February 28, 2013


Filed under: Emperor Minilik — ethiopiantimes @ 7:51 pm
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March 1st 1896 is the 117th anniversary of the Battle of Adwa. The decisive victory at Adwa is a tale to be told every year on this day of its commemoration because it worms the heart and lifts the spirit of every black person in the world. Few places evoke stronger memories than places of triumphant victory or places of devastating defeat. Napoleon Bonaparte achieved his greatest fame at the battle of Austerlitz (now in Czech Republic) in 1805 where he decisively defeated the combined armies of the kings of Europe.  Few defeats are as well registered as the defeat (by then Emperor) Napoleon, at the battle of Waterloo (now in Belgium, near Brussels) ten years later in 1815, where the Emperor after his army was defeated declared “flee those who can” and fled from the battlefield on horseback. Adwa, a dusty little village in Tigre, was put on the map of the world by the mighty and valiant Emperor Menelik who decidedly defeated the Italian army there by a brilliant strategy not unlike that of Napoleon at the battle of Austerlitz. So by that singular victory at ADWA , a place, a history, a legend and a myth of invincibility was born which throughout succeeding generations of black people everywhere, and Ethiopian people in particular, evoked a memory and a  pride of staggering proportions. The new generation of black people now say “those were the days” We need not bother the chattering of the magpies who try to erase this memory emanating from a burning envy and a searing white hatred – an outcome of a monumental inferiority complex. People also shun and condemn defeat as could be discerned by the following couplet after the battle of Maichew and when Emperor Haile Selassie went into exile to Britain.   ያልተገራ ፈረስ ጠቅል ብላችሁ    ሄደ ገሠገሠ ባህር ገባላችሁ     (an unbroken horse you named Tekil; but it galloped into the sea) This was an unkind comment because the battle of the Maichew front was fought continually for six months and it was led by the Emperor all the way. Moreover, Italy had far superior arms this time while Ethiopian armament was still primitive. We should rather recall the valiant stand the Emperor took  at the League of Nations in Geneva and his prophetic predictions “today it is us tomorrow it could be you” And that was exactly what happened.

Menelik was born in 1844 and was Emperor from 1889-1913. He was the greatest military general to emerge from Africa since Hannibal (247-183 B.C.) of Carthege (a place now in modern Tunisia)  The Carthegian military commander moved over the Alps with elephants, conquered Rome and occupied it for 15 years until he was recalled back to Africa.  Menelik at 52 was a decade older than Hannibal when he marched to Adwa.  Not only Ethiopians but the whole world associates Adwa with Menelik and not with the inhabitants who lived there at the time (much less with those who are living there now.) This is how history is born and no amount of back peddling or attempt at rewriting of history could ever change that! What makes Menelik great, besides his other considerable accomplishments, is his towering achievement at the victory of Adwa, which place name will forever be associated with him. He was a soldier’s soldier, instinctively brave, fearless and lion-heated. He was also a brilliant field commander and a military tactician. As an outstanding general he was able to evoke the absolute devotion and loyalty of his army.  He did this by example.  His move from Addis Ababa to Adwa hundreds of kilometers away is a journey of epic proportions. His army travelled by foot and the provisions of the army were carried by thousands of pack animals – mules horses and donkeys. Animal fodder has to be provisioned and secured, watering holes have to be identified beforehand, and food for the army has to be supplied endlessly.

Menelik was leading a multiethnic army  which in most cases do not speak the same language but were tied together by their fervent belief in their overarching Ethiopian identity and above all, in their absolute confidence  that Menelik was their God appointed leader to whom they bestowed their total love and devotion. Watching the vast army of Menelik on the move is like witnessing the whole movement of a town being created and dismantled overnight, a feat which is impossible to imagine even now. It is also like the movement of a huge meandering river from a distance. There were thousands of pack animals like donkeys and sturdy mules that carry food and drink, tents and firewood. Then there were the horses and mules for the leaders and commanders of the army. Menelik had thirty well bred horses and mules at the ready for his personal use and he transferred himself from one tired horse or mule to a fresh one without breaking a stride.  Another army was led by his wife itege Taitu and a smaller army led by his young and enthusiastic daughter Zewditu, the future Empress, a heroine of the war in her own right. Much has been told about Itege Taitu but almost nothing about Weizero Zewditu who was beside her step mother every step of the way during the heat of battle. It is sad that in order to glorify Emperor Haile Selassie her contributions even during her reign was totally eclipsed, the same way as that of Lij Eyasu where even his resting place is still unknown.   During Eyasu’s reign it was said

