Sunday, September 02, 2007

Muslim-Christian Relationship in Ethiopia's Past

The Debre Birhan Selassie Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Gondar, Ethiopia (the x-capital: 1543-1855) is the only church of the 44 Orthodox Christian churches to survive the attack of the famous Imam Amhed Gragn. Inside the Selassie church, the walls are completely covered with colorful paintings depicting Bible stories and Ethiopian historical stories.

One of the paintings shows a naked man riding a horse that is being pulled by the devil. I wondered what this man could represent and my question was answered by the priest – the Muslims, as they were the chief enemy of the Christian state at the time these paintings were produced 320 years ago. And then he went on to tell me the legend which explains how this church survived the raiding of the Muslims led by Imam Amhed: the Muslim army rode around the city of Gondar putting fire to the churches; they arrived at the Selassie church and prepared to attack but Saint Michael came to earth in human form and with his swords fought the Muslim soldiers and then from the sky a swarm of bees came and drove away the army; and the church was left as it was. So, the legend says. When I got back to Addis, I decided it necessary, to open up my history book and read up on the Muslim-Christian relationship in Ethiopia, as its 300 year old relationship is still physically visible today.

7th century AD-through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, Islam was introduced to Ethiopia
9th century AD-Muslim states emerged: Dahlak, Shoa, Ifat, Adal, Fatagar, Dawaro, Dara, Arababani, Sharka, Bali, and Hadiya
896 AD - the earliest Muslim sultanate (state) founded by the Makhzumite Dynasty:Shoa, located in the hot lowland region on the left of the Awash River
Arabs got control of the port of Adulis-the most important trade port for the Aksum Empire
Result: moved primary port south to Zeyla on the coast of the Gulf of Aden
1285 AD-internal power struggle led to the decline of the Makhzumite Dynasty; the Walasma Dynasty defeated the Makhzumite dynasty and incorporated Shoa and all areas from Shoa to the port of Zeyla into their Muslim sultanate Ifat.
Now, Ifat was the strongest rival of Christian Highland and the main source of conflict was the need to control the Zeyla trade
1332 AD- Christian Highland defeated Ifat
1364 AD-the groups who took exile from Ifat to Harar established a new muslim sultanate-
Adal controlled most of the eastern lowland region from its political center Dakar, around present day Harar
Middle of 15th Century-because of drought, famine, and land pressures, nomadic Afars and Somalis in the Southeastern parts of the Ethiopian region and parts of the rest of the horn continued to move to Harar
this movement led to conflict between Afars, Somalis, and the Harar inhabitants- the Argobbas and the Hararis
1506 AD- Imam Ahmed Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmed Gragn) became leader of Adal
He united the Afars, Somalis, the Argobbas and the Hararis towards a common objective- expansion; he prepared them for a large scale war; the goal was to get total control of the long distance trade and to conquer and occupy the rich central highlands
He was a good military commander and political leader
1508 AD-Emperor Libne Dingel ruled the Central Highland Christian Kingdom
He thought he could crush an power and he taxed the people heavily
1520 AD-Portuguese government sent an official delegation to the Christian Kingdom to form diplomatic relations with Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
Emperor Libne Dingel requested Portuguese military assistance in war
The Ottoman Turkey empire was a foreign ally for the state of Adal-the Turks were interested in controlling Ethiopia and the rest of the Horn of Africa so they provided assistance to the Muslim sultanate Adal in Ethiopia
1529 AD- the Battle of Shimbra Kure-took place near present day Nazreth (Adama) – victory for forces of Adal with the help of Turkish musketeers from the Ottoman province of Yemen
1531 AD- Imam Ahmed's army occupied Dawara
1533 AD- Imam Ahmed's army were campaigning in Tigrai and other northern provinces
1540 AD- about 90% of Christian Kingdom was brought under Muslim army; Emperor Libne Dingel died
1541 AD- 400 Portuguese soldiers arrived in Ethiopia; they were received in the north by Seble Wongel-the ex-wife of the late Emperor Libne Dingel
1542 AD- Portuguese fought against Imam Ahmed's troops but were defeated and many killed
The remaining troops and Seble Wongel went to Gondar to meet with Gelewodeous – the son and successor of Libne Dingel
1543 AD- Battle of Woina Dega: the Portuguese troops and the troops of Gelewodeous combined to defeat the forces of Adal in Gondar
Imam Ahmed was killed and the defeated Adal troops and Bati del-Wonberra – the wife of Imam Ahmed fled back to Adal (Harar)

