post World Food Day Poster Contest

May 28th, 2013

Filed under: Events — Lissan Magazine @ 15:28

‘Healthy Food Systems’


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been observing World Food Day since 1981, as a way of raising public awareness of world food problems and creating solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The theme of World Food Day 2013 is “Sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition.”

Food systems encompass all activities connected with food: growing, harvesting, processing, transport, distribution, marketing, preparing, eating and even throwing away unused food. A sustainable food system is one that functions without harming the environment, gives farmers a fair return for their efforts, minimizes food losses and waste, and ensures that everyone has access to enough nutritious food.

FAO and the United Nations Women’s Guild in Italy sponsor the annual World Food Day international poster contest for children and youth from 5 to 17 years of age. Young people from all over the world are invited to use their imagination and artistic talent to create a poster illustrating the theme:

‘Healthy Food Systems’

The contest gives children a chance to express their ideas about food and hunger, and share their creative visions with the world. Posters may be digitally created, drawn, painted or sketched using pens, pencils, crayons or charcoal, or using oil, acrylic or watercolor paint.

Three winning posters will be selected in each of three age groups: 5-to 8-year-olds, 9-to 12-year-olds, and 13- to 17-year-olds. On World Food Day (16 October). All winners will receive the popular “EndingHunger movement” T-shirt and a Certificate of Recognition signed by a United Nations official. First-place winners will also receive a special surprise gift!

All eligible entries will be published in a gallery on the official World Food Day website. Individual poster entries can be “liked” or shared via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. In addition, the top posters in all three categories will be promoted on both the World Food Day and EndingHunger websites and social media.

Posters will be judged on originality, artistic ability and expression of the theme. Each of the three age groups will be judged separately. The panel of judges will include professionals working in the arts, education and humanitarian assistance.

>> Entries must be original and should not include signature, photographic images of the contestant, or other identifying information.
>> Only one entry per contestant
>> Only digital files in JPG format can be accepted.
>> Maximum allowable file size is 1.5 MB.
>> Entries must be submitted through the World Food Day Poster Contest webpage. Emailed entries will NOT be accepted.
>> Deadline for entries: 30 September 2013.

To learn more about the contest, about World Food Day, or about sustainable food systems, visit:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads international efforts to end hunger. FAO helps developing countries and countries in transition to modernize and improve their agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices. Since its founding in 1945, FAO has focused particular attention on developing rural areas, which are home to 70 percent of the world’s poor and hungry people. FAO is present in over 100 countries around the world, and is headquartered in Rome, Italy. For more information:

The United Nations Women’s Guild (UNWG) is a voluntary organization of women connected with the United Nations, working for the benefit of needy children around the world. The Guild, a non-profit and charitable organization, has been sustaining small programs and raising funds for children in need mainly in developing countries for over 63 years.

post FAO Poster Contest 2012

September 22nd, 2012

Filed under: Art, Events — Lissan Magazine @ 01:20

World Food Day Poster Contest 2012


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been observing World Food Day since 1981 as a way to heighten public awareness about world food problems and create a sense of solidarity in the ongoing struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The theme of World Food Day 2012 is “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world.”


An agricultural cooperative, also known as a farmers’ co-op, is a business that enables its members to make money while also providing benefits for the group. Farmers working together as a team can achieve things that would otherwise be impossible. For example, a group of people working together to grow vegetables or fruit, to fish together or simply to sell something collectively can benefit by sharing materials, experience and other resources.

FAO and the United Nations Women’s Guild in Italy have launched the first international World Food Day poster contest for children from 5 to 17 years of age. Children from all over the world are invited to use their imagination and artistic talent to create a poster illustrating the World Food Day theme: “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world.” This contest gives children an opportunity to express their ideas about hunger and share their creative visions with the world. Posters can be digitally created, drawn, painted or sketched using pens, pencils, crayons or charcoal, or using oil, acrylic or watercolor paint.

Three winning posters will be selected in each of the three categories: ages 5 to 8, ages 9 to 12, and ages 13 to 17. On World Food Day, 16 October 2012, the top three posters in all three categories will be published on the World Food Day website, through FAO’s Facebook page, and with the worldwide entire EndingHunger movement. Winners will also receive Certificates of Recognition signed by a United Nations official. The first-place winner will receive the popular EndingHunger T-shirt along with a special surprise gift!

Posters will be judged on originality, artistic ability and expression of the theme. Each of the three age groups will be judged separately. The panel of judges will include professionals working in the arts, education and humanitarian assistance.

Entries must be original and should not include signature, photographic images of the contestant, or other identifying information. Participants should submit one entry. Only digital files in JPG format can be accepted. If a digital photo is submitted, it must be at least 530 pixels wide and 375 pixels long. The maximum allowable file size is 1.5 MB. Submissions must be made online on the World Food Day Poster Contest webpage and are due by September 30, 2012.

To learn more about World Food Day and about agricultural cooperatives, please visit the World Food Day homepage - For more information on rules and prizes, please visit / contest-rules.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads international efforts to end hunger. FAO helps developing countries and countries in transition to modernize and improve their agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices. Since its founding in 1945, FAO has focused particular attention on developing rural areas, which are home to 70 percent of the world’s poor and hungry people. FAO is present in over 100 countries around the world, and is headquartered in Rome, Italy. For more information:

The United Nations Women’s Guild (UNWG) is a voluntary organization of women connected to the United Nations that works for the benefit of needy children around the world. The Guild, a non-profit and charitable organization, has been sustaining small programs and raising funds for children in need mainly in developing countries for over 63 years.

post Will Smith

February 13th, 2012

Filed under: Youth Network — Lissan Magazine @ 17:12

Will Smith
By Klaidi Osmani

I like Will Smith because he does all sorts of things.
He inspires me with his spectacular films, rapping, producing and singing. Because it has action in.


Will Smith was born in September 25, 1968 in Wynnefield Pennsylvania. He started his acting career in a television sit-com called Fresh Prince of Bell Air in which he starred in for 6 years from September 10th 1990 to 1996.
Here is a list of a few hit movies:
• Bad Boy,
• Men in Black,
• I Robot,
• Hancock
• Enemy of the state
• Independence Day

His music career started as a mc of a hip hop duo - dj Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.Dj Jazzy was a childhood friend, who used the turntables and was also a producer, alongside Ready Rock C, whose real name is Clarence Holmes. He was the human beat box. They were a hit on the radio for their radio friendly songs like “Summertime”
In 1990 Will Smith was nearly bankrupt, which led him to being sighed by NBC, which started the Fresh Prince series off and also his acting career; where he dreamt of being the biggest and best movie star in the world.

Here is a list of a few albums:
• And in this Corner
• Code Red (dj Jazzy & the Fresh Prince)
• Greatest hits (d Jazzy & Jeff & the Fresh Prince album)

He has had major success in all areas of his career; for example as a rapper, (just the two of us 1998). Also, he has acted in ‘I am legend’. Another thing is his family, who are also successful in life, like his son, who starred in ‘Karate Kid’. Plus his daughter got the hit song “Whip my hair”.

© Klaidi Osmani, 2012.
Information: Wiki

post The Joy of Sharing

January 29th, 2012

Filed under: Youth Network — Natty Mark Samuels @ 15:17

The Joy of Sharing

With the setting up of this youth link, I hope the articles published here, will not only boost the young writers of both countries and their creative endeavours, but also generate a more honest, balanced accounting, of their respective societies. To dispel the negative media onslaught of Africa, seemingly believed by the majority here; as well as showing a more informed picture of Western culture, especially of those from the minorities, for those in Ethiopia.
That by sharing their literary snapshots, they can get a better, realistic picture, of each others lives: from a lens of their own making. Creating windows of clarity, to smash the walls of stereotype.
Where they can come together, to learn and to laugh. To celebrate each others creativity.
I hope that they will favour this podium; taking the opportunity, to speak and listen to each other; to experience the joy of sharing.

©Natty Mark Samuels, 2012


Learning a new skill

For my arts award I had to learn a new skill. I’ve always been interested in music and I have previously written and recorded lyrics to beats before. As there are not many producers around I decided that I’d like to learn how to produce my own beats, because this help me to develop as an artist. It is my ambition to do a course in music at college and then university.
I discussed my ambition with my youth worker, and he helped me to find a teacher. The teacher is called Joe Froud, he is a member of the dubstep duo ‘Document One’. He has also been in numerous bands, spanning different genres of music. Joe and Document One are currently signed to Borgore records, and they will soon be releasing their debut EP. They have been played on Radio 1; 1xtra and have done several remixes for artists such as: Moby and JLS.


On our first session we laid down the beat, this included:
o First we opened up a musical software programme called reason. This is used on computers and recreates a technological music studio including drums, bass, pianos, and guitars along with samples and synthesisers.
o After the programme was opened we wrote the drumbeat using redrum machine. The drum beat was taken from my own sample library and I loaded it into the folder button above each channel.
o We used a simple midi controller keyboard and we triggered the samples and recorded them in real time.
o Moving on, we right clicked to display the available instruments in a drop down menu and chose a malsrtom synthesizer.
o Once we loaded the synthesizer, we clicked the folder symbol to display the preset sounds and flicked through them whilst playing the midi keyboard to audition the sounds.
o After finding the sound, the decision was made to use it. We repeated this process several times until we had all the sound we wanted to use.

On our second session we produced the chorus.
o We controlled and used one of the synthesizers with the midi iceyboard to write the chorus and melodies.
o Once we were ready to record, we armed the appropriate track by clicking on the iceyboard symbol for that instrument on the left hand side of the reason sequencer.
o When the red square appears round the keyboard symbol, the track is recorded using the same techniques we did for the drums we laid down the chorus quantised them.

Apply effects and EQ
o Once we finished writing and recording the time tune, we adjusted the levels of each instrument using the mixer in reason so they were more even.
o Using the mixer we also EQ’d each sound to loud by right clicking on an instrument we were able to choose from the reason FT and insert them on that particular synthesizer. We applied distortion, reverb and delay to some sounds to make them sit better in the mix.


o Once we finished recording the beat and I was ready to record my vocals, we exported the beat. We did this by setting the left and right locations in reason to the beginning and end of the beat in the sequencer, clicked file > export loop as audio file and chose wav format.
o We then loaded logic pro up and imported the wav file to an audio track, and added another audio track to record the vocals.
o We then plugged the mic into input 2 on the sound card and set the audio track input source to input 2 on the sound card in the mixer view of logic.

Recording the vocals
o We recorded the vocals using the channel we had set up before the session, and we repeated the process above for every additional vocal track I wanted to add.


Lissan recommends:
For those of you who are interested to know and learn more about the music creating software “Reason”, click on the YouTube logo below to watch tutorial videos from the creator company of this great creation tool: Propellerheads from Sweden.

post Biofuel Development

March 7th, 2011

Filed under: Environment — Lissan Magazine @ 21:31

Current biofuels development status in Ethiopia
By Hilawe Lakew and Yohannes Shiferaw
source (pdf):

Biofuels development as a primary product was first initiated by the private sector when Sun Biofuels Ethiopia (National Biodiesel Corporation), a subsidiary of a UK based private limited company, was allocated the first land for cultivation of jatropha for production
of biodiesel in Benshangul Gumuz regional state in 2006. The coming of Sun biofuels awakened other players in the sector, including the government, the private sector, NGOs and civil society organizations. As the first project in the country, there were several drawbacks in the legal process of business formation and actual implementation of the project in the field. Since then several private companies have come to the scene. Fincha Sugar Factory, however, has been producing bioethanol as a by-product. Several local and international private and non-private biofuels developers have registered in the country since then. Most of these companies have the intention of going for large-scale commercial development. Currently there are over 50 developers registered for the cultivation of energy crops for biodiesel production. For bioethanol, however, there are only six developers in the country of which four of them are government owned sugar estates. At present only one of the sugar estates, Fincha, is producing ethanol. The rest are at the pre-implementation stage either retrofitting existing factories for ethanol development, or at the very early stage of land cultivation for plantation of sugarcane. All of them are intending to produce ethanol as a product of sugar production.

Status of Operational Biofuels Development Projects
Due to limitation of time only five regions were identified to conduct a brief assessment about the current development of biofuels in Ethiopia. These regions are identified based on the current trend of biofuels development expansion in the country. Local experts were assigned to gather primary and secondary information about the biofuels projects in the regions.

Information about the number of organizations involved in biofuels development was searched from government offices at regional level, the Ethiopian Investment Commission, and other sources. In a few cases, the team managed to contact the developers. However, the full list of developers that have started operations could not be obtained from offices at regional level as some developers directly contacted Zone and Woreda offices for allocation of land without the need for getting permits from bureaus at regional level. The full list of companies including those that have not yet obtained land is put in the annex. This section gives an overview of developers that have actually received land but may not have started operations. The findings are presented as reported by the informants as follows:

Benshangul Gumuz Regional State
In Benshangul Gumuz region, information is obtained only for three private developers that received land for biofuels development.

i. Sun Biofuels Ethiopia/ National Biodiesel Corporation
Sun Biofuels PLC is a UK based company that owns 80% of the shares in the National Biodiesel Corporation PLC (NBC). With 365 million Birr investment capital NBC aims to become the largest producer and seller of biofuels in Ethiopia. Description of Location NBC has obtained 80,000 ha of land leased for 50 years in Metekel Zone in Dandure Woreda at a lease price of ETB 25 per hectare for jatropha plantation. The area of land allocated covers four Kebeles namely Jantaya, Gublak, Dabata, Dilkanbikokil and Jarduban.

Land Use and Environmental Aspects
The land cover is mostly forest, woodland and range land with very little agricultural activities. There are various types of plant and animal species in the area9. The project stopped operations after clearing 60 hectares of land for trial plantation. One of the reasons for stopping the operation was that the land was not suitable for growing jatropha. The productivity of the land was very low, so the company would hardly make any profit from the investment. Had the project continued at the proposed scale severe environmental damages could have happened. Loss of biodiversity and wildlife would be the immediate impact which could be followed by soil chemical composition changes due to change in land use, increased soil erosion and land degradation due to increased runoff, and a severe impact in the watershed. An environmental impact assessment was not conducted in the area.

Socioeconomic Aspects
The community uses the area as a source of firewood, food and feed for their cattle, and medicine. They collect fruits, seeds and roots from the forest. It is a place for hunting and honey collection. The rangeland is used for farming and grazing place for their cattle.

ii. Ambasel Jatropha Project
Ambasel Jatropha Project is a local private limited company involved in biofuels development in Amhara regional state.

