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December 30, 2004

A walk up Entoto

Michael Buerk infamously described Addis Ababa as a city of "diesel and desperation" in his recent documentary on Ethiopia, returning 20 years after the 1984 famine.

Even in the city centre the description is unfair. There is plenty of diesel and some desperation, a result of the grinding poverty. But the phrase simply fails to capture the vitality of the capital.

When you wander to the city limits - just 20 minutes drive from the centre - Buerk's description becomes even more inappropriate.

These are some pictures taken on a Boxing Day walk in Entoto, the hill to the north of Addis where Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopia's running star, trains every week. This is where Emperor Menelik II originally founded the capital at the end of the 19th century.

walk_1

walk_4

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walk_8

Posted by aheavens at 4:31 AM

All quiet on the US front

Gov't Concerned Over USA Silence On Peace Initiative

The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa) December 28, 2004 - The government of Ethiopia has expressed its deep concern over the United States of America's (USA) silence on the newly introduced five-point peace proposal aimed at ending the border row with Eritrea.

It is odd that the US has said nothing given the wholehearted support from the EU and other leading nations. The rumour here is that the US does not want to offend Eritrea because it wants to site a military base there. Who knows. The US also took an unusually long time to comment on the tsunami.

Posted by aheavens at 4:25 AM

December 29, 2004

Ethio briefs

Mission to assess Somali damage

Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 11:35 GMT - At least 100 Somalis are feared drowned in the massive waves produced by Sunday's undersea earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. A UN assessment team is now visiting Somalia's flooded north western coast.

Asia's horrific quake seemed a world away here in landlocked Ethiopia. That was until we heard about the deaths just down the coast in Somalia. There were even reports of mini tsunamis hitting the South African east and south coasts, where waves measuring up to two metres in height have been spotted. As Africa's Medlog blog says, "nature has reminded us once again managed who really rules the world".

Journalist jailed in defamation case

New York, December 28, 2004-The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the recent jailing of an Ethiopian journalist who was unable to pay bail in a criminal defamation case. Wosonseged Gebrekidan, former editor-in-chief of the private, Amharic-language weekly Ethiop, has been imprisoned since December 23.

It has been a while since Ethiopia imprisoned a journalist - well, a few months at least. This time it was all over a 3,000 Birr (£200) bail payment.

Ethiopia wins third CECAFA Cup

ADDIS ABABA, December 26 (ENN) - Ethiopia, cheered on by home fans, beat Burundi 3-0 on Saturday in the final of the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup at the Addis Ababa stadium, Ethiopian Television showed.

Ethiopia, which has so far participated in 10 CECAFA events out of the 28, clinched the CECAFA cup for the third time.

This time no complaints about the referee. You could hear the game blaring out of radios and TV throughout December 25 (which is not Christmas Day in Ethiopia - that comes on January 7).

Immigration, Refugee Affairs Authority Grants ID Cards to Foreign Nationals

Addis Tribune - Four foreign nationals living in Ethiopia, Professor Richard Keir P. Pankhurst and his wife Mrs Rita Jacqueline Pankhurst and Mr Gerhard Luthi and his wife Mrs Hanna Luthi were last Saturday issued with identification cards in recognition of their important contributions to the people of Ethiopia.

Richard Pankhurst is the son of sufragette Sylvia Pankhurst (who is buried in Addis). He is also vice-chair of AFROMET the campaign group dedicated to getting the UK to return treasures stolen from Ethiopia in 1867. Here's a nice photo of the event.

UN seeks nearly $275 million in food and emergency aid for Ethiopia next year

23 December 2004 – The United Nations, Ethiopia and their humanitarian partners today appealed for more than 387,000 tons of food worth some $159 million for some 2.2 million needy people there, and a further $112 million of other assistance to meet emergency needs next year.


Posted by aheavens at 4:57 AM

December 23, 2004

Ethiopia 5 - 4 Kenya

The were crowds of very happy Ethiopians chanting on the streets of Addis until the early hours last night. Their team beat Kenya 5-4 in the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Cup semi-final. They will now take on Burundi in the final at home.