በኢያሱ ዳቦ ነው ትራሱ… በዘውዲቱ ተደፋ ሌማቱ… በተፈሪ ጠፋ ፍርፋሪ  (during Eyasu’s time bread became  a pillow; during Zewditu’ time  the charger was overturned; during Teferi’s  time not even crumps of bread were left)

Even recent writers continue to belittle the reign of Empress Zewditu. Suffice it to say that Ethiopia joined the League of Nations during her reign and she was an active partner of Ras Tafari in the modernization of Ethiopia. After all she was the daughter of Menelik the greatest modernizer of them all, who has inspired all his followers. The wisdom of Menelik is his ability to revive the ancient polity of multi-ethnic Ethiopia which was lost during the dark days of Zemene Mesafint. Atse Tewodros, his mentor and imprisoner, has tried but failed and Atse Yohannes has partly abandoned the quest. Menelik chose leaders by their ability and quality of character and NOT by their pedigree OR tribal origin. Menelik was a Shewan Amara and an Orthodox Christian. His trusted generals were also Muslims and non Amaras. Menelik was born in the beautiful village of Angolela and his most illustrious Oromo general, Ras Gobena was born in Mendida a few miles away at the edge of the escarpment.  He used to be a loyal follower of King Haile Melekot, the father of Menelik. Menelik has the uncanny ability to identify talent early and nurture it. Among the army commanders who went to Adwa there was a small army commanded by the young Ato Habtegiorgis, who many years later became a Fitawrari and War Minister and close confident of Menelik. So also was Dejach Balcha who grew up in Menilik’s court who later became an illustrious warrior and there were many, many more from all parts of Ethiopia.  Berkley in his excellent book The Campaign of Adowa and the Rise of Menelik (1902) written shortly after battle of Adwa, has a map of battle zones where he puts  Ato Habtegiorgis and his troops to left of the Emperor’s army. The Emperor had a secret informant or a spy in the name of the enterprising Awalom who had penetrated the command post of General Baratrieri, the Italian commander and brought valuable information to Menelik.  The families Awalom fled from their village when the Italian army retuned to Ethiopia following the same route 40 years later. The Fascists had avowed to exact a revenge on the remnants of the family. During this war, to crown their achievements, the Fascist built a gigantic bust of Mussolini at Adwa at the very spot where they were defeated – a bust which was said could be seen from miles away. This bust has been reproduced in some books written at the time (I have seen the pictures even though I could not remember which book) Five years later it was said that the British artillery unit blew it to pieces. This is how history marches through time.

The battle of Adwa ended with a decisive victory for Ethiopia, and due to the exhaustion of the army and dwindling of provisions Menelik did not push the Italians across the seas. Hundreds of Italian war prisoners were dispatched post haste to Addis Ababa before him. In a celebration of the victory of Adwa at Jan Meda, the prisoners were paraded before him and the conquering army. They were, however, humanely treated, and returned to Italy after an impassioned appeal by the Vatican. Menelik was humane, magnanimous and generous to a fault.  We may recall that JAN MEA (or Janhoy Meda meaning “the Emperors field”) was the first open space which Menelik designated for the new Addis Ababa. Sadly more than a century later it remains as the ONLY public space in Addis Ababa. The city singularly lacks competent city planners and engineers.  A succession of so called “engineers” had completely cut down the gigantic trees of the city (shoals, zigbas, girars shrubs etc) which had given it an endearing beauty and which even we knew at a young age) and left it completely bare even affecting the famous mild climate. They have also built roads with absolutely no sidewalks to speak of, and this in a city where 90% of the inhabitants have no car!  A case of supreme ignorance which is even manifested to this day. The Addis-Djibouti railway was also was the ONLY one in the country for a hundred years until it was permanently derailed and abandoned during the time of the Derg In 1986 an estimated one thousand Ethiopians perished when the trained went into a ravine at Awash .This the greatest train disaster in Africa until this day. The insanely criminal and illiterate Derg forbade any news of the accident to leak out or any relatives to travel to the accident place.  The brutal Derg controlled the news and only tidbits of it travelled by word of mouth. The incident came close to me when my neighbor’s son who was in the train during the accident was lucky to survive but lost part of his left leg.

