post Misplaced Priorities

November 28th, 2010

Filed under: Immigration Stories — Samuel M. Gebru @ 10:25

Misplaced Priorities of the Ethiopian Diaspora
By: Samuel M. Gebru
November 28, 2010

Author’s Note: This article was inspired by the conversations I had with members of my family over the past two days. During the Thanksgiving weekend, we discussed much about keeping the culture of our native homeland Ethiopia and ethnic group while living in the United States. I have added much to this article, particularly in my conclusion on using the Ethiopian Global Initiative’s mission statement as a possible action plan, but the basis was from our conversations.

According to the United Nations Development Program, Ethiopia lost over 75% of its skilled workforce between 1980 and 1991. These were the years of the civil war, when Ethiopia was governed by Marxist ideologies. Before the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, most Ethiopians in the United States were either students or businessmen. There was hardly an immigrant community of any strong number.

Since our Marxist days, Ethiopians have left to many other countries in search of improving their lives and leaving the political, economic and social issues that continue to constrain Ethiopia. Many Ethiopians have been victim to countless traumatic events. What used to be a community of temporary students and businessmen became a community of immigrants and refugees.

As the Ethiopian diaspora increased from war-to-war, revolution-to-revolution, so did social and economic concerns. Ethiopian adults, both educated and uneducated, found it very difficult to find meaningful employment in their adopted homelands. Many Ethiopian Medical Doctors, for instance, had to retake courses to satisfy American requirements. Ethiopians who were teachers in their homelands became parking lot attendants for American sporting events. It was back to zero for many in the Ethiopian diaspora.

The unanswered problem was the social aspect. Without a doubt, Ethiopians face a cultural shock when coming to the United States. Because the community lacks the resources to address those cultural shocks, the economic problems become widespread. While Ethiopian adults were too busy focusing on making ends meet for their immediate families, new expectations of supporting their extended families in Ethiopia grew. The end result is a lack of cultural connection between Ethiopian parents and children.

Faced with two jobs, trying to go to school and learn English and perhaps a vocation while also trying to navigate an entirely new country and culture, Ethiopian parents did not pass on the Ethiopian identity to their children. In a similar article I wrote on July 22, 2010 on my personal blog, We Do Not Know, I asked:
“Who do we blame for our lack of knowledge? Can it be the parents? Fine, some blame can go to our parents who seldom teach us anything on Ethiopia—but how much can one expect from people that are struggling to raise us? When you live in a country whose culture and language you have not mastered, it is hard to focus on anything else but getting by. Perhaps it is our community that we should blame. I would reply: what community? Ethiopians seem more divided than united in the diaspora. So there is no community from the onset to blame!”

The first responsibility of raising and educating a child goes to a parent. If parents do not actively promote Ethiopian culture to their children, then there will be a knowledge gap. The identity is lost when young Ethiopians are not taught about the big multicultural mosaic known as Ethiopia. Not knowing about their culture is a very troubling reality for many young Ethiopians in the diaspora. Ethiopians should be most proud of their identity; Ethiopia is the only African country to never be colonized, the first country to accept Christianity, a country proclaimed the land of justice by the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, one of the oldest continuously surviving countries and the touted cradle of mankind.

The unique identity of the Ethiopians is not being taught or told in adopted homelands such as the United States. Young Ethiopians should be the first in line to be taught about their identity; before promoting it to non-Ethiopians, Ethiopians should be made aware. So, if the parents are too busy and are struggling night and day to make ends meet for their children, who can teach the young Ethiopians of their history, culture and language?

Ethiopians in the diaspora need to draw lessons from other immigrant communities in the United States. The Chinese, Israeli, Mexican and Greek communities have been able to establish themselves in meaningful communities that are free from politics, religion and ethnicity. These communities are united and all share the mutual concern of preserving their native identities in the United States.

Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles, California is often cited
as an example of meaningful community

The result is phenomenal. Chinatown has become a thing of urban living for many cities throughout the world. The Israeli/Jewish community has become one of the biggest and most politically important communities in the United States through their strong unity and advocacy for their rights. Mexicans and Greeks import their own products to the U.S. to boost commerce, open cultural centers and use their Churches as points of community.

Currently, there are many Ethiopian community organizations established throughout the diaspora that all share the same mission statement. In practice, however, much is to be desired. Nonetheless, the organizations that do strive to bring their divided communities together are never supported enough to accomplish their goals on a big scale. In this case, the result is almost tragic. For instance, we Ethiopians do not have a central place in Washington, D.C. or Boston or Houston to call home; a place that is apolitical, indifferent to one’s ethnic and religious affiliations. The tragedy extends itself when we are faced with major problems, such as death.

The recent and unfortunate death of Ali Mohammed of Washington, D.C., and the outcry of the Ethiopian community that followed, showed me that there is a long way before we are able to deal with problems facing our community. Whether it is defending for our rights or promoting our identity, we face a serious problem with responding to these issues unless we create meaningful community organizations. These organizations should be able to bring all of us in, ethnically and religiously—Tigrayans, Amharas, Oromos, Gambella, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Muslim, Jewish, etc. And if they don’t, then they are not truly commUNITY organizations.

Young Ethiopians should advocate for themselves. They should advocate at community meetings and within their churches, demanding to be taught their languages. Amharic is Ethiopia’s official language—we should all learn it. We should also branch out and learn our ethnic group’s language too; and if our ethnic group speaks Amharic as its primary language then we should learn another ethnic Ethiopian language. Language is one of the most important ways to become more culturally competent; language makes it possible to learn more about another culture. Realistically, many Ethiopian youth who don’t know their language travel back to Ethiopia and are as good as deaf.

Advocating for ourselves moves beyond learning their language. The Ethiopian identity extends to our religion, music, traditions and values. This identity is endangered in many of our diaspora communities simply because we as a whole let it happen. Like the Greek and Chinese, we should invest in community centers and “Little Ethiopias” throughout the world that would serve as places where we can keep our culture alive. Parents who do not have the time, resources or knowledge to help their children fully understand the Ethiopian identity could then send their children to these community centers.

We must further this advocacy to include the entire community. Ethiopians must also advocate, as a community, for their rights. We cannot and should not be a reactionary society; it is not Ethiopian culture to be reactive. The Ethiopian identity teaches us that the bravest and most heroic Ethiopians were proactive. When the U.S. Congress meets to debate healthcare reform or immigration reform, Ethiopians should stand as a community and not as individuals to inform the Congress of their opinions. Sadly, the Congressional Caucus on Ethiopia and Ethiopian Americans is not used for these purposes. While they are there to serve as our microphone on Capitol Hill, we either ignore it or misuse it.

Its time for a major change in our thinking. Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that caused the problem.” Our current thinking is of separation and self-interest. In order to continue the Ethiopian identity, we must proactively promote it by teaching each other and, in turn, teaching the rest of the world. Our priorities are misplaced. We have focused too much about what happens in Ethiopia while we forgot about how our communities are living abroad. Surely this is not a call to abandon everything in the native homeland—to do this would be unthinkable!

The next steps are to build bridges with one another and share ideas and solutions. Since the blame game is neither effective nor efficient, we cannot point fingers at this group or that group. The most important thing now is to be proactive and think about tomorrow and the challenges the Ethiopian diaspora will face then.

In the June 2010 conference of the Ethiopian American Youth Initiative, now Ethiopian Global Initiative (EGI), much was discussed about the disillusion of Ethiopian youth in the diaspora, particularly the United States. Encounters with the Justice System and teen pregnancy were discussed as two very noticeable ways that the Ethiopian youth are being negatively impacted. Having strong communities that are able to keep the youth out of trouble and in positive atmospheres is what we need. Two prominent examples of this are seen with Young Diplomats in Toronto and the Debre Selam Kidest Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Mentorship Program in Washington, D.C.

