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Former regional chief said to have fled the country

February 1, 2014 1 comment

The former Gambela regional state chief and the current federal affairs state minister, Omot Obang fled the country, it was reported. Omot is said to have left the country and he told friends that he would not be returning to Ethiopia, even though he hasn’t made public statement yet.Sources suggest Omot took refuge in Manila, Philippines.
Omot, ethnic-Anuak, who studied law at the Ethiopian Civil Service University, served as president of Gambela state in western part of the country for 13 years until he was replaced by Gatluak Tut Koat, ethnic-Newer.He led the region’s ruling party – Gambella Peoples’ Democratic Movement (GPDM) – from September 2005 until he left the party in 2012.
Omot has been named by human rights groups as a key architect of a genocide against the Anuak tribe.He was accused of being involved in December 13, 2003 massacre by government troops of more than 400 people.The former high-ranking Ethiopian politician denies the charges which he says are false, illogical and he says he is the victim of a smear campaign.
In April 2013, Prime Minister Hailemarim Desalegn dismissed him as part of a government reshuffle and then brought him to the capital, as the state minister for federal affairs in a controversial appointment. Read more…

Opposition party elects new leader

January 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Gizachew Shiferaw

Ethiopia’s largest but struggling opposition party, the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), elected Gizachew Shiferaw, 59, as its leader, as the country builds up to an election scheduled for next year.
At meeting held last week here in Addis, the new party chief replaced Negasso Gidada, former president of Ethiopia, who served as president the UDJ for the past three years.
Gizachew beat three other candidates to the position in a poll of party members, even though Girma Seifu, the only opposition member of parliament, made a campaign on social media indicating that he would be a strong contender to win the party’s nomination. Read more…

Prof. Amsalu Aklilu passes away

December 26, 2013 1 comment

Professor Amsalu Aklilu, an academic, author, expert on Ethiopian languages, and lexicographer, who co-authored the standard bilingual English-Amharic Dictionary, died on Thursday. He was 83.
The late professor had always been fascinated by word origins, phonetic change, and grammatical development. He took a keen interest in particular aspects of the vocabulary of Amharic, and wrote several articles about the language of early modern Amharic literary documents.”English Amharic Dictionary,” originally published in 1973, was compiled by him, G.P Mosback and other assistants over several years. The volume contains about 10,000 English words, including scientific terminology. The approximate pronunciation is also given in Amharic script. It was published several times and became an indispensable reference for generation of Ethiopian high school and university students.
Amsalu was born in Desse in 1930 and did his primary and secondary education there. His studies covered theology and the full range of Semitic languages – Amharic, Arabic, Hebrew, and Geez (an ancient Semitic language which is no longer spoken but continues in use as a liturgical language). He first studied theology at Theological School in Addis Ababa and he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Coptic Theological College in Cairo in 1957. After earning his PHD in Semitic philology, University of Tubingen, Germany, 1962, he taught Amharic, Geez, Arabic and survey of Ethiopia literature, and lexicography at the Haile Sellassie I University for decades. Read more…

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Mandela & Ethiopia

December 17, 2013 1 comment

General Tadesse Birru and Mandela

Following the news of the death of Nelson Mandela, there has been an outpouring of grief and tributes from around the world. In Ethiopia, a country that shares a historic connection with and support for the former anti-apartheid leader, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn described Mandela as a “mirror in which Africans see the past”.
Ethiopia’s national flag flew at half-mast for three consecutive days, in honor of Mandela. Many people turned out to sign a condolence book at the South African embassy in Addis Ababa. Read more…

Stone-tipped spears predating humans discovred in Ethiopia

November 27, 2013 Leave a comment

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The oldest known stone-tipped projectiles have been discovered in Ethiopia. The javelins are roughly 280,000 years old and predate the earliest known fossils of our species, Homo sapiens, by about 80,000 years, National Geographic reported.
These javelins are some 200,000 years older than previous examples of similar weapons, suggesting that modern humans and their extinct relatives had the know-how to create these sorts of complex thrown projectiles much earlier than often thought.
Scientists investigated stone tools unearthed at the Gademotta Formation on the flanks of an ancient, large collapsed volcanic crater in central Ethiopia’s Rift Valley. “Today, the area represents a ridge overlooking one of the four lakes in the vicinity, Lake Ziway,” said researcher Yonatan Sahle, an archaeologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Read more…

