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  • Ruth Negga Opens Up About Her Heritage and Breakthrough Role in ‘Loving’

    With her mesmerizing performance in Jeff Nichols’s subtly groundbreaking film Loving, the Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga has been the talk of the town, but she prefers just to be her.

    As the January cover of Vogue, Negga spoke to the magazine about how she grew up. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to a white Irish nurse and a black Ethiopian doctor. She and her mother left the country when political unrest erupted, but her father had to stay behind. Three years later, her father died in a car accident. “We found out in a letter and a phone call,” she remembered. “This was 1988. There wasn’t any grief counseling for kids.”

    Her mother never remarried, but Negga grew up in a large extended family of “about 23 boys,” and never felt she was any different from her fair-haired cousins. Negga said, “I remember thinking, I’m just me. When you’re a kid, you’re just you, aren’t you? It was when I moved to England [at age 11] that I felt it, because I was Irish and black.”

    Negga has returned to Ethiopia many times, to visit her father’s grave and her family there. “I find it difficult because it was an abrupt sort of ending to a lot of my life,” she explained to Vogue.“I’m always very careful to say I’m Irish-Ethiopian because I feel Ethiopian and I look Ethiopian and I am Ethiopian. But there are 81 languages in Ethiopia, and I don’t know any of them.” Through therapy Negga realized her desire to be an actor “was no coincidence. I think it makes me able to access certain things that are quite near to the surface… an honesty or something about life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

    Now she is being touted for an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of Mildred Loving, who, in 1950s Virginia, married a white man, Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), which was against the state’s law at the time. After being jailed and exiled, the Loving’s case was eventually brought to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled they had a legal right to be married, changing the U.S. Constitution.

    As Negga explained, “The film is reminding us that there’s a conversation that we need to be having still… It does annoy Joel and me when people say it’s a quiet film. Because it doesn’t feel very quiet to us. It feels really loud.” Read the whole interview here.


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  • Nile Politics: Where does Eritrea fit?

    In his recent visit to Egypt, Isaias was received at the airport in Cairo by the president of the council of ministers and by the minister of irrigation. The presence of the irrigation minister is significant since Egypt’s irrigation is synonymous to the Nile. If the visit was expected to be provocative, it achieved more than that. The fact that of all the ministers Egypt would send the irrigation minister to receive Isaias is possibly a calculated gesture given the current frustrated Egyptian agitation against the GERD. The visit must have appeared as a threat to Ethiopia even if it was not intended to be so.

    That incident would implicate Eritrea as a suspect simply because the policy of Isaias Afwerki and his government has always been focused on finding a way to entangle Eritrea in conflicts that has no dividend for the Eritrean people.

    For years, the Eritrean regime has been helplessly cajoling one side or the other to immerse itself in the Yemeni crisis. Finally, with a mediation by Sudan’s AlBashir, who plunged into the Yemeni fray earlier, Isaias attempted to be part of the Saudi led alliance in Yemen in a very humiliating manner and failed. Yet, he never gave up, but continued to cajole the UAE at the expense of Qatar, his only loyal friend in the region.


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  • Migrant crisis: Europol to investigate Egypt mass drowning

    The European policing agency Europol is planning to investigate what is believed to be the biggest loss of a migrant boat in 2016, following a Reuters-BBC Newsnight investigation.

    More than 500 people are thought to have died in the sinking on 9 April, but there has been no official inquiry.

    Newsnight has established that the boat set sail from Egypt - not Libya, as the UNHCR stated at the time.

    The head of Europol, Rob Wainwright, said the case was "uncomfortable".

    He welcomed the Reuters-BBC Newsnight investigation and promised "to look at it again" given "the absence of any clear answers".

    The forgotten shipwreck

    Reuters and BBC Newsnight spent months piecing together the story of what happened to the ship that sank on 9 April 2016 - speaking to survivors, to relatives of the victims, and eventually tracking down the smugglers, the brokers, and the details of the ship that sank.

    Thirty-seven people survived the shipwreck, but more than 500 are believed to have died. Those who perished came from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Syria, Egypt and a number of other countries.