The victory of Adwa had immediate repercussions around the World, beginning at the citadel of the Italian Army, Rome. There were spontaneous demonstration carrying placards which red VIVA MENELIK   and DOWN WITH CRISPI (the Prime Minister of Italy at the time.) The most spectacular was what happened in far away Brazil which has the largest Black population outside Africa.  The only black newspaper immediately changed its name to MENELIK.  In distant South Africa the new Ethiopiawinnet movement was born.   Later spin offs were the Abyssinian church in Harlem, US and the Ras Tafarian movement in Jamaica. Menelik went into battle with a) the Ethiopian tri colored flag b) a quote from the Bible written on an emblem of the monarch which portrayed a crowned lion carrying the Ethiopian flag and read : THE LION OF JUDAH HAS PREVALED (which in the Bible is a reference to Christ)  It is not  the later adulteration of this phrase which became :“Conquering Lion of the Tribe  of Judah.”  And c) Menelik had also another emblem with the famous quotation from the Bible, a phrase which has given comfort to Christian Ethiopians throughout the ages and it read:  “ETHIOPIA STRETCHES HER HANDS UNTO GOD”   With these three standards he marched onward to victory.  The only monument erected for Menelik by his grateful daughter was the equestrian statue at Arada in Addis Ababa It is the FIRST equestrian statue of its kind. The legs of the horse had a connection with the pedestal. (the second statue of its type is that of Simon Bolivar)  It was dismantled and buried by Italian Fascists in the dead of night. They were afraid about the reaction of the Ethiopian people. The place of burial was later identified  dug out and put in its original  By contrast  the current Fascists, the t TPLF leaders who have a visceral hatred of Menelik and what he represents want to destroy it forever.  Memories live forever, statues can be rebuilt. They may melt this statue and make it into ornaments for themselves and their family thinking that they have got rid of Menelik forever. However, history never dies.  No other monument exists for the heroes of Adwa. The only structure, an internationally famous hotel in Arada  named after Itegue Taitu, called ITEGUE HOTEL was given another name by the ignorant Derg but when they realized that it was named after Itegue Taitu and NOT itegue Menen, the renamed it the mundane  name “Taitu Hotel”.  The original name has to be restored to its glorious past as ITEGUE HOTEL and not Taitu which can mean anything without the title. But this hotel as well as Menilik’s palace are in state of ruin. The palace has leaking ceilings and creaking stairs and floors and may collapse any day. Neither its former tenant Mengistu who desecrated the place repeatedly or the late Meles ever cared about Menelik’s palace except for its symbolism.  Mengistu in particular has a strange affinity to Menelik. Strange because no two people could be so further apart.  He also used the palace as a prison (I was imprisoned there.)

Menelik’s mausoleum is in the Church of Be”ata. There, within the church compound,  Mengistu and his partner in crime in the Derg, the notorious henchman Captain Mengistu Gemechu, had two adjacent villas built for them. – another sacrileges desecration of our church by the godless criminals. Why they did so is only known to them and their close associates. To say the least it was bizarre. The victory of the battle of Adwa had prompted one anonymous person to write a prophetic couplet which captures what would have happened had Ethiopia lost the war, and here it is:

ምኒልክ ተወልዶ ባያነሳ ጋሻ   ግብሩ እንቁላል ነበር ይህን ጊዜ አበሻ

[If Menelik has not been born to raise his shield (in defense of his country); the taxation of the Habesha (Ethiopians) would have been to supply eggs]

Forty years later, when Fascist Italy came to Ethiopia   that was exactly what they demanded from the occupied people. Deliver eggs and lots of them!  I may digress here to say that almost all of our post -Liberation, early entrepreneurs stared their carriers as supplies of eggs and chicken during the Fascist era. After the victory of Adwa the British, as was their practice, immediately named Menelik as THE GREAT.  They have also done so to Shaka Zulu the great warrior of South Africa. But in Menelik’s case the affix was withdrawn a few years later with the intense lobbying of Italy which argued convincingly that calling Menelik “the great” will forever humiliate not only Italy but the entire White Race.  European Powers of the time also know the decisive and still secret role played by Menelik earlier during the debacle at Fashoda in 1987 when British and French force confronted each other.  The fascinating story is recounted in a book The Race to Fashoda: European Colonialism and African Resistance in the Scramble for Africa by David Levering Lewis, (Weidenfeld&Nicolson, 1987).  When I was in College there were two professors who had an intensive interest in Ethiopian history. One was Rubenson, a Swede, who was an admirer of Tewedros and the other was Marcus, an American, whose obsession was Menelik. Both had subsequently written seminal studies about their heroes.  Of course for our young minds Tewedros was the more romantic.  “I have intended to conquer the world if God has so decreed, and it is my intention to die if my wishes could not be fulfilled” so declared Tewedros. He forced the few foreigners to build a foundry from scratch to cast cannon in Gafat which he called “Sevastopol’ The cannon was dragged to this mountain fortress in Mekdela on the eve of battle. Unfortunately it exploded at its first try when enthusiastic soldiers fed it two cannon balls instead of one. The cannon is still there. Pankhurst called Tewedros’s attempt with tongue in cheek as “the abortive industrial revolution of Ethiopia” Tewedros also resolved to free Jerusalem from the infidels on any given Friday:  … አርብ  አርብ  ይሸበራል  ኢየሩሳሌም (every Friday Jerusalem is in a state of agitation)  The anecdotes of Marcus about Menelik were a wealth of information which delighted us with their inexhaustible wisdom. Menelik’s sturdy voice is preserved for posterity in the British Museum. It is a message he sent to Queen Victoria. During my elementary school at TMS our Canadian Jesuit teachers were admiring Abraham Lincoln and I remember that in my fourth or fifth grade, myself as well as my classmates,  committed Lincoln’s  “Gettysburg  Address” to memory and were able recite it by rote . I still remember part of it so many years later.