Description of Location
The project obtained 20,000 ha of land with a possibility of expanding to 80,000ha for jatropha plantation in Qoto (or Koto) kebele in Metekel Zone Beles Woreda. The project plans to install oil expelling machines and has a target of reaching up to one million metric tonnes of oil per year. The product is mainly for the domestic market, with the possibility of exporting the excess.

Land Use and Environmental Aspects
The existing land cover is a natural forest. The project has to clear the forest for cultivation of jatropha trees, which will result in severe environmental consequences including loss of biodiversity, wild life and their habitats. Soil erosion and land degradation are possible long term impacts due to the project intervention. The project has not conducted any form of environmental impact assessment so far.

Socioeconomic Aspects
The forest used to provide a free grazing area and a source of firewood for the local community. There might be new short-tem job
opportunities for the local community. In the short term, the project needs about 10,000 labour force, which sounds overly optimistic, for the preparation of land which will be mainly clearing of the forest. However, once the forest is cleared and the plantation in place, there will be relatively few jobs, and the community will have lost their forest resource forever.

iii. Jatropha Biofuels Agro Industry
Jatropha Biofuels Agro Industry is a national private limited company with 123 million Birr investment capital. The company obtained land leased for 50 years at a price of ETB 25 per hectare for large scale
commercial plantation of biofuels using jatropha plant. The Project is located in Metekel Zone, Dangur Woreda in Bengaz Kebele. They received 100,000 hectare of land but have not started operations yet.

iv. I.D.C Investment
IDC Investment is a Danish private limited company that started investment in biofuels development in Ethiopia. It has received 15,000 ha of land in Benshangul Gumuz in Assosa Zone, Oda Woreda. The company started cultivation of land for jatropha plantation in November 2007. It has a plan for setting up a processing plant.

Amhara Regional State
Several developers have applied for allocation of land for development of biofuels in various Woredas in the region. However, information has only been obtained for five developers that have actually started operation. For some developers, one of the main reasons for not starting operations, as reported by the developers, is that the amount of land they are offered is too small compared to the land they have asked for. Current status of biofuels development in the region based on information obtained so far is presented below:

i. Organization for Rehabilitation and Development of Amhara

ORDA is a non-private organization established by the regional government with the intention of assisting rehabilitation and development activities in the region. ORDA has several development projects in various Woredas in the region which are related to land rehabilitation by plantation of trees and building erosion protection structures. ORDA believes that plantation of jatropha in degraded lands would bring dual benefits. In some of the areas that ORDA is working, the jatropha plant already grows wild. Some of the project sites that ORDA is promoting jatropha are Gaint, Ibnat, Wadla, Lasta, Bugna, Sekota, Kobo, Habru, bati and Metema.

Description of Location
ORDA is now involved in biofuels development in Metema Woreda. With a capital of one million Birr the project obtained 884 ha of land free of charge for jatropha plantation. The site is located in Metema Woreda in North Gondor Zone.

Land Use and Environmental Aspects
ORDA has several sites where it uses the jatropha plant for flooding and erosion protection. The biggest project is in Metema. So far about 2.3 million jatropha trees have been planted. The organization has a plan to install peeling machines, an oil expeller and perhaps a biodiesel processing plant near the cultivation area in the future. The land use type prior to the development of the project was barren or degraded land with little or no economic benefit to the nearby communities. In certain seasons of the year the area has been used as grazing land for cattle. The area is commonly known as “aygebire” which literally means non-productive. The project has not conducted any Environmental Impact Assessment. Preparation of land for jatropha plantation may bring some disturbance of the flora and fauna but this is assumed not to be worse than that caused by flood and erosion otherwise.

Socioeconomic Aspects
The project creates job opportunity in the area in the short term as they prepare the land for the cultivation of jatropha plantation. Since the communities around the area own the project, any future benefit from the cultivation of jatropha, however small it might be on a degraded land, will bring additional income.

ii. Jemal Ibrahim
Jemal Ibrahim is a private investor with a project capital of ETB 2,551,896. He has been provided with 7.8 ha of land for cultivation of castor oil for biodiesl production in Habru Woreda. Detailed information has not been obtained regarding previous land use of the location but the satellite image seems to indicate a wide area of cultivated land.

iii. BDFC Ethiopia Industry P.L.C
BDFC is a subsidiary of the US based B&D Food Corporation. With 300 million Birr capital it has received 18,000 ha of land from the Awi Zone to grow sugarcane with the intention of producing sugar and ethanol. It has also a plan for an additional sugarcane supply from out growers, which is expected to reach up to 30,000 ha. This project was previously planned for development by the then Tana Beles Project based mainly on the Beles River. The Company has already received land and has a plan to produce 70,000 tonnes of
sugarcane and 30,000 tonne of ethanol per year10.

iv. A Belgium Company (Name not identified)
Three Belgian investors have received 2.5 ha of land in Genete Kebele in Armachiho Woreda in Semen Gondor Zone. The investors have started plantation of jatropha and castor seed which they imported from Togo and Brazil. It was also reported that the investors have applied for an additional 5,000 ha for cultivation11.

Oromia Regional State
Information from the Federal Investment Authority and other sources indicate that there are over sixteen developers that have received investment licenses for development of biofuels in Oromia region. However, many of them have not yet received land. Information is found only for three companies that have started operations in the region.

i. Flora Eco Power Ethiopia Plc.
Flora Eco Power Ethiopia is a subsidiary of the German based Flora Eco Power private company. The company required 200,000 ha of land to plant castor seed for biodiesel production.

Description of Location
Flora Ecopower has so far developed about 15,000ha of land in several Woredas in East and West Hareghe Zones. Babile, Fedis, Midega Tola, Lebu and Hawi Gudina are the Woredas that the company is operating in at present. Out of the total land area cultivated by the company for castor bean plantation, about 10,000 ha is from clearing virgin forest land and the remaining hectares are with the out-growers scheme. The Company plans to expand castor bean plantation to a total of 50,000 to 70,000 ha of land in eight Woredas in East and West Haraghe Zones.

Land Use and Environmental Aspects
The land use type in Babile and surrounding Woredas is grazing land, cultivated land, forest and bush land. Cultivated land in this area accounts about a fifth of the total area, forest area covers between 10 to 20% of the total land area. There is extensive communal grazing land encroaching a large part of the Babile Elephant Sanctuary12. The land that is being used for castor bean plantation is obtained either by clearing of forest areas or taking cultivated land in agreement with the local farmers.

The Company proposes four different options for obtaining land for large scale commercial plantation and the out-growers scheme. In all cases the damage to the environment and the consequence in terms of food insecurity will be high. The area is a sanctuary for various types of wild animals including elephants, lions, leopards, etc. The clearing of the forest and bush land will cause severe environmental damage which will result in loss of biodiversity, and land degradation due to inevitable soil erosion with increased runoff….

read more here (pdf):

post Wives of Deposed Dictators

February 21st, 2011

Filed under: General Issue — Lissan Magazine @ 12:40

The Exile Factor: Wives of Deposed Dictators
Behind every tyrant on the run with a trunkful of loot, there’s usually a spouse.
by Jerome Taylor

It’s not exactly the kind of career you would see advertised at the local Job Centre. But in the world’s all-too-numerous autocratic kleptocracies there are few positions more lucrative and gilded than becoming the wife of a dictator.

Successful applicants may have to spend their lives with some of the world’s most unpleasant men, but in return, she can expect palaces, power and sumptuous living standards – even when things go wrong.

With careful risk management by a dictator (a private jet on permanent standby and a healthy stash of bullion in offshore bank accounts are recommended), the threat posed by revolution and overnight ousting can be mitigated to acceptable levels. But wannabe WODs – Wives of Dictators – should be aware that there is always a small chance of the starving masses bashing down the palace gates and demanding a piece of the national pie, and should also plan their metamorphosis into Wodds – Wives of Deposed Dictators.

The toppling last week of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s 24-year reign is a sharp reminder to the world’s dictators that nothing lasts forever. It may also prompt their wives to make escape plans should the winds start blowing in the wrong direction.

Leila Trabelsi, Mr Ben Ali’s second wife, was clearly well prepared. According to reports this week, the 53-year-old daughter of a fruit seller, who rose to become the country’s most powerful woman, organised the removal of more than £37.5m worth of solid gold bars from Tunisia’s Central Bank before she fled via Dubai to Saudi Arabia. Bank officials have denied the allegations, but the reports came as little surprise to ordinary Tunisians on the streets, who compared the Trabelsi and Ben Ali families to mafia-like organisations that squirrelled away vast amounts of the nation’s wealth in preparation for a life of luxurious exile.

For while many ruthless strongmen – such as Charles Taylor, Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein – end up in court, the innocent wives of the world’s despots do not need to worry about threat of prosecution. Ms Trabelsi’s flight to well-funded exile is just one of a number of such journeys that have been made by partners of toppled dictators over the past five decades. The great political upheavals of the 1970s and 1980s led to scores of regime changes in Latin America, the Middle East and South-east Asia.

As largely pro-Western dictators were toppled by popular revolution, many chose to settle in Europe and the United States. The Shah of Iran’s wife, Farah Pahlavi, still divides her time between Paris and Washington DC, while Imelda Marcos fled to Hawaii to plot her eventually successful return to Filipino politics.

More recently, Saudi Arabia has become something of a favoured destination for strongmen of the Muslim world. Mr Ben Ali is following in the footsteps of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in seeking sanctuary with the Al Saud dynasty.

Not all flights into exile go according to plan. Elena Ceausescu tried to flee alongside her husband Nicolae in a helicopter as their notoriously brutal regime crumbled against Romanian street protests. They got as far as the town of Targoviste before revolutionaries within the army forced them to land, subjected them to a swift show trial and executed them.

For those who escape such rough justice, a life of luxury is not always guaranteed. Sarah Kyolaba Amin, the Ugandan dictator’s fifth wife, made ends meet post-divorce working as a lingerie model in Germany before moving to the UK, where a café she ran in London was closed for a while by health inspectors.

Mussolini’s wife fared a little better. While Il Duce’s mistress Claretta Petacci was executed by Italian partisans, Rachele Guidi Mussolini survived the war and spent the rest of her life running a little pasta restaurant in her home village of Predappio. Catering, it seems, is not a bad fallback.

But the real lesson is surely that, if you want to be a successful Wodd, keep a bag packed for a potentially sharp exit.

The good WODD guide: Who’s holed up where?

Michele Bennett
The sophisticated Bennett married Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 1980 with a wedding that reputedly cost $3m. In Haiti, the Duvalier regime used fear and repression through the Tonton Macoute secret police and plundered millions that were transferred to European bank accounts. The couple fled to France for a luxury lifestyle on the French Riviera, complete with Ferrari and multiple properties. A police raid on their Mougins villa in 1986 unearthed a notebook logging spending including $168,780 for Givenchy clothes and $270,200 for Boucheron jewellery. They divorced after a decade and reports suggested that Duvalier lost much of his fortune in the divorce settlement.

Sarah Kyolaba Amin
Idi Amin’s fifth wife Sarah fled with him to Libya when he was toppled in 1979. By 1982, she had left him to seek asylum in Germany, where she worked as a lingerie model. In 1999, she narrowly escaped a jail sentence for running a cockroach-infested café in London. Now aged 55, she is thought to be an events organiser in Tottenham. Last year, she collected an award for Amin, which posthumously named him best Ugandan president of all time.

Begum Sehba Musharraf
Begum Sehba Musharraf spent much of the latter part of her husband’s reign receiving female dignitaries from Laura Bush to Princess Rania of Jordan. Facing accusations of violating the Pakistani constitution and gross misconduct, Musharraf resigned from his post as President in 2008 and the couple moved to a luxury apartment in central London.

Farah Pahlavi
Married the former shah of Iran in 1959 at the age of 21. For the most part she was a popular figure, while the regime itself was increasingly seen as being aloof from the people. In 1979, she fled Iran with the deposed shah and their children after months of protest led to an Islamic revolution. The deposed shah, who is thought to have stashed away a fortune before fleeing, moved his family from country to country. Since they left, she has suffered personal tragedy with two children apparently committing suicide. But the family fortune remains considerable.

Mirjana Markovic
She was said to be the driving force in her marriage with Slobodan Milosevic, the “Butcher of the Balkans” who died of a heart attack while on trial at The Hague for crimes against humanity. Now in exile in Russia, she was accused by Serbian prosecutors of making tens of millions of pounds through cigarette smuggling. Said to have a penchant for furs, caviar and French perfume and would fly a plastic surgeon in from Italy.

Catherine Martine Denguiadé
Jean-Bédel Bokassa began to lose his grip on power in the Central African Republic in 1977 when he decreed that all schoolchildren must wear uniforms. Mass protests ensued, partly because the country’s only uniform supplier was owned by his wife, Catherine. When Bokassa was deposed in 1979, the couple fled to France and lived in a chateau just outside Paris, which sold to a mystery buyer for around £762,000 earlier this year. In December 2010, Catherine accepted a state medal of honour from CAR’s current President François Bozizé.

Bobi Ladawa
Married in 1980, Bobi Ladawa became Mobutu Sese Seko’s second wife (although he is also said to have fathered illegitimate children with Ladawa’s twin sister). In 1997, the couple fled Zaire (DRC) after 32 years of Mobutu rule during which he embezzled around £6.3bn. They eventually found refuge in Morocco, but Mobutu died of prostate cancer later that year.

Margot Honecker
The wife of the former leader of East Germany and herself a former education minister, Margot Honecker fled to Moscow in 1991, to avoid criminal charges related to communist policies before Germany was reunified. Nicknamed the ‘purple witch’ in recognition of her blue-rinse hair and hardline policies, she was forced out of Russia by Boris Yeltsin a year later. Honecker has since lived in Chile and gets by on an old age pension.

Wubanchi Bishaw
Finally ousted in 1991, Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam and his wife fled to Zimbabwe where Robert Mugabe received them as guests of honour. In 2006, Mariam was foundguilty of genocide and of ignoring a famine which killed one million Ethiopians during his 17-year rule. The couple were last reported to be living between two heavily-guarded luxury villas in Harare and Lake Kariba.

Leila Trabelsi
The newest member of the exiled wives set, Leila Trabelsi reportedly fled to Saudi Arabia to join her husband, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, a week ago following weeks of protest against his corrupt rule in Tunisia. Reports suggest one of her final acts was to collect gold from the country’s central bank. The former hairdresser was known for her love of fast cars – the family owned dozens – and fine clothing bought on frequent shopping trips to Dubai.

