An Ethiopian Journal

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

Archive for the ‘Humanitarian, Social & Environmental Causes’ Category

Zionism in Palestine

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Photo by Ilan Assayag – January 2012 – Ethiopian-Israelis protesters march in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem and hold signs which read, ‘Blacks and Whites – We’re all Equal’ and ‘Our Blood is Only Good for Wars.’

One Million Trees For Ethiopia

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Gashaw Tahir, an American citizen, returned to his birth country of Ethiopia to find the green hills that surrounded his home eroded and ruined due to deforestation. So he decided to do something extraordinary: Plant one million trees.

Environmental concerns in developing Ethiopia

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Yohannes Gebregiorgis, Mobile Donkey Librarian

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Literacy is coming to some rural Ethiopian children on a donkey’s back. In the Ethiopian town of Awassa, an Ethiopian-American man returned to the land of his birth, and is helping youngsters who are hungry for books and knowledge. VOA’s Peter Heinlein has the latest in our weekly series, Making a Difference

At age 19, Yohannes Gebregeorgis borrowed a soft-cover romance novel entitled “Love Kitten” that changed his life forever.

Born in rural Ethiopia to an illiterate cattle merchant who insisted upon his son’s education, Gebregeorgis had seen a few books in school. But it was the experience of having a book of his own that sparked a lifelong commitment.

Today, at 56, Gebregeorgis is establishing libraries and literacy programs to connect Ethiopian children with books. Vote for Yohannes, one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes for 2008

“Most Ethiopian children have only access to textbooks in the classroom,” says Gebregeorgis. “Books children read outside of school, those are the spices of education.”

It wasn’t until he became a children’s librarian in the United States that he realized what the children of his native home were missing.

Forced to flee Ethiopia to the United States as a political refugee in 1981, Gebregeorgis ultimately put himself through university, obtaining a graduate degree in library science. He relocated to the Bay Area, taking a post at the San Francisco Children’s Library in 1985.

There, he met “The Little Engine That Could,” “Captain Ahab” and “Peter Pan.” He realized the impact children’s books could make on a child’s sense of wonder and vision.

“Children could imagine everything from books — connections to other cultures, to other people, to other children, and to the universe at large,” recalls Gebregeorgis. “It gives them hope. It gives them pleasure. It gives them everything that they cannot otherwise get in regular textbooks.”

But Gebregeorgis found that, among the brilliantly illustrated books in 70 languages, there were none in Amharic, the primary language of Ethiopia, and none representing the places and characters of Ethiopian lore.

When the library allocated $1,200 for the purchase of Ethiopian books the following year, Gebregeorgis was unable to find any, because of prohibitive publishing, purchasing and importing costs in his home country.

So he wrote one. “Silly Mammo” was the first bilingual Amharic-English children’s book, and it led Gebregeorgis to establish Ethiopia Reads in 1988. Using proceeds from book sales and grassroots book-a-thons, the nonprofit financed his efforts to bring children’s libraries to Ethiopia.

In 2002, Gebregeorgis left his job and his home and returned to Ethiopia with 15,000 books donated by the San Francisco Children’s Library. With them, he opened the Shola Children’s Library on the first floor of his Addis Ababa home.

Young readers quickly overwhelmed the three-room home, requiring the addition of two large tents to provide shade for hundreds at a time.

“I just wanted to come back to Ethiopia and help children have a future, have hope,” says Gebregeorgis.

Today, Ethiopia Reads is doing just that. In addition to the original library, the organization established the Awassa Reading Center and Ethiopia’s first Donkey Mobile Library. Inspired by a similar concept he’d seen in Zimbabwe, Gebregeorgis customized a donkey-pulled trailer-cart that now makes weekly visits to rural villages around Awassa.

Reading storybooks to children who have no access to television or computers, Gebregeorgis believes that literacy and education will emancipate his impoverished land, gripped by HIV/AIDS.

Ethiopia Reads recently held its fifth annual Ethiopia Children’s Book Week. In 2007, the group offered nearly 94,000 children access to its libraries in Addis Ababa, Awassa and on shady clearings along the Ethiopian countryside.

“With literate children there is no limit as to how much we can do.”

WHEN WILL WESTERN NATIONS RETURN ETHIOPIA’S STOLEN TREASURES?

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http://www.afrikanet.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1040&Itemid=2

Written by Dr. Kwame Opoku
Friday, 19 September 2008

Probably very few countries have been so systematically and intensively deprived of their cultural objects with tremendous violence by Western European countries as Ethiopia has been. First, the British under Queen Victoria sent an army in 1868 to conquer the African country under Emperor Tewodros. The Ethiopian ruler committed suicide in Magdala, the capital, with a gun given to him previously as a gift by Queen Victoria rather than let himself be captured and humiliated by the invading British Army. The barbarous behaviour of the invading army after conquer and loot has been described many times. 

The list of objects stolen by the British, including processional crosses, imperial gold and silver crowns, historical and religious illustrated manuscripts and other objects from Ethiopia will fill pages. Ethiopia became Christian in the 4th Century, long before many in Europe had heard of Christianity.

The second military invasion and despoliation of Ethiopia was in 1936 by the Italians under the fascist leadership of Benito Mussolini who with his soldiers took, among other things, the obelisk at Axum, now returned. But there are still other objects such as works of art, archives, library of Haile Selassie, objects of religious and cultural significance, and the plane of the daughter of the Emperor held by the Italians from their occupation of the land of Emperor Haile Selassie.

