Ethiopia - Miruts Yifter A runner shrouded in mystery
15 May 2007
The Ethiopian runner Miruts Yifter was a double Olympic champion at the 1980 Games in Moscow. But his career was marked by pitfalls, and the man has kept his secrets. In theory, he is celebrating his 63rd birthday today, but his real date of birth is a total mystery. Let’s have a closer look at this enigmatic athlete.
“Yifter the shifter”
What exactly does this nickname refer to? In fact, to his amazing ability to break clear of the pack just 300 metres before the finish line.
This end-of-race acceleration enabled him to win gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres in Moscow, and earned him the nickname “Yifter the shifter”. What tenacity is displayed by finding the energy to break clear after 13 minutes of running in the 5,000 and 27 minutes in the 10,000 metres.
The only Ethiopian medallist at these Games, he became a star in his country; but things were not always like that.
In 1972, at the Olympic Games in Munich, Yifter won the bronze medal in the 10,000 metres. But, upon returning to his country, he was accused of failing at the Games and betraying his homeland. He was put in prison. But this did not prevent him from continuing to train, or from winning gold in the 10,000 metres and silver in the 5,000 metres a year later at the All-Africa Games in Lagos, Nigeria.
Three years after that, he could not compete in the Games in Montreal, following the boycott by most African countries in protest at New Zealand being allowed to take part. He therefore had to wait eight years before standing on the top step of the Olympic podium.
Even now, nobody knows why Yifter failed to turn up for the start of the 5,000 metres final at the 1972 Games in Munich. Another mystery.
Ethiopia, cradle of long distance running
In a country known for its harsh living conditions, Miruts Yifter is one of the famous Ethiopian distance runners who have turned the necessity of covering long distances each day into a globally recognised sporting achievement: Abebe Bikila, the legendary barefoot runner, gold medallist and Olympic record beater in the marathon at the 1960 Games in Rome and the 1964 Games in Tokyo; and another marathon runner, Mamo Wolde, Olympic champion at the 1968 Games in Mexico City.
But also Haile Gebrselassie, 10,000 metres champion and record holder in Atlanta and gold medallist again in Sydney, who, it is said, began his career after hearing about Yifter’s success on the radio.
Kenenisa Bekele, the current 5,000 and 10,000 metres world champion and holder of the Olympic 10,000 metres record, was also coached by Yifter.
Or Millon Wolde and Gezahgne Abera, gold medallists in the 5,000 metres and the marathon respectively at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Mysterious but talented
His age is a secret and his place of birth uncertain, but one thing is sure: Yifter deserved all the medals he won, demonstrating the tenacity, endurance and inner strength which have enabled him to overcome the hurdles of his life’s journey.
Ethiopia -Zewditu Hospital closed
By Groum Abate
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -Empress Zewditu Hospital, which was built during the first years of Emperor Haile Silassie, has been shut down after serious leakage was found in the building.
The hospital, which was first built by Swedish missionaries in the compound of the present National Palace, moved out to its current location behind the palace after constructing better facilities.
Doctor Tizeta, medical director of Zewditu Hospital told Capital that the hospital suspended admitting patients as of Thursday May, 10, and would let go remaining patients in its ward after seven days of treatment.
She said that the emergency and maternity wards would resume their operations but other departments suspended their operation due to the leaks that occurred in some parts of the building.
Sources told Capital that there are plans to move the patients to Menilik and Yekatit 12 hospitals that are also administered by the Addis Ababa Health Bureau.
Both Menilik and Yekatit 12 are not functioning to their full capacity because of lack of general practitioners.
The plan to move the patients to the two hospitals has not been yet approved but if so the patients could move to the two hospitals by next week.
The medical director of Zewditu Hospital declined to explain further about the reason why the hospital is closed.
Currently there are five major hospitals administered by the city namely Empress Zewditu Memorial, Gandhi, Ras Desta Hospital, Menelik, and Yekatit 12 hospitals.
Ethiopia - A message to Ethiopians on a historic day
By Abebe Gelaw
Two years ago, over 29 million Ethiopians registered to cast their votes across the country and queued up for hours in scorching sun to elect their leaders. Eager to reclaim their freedom, they rejected the corrupt tyrannical regime in power which has employed deception, violence, arrogance, divide and rule, ethnic animosity and every trick in the book to cling to power.
On May 15th 2005, the conflict between tyranny and democracy appeared irreconcilable. The pro-democracy leaders, who won the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people, emerged victors while the pro-tyranny camp suffered humiliating defeats across the country where proper vote counting took place. In every town and every village, where eagle-eyed observers were present to monitor the count, it proved beyond reasonable doubt that the TPLF-led ethnocratic regime had suffered irreversible defeat despite its illegal tactics and monopoly of force.
