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  • Ethiopian military leaders visited Prime Minister’s office

    May 24,2019

    High ranking commanders of the Ethiopian Defense Force have visited construction projects in the office of the prime minister, seemingly this time with an invitation from the prime minister. It is to be remembered that hundreds of special commandos of the Ethiopian Defense forces showed up at the prime minister’s office in October 2018 – a phenomenon which caused a serious concern back then.

    In today’s visit, it was all smile and the Cheif of staff General Seare Mekonen was among the visitors. After the ceremony, the military commanders had a meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, according to a report by state broadcaster – Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

    Abiy reportedly briefed the military officers about his project of “beautifying sheger” – for which organized a $173,000 per plate fundraising dinner last Sunday which happened in the 19th-century Banquet Hall Emperor Menelik. And it was in the same hall that Abiy Ahmed met with the military leaders on Friday.

    The project to beautify sheger is expected to be completed, if all goes well, in three years time and it will cost 29 billion Ethiopian birr which is equivalent to $US 1.1 billion.

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  • This Ethiopian prince was kidnapped by Britain – now it must release him

    Seven-year-old Prince Alemayehu was captured – along with many national treasures – in 1868. His remains are held in Windsor Castle but pleas for their return have been rebuffed

    (The Guardian) — You see him first as he was soon after his father’s death: a seven-year-old boy staring, stunned, into the camera. He sits on a cloth-covered bench, next to a shield and a strip of animal hide. Around his shoulders, a long shamma drapes and gathers at his folded ankles. You note his bare feet, the way one toe, curled upward and tense, hints at the emotions he is keeping guarded. He wears the silver-baubled necklace that will travel with him from Ethiopia to England, the one also seen in pictures where he is made to sit for Julia Margaret Cameron and other photographers. His mother, if still alive, will soon die unexpectedly, leaving him in the hands of the same British men who came to confront his father. But for now, he has not lost everything.

    This photograph of Prince Alemayehu was taken during the 1868 Napier expedition, a British military incursion into Maqdala, Ethiopia, to rescue three dozen European prisoners. His father, Emperor Tewodros, took captives when his letters to Queen Victoria were ignored. Led by Sir Robert Napier, the punitive mission was extravagant: 13,000 soldiers, 8,000 auxiliary workers, and thousands of followers in search of adventure or a story. Several, like Richard Holmes of the British Museum, also came in search of loot.

    In the end, Emperor Tewodros released the prisoners unharmed, then committed suicide rather than surrender. What happened next would be described as a “deluge of fire” and one of the greatest looting orgies ever undertaken in the name of the British empire. Alemayehu, by now an orphan, was put on board the Feroze, the same ship as Holmes, who was taking back to Britain the largest haul of stolen artefacts in Ethiopia’s history. The objects went into British museums and libraries. Alemayehu became a ward of Queen Victoria and, despite his continual pleas to be returned to his homeland, he died aged 18 in England. He was buried at Windsor Castle, where he remains. A plaque, “When I was a stranger, ye took me in,” marks his vault.

    Today, we can recognise Napier and his forces for the marauders that they were. We can acknowledge the imperialist arrogance that would kidnap a young boy and trumpet the achievement through newspapers and photographs. The generosity of hindsight might even explain why Alemayehu’s pleas to return home were refused. But there is no longer any excuse for that same refusal and arrogance. There is no viable reason to continue to hold his remains hostage. He has become, like the sacred and valuable objects still in British museums and libraries, a possession.

    Alemayehu is still trapped, a plaque forcing on to the narrative of his life a sentiment that he would not have chosen

    In 2007, the then Ethiopian president Girma Wolde-Giorgis sent Queen Elizabeth a formal request for the return of the prince’s remains. Alemayehu’s plight has been the subject of radio plays, poems, and books. Scholars and concerned citizens have started campaigns; a young boy wrote a widely publicised letter to Tony Blair. Yet every request to the Queen or Buckingham Palace has been met with silence or refusal. Alemayehu is still trapped in the land of his kidnappers, a plaque forcing on to the narrative of his life a sentiment that he would not have chosen as his own.

    In her diary, Queen Victoria describes Prince Alemayehu as “a pretty, polite, graceful boy … There is nothing whatever of the Negro about him.”

    In photographs, Alemayehu is rendered fragile and exotic. Though she acknowledges that “his was no happy life, full of difficulties of every kind”, the queen does not seem to consider that this unhappiness might have broken this young boy, might have sent him spiralling into ugly, impolite anger. What the queen wanted to imagine in Alemayehu, what England still wants to possess, is a foreigner who earns refuge through politeness, quietness and grace.