My next step is to challenge you, as the reader, to act. The 2011 EGI Global Summit host university will be announced shortly and that will be a prime venue to discuss solutions to problems that the Ethiopian diaspora faces. Throughout the summit, participants will discuss how best to combine their social and intellectual capital to launch community-based projects that promote the Ethiopian identity, economic prosperity and civic engagement. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn more and get involved in sustainable projects that aim to transform Ethiopia.

Coming together in a central hub, as our new logo depicts, is the goal of EGI. To have multiple projects going on throughout the world all with various ideas and characteristics is EGI’s purpose. EGI’s mission to bridge previously divided communities together through projects that will undoubtedly change our thinking will unite all these projects.

The next step is to act.

Samuel M. Gebru is the President of the Ethiopian Global Initiative. To get involved with the work of EGI email and visit

General Information | Ethiopian Global Initiative| | +1-617-528-9434

post Second Thoughts

November 21st, 2010

Filed under: Opinions, Sports — Mitiku Adisu @ 21:42


Second Thoughts on a Legend
By Mitiku Adisu

The likes of Haile Gebreselassie live or die by steps. It certainly is a long and arduous journey from Assela town to New York City. And possibly a treacherous one from here on. Haile’s future is entwined with the fate of Ethiopians. And Ethiopians are unpredictable, depending on where you stand in your politics. Does any one have a record of the mileage on Haile’s soul, on how he feels? Don’t tell me Adidas does; Adidas only sells shoes, in-soles, and socks.

Ethiopians are unpredictable and patriotic. And their patriotism often is too demeaning and gets in the way of reaching the goal in view. Recent missteps by Haile are instructive. Haile [uncharacteristically, say some] showered PM Meles with undeserved accolades and, to boot, presented him with the very jersey he wore to break a 10K World Record. Let me say this before we go any further; the place for that jersey is not the prime minister’s drawers but in the national museum. And I am unanimous in this!

Well, between the town and the city Haile was able to make a bunch of money. That is, money he could keep and also money he could spend. He is lucky he was not born during the Imperial era. Luckier still his career took off after the reign of Colonel Mengistu ended in flight south to Tergat Land.

PM Meles came on the heels of Colonel Mengistu, whatever that means. And Haile never had it so good. He built himself mansions and a business empire and created jobs for hundreds of Ethiopians. For that he is grateful. And so one fine morning the 37-year old athlete decided to make the PM he had known since his -teen years the object of that gratitude. Some say he should not have gotten that close to the PM after the latter deprived Ethiopians of their voice. It could be Haile was ‘asked’ to share the social capital he has been hoarding to help smooth out coarse public opinion; certainly, Haile could have stayed away from entangling himself in local politics. But then he did not; and the rest of us would not!

Haile’s statement to retire and then quickly take back his word does tell us something about how he functions. It could be he is susceptible to strong suggestions. Having publicly endorsed the PM it was only later he realized what he had done in terms of bruising his legendary persona in the eyes of the public. Let us remember he took his first baby steps under the shadow of a train of running greats: Abebe Bikila, Bashaye Feleke, Wami Biratu, Mamo Wolde, Wehib Masresha, Shibiru Regassa, Mohammed Kedir, Tolossa Kotu, Yohannes Mohammed, Eshetu Tura, Miruts Yfter, Belayneh Densamo, etc. These have now passed into the annals of distance running on account of the prevailing sense of nationhood and their persevering to represent their country expecting little in return. Could Haile have avoided identifying with the party in power or retracted his statement? Sure. But at what cost?

Haile made his international debut in 1992. Nineteen Ninety Two is the year of Great Reversals. Having emerged from a totalitarian state many wondered if Ethiopia was ready to go in a direction that steered clear of old mistakes. In little over a year, alas, Eritrea broke away taking with it Ethiopia’s sea outlet and the country saw divisions along ethnic lines. The significance of the year 1992 is that things could have as easily gone the other way – a mirror image, we might say, of the year 1974. Indeed, there was that possibility. But it did not happen.