Samira Shahbandar
The second of Saddam Hussein’s four wives, Samira Shahbandar reportedly had an affair with Saddam while they were both still married. She fled Iraq to Lebanon after the US invasion. In an interview with the Sunday Times in 2003, she said that Saddam had given her $5m in cash and a hoard of jewellery and gold before she left the country.

Satomi Kataoka
One of the more unusual WODDs in that she met her husband after he fled the country. Alberto Fujimori was elected president and ruled Peru for ten years but adopted dictatorial powers to fight left-wing rebels. He fled to Japan amid a corruption scandal in 2000, and met Japanese hotel magnate Satomi Kataoka. He was arrested in Peru in 2005 when he attempted to launch a new bid for presidency and married multi-millionaire Kataoka from his cell a year later. He remains in jail after being found guilty of abuse of power and ordering killings by the security forces.

Imelda Marcos
The despotic regime of Ferdinand Marcos oversaw political repression and human rights violations. Thousands were killed and the country’s economy ruined. When the couple fled the palace after popular protests, Mrs Marcos was found to have left behind more than 1,000 pairs of shoes and 15 mink coats. Mr Marcos is estimated to have looted billions of pounds from the country. Imelda returned to the Philippines in 1991 when she was convicted of corruption, a verdict that was overturned the following year.

source: The Independent

post Ethiopian Law Newsletter 6

February 15th, 2011

Filed under: General Issue — Lissan Magazine @ 00:45

6th Edition

Dear Customers;
Wishing you a happy new year we present you our sixth edition of Ethiopian Law Newsletter. Please enjoy it and give us your comment about it.
For further information here is the contact address of our law office.

Telephone: 00251115151290; 00251116551720
Cell Phone: 00251911623555; 00251958001090

Kind regards

Be Careful Of Defacto Divorces without Legalizing the Divorce in Court
Currently, marriage under Ethiopian law is an institution that is to be entered into with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. The spouses have equal rights during the entry of, the lifetime and dissolution of the marriage. So when a marriage is dissolved, for any of the legal reasons this legal principle entails various effects for spouses so intending that dictates adherence to legal procedure as the most convenient path to follow.

What is Defacto divorce?
So what is defacto divorce? This occurs when partners in a marriage separate (be it through mutual agreement or one spouses abandons the other) and start leading their separate lives. Though not legally divorced, these people are “divorced” in fact and usually remarry, produce heirs and own property.

Divorce and Division of Common Property under Ethiopian Legal System
When a marriage is dissolved by divorce the issue of division of property will come to the scene. Property in this respect is divided in to two: personal and common property.

1. Personal property – Property possessed by the spouses on the day of their marriage or property they will come across, even after the marriage, through personal donation or succession shall be their personal property. Property they acquire through the exchange of their personal property (even if such property is money), or from money obtained from the sale of such property will continue to be their personal property if they inform the court and recognizes it as being personal.

2. Common property – The primary legal presumption is that all property is common property even if it is registered in the name of one of the spouses unless the spouse concerned can provide he is the only owner. Specifically, all income derived by the spouses, including income they obtain from their own efforts, from the common property they have acquired over the years, income derived from their personal property or donated to the spouses is considered common. And if property obtained by sale of personal property or its exchange if not declared to the court and decided upon, it well be on the moment of liquidation and division
…Read more

Investing in the Lubricant and petroleum oil business in Ethiopia
According to the Ethiopian investment laws any investor can engage in the areas of lubricant and petroleum oil business, with a very little reservation. These areas of investment open for foreigners also. i.e any foreigners who want to invest either wholly or in partnership with domestic investors can engage in the above areas of investment. However in the area of petroleum only the distribution of the petroleum oil is permitted. The importing of petroleum oil is specifically given to the Ethiopian Petroleum Agency. However the import and distribution of petroleum oil is free to engage for any foreign or local investor …Read more

VAT Exempted Items in Ethiopia
If you have wondered what things are exempted from payment of VAT the following items are the ones provided by the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority as lists of VAT exempted transactions. If you want to know about these items here is the list.

1. The Sale or rent of a dwelling house which has been used for at least 2 years,
2. Financial service,
3. Local or Foreign currencies and warranty distribution or importation except for cents and medals research services,
4. The import of Gold for the presentation to the National bank of Ethiopia,
5. Religious or spiritual related services given by religious institutions,
6. Educational services given by educational institutions and child care given by kindergartens,
7. Electricity, kerosene and water supplies (does not include water processed by Factories)
…Read more

Period of Limitation in Criminal Cases According to Ethiopian Law
Do you know about period of limitation? Period of limitation means when one person who can be a plaintiff or a defendant has a time limit for raising or presenting a question. Here in below you will find list of period of Limitations listed under the Ethiopian criminal code.

In criminal cases: Period of Limitations in criminal cases are divided into two. They are suit period of limitation and sentence period of limitations. …Read more

The Right to Appeal over a Tax Authority’s Decision
In relation to income tax the Ethiopian Income Tax Proclamation 286/2002 provides the following information.

Even though Income Tax issues are not as familiar as civil cases, any tax payer can appeal on a judgment rendered by the Tax Authority.

If a tax payer has a complaint over a tax judgment the tax payer must fulfill the following criteria to appeal to the tax appellate court.

1. The tax payer must deposit the 50 percent of the due tax payment in controversy to the Tax Authority.
2. The tax payer must appeal within 30 days from the receipt of the notice of the tax judgment or the judgment of the complaint hearing committee. …Read more

Declaration of Absence and its effects under Ethiopian law
Do you know the existence of a concept of absence of a person according to Ethiopian law? So if you are missing for more than two years and no one really knows your whereabouts there is a possibility that you may be declared absent by Ethiopian courts. Below you will find out how it works.

According to The Ethiopian Civil Code Declaration of absence takes place where an interested party applies to the court to declare absence,

The Legal Implications of Declaration of Absence: Since the declaration of absence is equivalent to declaration of death, according to Ethiopian law, declaration of absence has more or less similar effect like death. So let’s see the effects of declaration of absence.

On Marriage: The marriage of the absentee will automatically be dissolved on the day on which the judgment declaring the absence has become final.

On Ones Estate: In case of succession a succession opened after the date of the last news of the absentee shall devolve without taking into account the portion which may eventually be assigned to the absentee. Of course, this happens only in cases where the absentee would …Read more

Normal Hours of Work and Their Possible Arrangement According To the Ethiopian Labour Proclamation
Are you an employer or employee who wants to know your normal hours of work? Here is an important note for you in this regard.

The issue of Normal hours of work is one of the important information an employer or an employee should know about. Because such hours are the basis of the apportionment of working time, according to the needs of an employer organization. When we come to the subject matter of normal hours of work we find the Ethiopian Labour Law Provisions of Normal Hours of work,

Can You Simply Ignore Anybody’s Offer for Business?
Today we will give you a brief idea about silence to a business offer and its implication according to Ethiopian Law.

Before that let’s begin with the following questions.

1. Is silence acceptance or refusal according to Ethiopian law?
2. Are you required by Ethiopian law to specifically refuse or accept any offers of business made to you?
3. What will be the legal implications of your silence to offers made to you?

One may ask if he can simply ignore a business offer according to the Ethiopian law. According to the Ethiopian Civil Code, in a normal circumstance, one can ignore a business offer made to him/her. In other words, in principle Silence doesn’t amount to acceptance. …Read more

Is mistake strong enough to cancel a contract according to Ethiopian Law?
If you want to know if a mistake in a contract can be strong enough to cancel it according to Ethiopian law you might want to read this.

A mistake in an everyday life is inevitable. likewise it is natural to make mistakes when writing a contract. There might be minor or major mistakes involved in a contract. The minor mistakes can be corrected easily. But as for the major ones can be strong enough to cancel a contract.

Major Mistakes
Of course, the mistake must be Decisive and Fundamental to be considered as a major one. The mistake to be a major mistake that can invalidate a contract should fulfill the cumulative requirements of Decisiveness and Fundamentality. …Read more

Requirements of Form One Should Observe As Per Ethiopian Law
In establishing contractual relationships one should observe the formality requirements of the law. In this regard we will look at the requirements of form one may be required to observe while entering into agreements in Ethiopia.

According to the provisions of the Ethiopian Civil Code though in principle it is possible to enter into contract orally, by conduct, through signs some contracts are required by law to be made in a specific form the failure of its compliance could result in the invalidation of the contract. In other words though Contracting parties are at liberty in choosing the form of their contract under the Ethiopian law, when the law prescribes a special form for specifies contracts, contracting parties should observe it to ensure the legality of the agreement. …Read more

Period of Limitation under the Ethiopian Labour Proclamation
If one wants to know how period of limitation is dealt within the Ethiopian labour law, this note can give you some ideas.

Period of limitation in a labour issue varies based on the nature of claim the plaintiff may have against the defendant.

In a general employment relationship, unless a specific time limit is provided otherwise in the labour law proclamation or other relevant laws, an action arising from an employment relationship shall be barred by limitation after one year from the date on which the …Read more

Probation Period under the Ethiopian Labour Proclamation
Do you want to employ a new employee under probation? Are you new employee under period of probation period? Here is a relevant note on probation under Ethiopian law.

A probation period according to the labour law of Ethiopia is a period allocated for the purpose of testing a person’s suitability to a post in which he/she is expected to be assigned.

Probation period shall be made in writing when the parties agree to have a probation period. This period should not in any case exceed forty five consecutive days.

Alimony/Spousal Support under the Ethiopian Legal System
In most of the civilized legal systems around the world, if one spouse earns more money than the other spouse, he or she is required to pay spousal support. This is usually a payment independent from child support, with the amount being set by the court based on the spouses’ assets, incomes, ages, health, standard of living, ability to be self sufficient, contribution to each others’ career, length of marriage and more.

The revised family code recognizes the need for spouses to support each other during the life time of the marriage. (The Revised Family code arts. 49(1), 210 (a)). However, it seems to shift from this position once the marriage is dissolved, in exception to the support owed to the children concerned, all contact should be severed between the spouses. Either for this or other reasons (non consideration included) the topic alimony is neither referred to nor provided for in the code, barring its existence in rulings concerning the dissolution of marriage.


post Ethiopian Law Newsletter

January 6th, 2011

Filed under: General Issue — Lissan Magazine @ 10:37

5th Edition

Dear Customers;
Wishing you a happy new year we present you our fifth edition of Ethiopian Law Newsletter. Please enjoy it and give us your comment about it.
For further information here is the contact address of our law office.
Telephone: 00251115151290; 00251116551720
Cell Phone: 00251911623555; 00251958001090
Kind regards


Federal First Instance Courts will be opened in Every Sub Cities of Addis Ababa
Well it seems the Federal Courts in Ethiopia are making considerable improvement in the reformation of the judicial sector. According to the press releases we found from the local newspapers in Ethiopia, the Federal court will open new branches in every sub cities of Addis Ababa. According to AtoTegene Getaneh.
Read more

Ethiopia Attracted 8 Billion Dollars Investment Attention in the Past One year
In the past six months the Ethiopian Government granted Investment Permit for eight billion dollars investment. Most of these investments are made on the sectors of farm, construction, hotel and tourism. Those investors have planned to open around 1500 projects in the country…
Read more

Acquiring and Registering Property in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, Acquiring and registering property isn’t an easy task. It costs lots of money and effort. One should also be careful of lots of cons and swindles by many parties in the process. Once the property to be acquired is found here are the lists of procedures to be followed to legalize the property.

1st The first procedure is Verifying the Status of the Property at the Registry. The purchaser should verify at the Registry whether the property is affected by any encumbrances. Currently the registry in Ethiopia is computerized and located in 10 different sub cities. Therefore two days time is enough for the verification. Then the location and surface area of the property must be checked at the Master plan Bureau. It requires one additional day.

2nd The second step will be Checking the Evaluation of the Sale Price by the Sub City. The parties will bring the sale agreement to the Sub-city. The Sub-City official will check that the price included in the sale agreement corresponds to the Master list of Price. Each Sub-City has a fee Schedule depending on the location of the building.
Read more

Trading Across Borders Ethiopian Boarders
If you are intending to engage in trading activity that it involves trading across Ethiopian boarders, you should know about the following list of import and export procedures and the required documents.

This is list the procedures necessary to import and exports a standardized cargo of goods in Ethiopia. The documents required to export and import the goods are also shown.

Procedures for Export
1. The first procedure is Documents Preparation and it takes about 25 days.
2. The second step is Custom Clearance and Technical Control. This needs 10 days to complete.
3. Then Ports and Terminal Handling follows which takes 5 days and costs.
4. After this Inland Transportation and Handing will take place.
Read more

Period of Limitation in Civil Cases According To Ethiopian Law
Do you want to know about the common period of limitations found in the Ethiopian legal system? Below you will find them.

For those who don’t know period of limitation, here is the definition of Period of limitation. It means when a person who can be a plaintiff or a defendant has a time limit for raising or presenting a question. Below you will find list of period of Limitations listed under the Ethiopian civil code.

1. In contract law
According to Article 1845 of the civil code any person who wants the performance of a contract or has incurred loss due to the non-performance of a contract shall exercise his right to ask within ten years.

2. Non-contractual obligations
According to Article 2143 of the civil code cases of non-contractual obligations have two years period of limitation. However, if the case leads to a criminal liability and if the crime has a period of limitation more than two years, the time fixed for asking compensation shall be substituted by the period of limitation of.
Read more

The Jurisdictions of the Addis Ababa City Courts
The jurisdiction of the Addis Ababa City courts is mentioned in the EFDRE Proclamation No. 311/2003. According to Article 41 of The Addis Ababa City Government Revised Charter these courts will have the following jurisdiction over civil and criminal and petty offense.

On Civil Matters
In Civil Jurisdiction the Addis Ababa City Courts will have power in such cases as;
1. Suits of possessory right, issuance of permit or land use relating to the enforcement of the city master plan;
2. Suits arising in connection with the regulatory powers and functions of the executive and municipal service bodies of the city government.
3. Suits arising from fiscal matters set out under4 Art 52 ( i.e. the City Government will have power over assessing and collecting income taxes, set and collect land use fees, levy taxes on income from agricultural activities in the city, etc)
Read more

source: Fikadu Asfau Law Office

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 Traditional Foods & Drinks

October 17th, 2010

Filed under: Life Style — Lissan Magazine @ 19:47

The Traditional Foods of the Central Ethiopian Highlands.
Author: Ruth Selinus
The Scandinavian Institute of African Studies


Ethiopia differs in many respects from the remainder of tropical Africa, both in natural scenery and in culture. The topography of the country varies from high mountains and great plateaus 2000 - 3000 metres above sea-level to grasslands, jungles and deserts. Various ethnic groups, predominantly Hamitic and Semitic, speaking different languages, populate this vast country.

