An Ethiopian Journal

"Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters"

Discover Ethiopia, Birthplace of Humanity

leave a comment »

“The Ethiopians were regarded by the Greeks as the best people in the world. Homer speaks of them in the Iliad as the ‘blameless Ethiopians’. He claims that they were visited by Zeus, the king of the gods, by the goddess Iris, who travelled to their country to participate in their sacrificial rites, and by Poseidon, the sea god, who ‘lingered delighted’ at their feasts. This theme was taken up, in the first century BC, by Diodorus of Sicily, who asserted that the gods Hercules and Bacchus were both ‘awed by the piety’ of the Ethiopians, whose sacrifices, he claims, were the most acceptable to the gods.”

Passage from ‘The Ethiopians, A History’ by Richard Pankhurst 

Written by Tseday

June 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Ethiopian Israelis still wander in the desert

leave a comment »

May 8th 2015 by Steven Kaplan

The Ethiopians [in Israel] will remain in the anomalous situation of both having entered the Promised Land and continuing to wander in the desert. Forty years may not be long enough this time.

Anyone viewing the recent clashes between Ethiopian-Israeli demonstrators and local policemen in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv could not help being reminded of similar scenes taking place barely a week earlier in Baltimore. Such a clear visual link between events in two such disparate places cannot but be viewed as further testimony to the power of satellite news and globalized media. We should, however, proceed cautiously in comparing the two situation or reactions of the parties involved.

Israel’s Ethiopian population is of fairly recent origin. Beginning in 1977, small groups began to make their way to Israel through Sudan or other countries. (At the time, Israel had no diplomatic relations with Ethiopia’s Marxist military regime.) Dramatic airlifts from Sudan (1984 and ’85) and on the eve of the fall of the Marxist government (1991) brought thousands into the country. After 1991, tens of thousands more arrived. Many of these immigrants spent years in transition camps in Ethiopia while Israeli politicians debated whether descendants and relatives of those brought into the country as Jews also had the right to make aliyah (literally “to ascend”) to Israel.

Today the Ethiopian population stands at about 135,000, over a third of whom were born in Israel or arrived in the country as small children. Despite plenty of good intentions (and we all know where those lead), their integration (what is called in Israel absorption) has not been easy.

While the immediate catalyst for the latest eruption of rage was the beating of an Ethiopian soldier caught on video, there are clearly deeper structural issues at stake. Although there have been clear improvements in school performance, high school completion, employment and almost every other quantifiable measure, Ethiopians still lag behind most of the country in educational achievement and income. Moreover, while the percentage of Ethiopians who serve in the military is higher than for the general population (and in Israel this is considered a badge of success), the percentage who complete their service is comparatively low. Despite official rulings in their favor, large parts of the powerful rabbinic establishment still question the Jewishness of the Ethiopians. Almost every school year begins with “crises” as one school or another refuses to accept its planned number of Ethiopian students.

Although it is often said that Israel is the first country to bring in people of African descent not to enslave them but to grant them equal rights as citizens, the truth is much more complex. Ethiopians were brought to Israel not merely to have equal rights but to be part of the dominant Jewish majority. Perhaps the most persistent testimony to this is that virtually any statistic available from government and nongovernment sources regarding the Ethiopians compares them not with the population as a whole but to other Jews.

For purposes of comparison, the 20 percent of the population that is Arab is invisible, and the success or failure of the Ethiopians is measured against only their Jewish counterparts. Thus while the campaigns on behalf of the Ethiopians are often voiced in terms of universal human rights, they often have a much narrower focus: equality with other Israeli Jews.

According to polls, Israelis overwhelmingly acknowledge that Ethiopians are discriminated against. This is commendable and in sharp contrast to the United States, where denial about racial discrimination is still common. At least in part, the Israeli anti-racist consensus is convenient because it limits itself to Jewish Ethiopian-Israelis.

Thus one can be anti-racist on the one hand and on the other ignore or take part in the ongoing pernicious discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel (leaving the territories out of the equation for the moment) or African migrants. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who infamously warned of “droves” of Arab voters going to the polls during the recent election, was quick to chime in condemning the latest mistreatment of Ethiopians. “We must stand together as one against the phenomenon of racism, to denounce it and eliminate it,” he said.

Similarly, the Orthodox Sephardi party Shas has been among the most welcoming to the Ethiopians, while depicting African migrants as infiltrators who pose “no less a threat than a nuclear Iran,” as onetime party leader Eli Yishai put it. In a 2012 poll, more than 50 percent of Israelis surveyed agreed with the statement that African migrants are a “cancer on the body of the nation.” The same poll indicated that fully a third condoned violence against the migrants. Small wonder that at least some of the anti-Ethiopian violence in Israel appears to begin when police mistook Ethiopians for the “wrong” kind of African — Sudanese or Eritreans.