By and large, we have been running in circles. Right turns have been found to be wrong turns and fraught with pain to last generations considering the decaying moral fabric and rampant social discohesion. Should the next batch of leaders choose the wrong turn [by not allowing foreigners to wield satanic influence over our destiny]? Twenty years later we are hearing once again voices clamoring to reverse choices of days gone by. You see how that fits in with Haile saying one thing one minute and taking it back the next? Can’t you see how he could shower his blessings on PM Meles and a little later have Birtukan Mideksa and her family as guests in his Hawassa Resort Hotel? One for the goose and one for the gander. One for himself and one for the people.

Ethiopians are unpredictable but also forgiving. No one now cares to remember the public “outrage” [to borrow PM Meles’s favorite word] against singer Mahmoud Ahmad for appearing in Asmara for a grand celebration that established Eritrea as a new nation. Songs by Mahmoud would have certainly brought memories to president Isaias of his years in Addis as a university student or even in Sahel as a guerilla fighter. Is it not ironic that only a little later Ethiopian music was banned in Eritrea? Could Mahmoud have turned down the invitation when the then Ethiopian president Meles Zenawi played the agent, so to speak, the key-note speaker at and a witness to the historic event? Look around and be flabbergasted by how at present Ethiopians could hardly get enough of Mahmoud. There is no reason why Haile’s case should be viewed differently.

As far as the retirement thing is concerned Haile simply did not have the presence of mind to gauge the implications of his decision on a whole line of industry and livelihoods. Another unreported fact is that his mere appearance in New York did cause reverberations within the ranks of the running multitude [in the manner of finds of oldest human remains in Ethiopia on paleontological societies around the world]. I strongly believe his not appearing would have altered NY Marathon 2010 results. For instance, no one paid attention to the Man of the Hour, the little known Gebre [-egziabher] Gebre [-mariam] whose first name “Gebre”, we might add, could be reversed to a surname! In any case, Haile’s handlers, more than himself, did recognize the athlete still has millions of pennies per mile left in his diminutive frame. And they want their share running.

Unlike most of us mortals, Haile could go to bed in his Adidas socks and shorts and wake up to find a fat check on his bedside table. Or he could switch to Nike and make a fatter one [depending on the fine print he signed to, which, if need be, could be reversed with the help of another lawyer]. And for this and many more goodies those who depended on Haile would have shamelessly kissed his feet if it took that to convince him to change his mind. It appears they succeeded this time and quite swiftly at that. WARNING: Those toying with the idea of having Haile for president need to think again, not fearing to make a U-turn. It is perfectly legal to change your mind. Don’t be stiff-necked. If Haile did it, you could do it and see for yourselves how good that felt. If, however, you persist in your old ways, at least I have warned you that Haile is highly susceptible to outside influences and could surprise you by getting up one fine morning to announce on ESAT radio that he would not be going to the president’s office because he has better things to do than play emperor without a throne. But then he could change his mind because now the PM owns the prize jersey. Theoretically, Haile could demand the return of that jersey but then he maybe throwing away the chance of becoming president. And that is why I suggest some political animal should squeeze mileage out of “Jersey for the presidency”! Please don’t give me the stale reasoning that sports and politics do not mix until you answer why politicians run for office.

Copyright, 2010 by Mitiku Adisu
All Rights Reserved
November, 2010

post Fresh, Shiny, Hidden

November 9th, 2010

Filed under: Economy — Lissan Magazine @ 14:31

What’s the new global source for fresh, shiny produce?
Famine-ridden Ethiopia

by Nancy Macdonald

Visit a supermarket in Abu Dhabi and you’ll be greeted by row after row of picture-perfect produce, most of it imported. The Indian subcontinent has long supplied food to the wealthy desert capital. These days, though, it’s likely those rows of shiny vegetables and fruit came from an improbable source: Ethiopia, a country practically synonymous with famine. Yes, Africa, where one in three people is malnourished, is now growing tomatoes and butter lettuce for export.