Like people in other parts of the world, each tribe in Ethiopia has its own beliefs and attitudes relating to foods. Some of these are related to foods and diseases, others to qualities, such as hot and cold or light and heavy foods. Food may be graded as dangerous for certain individuals or in certain situations. If a child develops any kind of upset at the time when a supplementary food is being introduced, it is only natural that the illness should be attributed to that food, especially if it is a gastro-intestinal upset. Some foods are endowed with special prestige.

The following introduction is based on studies carried out as part of an applied nutrition program within the framework of the Children’s Nutrition Unit (now transformed into the Ethiopian Nutrition Institute. The studies were carried out in widely different parts of Ethiopia, and included the major ethnic groups (Amahara, Oromo & Tigre) and also took account of seasonal variations.


Food Items

Plant origin
Cereals. The most important cereals are tef, corn, sorghum, barley wheat and millet. Tef is native to Ethiopia and a number of varieties are available. The most common are white (nech), red (qeyy) and a mixture of these two (sergegna). The kind of tef most preferred is white tef. In order to get the bread as white as possible, upper-class families may wash the seeds several times.

Corn, sorghum, barley and wheat are grown at different altitudes and are used instead of or together with tef. Emmer Wheat (Triticum dicoccum) is a cereal recognized as a suitable food for children. Millet is used in part of the region, mainly for the local beer.

Legumes. The next group of importance is legumes, the most common being chickpeas, field peas, lentils and broad beans. The legumes are used in the sauce (wot) whole, split or as flour, but are sometimes toasted whole (golo) and eaten as a snack with coffee.

Vegetables. Onions (mainly red onions) are grown in large areas and used in huge quantities. Kale (yabesha gommen) is the next vegetable of importance. It is cheap and is available for most of the year. Pumpkins and green chickpeas are used when available. Cauliflower, cabbage, red beets, tomatoes, etc. are grown mainly for consumption by foreigners.

Tubers. Potato (Solanum tuberosum), sweet potatoes (Impomoea batatas) and in the Oromo communities Oromo potatoes (Coleus edulis) are used in the staple diet.

Spices. Spices play an important role in most countries in Asia and Africa, and Ethiopia is no exception. Some of the spices are grown in Ethiopia, either cultivated or wild, and others are imported, mainly from India. The most important spices are chili and bird’s-eye chili. These are used in the spice mixtures berberre and mitmitta.

Fruit. Fruit is not grown in large quantities in the central highlands. The most common fruits are lemons and bananas. Of less importance are pawpaw and orange.

Oilseeds are important cash crops. Niger flax, sunflowers and safflowers are grown in large areas. Most of the oilseeds are used for producing oil, and the oilseed cakes are exported for cattle feeding.


Foods of animal origin

Milk. The amount of milk per cow is small. Fresh milk is mainly given to small children. From milk is prepared sour milk, butter and low-fat sour-milkcheese (ayib).

Meat. The meat of the cow, sheep or goat is eaten in the staple diet. Wealthy families can afford to serve this kind of food often but the majority of the population are poor and can serve meat only on ceremonial occasions, such as religious feasts. For big feasts the cow’s meat is served raw immediately after the animal is killed. The raw meat is spiced with the spice mixture mitmitta or awaze.

Chicken are common, but the eggs are mainly kept for sale, and the chicken are killed for big feasts.

Fish. Tilapia and Nile perch are available in the lakes. Fish is of very little importance in the staple diet, because of the poor transportation system.


Staple Foods

Preparation of grains
The grains are small (1000 grains weigh 0.3 - 0.4 g) and the foreign particles are removed by winnowing. The grains are contaminated with soil by the threshing procedure, and the large soil particles are picked out by hand.

Barley. The grains are soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, pounded in wooden mortars and left in the sun to dry. The husks are blown away. The grains are again pounded slightly, left to dry and the remaining husks are blown away. This procedure wastes about 15 % of the crop.

Emmer wheat. The grains are cleaned with the help of a sefied (straw plate) and foreign particles are removed by hand. After drying in the sun, the grains are pounded in wooden mortars and the husks are blown away. By this process about 25% of the initial weight is lost.

The grinding of grains can either be done between two stones in the home or in the local mill, which nowadays is more and more common. This milling process gives an extraction rate of about 90- 95%.
Preparation of Enjera
Enjera is a thin, pancake-like, sour, leavened bread, which can be made of either tef, corn, sorghum, barley or a mixture of two or three of these, depending on which is the main crop in the area. Enjera has been prepared since at least 100 B.C. The way in which it is prepared differs according to the type of cereal, the altitude, and the temperature. Investigations were carried out in different areas, among some ethnic groups, as shown in the following table:

1. Ijajai (Shoa)
Ethnic Group: Oromo + Amhara
Altitude: 1600
Monthly mean temp. 18-23

2. Makalle (Tigre)
Ethnic Group; Tigre
Altitude: 2170
Monthly mean temp. 16-20

3. Addis Ababa
Ethnic Group: Gurage + Amhara
Altitude: 2340
Monthly mean temp. 15-18

4. Gondar (Begemder)
Ethnic Group: Koumant
Altitude: 3000
Monthly mean temp. 10-16

Tef enjera. The flour is mixed with water to form a dough and kneaded by hand. A leaven (ersho) is added. The leaven can be obtained in different ways, for example, a small amount of the previous enjera dough may be saved for the next dough or the bowl may be left uncleaned after the dough is made and the small quantity left will be sufficient for leavening. If no enjera leaven is available, one can use the local beer (tella).

The enjera is allowed to ferment for 1-5 days. Most often 3 days of fermentation are allowed, but, if time is scarce, the dough is fermented for only 1 or 2 days. The long-fermented enjera will give a better sourer taste and look nicer.

During the fermentation period a top layer consisting of mould and a yellow liquid appears. The custom is to remove this in order to get an enjera with a nice texture. Poor people cannot afford to throw this away. The liquid can also be used as a leaven.

A small part of the dough is added to boiling water and this mixture is stirred until it starts to boil again, after which the whole mixture (called absit) is added to the enjera dough. This gives the dough the right fermentation before baking starts. More water is added, if necessary. About 30 minutes afterwards the baking can start. The pH value of the dough is 4.0-5.0.

In the northern part of the country (at a higher altitude) the preparation of the enjera differs, in that the flour is toasted lightly on the mitad and the clay container with the dough is put in the warm ash or in the sunshine for a few hours, in order to start the fermentation process. The time for fermentation is 4-5 days.

At lower altitudes the toasted flour and water is made into a thick dough, which is left to ferment for 1-2 days. Hot water is then added to obtain a thin dough, which is ready for baking.

Barley enjera is made in the Tigre Begemder and Arussi Province. In Tigre the preparation does not differ much from the preparation of the tef enjera.

In Begemder Province, where an investigation was carried out among the Koumant ethnic group in the highlands 30 kilometres north of Gondar, the barley enjera is prepared in a somewhat different way. After grinding the barley, the rough part of the grain is mixed with water to form a thick dough, which is made into small balls stored in the husks of barley (for about 2 weeks) or until they are reddish inside (wokena). When making enjera, half of one wokena is added, in addition to the usual leaven. The dough is fermented for 4 days, boiling water is added and the dough is allowed to rise before baking.

Corn enjera in the Oromo communities in Shoa Province is made in a different way, as far as investigation shows. The corn is crushed between stones, and hot water is added to form a thick dough. This dough is fermented during the day and after that the dough is kneaded twice between stones, and water is added to obtain the desired consistence of the dough, which is then baked.

In the Arussi Province the corn flour is mixed with water and allowed to stand overnight. In the morning the dough is kneaded twice, the leaven and water are added until the dough takes on the right consistence and the dough is allowed to ferment for 1 day.

Baking. The enjera pan (mitad) is made of clay and has a diameter of 45-60 cm. The mitad is heated and cleaned with a piece of cloth. The pan is greased with kale and rape seeds. The dough is put on the pan in a circular shape, forming a thin cake, which is first baked without a cover for about 45-60 seconds. After that the cover is put on and the bread is baked on one side. The total baking time for one enjera is 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 minutes. The temperature in the middle of the enjera during the baking process was found to be 88-90 degrees C. The weight of one tef enjera is 350-450 g and of one corn enjera 400-500 g.

The bread is removed from the fire with the help of a straw plate and allowed to cool down. After the baking is finished, some rape seeds are put on the mitad until the next time for baking. Enjera can be kept for 3-4 days.

Nutritive value of enjera. Lysine is the first limiting amino acid in tef, as in all cereals. During the fermentation process some lysine is destroyed and a large percentage is dissolved in the yellow top layer, which is often thrown away. Therefore the nutritive value of the enjera is further decreased, as compared with that of the cereal. About 10% of the thiamine is destroyed during baking. The high iron content is mainly due to contamination from the iron-rich soil; the availability of this iron fraction is probably low. The increase in riboflavin during the fermentation process is about 5%. However, part of the riboflavin is dissolved in the top layer, which is thrown away.

Tef flour contains 180 mg of phytic phosphorus per 100 g on a dry basis and the enjera 20 mg/100 g on a dry basis. Owing to the fermentation process, the amount of phytic phosphorus decreased by 80%, which shows that there is a considerable destruction of phytic acid.

Kita is a bread made of whole-grain flour. It can either be leavened or unleavened. The leavened bread is fermented for a few hours. Kita is baked as a thick bread on the clay mitad at low heat and turned after being baked on one side.


Qey Wot and Allicha Wot
In those parts of Ethiopia where enjera is a staple food, it is seldom eaten separately. Occasionally it may be eaten as a snack with coffee in the morning, if nothing else is available. Very poor people may eat enjera with berberre for a meal. But most often enjera and sauce are eaten together. When one asks about the menu for a meal, the answer is often simply enjera, because it is understood that sauce will accompany the enjera. It may be a qeyy wot (most often called wot) or allicha wot (most often called allicha). The main ingredients for these sauces are legumes, meat, fish, chicken, vegetables or tubers. Onion, fat (oil or butter), salt and spices are also added. The spice mixture berberre is used in the qeyy wot and green pepper and tumeric in the allicha wot. The recipes and the preparation of the wot and allicha differ from place to place and between the different ethnic groups. Tradition, religion, economic and social situations play important roles.

The Ethiopians prefer to eat the wot or allicha with large quantities of fat (oil during the fasting days for the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians). A wot for a feast should have a top layer of fat. Wealthy people also prepare the wot or allicha with large amounts of protein-rich food, meat, chicken or legumes. A wot or allicha for poor people will be more watery with less fat (mainly oil) or no fat and smaller quantities of the protein-rich food. These families will also mainly serve dishes prepared with legumes, vegetables or tubers, as they cannot afford to buy meat or chicken.

Because of the poor transportation system, the consumtion of fish is low. Therefore the nutritive values of the dishes show great variations as between different groups in the Ethiopian community. The traditional food is served in a mesop, which is a kind of basket made of straw. The enjeras are placed on top of each other in the mesop, most often one per adult person. The sauce is placed in the centre of the enjera. During feasts several wot and allicha are served for the meal, for example, one type of wot with meat or chicken, one wot or allicha with legumes and one with vegetables. Sour-milk cheese (ayib) is sometimes served with the enjera. The guests and adult men eat first and after that the women and children. The thick part of the sauce is the best and most tasty and will therefore be taken first. The thin part of the wot has been soaked up by the enjera and this may be the only food for women and children. It is also said that:” A child should be hungry”. Small pieces of enjera are eaten at a time and with the help of these also the wot is consumed. When the guest has finished eating it is polite to put more pieces of enjera and wot (gorsha) into his mouth. Before eating, the hands are washed with water and in wealthy families soap is used. Most often the children carry the water around. The water is poured over the hands of each person and caught in a special bowl; it would be unclean to wash the hands in water that another person has used. The washing procedure is repeated after the meal.

The wot can be eaten either freshly prepared or served cool. This is especially the case in some areas where they eat the food left over from the previous day in the morning before starting the daily work.

The Ethiopian culture and tradition is built up around this traditional food pattern, enjera and wot, and there are many proverbs about it. One says that “Hand and fly-whisk, mouth and enjera go together” and another “The enjera I have, my lass, the wot I wait you to pass”.

Preparation of wot and allicha. The chopped onion and garlic are toasted at low heat until golden brown. Butter or oil is added and the onion is fried for about 5 minutes. The berberre, other spices, salt and a small amount of water are added and the mixture is cooked for about 15-20 minutes. The spice mixture berberre has the nicest taste after being cooked in a mixture containing fat. When chicken, meat, vegetables or potatoes are used, the raw pieces are added to the spicy sauce, together with water, and after that it is boiled until ready. Legumes are most often boiled in water and afterwards added to the spicy sauce. Pea flour (shiro) when used, is mixed with boiling water and added to the spice mixture. The allicha is prepared in the same way as geyy wot and the spices and salt are added to the onion and fat mixture. The green pepper is chopped after the seeds have been taken away and added to the spicy sauce. In the villages in the central Ethiopian highlands green pepper is not available during the entire year and the allicha is made without this spice. Fairly often the wot or allicha are over-cooked and part of the ascorbic acid and the thiamine is destroyed.

The wot for a real feast contains an ample supply of chicken and eggs (dorowot). Poor people save money so they can afford to buy chicken for breaking their fast after the long fasting period (fazika zom) during Lent. Many traditional rules are followed in the preparation of dorowot for this feast. The chicken must be cleaned very thoroughly and it is said to be a great shame to the housewife if a small barb is found in the wot. It is also said that, by tasting the wot, one can tell if the chicken has been cleaned satisfactorily. The chicken should always be cut into 12 pieces. Tejj (honey wine) sometimes replaces water in this wot. Eggs are hard-boiled and peeled, and small cuts are made in them and they are put into the sauce before serving, in order to acquire the spicy taste.

Fitfit is a mixture of enjera and sauce (wot or allicha). Fitfit can be served to the family but is commonly given to a child when it starts to eat the family diet. The wot or allicha may be of different types but should be somewhat thinner than the usual one. Fresh or dried enjera (yenjera dirqosh) can be used for fitfit.