So whenever March 1st comes let us celebrate the glory that is Adwa and the great leader Menelik. Let it be told over and over again to our children and succeeding generation. He is the pride of the black race.  A gem of a human being who had the ability to bring all the ancient people of Ethiopia together and to reaffirm the Glory that was Ethiopia revered both in the Bible and the Koran and all the ancient manuscripts and artifacts. Menelik grew up in Ankober and became a king there before became Emperor of Ethiopia. He was an Orthodox Christian and a Shewan Amara which the TpLF and its Woyane adherents have an undying hatred.  As the famous Iranian poet Omar Khayyam (b.1048) said ”The moving finger writes and having Writ moves on; Nor all thy piety nor Wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line”


February 27, 2013

In unusual rebuke, Saudi Arabia accuses Ethiopia of posing threats to Sudan & Egypt

Filed under: Saudi Arabia — ethiopiantimes @ 10:00 pm
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February 26, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – A senior Saudi Arabian official unleashed a barrage of attack against Ethiopia saying that the Horn of Africa nation is posing a threat to the Nile water rights of Egypt and Sudan.

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Saudi deputy defense minister Khalid Bin Sultan (Al-Riyadh)

“The [Grand] Renaissance dam has its capacity of flood waters reaching more than 70 billion cubic meters of water, and is located at an altitude of 700 meters and if it collapsed then Khartoum will drown completely and the impact will even reach the Aswan Dam,” the Saudi deputy defense minister Khalid Bin Sultan said at the meetings of the Arab Water Council in Cairo.

“Egypt is the most affected party from the Ethiopian Renaissance dam because they have no alternative water source compared to other Nile Basin countries and the establishment of the dam 12 kilometers from the Sudanese border is for political plotting rather than for economic gain and constitutes a threat to Egyptian and Sudanese national security “the Saudi official said.

The massive $4.8 billion dam is under construction and is scheduled for completion in 2015. It lies close to Sudan’s eastern borders and has a power generating capacity of 6,000MW and when completed it will enable Ethiopia to export more power to its neighbors.

Egypt fears that the Nile dam will reduce the flow of the river’s waters further downstream and Addis Ababa has long complained that Cairo was pressuring donor countries and international lenders to withhold funding.

An international panel of experts is set to announce its findings on the impact of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile’s flow in May 2013.

The Saudi deputy defense minister went further saying that Ethiopia is keen on harming Arab nations.

“There are fingers messing with water resources of Sudan and Egypt which are rooted in the mind and body of Ethiopia. They do not forsake an opportunity to harm Arabs without taking advantage of it” Prince Khalid said.

“The establishment of the dam leads to the transfer of water supply from the front of Lake Nasser to the Ethiopian plateau, which means full Ethiopian control of every drop of water, as well as [causing] an environmental imbalance stirring seismic activity in the region as a result of the massive water weight laden with silt withheld in front of the dam, estimated by experts at more than 63 billion tonnes,” he added.

The Saudi official added that Nile basin countries calling for reallocating Nile water shares is a “real threat” to Egypt’s future.

“The information is alarming and it is important that we do not underestimate the danger at the moment and its repercussions in the future,” he said.

It is unusual for Saudi officials known for being composed to make such damning criticism of other countries. It is not clear whether today’s remarks indicates hidden tensions with Ethiopia.

Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with Ethiopia, signed an agreement to overturn British-colonial-era agreements dating back to 1929.

These gave Egypt and Sudan 90 percent of the Nile’s water flow and the power of veto over dam-building, even though 85 percent of the river’s water flows from the Ethiopian highlands.

Ethiopia and the upstream states contend they need more water because of burgeoning populations, industrialization and agricultural projects.

Water needs are expected to rise as the Nile basin population is projected to reach 654 million by 2030, up from 372 million in 2005, according to UN estimates.