Ethiopia’s biggest greenhouse farming operation is kept hidden from curious, or hungry, eyes; even in Awassa, the southern city where it’s housed, few know it exists. Two kilometres down a dusty private road, past a checkpoint guarded with AK47s, hundreds of pristine, white greenhouses suddenly appear, alien to the setting. Farming in Ethiopia is still done by sickle and ox-driven plough. But inside Awassa’s cool, humidity-controlled greenhouses, vines are fed by a computerized irrigation system, the latest Dutch agricultural technology.

Every day, a workforce of 1,000 locals pick, pack and load hundreds of tons of fresh produce onto waiting trucks, including 30 tons of tomatoes alone. After reaching the capital, Addis Ababa, the produce is flown to a handful of Middle Eastern cities, entirely bypassing Ethiopia, one of the hungriest places on the planet. The trip from vine to store shelf takes less than 24 hours. It’s the latest project by Saudi oil and mining billionaire, Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi. And it may be the future of farming.

Over the past 18 months, plantations like this one have been sprouting across Africa. Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia—rich in oil, but water-poor—as well as those dependent on imports like South Korea and Japan, and rising powers like China and India, have begun leasing vast tracts of land in Africa, outsourcing food production to the continent. Agribusiness and Western hedge funds are funnelling billions into the new projects, banking on future scarcity.

The controversial trend has been dubbed “outsourcing’s third wave”—following manufacturing and information technology (IT) in the ’80s and ’90s. The high cost of installing irrigation systems, and importing fertilizers, combines and tractors is no deterrent. Defenders of the new projects say they’re bringing desperately needed new technologies, seeds and investment to Africa. But opponents see the trend as a “land grab” that is forcing poor farmers off their land, and benefiting only the governments inking the deals.

Already, commercial farms dot the northbound highway to Addis Ababa. In the evenings, a steady stream of trucks loaded with fat, sumptuous berries and cherry-red tomatoes rumble past, rushing to Bole International Airport and Gulf state grocery stores beyond. The highway’s dusty shoulders, meanwhile, are littered with the carcasses of animals dead from starvation and disease, the bones bleached white from the sun. The contrast is grim, even by local standards.

The new scramble for Africa was triggered by a convergence of events: surging demand for biofuels, rising consumption patterns in China and India and the 2008 global food crisis, when the price of corn and wheat tripled, almost overnight. Responding to sudden hyperinflation, rioting and panic buying, at least 30 countries, including Argentina, Vietnam, Brazil, Cambodia and India, banned or sharply reduced food exports. In short order, Japan and South Korea, who import 70 per cent of their grains, joined a parade of countries turning to Africa to lock in means of production beyond their borders.

The scale of the effort is astonishing. More than 125 million acres—an area roughly equal in size to Sweden—has been or is being negotiated for lease or sale in poorer countries, mostly in Africa, according to a recent estimate. In Sudan alone, the U.A.E. and South Korea have leased one and two million acres respectively, for crops including corn, alfalfa, potatoes and beans; Egypt has enough land there to grow two million tons of wheat annually, and Saudi Arabia and Jordan have leased 25,000 and 60,000 acres each, mainly to grow wheat and corn. In February, the U.S. investment firm BlackRock launched a world agriculture fund, earmarking US$30 million for farmland acquisitions; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley already offer investors access to similar funds. Calgary’s Agcapita, a three-year-old firm focused exclusively on farmland investment, says private equity firms have lined up some US$3 billion for farmland in developing countries.

Mostly, the deals fly under the radar. Sometimes, their size or sheer audacity triggers attention—like former AIG trader Philippe Heilberg’s deal to lease one million acres in Darfur. When it emerged that Daewoo, the South Korean giant, had signed a 99-year lease granting it close to half of Madagascar’s arable land, protests broke out in Antananarivo, the country’s capital, eventually sinking both the deal, and the president.

