post Why Europe Lost Africa

October 20th, 2009

Filed under: Economy — Lissan Magazine @ 18:56

Why Europe Lost Africa
The Apparent End of Afro-European Relations

To understand China’s foray into Africa, it is instructive to read the weekly issues of The China Monitor, a publication of the South African-based think-tank Centre for Chinese Studies. It provides a deep insight into China’s economic relations with Africa as far as trade, aid, and infrastructural development are concerned. Such developments confirm Africa’s drift from Europe. Why did Europe lose Africa?

The Evils of Colonialism
In his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney spells it out in black and white that “colonialism was a one armed bandit.” Frantz Fanon categorizes colonialism as “violence in its natural state.” The entire system of colonialism was based on how much, how best and how fast Europe could exploit Africa even at the cost of African “life and limb.” It sowed the seeds of violence and instability that have followed Africa till this day.

The legacies of colonialism are still quite visible everywhere in Africa. The most outstanding is the diametrical relationship that exists between Europe and Africa. This continent remains the least developed in the world and a showcase for hunger, disease misery and conflicts. “Africa entered colonialism with a hoe and left with a hoe,” says Rodney.

Neo-colonialism, Europe’s New Form of Exploitation
Neocolonialism continued the job left by colonialism. Its main instruments were hypocrisy, double standards and propaganda. The spiral of conflicts that greeted African independence were visible signs of neo-colonialism at work. It is not difficult to find Europe’s hand in all African conflicts from the Congo in 1960, through the Rwandan genocide of 1994 to the recent upheavals in the continent.

African conflicts provide a lucrative market for western (and now Chinese) arms merchants. Europe is notorious for hypocrisy and double standards in Africa. The West has left a reputation for condoning the butchery of Africans by Africans and then preaching human rights. Europe provided economic and military assistance to obnoxious apartheid regime of South Africa that butchered Africans in thousands.

In August 2008 for example, the government of Rwanda issued its report which documented France’s role in the Rwandan genocide. It is shocking to find the names of former French leaders like Francois Mitterand, Allan Juppe and Dominque de Villpin. France is among those western countries which claim to uphold human rights.

Neo-colonialism also practices a policy of selective criticism of African governments. Two cases in point are the recently flawed elections in Nigeria (2007) and Kenya (2008). For fear of disrupting oil supplies in Nigeria, the West did not go beyond verbal protests. As for Kenya, this country was simply transformed into an ethnic volcano. When Robert Mugabe rigged his own elections in June 2008, the West started calling for regime change.

Is China a Credible Alternative to Europe?
Angered by China’s foray into Africa, Europe has attempted to bring China to book over human rights abuses. “China’s ‘no conditions’ investments in African countries misgoverned by oppressive regimes contributes to perpetuating human rights abuses and further worsen governance,” said a draft report of the European Parliament on Development in May 2008. This report further insisted that any “coherent strategy to respond to the new challenges raised by emerging donors such as China … must not attempt to emulate China’s methods and aims….”

China has so far given a deaf ear to western rhetoric about human rights in Africa. Beijing has continued to embark on the path set out in “China’s Africa Policy,” which is inspired by what China calls a “win-win relationship.” Chinese constructed roads, railways, bridges, schools, hospitals, and airports are living signs of China’s transformative presence in Africa.

Africa’s Time to Choose
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, enemy number one of the West was among the first African leaders to define Africa’s choice of partner. “We have turned east,” he said, “where the sun rises, and given our backs to the West where the sun sets.” Considered a pariah, Mugabe has never been taken seriously. All Europe looks forward to is his departure.

“When it comes to China and Africa, the European Union and the US want to [eat] their cake and [have] it,” said Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade. “Today … economic relations are based more on mutual need and the economic reality that the EU and US cannot compete with China.” President Wade concluded his interview with Financial Times in strong terms. “Not just Africa but the West itself has much to learn from China. It is time for the West to practice what it preaches….”


post Heruy Wolde-Sellasse

October 18th, 2009

Filed under: History Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 23:34

Heruy Wolde-Sellasse (1878-1938) was an Ethiopian writer and director of the government press who encouraged and significantly advanced the writing and publication of books in Amharic, Ethiopia’s national language.

Heruy Wolde-Sellasse was born on May 7, 1878, in Shoa. His early years are shrouded in mystery, but he probably was one of the gifted young men of humble origin whom Emperor Menilek selected for high civil service posts. Heruy’s interest in learning and literature first showed in his catalog of the Geez and Amharic manuscripts in Ethiopia. The third book to be printed in Addis Ababa, it appeared in 1911-1912.

