« April 2006 | Main | June 2006 »

May 19, 2006

Blog gone

Where have all of Ethiopia's Blogspot bloggers gone?

If you are in Ethiopia, you will find that most of the links to Ethiopian blogs to the right of this page have stopped working. They are all the ones that use the hugely popular, free and usually anonymous Blogger platform - http://weichegud.blogspot.com/, http://coffeechillisun.blogspot.com/, http://ethiofilmsnbooks.blogspot.com/ and so on.

Is there a big conspiracy? Or is it just another day of dodgy ETC dial-up connections? How will we ever know?

Posted by aheavens at 1:39 PM

“He's dead, ma'am”

Here's my mental image of the week.

US military presence in Horn of Africa grows

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti- Surrounded by lush green mountains in rural southern Ethiopia, U.S. Charge d' Affaires Ambassador to Ethiopia Vicki Huddleston grips the gun and fires into a plywood target. The M4 machine gun kicks slightly, and she turns to the small crowd of soldiers and officers standing behind her, smiling. “Did I hit anything?” she asks. “You hit his throat,” a soldier replies, stifling good-natured laughter. “He's dead, ma'am.”

Read more at the Sub Saharan Informer.

UPDATE: Why make do with a mental image when you can see it all in the flesh on Things We Should Have Written Down.

Posted by aheavens at 1:18 PM

May 13, 2006

Nine bombs and counting

addis bombs 1Yesterday at least nine bombs exploded in Addis - two of them in commuter buses - leaving at least four dead and scores injured.

I say "at least" because the numbers keep changing. "I think it was nine but I've lost count" said one journalist in the afternoon. It is really too depressing to write about, beyond pointing you to the wire pieces on the explosions. Here's Reuters' take on the blast at the Amica café in the Merkato (pictured) where two died:

"Two who sat on the veranda were killed instantly," cafe manager Seifu Shume told Reuters. Two waitresses were among the injured, including one whose leg was blown off, he said, standing amid shattered glass on a blood-smeared floor.

Later, one person was killed when a bomb went off on another minibus and another was killed in a blast at a hotel parking lot, police said in a statement broadcast on state television.

Again, easy "civilian" targets were chosen. Again the timing seemed designed to get commuters on their way to work. If you put bombs on line-cab buses on busy traffic routes it means you are out to maim and kill "ordinary" people. Why would anyone want to do that? Why has no group claimed responsibility and set out their aims? None of the conspiracy theories I have heard amount to anything like a convincing explanation.

Now the focus is on what is going to happen on Monday May 15, the anniversary of the elections.

Posted by aheavens at 2:13 AM

May 4, 2006

The Milk House is dead ...

DSC_0040The Milk House is dead. No more chicken chilli dry. No more chicken chilli gravy. No more crispy thin pizzas on round wooden plates. No more hacks and whores and rounds of Bedele Special on Friday nights.

Long live the Milk House whenever it gets round to opening up yet again in a yet another new location, hopefully not too far away from here.

What a nice glitzy new building we're going to get in its place though (see sign).

Posted by aheavens at 3:16 PM

May 1, 2006

Under a tree near Fantalle

ethio pastoralist 4 of 5The tree was a classic flat-topped acacia. And the 150-or-so people gathered under it in the midday heat were representatives of four pastoralist groups from as far afield as Somali region.

There was the Kereyu pastoral group who were hosting the event near the base of their Gada Council of Elders. There was the Boran and Gabra groups from land along the often-troubled Ethiopia/Kenya border. And then the group from the heart of the Somali Region.

They had come to meet the leaders of all the main UN agencies in Ethiopia (WFP, UNDP, OCHA, UNICEF etc), the new United Nations Special Humanitarian Relief Envoy for the Horn of Africa Kjell Bondevik (former prime minister of Norway) and Addis Ababa's small press corps.

The meeting started and ended with prayers and was mostly made up of long, eloquent speeches and formal discussions. We head from Gada Boku, the 'Aba Gada' of the Kereyu, father of the Kereyu council, chief administrator and holder of the rules of the traditional government. Next was Nura Dida from the Boran group, who acted as spokesman for all Ethiopian pastoralists to prime minister Meles Zenawi at this year's Pastoralist Day.

ethio pastoralist 3 of 5Then there was Ibrahim Adano, from the Gabra group, "prominent pastoralist, owner of many camels, arbitrator in conflict issues and manager of natural resources", according to a briefing note. Then there was Abdi Adar Ahmed, spokesman for pastoralists from the central Somali region.

The main topics of conversation were the drought and the need for greater official recognition of all of Ethiopia's pastoralist groups. Apparently Ethiopia's last regime under Mengistu dismissed many of them as "wanderers", (maybe in the same way that Europe currently marginalises its 'gypsies' and 'travelers'). The current government was doing much better, they said. But some wanted still more - a minister of pastoralist affairs for example.

It was easy to get caught up in the exoticism. At one point, one of the pastoralist speakers said "Don't leave here and just tell people that you have seen lots of funny people sitting under a tree wearing lots of funny clothes." 'Damn', muttered all of the journalists. 'There goes our intro.'

It was also easy getting caught up in the romance of the situation - not least over the apparently open, democratic nature of the discussion. To counter-balance that it is worth noting that none of the rifles and knives everyone was carrying were there for purely ceremonial reasons. And the only women present were the ones handing out bottles of water and cups of coffee.

For me, the overwhelming feeling was of being a little out of my depth with a lot of background reading ahead. A good place to start may be the upcoming report 'Vulnerable Livelihoods in Somali Region, Ethiopia' by the Institute of Development Studies which was launched at the under-tree meeting.

Here is my first new pastoralism fact, garnered from the report's two-page summary. Many people think of pastoralists as poverty-stricken groups, struggling on from drought to flood to drought again. But what would you say was the annual turnover of just four of their livestock markets in Somali region? It is US$ 14 million.

Posted by aheavens at 4:18 AM