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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.

Meeting Fekrou Kidane in Paris

October 8, 2013 Leave a comment

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During a seven-day trip to Paris, I came across someone I could recognize while dinning at an Ethiopian restaurant one night.Shyly, i asked him if he was Fekrou Kidane. He admitted that he was. When I asked him whether he would give me an interview for this article, he graciously invited me to his apartment on the following day.
The 78-year-old Ethiopian who had a distinguished career in the local sport and Olympic world has been living in Paris since 1976, although frequently travelling to other parts of the world. He lived in Lausanne Switzerland for 12 years where he was serving as a senior official of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He is now advising the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), working from home doing email and Skype video conference. Read more…

Police Detain Activists Calling for Terror Law Repeal

July 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Bloomberg
Ethiopian police detained 40 opposition supporters distributing leaflets calling for the repeal of an anti-terrorism law they say has been used to stifle dissent, the Unity for Democracy and Justice party said. The arrests in four districts of the capital, Addis Ababa, occurred yesterday as UDJ members distributed pamphlets asking people to sign a petition that also demands the release of jailed opposition members, religious leaders and journalists, the party said in an e-mailed statement. “It is harassment,” UDJ Chairman Negasso Gidada said in a phone interview today from the capital. “There is no law that says you need permission to distribute leaflets.”
The mobile phones of government spokesman, Shimeles Kemal, and Bereket Simon, spokesman in the prime minister’s office, were switched off when called for comment. The opposition campaigners were released on bail late yesterday and the group plans to continue gathering signatories for the petition, Negasso said. Opposition politicians and reporters have been arrested under an anti-terror law passed by Ethiopia in 2009. The U.S. and United Nations have criticized the legislation for curbing freedom of expression after the arrest of several journalists.
Online writer Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye, former deputy editor of the defunct Awramba Times, were convicted last year under the law for crimes including trying to incite anti-government protests and having links to terrorist organizations.

Deadly fire in Addis, neighbors help extinguish fire

July 11, 2013 1 comment
Addis Journal

Addis Journal

The call echoed across a teeming Addis slum, in an area popularly known as Chechnya just after 11:30 A.M on Tuesday morning: "Smoke!"
Within seconds, dark clouds choked the city's red-light district, in front of Yoly Building lined with shops, bars and brothels.Panic-stricken prostitutes most of them dressed in bright layers of clothing rushed outside.Others ran around to save their belongings. The blaze spread quickly and started shooting up over the tree line. Read more…

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Court dismisses blogger’s appeal

May 2, 2013 1 comment

An Ethiopian court on Thursday dismissed the appeal of blogger Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage who were jailed last year for terror-related offences. “The sentencing is still correct so there is no reduction,” said Supreme Court judge Dagne Melaku, confirming Eskinder’s jail term of 18 years and Andualem’s life sentence.
One of the charges — serving as a leader of a terrorist organisation — was dropped, but had no affect on sentencing. One of the charges — serving as a leader of a terrorist organisation — was dropped, but had no affect on sentencing. After the ruling, Eskinder made an emotional appeal to the court which was crowded with family, friends and diplomats.
“The truth will set us free,” he said. “We want the Ethiopian public to know that the truth will reveal itself, it’s only a matter of time.”
Both men are accused of links to the outlawed opposition group Ginbot 7. “The walls of justice will be demolished,” Andualem told AFP. Four other men also jailed for terror-related charges had their appeal quashed.
AFP via Global Post

Addis’s best cafés

April 30, 2013 3 comments

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Ethiopia is coffee’s birthplace, it is said and Ethiopians take their coffee seriously. From the elaborate “coffee ceremony” in towns and villages up and down the country, to the sipping a macchiato with the Sunday papers in one of the capital’s many cafes, coffee is ever present. Many of Addis residents have favorite haunts – most of them small cafes, which are located around the corner from their apartment or workplace, where coffee is prepared in a jebena or long-necked pot, usually conducted by one young woman, dressed in the traditional Ethiopian costume of a white dress, – and nothing will make you feel local like finding one of your own. But in the meantime, here’s a selection of notable spots that place a particular emphasis on the ambiance and the quality of the coffee. Read more…

Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin biography hits bookstores

April 4, 2013 4 comments

TGM

The Ethiopian poet and playwright Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin’s biography hit bookstores last week, according to Tsehai Publishers.
The new book, called “Soaring on Winged Verse,” was based on interviews that author Fasil Yitbarek has held with Tsegaye, family members, friends, colleagues, the publishing company said in a press statement.
The 244-page book, priced $24.95, chronicles the life of one of Ethiopia’s most remarkable authors, tracing Tsegaye’s days from his Boda village to his rise as luminary figure.
“This book gives readers the most complete look into the life and prolific career of Tsegaye, a playwright and author of influential poetry in both Amharic and English,” the press statement reads.
“Beyond providing a biographical account of the events that shaped the poet’s life, Soaring on Winged Verse serves as an intimate window into the writer’s world and provides readers a glimpse into his creative musings and to his remarkable journey as a writer, traveler, and advocate for his home country.”
The biographer, currently professor of English at Qatar University in Doha, has published an English novel, The Texture of Dreams in 2005. “In Soaring on Winged Verse, readers will encounter a story that goes beyond mere facts to encompass the inspiration of Tsegaye’s remarkable and dynamic life,” the publisher said.

Teddy Afro and Amleset Muchie get married

September 27, 2012 15 comments

Singer and songwriter Teddy Afro and his fiancé Amleset Muchie, an occasional actress and model, tied the knot on Thursday at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. The couple picked an important religious holiday, Meskel celebration to get married, which also happens to correspond to Teddy’s father funeral day. They exchanged vows in a ceremony, before traveling around the city, and circling the Menelik Square to honor Emperor Menelik, whom Teddy celebrated in his last album. The arrival of the couple at the square prompted whoops and cheers from the passing crowds. Later in the afternoon, they headed first to the reception at Sheraton Addis and dinner party at Hilton Hotel where 1,000 guests including family and close friends joined them. Read more…

Meskel celebration lights up city

September 27, 2012 5 comments

Thousands of Ethiopians and visitors crammed Meskel square in Addis Ababa on Wednesday to celebrate Meskel, one of the country’s colorful Christian festivals.Celebrations started in the early afternoon, when a huge procession bearing flaming torches approaches Maskel square from various directions.Choirs and youths from various Orthodox churches wearing colorful clothes presented songs and shows at the eve of celebration that commemorates the “Finding of the True Cross”, the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

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Markos Hanna- Exemplary son

March 12, 2012 4 comments

Judith Linder, an American national, came to Ethiopia in 1960 and married a musician, Abubaker Ashakih. She first worked for the Business College of the Haile Selassie University, and later transferred to the Ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telecommunications until her 1978 exodus from the revolutionary regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam. In this extract from Judith’s memoir, “Gift of Incense, A story of love and Revolution in Ethiopia”, published by Red Sea Press, she hails the peerless intelligence and moral ingenuity of her exceptional friend and boss, Markos Hanna. This lengthy essay, which I found it to be rarity, is her personal portrait of the man who first served as an Attaché in the Ethiopian Embassy in Greece and later a Director General of the ministry of Post and Telecommunication.And certainly in Ato Markos, the man who was said to be Emperor Haile Selassie’s illegitimate and unacknowledged son, the author has found a source of both fascination and mystery. She illuminates a picture of the complicated fabric made up the history of the royal family.Here it goes.

Markos Hanna was an unusual person. We had become acquainted through my job at the post office in 1966, where he was Director General and my immediate boss. After Abubaker and I were married in 1968, he often invited me to visit him on Mondays, our night off. Abubaker agreed when Markos asked him for lessons on oud. In 1977 his wife was living full time in Athens and looking after their son who was a student there, safely out of the path of revolution. Markos’ apartment was perhaps a bit to quiet for him. The music helped fill the emptiness on nights between our weekly visit. We always knew Markos would have luscious fresh pastry from the best shop in town as treat for us later in the evening, and that our conversations would be more important to him than the lessons. He had studied in Egypt and always spoke Arabic with Abubaker.
Read more…

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