Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jonathan Dimbleby interviews Meles Zenawi

Is there such a thing as middle ground between good and bad? Should positive achievements be discounted, if overshadowed by other egregious acts? Jonathan Dimbleby discusses achievements in public education made by Meles' government, including policies which label him an autocrat. To watch interview, click here.

...Ethiopia's enrollment rate is up to 91.3 per cent at primary level, with the government having pledged to increase child literacy by 50 per cent by 2015.

Jonathan Dimbleby Big Interviews - Meles Zenawi (

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

New York Magazine's "Emerging Writers"

New York Magazine today, Oprah's Book Club tomorrow? Maaza adds her name to list of Ethiopian-American artists making their mark. Click here to read an excerpt from her novel and vote for her.

36, from Addis Ababa,Ethiopia

Mengiste left Ethiopia at 4, during the communist revolution—a period that’s become the backdrop to her novel-in-progress, excerpted
here. As a child, she lived with a host family. And before attending NYU’s graduate program, she says, “I had never written anything about Ethiopia at all. That blank page is scary.” Now represented by an agent, she finds it no less daunting. “I can’t write in public anymore, because I still get emotional."

The Stars of Tomorrow (New York Magazine) May 29, 2007

Update 6/6/07: Maaza Mengiste, Your New Literary Idol (New York Magazine) June 6, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Red Terror victims remembered

Framed photos of young men and women, victims who remain forever young, were carried by family and relatives who have since aged 30 years. Victims of Derg's Red Terror were mourned today and given a ceremonial reburial, while Deputy P.M. Addisu Legesse gave a speech full of irony, given the current regime's own human rights record.

...[Ethiopia] will not see another Red Terror, said Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse, who attended Sunday's ceremony.

"This will never, never happen again," he said. "We have fought for that."

Ethiopia honors victims of Marxist junta
(Associated Press) May 27, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Top officers meet in conclave

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1214 25/05/2007

A group of top-ranking Ethiopian military officers have been meeting in a closed session at the ministry of defence in Addis Ababa for the past week. They were asked to check in their cell-phones at the cloakroom before being allowed into the meeting room. The subject of their meeting was not disclosed to the public. However, according to information pieced together from a variety of sources by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, there was a considerable divergence of opinion during the meeting over the situation in Somalia and the continuing defections of Ethiopian servicemen who flee to Eritrea. Certain Tigrayan generals are believed to have felt that some of their men and lower officers from the Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups could be enticed by the ideas of the Ethiopian opposition groups. The fourth army division is already showing signs of internal tension.

Furthermore, official banners have begun to appear in Addis Ababa displaying the words "betigil memot hiwot" which means to die struggling is to be alive. This is an odd hark back to an old revolutionary slogan of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP, opposition) dating from the 1970s. In fact, the Ethiopian government wants to honour the victims of the red terror (under the reign of Haile Mariam Mengistu) on May 27 and the national radio station has started playing EPRP songs. The reasoning behind this government strategy of taking over symbols associated with this opposition party still remains somewhat obscure.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another opposition group in the making?

Definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over, for ever and ever, expecting a different result. Lack of adequate political groups is not what plagues Ethiopian politics, but rather an inherent (dare I say, cultural?) inability to compromise...A dirty word in Ethiopia's all-or-nothing politics. Until we can overcome that hurdle, it's hard to keep hope alive.

A daring think tank project
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1214 19/05/2007

A group of Ethiopian intellectuals living in the United States wants to found a new political grouping, in the hope of ultimately providing an alternative to the current regime in Addis Ababa.

The leaders of a small think tank called Ethiopians for Peace, Democracy and Development, gathering expatriate Ethiopians in the United States, would like to transform itself into a true political movement, recruiting from among the members of the current Ethiopian opposition. They would like it ultimately to become an alternative to the regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. This project is being carried by a triumvirate of intellectuals heading the said think tank, namely Daniel Kinde along with two retired Ethiopian Ambassadors, Ayalew Mandefro and Imru Zeleke.

According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, the three men want to begin by recruiting several hundred partisans from among the Ethiopian intellectual elite, while however avoiding sympathisers to certain existing opposition organisations. Their plan appears to be to subsequently draw up a new constitution for Ethiopia and ultimately designate a shadow cabinet as an alternative to the one in Addis Ababa. Their idea is to therefore obtain support from the American Administration, particularly now that the Democrat Party has the majority in the House of Representatives. The final stage in their plan would be to gain support from within the Ethiopian military machine. An Ethiopian official who has defected via Djibouti and Germany to take refuge in the United States is helping them in their task.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ethiopia's rumour mill

"Just another case of the Ethiopian rumour mill working overtime," was the response of Dr. Richard Pankhurst several years ago to printed report of his death in one of Ethiopia's private press, back then free of restrictions and in fierce competition for sales grabbing headlines. The power of Ethiopia's gossip and rumour mill is second to none. People will emotionally immerse themselves into any salacious story, to a point where one can be harassed for simply presenting real facts to the contrary...Truth be damned! A frustrated Mengistu Hailemariam used to say, "YeEthiopia hizb, wodeke sibal, tesebere belo yaweral." Although often to harmless ends, some rumours can spin out of control with disastrous results, as was the case few days ago with unrest at Addis Ababa University.

...What caused the protest and subsequent violence was what made the student rebellion unusual. Many of them were convinced that an organ of a third-year student, who died as a result of heart failure, was stolen and sold in the absence of consent from his family.

Harvesting Student Body (Addis Fortune) May 6, 2007

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

AP's Anthony Mitchell remembered

Anthony Mitchell, Associated Press reporter formerly based in Ethiopia until expelled in early 2006 for his hard-hitting reports on post-election clashes, was confirmed as one of 114 casualties in last weekend's Kenya Airways crash.

“...We mourn the tragic death of Anthony Mitchell and extend our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “His professionalism earned him the great respect of his colleagues, and with his death the international community loses an important witness to the crucial events of Africa.”

CPJ mourns death of AP African correspondent Anthony Mitchell (CPJ) May 8, 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ethiopia leads CPJ's dishonor roll

Three nations in sub-Saharan Africa are among the places worldwide where press freedom has deteriorated the most over the last five years, a new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. Ethiopia, where the government launched a massive crackdown on the private press by shutting newspapers and jailing editors, leads CPJ’s dishonor roll.

Backsliders (CPJ) May 2, 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ethiopia's Christian art in New York

And if museum patrons like what they see, eBay merchants are available to sell them all the stolen Ethiopian art their hearts desire.

Some of the oldest and most striking Christian art in existence is now on view in New York at the Museum of Biblical Art. Visitors to Angels of Light: Ethiopian Art from the Walters Art Museum said they were fascinated at its glimpse into a distinctive medieval Christian culture in sub-Saharan Africa.

Christian Art From Ethiopia on Display in New York (VOA) May 2, 2007
Watch Ethiopia Christian Art report / Real broadband - download