Ethiopia: The enlightenment of Helen Hai
Source: China Daily
It is not as though Helen Hai is exactly hard up for cash.
Hai, 36, was paid a decent salary and has a successful husband working in private equity.
"If I stop working, I don't need to worry about money," she says.
But Hai chooses to work from dawn until dusk in Ethiopia. She is dedicated to the place and owns an apartment in Addis Ababa, the country's capital.
She wound up in Ethiopia by accident. In 2011, Hai, who planned to start her own shoe brand, met the president of Huajian, one of the biggest shoemakers in China. The president offered her the position of vice-president at Huajian and said he wanted her to start a factory in Ethiopia.
Hai opened a factory in Addis Ababa just three months after joining the company. Within six months, she doubled the export volume to Europe and North America, she says. The factory has taken on more than 3,000 local workers, and Hai says Huajian plans to create 100,000 more jobs in Africa.
Hai has become such a big shot in Ethiopia that when the prime minister paid a state visit to China, he invited her to travel with him on his private plane.
Hai, who likes wearing neat Chanel jackets, looks like a tough tiger woman: slim figure, fair skin, wavy hair, speaks fast and frowns when she talks.
But she remembers softer moments.
She often recalls her first day in Ethiopia, when she took a walk in the rose garden of the Sheraton, Addis Ababa, the best hotel in the capital. She looked through the beautiful rose bushes and saw curious faces of street people peeping through the fence. At that moment, she suddenly flashed back to her childhood, when her father took her to Beijing and wanted to stay in a five-star hotel to celebrate her seventh birthday.
"I remember very clearly when we checked in, my father asked how much a room is, and they said $100. My father said immediately: 'It's too expensive', and took me out of the hotel. At that moment I turned my head around and saw all the European people in the lobby. I thought: this is a completely different world."
Hai began to wonder: outside the fence, the local people who cannot afford to stay at a five-star hotel, do they have the same feeling as she did nearly 30 years ago?
Hai always stresses that she is lucky to be a beneficiary of China's reform and opening-up.
Born in Changchun, Jilin province, in 1978, she climbed the ladder to become the youngest chief actuary in Britain; then vice-president of Huajian shoe company in Ethiopia; and now the Chinese consultant to the Ethiopian government.
"Many people ask me, why did you come to Africa? I was born in the 1970s, and people who were born about that time don't believe in God or Buddha, even Communism. I represented a typical group of people working hard but, after a certain stage, also looking for a purpose."
She found her purpose by accident. Right after she started the shoe factory in Ethiopia, she met Justin Lin, chief economist for the World Bank, who told her: "What you are doing here is just business. You need to make it into a development case."
"This is when I realized the significance of what I was doing," she says. The following month, Lin invited her to the World Bank to give a speech. At that time, everyone was talking about the "Washington Concensus", and few bought Lin's theory. "With my example of Huajian, people began to believe him," Hai says.
Hai is now working with Lin to attract more labor-intensive business to Africa. "I have already experienced a lot of things in Europe. If I can leverage everything I know about China and the West and make some successful development cases in Africa, then I can play a tiny role."
Ethiopia: The rise and rise of Genzebe Dibaba
Source: Athletics Weekly
Having set three world records in 15 days this month, AW takes a look at the career of Genzebe Dibaba who is proving even faster than her illustrious sisters
A world indoor 1500m record on February 1 followed by more of the same over 3000m on February 6 and a two mile world indoor best nine days later. Genzebe Dibaba has had a remarkable indoor season so far and having just been confirmed for the 3000m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, next month, fans wait with bated breath to see what else the 23-year-old is capable of.
Dibaba first made her mark on the international scene in Edinburgh in 2008. There, in the city’s Holyrood Park, the Ethiopian won the world junior cross-country title in a race that saw Charlotte Purdue finish 53 seconds behind the winner as leading Briton in 16th place.