Not everyone was happy though. Here's part of the report from Nairobi's Nation newspaper.

a blatant bad call by the Ugandan referee gave the Ethiopians the early 1-0 lead from an off side position. The Ugandan referee and linesman conjured not to have seen three Ethiopian strikers who fell off-side before one put the ball past a desperate Victor Onyango.

Twelve minutes from time, Mark Sirengo was roughed up in the box but the referee waved a play on sign.

Posted by aheavens at 5:55 AM

December 22, 2004

Tabloids and visas

Just catching up with news from the UK. The country's home secretary David Blunkett has had to resign after admitting that his office did try to fast-track a visa application for his former lover's Filipino nanny. Inevitably, the whole story was kicked up in the first place by Britain's tabloid newspapers.

The ironic thing from an Ethiopian perspective is that the easiest way to get a UK visa in a hurry over here is to have a tabloid newspaper on your side.

A few months back, an Ethiopian woman called Birhan Waldu was all over the headlines. She was the small starving girl filmed in the 1984 'Live Aid' famine who miraculously survived and grew up to be a very photogenic student. Tabloid feature writers everywhere wanted a piece of her.

Bob Geldof and The Sun newspaper wanted her to fly out to the recent re-recording of the Ethiopian famine charity song 'Do They Know It's Christmas'. The only problem was that the British Embassy in Addis wasn't too keen to give her a visa. In the end The Sun phoned the UK Prime Minister's office who put a call through to the Embassy in Addis. The next day she had her visa.

While she was in London, the Oprah Winfrey show got to hear about Birhan. They wanted her to fly out to appear in a show. But, again, the only problem was a reluctant US Embassy. Once more the obstacle was overcome overnight after the Oprah Winfrey show put a call through to the White House. They called the Embassy and she got her visa.

Posted by aheavens at 8:55 AM

Database of the day

UNESCO's Index Translationum shows how often texts in one language are translated into another. I found it via EthanZ's Weblog.

Just so you know, books linked to Walt Disney Productions are the most translated in the world (can that really be true?) Second are books by Agatha Christie. After that, I think, comes the Bible.

According to my dip into the database's "expert mode", which may have gone awry, there have been six books translated from Amharic into English since 1970 and 34 the other way round. Not the greatest of cultural exchanges.

These are records taken from national libraries and probably do not count the piles of pirate Amharic versions of the Harry Potter series you see around the place.

Posted by aheavens at 8:16 AM

December 18, 2004

Afrotech briefs

Climate threat 'looms largest for Africa' - Scidev.net 17/12/04

Africa's lack of scientific and technological capacity means it is less prepared for the effects of climate change than any other continent, says a report released by the UK government yesterday (16 December).

Climate change has been blamed for the increasing number of droughts in Tigray, northern Ethiopia - up from one every ten years in the 80s to one every other year today. But, because of the lack of research refered to in the report above, no one is sure if it really is the cause.

Open source is the business - Mail & Guardian (SA)

If you're new to computers, then open source is a whole new universe waiting to be discovered, at no real cost. Almost every kind of application is freely available as open-source software -- from business applications such as word processors, presentation software and spreadsheets to specialist tools such as programming languages and databases.

South Africa's 'Afronaut' Mark Shuttleworth sings the praises of open source in Africa. The continent is becoming the new front in the war between Microsoft and the open source movement. The Seattle software giant has been buying up lots of newspaper advertising space, warning of the hidden risks and costs of open source. Meanwhile South Africa has just launched the continent's first TV show promoting the free software movement - Go-Open.

Posted by aheavens at 2:40 PM

December 14, 2004

Visa begging

This post from matatumix rang very true. I have seen similar scenes in the US and UK embassies in Addis Ababa.

Kenyans wake up at 2 AM to go and apply for visas. Have you ever thought how these people take you? They assume that you are so desperate to go to their countries. That is why they can even ask for an application fee and still deny you the visa. That is why they can even disfigure your passport with that stupid stamp they put there so that any time you go applying for a visa in another country, those others can see that you were denied a visa to the US or UK. To drive the point home, they charge you USD 100.00 non refundable. After all this, the lady at the counter can afford to shout at you.

Posted by aheavens at 4:32 PM