Belattengeta Heruy Wolde Sellasse

When Ras Tafari (later Haile Selassie) was chosen as regent in 1917, Heruy was appointed mayor of Addis Ababa and director of the government press. In this latter capacity he considerably increased the printing of books, which were mostly of a devotional or educational kind, but which also included praise poems in honor of the Empress Zawditu and Ras Tafari and anonymous pamphlets in verse advocating modernization of the country. Heruy himself contributed several volumes: a biography of Emperor Yohannes, a collection of funeral songs, and a volume of moral meditations.

During the early 1920s Heruy traveled widely in Europe and the Middle East, accompanying the regent on his journeys, of which he wrote the official accounts: this was an excellent way of bringing knowledge of the outside world to the semiliterate Ethiopian audience. Besides producing further volumes devoted to religion, practical ethics, and the history of Ethiopia, he published an important collection of qenè, the traditional hymns of the Coptic Church. In 1927-1928 Heruy set up his own press in the hope of stimulating the production of creative literature more efficiently than could be done by the government press.

After Ras Tafari’s accession to the imperial throne as Haile Selassie in 1930, Heruy was appointed foreign minister. In spite of the duties of his office and of his travels to Japan and Europe, his literary activity continued unabated. In addition to his educational writings, he promoted the growth of Amharic prose fiction. The first novel in Amharic, by Afäwärq Gäbrä Lyasus, had been printed in Rome in 1909. The second was Heruy’s Thoughts of the Heart: The Marriage of Berhané and Seyon Mogasa (1930/1931), a slight story designed to discourage the Ethiopian custom of child marriage. More ambitious was The New World (1932/1933), which deals with a young Ethiopian who has an opportunity to study in Europe; on returning to his native country, he meets almost insuperable difficulties in his attempts to eradicate obsolete customs, to purify the corrupt clergy, and to introduce such emblems of Westernization as the telephone and the phonograph. This story, somewhat crude and unappetizingly edifying, is probably the first treatment of an African’s direct contact with Europe in African prose fiction.

One of Heruy’s most significant works of the early 1930s was the chronicle of his journey to Japan, a country which held peculiar fascination for Ethiopia because of its success in resisting European imperialism and in assimilating nonetheless the technological civilization of the West.

After the Italian invasion and the defeat of Ethiopia in 1936, Heruy followed the Emperor to his British exile. He died in the monarch’s residence in Bath on Sept. 29, 1938, after several months’ illness.

Further Reading
A section on Heruy is in Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: An Introduction to Country and People (1960; 2d ed. 1965). A detailed discussion of Heruy’s writings is in Albert S. Gérard, Four African Literatures (1971).

source: Encyclopedia of World Biography

post Iddirs – Burial Societies

October 17th, 2009

Filed under: Life Style — Lissan Magazine @ 00:50

Iddirs – Burial Societies of Ethiopia

Iddirs are the dominant form of autonomous and voluntary indigenous associations in Ethiopia. Their roots lie in traditions of rural self-help which migrants adapted to the requirements of urbanisation from around the beginnings of the 20th century. As civil society actors, Iddirs have proved to be great survivors within a centralised and often suspicious state. They were courted by officials of the Empire, supplanted by the Dergue and are now acknowledged as the voice of civil society in development efforts. There are over 4,000 registered Iddirs in Addis Ababa alone.

Usual work of the organisation
The basic function of the Iddir is to help families bury their dead. It does this by providing tools and labour for digging graves; tents for the mourners; money to meet the burial costs; financial support for the needs of the family; and emotional support for the bereaved. To benefit from these services household representatives pay regular dues and take active part in the ceremonies.

Development problem and why the organisation focussed on it
As one of the poorest countries in Africa, successive governments have sought to engage the population in self-help activities. While this was originally motivated by the governments’ desire to shift the burden of service provision, it became essential from the 1960s onwards when Ethiopia’s donors began to press for the involvement of non-state actors in development. For Government, the Iddirs were the acceptable solution to this new donor requirement.

Description of the work undertaken by the organisation
International NGOs have harnessed the potential of Iddirs for literacy campaigns, formal education, micro-credit operations, slum rehabilitation, HIV/AIDS awareness and many others causes. ACORD, which specialises in Iddirs, has worked with 220 groups covering 10,200 households in Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa since 1999.

