Posts filed under ‘Culture’
Ethiopians give lacklustre welcome to Kwame Nkrumah statue: This is an insult for the founding fathers of OAU
The arrival of Ghanaian great Kwame Nkrumah in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa 40 years after his death has been met with notable local resistance.
Ethiopians are signing a petition demanding that a statue of the pan-Africanist leader which was recently unveiled outside the new African Union headquarters be joined by one of the late emperor Haile Selassie or removed.
As well as the signatures, a group of Ethiopian elders, opposition politicians and scholars have written to the AU Commission voicing their disappointment at its decision to “ignore” the deposed emperor.
The golden statue of Nkrumah was erected to commemorate his founding role in the Organisation of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor.
The late Ethiopian monarch’s supporters have argued that their man, who became internationally famous for his resistance against the Italians under Mussolini, was a longer-standing supporter of African liberation than Ghana’s founding president.
“It is Haile Selassie who is described by African leaders as the father of Africa not Nkrumah,” said Yacob Hailemariam, an opposition politician who has spoken out against the choice of the Ghanaian.
The campaign has, however, infuriated Ethiopia’s current leader Meles Zenawi who said it was “crass” to question Nkrumah’s choice as an African symbol and has repeatedly denounced Selassie, who died in 1975, as a “feudal dictator”.
“It is only Nkrumah who is remembered whenever we talk about pan Africanism,” Mr Meles told local media. “It is a shame not to accept his role.”
The AU confirmed that it had received a letter signed by prominent Ethiopians, many of them living abroad, but declined to comment. The protest letter says that Selassie who ruled Ethiopia for 40 years had “the legal, moral, historical and diplomatic legitimacy to have his statue erected next to Kwame Nkrumah.”
The inauguration of the new headquarters in Addis Ababa was meant to underline Ethiopia and Africa’s burgeoning friendship with China which funded the $200m construction. However, the summit served to remind the outside world of the AU’s reliance on foreign funding and on its propensity for squabbling as Cameroon’s Jean Ping and South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma fought each other to a draw over the leadership of the 54-nation club.
The revelation that the AU relies for two-thirds of its funding on Western donors and that many members had both failed to pay their dues or fulfil their aid promises made during last year’s Horn of Africa famine, dampened the occasion. The empty coffers reminded many observers that the main patron of pan-Africanism in recent years was the deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was killed last year.
The statue row has enabled Ethiopia’s downtrodden opposition to rally support and opposition blogs have started to refer to the AU’s new 100 metre tall marble home as the “sarcophagus of Africa”.
Under Prime Minister Meles, who backtracked on his promise to leave office and ran again at the last election, the country has become increasingly authoritarian, imprisoning opposition leaders, curtailing non-governmental organisations and harassing political opponents.
The two competing African champions might have found the whole row quite strange as they were close supporters of each other’s causes before the emperor was deposed by the Derg coup leaders in 1974.
No observer of present day Ethiopia can fail to be inspired by the high ideal, vigilance, dedication, and far-sightedness of Emperor Haile Selassie I; architect and builder of the nation.
Facebook said it’s bringing Skype video calling to the social networking site, dubbing it “Facebook Calling.” The feature is being rolled out over the next several weeks. Those who want to try it immediately can download now CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook now has more than 750 million users, and is “still growing quickly.” Adding Skype, he said, brings the “best technology” for video chat to facebook, which is probably “the biggest chat program online” in an era where people are not only connecting, but sharing information via many means. Such sharing is what is going to dominate the future of the Internet, Zuckerberg said. Connecting with others — “friending,” for example — was the mantra; now sharing information is, with Facebook’s users sharing 4 billionthings a day.
“The amount of information (users) share is about twice the amount of stuff they would have shared a year ago; and it will be twice as much a year from now; it’s that kind of exponential growth.” And social apps, or applications, like Skype, help make that possible. “Video calling is the first example of what we think is a great social app,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re going to see a lot more things like this over the next few years and months.” One-on-one calls is simple, Facebook says: If your friend is online, with “one quick click” on the call button, you can establish a call with that friend, a Facebook staffer said during the presentation Wednesday.
1: Don’t Drive Drunk
More than 30 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the Ethiopia involve drivers impaired by alcohol and Chat. These accidents led to more than 800 deaths in 2010 alone Most of those deaths could’ve been avoided if the drivers involved simply hadn’t gotten behind the wheel while drunk Alcohol. Causes a number of impairments that lead to car accidents. Even at low blood-alcohol levels, intoxication reduces reaction time and coordination and lowers inhibitions, which can cause drivers to make foolish choices. At higher levels, alcohol causes blurred or double vision and even loss of consciousness. Drunk driving isn’t just a terrible idea — it’s a crime. In the U.S, getting caught behind the wheel with blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher will probably earn you a trip to jail but not in Ethiopia. It’s easy to avoid driving drunk. If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive your taxi/cab.