Source: Ayanu, Tesfaye and Ruffo, Yasin. (2007) "Ethiopian History" Advanced High School History

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Monster

The monster comes in the night,
Unexpected and fully disguised,
Prepared to destruct and disrupt poor lives.
Without sympathy or hesitation,
With only big weapons and fear,
The monster comes in the night.

The people shocked, frightened
Crying and screaming,
Grab every belonging they can carry with their two arms, head, and back,
Grab their livestock and their children,
And head north.
Just head north unclear of a destination,
Just far away from fear, where the monster can't find them.

But the monster will find them,
All the days of their earth-life,
They will live in no home built by their-mans hands,
They will live off the fruits nature provides to them alone,
They will live in uncertainty and hardship,
Waiting for the monster to come,
In the night
This is the way it will be.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gadaa System: A Traditional Conflict Resolution System Used in Oromia, Ethiopia

Water is so easy to take for granted. You go to the grocery store to buy drinking water, only to be confused over which of the 30 brands of water tastes the best. It's really hard to imagine someone picking up a gun to battle over water. But in Ethiopia, out of 1,119,683 sq km of land only 2,900 sq km (CIA 2003) is irrigated land. That is - if you round the way we were taught to round in elementary school math - 0% (actually 0.259%). So, most people living outside of the city (which is over 80% of the 76 million population) rely on rainfall and nearby bodies of water for drinking water, baths, washing clothes, feeding their land and animals, etc. This is a picture of a Boran woman (from the Borana zone of the Oromia State in Ethiopia). The Boran people rely on pastoralism over farming because of the ecological conditions of the area. Pastoralism (def.) is "the breeding and rearing of animals" (Geographical dictionary). "It also contains a mobile element, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and water (Wikipedia)." So, because water and pasture is limited, especially in extreme situations (dry season/polluted water), a system of law and conflict resolution has been used for decades.

The Gadaa System divides the men in the community into 5 main age groups in which each group has a role to play in maintaining the flocks, the water, the land and the peace (there are additional groups but they play a more symbolic role:

1. FOOLLEE (ages 9-16) - duty is to look after small stock around their area.
2. QONDAALA (ages 17-24) - duty is to take livestock away from their area and begin drawing water from wells.
3. KUUSAA (ages 25-32) - duty is politically significant; nucleus of Gadaa leaders emerge.
4. RAABAA DOORII (ages 33-40) - duty is an extension of Kuusaa grade; prepare for the assumption of full authority; important military services; conducts raids; protects Boran land and resources; men allowed to marry at this stage.
5. GADAA (LUBA) (ages 41-48) - duty is most politically active; most important of all stages; assumes power/office; visit all Borana regions, judge on serious disputes; this stage is marked by a leadership ceremony.

Those over the age 48 are considered the YUBAA; they are the old, wise men who take on an advisory role. Any boy under the age of 9 has only a symbolic role as a mediator between God and humans. Then there is the ABBAA GADAA who is the one leader of Gadaa; he is like the president of Boran. He is called to judge when there is conflict between area within the Borana zone. If there is a conflict between ethnic groups, then the Abbaa Gadaa will be called to make peace.

A few Customary Laws:

1. During wet seasons, only open water sources (rivers, national ponds, ponds) are used and wells are closed.
2. During dry seasons, herds are moved to ponds farther away and traditional wells are re-opened.
3. During the really dry seasons, when water is scarce, drinking frequency of cattle is gradually reduced to once a day, then to once every two days, and then once every three days.

The men in the RAABAA DOORII age group watch to make sure these laws are upheld. The most highly protected sources of water are hand-dug shallow ponds and wells.

Customary Law - traditional management of resources - are in danger of becoming inferior and almost insignificant in many areas. Central government and development projects are using the force of power to override customary law and make their own judgments on water and land use. Sometimes even taking land and bodies of water for their own projects; thereby, decreasing resources for the inhabitants and increasing competition for the limited resources. Industry pollutes the natural bodies of water, further frustrating resources for the rural people.