That said, there is no arguing that the situation of Ethiopians in Israel is difficult. Many suffer from daily slights and discrimination. Moreover, they are underrepresented in the country’s universities and key industries and overrepresented in its jails and prisons. Many are stuck in Israel’s periphery in small towns, which have poor schools and limited employment opportunities.

If past incidents are any indication, the latest uproar will quickly pass after the requisite handwringing and public statements. The policemen involved have already been either fired or suspended, and the political leaders have voiced their condemnation. The Israeli Ministry of Education immediately put forward age-appropriate lesson plans on racism and violence.

Doubtless money will be found for cultural awareness programs, for recruitment of Ethiopian officers and for research, which will be call for more programs, more recruitment and more research. The beating of the soldier will be added to the cumulative song (think “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”) of injustices done to Ethiopian Israelis, all of which will be dutifully recited the next time their mistreatment becomes public.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopians will remain in the anomalous situation of both having entered the Promised Land and continuing to wander in the desert. Forty years may not be long enough this time.

Written by Tseday

May 11, 2015 at 1:38 am

The “New Jerusalem” of Ethiopia

leave a comment »

The imprints of Judaism run so deep in Ethiopia

History of Israeli state racism towards Ethiopian Jews

leave a comment »

Interview with Ethiopian-Israeli lawyer and community activist Emmanuel Melese Hadana

Written by Tseday

May 1, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Ethiopia, you can ignore it but you might come to regret it

leave a comment »


April 11, 2015, by Gary Quinn

You can find poverty in Ethiopia, of course, but look a little deeper and you’ll find there’s a great richness too – cultural, historical and human. You can ignore it but you might come to regret it. Seek it out and I’d suggest it will pay back forever.

I’m crazy about Ethiopia. It’s exciting and elegant and stuffed full of history and drama. It offers vast distances between its remarkable tourist sites so, for a traveller like me who wants to get lost in the journey, it’s a fascinating place to visit and one that’s rapidly changing. It’s six years since my last trip here and change is everywhere.

I’m in a minibus heaving with European journalists, cutting down through the Ethiopian section of the Rift Valley towards the Bale Mountains. It’s an eight-hour drive from the capital Addis Ababa, if we don’t take pit stops – but that’s unlikely in a country as surprising and eye-catching as this.

There are deep blue crater lakes to explore, buzzards flying overhead, lush pastures and dark forest alongside us and great restaurants and brand new vineyards to visit. And that’s before we make it to the mountains themselves and all that they offer.

Ethiopian tourism is expanding rapidly and the country is working hard to contain it. The whole world seems to want to be here right now. Two of my travelling companions work for Lonely Planet and the Rough Guides. Both publications gave Ethiopia their vote of confidence recently, putting it among the top tourist destinations in the world you need to see right now.

Beyond tourism, countries such as China, Turkey, the US, the UK and others are investing heavily in a country that is stuffed full of potential. The hotels of Addis buzz with the sound of business being done.

It’s a safe country for tourism, well managed and with a young, educated workforce striving to educate the world that there’s a country and a culture that runs much deeper than old headlines might suggest. After all, 30 years and a lot of political and economic change has washed over Ethiopia since the famine of 1984.

Ethiopians are proud and relaxed. Men of all rank and association walk hand-in- hand in the street. A shoulder bump, that I couldn’t quite master, is the greeting of choice among friends, male and female.

Some say their natural pride comes from the fact that as a country they were never colonised like their African neighbours, others from the fact that they can chart their history back to the birth of man. More again claim it’s just the Ethiopian way – elegance comes from within they say: simply enjoy it for what it is.

The main goal for the engine behind tourism right now is increasing the standards in accommodation, guides and transport infrastructure. Ethiopian Airlines operates an extensive internal flight network making it easier to travel around this country of 90 million people – an essential service since the distances to be travelled can be vast and the roads network still developing. The airline has also recently partnered with Ethiopian Holidays to offer tailor- made packages with experienced guides and great accommodation. There are also many independent tour companies with extensive experience such as Ethiopian Quadrants, run by Irishman Tony Hickey.

The standard of resorts is increasing quickly. Back on the road to Bale we overnight in the Kuriftu Resort and Spa Debra Zeit, one of a group of luxury resorts clustered around one of the crater lakes that make this part of the country so attractive.

Our individual bungalows are thatched and huge while the swimming pool and restaurant overlook sapphire-blue water where pelicans drift slowly behind fishing boats on the lake. It’s a remarkable location, calm and lush with incredible food and wonderful staff.

The next day we travel onward towards Bale and take a pitstop in Bekoji – a small Ethiopian highlands town that has produced some of the greatest distance runners in the world, including Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele and Derartu Tulu.

