A student at Addis Ababa University’s Information Technology Department is being detained by the country’s security services for his Facebook activity. Manyazewal Eshetu has been arrested and charged with criminal defamation after he posted on his Facebook page criticizing the “rampant” corruption at Arba Minch University, according to a report from the Amharic service of Deutsche Welle. The 21-year-old student was picked up from his home in Addis Ababa last Thursday and taken to a prison in Arba Minch town. Though the Facebook posting had been taken down, police said the student made a defamatory statement, attacking individuals such as the university president.
Manyazewal’s guardian told DW his effort to find a way to free the student hasn’t succeeded. The guardian spoke highly of the student who he said has a good school record, participates in different extracurricular activities, and contributes articles for school publications. The guardian added Manyazewal was recently awarded a prize for his outstanding contribution in Ethiopian university student’s sports competition held in Arba Minch town.
Though a number of journalists and opposition figures have been charged with defamation in recent years for voicing their opinions in Ethiopia’s nascent liberal press, this is one of the rare cases in which someone is being targeted for a post on the social network.
We might say goodbye to one of the most famous Ethiopian rift valley lakes soon. Lake Abiyata, which lies 200 kilometers south of Addis Ababa and often glimmered pink with flamingos, is declining rapidly due the damming of rivers and soda ash production. “The lake is among the most endangered of the lakes. Its gradual demise is recorded in a concentric series of old shorelines, obvious on the ground,” say environmental experts.
Lake Abiyata (locally known as Hora Kunni) is the shallowest of the rift valley lakes. It occupies a very flat depression, bounded to the west and east by small fault scarps. Its waters are more are appreciably more soda-rich than those of Langano. This expresses the fact that Lake Abiyata has no outlet, and evaporation continues to concentrate the soda. At present the lake’s maximum depth is about 7 meters, but this is decreasing as the lake shrinks. Read more…
Here’s a selection of animals, birds and landscapes photos taken in different parts of Ethiopia. I thought I’d share a few of them with you- I hope you like them.
Long-crested eagle perches on a pole, crest waving in wind.
The remarkably long, feathered crest possessed by the aptly named long-crested eagle, is this unmistakable bird of prey’s most striking feature. My bird guide book tells me it is a relatively small eagle with dark brown to black plumage, long, white feathered legs, and a well barred tail. With the broad, rounded wings spread in flight, patches of white are conspicuous at the base of the primaries.
(Photo taken by Søren Kristensen, a Danish ornithologist that I’ve had a chance to accompany to the northern and western part of Ethiopia). Read more…
With its stirring plot, profound themes and lushly imagined language, Lib weled Tarik was so much more than Africa’s first novel. Jack Fellman turns the pages of a literary work of art.
The novel as an art form was late in appearing on the African literary scene. The first novel in an African vernacular tongue was the 90-page Amharic work, Lib Weled Tarik (literally, a story produced from the heart or an imaginary tale), written by the Ethiopian, Afewerk Gebre Eyesus, and published in 1908 in Rome.
Afewerk was born on July 10th 1868 on the Zeghe Peninsula of Lake Tana. His family was related to Empress Taytu, wife of the Emperor Menelik, who early on noted the talents of his young relative. In 1887 Menelik sent the 19-year-old Afewerk to study in Italy, where he proved an exceptional student. In 1902 he was appointed Assistant in Amharic to Professor Francesco Gallina at the Oriental Institute of the University of Naples, and it was in this capacity, and with the professor’s active encouragement and support, that Afewerk produced his novel- Africa’s first. Read more…
The Young Ethio Jazz Band.
A group of US-based young Ethiopian musicians, ranging in age from 10 to 15, are playing Ethio-jazz and getting some media coverage like this one.
Sirak Tegbaru leads young members of Oakland’s Medhani Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Church in an unusual extracurricular activity: a traditional Ethiopian jazz band. The young musicians, ranging in age from 10 to 15, had their first performance on Sunday, at Rasela’s Jazz Club in San Francisco’s Fillmore district. They call themselves the Young Ethio Jazz Band.
The students play Ethio-jazz, a style that blends American jazz and Latin rhythms with traditional Ethiopian sounds. Led by figures like Mulatu Astatke, Ethio-jazz flowered during the 1960s and early ’70s.
The eight person band played several covers at Rasela’s, with many members taking solos on each song. Most Ethiopian music hasn’t been written down, so Tegbaru has to study each song carefully, learning the keyboard, horn, bass, and drum parts so that he can teach them to his band. After seven months of practices, they were ready for their first performance this January.
Yonathan Estfanos, who plays trumpet, describes the Young Ethio Jazz Band’s sound as “unique and mellow and lively. And nothing like anything people have ever heard of, especially people of this generation.” Like many of the band members, Estfanos says the band has allowed him to preserve his cultural heritage. “I feel like I’m going back to my culture, you know? I feel like I’m going back to my roots,” he said.
An American visitor to Ethiopia describes how he experienced racism as a Chinese man.
As part of China’s controversial development policy in Ethiopia and Africa at large, Ethiopia is full of Chinese construction workers commissioned to build the roads. In fact, the majority of foreigners in Ethiopia, especially in the remote countryside are mostly Chinese. This has led many Ethiopians to believe that all foreigners are Chinese. And so when they saw me walking and hitchhiking through the countryside, they similarly assumed I was Chinese. From people squinting their eyes at me to yelling “CHINA…CHINA MAN,” I became one of few westerners to experience racism as a Chinese man. The racism began when I first entered Ethiopia through the city of Gondar. As I walked through the streets a little kid yelled at me from across the road. He said, “Knee-How?” and then put out his hand for some money. I chuckled at him and then gave him a few notes. Little did I know at the time, but this would be the first of many “Knee-Hows.”
After being greeted in Chinese for a second and then third time, it began to get on my nerves a little bit. Not only did they yell “Knee How,” but they would sometimes make a squinty face at me or just simply shout “CHINA” as I walked by. Eventually, I started yelling back, “I am NOT Chinese! Have you ever seen a Chinese man with BLONDE hair!” Read more…
Historian, author and commentator Professor Richard Pankhurst talks about the renowned intellectual, statesman, diplomat and Ethiopia’s first western trained physician, Hakim Workneh Eshete (also known as Dr. Charles Martin). In an article published in the Capital newspaper, the most prolific writer on Ethiopian historical matters reviews two recent books that saw the light of the day on the historical figure.
Hakim Workneh, aka Dr Charles Martin, was the first Ethiopian I ever met, and the first Ethiopian doctor to give me medical advice – albeit only once or twice during my childhood. Hakim Workneh, who was an important figure in Ethiopian history, is the subject of two recent biographies. He came from a prominent Gondar family that, for one reason or another – we do not know precisely why – was attached to Emperor Tewodros’s court at Maqdala. Read more…