2: Don’t Speed
The old public service campaign so succinctly put it, “Speed kills.” Research has shown that for every mile per hour you drive the likelihood of your being in an accident increases by four to five percent at higher speeds, the risk increases much more quickly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains the consequences of fast driving quite simply: “Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes in Ethiopia. The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated by NHTSA to be $40.4 billion per year. In 2008, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 11,674 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes”
For your average drive across town, driving even 10 mph faster is only going to save you a few minutes — while increasing your crash risk by as much as 50 percent. Even on long trips, the time you’ll save is inconsequential compared to the risks associated with speeding. Take your time and obey posted speed limits.
3: Avoid Distractions
Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly harmless activity: 2,600 deaths nationwide every year, by some estimates In fact, those numbers may actually be too low, due to the continued rise cell phone use behind the wheel. If you think that talking and texting while driving isn’t a big deal, consider this: One researcher compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What’s more, working a cell phone behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent. It isn’t just cell phones that cause distractions, however. Eating, chewing chat, loud music, fiddling with electronic devices or interacting with passengers also diverts a driver’s attention in potentially deadly ways. Perhaps the best advice on driving distractions came from rocker Jim Morrison: “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.”
4: Don’t Drive Drowsy
A study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech reported that 20 percent of all accidents have sleepiness as a contributing factor if a driver is tired enough to actually fall asleep while driving, the results are predictable. Even on a relatively straight highway, a sleeping driver will eventually drift off the road. Trees, utility poles, ravines and bridge abutments turn this into a deadly scenario — and that doesn’t even take other cars into account. You might think a few yawns are nothing to worry about, but just being a little drowsy is enough to increase your risk of getting in an accident. Responses can range from dozing off for a few seconds at a time to simply “zoning out” and losing all focus on the road. At highway speeds, one or two seconds of inattention can lead to disaster. The solution is simple: Get a better night’s sleep! Make sure you get a solid eight hours of sleep, not just on the night before a long drive, but on a regular basis. Failure to get enough sleep every night builds a sleep deficit that can leave you drowsy and unable to focus. If you’re driving and feel the least bit groggy, take action immediately. Don’t think you’ll get any kind of warning before you fall asleep, or that you can fight it off. People can move from drowsy to sound asleep without warning. If this happens to you, find a rest area where you can catch a few hours of sleep or take a break until you’re feeling more alert.
5: Wear Your Seat Belt
Seat belts save lives. Worn properly, they prevent you from being thrown around the inside of a crashing vehicle or, worse, thrown through the windshield and flung completely out of the vehicle. NHTSA statistics reveal that more than half of all accident fatalities were people who weren’t using seat belts. The numbers are much scarier for young drivers and passengers: Everyone has heard horror stories about people who were killed in bizarre freak accidents in which they’d have lived if only they hadn’t been wearing a seat belt. Even if these stories are true — many of them are exaggerations or urban legends — they’re also anomalies. In the overwhelming majority of car crashes, you have a greater chance of surviving if you’re wearing a seat belt. Even a low-speed crash can send an unbelted person careening into the dashboard or side window, resulting in severe head injuries or broken bones. At higher speeds, the possible fates of the unbelted occupant are gruesome: severe lacerations from being propelled through the windshield; struck by other cars because you landed on the road; slammed into a tree or a house at 50 mph. Sound scary? Then buckle up.
6: Be Extra Careful in Bad Weather
If you’re driving through fog, heavy rain, a road constriction or storm, be extra cautious. Take all of the other tips presented here and make full use of them: Drive below the speed limit if necessary, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead, and be especially careful around curves. If you’re driving through weather conditions you don’t know well, consider delegating driving duties to someone who does, if possible. If the weather worsens, just find a safe place to wait out the storm. If you’re experiencing bad visibility, either from fog or rain, and you end up off the side of the road (intentionally or otherwise), turn off your lights. Drivers who can’t see the road will be looking for other cars to follow along the highway. When they see your lights, they’ll drive toward you and may not realize you’re not moving in time to avoid a collision.