Meles Zenawi's lust for tyrannical power was deflated. His ruling elite, which turned a peasant revolution into a corrupt ethnic oligarchy of the worst kind, was overconfident that they would not have much difficulty in deceiving peasants in rural Ethiopia. To the despair of the ruling oligarchy, even the peasants turned out to be smarter than their deceptive rulers. No votes even in the remotest villages for the fly disguised as a bee, which was TPLF's campaign symbol!
Shocked at the outcome of the election results wherever proper tallying took place, the Meles regime resorted to its old trick; it chased away any observers around and took control of polling stations as well as ballot papers. It counted the remaining ballot papers and declared victory. "TPLF/EPRDF has won the democratic election!" The rejected tyrant Meles Zenawi told the world that the Ethiopian people had given him a mandate to continue riding roughshod over them. Such was the farcical drama that plunged the nation into another cycle of hopelessness and crisis. The dream of Ethiopians to be masters of their own destiny for the first time in their long but tragic history was shattered irreparably by the ruling military junta, masquerading as a civilian government, whose history is tainted with bloodshed, terrorism and destruction.
It is still outrageous that one man and his cohorts have continued to defy not only the common good but also common sense. Prominent political leaders, journalists and human rights activists have continued to suffer in the tyrant's dingy jails accused of genocide and treason. What crimes did they commit? Did they engage in vote rigging, shooting kids and mums, detaining innocent citizens en mass, torturing, maiming and killing dissidents…? None whatsoever…except voicing their protest over the crimes being committed against their fellow countrymen in broad daylight. .
Needless to list down the countless but well-known crimes of the ruling elite, Addis Voice would like to call Ethiopians across the world on the occasion of its 1 st anniversary to unite for the grand cause of freedom. It would be an act of dishonesty to declare that it was only the ruling party that has been dividing and messing up Ethiopians. The opposition camp, especially the leadership of a few political parties in and outside the country, have also been causing unnecessary rift and conflict by engaging in accusations and counter accusations. The ability to lead is akin to uniting people in harmony to achieve common objects. There is a wrong perception among many that those who can talk colourfully can make good leaders. Despite the fact that articulating ideas in a convincing manner is an essential quality, leaders should prove themselves with good deeds and actions that can bring positive changes to their followers and the whole nation.
Leadership, as we know, is not a popularity contest or a populist endeavour. As John Kotter said: "We know that leadership is very much related to change. As the pace of change accelerates, there is naturally a greater need for effective leadership." More than any other time in Ethiopian history, where our own Mandela have selflessly surrendered their liberty so that their poor fellow countrymen will gain freedom and escape from the fangs of hunger and abject poverty, there is a great need for leadership.
No amount of insincere declarations can erase the gravity our crisis. Ethiopia is a fractured and broken nation. It suffers from tyranny, hunger, poverty, backwardness, pestilence… and ignorance. Our future as a nation is uncertain more than ever before.
From churches to monasteries, from universities to kindergartens, from big cities to small hamlets, from opulent palaces of rulers to the shacks of the majority poor… we stand divided. The English poet Alexander Pope, who famously declared "To err is human, to forgive is divine," once wrote in one of is treatises: "A man should never be ashamed to own that he is wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." There are so many wrongs that we may need to own individually and collectively so as to seek wiser ways of getting out of the quagmire. There is a greater need for a real national reconciliation that should start among leaders who preach about freedom and democracy. That process should start sooner rather than later.
At a time when all outlets of truth have been blocked by the tyrannical regime, the Internet has been serving as the major source of news and views that have no chance of being freely aired in Melees Zenawi's empire of injustice. Since its official launch on 15 th May 2006, Addis Voice has emerged as one of the few pro-democracy voice for the voiceless. In spite of the challenges and numerous constraints, Addis Voice will continue to play a role in the effort to achieve change.
Freedom has never been achieved without a cost. We need to ignore tyrants lurking at every corner and demand us to abandon our freedoms and adopt their mediocre orders. As Thomas Jefferson said: "The liberty of speaking and writing guards other liberties." Let us all continue speaking and writing to guard our God given liberties. Sooner or later tyranny will be defeated once and for all… as history attests too well.
Availing itself of this opportunity, Addis Voice would like to thank all those who have supported our efforts and generously provided their time and energy. Though time and space do not allow us to list all the wonderful people who have directly and indirectly contributed to our success and continual improvement, Addis Voice would particularly like to acknowledge the significant contributions and inspirations of the following people; MEP Ana Gomes, Professor Al Mariam, Wondimu Mekonnen, Meron Ahadu, Dr Meqdes Mesfin, Workie Birye, Nigussie Gamma, Dilnisaw Getaneh, Hanna Demmissie, Yonas Hailu, Neamin Zeleke, Obang Metho, Belayneh Abate, Zeg Fanta, Zenebe Bekele, Professor Mamo Muchie, Getachew Garedew, Fekade Shewakena, Lulit Mesfin, Tedla Asfaw, Ephrem Madebo, Fikru Halebo, Ferencha Tulu, Tariku Aba Dama, Kahsay Berehe, Ayele Bojia, Orion Mengistu, Girma Kassa, Aie Zi Guo, blogger EthioZagol, just to mention a few among many others.