    Each had paid around $2,000 (£1,600) to smugglers in the hope of reaching Italy.

    Newsnight understands that the main boat - a trawler - set sail from the port of Rashid, just to the east of Alexandria in Egypt. At about 02:00 local time on the night of Saturday 9 April a fishing boat with around 200 additional migrants attempted to join the trawler, which by that time had around 300 people on board.

    It began to list towards the fishing boat. The migrants tried to correct that by shifting to the other side, but they over-compensated and the trawler capsized.

    According to survivors of the disaster, the fishing boat sped off, leaving about 100 people who were still alive and swimming in the water, to drown. One survivor told BBC Newsnight that he was threatened with a knife by a smuggler when he tried to help fellow migrants.

    The first that was known of the shipwreck was a full week later when the Italian coast guard received a distress call from one of the survivors.

    The smugglers had instructed those on board to say they had come from Libya - in order to avoid being repatriated to Egypt. A few days later, based on interviews with survivors in Greece, the UNHCR issued a press statement stating that the ship had left from Libya.

    Read more at BBC

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  • Almaz Ayana crowned Female World Athlete of the Year 2016

    Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana have been named the male and female World Athletes of the Year at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016, held at Sporting Monte Carlo on Friday (2).

    Ayana had a record-breaking year. After recording the fastest 10,000m debut in history in June, the Ethiopian went on to win the Olympic title at the distance in a world record of 29:17.45.

    She added to her Olympic medal haul in Rio by taking bronze in the 5000m, her only loss of the year. Having recorded three of the eight fastest times at 5000m, she ended the year as the Diamond Race winner for that discipline.

    She becomes the third Ethiopian woman to win this award, following Genzebe Dibaba in 2015 and Meseret Defar in 2007.

    "I don't have words to explain my feelings right now, I'm so excited," said Ayana whose award was presented by International Athletics Foundation (IAF) Honorary President HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. "Really, I'm so pleased."

    Source: IAAF

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  • Ethiopian champions speak to the press ahead of the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016

    Several reigning world and Olympic champions met with the media in Monaco today on the eve of the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016. Here is a sampling of what some of them had to say.

    Haile Gebrselassie, Genzebe Dibaba and Almaz Ayana speak to the press ahead of the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016 (Philippe Fitte / IAAF)

    Olympic 10,000m champion and world record holder Almaz Ayana

    On her first experiences and progression in athletics:

    When I started running I began on the flat, not in the steeplechase, with the 5000. But when I came to Addis I was pressured to try the steeplechase. And I didn’t like running the steeplechase at all. I was not very good for many years. 

    Then I switched to the events I like the most like the three (thousand) and five (thousand). I changed to what I wanted to run.

    On her plans for 2017:

    This year I broke the (10,000m) record, and next year I want to improve my performance in all events. And hopefully to run again for my country.

    Her favorite event:

    The 3000 is too short for me. In the 5000 I want to try and break the world record. For me now the 10,000 is my favourite event (laughs).

    World 1500m champion and world record holder Genzebe Dibaba

    On her pre-Olympic preparations this year:

    I was determined, I was training well, indoor and outdoor. But a few months before Rio I became injured. Just to compete was not easy for me. So I’m very happy with the silver medal in the 1500 metres. Just to be able to race was great for me.

    On running indoors:

    What’s special for me about indoors is that we run the indoor season after we take a rest, so I’m fresh. I’m also good on the turns - I’m very fast on the curve, so that really helps me indoors.

    On her plans for 2017: 

    It’s going to be a year that I just want to improve my performances and just do something good again. The 1500 is still my distance. But if I can I’ll try to double (at the 2017 world championships). But that decision will come later.

    Distance running legend Haile Gebrselassie (ETH)

    On the relationship and rivalry between Ethiopia and Kenya:

    One thing we can’t forget, and what I always say to Kenyans, ‘Without Ethiopians, there would be no Kenyans. And without Kenyans, there would be no Ethiopians.’ We need each other. We improve because of each other. We have a great relationship off the track, outside sports.

    Source: IAAF

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