to see her win it because she’s a dear friend and a lovely young lady.”

Bill Staab, president of West Side Runners New York, which supports a large number of Ethiopian runners in the city, said Worku is the best barometer of Buzunesh’s chances.

“Due to her foot injury last April and the fact that her time at the Rock n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon was not up to her PR (personal record), it is hard to judge her chances.” he said. “But we all know Buzunesh trains with fervor.”

Buzunesh’s resilience has been further tested in recent weeks. Worku’s father died in early October, and there were several days of mourning. The funeral in Ethiopia took her husband and coach away from their marathon training for several more days.

And then there are the stomach cramps that Buzunesh said contributed to her being unable to hold the lead after pulling Firehiwot Dado along in overtaking Mary Keitany of Kenya at the 25-mile mark last year in New York. Firehiwot would pass Buzunesh in the final mile, and Keitany finished third. (Keitany, who won the 2012 London Marathon and was fourth in the London Olympics marathon, is not competing this year in New York.).

“She gets cramps after some workouts,” a concerned Worku said of his wife. “There is pain, and sometimes she throws up.”

Buzunesh hopes the problem does not recur during the marathon. She knows from training runs of 24 miles in Central Park and 26 miles on the New York Greenway along the Hudson River that she can cover the marathon distance without such pain.

And, she has her own belief-system for support. Buzunesh radiates a confidence steeped in humility. She does not boast, or deride other runners; she simply believes in herself. It is a belief rooted in her faith, which she takes as much care recharging every Sunday as she does her body following training sessions other days of the week.

Having a husband who is a good cook helps when it comes to revitalizing the body. A training-table dinner last week in the Buzunesh and Worku’s home, an apartment in Kingsbridge, consisted of a salad of green leaf, tomatoes, avocados, green peppers and oil-vinegar dressing, a vegetable medley of carrots, potatoes and broccoli, halved hard-boiled eggs and chunks of white-meat chicken.

While Buzunesh and Worku prefer traditional Ethiopian cuisine, or injera, they eschew it during training season in favor of lighter fare. Vitamin bottles and other supplements cover a tabletop in their home. Buzunesh noted she takes supplements when she remembers — indicating with her face and hands that often she does not. However, she is more reliant on the energy-electrolyte drinks that Worku prepares before and after workouts.

Buzunesh and Worku occasionally can be spotted running in Central Park or Riverside Park, but the bulk of work occurs at their favorite training site — Rockefeller State Park in Tarrytown, NY. Van Cortlandt Park, near their home, is their most-frequented site given its proximity.

They elected not to train at altitude for this marathon, having decided sufficient benefits can be gained simply through hard and smart training in New York. That belief has Buzunesh undaunted by Galena, Misikir Mekonnen and Kenyan runners coming directly from high altitude to compete in New York.

Hours after Buzunesh finished the 2011 New York City Marathon, reporters and photographers gathered around her and Worku following a news conference in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Columbus Circle. Hugging his wife, a beaming Worku held up his other hand leaving scant daylight between the thumb and index finger.

“She came this close,” he said. “She made a little mistake. We will correct it for next year.”

On Nov. 4, 2012 the couple will learn whether or not they were successful in making the necessary correction.
Below are slideshow of photos taken during Buzunesh’s morning training session on Saturday, October 20th, 2012.

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Women’s Champion Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia Withdraws from NYC Marathon (AP)

Battling Cancer in Ethiopia: Interview with Cancer Survivor Tsige Birru-Benti

Photo courtesy of the London-based non-profit organization BCE (Battling Cancer in Ethiopia).

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – While October is designated as international Breast Cancer Awareness Month, cancer screening in Ethiopia is almost nonexistent, says cancer survivor Mrs. Tsige Birru-Benti, who is one of the founders of BCE (Battling Cancer in Ethiopia), a U.K. based charity organization that promotes early cancer screening in Ethiopia as well as raises funds for the Black Lion Hospital Cancer Center in Addis Ababa.

“The short term objective is to equip the Oncology Unit of the Black Lion Hospital (BLH) by raising fund to buy CT Simulators that benefit cancer treatment planning,” Tsige said. “The long term objective is to work with other institutions in Ethiopia to create awareness among the urban and rural population regarding the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”

According to Tsige the Oncology Unit at BLH currently has approximately 6,000 cancer patients, with only 3 specialist doctors. “Every year the unit takes at least 2,000 newly diagnosed patients but the waiting time to start treatment is usually more than 6 months,” she said. “In the meantime a large number of patients die without any help or any source of pain relief.”