What's the solution to this problem? Traditional conflict resolution systems are not sufficient alone as rural societies are no longer pure of foreign influence - government, NGO development projects, commercial production and industry. So, how do we eliminate the need of conflict and guns?


Friday, July 06, 2007

What Man Created in the Beginning

Urbanization, Industry, Commercial production
Created by humans
Not for humans
More suitable for robots
Hence, the sudden employment of computerized service machines in local grocery stores, robot receptionist in Japan hotels, computer software programs to do your taxes, marketing, almost anything you want

In the beginning,
I imagine,
People considering population growth, environmental conditions, competition for resources and their own want for power and greatness
Gathering and proclaiming "let's build a big city, let's build a tall building their in the center, and let's create a big market"
I wonder if they imagined the world we live in today
Big glamorous cities filled of still unsatisfied people

The capitol city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, is crowded of such people
Unsatisfied, misplaced, misguided, forced into urbanization
Competing for the little resource available in the city - the birr
Forced to abandon the great resource in their rural homes - their land and the fruits of their land

Human nature has brought us into war with nature
Human nature has in desire of power, glory, and wealth created an uncontrollable monster -
A market and world dependent on computers, industry, and everything not human
And now we struggle for our daily bread, and we struggle for our daily happiness
Waiting for the end
When I imagine,
We will be destroyed by our own creations.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Made in Ethiopia

This time the Italians didn't do it. No, we can't blame it on the government. Don't even try to put this on capitalism. It is all our fault - my fault, your fault, we all fault. Ethiopians not valuing Ethiopians, Ethiopia, and everything made in Ethiopia.

Preparing to buy furniture to match your new expensive house, you don't automatically consider furniture manufactured in Ethiopia, by Ethiopians, with Ethiopian raw materials. And why would we? We've been told that everything made in Italy is the best quality. And Ethiopia...well, Ethiopia is a third world country with third world material. And for my house, I need something durable, with a guarantee, and something with a quality finishing that screams made in Italy. This is sadly the mentality of many Ethiopians. While Ethiopian manufacturing companies struggle to compete on an unfair market with the foreign wealthy companies; we Ethiopians spend our money, time, and mouth advertising against them. The competition is clearly unfair in terms of the amount of money most foreign companies have invested in equipment, advertising, and presentation. But we individual Ethiopian consumers are making the competition even more difficult for our Ethiopian producers/brothers because of our misconception of Ethiopia's ability and worth.

It is true – the finished products of some Italian companies are more pleasing to the eye (on the surface). It is also true – that Italian companies in general are more trustworthy in terms of replacing damaged pieces and providing legitimate warranty. But it is also true that Ethiopia is a poor developing country. So, I think it is our responsibility as Ethiopians (with the money and education capacity to make conscious decisions) to sacrifice a little bit (just a little bit) to help our own companies by 1) reversing the idea (in your own mind first and then in your friend's) that foreign products are simply better than local products 2) actually go look at the local producers, the material they use, their history and fairly consider them as an equal competitor 3) don't be blindly impressed by the wonderful slide shows, advertisements, and the nice expensive shop location (Dumbel Mall) used by foreign producers – if the money is available it is easy to have these things; instead, look at the material they use, their warranty, the price, etc.

There are people trying to make Ethiopia a better place – trying to increase local economic activity. Globalization is making their efforts seem pointless. It's up to us the consumers to help them and in turn, help our country stand on its own.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Good Morning Addis!

I am finally here. Good morning Gunfo! Good morning Addis Ababa! Good morning the best tasting coffee in the world! Good morning the biggest baked bread in the world!