Why Africa? Not only is land roughly one-tenth the price of land in Asia, it’s likely the “final frontier,” says Paul Christie, marketing director at Emergent Asset, a London investment firm investing several hundred million dollars in commercial farms in Africa. Some 90 per cent of the world’s arable land is thought to be in use. Also, as Heilberg told the German magazine Der Spiegel after closing the deal in Darfur, “When food becomes scarce, the investor needs a weak state that does not force him to abide by any rules.” Sudan, a dictatorship ranked among the five most corrupt countries on the planet, certainly qualifies. Heilberg’s deal was approved by the deputy commander of Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the official army of semi-autonomous southern Sudan. “This is Africa,” he recently told Rolling Stone. “The whole place is like one big mafia. I’m like a mafia head. That’s the way it works.”

He’s now looking to double his Sudanese holdings. In so doing, he’ll also gain access to hundreds of million of gallons of scarce water resources—the hidden impulse behind this new play on Africa, says Michael Taylor, with the Rome-based International Land Coalition. “Saudi Arabia has no shortage of land.

Its interest in Africa,” he says, “is water.” What we tend to think of as a dry continent actually has more water resources per capita than Europe, and drought-ridden countries from the Persian Gulf to Asia want in. In places, Taylor warns, investors are walking away with two-page contracts covering 99-year leases. No matter what the harm—over-consumption of water, over-fertilization, deforestation—“governments will be powerless to make changes.” South Korea’s Sudanese plantation will draw from the Nile, threatening Egypt’s food security downstream. Already experts warn of a brewing conflict between the nine Nile states—including favourite destinations for foreign farms: Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. Can the region shoulder the added water strain?

But the land deals also offer a chance to reverse decades of under-investment in Africa—which was bypassed by the Green Revolution that, in the ’60s and ’70s, transformed India and China. In much of the poor world, “land is not primal forest,” says Oxford economist Paul Collier; “it is just badly farmed.”

Collier, among the best-known voices on global poverty, argues that the West’s “love affair with peasant agriculture” is clouding the development debate on Africa. “Our peasantry vanished for a simple reason—it was inefficient,” says the author of The Bottom Billion, pointing to emerging market successes like Brazil, where large-scale industrial farms have replaced small holdings. “Commercial farms innovate,” he writes, “because scale helps to overcome the impediments faced by the small.” Some African intellectuals bridle at Western criticism of the play on Africa. “They’re here because we want them here,” says Teshome Gabre-Mariam, one of Ethiopia’s top lawyers. “We can’t ignore the development potential of this venture. We have everything to gain, nothing to lose.”

These days the severity of the food crisis has eased, but not forever. By 2050, when the global population tips nine billion, demand for food will have risen by as much as 70 per cent, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Food commodity prices continue to climb alongside rising energy prices and desertification is accelerating from Australia to China to Spain; the rising temperatures are predicted to slash yields. In places, that’s already begun. Like it or not, hungry eyes will increasingly zero in on Africa. The world, it seems, may come to depend on it.

source: Maclean’s

post Enviromental Destruction

November 9th, 2010

Filed under: Environment — Lissan Magazine @ 14:14

Unprecedented land grabbing and destruction of ecological environment in Gambela, Ethiopia
Anywaa Survival Organisiation

Press Release

Anywaa Survival Organisation-ASO is concerned about the unprecedented land grab and destruction of ecological environment of the Gambela region. Since 2008 foreign companies with the help of the Ethiopian authorities in the centre have been acquiring vast fertile farmlands with limited consultation with indigenous peoples whose lives and livelihoods are affected. This trend of land grabbing has intensified, with more than four companies from India and Saudi Arabia currently destroying and clearing the best woodlands in the region to produce a variety of agricultural produce not for local consumptions but for export purposes.