Traffic passes and children stare and I try to figure out why so many Olympic medals have been brought home here. The high altitude helps and the great coaching, but the story of Bekoji and its track record is bigger than that. Perhaps, like Ethiopia in general, the people are simply ambitious enough to win, or maybe they’re destined to do so.

The sun is setting as we finally cross into the Bale mountains national park, casting triumphant colours across the horizon. We’re in the Ethiopian highlands surrounded by some of the highest peaks in Africa. A magnificent lightening storm is chasing us from a distance and as night falls and the terrain gets rougher the sense of adventure is palpable.

Thunder snaps in the air as our driver navigates a route across the plateau shaped by rains and deep crevices. The rainy season in the mountains lasts from June to September creating a colder climate than you would expect and you’ll be glad you packed warm clothes. Bale is a biological hotspot in Africa. There are more than 280 different bird species, 82 different mammals and 1,600 plants, 10 per cent of which are endemic to Bale.

While Ethiopia doesn’t claim to compete with its neighbour Kenya for tourist access to wildlife, there is a huge amount to see and experience and we were heading to the very best place to help do that: the Bale Mountain Lodge.

This is a luxury eco-lodge nestled among virgin forest and high peaks. It was opened by Englishman Guy Levene in late 2013 and is a good example of how to build sustainable tourism facilities in the wild. There are only eight guestrooms and in fact they’re not just rooms, rather individual bungalows, each isolated from each other at various heights and looking out on the forest. Some have outdoor showers, some have glorious balconies and all offer five- star accommodation.

Not surprisingly, there’s an Irishman involved. Mark Megarry, a Belfast man, is the lodge manager. He has spent two years away from his usual home in Uganda managing the building of the mountain lodge. The pride of everyone involved is great to see. Local people are trained to work in all aspects of tourism and local materials are used for all building, bringing us closer to understanding our surroundings.

This isn’t a lounge-by-the-pool resort. It’s a get up close to nature and breathe it all in kind of place – although there’s a beautiful natural pool under a waterfall in the forest if you do feel the need for a swim.

Our roundtrip the next day takes us back across the plateau. We spot an Ethiopian wolf, one of only two wolf species living in Africa and one of the rarest canids in the world. Families of warthogs, antelope, mountain nyala and, later in the lower grasslands, families of monkeys flank our route. The views are exceptional and wild.

We finally arrive at our last stop: Haile resort in Hawassa, a low- rise resort-style hotel owned and managed by the great Ethiopian runner and Olympian, Haile Gebrselassie. It surprises us all with its international style and warm welcome. Standing on my balcony I can look out on the magnificent Halesse lake, packed with wildlife and try to spot the families of hippos that live there.

Human life here is rich with adventure. A wedding party pass on horseback. The bride, veiled and dressed in vibrant colour, is led up one side of a hill to meet her husband for the first time who approaches, also on horseback, with a party of men from the other side of the hill. Churches and mosques dot the landscape, shantytowns and cafes, farms and schools. Children run along the road calling out, families till the land around us. Crowds throng the cities, cinemas fill and empty, music is everywhere. People eat and walk and dance and live their lives like every country in the world.

You can find poverty in Ethiopia, of course, but look a little deeper and you’ll find there’s a great richness too – cultural, historical and human. You can ignore it but you might come to regret it. Seek it out and I’d suggest it will pay back forever.

Written by Tseday

April 24, 2015 at 12:26 am

Posted in Ethiopia

Tagged with , ,

Rabbi Dovid Weiss interview on the occupation of Palestine

leave a comment »

Jewish religious scholar Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss explains why he believes that Israel as a state is not legitimate and why he opposes the occupation of Palestine.

Written by Tseday

April 10, 2015 at 9:04 pm

“With faith, courage and a just cause, David will still beat Goliath”

leave a comment »

I ask the fifty-two nations, who have given the Ethiopian people a promise to help them in their resistance to the aggressor, what are they willing to do for Ethiopia? And the great Powers who have promised the guarantee of collective security to small States on whom weighs the threat that they may one day suffer the fate of Ethiopia, I ask what measures do you intend to take? . . . God and history will remember your judgment. . .It is us today. It will be you tomorrow. . .
– Emperor Haile Selassie I, Geneva, Switzerland. June 1936 

Written by Tseday

March 19, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Ephraim Isaac’s Presentation on The Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahido Church

leave a comment »

The Library of Congress presented Ephraim Isaac, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University discussing his newly published book: THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TӒWAHΪDO CHURCH

“Not only are there strong Biblical Hebraic elements in the theology, political theory, and liturgical calendar of the Ethiopian Church but there is also a strong influence from Beta Israel and Ethiopian Jews. Besides these Ethiopian Jews and of course, the Orthodox Ethiopians and a few Protestant and roman Catholic Ethiopian Christians, there are in Ethiopia also very large numbers of Moslems and various native beliefs.”

Written by Tseday

March 3, 2015 at 6:17 pm


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 179 other followers