We can't thank you enough!
Ethiopian leases two B767 Jets for Millennium
By Andualem Sisay
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Ethiopian Airlines has leased two B767 airliners jet to increase its capacity of transporting travelers to Ethiopia for the one and half year celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium that will begins this June.
Photo: Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-360/ER Stockholm - Arlanda (ARN / ESSA) Sweden, August 6, 2006
This was disclosed indicated by the Tourism Newspaper, prepared by the Culture and Tourism Ministry and distributed at the 32nd Congress of African Travel Associations, here in Addis from May 6-11, 2007.
Though the number of Ethiopian diaspora and their relatives registered to come to Ethiopia for the celebration are not yet identified, the Ethiopian Millennium Festival Council is expecting the number to reach up to 750,000.
In addition, Ethiopian will also increase the number frequency of its international flights. It is to increase its four times weekly flight to the USA to six, from five to seven flights to Rome, from five times to six to London, from 11 flights to 14 to Dubai, from ten to 14 to Lagos and from five flight to India to seven a week.
The airline is also planning to use its new flight to Bahrain for transporting visitors from Australia. In those countries where the Ethiopian Airlines doesn’t fly to, it is planning to engage other airlines to fly to Ethiopia using the interline agreements.
Regarding internal flights, the airline is planning to replace the previously used Fokker 50 by jet airplanes. With regard to promoting Ethiopia, last month the airline sponsored some 14 journalists from Belgium to visit historical places around the country.
Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar, which is seven years and eight months behind the Gregorian calendar. The government is using the Millennium Celebration as an opportunity and moment of renaissance for Ethiopians both inside and out to change the negative image of the country by resolving or otherwise putting aside their political and ideological differences.
It is with this intention that other African countries and countries like India are joining the celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium as an African Millennium.
India has recently announced that it will join the celebration and will by then introduce Ethiopian cinemas in six major cities of India as part of strengthening bilateral relationship. India in return, during the celebration will also bring Indian music and dance crews to Ethiopia.
Ethiopia warned on Somali pullout
The US and the African Union have warned Ethiopia not to withdraw its troops from Somalia before peacekeepers are deployed to replace them.
AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare says it would be a "catastrophe" if Ethiopia pulled out too soon.
US Africa envoy Jendayi Frazer said it would probably be several months before the full peacekeeping force arrived.
Ethiopia's prime minister says he wants to withdraw all his troops, after they helped oust Islamists.
Up to a third of the population fled recent fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, and badly need aid.
Less than 40% of the estimated 300,00 displaced Somalis are receiving any help, according to UN humanitarian relief chief John Holmes.
After a visit to Mogadishu, he said Somalia now represents a worse displacement crisis than Sudan's Darfur region.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he wanted to end the "onerous" financial burden of having Ethiopian troops, estimated to be several thousand in number, in Somalia.
"Things have improved significantly in Mogadishu, making it possible for peacekeeping troops to do their job," he said.
"I very much hope and expect that those African countries that have promised to send troops will do so."
Mr Konare told the AFP news agency that Ethiopia must wait for the AU forces.
"If Ethiopia withdrew from Somalia today, it would be a catastrophe," he said.
He said Ethiopia had done the job of the AU but its continued presence could "block political dialogue" in Somalia.
But Ms Frazer said that an Ethiopian withdrawal before the AU troops arrived would lead to a security vacuum.
"It would be a mistake for Ethiopia to withdraw. That said, we certainly want them to withdraw from Somalia as soon as possible," she told the BBC's Newshour programme.
Ethiopia has twice fought border wars with Somalia and is widely distrusted there.
So far, Uganda has sent 1,700 peacekeepers but the AU says another 6,300 troops are needed.
Nigeria, Burundi and Ghana have all promised to contribute to the AU force.
Mr Meles said the "organised resistance" of the Islamists had now been "broken".
The Ethiopia-backed government says it is in control of Mogadishu after what is seen as the worst fighting in 16 years in the city.
But gunmen attacked a World Health Organization office in the city on Monday night, injuring a guard, WHO officials say.
Aid workers have accused authorities of hindering the passage of food aid at checkpoints set up across Mogadishu.
"We estimate that we are only reach 35 to 40% of those in need," Mr Holmes said.
"Many are already suffering from a cholera outbreak."
Mr Holmes said international law had been violated by the fighting factions in the city, saying that some citizens had disappeared without explanation.
"Clearly, human rights abuses have taken place, but the government categorically denied reports and accusations of their involvement," he said.
He said the government had promised to co-operate with a planned UN investigation into the reports.
Mr Holmes, the most senior UN official to visit the city in more than a decade, had to cut short his trip on Saturday, after bombs exploded in Mogadishu, killing three people.
Somalia has been without an effective national government for 16 years, controlled by rival militias and awash with guns.
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