Qolo (toasted cereals, legumes or sunflower seeds). Toasted foodstuffs are either eaten as a snack with coffee or (in one part of the country) served as the main meal. The cereals, legumes or sunflower seeds are toasted on the metal mitad (sometimes corn is boiled before being toasted). The toasted products are difficult to digest, especially for the children, and the nutritive value is reduced, because some of the amino acids lysine and thiamine are destroyed by the toasting process.

Nefro (boiled cereals and legumes). Different types of cereals and legumes are boiled in salty water and served as a snack or as a main meal.

Kinche is crushed grains (wheat, Emmer wheat), which are boiled in salted water and served hot, mostly for breakfast.

Gonfo (porridge). Gonfo is a traditional food in some of the Ethiopian ethnic groups. Porridge may be served as a main meal (breakfast) or on special occasions. Most often this food is given to the mother after childbirth, and also to guests for this celebration. It is also believed to give extra strength during sickness. The porridge is made of whole grain flour, wheat, barley, tef, corn or sorghum. Fairly often a mixture of two cereals is used and chickpeas flour may also be added. The porridge is prepared in the usual way and salt is added. Porridge is served in the pot or in a bowl and spiced butter and berberre are put in a hole in the middle of the porridge. The poor people cannot afford to buy this large amount of butter and will mix the butter and spice with the porridge. Porridge is most often served hot. “Porridge and love should be served hot, if cold, they will lose a lot”.

Shiro (pea flour). Pea flour is made at home from split peas. Sometimes the pea flour is mixed with salt and spices and is then readied for use in the wot or allicha. This type of mixture can also be bought in shops and in some of the local markets. Two types of shiro can be found, but, of course, the proportion of different spices shows great variations.

Meten shiro is used for shire wot. The pea flour is mixed with dried, ground garlic, ginger, chili, black cummin, bishop’s weed, Ethiopian cardemom and salt. About 20-30% of the total weight is spices and salt.

Nech shiro is used for shiro allicha. To the pea flour are added the spices, consisting of dried and ground garlic, ginger, maka lesha (a spice mixture) and salt. Fifteen to twenty per cent of the ready-made shiro consists of spices and salt.

Fenugreek (abish). Fenugreek is one of the oldest cultivated plants and has been grown in Egypt and India since ancient times. The early Egyptians recognized it as a health-giving plant and used it as a medicine, for food and in religious ceremonies. Harem women of the East ate the seeds to give themselves a pleasing plumpness. In India the young plants are used as a vegetable and the seeds as a spice. In Ethiopia fenugreek seeds are used extensively as a spice, a food and a medicine. The green part of the plant is apparently never used as a vegetable. It would be of great nutritive value, because of the content of calcium, iron, carotene and ascorbic acid in the leaves. The seeds are used with other spices in the wot or they can be used to flavour enjera. In infant-feeding it is common to give the infant the third or fourth decoction of the seeds. The seeds contain around 22% of protein and the decoction about O,5%.

Fenugreek can also be used to prepare a beverage which is frequently consumed during the fasting period. The flour is poured slowly over the surface of cold water and should not be stirred. The flour will be allowed to sink to the bottom of the bowl and remain undisturbed from the evening to the next morning, in order to remove the bitterness of the seeds. In the morning the water is slowly but completely poured away, the dough is beaten for about 5 minutes and sugar or honey and water are added at intervals. This drink is believed to be especially valuable during the long fasting period.


Milk and milk products
Fresh milk is kept especially for infants, but the main part is stored in gourds in the hut until it is sour. After that it is shaken and the butter fat is separated. The buttermilk (arera) can be used as a beverage or the lowfat sourmilk cheese (ayib) can be made from it.

Ayib is prepared from buttermilk by heating in a clay pot until it curds, when the whey (aqquat) is taken away. The sour-milk cheese can be kept for a considerably longer time than milk. The biological value of the protein is high and the amount is about 15%.

Butter is stored in small gourds in the home. Because of the unhygienic conditions the butter made at home is often dirty, contains a considerable amount of buttermilk and gets rancid quickly.

The unspiced butter is mainly given to small children; it is put into their mouths and noses in order to grease their intestines. Unspiced butter is also used by the Oromo women for greasing their bodies.

In Ethiopia, as in other African countries, butter is made into ghee, which can be stored in the hut for a long time. The type of ghee which is made in Ethiopia is always spiced. The most common spices are Ethiopian cardamom, garlic, black cummin, tumeric, fenugreek, sacred basil, rue, ginger, cloves, long pepper, black pepper and salt. All the spices, except lumeric and fenugreek, are pounded in the mortar and toasted on the metal mitad. Fenugreek seeds are toasted and the prepared spices are ground on the wofcho. Butter and the spice mixture are heated in the pot and stirred. When all the water has evaporated and the fat is clear and light brown in colour, the ground tumeric is added and the fat is sieved. The bottom part is heated again and sieved. This butter has a liquid consistence and smells of the spices used.


Spice Mixtures
Berberre consists of a mixture of different spices, the main ingredient being chili (Capsicum frutescens). A number of varieties of chili, both wild and cultivated, are grown in the Ethiopian Highlands. In the local language (amharinja) the term berberre means both the pod (chili) and the spice mixture (see below). The green, unripe chili can be chopped and mixed with shallots, garlic and other condiments. The red chili is most common in use. As far as quality is concerned, the stage of maturity is of great importance. The best quality is the dark, red type. The pods are picked by hand and then dried in the sun on a fibre mat or on the ground, with the result that they are contaminated by the soil. The seeds are often dried separately. The dried chili can be kept for a long time in dry storage and the spice mixture is most often made for the monthly needs. The chili has high contents of carotene (vitamin-A precursor) and ascorbic acid, but the amounts are considerably decreased if the spice is dried and stored under poor conditions.

The pounded chili is mixed with garlic, ginger, fresh sacred basil and rue and is left in the sun to dry and afterwards milled. The spice mixture should be kept in an airtight container in the dark; if it is stored in the light, the carotene will be destroyed and the colour will change. Sometimes the spice mixture is mixed with a small quantity of water to form a paste.

Mitmitta is a spice mixture mainly used for raw meat. Bird’s-eye chili is dried with Ethiopian cardamom, black cummin, and bishop’s weed, and then mixed with salt and ground. This spice mixture should be stored in an airtight container in the dark. Mitmitta is better than the berberre mixture. In the Begemder Province a type of chili between chili and bird’s-eye chili, both in size and spiciness, is used.

Makalesha is a spice mixture made up of imported spices and can be bought in the local spice market or made at home. Black pepper, long pepper, cloves and cinnamon are heated slightly on the metal mitad in order to dry them and are then ground in the mortar. Makalesha is often used in wot and allicha, when the dark colour of the spice mixture does not interfere with the desired colour of the dish.

Awaze is a spice mixture which is mainly used for spicing raw meat. Most often this spice mixture is prepared before a big feast, and served as a dry spice or mixed with tejj (honey wine) or water.

Seeded pods of chili are pounded together with chopped ginger, garlic and red onion in the mortar. The other spices — Ethiopian cardamom, cloves, bishop’s weed and black cummin are heated on the iron mitad and mixed with the chili mixture and milled.


The beverage for weekdays is the local beer (tella) and for feasts honey wine (tejj). It is polite to serve the glass so full that it overflows, and also to serve a second glass as soon as the first is finished.

Tella is made of different cereals. Tef and corn are the most popular, but in some areas barley, millet or sorghum can be used. The way of preparing tella differs as between the ethnic groups and depends on tradition and the economic situation. The clay container (insera) is washed with grawa and water several times and after that smoked with wood from weyra, and/or tinjute for about 10 minutes, in order to get it as clean as possible. Germinated grains of barley, corn or wheat (bekel), bought in the local market or prepared at home, are dried and milled. For making bekel, the grains are moistened in water and the moist grains are placed between fresh leaves, left to germinate for 3 days and after that dried. Gesho (local hops), is available dried in the local market. The gesho is dried again in the sun for about 1/2 hour and after that pounded. The leaves are separated from the stems, which need a longer time to dry. The ground gesho leaves are placed in a clay container with water and left to ferment for 2-3 days. Some of the grains intended for tella preparation are toasted and milled, and then mixed with water and baked on the mitad. This kita, broken into small pieces, part of the milled bekel and the pounded gesho stems are added to the water mixture and allowed to ferment for 1-2 days. The rest of the flour is toasted on the mitad, sprinkled with water and toasted until dark brown. This mixture enkuro, the rest of the germinated grains (bekel), some gesho, and water are added to the container. The mixture is kept covered overnight, after which more water is added and the container is kept sealed for 5-7 days, when the beverage is ready. Tella can be kept for 10-12 days.

High-quality tella is made with a relatively small quantity of water.

Kerari. When the clear tella is used, fresh water is added and the mixture is again left to ferment. This beverage is weaker than the regular tella, and is most often used for family consumption, it is sometimes also given to the small children. The better quality is most often kept for guests.

Filtered tella is made in the same way (sometimes the flour is toasted very hard), but is more concentrated and the tella is filtered through a cotton cloth and kept in a closed container. This type of tella has a higher alcohol content and can be kept for 2-3 weeks.

Korefe is the name of the local beer made in Begemder Province among the Koumant ethnic group. Dehusked barley is left in water overnight, and after that toasted and milled. It is mixed with water, and dried gesho leaves and fermented in a clay container for 2-3 months. When the beverage is needed, a small quantity of the mixture is taken, more water is added and after a day’s fermentation the beverage is ready for consumption.

Shamit is the local beer made among the Gurage ethnic group. Tef, kita and germinated barley (bekel) are milled and mixed with water, and the mixture is sieved after 3-4 days’ fermentation. Dehusked barley is toasted on the mitad, milled and added to the mixture, and the beverage is ready to serve the next day, when Ethiopian cardamom, mitmitta, black cummin and bishop’s weed are added.

Tejj (honey wine) is a beverage mainly used for great feasts, such as weddings and the breaking of fasts. It is a prestige beverage, and more expensive than the local beer. The most appreciated honey is the Tigre type. The honey is mixed with water and kept covered for 3 days. The wax and foreign particles are removed by sieving, and the mixture is put in a clean clay container (insera). Gesho stems are heated on the mitad and added to the mixture, which is left to ferment in a closed container for 5-6 days.

Filtered tejj is made in much the same way, but the gesho stems are crushed several times in the hands. The tejj is filtered through a cotton cloth and put in a clean container and left to ferment. The tejj can be served fresh and is very sweet. The longer it is allowed to ferment, the more sugar will be used for the fermentation process, with an increase in the alcohol content as a result. The slightly sweet tejj looks nice and tastes good. One proverb says “Tejj has no spots and a poor man has no friends”. Tejj can be stored for 5-6 months if kept in sealed bottles.

Araqe is a distilled beverage. Ground gesho leaves and water are kept for 3-4 days and after that a kita made of tef or other cereals and germinated barley or wheat are added. The mixture is allowed to ferment for 5-6 days and then distilled. In the villages distillation is carried out with primitive equipments made of gourds and wood. The local beer tella can also be distilled to produce araqe. The araqe can be redistilled and will then have a higher alcohol content.

The alcohol contents of different beverages are listed below
Tella: 2.0 - 3.5 % Alcohol
Tella, filtered: 5.0 - 6.0 % Alcohol
Tejj: 6.0 - 9.0 % Alcohol
Araqe: 22.0 - 28.0 % Alcohol
Araqe, redistilled: 45.0 - 50.0 % Alcohol


Coffee is the beverage most used in parts of the Highlands. The coffee is bought in small quantities — often one Ethiopian coffee cup (50-75 cc) in the local market. The amount needed for one preparation is toasted hard on the mitad, and the beans are ground in a small mortar and put into boiling water. The time for boiling coffee varies from a few minutes to 10 minutes or more. It is a common practice of the Oromo ethnic group to put a small amount of salt in the coffee. Sugar is added to the coffee in large quantities by people who can afford to buy sugar. After the first serving to the guests and the husband, fresh water is added to the pot and the coffee is boiled again. This poor-quality coffee is served to the other members of the family, sometimes also to the children. In the villages it is common for the neighbouring women to visit each other, drink coffee and talk together. The coffee-drinking is the most important social function among the women in a village and is sometimes a kind of institution. Outsiders without good contacts with the women in the village should not disturb them in their houses during the coffee hour. With coffee is served a small snack, such as toasted cereals or legumes (qolo) or, if these are not available, a piece of enjera or kita. Fairly often the coffee cups and the coffee tray are borrowed from family to family and, if there is a shortage of cups, the most important people are served first and the others get the second serving.

Tea is not grown in Ethiopia but is imported in small quantities. Tea is boiled with large amounts of sugar and spices, such as rue or mint, and served with a fresh leaf of rue. Tea is a prestige beverage, because it is more expensive than coffee. In parts of the country coffee leaves are used in the same way as tea.

Chat (Catha edulis). Catha edulis is a shrub cultivated in Ethiopia. The leaves have been chewed as a narcotic by people in Arabia and eastern Africa for centuries. Most of the pharmacological activity of chat is due to the presence of D-nor-isoephedrine (cathine). During the rainy season, when chat is cheap, large quantities are used, but less during the dry season, when the price is increased. The Moslems usually start to chew chat in the morning, while they are meditating and praying. The fresh leaves are chewed until all the juice is extracted and large quantities of water are taken at the same time. After about 10 minutes the drug is swallowed. Chat is said to relieve hunger; after chewing chat, it is said that the men can work the whole day without food. Thus, chat interferes with the traditional habit of eating 2-3 meals per day, and may result in a lower nutritional standard for individuals and also for their families, because too much money may be spent on chat.


Food For Fasts Among The Ethiopian Orthodox Christians
According to the fasting rules for the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, the food on fasting days should not include any food of animal origin, with the exception of fish. The main ingredient in the wot or allicha must thus be of vegetable origin and the sauce must be based on legumes, potatoes, kale or pumpkin. As already indicated, fish is difficult to transport and easily goes bad and is therefore too expensive for most people.

The key wot or allicha wot prepared on fasting days are adaptations of regular dishes to the fasting rules. Special traditional fasting dishes, such as elbet and seljo, may be prepared.

Another common fasting dish is oilseed sauce, prepared in the same way as wot or allicha. To make this, oilseeds — niger, lax or safflower — are toasted, crushed and mixed with hot water. This mixture is spiced and served in the traditional way with enjera or mixed with the enjera as fit-fit. In part of the Ethiopian Highlands the wot made of flax seed is the staple food during the entire year.

Beverages made of flax, safflower or fenugreek are also used during fasting periods.


