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After 40 Years, Mulatu Astatke Still 'Sketches' Ethio-Jazz Deftly
by BANNING EYRE
It is bold indeed for any jazz artist to evoke Miles Davis' landmark album Sketches of Spain. But Mulatu Astatke, like Miles, is a true original.
The music Astatke first imagined 40 years ago sounds as fresh and contemporary today as it did in the swinging Addis Ababa of 1973 when Astatke created a signature "Ethio-jazz" style by blending jazz with Ethiopian music. Decades later, he earned an international following when his early recordings appeared on reissue CDs. Now, Astatke has rewarded fans with new album called Sketches of Ethiopia.
Teenage Ethiopian Americans bring parents' music to life
Music often divides generations, but one group of Ethiopian Americans in California are challenging that norm. They've embraced music from their parents' generation and are playing it in their band.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that kids hate their parents’ music, or at least do their best to ignore it.
Garage bands don’t borrow CDs from their parents so they can practice disco covers. Unless it's in some kind of ironic hipster way.
There’s nothing ironic about the music being played in one particular suburban garage near Oakland, Calif. The Young Ethio Jazz Band are teenagers who rock out with their parents’ music.
The band played its first gig in San Francisco last winter. Now it's slated to open for another act at Yoshi’s, a famous jazz club in San Francisco, and then it plays in the Ethiopian Heritage Festival at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Rock churches of Lalibela, the Jerusalem of Ethiopia
Lalibela, Ethiopia (CNN) -- It's 4 o'clock on a Sunday morning when a trail of figures dressed in white emerges from the deep darkness. Quietly, the summoned crowd makes its way down a cluster of ancient structures as the slow beat from traditional skin drums beckons.
It's a common scene here in Lalibela, a small town in northern Ethiopia that's home to 11 spectacular churches carved both inside and out from a single rock some 900 years ago. The chiseled creations have turned this mountain town into a place of pride and pilgrimage for worshipers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, attracting 80,000 to 100,000 visitors every year.
"It is one of the very important places for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church people," says local guide Fikru Woldegiorgis, who's lived here most of his life. "There is a belief that Lalibela pilgrims share the same blessing as pilgrims to Jerusalem," he explains. "They have to come at least once in a lifetime."
And they come from all over.
Ethiopian aliyah to end August 28, Jewish Agency says
Gondar compounds to be handed over to local authorities; Ethiopians wishing to immigrate to Israel after August will be considered on case-by-case basis.
The Jewish Agency is preparing to end mass aliyah from Ethiopia with two final flights consisting of 400 immigrants on August 28.
The Jewish Agency emissary to Ethiopia, Asher Seyum, made the announcement in a brief letter, saying the Jewish Agency will hand over its aid compounds in the Ethiopian city of Gondar to local authorities at the end of August.
For years, the compounds - originally established by the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry and only recently taken over by the Jewish Agency - provided thousands of Ethiopians waiting to immigrate to Israel with educational, nutritional and some employment services.
Once the final flights are complete, Ethiopians wishing to immigrate to Israel will be subject to the same rules as potential immigrants from elsewhere in the world and considered on a case-by-case basis, a New York-based spokesman for the Jewish Agency told JTA.
Migrant voices - Ethiopians in Yemen describe kidnapping and torture
SANA’A, 11 April 2013 (IRIN) - Record numbers of migrants from the Horn of Africa are crossing into Yemen, most of them on their way to find better opportunities in Saudi Arabia and other rich Gulf countries. But many do not make it any further. Seeking a new life, they end up unwitting victims of a smuggling racket designed to exploit the migrants at each juncture of their journey.
Recent years have seen Ethiopians make up the majority of these migrants: Of the 107,000 recorded migrants crossing the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden into Yemen in 2012, around 80,000 were from Ethiopia.
Four irregular migrants with diverse backgrounds, all from Ethiopia, told IRIN about their journeys to Yemen.* While their stories differ in details, they all share a similar set of experiences: brutality, broken promises and extortion.
Marta says she fled Ethiopia in 2010 when she and her family were accused of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a state-designated terrorist group. “The government said, ‘You are with the party of OLF,’ and chased us out of country. I don’t know where my family ended up.”
“I spent a year and a half in Djibouti, where I gave birth to my daughter. After her father disappeared, we left for Yemen. I paid a broker 10,000 Djiboutian francs [about US$55] to ride in a boat with 15 others from Djibouti to Yemen.
“Our night-time crossing of the Red Sea was calm until the end. As we neared the Yemeni coast, the owner of the boat, who was part of the smuggling operation, threw us into the sea. No one knew how to swim because in Ethiopia, we don’t have a sea, just lakes. The brokers and their thugs were waiting for us as we came ashore. They raped me and the other women. I’m 9 months pregnant with a child from that night.
“When I arrived to Sana’a, I was tired and decided to stay. For seven months, I was a house maid, but now I can’t work because of the pregnancy, so I have no income. [Ethiopian] migrants from the community in Sana’a are supporting me.
“I’m interested in tackling my problems, but at the moment I am pregnant and I am tired. All my money goes to my daughter, so this makes me tired. One day I will win.”