7: Don’t Follow Too Closely
Safe driving guidelines advise drivers to keep a safe distance between themselves and the car ahead. Drivers need enough time to react if that car makes a sudden turn or stop. It can be too difficult to estimate the recommended distances while driving and the exact distance would have to be adjusted for speed, so most experts recommend a “three-second rule.” The three-second rule is simple. Find a stationary object on the side of the road. When the car ahead of you passes it, start counting seconds. At least three seconds should pass before your car passes the same object. Once you have some driving experience and have practiced keeping this minimum distance, you’ll develop an instinct for it and know how close to follow without having to count. However, even experienced drivers should count off the three-second rule now and then to make sure. At night or in inclement weather, double the recommended time to six seconds. In Ethiopia, Taxi drivers drive pumper to pumper until accident happens
8: Watch Out for the Other Guy
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how safely you drive. You could be driving the speed limit and obeying all traffic rules and someone else can crash into you. One good rule of thumb to use is, “Assume everyone else on the road is an idiot.” In other words, be prepared for unpredictable lane changes, sudden stops, unsignaled turns, swerving, tailgating and every other bad driving behavior imaginable. Chances are, you’ll eventually encounter someone like this — and it pays to be ready when you do. It’s impossible to list all the possible things another driver might do, but there are a few common examples. If you’re pulling out of a driveway into traffic and an oncoming car has its turn signal on, don’t assume it’s actually turning. You might pull out only to find that turn signal has been blinking. If you’re approaching an intersection where you have the right of way, and another approaching car has the stop sign, don’t assume it will actually stop. As you approach, take your foot off the gas and be prepared to break. Of course, being prepared requires awareness, so make sure you check your mirrors and keep an eye on side streets so you’ll know which other cars are around you and how they’re driving. Don’t focus only on the road in front of your car — look ahead so you can see what’s happening 50 to 100 yards (46 to 91 meters) up the road.
9: Practice Defensive Driving
This tip is pretty simple to understand if we just put the proverbial shoe on the other foot. Remember that one time when that jerk came flying down the street out of nowhere, totally cut you off and almost caused a huge accident? Don’t be that jerk. Aggressive driving is hard to quantify, but it definitely increases the risk of accidents. Studies show that young male drivers are more likely to drive aggressively. An aggressive driver does more than just violate the tips in this article — they may intentionally aggravate other drivers, initiate conflict, use rude gestures or language, tailgate or impede other cars, or flash their headlights out of frustration. These behaviors aren’t just annoying, they’re dangerous. Defensive driving incorporates the other tips shown here, such as maintaining a safe distance and not speeding, but remaining calm in the face of frustrating traffic issues is another major part of the concept. Accept small delays, such as staying in line behind a slower car instead of abruptly changing lanes. Yield to other cars, even if you technically have the right of way. Defensive driving is not only safer, it can save you money. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who complete defensive driving courses.
10: Keep Your Vehicle Safe
Regular tune-ups will keep you and your car safe out on the road. This is not a common practice in Ethiopia. Vehicle maintenance isn’t just an important way to extent your car’s life — it’s a major safety issue. Many maintenance issues are addressed by your government mandated vehicle inspections. If your car is unsafe, the inspecting mechanic will let you know what you need to do to fix it. However, there could be a year or more between inspections, so Taxi drivers need to be aware of any potential safety issues and get them repaired before they lead to an accident. One of the most common maintenance problems that can lead to a crash is improper tire pressure. Uneven tire pressure, or pressure that is too high or low, can impact performance or lead to a blowout — especially in high-performance cars. You can buy a cheap pressure gauge at any auto parts store and check the pressure against the recommendation in your owner’s manual. While you’re at it, you might want to rotate your tires to promote even wear and consistent performance. Another key area is the car’s brakes. If you notice some “softness” in the brake pedal, or feel a vibration when the brakes are applied, get them checked out by a professional mechanic. The brakes could be wearing out or you could have a problem with the car’s hydraulic system. Finally, respect pedestrians on the road, and respect the law. Understand what the sign means. Take full responsibility for your action. Participate to save life, not to destroy.
Jane and I recently returned from another trip to Ethiopia, where we spent time both with specialty coffee producers (for a subsequent post) and among the Kara people in the Omo River Valley.
Among the Kara, we got the opportunity to visit and drink buno (coffee from coffee husks, see my earlier post on qishr), and I was able to add a bit to my understanding of this important part of the Kara social fabric.
We have now had buno in three of the four Kara villages, and it seems to be the first element of social life. Buno starts every day in a family’s life. The preparation begins before dawn while everyone except the coffee preparer is still in bed. Morning coffee is a structured but relaxed ritual, even when there is work to do.