A new World Bank report released today acknowledges that there has been a lack of environmental and social impact assessments of large-scale foreign agriculture projects in Ethiopia due to the rush to approve these projects by the country’s investment authority. The report further indicates the limited employment benefits to local communities, with only 0.005 jobs/hectare created for local populations on average. This lack of adequate employment benefits is contrary to the claim by authorities that the benefits of these projects will override concerns about environmental and social impacts on the indigenous population in the long-run.

According to our sources, Karuturi Global Ltd, an Indian company, acquired 300,000 hectares of land in Gambela to produce wheat for export to India. The local people employed on the farm have always complained about unfair treatment by the company. So far, their concerns have been ignored with little effort from the local authorities to address employment related issues. Furthermore, the local population whose hunting grounds, rivers and farmlands have been given to multinational corporations are doing back breaking daily labourer jobs and paid very low wages that cannot sustain themselves and their families amid food price increases in the region. The situation of land grabbing could impoverish local farmers who have been surviving on local agricultural production and the natural environment in the past.

Another company that operates in the region is Saudi Star Company, which produces rice and other products for export to Saudi Arabia. The company currently operates a pilot project on 10,000 hectares but plans to increase its capacity up to 500,000 hectares in the coming few years. This vast fertile land lease to the company would deprive indigenous people of their means of livelihoods and increase destitution among the local communities, leading to higher crime rates in both rural and urban areas.

With similar intention to destroy the ecological and natural environment, RUCHI Soya, another Indian company, has started its operations on 250,000 hectares. The company has already set up its compound at Obela on the way to Pinyudo and is expected to extend its operations to Arieth village along Gilo River. It is now apparent that the government not only intends to destroy the natural environment of the region but also to destroy the cultural base of the indigenous people by evicting them from their ancestral lands and home areas.

We are also concerned with the destruction of the best woodlands in the region that could lead to climate disaster and uncontrollable climate change affecting human beings and natural life in the region. Gambela region is known for its vast amount of water reserves and it is home to variety of plants and animals and fish species upon which the indigenous people entirely depend. This destructive policy would spark unnecessary conflicts over resources that will be depleted because of the uncontrollable land grabbing policy that targets the region.

Anywaa Survival Organisation therefore would like to call upon the indigenous people to resist this kind of land grabbing effort of the government and protect the natural environment, wild lives, various fish species and the indigenous community’s way of life. We further would like to call upon other Ethiopians to support the campaign to stop the destructive government policies that do not put the interest of the Ethiopian people into consideration.

For further information, please contact
Nyikaw ochalla
Anywaa Survival Organisation-ASO
Send your comments to


Food crisis and the global land grab
Governments and corporations are buying up farmland in other countries to grow their own food – or simply to make money

post Land grabs in Gambela

November 9th, 2010

Filed under: Economy — Lissan Magazine @ 14:05

Fear expressed over India’s massive land grabs in Gambela
by Desalegn Sisay

Gambela, one of the nine regional states of Ethiopia is fast growing into what the local media has described as “a land grabbing” hub among Indian companies.

Gambela’s new tag as a land grabbing hub comes as BHO Agro Plc becomes the third Indian firm to begin operations in the region after two other Indian companies, Karuturi and Ruchi Group, moved into Gambela in 2008 and early 2010, respectively.

Official reports have indicated that Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, responsible for the regulation of land acquisition by foreign entities, has allowed the lease of 27,000 hectares of land to BHO Agro Plc.

The size of the property, on which BHO Agro Plc plans to grow bio-fuel seed, observers say, is almost half the size of the Horn of Africa country’s capital city, Addis Ababa.

In 2008, Karuturi became the first Indian company to lease 300,000 hectares of land [an area larger than Luxembourg], in Gambela, for the production of wheat which is to be exported to its home country.

Like BHO Agro, Ruchi Group, the second Indian firm to take advantage of the Gambela land grab, is expected to cultivate bio-fuel seeds on its allotted 25,000 hectares of land.