Scientists monitor activity at Corbetti and Alultu

November 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Scientists deployed monitoring equipments on two Ethiopian volcanoes that would provide real-time tracking of eruptions and forgo repairs of seismic equipment.
A team led by scientists from the University of Bristol in England, placed ground based GPS monitoring equipment that will measure movements in two volcanoes within the East African Rift, Alutu and Corbetti, 250 kilometers south of Addis Ababa.
A large hammer drill, powered by three car batteries, was used to drill a hole into the hard rock for the antenna pin, which needed to be perfectly straight for the GPS antenna to record the satellite signals properly. The antenna was set on the pin and aligned and connected to the recorder, which collected a GPS signal from the satellites every 15 seconds. The equipment is connected to the battery and solar panels and waterproofed and protected with a fence. Read more…

Indian-owned farm attacked in Gambella

November 5, 2013 1 comment

A violent attack on a tea plantation leased by Indian-owned Verdanta Harvest Plc Officials in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region, has renewed concerns over the country’s policy of leasing out large tracts of land to international investors, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper.
The newspaper reported that on October 20, unidentified individuals destroyed buildings and machinery worth approximately $140,000 in Gambella. It was reported that locals set the plantation on fire “on account of destroying the rich forest resources”, a claim denied by the company. Community leaders in Gambella did not comment on the attack, but rights groups have warned that a policy of leasing out 42 per cent of Gambella’s land and resettling over 30,000 agro-pastoral communities is the likely cause of the unrest.
In 2011, for instance, armed gunmen killed five workers on a farm developed by a Saudi Arabian company. All land in Ethiopia belongs to the state, giving the government unusual leverage in its dealings with local communities. Read more…

Domestic air fares skyrockets

October 31, 2013 2 comments

Ethiopian Airlines has increased fares on its domestic flights up to 200% to counter higher operating costs caused by a weak birr. The latest round of fare increases comes ahead of the November to April touristic season in Ethiopia, scaling up so high abruptly. Officials at the airlines say prices in the past were cheaper because they were heavily subsidized by the state.
The one-way fares rise on all domestic routes including Addis Ababa to Baher Dar to 3027 Birr ($158) from 1090 ($57); Addis Ababa to Lalibela to 3124 birr ($163) from 1333 ($70), Addis Ababa to Aksum flights to 5009 birr ($261) from 1422 birr ($75), Addis Ababa to Mekele to 4432 birr ($231) from 1320 birr ($69), Addis Ababa to Arba Minch to 3181 birr ($166) from 1225 birr ($59) and Addis Ababa to Gondar to 3772 birr ($197) from 1210 ($63).
The national carrier had for years adopted a subsidized rate on its domestic flights to promote tourism and local travelers. The subsidy program has drawn steady criticism — namely from airlines administrators, who say it wastes money by providing what amounts to luxury travel to tourists who enter the country using other commercial airlines.
On their part, tour companies are protesting vehemently saying the increment is exorbitant, abrupt and not fair. They said that they were not approached by the airline to discuss about the increment.
A top official of the national carrier, said, “This is not a new thing that we suddenly implemented; the regulations of the airline states that subsidized prices are for the locals.”
((All the exchange rates are in based in today’s, October 31, 2013, rate.)

Yemrehanna Kristos among endangered landmarks

October 12, 2013 1 comment

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An international heritage group has placed 67 sites, monuments and landmarks on its 2014 World Monuments Watch list this year — a list that includes one of Ethiopia’s late Axumite churches, Yemrehanna Kristos.
Yemrehanna Kirstos is a built–up church under a huge basaltic cave located at about 42 kms northeast of Lalibela, on a mountain ridge with an altitude of 2681 meters, set in a spectacular landscape of juniper trees, predating the famous nearby rock-hewn churches of Lalibela by almost a century. Read more…

The fuelwood carriers of Addis Ababa

October 10, 2013 1 comment

I had an article published by the Mail and Guardian’s Voices of Africa, on the subject of fuel wood carries of Addis Ababa.

More than 15 000 women in Addis Ababa make their living from illegally collecting fuelwood from the protected eucalyptus grove atop Entoto Mountain. Every day they travel around 30km to collect and carry branches, twigs and leaves. They sell the fuelwood door-to-door, on street corners or in the many open markets in the city.
Amarech
Amarech Dorota (52) has been collecting fuelwood for the past twenty years. After her husband died, she had to single-handedly provide for her kids, two of whom are now in high school. “It was challenging to feed the children, so I had to go to the forest every day except on Sundays,” she says.
Dorota is little over five feet tall, sturdily built, with deep wrinkles on her face and hands that testify to a hard-working life. She has no tools so she uses her hands to pull the branches. Once she’s collected enough, she carries the weighty load on her back, strapped to her body by a harness made of cloth which runs over her shoulders and across her chest, and uses a stick for support.
Read the rest of the article here.

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