Ahhhhhh! I can finally exhale; and my breathe can mix with Addis Ababa's air. It was such a struggle, making the decision to move here for a personal informal education, school (MA in Ethiopian Studies at AAU) and work. The process of convincing my family and myself at times (a two year process) that the risk (of being robbed in Merkato, dying of Malaria, receiving a poor education, being arrested by the government, having my hand eaten off by a lion, etc.) was worth my time exhausted my eagerness to come. I was falling into indifference; and how dangerous is the feeling of indifference. It wasn't until my flight to Ethiopia that my spirit was renewed. I met a white American man who was on his way back to Ethiopia. He lives here and he has been living here for 10 years. Then I met some other young Americans who were traveling to a small town near Harar, Ethiopia to teach English for 6 weeks; and I felt ashamed. I was ashamed because I was so afraid of my own country, my own people; but at the same time, I was relieved because I was finally here and descending onto the ground.

I stepped out of the airport and with every strength of my nostrils, I took in each scent, inhaling a thick perfect mixture of bad smells - car pollution, sweat, bad food, rain, sewer, and must. With every open pore on my skin, I absorbed each heavy particle from the air - dirt, pollen, carbon dioxide. The next day, I housed every image in my mind - children running eagerly alongside the car, shop owners standing still outside their shops, a group of 20 men energetically helping a man fix his just broke down car, a gush of black smoke escaping the exhaust of an ancient pick up truck, women laughing and gossiping hand in hand, the city in peace in a gray mist, about a hundred people kissing the wall and ground of a church on a Thursday afternoon, commercial billboards of beautiful girls dressed in little clothing, hungry stray dogs weakly searching for food. I stored it all in my body, mind, soul, and some on my digital camera so that you all can see! Enjoy Addis.

...more to come

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The City of Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa (translates to New Flower) is the capitol city of the third most populated country in Africa - Ethiopia. The city is blooming with new construction projects arising every day. Streets are trafficked with old Volkswagens, faded Toyota's, herds of cows and sheeps, bright blue taxi-cabs, and a few shiny black Mercedes. Buses are packed air-tight: the city's people standing shoulder-to-shoulder, drowned in each other's scent. And markets are filled with chattering shop owners eager to sell their goods. The city is the urban center of the 85% rural country.

Addis Ababa was not always an urban area and moreover, it was not always the capitol city of Ethiopia. In fact, a little over one century ago, the "capitol" city was hundreds of miles north west of Addis. I put "capitol" in quotations, because in the past the capitol city did not hold as such a stable, solid political symbol as it does today. Regional governors had much political autonomy and force - most governors had armies of thousands; whereas, today the army and political power is centralized to the government in the capitol city. Back then, the political center of Ethiopia was mainly in Gondar (founded in 1636 by Fasiladas); although, at times it would temporarily relocate, reaching cities like Dabra Tabor (the center of the Yajju dynasty).

It was in the late 1800s to beginning 1900s, that the political center started its march down south. With Negus Yohannes' occupation with the Italians in the North, the Mahdist Sudanese in the West and the Egyptian/Ottomans in the East, Menilek of Shewa had the perfect opportunity to expand his influence south of the empire. So, when Yohannes died (1889) in the Battle against the Mahdist Sudanese, Menilek with few opposition rose to power.

Menilek had been expanding Ethiopia's influence to the South, which flourished with great exportable goods ( So, it seemed fit to move the capitol of the empire to a new, more appropriate center. In 1881, he moved to Entotto (a little north of Addis Ababa).

Entotto had been a resting camp site for medieval kings. Menilek's palace was built here; and at times he and his wife Taytu vacationed on the southern plains were the weather was much warmer. In 1886, while Menilek was in Harar fighting the Turks, Empress Taytu migrated the royal settlement to the plains down south in what is now known as Addis Ababa. It did not officially become the capitol until 1892 with the building of the Emperor's palace, the creation of safar's around it, the building of churches (i.e. Saint George Church), and the formation of the Arada market, and finally, the completion of the French-built railway in 1917.

Today, Addis Ababa continues to modernize in the various definitions of modern -ization. Many from rural areas are moving to the urban lifestyle of Addis Ababa in primary search of economic relief. To compensate for the rapidly increasing population, the city continues to expand, with new neighborhoods, safar's, appearing more frequent than ever. Markets, malls, cafes, clubs, schools, and theaters are packed every day. And museums filled with precious artifacts and paintings of Emperor Menilek and Empress Taytu protect the history of the city and country.