Gender-neutral divisions of work have not yet reached the Omo River Valley. And a hierarchy is well defined. A woman always prepares the coffee. When there are two wives, the second wife gathers the firewood, hauls the water, and makes the coffee. The first wife serves the coffee. Young Kara girls are rarely required to help with household chores. They are free to do whatever they want until they marry, but marriage ends this carefree time.
Buno is always served in the ono (the Kara home) or the gapa (a day house in the same compound) where cooking fires are kept smoldering day and night, and every guest is served buno as the first thing upon arrival. It’s never prepared elsewhere, even for an important meeting.
The conversation continues along with the drinking as the coffee cools. As a man comes close to the end of his serving, he pours a small amount, perhaps a third of a cup, over his hand, then rubs his hands together like washing. It’s typically the last thing a man does before he leaves. I’m told that women sometimes wash their faces with the last few ounces, though I did not observe this.
Ethiopians consume nearly half of the coffee beans they produce. I doubt whether buno/qishr is counted anywhere. Add these beverages and you have a vital element of Ethiopian life.
Among coffee growing countries, only Brasil, a modern, industrialized society, consumes a significant part of its production. Although you find Western-style coffeehouses in Ethiopian towns, the traditional treatment for a guest, whether roasted and ground coffee in the north or buno in the villages, follows a traditional structure, exhibiting an elevated social position for coffee and a hospitality that we should consider emulating.
By Nancy Haught
Benjamin Brink/The OregonianSteve Delamarter sits with the royal Psalter made for Emperor Menilek II.Before he opened it, Steve Delamarter knew the book before him would be extraordinary. The smooth sienna leather was worn in a few places but hand-tooled and carefully fitted together inside the cover. The rough edges of its yellow parchment pages didn’t look hand-cut. Then he recognized the intricate section headers, entwined lines of red, green and yellow ink, as the work of a government scriptorium.
Delamarter, an Old Testament professor at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, is founder and director of the Ethiopian Manuscript Imaging Project. In the past five years he’s tracked down 900 rare books owned by dealers and collectors outside the African country. He and his team digitize the contents, creating copies for Ethiopian libraries. It’s an attempt to preserve some of the cultural heritage that’s been lost in the turmoil of Ethiopia’s history.
So Delamarter is used to handling rare manuscripts. Those he works with are often well-worn religious volumes, handwritten in Ge’ez, the ancient liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He’s examined many Psalters, books of Psalms and other texts used for prayer.
But this one was different.
Buried inside was a rare marker that Delamarter had seen only once before. In a kind of handmade reverse, a line of white letters stood out against a line of red ink. He ran his index finger under the words as he translated aloud: “This book belongs to the king of kings, Menilek.”
Delamarter took the book to Saint John’s University in Minnesota, where he showed it to his mentor and colleague, Getatchew Haile, an Ethiopian expatriate and expert on Ethiopian manuscripts. “This,” Haile told Delamarter, “is a national treasure.”
Emperor Menilek II (1844-1913) united the separate kingdoms of modern Ethiopia in 1889 and thwarted an Italian invasion in 1896. He modernized his country by introducing banking, a postal system, railway, electricity, telephones, telegraphs and automobiles. But he’s also remembered in Africa and parts of Asia for resisting imperialism.
“This was his personal Psalter, with which he’d pray every morning,” Haile says in a telephone interview. “It was one of the items that he touched. This is important museum material.”
Except that it belongs to someone else.
Ethiopia has struggled — and still does — with its own diversity and violence from inside and out. Political unrest has forced thousands to flee. Some have taken manuscripts and other cultural treasures with them, Haile says. His own story attests to the violence that has plagued Ethiopia. A coup deposed Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. Haile, a Ge’ez scholar at what is now Addis Ababa University, was shot as he resisted arrest. Haile was allowed to leave Ethiopia to receive medical care — he is a paraplegic — and came to the United States in 1976. A MacArthur Fellow, he is curator of the Ethiopian Study Center at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in Minnesota.
Delamarter, interested in scribal communities who still transcribe religious texts by hand, first visited Ethiopia in 2004. He saw widespread poverty tempting Ethiopians to sell religious manuscripts to tourists or book dealers. A personal prayer book, worth the equivalent of $100 to another Ethiopian, may be sold to a tourist or book dealer for $300 or $400, Delamarter says. Collectors will pay $1,200 for the same volume, $2,000 if it’s illustrated. And some take manuscripts apart and sell the pages separately.