As to her own battle with the disease, Tsige shared: “Being a cancer survivor, I can testify to the suffering that I went through and what it means to be relieved from pain and the importance of proper medical care. In January 2010, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma B-Cell grade 2 cancer. Being in London, where facilities are in place my treatment was on the fast track and commenced within a month. I went through 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 2 cycles of Rituximab. At the end of July 2010 I had finished all my medical treatment and thank God now I am enjoying good health once again.”

Tsige said her wish is for all cancer patients in Ethiopia to have the same access to professional medical care as she did during her illness in England. “There is a lack of awareness about cancer in Ethiopia compared to other chronic diseases that are widely publicized. Therefore, when people begin to develop symptoms, more often than not, they tend to resort to traditional medicine.”

Regarding BCE, she added: “We plan to knock on every door to spread cancer awareness in Ethiopia and raise funds to reach our goal. As the Amharic saying goes ‘hamsa lomi leand sew shekmu new lehamsa sew gen getu new‘ (50 lemons are a load for one individual but for 50 individuals each lemon is like an accessory). This is what is required of Ethiopians worldwide, to be united as hand-to-a-glove for this project.”

We commend Tsige on her initiative for better cancer screening and services and encourage you to visit the BCE website to learn more.

Music Video Teaser by the Ethiopian Rock Band Jano Creates Online Buzz

Members of the new rock band Jano consists of four vocalists - two male and two female - two guitarists, two keyboard players, a bassist and a drummer. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff | Art Talk

Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – You may remember the new Ethiopian rock band Jano from our interview over the summer with their producer Bill Laswell who told us that he is convinced that the ten-member ensemble that fuses distinctly Ethiopian sounds with heavy guitar, will be the next big musical act on the world stage to come out of the country. Laswell had promised an unconventional marketing strategy to introduce the group to outside audiences.

“It will come as a word-of-mouth and not so much as a marketing distribution build up how America does things, but more to do with getting that interest to communities,” Laswell had said. “I think it will start in the Ethiopian community and hopefully it will build into what the world calls the ‘World Music’ genre, which is pretty big internationally.”

Jano recently released a teaser video that is already creating a buzz within the Ethiopian community online and elsewhere.

You can watch the video below and join the conversation on Facebook.

Watch: The Ethiopian Rock Band Jano – Interview with Producer Bill Laswell (TADIAS)

Re-imagining AiD: Africans in the Diaspora

Solome Lemma is the co-founder of the new organization Africans in the Diaspora (AiD). (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – While working in the non-profit world with multilateral organizations such as The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Human Rights Watch, and managing the Africa portfolio in more than 20 countries on the continent through the Global Fund for Children, Solome Lemma says she “saw first hand the ways Africans were moving, shaking, and transforming their communities — from Egypt to Zambia, Senegal to Ethiopia.” She adds: “So here and there we have Africans with ideas, innovations, skills, and resources, yet we continue to be painted as a continent of need and dependency. This needed to change.”

After meeting like-minded colleague, Zanele Sibanda from Zimbabwe, Solome co-founded and launched Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) an organization focused on consolidating the financial, intellectual, and social capital of Diaspora Africans to advance social and economic change in Africa.

Solome explained the organization’s acronym stands not only for ‘Africans in the Diaspora’ but is likewise an effort to re-imagine the meaning of foreign aid. “We want to disrupt and re-shape the meaning of aid,” she said in a recent interview. “For too long, “aid” has been exported to Africa. Africans are really the continent’s most important resource, whether we are back in our home countries or in the Diaspora, and we have all the skills, resources, and ideas necessary to transform our communities. We need to claim our rightful place in the ecosystem of change and transformation in Africa, as leaders, drivers, and designers of development. AiD unleashes that.”

AiD has developed a three-pronged approach to development, which includes Funds, a platform that enables Diaspora Africans and allies to invest directly in innovative African social change organizations; Connections, where exchange of expertise is facilitated between Diaspora and Continental Africans; and Voices, which amplifies the voices of people in and out of Africa who are committed and contributing to the continent’s progress.

Solome said individuals interested in joining this collaborative community effort can engage by sharing tools, resources, information, as well as facilitating dialogue through various social media venues, including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Solome, who was previously featured as a White House Champion of Change in January 2012, reflects on the concept behind AiD: “The idea of giving back, is something I have carried for a while. As someone who has dedicated all of my studies and work to Africa, I often asked myself, what’s the best role for me as an African? How do I give back responsibly? How do I use the access and privilege that I have had and transfer it back home?”

AiD focuses on Africans as resource agents to encourage more investment in philanthropic and social causes built by African-led organizations.

To get involved or learn more about this initiative please visit http://www.africansinthediaspora.org

Click here to join the conversation on Facebook.



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