The international organizations are aware of the magnitude of the problem of malnutrition and are working on different lines. Everywhere experiences has shown that, in building up an applied nutrition programme, the food habits, traditions and taboos in the country should be taken into consideration. More knowledge of every detail of social organization and the significance of good habits is therefore an essential pre-requisite for guided change. This type of background information can be made good use of in practical development programmes.



post Racist Birth Control?

April 24th, 2010

Filed under: Immigration Stories — Lissan Magazine @ 13:02

Claims Israel culling Ethiopian Jews.

A feminist movement has accused the Israeli government of adopting a racist policy towards the country’s Ethiopian Jews. Activists believe black women are deliberately being given a controversial contraceptive, to bring about a drop in the population – a claim the government denies. Thousands of Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel since the 1980s, but their Jewish heritage has been questioned, while their social status continues to suffer.

A Comment by Prentice Reid from “The Human Condition”

Depo-Provera was given to Native American women in 1987 by planned parenthood before it was approved by the FDA. In 1999 Peru was found to be forcibly sterlizing women and forcibly injecting them with Depo-Provera all with USAID’s assistance. It is routine for these organizations to give minority women the injectable contaceptives because they can be decieved into believing they are getting an immunization.

During the initial animal tests with Depo-Provera:Depo-Provera caused breast cancer tumors in dogs. Depo-Provera caused endometrial cancer in monkeys—2 of 12 monkeys tested, the first ever recorded cases of endometrial cancer in rhesus monkeys. Speaking in comparative terms regarding animal studies of carcinogenicity for drugs, a member of the FDA’s Bureau of Drugs testified at an agency Depo hearing, “…Animal data for this drug is more worrisome than any other drug we know of that is to be given to well people.

Cervical cancer was found to be increased as high as 9-fold in the first human studies recorded by the manufacturer and the National Cancer Institute by Depo

Testing/use of Depo was focused almost exclusively on women in developing countries and poor women in the US also they have been caught giving the Depo shot to the mentally challenged, who in some reported cases were given Depo long-term for reasons of “menstrual hygiene”, in spite of the fact that they were not sexually active. In an Atlanta/Grady Study they studied the effect of Depo for 11 years in Atlanta, mostly on black women who were receiving public assistance, but did not file any of the required follow-up reports with the FDA.

Investigators who eventually visited noted that the studies were disorganized. “They found that data collection was questionable, consent forms and protocol were absent; that those women whose consent had been obtained at all were not told of possible side effects. Women whose known medical conditions indicated that use of Depo would endanger their health were given the shot. Several of the women in the study died; some of cancer, but some for other reasons, such as suicide due to depression. Over half the 13,000 women in the study were lost to follow-up due to sloppy record keeping.” Consequently, no data from this study was usable. One in five black teenagers using birth control in the US uses Depo-Provera, a far higher rate of use than for white teenagers. One activist, Dorothy Roberts, claims this is because black teenagers are disproportionately targeted for the least safe contraceptives.


post Treasures from Ethiopia

March 7th, 2010

Filed under: Historical Stories — Lissan Magazine @ 18:37

The collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum include a number of Ethiopian objects and images. Many of these are associated with a British military expedition undertaken to Ethiopia (then known as Abyssinia) in 1867-68, which ended with the ransacking of the Ethiopian Emperor’s fortress at Magdala. Not all of the objects, however, are straightforward products of plunder. Indeed, the stories behind the acquisition of the photographs, textiles, jewellery, religious and other artefacts held by the V&A reveal a complex web of people, places and politics brought together by conflict. This article presents the stories which lie behind some of these objects and contrasts the personal experiences of those caught up in the conflict with the way in which the ‘Abyssinian Expedition’ was presented to the British public. This article highlights just some of the objects and images associated with the Expedition which can be found in the V&A’s collections.

Personal Histories

photograph of Prince Alamayou, 1868
(photo: Julia Margaret Cameron)

The Ethiopian Prince Alamayou was one of the casualties of the conflict. He is pictured, aged seven, in a photograph taken by Julia Margaret Cameron after he had been brought to England following the death of his parents. Alamayou’s sad story was reported in the British press and attracted the sympathy of many, including Queen Victoria who arranged for the state funding of his education. He was popularly cast as a romantic and melancholy figure, as is apparent in Cameron’s photograph. Alamayou’s death of pleurisy at the age of 18 was described by the Queen as ‘too sad’. His image appears in four places in the V&A’s collections; in the Cameron photograph, on two cartes de visite and in a photograph pasted into a family album.

Alamayou’s guardian in England was a British army officer and colonial official, Captain Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy. Speedy was well-acquainted with the Prince’s homeland having travelled to Ethiopia in 1860 to assist his father, the Emperor Tewodros II (Theodore), with military training.

Captain Speedy (known as Báshá Féleke), 1868
(photo: Julia Margaret Cameron)

Whilst there Speedy developed a strong affinity with the Ethiopian people; he learned to speak Amharic and adopted native dress. In 1868 he returned to serve as civilian interpreter to the British expedition. Back in England, the six foot five, red haired and bearded Captain made an unlikely but affectionate guardian figure to the slight Prince.

Speedy appears in a photograph by Cameron in the V&A’s collections. Wearing Ethiopian dress, he stands over a reclined unidentified African man, with a spear in his hand, apparently playing out a fantasy of conquest (the photograph has been titled ‘Spear or spare’). The mount carries the handwritten caption ‘Báshá Félíka’ meaning ’speedy’; the Amharic name given to Speedy by Tewodros. Speedy’s relationship with the Ethiopian people is also reflected in a small collection of objects given to the Museum by his goddaughter in 1936. Unfortunately the stories behind how he acquired the engraved silver and iron handcrosses, silver anklets, hairpin and ornament have not been recorded although it is possible the objects may have royal connections. Further items formerly in the collection of Speedy are held by the British Museum.

Speedy was not the only European to make the acquaintance of the Ethiopian Emperor. In the years before the Expedition Tewodros had been an admirer of Europe and its technologies, particularly those used in the manufacture of arms. He had formed close associations with the British traveller John Bell, who visited Ethiopia in the early 1840s, and Walter Plowden, the first British consul to Ethiopia, who arrived in 1848. However, by the 1860s Tewodros had become frustrated by a lack of support from Europe for his campaigns against Turkish expansion on the Red Coast. In 1864, in an attempt to prompt the British and French governments into action, he took a number of Europeans hostage including the second British consul, Captain Cameron. Queen Victoria sent a letter to Tewodros seeking their release but her envoy, the civil servant Hormuzd Rassam, was also captured. Following parliamentary debate, Britain began to plan a punitive military expedition. Under the leadership of General Sir Robert Napier, in 1868 the expedition marched to Tewodros’s fortress at Maqdala and a brief battle took place nearby. Britain won the conflict, but not before the captives were released and Tewodros himself had committed suicide.

Tewodros’s suicide on the eve of the storming of his fortress left a widow, Queen Woyzaro Terunesh. She requested that her son, Prince Alamayou, and she be escorted by British forces to her native province of Semyen, in northwest Tigray. However, as the party reached Haiq Hallet on 15 May 1868, the Queen died, apparently of lung disease. A report in the British press described ‘Her funeral [which] took place next morning in the great church at Chelicut … The women of her household, showing her robe, her ornaments, her slippers and her drinking cup, beat their breasts, tore their hair, and scratched their cheeks, shedding tears of real grief as they bewailed her death’ (Illustrated London News, 1868). The Queen’s possessions, which were listed by the British political agent at Aden (Yemen), were sent on by ship to the Secretary of State for India at the India Office, London. They were given to the South Kensington Museum (later V&A) in 1869 and included two cotton robes lavishly embellished with silk embroidery; a shawl; silver bracelets, anklets and rings; two ‘amulet’ necklaces of leather, silver and amber and a silver hair pin with decorative finial.

Woman’s dress formerly in the possession of Queen Woyzaro Terunesh, 1860s.

The Queen’s possessions, the collection of Ethiopian objects formed by Captain Speedy and the photographs of Speedy and Prince Alamayou, provide a tangible link to people whose experiences of the conflict in Ethiopia strayed from the official narrative. In the British public sphere, however, these disparate experiences were written over by a unified and triumphant tale of conquest. The second part of this article reflects on the public presentation of the Abyssinian Expedition.

Public Narratives
Given the great complexity and expense of the Abyssinian Expedition, which involved more than 13,000 men, 30,000 animals and a journey of some 400 miles, it was necessary to engage the support of the British public. This was largely achieved through recounting a patriotic tale of a great imperial power overcoming a hostile territory and ‘barbarian potentate’. Significantly, the expedition was one of Britain’s earliest military operations to be captured via the relatively new science of photography. Two sets of photographic stores and equipment were sent from England by the Royal Engineers’ Establishment and used to record the landscapes, camp scenes and leading individuals associated with the expedition.

The V&A’s collections include at least seven photographs taken by the Royal Engineers from a series of 78. Three of these are panoramas, painstakingly formed by pasting together three photographs. One records the expedition camp at Zoola (Zula). Taken from a high vantage point, it captures the huge amount of equipment and technology required for such an expedition. Feats of engineering were a particular focus for visual record and the Zoola image includes part of a British-built railway line which ran ten and a half miles inland. Another photograph in the series presents a view up the Sooroo Pass, or ‘Devil’s Staircase’ as the Assistant Field Engineer charged with forging a path through it, is said to have called it. It took four companies three months to construct a ten-foot-wide cart road up the pass.

Images such as these were disseminated through official and unofficial reports, museum displays and the British press as evidence of Britain’s military and technological powers. The Illustrated London News published numerous engravings of the Expedition. Some were based on the Royal Engineers’ photographs, others on sketches made by the newspaper’s Special Artist in the field, William Simpson. The V&A holds two Ethiopian handcrosses which were donated to the Museum by Simpson’s wife following his death. Both carry the inscription ‘Abyssinian Cross 1868 William Simpson’ and presumably fulfilled a function somewhere between medal and souvenir.

Military personnel involved in the Expedition were encouraged to make drawings and reports. On the orders of the Secretary of State for War, Major Trevenen James Holland wrote the only official account of the expedition with a military colleague, Sir Henry Montague Hozier. Record of the Expedition to Abyssinia was published in two volumes in 1870. Holland may be the vendor of several Ethiopian items to the South Kensington Museum in April 1869 including a pair of silver anklets, a ‘Galla’ (Oromo) necklace, a pair of earrings and two processional crosses.

Following the defeat of Abyssinian troops, British forces entered the Magdala fortress with the aim of collecting anything of value to be later auctioned off to raise money for the troops. They were accompanied by Richard Holmes, an assistant in the department of manuscripts at the British Museum, who removed a number of objects - manuscripts, regalia, religious antiquities and other material - from the imperial treasury and from the Church of the Saviour of the World. Holmes also made a sketch of the face of the dead Ethiopian emperor, which was reproduced in the British press and in popular print formats such as carte de visite. A golden crown and chalice initially acquired by Holmes from a soldier were deposited with the South Kensington Museum by H.M. Treasury in 1872. Recent scholarship has suggested that they were commissioned by Empress Mentewwab for a church she founded in Gondar in 1740. Today these items can be seen on display at the Museum, in a gallery which highlights the role of precious vessels of gold and silver in religious rites and ceremonies.

Today, the Abyssinian items are valued for their beauty, craft and religious significance but an 1868 display at the South Kensington Museum entitled ‘Abyssinian objects from the Emperor Theodore, Lent by the Queen, the Admiralty and others’ was clearly intended to celebrate an imperial conquest. No list of exhibits survives but an essayist in the Gentleman’s Magazine described the display as a ’show-case full of victorious trophies, “spolia opima” of our late enemy, his Majesty King Theodore’. Another noted the inclusion of a portrait of the dead Emperor’s head, presumably based on Holmes’ sketch. Even 20 years later a Guide to the South Kensington Museum noted that ‘vestments and garments’ on display had been ‘captured during the Abyssinian campaign under Lord Napier of Magdala’.

The objects and images described in this article, then, have fulfilled many different functions - religious, ceremonial, decorative, documentary and political - and their current home at the V&A represents one stopping-off point on a turbulent historical journey. In the 21st century, as in the 19th, they make a conflict distant to us in time and place more tangible and immediate. The material also challenges the idea that the ‘Abyssinian Expedition’ was a clear-cut clash between ‘them’ and ‘us’ and provides an unsettling reminder of the imperial processes which enabled British museums to acquire the cultural assets of others.


post Ethiopian Law Newsletter

February 28th, 2010

Filed under: General Issue — Lissan Magazine @ 19:37

Recently, we received a letter from Fikadu Asfaw(Legal Counselor and attorney-at-law) from Addis Abeba. He offered us to contribute an article based on essential law information of Ethiopia. We are grateful that Mr. Fikadu Asfaw volunteered to provide those who are intending to travel around in Ethiopia with useful regulation of the country.

Mr. Asfaw’s letter:
Request for article contribution

Dear Lissan Magazine;
I am writing you this letter from a Fikadu Asfaw law office, an Ethiopia law Office in Addis Ababa. I have seen your articles posted at on different topics. I love them. If it is possible, I would also like to contribute some legal articles, which I post in my website blog.  Thus it is to request you provide me with detailed information in this regard.

Detailed Information about Fikadu Asfaw law office is Available at the following address.