Menilek’s Psalter, which Delamarter dates from the late 19th or early 20th century, is owned by Gerald Weiner, a manuscript collector who is also a senior vice president of Morgan Stanley in Chicago. The Psalter was in a batch of books Weiner bought from a dealer. Neither was aware of the book’s value until Weiner entrusted it to Delamarter for digitalization.
It was Haile’s idea that Delamarter ask Weiner to give the book to a new museum planned in Ankober, Ethiopia, to be dedicated to Menilek. Delamarter had never made such a request of a book owner, he says. He’d been content to create digital copies and preserve the contents for the use of students and scholars.
“The more I tell collectors how valuable a book is, the more they want to hold on to it — or sell it,” Delamarter says. He estimated that Menilek’s Psalter was worth about $18,000, but he prepared “a 19-minute presentation” for Weiner and made the call.
A manuscript collector for about eight years, Weiner specializes in Ethiopian Jewish texts and plans to donate his collection to the University of California at Los Angeles, which is home to many Ethiopian refugees. Delamarter says Weiner listened to the opening of that 19-minute pitch.
“As soon as he told me how important this work was, its importance to the Ethiopian people, I wanted to do the right thing,” Weiner says. “I wanted the book to be back where it belonged, honoring the man who owned it.”
Delamarter leaves Monday to return the book to Ethiopia, where eventually it will be displayed in the Ankober Municipal Museum. Much as he’d like to, Haile can’t go with him.
“I never thought the owner would just give it back,” Haile marvels, “so precious a book that is his own property. That was my first thought, but some people have a good heart.”
Nancy Haught: 503-294-7625; firstname.lastname@example.org
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The Ethiopian government and the separatist rebels, the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF), have reached a peace agreement, government spokesman disclosed here Friday.
‘Preliminary discussion with WSLF has borne fruits this week. The leaders of this group have agreed to abide by Ethiopia’s constitution and they are expected to announce from here (his office) how they are planning to operate in Ethiopia,’ Bereket Simon, Minister of Government Communication Affairs, told a news conference.
According to Bereket, the entire WSLF ” the earliest rebel group in the vast, ethnic-Somali region of eastern Ethiopia that fought nearly for four decades for independence, and weakened lately ” will be one of the legal opposition politic al parties allowed to advance its agenda freely, peacefully and publicly.
‘It is not a splinter group. Basically, the entire force has come to the constitutional folds,’ the minister said.
WSLF was founded in early 1970s by Hargeisa-raised and Syria-trained young captain, Yusuf Dheere Mohamed Sugaal.
After meeting Yusuf Dheer in 1973, then Somali president, Mohammad Siad Barre, helped the captain muster 35,000 regulars and 15,000 fighters in four years and in filtrated them into Ethiopia’s vast desert Ogaden region in Mayâ”June 1977 ahe ad of overt warfare in July.
By September 1977, Mogadishu controlled 90 per cent of the Ogaden and had followed retreating Ethiopian forces into non-Somali regions deep in Ethiopia. When Ethiopia’s army revived and fought back with Soviet and Cuban support in the Ogade n War of 1977-78, WSLF played a major role assisting the invading Somali army before the aggressor was defeated.
The Somali government subsequently forbade the WSLF and its leaders to use its territory to launch attacks into Ethiopia. Siad Barre’s decision to restrict the WSLF led to Yusuf Dheere’s in 1989 and the formation of WSLF splinter, the Ogade n National Liberation Front (ONLF), which still actively fights Ethiopian army.
Though responsible for numerous atrocities carried over the more than 30 years, Ethiopia’s government seems ready to forget that.
‘We will not do accounting of the past. We will respect their right to operate in a civilized opposition model,’ Bereket said.
Source African News
A Briton working for an oil company has been shot dead in Ethiopia, the Foreign Office has confirmed.
The 39-year-old geologist was killed on Monday near Danot, a town in the Warder zone of Ethiopia, in the conflict-stricken Ogaden region.
He worked for IMC Geophysics International – which was subcontracted to Malaysian oil giant Petronas.
It is believed he was attacked while driving alone in what officials have called an “act of banditry”.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We can confirm the death of a British national on 5 April near Danot town in the Warder zone of Ethiopia.
“Next of kin have been informed and we have offered the family full consular assistance.
“The Ethiopian authorities are carrying out a full inquiry and we are liaising closely with them.”
Bereket Simon, Ethiopia’s communications minister, said the man had not taken the appropriate “security measures” and was driving alone.