The broader scope of Iddir activity has made capacity building a necessity for leaders and members alike. ACORD therefore provides training in formal procedures, governance, financial transparency, project management and latterly, advocacy. The higher profile and ambitions of Iddirs have signalled the need for umbrella organisations. In 2000, the Tesfa Social Development Association (TSDA) was formed as a coalition of 26 Iddirs representing 4,000 households and a population of 29,000. TSDA’s original vision was to help Iddir members who had fallen behind with their dues. Its current activities include upgrading slum housing, assistance to elderly and orphans, sponsoring skill training and job creation, credit and savings, providing health services and kindergartens, and advocacy against harmful traditional practices.

Assessment on impact and success in addressing the problem
With a relatively enabling legal environment, Iddirs have enjoyed explosive growth in urban areas since the 1960s. This is a reflection of migrants’ needs for new forms of self organisation to address the multiple challenges of the new urban environments. Once based on ethnic affiliation or locality, there are now more than a dozen different types of Iddir, each with a different membership. Newer Iddirs are composed separately of women, youth, displaced peoples, squatters and mosques. Modern Iddirs have now found their way back to the rural areas from which their inspiration came, and no development activity is conceivable in modern Ethiopia without engaging the Iddirs as partners.

Notable lessons to be learnt from their experience
Iddirs used to face criticism that they attend to the dead rather than the living. The lesson of their success is, however, that social movements must have at their core an issue that is of burning, common interest to a population. In Ethiopia, that has proved to be burial.

post Gulf Labour Abuse

October 8th, 2009

Filed under: Immigration Stories — Lissan Magazine @ 14:41

Gulf labour laws fail to halt abuse
By Charles Stratford

Every year thousands of women arrive in the Gulf to take up jobs as domestic workers. The majority of them leave behind their families on a huge financial gamble to try to earn enough in remittances. But behind closed doors, in the homes of their employers, some find themselves trapped in a cycle of horrific abuse.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford spoke to one housemaid, Mary, who suffered two years of abuse in the United Arab Emirates. Two and a half years ago, Mary left her family in East Africa to work as a maid in a private house in the Middle East.

“The beatings started on the second day,” she said. “No day passed without beatings. If she didn’t beat me in the day she would beat me at night.”

One day she was ordered to have sex with another maid. When she refused, her employer threatened her with more beatings.

“She said the law was in her favour. Not in mine,” Mary said.

Inherent vulnerability
Simel Esim, a specialist in domestic worker abuse at the International Labour Organisation (ILO), said the workers are simply not protected by labour laws.

“Domestic workers … are excluded from unionising and organising around the globe,” she  said.

“[This] kind of economic infrastructure [in the Gulf] has created a huge inflow of labour migration that requires immediate and urgent attention.

“The sponsorship system … The way it is set up, it is bound to fail.

“You are attaching a person’s legal status, visa status and employment to one person as the employer and also the provider of housing, food and health care.

“It creates total dependency and total dependency means total vulnerability and opens the door wide for abuse and exploitation.”

Mary left her country determined to earn money for her family. But two years later, she is horrified at the prospect of her family knowing about her suffering.

“How can I go back home with this body? My mother is sick,” she said. “If she sees me like this she will die of shock. I am so ashamed to see my friends. Even now I feel shame.”

Source: Al Jazeer

post Hope & Destiny

October 7th, 2009

Filed under: Immigration Stories — Admassu @ 22:30

Frankfurt is said to be a city with the largest Ethiopian community in Germany. Few years ago, I was living in Hamburg: the second biggest city of the country. Hamburg is huge but the Ethiopians living there are very few in number which made us quite exotic figures in a certain way.

Frankfurt is different. Ethiopians are so many here that they even don’t greet each other when their ways cross. That was too strange for me as I was new here because in Hamburg I was used to greeting all dark-skinned people from all over the world. Now, after almost five years in Frankfurt, I am unfortunately adapting myself to this attitude.

The state of communication here is usually indescribable. There are people you know somewhere in the town and you meet them occasionally to have a drink together or to go to a club. Then each disappears again in his or her daily life routine till the next boredom lingers from all over forcing him or her to look again for someone to spent time together in order to hide from the approaching loneliness.

But sometimes, it could be too late….

…. I phoned Selamawit(name changed) today to know how she was doing. We correspond usually in three to four days rhythm….