Source: Bahru Zewde, A History of Moder Ethiopia 1855-1974. Addis Ababa University Press, Ohio University Press, James Curry. 1991

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Music: Four Major Instruments Used in Ethiopia

Washint, Ethiopian Flute

Käbäro, Ethiopian Drum

Kirar, Five/Six-String Lyre

Masïnqo, One-String Violin

There are four faculties of music:
1. Digguwa. Yaréd’s collection of hymns for the fast of Lent.
2. Zimmaré. Hymns sung after Mass and Mäwasït are prayers for the dead.
3. Qiddassé. Includes Si’atat.
4. Sälamta. songs of praise and homage.

(Ayele Bekerie p.126-127)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ethiopia's 2006 Human Rights Report Card

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 6, 2007
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

On January 23, federal police shot and killed 15 demonstrators and injured 19 others in the East Wallega zone, Guduru District. The shootings occurred during a demonstration by residents against local government forces. No investigation was conducted into the incident.

On February 6, off-duty federal police officer Alemu Dariba, along with other unidentified persons, killed four youths in Gondar. Dariba allegedly approached 17-year-old Berket Fantahu; 18-year-old Abebe Wondem-Agegn; 18-year-old Sentayhu Worknehand; and 19 year-old Dawit Tesfaye and ordered them to raise their hands. He then marched them to a stream 30 yards away, forced them to the ground, and shot each of them in the head. Dariba was arrested shortly after the incident and remained in custody without charge at year's end.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) reported that on May 27, in a violent conflict between local store owners in Nazret, Oromiya Region, police shot and killed Alemu Tesfaye, Tariku Yakiso, and Mensur Musema. Police had attempted to evict the store owners, and the owners and their employees responded by throwing rocks at the police. No investigation was conducted into the incident.

During the year reports were received of the August 2005 killing of Elias Molago, of Gibe District, by army troops. After Molago was killed, his body was publicly displayed in the town of Hosana, the district capital. Molago, an election observer in the 2000 parliamentary elections, had disputed the official results that gave the ruling party victory in the area. No investigation was conducted into Molago's killing.

There were no developments in the early 2005 political killings of opposition All-Ethiopia Unity Party/Coalition for Unity and Democracy (AEUP/CUD) party members Anley Adis, Eyilegne Wendimneh, Tilahun Kerebe, and Alamir Aemero. At the end of 2005 police had arrested two suspects in the killing of Tilahun Kerebe, but no further information was available.

There were no developments in the 2005 political killings by police, militia, and kebele (local administration) officials of 24 Oromo National Congress (ONC) members, including Ahmed Adem and parliamentarian-elect Tesfaye Adane. At year's end, three police officers suspected of involvement in Adane's killing were detained at Zway prison as their case remained under investigation.

There were no further developments in the 2005 political killing of CUD coordinator Hassan Endris in Amhara Region or the May killing of Sheikh Osman Haji Abdella in Oromo Region. Both killings were committed by kebele officials.

b. Disappearance
The politically motivated disappearances of tens of thousands of civilian protestors following the November 2005 political demonstrations persisted into the current reporting period. The independent commission of inquiry into the alleged use of force by security forces in June and November 2005 found that security officials held over 30,000 civilians incommunicado for up to three months in detention centers located in remote areas following the November 2005 demonstrations. Other estimates placed the number of such detainees at over 50,000. By year's end, all but a few hundred of these prisoners were released and those who remained in custody currently were facing trial.

In January EHRCO reported the December 2005 disappearances of six persons. On December 2, security forces abducted Lt. Abebe Alemu of Lafto Subcity, Addis Ababa; Heletework Zewdu of Akaki Subcity, Addis Ababa; and Wondimagegene Gedefaw of Kolfe Subcity, Addis Ababa. On December 21 and 22, security forces abducted Tadesse Zelelam, Ayana Chindessa, and Legesse Tolera at Nekemt High School in Nekemt, Oromiya region.

There were no developments in the June 2005 abduction by security forces of Addis Ababa residents Ashenafi Berhanu, Tsegaye Neguse, Daniel Worku, Adem Hussien, Jelalu Temam, Girum Seifu, Mekonnen Seifu, Endeshaw Terefe, Daniel Abera, Tesfaye Bacha, Tesfaye Jemena, Bonsa Beyene, Getu Begi, Solomon Bekele, Amanuel Asrat, Mesfin Mergia, or Dawit Demerew. The whereabouts of these individuals remained unknown.