    Alemayehu, like those who are today crossing borders to flee violence and oppression, endured a forced migration. Yet there is nothing graceful about the overloaded boats heading towards Europe. There is nothing polite about those who have rushed fences and tunnels to escape devastation. If there is beauty to be seen, it is in what they refuse to give up: aspirations and dreams, a love willing to risk all for family, the photographs and letters they clutch even when it requires superhuman strength. These people too are portrayed as strangers. But they, lacking in the refinements that Victoria praised in Alemayehu, are not the kinds of foreigners acceptable to a Europe still looking for comfortable narratives that can be condensed on to plaques and fit into museum displays.

    You think of him in what is now the Victoria and Albert Museum, wandering a room where the loot from the expedition is displayed. He pauses at the familiar gold crown. He stares at the necklaces and anklets worn by the women in his household. Over there, the torn fragments of an illuminated Bible.

    You see him look longingly at these mementos from home, now imprisoned behind glass. You see him, stoic, as he is guided from one vitrine to the other. You see his steps slow and falter as he approaches a beautiful long dress. You imagine that in that instant he wants to smash his fist through the glass and take back his mother’s dress, bury himself in her familiar scent. Instead, he turns to the queen and demands again to be sent home.

    Maaza Mengiste will be speaking on a panel about migration at the Africa Utopia festival at London’s Southbank Centre this Sunday 13 September

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  • Abiy hosts ‘the most expensive dinner’ in Ethiopia

    (BBC) — Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hosted 200 business people and representatives from several organisations for a Sunday dinner dubbed “the most expensive in the country”.

    Guests had to pay $173,000 (£136,000) to dine at the palace of a former emperor of the country, Menelik.

    The event was held to help reach a $1.1bn fundraising target to pay for the regeneration of an area in the capital, Addis Ababa.

    Beautifying Sheger Project, as it is called, involves cleaning the rivers and building recreational parks in the capital.

    State linked-Fana news site, tweeted pictures of the table setup , alongside models showing what the project would look like when complete.

    Since coming to office Mr Abiy has been praised for his reformist agenda, which included normalising ties with bitter foe, Eritrea.

    His critics, however, say that he has failed to deal with ethnic conflicts within the country which have displaced more than 2 million people.

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  • U.S. Embassy, NEBE Hold Communications Workshop for Political Parties

    The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa in partnership with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) organized a half-day communications workshop for members of political parties in Ethiopia, according to press release from the US Embassy.

    The workshop focused on supporting the communications capability of the parties as they prepare for upcoming elections.

    In his remarks at the workshop, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor explained that “To have so many different political parties gathered in one place, and in a government building no less, is a testament to how far Ethiopia has come over the last year. But creating this new political space, as difficult and momentous as this has been, is just the first step. Now the question is what Ethiopians will do with it.”

    The Ambassador also encouraged the participants to look beyond winning or losing and think about how they can lead Ethiopia’s transition: “Whether your party wins or loses any given election, your leadership role within Ethiopia’s new political space is doing nothing less than ensuring Ethiopia’s peaceful, multi-party future.”

    The workshop was open to all political parties focused on the myriad ways they can connect with their constituencies and the general public while putting forward their policies and vision for Ethiopia so that the Ethiopian people can make informed choices when casting their vote in the upcoming election.

    Source: U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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  • French Hospitality Company Plans to Open 7 Hotels in Ethiopia

    Huset Media - Accor SA plans to open seven hotels in Ethiopia by 2020, according to Journal Du Cameroun report.

    The French hospitality company plans to build a total of 60 new hotels in 14 countries in Africa in the next four years,according to Mark Wills, senior official of the company and CEO for Middle East and Africa of the European.

    Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa, will have 10, 7 and 3 Accor hotels each by 2020.

    More than half of them will be in Egypt, which Mark Willis said is rebounding after external factors hurt the industry.

    Accor has 143 hotels in Africa, 63 of them south of the Sahara, and will promote its Movenpick luxury brand, Willis said.

    Ethiopia has seen a rapid growth in its hospitality industry in the last decade. Once known for poor quality hotels, the country is awash with several 4 and 5-star hotels. However, there is still a need for more high quality hotels, especially during international meetings and conferences.

    In a recent survey W Hospitality Group, a Lagos-based firm, Ethiopia stood fourth in hotel development.

    According to the survey, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Ethiopia are the four top hotel development destinations in Africa.

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