Selamawit is an ex-athlete who used to compete professionally in 3000, 5000 and 10000 meters for her country. She remained in Germany seeking asylum after taking part in a competition as one of Ethiopian athletes some where in Europe. Her asylum case was denied in the beginning and she lived with a tolerated status for over eight years. Eight years with the unstable atmosphere of life was unbearably too long and too frustrating which led her to neglect her life as an athlete. I was one of those individuals following up her asylum case last year as she was facing deportation after a court denied to grant her a permanent living status in Germany. For about six months, while she was waiting for the revision of her case, she was getting only two weeks residence permission at a time. She wasn’t allowed to work or to travel. Quite a demoralizing situation for someone who was once a known athlete and who spent eight years of her life for nothing.

Now, that time is over. Selamawit was lucky because her case has aroused many humanitarian questions in the court and her case was gradually accepted. She could now stay and work in Germany though she has lost the love and motivation for her athletic life.

…. but this story is not about her. I just couldn’t go forward without mentioning her condition… This story is about the life after having the long-sought acceptance to stay. With the license to stay begins actually the real challenge of survival and social life to deal with…

Back to our phone conversation: Selamawit asked me if I knew a young Ethiopian, his name, Getachew. No, I said asking her if I should know him. Yes, she said and told me that he also used to come to the Arat Kilo kiosk; a small shop in down-town where I go frequently. But I couldn’t recognize Getachew from her description and I asked her why she was mentioning him.

And she continued; “He is dead…. they found him dead in his apartment. You know, I met him at the church on Sunday during Meskel Damera celebration. On that Sunday, Getachew told me as usual how he missed his mother. He told me that he has at last bought his flight ticket to Ethiopia. He was about to meet his mother for the first time after ten asylum years. His mother knew already about his arriving day and was very happy and prepared.  It must be this same Sunday that that happened. You know, they only found him on Tuesday because a friend of him, who had an appointment with him on Tuesday, went to his apartment after trying to reach him several time through his mobile. The door was closed so the friend dialled the number still standing at the door. And the ringing sound was coming from inside. Then the police was alarmed. They broke the door and they found him lying dead on his bed. If it wasn’t for this friend, who knows how long it might have taken to find him….”

As she was telling me the story, Selamawit was at her girlfriends place. She has already stayed there for the last few days afraid to go back to her own one room apartment.

Getachew’s body has been flown to Ethiopia last Sunday, two weeks prior to his scheduled flight to see his mother after ten years.

post Presenting Teshome Berhanu

October 4th, 2009

Filed under: Literature Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 16:37

We made recently a very interesting acquaintance with this very creative landsman; Mr. Teshome Berhanu Kemal. He has written and published numerous books.

Some of his books are stories specially written for kids which made Mr. Teshome a very interesting figure for Lissan Magazine.

After he kindly sent us essential background information about his works and himself, we are hereby presenting him as follows.


Some Facts About the works of Teshome Berhanu Kemal

Published and unpublished works

Published: six children’s’ books (Yeteret Abat, Andit T’inchelna Q’ech’ine, Dereto, Alemitu ena Gumarewu, Gorade Yagebachiwu Lielt ena Leloch Asdenaqi tertoch, Esubalewe ena Yegenete Wof.

Yeteret Abat (The Father of Tales): One of the voluminous children’s’ books in the country with unique narration and selected tales.

Yeteret  Abat (The Father of Tales) is one of the first children’s  books published by the former Kuraz Publisher (now replaced by Mega Publisher).  All the stories including some bridges for the main tells are narrated by  the Ye Teret Abat. The book contains some 30 selected tells most of which the author learnt from his mother as a kid. The rest are the author’s creation and that old stories which retold by the author.

Andit T’inchelna Q’ech’ine (A Rabbit and A Giraf) is children’s book for beginners, published by the former Kuraz Publisher (now replaced by Mega Publisher). All stories are the creations of the author.

Andit T’inchelna Q’ech’ine (A Rabbit and A Giraf)

Dereto (a rooster with big chest) published in 1992, contains stories like Dereto (a young rooster that made itself  a hero), Feresegnaw Hassen, (Hassen the horse race contester ).

Dereto (A rooster with big chest)

Buchi ena Guadegnaw (Buchi the honest Dog and his Friend), Fichagona Yemot Medhanit (Fichago in search of death  winning drug).

Esubalew ena Yegenet Wof  (Esubalew and the Bird of Paradise), published in 2003, it is the adventure of a child called Esubalew to paradise. The story deals with kindness to animals and conversation  of our natural resources.

Alemitu ena Gumarewu (Alemitu and the Hippopotamus) It is a story about a girl who loved the  Hippopotamus for his kind deeds. It also contains some other stories.