There were no new developments in the May detention of Jigsa Soressa, a guard at the Mecha and Tulema Association (MTA), an Oromo Non-governmental organization (NGO), who reportedly continued to be detained at Addis Ababa prison.

To read the full report, click on this blog title.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Beginnings of Dire Dawa: Compagnie Impériale des Chemins de Fer Éthiopiens

March 9, 1894 - Emperor Menelik II gave royal permission to his Swiss advisor Alfred Ilg and a french semi-private company to build a railway between the capitol Addis Ababa and the French port city in Djibouti. A 99 year lease was given to Sir Alfred Ilg and the French firm.

1897 - Permission and support was given by French authorities. British initially showed opposition, because they did not want to lose business at their port in British Somaliland.
October 1897 - Construction began in Djibouti. Somali and Arabs worked mostly as laborers, Ethiopians as security force, Europeans as overseers.

Before the construction reached Ethiopia, there were serious financial problems. So, the British New Africa Company took over the project.
1901 - the British joined the French and formed the International Ethiopian Railway Trust and Construction Company
July 1901 - The first commercial train service from Djibouti to desert area near Harar

1902 - Dire Dawa was founded

Coordinates: latitude and longitude of 9°35′N 41°52′E
Relative Size: 2nd largest city in Ethiopia
Economy: A commercial and industrial center located around the railroad and on the Dechatu River
Manufactures: processed meat, vegetable oil, textiles, cement
Population: 398,000 (2005)
Ethnic groups: 48% Oromo, 27.7% Amhara, 13.9% Somali, 4.5% Gurage, 5.9% other.
Religion: 63.2% Muslim, 34.5% Orthodox Christian, 1.5% Protestant, 0.7% Catholic, 0.1% other

1902 - Menelik suspicious of French and British intentions forbid the expansion of the railway to Addis Ababa
1904 - The french and Ethiopia signed a friendly agreement to open discussion on continuing the project. However, no agreement was made.
1906 - The French-British construction company went bankrupt.
1908 - Funds moved to a new company to complete construction: Compagnie de Chemin de Fer Franco-Ethiopien de Jibuti à Addis Abeba
1909 - Construction began
1915 - Railway line reached Akaki, which is 23 kilometers from Addis
- The Railway made it to Addis Ababa
1936 - Italians seized the railway during their occupation of Ethiopia
1945 - Ethiopia regained the railway
1977 - Djibouti gained independence and gained control of the French share of the railway
1977-1978 - Ogaden War - destruction of parts of railway
June 2002 - OLF bombed Railway headquarters in Dire Dawa

2003- European Commission granted Ethiopia 40 million euros to reconstruct damaged areas of railway
2006 - European Commission granted an additional 10 million euros
March 2006 - Ethiopia and Djibouti Ministry of Transport chose South African company Comazar to head the project.
November 29, 2006 - Ethiopia and Djibouti government signed an agreement to begin work on the line in 2007.
The capacity of the railway will increase from what it is today 240,000 tons to 1.5 million tons.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Over 60 Volcanoes in Ethiopia

We all remember Adwa in historical terms - the battle of Adwa (1896) was one of the greatest military victories for Ethiopia. Adwa, in geological terms, is a stratovolcano - "A stratovolcano is a tall, conical volcano composed of many layers of hardened lava, tephra, and volcanic ash. These volcanoes are characterised by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions. The lava that flows from them is highly viscous, and cools and hardens before spreading very far (Wikipedia)."

