Four decades after Haile Selassie’s death, Ethiopia is an African success story
Ethiopia has changed beyond all recognition since the death of its last emperor, Haile Selassie, 40 years ago. Haile Selassie was surreptitiously murdered at the age of 83 by the military revolutionaries who had overthrown him a year earlier. Though t-shirts bearing his familiar features are to be seen on the streets of Addis Ababa, the days of the empire have gone and there is no move to restore it.
Gone too is the Derg, as the military regime was called. It attempted to build a communist state on the ruins of the empire, like its backers in the then USSR. Though it built what initially seemed to be an effective dictatorship, it was unable to cope with the economic incompetence of state socialism – symbolised for the outside world by the great famine of 1984 – or the resistance aroused by brutal top-down central rule.
This resistance was led by the movement for the independence of the northern province of Eritrea. One of the most effective insurgencies the world has ever seen, it brought down the Derg in the province in 1991. Eritrea has since tragically degenerated into an African North Korea, which has succeeded only in providing a massively disproportionate number of the refugees now besieging Fortress Europe. The government of the rest of Ethiopia – by far the largest part of the country – fell to an allied guerrilla movement, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Donald Trump’s shtick is: “America needs to be respected again because the rest of the world has lost respect for America.”
I don’t care much for The Donald.
But his shtick gnaws away at my mind as I think over the disgraceful “red carpet” treatment President Barack Obama received last month when he visited Ethiopia, the first ever for a sitting American President.
I know the whole red carpet drama is frivolity and vanity and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things; but to the extent that it represents a symbolic gesture of respect for a head of state and his/her nation, it is a big deal.
As I have said before, I am not much for pomp and circumstances and elaborate formal ceremonies. But I have been known to show up at my university’s commencement exercises clad in resplendent professorial regalia and occasionally carrying the university mace as faculty marshal. Graduation ceremonies mean a lot to my students and their families.
I appreciate the symbolic significance of formal ceremonies; but they must be done with class and pizzazz.
I believe the “red carpet” treatment given to President Barack Obama in late July by Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) in Ethiopia was a low down dirty shame and an insult to the office of the U.S. President and the people of the United States.
To the world, Barack Obama is the public face of the United States of America and the single most important representative of the people of the United States. As such, he deserves the highest respect during state visits.
The T-TPLF gave President Obama a red carpet treatment that was not even fit for Bozo the Clown!
It is totally mind-boggling why the T-TPLF dissed Obama.
Obama has been the T-TPLF’s principal bankroller.
Obama continues to turn a blind eye, deaf ears and muted lips the T-TPLF’s crimes against humanity.
Obama lied through his teeth to give credibility and legitimacy to the T-TPLF. Obama had the gall to say the 100 percent “election victory” claimed by the T-TPLF this past
May is “democratic”. His National Security Adviser Susan Rice emphatically declared to the press that the “President believes it is absolutely 100 democratic.” Then Rice busted out laughing uncontrollably!
What did Obama get in return for all the favors he has done to T-TPLF? DISRESPECT!
What did America get in return? DISRESPECT!
High rollers in Las Vegas have received better red carpet treatment than President Obama in Addis Ababa.
The “red carpet treatment” means “something” as a symbolic gesture of respect. That is why important state visits and other official affairs are often opened in red carpet receptions and honor guard inspections. Glamorous celebrities the world over present themselves to their adoring public by sauntering on the red carpet.
But Agamemnon hesitates to walk on the crimson carpet knowing that such treatment was reserved only for the gods.
Our modern gods — presidents, prime ministers, heads of state, celebrities of all types — have long made it a habit of walking on the red carpet just to remind us that they are gods and we are mere mortals; and that it is our duty to pay them homage, if not worship them outright.
I don’t’ know if the most powerful man on earth could be classified as a god, at least on the level of the mythological Greek gods, but I believe he is entitled to a real red carpet treatment.
I was so appalled by the T-TPLF red carpet spectacle that I thought for a moment the T-TPLF was having Obama do “Ring Around the Rosie”.
They made Obama walk the four squares of tacked-on “runner rugs”, with an imitation Persian rug as the centerpiece, to inspect the honor guards.
Obama walked 8 steps to the left from where he was standing, then made a hard right and took another 12 steps, another hard right and 15 steps, another hard right 11 steps and another hard right 7 steps to his original standing position.
The whole red carpet honor guarad ceremony took 59 seconds! Watch video HERE.
The only thing missing was for the statuesque crowd to sing out loud: “Ring-a-ring-a-roses,/ A pocket full of posies;/Ashes! Ashes!/ We all fall down/.
(How true, they all fall down!)
I believe the T-TPLF showed utter disrespect to President Obama and the tax payers of the United States of America by giving him a Mickey Mouse red carpet treatment on his state visit. He deserved better.
I don’t know why the T-TPLF gave President Obama a crappy 59-second red carpet reception on his state visit.