Gorade Yagebachiwu Lielt ena Leloch Asdenaqi tertoch ( A girl who married the sward of a price and other wonderful stories)

Ye Ezop Teretoch (The Fables of Aesope) all are presented as retold  by the author.

Two children’s plays on the stage

Dimtu Beketema (Dimtu in the Town) at National Theatre

Yemataleqsewa Hitsan (A Baby that never Cries) at AAU Theatrical Center

Imam Ahmed Ibrahim c.1506-February 21, 1543 Amharic: ግራኝ Graññ; Gurey in Somali) published in 2009

Yehilm Encyclopedia
(Dream  Encyclopedia), published in 2009

Gazet’gninet and yesinemigbar Memeria
(journalism and guides for Ethics)
Talalaq Sewoch ena T’iqsochachewu
(Great men and their quotations)

Mr. Teshome is an author of dozens of research papers dealing with different subject matters. He is multi-talented with further skills of Cinematography, filming, directing, editing, writing script, and narrating. He has written hundreds of articles for different local News papers (Addis Zemen, Yezareitu Ethiopia, Amharic Zena), Tourism Magazines (Yekatit, Amharic Sendeq, Amharic Tele Negarit, Amharic and English EHNRI Newsletter, Amharic and English Efoyta),  English Newspaper and Magazine design of house organs; among others  Editor (columnar) of “Meftihe  Bihonwo, & Admas,” are columns worth mentioning.

The author has a huge number of academic background and a long list of professional achievements which shows the base and source of his multi-directional creativity.  We recommend Mr. Teshome as a very valuable network partner.

Contact Teshome Berhanu Kemal:

post Ardi: Man-ape Fossil

October 1st, 2009

Filed under: History Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 20:23

Human evolution just got a million years older: Man-ape fossil skeleton is closest thing yet to ‘missing link’
By David Derbyshire

She was just 4ft tall and weighed in at less than 110lbs when she roamed the forests 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia.

Small in stature, but hugely significant in scientific terms the skeleton is humankind’s oldest ancestor by almost a million years.

The ancient remains - nicknamed ‘Ardi’ by scientists - could be the closest thing yet to the mythical ‘missing link’.

Her discovery, reported in detail for the first time today, sheds new light on a crucial period of human evolution when our ancestors were leaving the trees and learning to walk upright.

DPA/ Drawing: J.H. Matternes

‘This is one of the most important discoveries for the study of human evolution,’ said Dr David Pilbeam, curator of palaeoanthropology at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

‘It is relatively complete in that it preserves head, hands, feet, and some critical parts in between.’

Ardi - short for Ardipithecus ramidus or ‘root of the ground ape’ -  was more man-ape than ape-man.

She lived a million years before the famous Lucy, the previous earliest skeleton of a human ancestor.

According to fossil hunters, the discovery of Ardi challenges the common wisdom about the last common ancestor of people and chimps.

‘This is not that common ancestor, but it’s the closest we have ever been able to come,’ said Dr Tim White, director of the Human Evolution Research Centre at the University of California, Berkeley who reports the discovery today in Science.

The first fossilised and crushed bones of Ardi were found in 1992 in Ethiopia’s Afar Rift. But it has taken an international team of 47 scientists 17 years to piece together, analyse and describe the remains in detail.

Read more:

source: mailonline

post New 3.4 Mill. Years Skeleton

October 1st, 2009

Filed under: History Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 19:33

Skeleton That Dates Back 3.4 Million Years Found in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - An Ethiopian scientist has discovered the well-preserved 3.4 million-year-old partial skeleton of a child hominid, which experts say should provide valuable information in the study of human evolution.

Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged, a palaeoanthropologist, told reporters in Addis Ababa Saturday they had found a fragment of a lower jaw and an exceptionally well-preserved partial skeleton, including the skull, of a child early hominid.

They were discovered in the Busidina-Dikika sector of the Afar region, in an area bordering the Republic of Djibouti. Busidina-Dukika lies south of Hadar, where numerous fossils of Austrolopithecus Afarensis, including the famous Lucy, have been discovered.

“This is probably the earliest well-preserved young hominid so far known,” he said, adding that the discovery would help in filling a gap between the earliest known hominids and those from later periods.

“The new hominid is an important addition which may fill in the gap between Lucy, which is dated to 3.2 million years, and a similar hominid species from Laetoli, Tanzania, and dated at 3.7 million years,” he said.

Alemseged, a post-doctoral research associate at the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, led a mission to prehistoric sites in Busidina and Dikika in 1999 and 2000.

source:  The New York Times (

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