It was a successful day for Ethiopia, with Genzebe’s older sister, Tirunesh, winning the senior women’s race, while the senior men’s title went to Kenenisa Bekele and the junior men’s victory to Ibrahim Jeilan. Given this, the “Dibaba double” was one of the big stories of the championships and it looked likely that a Dibaba dynasty of distance-running dominance was set to continue
Ethiopian dam's ecological and human fallout could echo Aral Sea disaster
Study suggests irrigation projects linked to Gibe III dam could devastate Lake Turkana's fisheries and affect livelihoods
Africa's fourth-largest lake could drop by 20 metres, causing an ecological and human disaster to rival the shrinking of the Aral Sea in central Asia, if Ethiopia goes ahead with massive irrigation projects linked to a giant dam, according to a university paper.
Lake Turkana, located almost entirely in Kenya but fed by the river Omo, which rises in Ethiopia, will be severely impacted by the 243 metre-high Gibe III dam, which is due to be completed this year, says the study, published by the University of Oxford's African Studies Centre. It suggests water levels could drop by half, devastating the lake's fisheries and affecting the livelihoods of 170,000 agro-pastoralists.
"Ultimately, the 6,400 sq km lake could reduce to two small lakes. The picture that emerges from these predictions bears a striking resemblance to the recent disastrous history of the Aral Sea, which was once the world's fourth-largest inland water body," said Sean Avery, a Nairobi-based hydrologist who studied the impact of the dam project for the African Development Bank.
Ethiopian Muslims Struggle for Religious Freedom is Exemplary
By Tedla Asfaw
I followed the "730 Days Ethiopian Muslims Non-Violent struggle for Religious Freedom " documentary posted on YouTube by Demtsachene Yesema.
The little less than one hour and thirty minutes video is an educational video for all of us. It divides the story of the struggle in different phases and educate the public on what has been accomplished for the last 730 days by Muslims in Ethiopia on their Peaceful Struggle to worship their God in their own way without interference by Home or Foreign forces.
The Muslims in Ethiopia broke ethnic division and came under one slogan "We are Ethiopian Muslims". They got their strength through unity. Without that they would have been very weak and easy for the regime to discredit the struggle by its propaganda machine.
This peaceful struggle success also is due to the non Muslims of Ethiopia not buying the regime propaganda of " The Muslims came to take power and rule under Sharia ". Non Muslims stood with our Muslim brothers and sisters. There was no room for Muslims Vs Christians confrontation similar to one ethnic group Vs the other one, the main driving force of politics in Ethiopia for the last 22 years.
The rally organized by Semayawi Party (Blue Party) in 2013 in solidarity with Ethiopian Muslims brought Muslims and non Muslims together in public solidarity. Ethiopians once again showed the world that Extremism be it religious or ethnic has no place in Ethiopia, the home of religious and ethnic tolerance is indeed Ethiopia !!!!
Without exaggeration it can be said that Ethiopian Muslims by Talking and Walking peaceful struggle for 730 days woke up the political organizations that were dormant from their deep sleep for the last 1460 days.
We witnessed in the last few hundreds of days political rallies in many cities in Ethiopia for freedom and justice. Most of the rallies participants are the youth. The Ethiopian women should take a page from Ethiopian women Muslims experience and come out in large numbers. Without them no peaceful struggle will succeed.
From our neighbors we have a lot to learn too. In Egypt a peaceful struggle led by Muslim Brotherhood was hijacked by army and thousands of lives lost and many jailed and exiled. The Muslim Brotherhood is now underground and more blood shed is certain. Foreign forces like Saudi Arabia succeeded in sabotaging the peaceful struggle.
Al Shabab is still terrorizing Somalia. South Sudan ethnic war has brought tens of thousands of death and many are running for their lives. In both countries the conflict is sponsored by outside forces with the help of ethnic warlords.
The success of Ethiopian Muslims struggle is mainly because it is not hijacked by foreign forces. The non Muslims Ethiopians acceptance of the struggle for freedom of religion as a just cause brought no room for religious conflict we witnessed in many parts of the world. Ethiopians closed all doors for foreign as well as home intruders.
However, we need to be vigilant against Ethnic Supremacists like that of "Oromia First" new comers based in Minnesota, USA. They tried to hijack the Ethiopian Muslims struggle and take it as their own by playing ethnic politics. The nonsense of 85 percent of Ethiopian Muslims are Oromos therefore the Ethiopian Muslims struggle is the struggle for " Oromia Independence" should be rejected. We should tell them that Ethnicity armed with " Mencha " is incompatible with the Ethiopian Muslims struggle. Stay where you are !!!! No one is going to buy your propaganda from long distance !!!