He said: “We have reports that the incident has occurred and is an act of banditry.
“Following the act the local militia had confronted the perpetrators and had taken measures on them.
“We understand that the act was not politically motivated.”
Although Ethiopia does not currently produce oil, Chinese companies and Petronas have signed deals to explore the area.
The area has seen a great deal of bloodshed as the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), formed in 1984, has fought for the independence of ethnic Somalis in the oil-rich region for some time.
It says the Somali-speaking population has been marginalised by the capital Addis Ababa.
The fighting has escalated over the past two years following an ONLF attack on a Chinese-run oil exploration field.
More than 70 people died in the attack, including Ethiopian guards and Chinese workers.
Addis Ababa calls the rebels “terrorists” and has cut off all access to the region.
But Abdirahman Mahdi, spokesman for the Ogadeni rebels, told the Associated Press news agency that as far as they were aware, “our fighters are not involved in such barbaric attacks”.
“Our troops do not have permission to target foreign civilians. But we will investigate the circumstances that led to the man’s death.”
As part of “American Idol: Idol Gives Back,” Season 7 winner David Cook has been in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, working with the United Nations and the Biruh Tesfa program to empower adolescent girls and help provide them with an education.
“When you hear ‘Africa,’ I immediately think impoverished,” Cook says. “But I came here and was completely shocked by this country, in an extremely positive way. The people here are so amazingly sweet. They’re so accommodating. The city is very lush, very green — it definitely has an infrastructure in place.”
Cook is currently in the process of putting together his next album and he says that the record will likely be heavily influenced by his experience in Africa. “It’d be really hard to fathom that this trip wouldn’t [find its way into the music that I'm writing]. For anybody that isn’t completely self-absorbed it’s impossible to come into this kind of situation and not be moved by it, not be changed by it.”
One girl in particular may find herself the subject of one of Cook’s songs. “She’s a 7-year-old girl named Magdas. Both of her parents have passed away, and she’s been at this school for seven months,” Cook tells us. “Forgive me, because whatever I say about this girl is not going to come across over the phone as well as it would if you were there to meet her. She’s one of the most vibrant, joyous girls I’ve ever met.”
“These girls genuinely want to learn,” Cook says. He notes that a donation of $5 through the “Idol Gives Back” program, which airs on FOX Wednesday, April 21 at 8 p.m. ET, can provide an underprivileged girl with the uniform and notebook required to attend school.
“It’s inspiring, to see a 7-year-old girl want to build a better future for herself. I remember being 7 years old and I didn’t have that kind of foresight. These girls are wise beyond their years.”
Cook is looking forward to coming home tonight and beginning his work to create awareness for the Biruh Tesfa project. “It’s something that needs immediate attention,” he says. “Girls that don’t get an education here are immensely more likely to fall into the sex trade or domestic servitude, and that opens them up to so many other things — HIV is one of the main killers here. To see that first hand, I would almost say that it’s a definite that I’m going to bring that back and it’s going to find its way into my career path.”
ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia inaugurated a museum on Sunday in memory of the victims of former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam’s so-called Red Terror purge which killed tens of thousands in the 1970s
Dozens of family members and government officials attended a sombre ceremony at the memorial in Addis Ababa to remember their loved ones, whose bodies were mostly dumped in mass graves.
The museum took three years to complete and honours the dead with photographs of the 1977-78 campaign of state terror carried out under the orders of Mengistu to wipe out his opponents.
“Our aim is to promote unity and tolerance. Ethiopia has had a troubled past, and we don’t want that suffering to be experienced again,” Ayne Tsige, chair of the organising committee, told AFP.
Mengistu, now in exile in Zimbabwe, was sentenced to death on genocide charges two years ago along with 17 of his henchmen following a decade-long trial in Addis Ababa.
The former army lieutenant colonel was a member of the Marxist junta known as the Derg which ruled Ethiopia from between 1974 and 1991 after the ouster of emperor Haile Selassie.
Experts say as many as 100,000 people were killed during the campaign as Mengistu sought to transform the country into a Soviet-style workers’ state.
The regime, then battling a number of insurgencies throughout the country, used several tactics to scare opponents, one of which was leaving dead bodies on streets as a warning.
The corpses were later exhumed from mass graves. A number of their belongings are exhibited in the museum.
Eighty-five year-old Tedla Zeyohannes, whose son was killed by the regime called on African leaders to press Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to hand over Mengistu.
“I’m very happy with the sentence, but Zimbabwe should hand over Mengistu. He is a convicted criminal who must face justice