Several companies and governments have so far made land deals with the central government. Early this year, the Ethiopian Government approved the lease of 22,000 hectares of land to the National Bank of Egypt (NBE).

Neighbouring Djibouti has also acquired 3,000 hectares of land in Bale, whilst Saudi Star Plc, a company established by billionaire Sheikh Mohamed Al Amudi, an Ethiopian born Saudi national, also received 10,000 hectares of land in the region to grow and export rice to Saudi.

According to Ethiopian authorities, the land grabs will have a significant economic benefit. But critics have slammed the government for using the Gambela region as a commercial farming center.

Meanwhile, analysts argue that the concentration of foreign companies in one region could impact local farmers negatively and also risks whipping up controversy among riparian countries of the Nile basin owing to the region’s only water resource, Baro river, an important tributary of the White Nile.

source: Afrik News

post Celebrate Pan-Africanism

November 3rd, 2010

Filed under: Events — Lissan Magazine @ 10:38

Celebrating Pan-Africanism through Emperor Haile Selassie
Ethiopian Global Initiative
November 2, 2010

By Samuel M. Gebru

On this day, November 2, 80 years ago in 1930, Haile Selassie was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia at the Cathedral of Saint George in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Ethiopia’s last Emperor, Haile Selassie, was born on July 23, 1892. He is generally regarded as the father of African unity and the face of the Pan-African movement. Emperor Haile Selassie reigned for 43 years and 314 days and was one of the world’s most well regarded leaders during his era. Loved by some, hated by others, Emperor Haile Selassie’s unflagging commitment to Africa’s independence movement and to strengthening the African diaspora should be recognized by all Ethiopians, Africans and people of African descent worldwide.

It has been 118 years since Teferi Mekonnen, His Majesty’s given name, was born in Eastern Ethiopia. He died on August 27, 1975 in unknown circumstances after being put under house arrest by the military-run Government of Ethiopia that reigned from 1974 until 1991. After the Emperor’s corpse was buried under his bathroom, his remains were excavated in 1991 when Northern rebels toppled Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s Government. In 2000, a formal funeral was given to Emperor Haile Selassie presided by the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, although the current Government of Ethiopia was reluctant to recognize the Emperor’s formal burial as a State Funeral.

The work of Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta and many others was inspired by the leadership and statesmanship exhibited by the “Lion of Judah.” Emperor Haile Selassie is also responsible for expanding the foreign bases of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and promoted literacy and advancement within Ethiopia and the African continent. As a founding father of the Organization of African Unity, now African Union, he was a resounding pillar to the sovereignty of the continent.

The Ethiopian Global Initiative is going to work with the Crown Council of Ethiopia to organize a yearlong celebration of the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie from July 23, 2011 until July 23, 2012, culminating in a celebration in Addis Ababa in honor of what would have been his 120th Birthday. EGI wants to celebrate the life and achievements of the Emperor as it relates to the Pan-African movement that he helped engineer. It is imperative that we work in collaboration with the Crown Council of Ethiopia and other Ethiopian cultural, youth and civic organizations both within Ethiopia and abroad so that the Emperor’s birthday celebration may be inclusive and appropriate.

One important way EGI will celebrate the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie is by undertaking a global “Haile Selassie 120th Birthday Day of Service” that will include Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians giving back to their local communities. Whether it is cleaning a park, reading to children or cooking food for the homeless, the “Haile Selassie 120th Birthday Day of Service” would strive to celebrate the work of the Emperor. The service events would be held on July 23, 2011 simultaneously throughout the world. Participants would be able to post their pictures, photos and blog articles to a central website that would strive to showcase the legacy of the Emperor on the African diaspora. The “Haile Selassie 120th Birthday Day of Service” will launch a yearlong celebration of the Emperor’s life and achievements.

To get involved please email: or call +1-617-528-9434.

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