Ethiopia: The not so cheap talk of Alemnew Mekonnen et al
By Hindessa Abdul
Amid the drama and conspiracy theories surrounding a co-pilot who had hijacked a plane, two local politicians were hitting the headlines in their own ways.
Zenebu Tadesse is Ethiopian Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs. Last week she allegedly tweeted: “There is no place for hate, discrimination in my beloved Africa. It’s not Governments’ business to make dress code or anti-gay laws.” The tweet was a reaction to an anti-gay bill that was signed into law by Ugandan President Yoweri Musevini. Zenebu’s comment quickly drew controversy both at home and abroad. However, the tweet was a short-lived one: deleted. The Minister later denied posting it.
In an interview with the ruling party owned Radio Fana, Zenebu said while she actively uses Tweeter to promote some of the activities of her Ministry, she denied posting the tweet. “I was out of town when I heard about the tweet. I was saddened to hear that. I didn’t even have access to network… I am not an IT expert to comment on how it was posted. We are conducting an investigation.”
Probably the most important issue here is not the content of the tweet. It is to what extent the officials are free to speak their mind. Was the Minister forced to retract her comment? Would she be as blunt to comment on such controversial matter without expecting a backlash? Is the level of IT sophistication that high to easily hack on to her account? Why didn’t the hackers go after more prominent politicians that are known to use Tweeter? Whatever the answer to those questions, officials will be intimidated to say what they think; making their online life as boring as the officialdom they are caged in.
Making Alemnew famous
Alemnew Mekonnen is deputy head of the Amhara Regional State and the second in command of the Party that is imposed on the Region.
Alemnew - according to his own explanation - was “training” the local media staff on issues of good governance and democracy, put simply - he was engaged in political indoctrination.
A leaked audio from the “training” shows what ruling party functionaries are capable of saying behind closed doors. Alemnew scorned the Amhara - Ethiopia’s second largest ethnic group considered to be 30 million strong - labeling them “ultra-chauvinists” and “barefoot pedestrians.” He added: “The Amhara walks barefoot but what they say is utterly poisonous.”
Those remarks aired by Ethiopian Satellite Television and later spiraled onto other social networking sites brought about disgust and indignation. While the state media was mute about it, some government affiliated “private” papers talked about the incident without delving into the content.
All sorts of discussion and condemnation ensued. Opposition party members staged mass protest in the regional capital Bahir Dar. Scores of them actually took off their shoes to make a point on the “barefoot” remark.
The deputy chief convened a press conference of handpicked journalists who read questions from a script. The caption that run on the TV screen didn’t even identify him as deputy regional administrator - a move taken by the spin doctors to distance the administration from the comment - only vaguely mentioning his position in the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM).
Alemnew took an hour to basically say two things:
• First, he denied making the remark. “How can I say that?” he threw the question back to the reporters. “I didn’t say any of the comments that have been attributed to me by the opposition. I have respect for the people. Who am I to make such disparaging comment against my own ethnic group? (The whole thing) was doctored by computer techniques. It is the work of the opposition politicians to alienate the ANDM leadership from the people.”
• Second, he blamed the participants of the training for their chauvinistic outlook. He insisted that he was mainly trying to address issues of ethnic politics that the trainees lacked tremendously.
For whom the bell tolls
Remarks by officials that single out specific ethnic groups, particularly the Amhara, are not uncommon. To start with, the pages of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) manifesto handwritten in February 1974 are packed with references to the “oppressing Amhara ethnic group.” That’s where small time ethnic ideologues get their cue from.
Former chief of Southern Region, who has since become Minister of Education, Shiferaw Shigute issued a letter akin to ethnic cleansing when he ordered the eviction of Amhara settlers from the Gura Ferda locality in southern Ethiopia. His counterpart in the Somali Regional State, Abdi Mohammed Oumer, was shown in a video advising his “brethren” which ethnic group they should embrace if they happen to go to the Capital, Addis Ababa.
Such ethnic disparaging languages should not be tolerated where ever they come from. At the end of the day no body chose where they come from. An attack on one is an attack on all. “… never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
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