Best regards
Fikadu Asfaw
Legal Counselor and attorney-at-law



Making The Roads Of Addis Safer
Rumors has it that some international (not to say foreign) drivers are wary of driving around Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. That might be a little exaggeration, may be intended to trick drivers of Addis, to make them more cautious in their driving, sometimes a tempting way of utilizing their hospitality for good end. Still some statistics has identified Addis (and Ethiopia, we should assume, because: significant percentage of cars in Ethiopia is located in Addis or its surroundings) as a place where traffic accidents are frequent. The story seems destined to be changing these days, at least by common sense standard. The administration seems to have taken note of concerns in traffic accidents and has been taking strict measures to make the roads of Addis safer. It has more than once set more hours and forms of training for prospective licensees, which some say is becoming too expensive in terms of time and money. And to the disappointment of new applicants, the administration had also temporarily suspended issuance of new licenses for a while until, one might assume, the administration overhauled the procedure for issuance.
Read more

Divorce and Ethiopian Law - Divorce and Its Effects under Ethiopian Family Law
If you wonder to know how marriage dissolves in Ethiopia here is some brief note. In Ethiopia, there are three forms of marriage. i.e. civil, customary and religious marriages. But the effect of dissolution of all forms of marriage is the same. How can marriage be dissolved by divorce?
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How to Get a Work Permit in Ethiopia
Are you planning to come to Ethiopia for work? Do you want to know how you can get a work permit here in Ethiopian? Here is significant information in this regard. Enjoy reading it. Except some security issues, which are common for any country, there are no travel restrictions in Ethiopia. Except on flagrant cases there is no serious requirement regarding health, insurance, money…etc. Any foreigner coming to Ethiopia, except those foreigners coming from tourist-generating countries, is required to obtain visa either at the arrival gate or prior to ones arrival from Ethiopian Embassies, Permanent Missions & Consulate Generals, Besides, Ethiopian Honorary Consulates authorized to issue visas by the government can provide the same service.
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Contracts under Ethiopian law: Oral or Written?
One of the principal sources of obligations (do this and do not do that), as you might be well aware, is contract. And its obligations are usually referred consensual to mark the lines separating these obligations from those of the law. How is it, the contract I mean which creates the consensual obligations, formed under the law? Another way of asking is: what are the legal prerequisites to create valid contracts which could be enforced before courts and other appropriate organs? If you mentioned the requirements falling under capacity, consent, object, or form, you definitely have grasped the formation rules of contract laws in Ethiopia. But what are the specific rules under these broad shorthand for formation rules? For example, is “consideration” to be considered for validity or enforceability of a contract under Ethiopian law? How about the issue of “undue influence”? Well you might browse the provisions of the Ethiopian Civil Code and see if you are lucky to find these terms. While promising to come to each of the formation rules later let us for now quickly look into the requirement of form, i.e. how the Ethiopian contract law regulates the methods/ways of expression of one’s agreement.
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Courts in Ethiopia
As keepers, fountains of justice, Ethiopian courts have been playing significant roles (still they could do more) in the administration of justice. Since the Ethiopian State is federal, the courts, whose independence and significance is assured in the FDRE Constitution, are generally structured at federal and state levels. These constitutionally recognized adjudicatory organs are mostly the ordinary courts of law. City and social courts dealing with frequent and/or minor municipal matters are as well other feature of the judicial system in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa City Courts could be illustrious here). Quasi-judicial organs such as the Labour Relations Board (established by the labour law) and Tax Appeal Tribunal(established by tax laws) are other interesting components in the administration of justice. There are also religious and customary courts with limited jurisdiction focusing on maters of personal relations with the consent of disputing parties. Indeed the House of Federation (the upper house of the two parliaments), having the jurisdiction to adjudicate constitutional matters, could also be mentioned in passing.
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Reasons for Termination of Contract Of Employment Under Ethiopian Law
Do want to know when you can validly terminate a contract of employment as per the Ethiopian Labour Law? If so here are the main points.

In Ethiopia the employment relationship between an employer and an employee is governed by The Ethiopian Labour Proclamation 377/2003. According to this proclamation the contract of employment may be terminated by the following different reasons.

*By the initiation of the employer or worker,
*In accordance with the provisions of the law,
*By the collective agreement or by the agreement of the two parties.

This article is basically concerned on discussing the basic grounds of termination under Ethiopian Labour Proclamation. According to the Ethiopian Labour Proclamation, a contract of employment may be the terminated on grounds connected with the worker’s conduct, skill, objective circumstances arising out of his work or the organizational or operational requirements of the undertaking.

Now we will observe the legal grounds that give the employer the opportunity to terminate an employment contract.
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Adoption in Ethiopia
According to Ethiopian family law Adoption can be described as an agreement that may be created between a person and a child or between government or private orphanages and the adopted child. This idea can be found at Article 180 and 192 of The Ethiopian Family Code stated respectively. As per the Ethiopian law of adoption the adopter is required to fulfill various requirements. These requirements vary from Ethiopian Adopters and foreigner Adopters. One of such requirements is the age of the adopter and the adoptee. According to the Ethiopian Family Law the adopter must attain the age of 25 years to adopt a child.
Read more

source:  Fikadu Asfaw (

post A Festive Journey

November 26th, 2009

Filed under: Tourists on Ethiopia — Lissan Magazine @ 02:06

A Festive Journey to Africa’s ‘Holy Land’
(Return via Dubai)
(December 27th/09- January 18th/10)
By Dr. Nienkirchen

Ancient religious festivals…spectacular exotic topography…layers of history …mysterious Christian traditions …the oldest evidence of human origins…an esoteric view of time…this ‘Down Ancient Paths’ venture to Ethiopia, the ‘Galapagos Islands’ of world Christianity, has it all. According to early legendary accounts of human beginnings, Cush, one of the sons of Ham and grandson of Noah, migrated to Ethiopia (known as the land of Cush in the Jewish scriptures) from Mesopotamia. A later legend claims that Menelik I, a son born to the Jewish King Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, settled in Axum, bringing the storied Ark of the Covenant with him from Jerusalem. He established a dynasty which with only brief interruptions reigned until 1974 ending with the overthrow of the Christian Emperor, Haile Selassie. Ethiopia has had one of the oldest monarchical lines in the world.

A journey to Ethiopia which occupies a substantial part of the Horn of Africa is literally a return to Christian antiquity on the ‘Roof of Africa’. In her recent book, Vertical Ethiopia (2007), Majka Burhardt describes Ethiopia as having ‘extraordinary terrain’ AND… you wouldn’t want to miss a Jan. 6-7th Ethiopian Christmas celebration in the world famous, rock-hewn cave churches of Lalibela, the eighth wonder of the world, would you…

Day 1/ Dec. 27-28
Depart from Calgary for Frankfurt/Addis Ababa

Day 2/ Dec. 28
Arrive in Addis Ababa in the early evening after which we are transferred to the Ghion Hotel for overnight.

Day 3/ Dec. 29
Today is a much needed entire day of rest and refreshment after flying half way around the world! This attractive hotel with its rambling lush gardens and central location near Meskel Square takes its name from one of the rivers which had its ultimate source in the biblical Garden of Eden (Gen 2:13). (Overnight: Ghion Hotel)

Day 4/ Dec. 30
Today we explore Addis Abba (‘New Flower’ in Amharic) the third highest capital in the world at an altitude of between 2300-2500 meters and founded in 1887. We ascend Mt. Entoto where Emperor Menelik II made his permanent camp in 1881. The air is filled with the fragrant scent of eucalyptus trees as we make the climb. The summit, where Menelik was crowned, affords a panoramic view of the city and also features two churches built by the emperor, the one the Church of Miriam and the other dedicated to the Archangel Raguel. Nearby and still intact is the emperor’s old palace and a museum featuring royal attire, war artifacts, period furniture and treasured books of historical interest. Descending from Mt. Entoto we contemplate the origins of humanity in our visit to the National Museum which ranks among the most important museums in sub-Saharan Africa. Here the recently discovered skeleton of Selam, an Australopithecus aphaeresis, is on exhibit. It was unearthed in 2000 at Dikika, Afar in northern Ethiopia. Selam is 150,000 years older than his more famous counterpart, Lucy, who is currently touring the United States. We continue our city tour to Holy Trinity Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Church in the country, built in 1941 with a somewhat chaotic mix of international styles to commemorate the patriots who defeated the Italian colonialist invaders in the 1930’s. The windows and walls of the church are adorned with Old and New Testament stories. Also of significance within the Cathedral are the tombs of the late Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife, Empress Menem. We continue to The Ethnographic Museum of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies on the campus of the University of Addis Ababa which includes among its many interesting displays and holdings, the actual bedroom of Emperor Haile Selassie and the first Christian coinage minted in the history of the world! Our day concludes at the Merkato, the largest open market in East Africa which is bursting with life. It serves up a fascinating medley of people and culture. There is virtually nothing which can’t be purchased here! (Overnight: Ghion Hotel)

Day 5/ Dec. 31
After breakfast we drive northward from Addis Ababa to Debre Markos to commence our exploration of Ethiopia’s ancient Christian heritage. Driving through beautiful open plains with lightly treed hills, after approximately 100 km. is the much revered monastery, Debre Libanos, founded by St. Tekle Haimanot in the 13th century. According to tradition the saint withdrew to a nearby cave and pursued a lifestyle of ceaseless prayer, standing upright for 22 years, as a result of his right leg withered and fell off. Situated at the bottom of an immense gorge through which one of the tributaries of the Blue Nile flows, this monastery is a modern centre of pilgrimage where many Ethiopian pilgrims still go seeking healing in its curative waters. During the Italian occupation the monastery was the site of some of the worst excesses of Fascist brutality (267 monks executed in 1937) hence the memorial to the martyrs. The Abbot of Debre Libanos is the spiritual head of all the Ethiopian monasteries and thus is given the title ‘Itchige’. Our drive continues to Debre Markos via the Blue Nile Gorge. This is one of the most breathtaking stretches of road in Ethiopia plunging over 1000m with hairpin curves as it descends the escarpment to the bottom of the Gorge. The present road and bridge were built by the Italians who skilfully demonstrated their flair for civil engineering. At the end of the day we arrive at Debre Markos, capital of Gojam, formerly known as Mankorar (“coldplace’). Of special interest to us is the 19th century Church of Markos with its well executed paintings. (Overnight: Shebel Hotel)

Day 6/ Jan. 1
Our destination today is lakeside Bahir Dar via the District of Awi, home of the Agaw people who reside in neatly fenced compounds and circular residences with tall thatched roofs bound tightly by entwined bamboo sticks. Scenically nestled on the southern shore of Lake Tana with a population of almost 97,000, Bahir Dar is an important regional commercial centre beautified with wide streets, palms and flamboyant trees. Emperor Haile Selassie once briefly entertained the idea of making the town his capital. The town is symbolized by the famous tankwa, the open-ended papyrus canoe that continues to be used on Lake Tana for trade. Also, it was here that Jesuit missionaries attempted to impose Catholicism on the Ethiopian people, with disastrous consequences. On arrival we’ll check in at the traditionally decorated Tana Hotel located in an Edenic setting, have lunch, take a rest and then venture into the countryside to the majestic Blue Nile Falls or Tissisat Falls (‘Water of Smoke’) approximately 30 km. from the town. Here the Blue Nile, which contributes 85% of the main Nile flow and the prized subject of adventurous explorer narratives, starts its long journey to the Mediterranean. (Overnight: Tana Hotel)

Day 7/ Jan. 2
This is a day when you need to make a choice according to your interests. One of your options is to participate in a day long excursion to the weaving cooperative of Awramba founded in 1985 by a group of 20 persons to demonstrate to its members and the rest of Ethiopians that the best escape from poverty and hunger is not by religion or prayer but rather through education and hard work. It is the only overtly atheistic community to be found anywhere in Africa and takes pride in its egalitarian, non-sexist and nonracist ideology.
You can join an intriguing expedition (will take approximately 7-8 hrs.) on Lake Tana to the mysterious, rock walled ‘island’ (in fact attached to the mainland) of Tana Cherkos, the purported, secret resting place of the Ark of the Covenant for 800 years. This journey will also provide the opportunity to visit two additional Tana monasteries- Rema Medhane Alem and Mitsle Fasiladas. (Overnight: Tana Hotel)

Day 8/ Jan. 3
Definitely a day to be anticipated! After an early breakfast we leave by chartered boat to traverse the ‘watery wilderness’ of Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest crater lake, covering 3500 sq. km., with a maximum depth of 10 meters. It is the source of the Blue Nile. Monasteries dating to the 13th and 14th centuries exist on some 20 of the lake’s 37 islands and introduce us to Ethiopia’s version of ‘desert spirituality’. Flocks of birds, especially pelicans, will be visible on this journey back in time. Our excursion first takes us to the Zeghie Peninsula, made affluent through the cultivation of coffee, which is noted for its 14th century churches with round, grass roofs and magnificent wall murals. We visit the two 13th-14th century churches, Betra Miriam and Ura Kidane Mehret, renovated around 1900, which house both ancient crowns and illuminated manuscripts. The latter has an exquisitely painted ‘maqdas’ which is practically a compendium of Ethiopian religious iconography. On Dek Island, the largest island in Lake Tana, is the monastery of Narga Selassie built by Queen Mentewab in 1747 and dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The round church of the monastery is unusually illuminated by 8 doorways. The colors of the interior canvas paintings (not frescoes) are intense in a variety of hues…red, orange, brown and a distinctive bluish shade of green. We disembark at Gorgora on the north shore of Lake Tana where we see the monastery of Debre Sina Mariam which contains a 14th century church with a conical thatched roof and some of the most complex murals to be seen in the Tana region. A 2 hr. drive on dirt road brings us before sundown to Gondar and the Goha Hotel situated strategically on a hill which offers a splendid, panoramic view of the town. (Overnight: Goha Hotel)

Day 9/ Jan. 4
After breakfast we undertake the exploration of Gondar, once the royal capital of Ethiopia. The charming atmosphere of the town, established in 1636 by the great Emperor Fasiladas, is enhanced by a landscape of incomparable beauty. Among its highlights are the castles and churches built by Fasiladas and his descendants. The fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie Church, its name meaning ‘Trinity at the Mount of Light’ (a UNESCO World Heritage site) has walls decorated with scenes of biblical lore and medieval history. As Ethiopia’s most famous church, it is claimed to have been a onetime resting place of the Ark of the Covenant on its journey to Axum. It was the only church saved from the Mahdist invasion in the 1880’s by a timely swarm of bees. The open plan of the church, combined with its completely painted interior, makes entering it a breathtaking experience, the spiritual intensity of which is heightened by standing underneath the ceiling decorated with the staring faces of 80 archangels who face both east and west symbolizing the omnipresence of God. 2 km. outside the town is the Bath of King Fasiladas where during the season of Epiphany (Timkat) a nearby river is diverted to fill an area the size of a small swimming pool in order to accommodate mass baptisms which commemorate the baptism of Christ in the chilly waters. Our day concludes with the ruined palace of Queen Metowab and the Church of Qusquam Mariam on the outskirts of the town and a drive to the nearby village of Wolleka, a Falasha village which was once the thriving home of a community of Ethiopian Jews, most of whom were airlifted to Israel from 1985 to 1991. The ‘Jewish’ character of early Ethiopian Christianity continues to intrigue western Christian scholars. Buy your miniature statuette here of Solomon with the Queen of Sheba. Tonight we enjoy a traditional dinner and an entertaining experience of Azmari Beats, the Ethiopian equivalent of stand-up comedy done in Amharic. (Overnight: Goha Hotel)