Italy has returned the heavy obelisk and can be expected to return the various stolen crosses and manuscripts it still holds. If the recent impressive historic action of Italy paying compensation to Libya for colonization is any indication of its future policy, we can expect Italy to pay also compensation for the colonial occupation of Ethiopia. Furthermore, the return of the Venus of Cyrene to Tripoli should facilitate the return of stolen Ethiopian artifacts in Italy.

During all these historic gestures of compensation and reconciliation, including apologies for wrongful historical acts, we have not heard from the British that they have also understood the necessity for such gestures and restitution. There is no indication that Great Britain, which started the looting of African cultural objects with military force, has any intention of following the path opened by Italy. The British Museum has thousands of very precious Ethiopian manuscripts and objects. The Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester and others all have their share of these stolen precious manuscripts and objects. The British Museum pretends to respect the religious objects such as the holy tabots. With all due respect to Neil MacGregor, respect for objects does not replace respect for the rights of ownership and the freedom of religion and religious practice. How long are the British going to refuse to do the right thing? How can Christians steal the crosses, Bibles and other religious objects that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church needs for its religious practice and refuse to return them? Where then is the belief in democracy and the freedom of religion and religious practice which the British are always preaching to the rest of the world?

The hope of many who are holding onto stolen cultural objects may be that time will obliterate the painful memories of such wrongful acts. Experience however has shown that no people ever forget such historical injustices and the Ethiopians have shown enough that they intend to recover their cultural treasures however long this may take. The article below shows the determination of the Ethiopians to keep on fighting for their rights. How long are the Western Europeans going to pretend not to hear the painful but courageous cries of the Ethiopians? Is the present generation of Europeans as rapacious, aggressive, insensitive and brutal as their forefathers? Are they going to condone the crimes and wrongdoings of the past generations? Only time will tell but they should make no mistake: the issue of restitution of stolen or looted objects will not disappear from our world.

The Truth Will Not Be Televised

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Through education, media, and big corporations, your mind is being controlled.
Your mind is distracted with illusions to keep you away from the truth.

 

Nature loss ‘dwarfs bank crisis’

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Nature loss ‘dwarfs bank crisis’
By Richard Black – 2008/10/10
Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Barcelona
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/7662565.stm


The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.

It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.

The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.

The study, headed by a Deutsche Bank economist, parallels the Stern Review into the economics of climate change.

It has been discussed during many sessions here at the World Conservation Congress.

Some conservationists see it as a new way of persuading policymakers to fund nature protection rather than allowing the decline in ecosystems and species, highlighted in the release on Monday of the Red List of Threatened Species, to continue.

Capital losses

Speaking to BBC News on the fringes of the congress, study leader Pavan Sukhdev emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets.

“It’s not only greater but it’s also continuous, it’s been happening every year, year after year,” he told BBC News.

“So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today’s rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year.”

The review that Mr Sukhdev leads, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), was initiated by Germany under its recent EU presidency, with the European Commission providing funding.

The first phase concluded in May when the team released its finding that forest decline could be costing about 7% of global GDP. The second phase will expand the scope to other natural systems.

Stern message

Key to understanding his conclusions is that as forests decline, nature stops providing services which it used to provide essentially for free.

So the human economy either has to provide them instead, perhaps through building reservoirs, building facilities to sequester carbon dioxide, or farming foods that were once naturally available.

Or we have to do without them; either way, there is a financial cost.

The Teeb calculations show that the cost falls disproportionately on the poor, because a greater part of their livelihood depends directly on the forest, especially in tropical regions.

The greatest cost to western nations would initially come through losing a natural absorber of the most important greenhouse gas.

Just as the Stern Review brought the economics of climate change into the political arena and helped politicians see the consequences of their policy choices, many in the conservation community believe the Teeb review will lay open the economic consequences of halting or not halting the slide in biodiversity.

“The numbers in the Stern Review enabled politicians to wake up to reality,” said Andrew Mitchell, director of the Global Canopy Programme, an organisation concerned with directing financial resources into forest preservation.

“Teeb will do the same for the value of nature, and show the risks we run by not valuing it adequately.”

A number of nations, businesses and global organisations are beginning to direct funds into forest conservation, and there are signs of a trade in natural ecosystems developing, analogous to the carbon trade, although it is clearly very early days.

Some have ethical concerns over the valuing of nature purely in terms of the services it provides humanity; but the counter-argument is that decades of trying to halt biodiversity decline by arguing for the intrinsic worth of nature have not worked, so something different must be tried.

Whether Mr Sukhdev’s arguments will find political traction in an era of financial constraint is an open question, even though many of the governments that would presumably be called on to fund forest protection are the ones directly or indirectly paying for the review.

But, he said, governments and businesses are getting the point.

“Times have changed. Almost three years ago, even two years ago, their eyes would glaze over.

“Today, when I say this, they listen. In fact I get questions asked – so how do you calculate this, how can we monetize it, what can we do about it, why don’t you speak with so and so politician or such and such business.”

The aim is to complete the Teeb review by the middle of 2010, the date by which governments are committed under the Convention of Biological Diversity to have begun slowing the rate of biodiversity loss.