Could it be that there is no honor and respect among thugs, thieves and thankless beggars?
Could it be that Hailemariam and his T-TPLF bosses are so clueless that they really believed their Mickey Mouse red carpet and honor guard ceremony is what the President of the United States deserved?
There is no doubt Hailemariam and his puppet masters have been given enough red carpet ceremonies over the years to know what a real red carpet treatment is like.
Is it possible that Hailemariam and his paymasters are such clod-hopping country bumpkins and yokels that they do not even learn from others by watching?
I don’t mean fancy learning. I mean simple learning as in “monkey see, monkey do”.
Isn’t there someone around to teach them:
Listen up! This is what a red carpet looks like. Notice! it is red. It is not variegated. That means multicolored. Pay attention! A red carpet is not an imitation Made in China olefin Persian carpet. Check this out! This is how you roll out a fifty-yard red carpet. Look here! The lesson is almost over. You do not patch or tack together 8-feet “runner rugs” [long strips of cheap Chinese olefin rugs] to receive the President of the United States. Pay attention!! You ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, do not buy a 99-cent welcome rug from the Dollar Store to receive the President of the United States!!!!!
For crying out loud, if these guys are so clueless rolling out a red carpet, how can they be expected to roll out an economic plan for 100 million people!?
Even worse, the way they overlapped the imitation Persian rug over the runner rugs was so dangerous that Obama could have tripped and fallen flat on his face. (Aren’t the Secret Service folks supposed to watch out for the President’s safety from falling on slipping and snagging carpets? Many lay people saw the danger.)
The only rational explanation is that the T-TPLF bosses wanted to dis Barack Obama. Straight up! I am convinced that they wanted to tell Barack Obama he aint _ _ _ _ !
That really pisses me off, even though I am no longer a cheerleader for Barack Obama and have lost respect for him for lying to protect the T-TPLF.
Despite my personal feelings, I still believe Obama deserved the highest respect as the President of the United States of America on his state visit to Ethiopia.
All I can say is that you can take the thug out of the bush but you can’t take the bush out of the thug!
It is true, “Money can’t buy you class!”
Shame on the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean’s People’s Liberation Front for giving President Obama a Mickey Mouse reception on his state visit!
Roll out the red carpet for Hailemariam Deslaegn (Rwanda visit, August 21,
This can’t be true!?
A polypropylene welcome door mat for the President of the United States?!?
(Thank goodness the President did not fall on his face tripped by the welcome mat overlaid on the rug. Of course, the rear tire of “The Beast” (presidential limo) pressed firmly on the edge of the “welcome mat” holding it in place so it does not slip when the President stepped on it. Did the Secret Service arrange that?!)
But it is TRUE!
The exact “charming welcome mat” is available for direct bulk order from Huangpu, China at this link:
Donald Trump said, “America needs to be respected again because the rest of the world has lost respect for America.”
What would a “President” Donald Trump have done if he had visited Ethiopia and been given the Mickey Mouse red carpet treatment?
I doubt Trump would have taken such in-your-face disrespect without giving his hosts a piece of his mind.
I think he would have told the T-TPLF, with a slight variation, what he told China : “Listen you m—–f——, we’re going to tax you 25 percent!”.
“Listen you T-TPLF! We are going to cut your welfare aid check by 25 percent.”
Now, get a load of that to get R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
The Ethiopian Insurance Corporation (EIC) is to award a 15 million Br detailed design and construction supervision contract to MH Engineering Plc for its headquarters.
The two sides will seal the deal on August 24, 2015 at Elilly Hotel.
EIC’s headquarters will be a 38-storey building which will be constructed on 8,477sqm of land out of a total of 12,211sqm of land on Ras Damtew Street, opposite Ambassador Theatre. The building will have a four-storey basement. The remaining plot will be reserved for parking.
The company already had a 3,400sqm plot of land along Gordeme River, which had been used as a store. The company leased an additional 1,300sqm of land in 2005/06 for 1,800 Br a square metre in order to erect 15-storey building for its life insurance office at that site. It then changed its plan into a 38-floor building, with four floors underground and the rest above, according to Haileluel Tessema, deputy CEO of EIC’s Resource Management Office. For that it leased an additional 8,000sqm for the price of 2,500 Br a square metre in 2011.
Rising to a height of 113m, the new building will accommodate offices of EIC and avail extra space for rent for other commercial purposes, said Fikiru Tsegaye, director of Marketing & Strategic Management at EIC.
Ethiopian Prisoner Urges U.S. To Put Pressure On His Country Over Human Rights - NPR
Gerba is a leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, a political party that represents one of the country's largest ethnic groups. With estimated numbers of about 30 million, the Oromo make up about a third of Ethiopia's population.