Day 10/Jan. 5
This morning we take to the Ethiopia skies and fly to isolated Lalibela, perched on the rugged Lasta Mountains, the Rocks of Ages, at an altitude of 2630 meters…an unquestionable highlight of our itinerary. The scenery is the most awe-inspiring in the country. The town, capital of the Zagwe dynasty, was posthumously named after the legendary King Lalibela who in the 12th or 13th century aspired to build his own ‘holy city’ of Jerusalem’ away from interfering Muslim presence. It ranks among the most important religious sites in all of Africa and perhaps in the entire Christian world. Place names in Lalibela duplicate those in the Scriptures- e.g. the Jordan River, the Mt. of Olives, the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of Adam etc. which adds to its sacred atmosphere. The 11 monolithic churches of Lalibela date to the reign of King Lalibela in the period between 1180 -1220 AD. They can hardly be called ‘constructed’ as they were carved inside and outside from the solid rock…a technological wonder indeed said to have taken 24 years. One local tradition says that the churches were the handiwork of ‘angels’ but most likely ‘Ethiopian angels’. Perhaps Egyptians and Indians or even the Knights Templar were involved. However the churches came to be, this is medieval Ethiopia at its best. The churches will be visited in two groups. The first group of 7 north of the Jordan River include Bet Golgotha, Bet Mikael, Bet Miriam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, and Bet Medhane Alem (said to be the largest rock-hewn church in the world). The second group, south of the Jordan River, is comprised of Bet Emanuel, Bet Merkorios, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufa’el. The climax of the tour of the churches is reached at the oft photographed, Bet Giyorgis, (made known to the world by an episode of the ‘Amazing Race’) only reached through a tunnel. It is the most elegant of the churches lying towards the southwest of the town which achieves a visually perfect architectural design unsurpassed in Ethiopia. (Overnight: Jerusalem Guesthouse)

Day 11/Jan. 6
A real Ethiopian adventure is on the agenda for this morning…a hike or mule ride to the Church of Ashetun Mariam (about a 4 hr. roundtrip) which ascends through small villages enroute to the top of a mountain at 3150m. where the church is located. The local priests quite justifiably claim they are ‘closer to God and to heaven.’ From this vantage point the views of the surrounding countryside are spectacular. Our afternoon destination is Yemrehana Christos (named after King Yemrehana Kristos who is buried there) which lies 20 km. northeast of Lalibela. It is the finest church outside the town built within a cave. The exterior of this 11th or 12th century church is decorated with white marble panels and the entire church sits on a foundation of olive-wood panels which allows it to float perfectly above the marshy ground below. Everywhere the carving and decoration is exceptional. To the rear of the church are the bones of innumerable pilgrims who chose to be buried at this holy site under an overhanging rock. Tonight is one of the liturgical highlights of our journey…we attend the Ethiopian Christmas Eve celebration. The faithful participate in all night church services moving from church to church. Genna (Christmas) is observed after 43 days of fasting known as Tsome Gahad (Advent) and marked by a spectacular procession which lasts from midnight to 3:00 am. After the Mass people go home to break the fast with a meal of chicken, lamb or beef, injera bread and traditional drinks. The sight of candle burning, white robed worshippers crowded inside churches will be unforgettable. (Overnight: Jerusalem Guesthouse)

Day 12/Jan. 7/
Christmas Today is the Ethiopian Christmas, a day of jubilant festivity wrapped in enthusiastic, colourful celebrations, the third most important festival (after Timkat and Meskel) in the Ethiopian ecclesiastical year. The air is filled with the vibrant chants of a multitude of Lalibela priests engaged in centuries old ritual dance which flows into a ceremonial procession commencing around dawn. Much needed rest time will come in the afternoon after the release of so much energy in a marathon of celebration. (Overnight: Jerusalem Guesthouse)

Day 13/Jan. 8
Today’s flight to Axum, the sacred city of the Ethiopians, transports us into the fabled world of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and the mythological traditions related to the Ark of the Covenant. According to the Kebra Nagast (Book of Kings), the city was the 10th century capital of the Queen of Sheba…probably more fantasy than fact. We visit the main churches of Axum including the most holy Church of St. Miriam of Zion Monastery church which allegedly houses and guards the Ark of the Covenant brought from the Temple in Jerusalem by Menelik I who according to tradition was the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The church dates to the 4th or 5th centuries when the emperor became Christian, making it one of the earliest Christian churches in Africa (cf. Acts 8:26-38-Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch). Today we will be in the most holy precinct of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church almost within touching distance of the Holy Ark itself if one believes the tradition. The Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion is the repository of the crowns of the former emperors of Ethiopia and is considered to be the oldest church in all of Africa. The seven mysterious obelisks of Axum in the town centre (one of which was recently returned from Italy and another is reputedly the world’s tallest monolith) invite us to contemplate their origins. Also of interest in King Ezana’s Park is a trilingual tablet inscribed in Ge’ez, Sabean, and Greek, Ethiopia’s version of the Rosetta Stone. We then ascend a hill to view the castle of King Kaleb (514-542 AD). Next to be visited is the tomb of Kaleb and the tomb of King Basen who ruled Axum at the time of Christ’s birth. In the late afternoon as the sun begins to set we read accounts of the meeting of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba from various texts in the imaginative setting of the ruins of the queen’s own partially reconstructed palace on the edge of town. Patronize the local market economy in this onetime center of a great African civilization on the fringe of the Graeco Roman world which blossomed before the time of Christ…the historical facts concerning which remain obscure. Axum is truly one of the country’s star attractions. It is to sub-Saharan Africa what the Egyptian pyramids are to North Africa. It is to Ethiopians what Mecca is to Saudi Arabians. (Overnight: Remhai Hotel)

Day 14/Jan. 9
Today we drive from Axum to Adigrat the largest town in Tigray province after Mekele. The town of Adwa enroute is of momentous historic significance to Ethiopians as it was here that Emperor Menelik II inflicted the most crushing defeat ever on a European army in Africa thereby saving Ethiopia from colonization. About 11km. east of Adwa is the Monastery of Abba Garima named after one of the nationally esteemed Nine Saints who founded it in the 6th century. Among its treasures are 3 illuminated manuscripts from the 10th century. Further on we come to Yeha, Ethiopia’s earliest capital with its dominating pre-Christian Temple of the Moon, the country’s oldest building dating to 500 BC. As the earliest symbol of civilization in Ethiopia, scholars are still uncertain as to who built Yeha. Its temple survives as a ghostly relic of the past. Beside it stands a modern church dedicated to Abuna Aftse, another of the famous Nine Syrian Saints from the eastern Roman Empire who Christianized the country in the 6th century. The church houses crosses, old manuscripts and stones bearing Sabean inscriptions. The physical challenge of the day is ascending to the spectacularly located Monastery of Debre Damo which dates to Axumite times and is claimed to contain the oldest intact church in Ethiopia. Accessible only up a cliff by rope! and not open to women…the hearty among us will undertake the arduous ascent to be rewarded by the opportunity to view the treasures of the Debre Damo church which have survived the ravages of time due to the elevated, secluded location. The plateau (2800m) on which the church sits is 24 meters from the ground. Start your bicep building, rope climbing preparation now! Our journey ends at Adigrat which lies on an important junction linking Ethiopia to Eritrea. (Overnight: Hohama Hotel)

Day 15/Jan. 10
Our destination today is Hawzien, 36km. south of Adigrat and less than 60km. from the northern Ethiopian border. Here one gains a commanding view of the Gheralta plains out of which the Gheralta mountains, a sandstone escarpment, rise abruptly. The solitudinous splendour of the region defies description…a rock climber’s paradise…Ethiopia’s vertical heritage. It feels like uncharted land, relatively untraveled by outsiders, where heat and aridity reign. Numerous churches have been hewn out of the sandstone but because they have not been cut free from the rock they are scarcely visible when looking up at them from the plain. Up to the mid 1960’s the Tigray churches, perhaps around 120 in number, were hardly known outside the region even to Ethiopians. Resident monks claim that the churches date to either the 4th or 6th centuries, both highpoints in Ethiopian Christian history, but the evidence points to a more likely origin for most of the churches in the 13th and 14th centuries. The roughness of their sculpted style, some like renovated caves, suggests that dedicated monks on a spiritual quest for remote silence and not professional craftsmen (as in the case of Lalibela) built them.

Day 16/Jan. 11
The heart of Ethiopian Orthodoxy beats in the triangle between Axum, Debre Damo and Wukro. Many people bear the mark of the cross on their foreheads as an expression of their devotion. However, a large proportion of the rock-hewn churches of the Tigray region are inaccessible due to their daunting locations in the faces of cliffs to be scaled only by the skilled. Their hidden secrets have remained locked away for centuries. At least 80 of the churches are in the Wukro (means ‘rock hewn’) region in the centre of the rugged mountains of Tigray. Our first objective today is the Church of Inde Mariem Wukro, 6.5km northeast of the village of Nabelet overshadowed by towers of rock. The Church of Mariem, not a free standing structure, is both complex and magnificent. We continue on to the churches of Teklehaymanot in Hawzien and Gorgis Ma-kado both of which are architecturally interesting. (Overnight: Gheralta Lodge)

Day 17/Jan. 12
Today our excursion in this rock dominated, expansive wilderness proceeds to the Church of Abuna Yemata, 4 km. west of Megab, purportedly built over a period of 8 centuries starting in 800 AD. Though hardly spectacular in an architectural sense, the church is carved out of the face of one of mountains of Guh. Its sheer vertical relief prompts a second thought about climbing to it…without ropes!!! The final stage of the access is a gangplank. But the effort is worth it…inside are beautifully preserved frescoes adorning two cupolas including a rarely seen depiction of the Nine Syrian Saints…Aragawi (also known as Abba Za-Mikael), Pantaleon (also known as Za-Somaet), Garima, Aftse, Guba, Alef, Likanos or Libanos (also known as Mataa), Yemata and Sehma. The colours are striking…red, blue, green and black over white backgrounds, the saints’ faces gently radiating the spiritual vibrancy with which they lived and missionized Ethiopia. On the southern edge of the village of Dugem is the Church of Dugem Selassie, a tiny, antique church contained within a newer one. Once a double tombed chamber, it was most likely converted into a church. (Overnight: Gheralta Lodge)

Day 18/Jan. 13
After breakfast we drive via Wukro to Mekele, Tigray’s capital. Enroute we visit Abreha Atsbeha one of the most revered churches in the region with deep spiritual roots. It was supposedly built by the two royal brothers, Abreha and Atsbeha, known in the West as the kings Ezana and Saizana. They were responsible for the conversion of Ethiopia to Christianity in the 4th century. Also, according to its clergy, the church was established by Frumentius (also known as Abba Salama, Father of Peace) who was the first abuna (archbishop) of Ethiopia and instrumental in the conversion of Ezana and Saizana. The church, which claims to possess a gold cross which belonged to Frumentius, is an important pilgrimage centre visited annually by thousands of pilgrims. Nearer to Wukro and also on our itinerary is Wukro Cherkos, the most accessible of the rock hewn churches in Tigray. Time permitting, after arriving in Mekele we’ll visit the Italian–designed Yohannes IV museum constructed for the emperor in 1873 as his castle home. Mekele, at an altitude of 2062m., has a population of approximately 97,000. (Overnight: Axum Hotel)

Day 19/Jan. 14
This morning we leave the remote region of Tigray and fly back to Addis Ababa for a leisurely day which includes savouring the ever-changing array of contemporary and traditional paintings from all over Ethiopia which are on display at the Makush Art Gallery and an evening of enjoying local cuisine, dress and dances at an Addis restaurant. Save some energy for this!!! (Overnight: Ghion Hotel)

Day 20/Jan. 15
Our last day takes us back millennia of time to Ethiopia as a cradle of human origins. We drive southwest on the Jimma Road and then due south to the Butajira Road arriving at Melka Kunture near the Awash River Gorge. It is one of the country’s most famous Neolithic archaeological sites where prehistoric, human made tools have been found. 5 km. further along on the Butajira Road is the rock-hewn Church of Adadi Mariam which dates to the period of the Lalibela churches though cruder in form than both the Lalibela and Tigray churches. In fact the local tradition claims that King Lalibela built the church on his visit to Mt. Zuqwala in 1106 AD. It was only rediscovered in the late 19th century. Continuing down the Butajira road we come to the Tiya monuments, one of Ethiopia’s UNESCO World Heritage sites restored by French archaeologists. Of significance here are examples of a peculiar style of engraved, upright stellae which stretch across parts of southern Ethiopia. The monoliths, which serve as grave markers, display carvings of four designs- the sword, a symbol like the number ‘3’ standing on its side, a sideways letter ‘M’ and a circle which appears only on a few graves (5) perhaps indicative of female gender. Three separate sections of standing monoliths give the site a certain ‘mini-Stonehenge’ character. The stellae date to between the 12th and 14th centuries. The identity of those buried in the graves however, remains a mystery. (Overnight: Ghion Hotel)

Day 21/Jan. 16
Today we transition from Addis to Dubai for some rest and relaxation before returning home.

Days 22-23 /Jan. 17-18
These final days of our journey in one of the richest and most powerful of the 7 city-states which constitute the United Arab Emirates are in juxtaposition to our travels in Ethiopia, one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. Such is the disparity of the human experience. Dubai is a testimony to the creative ingenuity of human beings. It symbolizes the pinnacle of human achievements in the 21st century. From the sands of a harsh desert environment which covers 1,588 square miles has emerged a cosmopolitan, commercial global crossroads which has architectural ambitions unrivalled in the world, all funded by petro-dollars. 27% of the world’s construction cranes can be found in Dubai. The state, a shopping paradise for western tourists, boasts the world’s largest airport, the world’s tallest tower, the world’s largest artificial harbour, the world’s largest manmade island…all of these astonishing civilizational accomplishments emerging in the last 20 years. The Emirate Dubai International Financial Centre aspires to host 20% of the world’s investment funds. We’ll combine a guided tour of some of Dubai’s major attractions with lots of free time to relax and explore the many dimensions of this Arabian convergence of East and West according to your interests and energy levels. Depart…

If you want to get on the seriously interested, right of first refusal list and receive a complete info package when it is ready, please contact Dr. Nienkirchen at There are only 21 spaces available and the list of persons desirous of going is already growing! First come first served. Ethiopia is beginning to appear on the global radar screen as an exotic travel destination. This is your chance to experience the country in a more pristine state on a customized Down Ancient Paths itinerary before hordes of tourists arrive to turn the path into a multi-lane highway.

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