February 20, 2013

Ethiopian Federal Police targets Muslims in house to house search – even threatens to arrest VOA reporter in Washington

Filed under: Ethiopian Muslim — ethiopiantimes @ 11:02 pm
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February 13, 2013

An Ethiopian court revoked adoption by a Dutch family that abused Ethiopian girl

Filed under: adoption — ethiopiantimes @ 10:12 am
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ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — An Ethiopian court has revoked the adoption of a girl by a family in the Netherlands. This is the first time a foreign adoption has been revoked in Ethiopia’s long history of overseas adoption.

Betty Lub is a 14-year-old Ethiopian girl that was adopted at the age of seven by a Dutch family that abused her. She stayed with them for two years, but still carries their last name because of legal procedures.

Betty got the adoption revoked through an Ethiopian court. Her lawyer, Mulemebet Tilahua, said Betty now wants to change her name to Betty Demoze, her Ethiopian last name.

“Revocation of the adoption contract will have an effect on Betty and in a way she will be reinstated to her family of origins. And the other thing is, she will not be forced to be called after the adoptive parents who abused her in their home for a long time,” said Tilahua.

Falsified documents

The documents in Betty’s adoption file were falsified and were full of errors. They gave the wrong age, and wrongly stated that Betty’s parents had died. After a failed criminal case two years ago against those involved with providing the papers, the 14-year-old started a civil case.

Betty said that getting her adoption revoked in Ethiopia is only the first step of her journey.

“I want to try in Holland to also revoke my adoption and then we will see,” she said.

Almost 4,500 children were adopted from Ethiopia in 2010, with about half of them going to American families. Because a growing number of adoption cases from Ethiopia appear to have irregularities, the legal process has been under investigation in Ethiopia and other countries.

Child trafficking

Arun Dohle investigated the files of Ethiopian children going to the Netherlands for the Against Child Trafficking NGO. He said Betty’s case is just the tip of the iceberg.

“We found that the adoption process is riddled by fraud and other clear-cut criminal activities. But most important, the demand-driven inter-country adoption process is breaking up families who could be helped in building up their lives with a fraction of the money involved in inter-country adoption,” said Dohle.

Adoptions are big business in development countries, with Western parents usually paying more than $20,000 for a child. Ethiopia’s adoption business grew rapidly after several countries in the world, such as Romania and Vietnam, stopped allowing overseas adoptions because of legal irregularities and corruption.

Dohle believes that the inter-country adoption process is systematically misleading parents.

“Most of the Ethiopian and African parents in general, do not understand the Western concept of adoption, which completely severs all ties with the child. The child gets a new birth certificate a new identity, and all ties are completely severed, there is no such thing as international foster care,” said Dohle.

Preying on parents

Many parents are not told they are losing their child, they are promised financial support and are made to believe their child will receive a better education somewhere else and will return home soon.

Lawyer Mulemebet said parents in developing countries are an easy target for adoption agencies.

“Most of the time they are not aware of their legal rights and they are not in a position, especially in a financial position, to claim their rights and to ensure the best interests of their children,” said Mulemebet.

Betty was adopted through the Dutch adoption agency Wereldkinderen. It is accused of fraud and criminal activities in research done by the Against Child Trafficking group.  Wereldkinderen chose not to comment on the first revoked adoption case.

Betty hopes her actions will inspire other adoptees.

“I hope that it will have impact on other children to do the same thing that I have done,” she said.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs decided in 2011 to cut adoptions by 90 percent because of fraud during the adoption processes.

Source: VOA News

February 6, 2013

Indian companies involved in Ethiopia land grab: activists

Filed under: India — ethiopiantimes @ 9:29 pm
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Indian investors eying Ethiopia should ensure that the local population is consulted before they are displaced for projects that involve the transfer of vast tracts of land, activists on Tuesday said, citing what they alleged were multiple instances of land grab in the east African


The Ethiopian government had committed “egregious violations of human rights” in leasing over 600,000 hectares of land to Indian companies, Anuradha Mittal of the US-based Oakland Institute said in New Delhi on Tuesday – charges that country’s government has consistently denied.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Obang Metho, the exiled head of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) said the India must choose whether to support globally established human rights, as the world’s largest democracy. “I call this daylight robbery,” Metho said.

Several thousand members of the Anywaa tribe have been displaced, and are being denied access to their farm lands, Nyikaw Ochalla, the director of the Anywaa Suirvival Organization – a group supporting the community – said.

The Ethiopian government under the late former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi started attracting large scale investment from foreign countries, including India, China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Zenawi and current Ethiopian officials have insisted that the investment will help develop Ethiopia, ranked near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index.

They have also asserted that displacement of locals in land deals with Indian companies has been minimal.

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