Here is more data on the Adwa Volcano provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program:

Volcano Number: 0201-17=
Volcano Status: Holocene
Last Known Eruption: Unknown
Summit Elevation: 1733 m 5,686 feet
Latitude: 10.070°N 10°4'12"N
Longitude: 40.840°E 40°50'24"E

It's important for us to be educated about every aspect of the country Ethiopia including politics, culture, government, religion, history, language, literature, population, health, education, art, geography, and much more. All have a degree of relation to one another and to the whole Ethiopia. There are over 60 volcanoes in Ethiopia; it is the most volcano saturated country in East Africa and all of Africa. Click on the title to learn about the other volcanoes in Ethiopia.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Exemplars from Ethiopia

So many Ethiopian scholars men and women exist; more notably, so many Ethiopian scholars of art, poetry, literature, social sciences exist, under the shadow of the medical doctors, engineers, and computer scientists (whom are a wonderful asset too). But it is important to bring to light the underrepresented intellectuals who have given so much to the progress of Ethiopians world-wide.

Dr. Eshetu Chole (1945-1998) was an economist and a poet. He received his BA in Economics at Addis Ababa University (1966); then obtained his MA from the University of Illinois (1968); and completed his PhD in economics from Syracuse University (1973). A member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Ethiopian Studies, Dr. Eshetu dedicated his expertise to the sustenance of Ethiopian studies. You can read more about his personal life by clicking on the title of this post. Now, here is one of my favorite poems of the late Dr. Eshetu.


Is life infinity
Its depth unsurpassed
By talk-glib talk, gossip, proud talk
And other human trash.

Silence is beauty,
For truth is silent
And, truth, they say, is beauty.

Silence is peace-
Peace absolute
Peace consuming

Silence is joy
Undiluted by the cheapness of our lives.

A tear is silent
A smile is silent
And love too is silent

And death is silent
Oh! If only life were
As pure as silence.

Death is the fate of the flesh
Life forever is given through the spirit and love.
The love of all of those,
All of us left behind can give any man eternal life
Through remembrance of his work,
By remembrance of his spirit.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Projects Approved and Active by the World Bank in 2006 for Ethiopia

Project Name: Lending amount (in millions $US): Approval Date

Accelerated Electricity Access (Rural) Expansion: 133.4: 22-JUN-2006
Ethiopia - Financial Sector Capacity Building Project: 15: 22-JUN-2006
Rural Capacity Building Project: 54: 22-JUN-2006
Protection of Basic Services: 215: 25-MAY-2006

The total funding activated in 2006 for the government of Ethiopia: 504 million US$
We should be looking out for better electricity access throughout Ethiopia, increase in capacity of private sector and banking institutions; improved road structures; agricultural productivity; and better educational, health, etc services.

Click on title to see other all active projects funded by the World Bank

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Today the World Bank Provides US$175 Million Grant to Combat Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

Why would you give a country that is at war money? Shouldn't all aid to that government be frozen since it is an unstable government? However, the Governments of the the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, and the European Union are funding a 175 million dollar project. This project and money will be managed by the government of Ethiopia and a World Bank team.

News Release No. 2007/200/AFR
Media Contacts In Washington: Timothy T. Carrington(202) 473 8133 - Email: In Addis Ababa : Gelila Woodeneh (251- 011) 662 7700 - Email:

World Bank Provides US$175 Million Grant to Combat Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

WASHINGTON, January 9, 2007 - The World Bank Group board today approved a US$175 million grant to help vulnerable populations in Ethiopia lower their risks of serious food shortage and famine.

The grant finances the second phase of an existing operation, the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), which is reaching over 7 million of the poorest Ethiopians through public works and direct grants. The targeted beneficiaries of the program are chronically food insecure households which are unable to secure sufficient food for their families year after year. The grant will provide continuing funding for the program , while supporting improvements in the program governance and efficiency.

The PSNP was initiated in 2005, after the Coalition for the War against
Hunger-- comprising the Government of Ethiopia, its development partners, and key NGOs-- pushed for more sustainable alternatives to the annual provision of large amounts of humanitarian food aid to prevent starvation. The program initially reached about 5 million chronically food-insecure people, then was scaled up in 2006 to reach 7.23 million people. The PSNP supports a large-scale public works initiative which pays wages to food insecure but able-bodied citizens. For those physically unable to work, the program provides direct grants.

Ethiopias vulnerability to famine has worsened over the past two decades. When needed, food aid saves lives. However, the Government of Ethiopia and its international partners have wanted to avoid a situation where a segment of the population remains chronically dependent on international food aid. Indeed, by 2005, food insecurity, and widespread dependency on humanitarian aid for survival, had become a pressing national security risk. The PSNP was devised as a sustainable solution.

