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  • Ge’ez 101 at the University of Washington


    It’s an important language for the study of late ancient Christianity and early Islam. It’s the language of some of the earliest Judeo-Christian writings.  Its vocabulary can be found throughout the Quran.  Yet the classical language Ge’ez is little known beyond the Horn of Africa and taught at just two universities in the Western world. Make that three — the University of Washington offered Ge’ez 101 for the first time this spring.

    Hamza Zafer, assistant professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, expected a handful of students to sign up when he offered this obscure classical language. Instead the class filled to capacity, with 30 students enrolled within days and more on the waiting list. Four graduate students with a scholarly interest in Ge’ez signed up, but the rest had more personal reasons for enrolling. “Most of the students are children of immigrants from the Horn of Africa — Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea,” says Zafer. “Many of them grew up in Seattle exposed to Ge’ez in their communities, since Ge’ez is a living liturgical language in the Ethiopian and Eritrean orthodox churches, much like Latin was the liturgical language in Roman Catholic churches.”

    Those students include bioengineering major Jerusalem Kifelew, who grew up hearing Ge’ez in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and business pre-major Fethawit Musye, who heard it in the Eritrean Orthodox Church. “When my friends and I heard Ge’ez was being offered as a class at UW, we were really excited because we actually had a chance to learn more about the language we grew up hearing,” says Musye.

    Read more at  washington.edu

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  • ‘Tibeb Girls’: The Feminist, Ethiopian Powerpuff Girls

    The Ethiopian-led series hopes to raise awareness about social issues among young women.

    They're feminist Powerpuff-inspired superheroes that tackle issues of social injustice.

    These are the Tibeb girls, the stars of a new animated Ethiopian adventure series, geared towards teaching young girls about activism and leadership. Tackling issues that devastate girls and young women the most in the region, such as those of HIV and child marriage, it hopes to bridge the education gap on these issues.

    The group behind the project is Whiz Kids Workshop, an Ethiopian organization that “believes that mass-media can be the most cost-effective and immediate way to make an impact on large educational gaps in the developing world.”

    The group cites information from Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations foundation, which found that only 38 percent of girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 in Ethiopia are literate, that one in five girls is married before she hits 15, and that girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are seven times more likely to be HIV-positive than their male counterparts.

    “By broadcasting a program that will examine harmful practices and explore girls’ agency in addressing those challenges, Tibeb Girls will foster a culture of conversation among girls, families, and throughout the broader community,” the creators wrote about their program. “Through our partnerships detailed below, the Tibeb Girls is an Ethiopian-led, innovative, scalable and sustainable approach to measurably improving coordination around girls’ issues in Ethiopia.”

    While the show is seeking support for the initial pilot season of the series, it has already planned out a second season, which will yield 13 radio and 13 television episodes.

    Source: telesurtv

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  • Turkey restoring tomb of Ethiopian King Najashi, who sheltered Muslim emigrants


    The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) is finishing up a restoration project on the tomb of King Najashi, the former leader of modern day Ethiopia's Kingdom of Aksum.

    TIKA coordinator in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Fazıl Akın Erdoğan, told reporters that the restoration project on a mosque and tomb located 800 kilometers from the capital would wrap up this year.

    In addition to the restorations, Erdoğan explained that additional buildings were being constructed in the area, "We made a full-fledged food court to serve the needs of the guests and visitors. Besides the kitchen, we built a multi-purpose hall that can fit 500 people," he said.

    The restoration team also met the water needs of the tomb area by building 160 ton water depots in two different places.

    Noting that the project had been ongoing for three years, Erdoğan said that Ottoman architectural examples were evident in the marble, door, and window details of the mosque and tomb.

    Erdoğan emphasized that Turkey had made various negotiations with Ethiopia's Religious Services Consultancy and that they would like King Najashi's tomb to be added to the route of pilgrimage and umrah organizations in Turkey. If this happens, he said, the tomb would be a huge contribution to the tourism industry in Ethiopia.

    Imam Mohammad Ibrahim of the Najashi Mosque explained that, before the renovation works, the mosque was not in a good condition, but that everything had changed with the restoration effort.

    The imam also stated that he always prayed for Turkey and Turkish people saying, "Turkey is not only helping us, it is helping all Muslims."

    Getachew Berhe, an Ethiopian engineer who has worked on the project and speaks Turkish fluently, explained that after studying civil engineering in Turkey, he returned to his country and began working on the restoration efforts.

    Bearing in mind that the project is very significant for both Muslims and Ethiopians, Berhe said, "I am very pleased to have contributed to this work."

    King Najashi, also known as Armah, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Aksum from 614-631. The Empire was a trading nation situated in modern-day Eritrea and Ethopia, existing from approximately 100-940 AD.

    King Najashi gave shelter to early Muslims from Mecca who were seeking refuge from Quraysh persecution by traveling to Aksum, which was at time a Christian Kingdom. In Islamic history, the journey is known as the first hijra.

    Source: dailysabah.com

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  • Inside the homes of the last Ethiopian Rastas

    A stunning set of photographs reveal the unlikely life of the 300 Rastafarians living in Ethiopia having migrated from the UK, France and Jamaica.

    Rastafarianism - which became global in the 1960s and 70s with the music of reggae stars and committed Rastas Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff - first emerged as a spiritual movement in the 1930s among descendants of African slaves in Jamaica, who adopted Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as their messiah at a time when he stood out as the only independent black monarch in Africa.


    Bandi Payne with a portrait of former ruler Emperor Haile Selassie who donated 500 acres of land to allow members of the Rastafari movement and settlers from Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean to go to Africa.

    A supporter of decolonisation and cooperation among African states then largely under European control, Haile Selassie in the 1950s set aside 500 acres in Shashamane to welcome back descendants of slaves seeking to return home.

    They did, and Shashamane is today home to around 300 Rastas, though the population has dwindled from its peak, which at one point stood at 2,000 people about 150 miles from the capital of Addis Ababa.

    Nearly 8,000 miles separate Jamaica and Ethiopia, but the Rastafarian community revered Selassie and considered him their God.

    When he died in 1975, his followers called it Ethiopia's last ever Emperor's 'disappearance', and not his death, refusing to believe he had passed away.

    Read more: dailymail.co.uk

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