In 2011, Gerba was arrested after meeting with Amnesty International researchers and sent to prison on what he calls trumped up terrorism charges, often used in Ethiopia against political dissidents. In court he made remarks that have been widely circulated in Ethiopia and beyond: "I am honored to learn that my non-violent struggles and humble sacrifices for the democratic and human rights of the Oromo people, to whom I was born without a wish on my part but due to the will of the Almighty, have been considered a crime and to be unjustly convicted."
Gerba was released from jail this spring in advance of President Obama's July visit to Ethiopia. A soft spoken man, who seemed exhausted by his prison ordeal and his numerous appearances at U.S. universities and think tanks, Gerba tells NPR that Obama's trip sent all the wrong messages.
"He [Obama] shouldn't have shown any solidarity with that kind of government, which is repressive, very much authoritarian and very much disliked by its own people," Gerba says.
Since Ethiopia's ruling party and its allies control all of parliament, his party doesn't have a voice, he says. What's more, he says, his people are being pushed off their land by international investors.
"The greatest land grabbers are now the Indians and Chinese .... there are Saudi Arabians as well," he says, adding that many families are being evicted and losing their livelihoods.
Gerba says those who do get jobs are paid a dollar a day, which he describes as a form of slavery. He is urging the U.S. to use its aid to Ethiopia as leverage to push the government to give workers more rights and allow people to form labor unions.
Gerba's case has been featured in the State Department's annual human rights reports. He describes himself as a Christian who believes in non-violence and says he spent his four years in prison pouring over the sermons and speeches of Martin Luther King and translating them into the Oromo language for a book that he hopes to see published. The title: "I Had A Dream."
Bekele Gerba is not sure what he will face when he returns home from the U.S. When he was jailed, his wife, a high school teacher, lost her job. His family has struggled financially and psychologically.
"Nobody is actually sure in Ethiopia what will happen to him anytime," he says. "Anytime, people can be arrested, harassed or killed or disappeared."
Still, he plans to return home next week. He's expected to return to his job at the Foreign Languages Department at Addis Ababa University.
ENTOTO, ETHIOPIA – High above the crowded streets of Addis Ababa, among fields where farmers lead oxen dragging wooden plows, sits Ethiopia’s space program.
Perched atop the 3,200-meter-tall (10,500-foot) Mount Entoto, two metal domes house telescopes, each a meter in diameter.
Operational for only a few months, the specialized equipment — the first in East Africa — has propelled Ethiopia into an elite club of African countries with a space program.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most-populous nation, wants the program to give a technological boost to its rapid development.
“Science is part of any development cycle. Without science and technology, nothing can be achieved,” said Abinet Ezra, communications director for the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS). “Our main priority is to inspire the young generation to be involved in science and technology.”
ESSS, funded by the Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Mohammed Alamoudi, was set up in 2004 to promote astronomy.
It has a bold mission: “To build a society with a highly developed scientific culture that enables Ethiopia to reap the benefits accruing from space science and technology.”
But its supporters have had a tough time setting it up.
For the past decade, a handful of enthusiasts — including Solomon Belay, director of the observatory and a professor of astrophysics — battled with the authorities to convince them that in a country that is one of the poorest in the world and where malnutrition is still a threat, the exploration of space is not a luxury.
Ethiopia strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, considered them dreamers.
“People said we were crazy,” said Belay. “The attention of the government was to secure food security, not to start a space and technology program. Our idea was contrary to that.”
The space observatory is, above all, a symbol.
The $3 million center houses computer-controlled telescopes and a spectrograph to measure wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.
It allows the handful of astronomy and astrophysics students at the University of Addis Ababa to train on site rather than taking expensive trips abroad.
“Being poor is not a boundary to start this program,” Solomon said, adding that by boosting support for science, it would help develop the country. “Engineering and sciences are important to transform our agriculture into industry.”
The site at Entoto, which is often hidden by clouds during the rainy season and is close to the lights of Addis Ababa, struggles to compete with the world’s major observatories, including the far larger Southern African Large Telescope in South Africa.
But Ethiopia has plans, including to build a far more powerful observatory in the northern mountains around Lalibela, far from city lights.
With the authorities now won over that Ethiopia should invest in space science, the government hopes to launch a national space agency — and to put an Ethiopian satellite in orbit within five years, for the monitoring of farmland and to boost communications.
“We are using space applications in everyday activities, for mobile phones, weather — space applications are fundamental,” said Kelali Adhana, the International Astronomical Union chief for East Africa, who is based in Ethiopia. “We cannot postpone it, otherwise we allow ourselves to live in poverty.”
At Ethiopia’s Institute of Technology in the northern town of Mekelle, scientists plan to test the first Ethiopian rocket to go more than 30 kilometers (18½ miles) into the sky, although that is still below the 100-kilometer frontier between the Earth’s atmosphere and space.
Ethiopian astronauts, however, remain far off even though the prospect of conquering space is an attractive one in a country that lays claim to be the birthplace of humankind, with the remains of the ancient hominid Lucy housed in Addis Ababa.
“We are in no hurry to go to deep space,” said Belay.
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