To boost the productivity of small scale agriculture in targeted areas, the PSNP jobs program has supported a massive effort of environmental restoration. Some of the tangible results: more than 250,000 kilometers of terraces; 20,000 ponds and 2,000 springs; 17 million newly planted trees and the construction and maintenance of 10,000 kilometers of rural roads. By replacing food aid with jobs and cash payments, the program helps stimulate rural economies while also addressing some of the underlying causes of food insecurity. The added benefit of improving public infrastructure and maintaining community assets through public works will also bring long term improvement to rural livelihoods.

The first phase of the Productive Safety Net Program has dramatically lowered dependence on emergency food aid; instead, were supporting targeted populations through predictable transfers for productive investments, which represent a first real opportunity to bring about lasting change by addressing some of the root causes of food insecurity, said Ishac Diwan, Country Director for Ethiopia. In the next phase the Government will continue the jobs program and direct grants, while strengthening program governance. The program also introduces a contingency fund to be triggered without delay in the event of a drought.

The Safety Net Program is being supported by many donors and NGOs. The second phase is co-financed by the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, and the United States, as well as by the European Union. The World Food Program also supports the program.

In recent years, Ethiopia has posted a comparatively strong growth performance, while increasing the portion of the national budget dedicated to poverty-reduction spending. Though starting from a low base, the country has begun to show progress toward achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals including strong gains in increasing school enrolment and lowering malnutrition. It is estimated that between 2000 and 2005, the level of poverty fell from 44.2 percent of the population, to 38.7 percent.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Somalia-Ethiopia Relations: Then, Now, and in the Future

Shaky relationship: Somali region of Ethiopia wanted to separate and join its culturally, religiously, physically, linguistically similar neighbor Somalia; and Ethiopia crushed the separatists movement.

1977 - Somalia invades Ethiopia's Ogaden region.
1978 - Somali forces defeated with massive help from the Soviet Union and Cuba.
1988 - Ethiopia and Somalia sign a peace treaty.

BAD relationship: Holy War between Ethiopia and Somalia. Ethiopia does not want crazy terrorists as neighbors - Ethiopia didn't mind having pirates and poor people as neighbors, but terrorists are unacceptable...not because America says so. Ethiopia is totally independent of the US...totally.
2001 April - Somali warlords, backed by Ethiopia, announce their intention to form a national government within six months, in direct opposition to the country's transitional administration.
2004 August - New transitional parliament inaugurated at ceremony in Kenya. In October the body elects Abdullahi Yusuf as president.
2006 February - Transitional parliament meets in Somalia - in the central town of Baidoa - for the first time since it was formed in Kenya in 2004.
2006 March and May - Scores of people are killed and hundreds are injured during fierce fighting between rival militias in Mogadishu. It is the worst violence in almost a decade.
2006 June-July - Militias loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts take control of Mogadishu and other parts of the south after defeating clan warlords. A political stand-off emerges between the Islamic Courts and the transitional government based in Baidoa.
2006 September - Ethiopia denies that its troops have crossed into Somalia to support the transitional government in Baidoa.
2006 October - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urges Eritrea to pull back the troops it has moved into the buffer zone on the Ethiopian border. The UN says the incursion is a major ceasefire violation.
War of words between Ethiopia and Islamists controlling much of Somalia. Prime Minister Meles says Ethiopia was "technically" at war with the Islamists because they had declared holy war on his country.
2006 November - A UN report says several countries - including Ethiopia - have been violating a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia by supplying arms to the interim government there. Ethiopia's arch enemy Eritrea is accused of supplying the rival Islamist administration.

Worse relationship: "But here the Ethiopians are hated more. You see - this is Somalia not Ethiopia. You do not have a right to come to another country and destroy civilians and say you are doing it to protect your own country." ~Somali peace activist.
Ethiopia is no longer trusted by Somalia and Somalians. There will be a longer war - one the Ethiopian army will not be able to "crush" as Meles proudly claims. Within the next 10 years, there will be a longer sporadic more painful war - one similar to the one the US is facing with Iraq.