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  • Home ownership made easier in Ethiopia

    Ethiopia's housing lottery is the chance of a lifetime for residents of Addis Ababa. The 46,000 winners get cheap loans to buy homes at low prices. The high cost of housing in the Ethiopian capital makes home ownership nearly impossible for average earners. 

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  • Layman plans for 50,000 churches in Ethiopia

    ROGERS, Ark. (BP) -- Arkansas corporate executive Haileyesus Abate cries, he says, for the people of his native Ethiopia, a majority Christian nation where numerous primitive tribes still worship nature as deities and have never heard the Gospel. Typical is the nomadic, animistic Mursi Tribe in southwestern Ethiopia, whose men don't wear clothing. Instead, they use clay and natural pigments to paint intricate, colorful patterns on their bodies to attract a bride, who likely will have had a hole punched just below her lip before puberty; the hole is stretched by the insertion of progressively larger, round, flat, decorated wooden plates. The larger her plate, the larger dowry the groom's family pays in negotiating a union, according to custom.

    SBC President Ronnie Floyd, at right, and Cross Church global missions minister Doug Sarver, left, prayed for Abadulla Gemeda, Ethiopian speaker of the House, during a recent trip to the country.

    Mursi and other tribes are vulnerable to Muslims working to build mosques in their villages and who convert them to Islam, Haileyesus noted, sharing with Baptist Press a vision and urgency to see 50,000 evangelistic Christian churches planted among the tribes. 

    "I actually weep about that," he told BP. "We are not from the same tribe, but just God put a burden on me to make a difference for them." 

    That is why he arranged for his pastor, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Ronnie Floyd, to visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and meet with top political and Christian leaders. 

    "I was able to lift up the Word of God," Floyd said. "The Lord gave us an open door. Our ultimate purpose was to get the Gospel there."


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  • From Amharic to Xhosa, Google Translate introduces 13 new languages including Amharic

    Google Translate says it can now handle more than 100 languages after 13 new ones were introduced.

    Amharic - Amharic (Ethiopia) is the second most widely spoken Semitic language after Arabic.

    The service was launched in 2006 with translations initially between English and Arabic, Chinese and Russian.

    Google says the 13 new additions will help another 120 million people communicate with the rest of the world online.

    The announcement about the new languages was made on the Google Translate blog, which also explains how they choose new ones to add to the database.

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  • BBC Trending: The polygamy hoax that spread from Iraq to Eritrea

    A false rumour that men in Eritrea would be legally obliged to marry at least two women went viral this week. But it's a hoax that has hit at least four countries to date, and actually began in Iraq, where it wasn't as implausible as it seems.

    When a far fetched story about enforced polygamy in Eritrea began circulating, it captured attention across the continent. But in fact similar stories - all of them false - have cropped up in a number of countries since the beginning of the year.

    And in each case, the way hoaxers spread the rumour on social media pretty much identical. Here's how it plays out.

    An "official" government document is leaked on social media, bearing a letterhead, or the signature of a supposed dignitary.

    It reads - and we're paraphrasing here - "Due to the recent troubles in our country, we are experiencing a serious shortage of men, and an abundance of woman. Men are now legally required to take at least two wives, and any that fail to do so will face strict punishment." The punishments range from life imprisonment to the death penalty.

    When a version of the falsified document appeared in Eritrea this week - as the BBC has already reported - it went viral, and was picked up by a number of news organisations as fact.

    The rumour about Eritrea actually began in Kenya and Nigeria. It was first reported by Kenyan news site Crazy Monday, well known for its focus on gossip stories according to Mathias Muindi from the BBC's media monitoring service. The story was picked up and reported as fact in Nigeria and later South Africa as well.

    It spread quickly, and it wasn't long before jokes stared spreading on social networks like WhatsApp and Twitter, mostly involving men from outside the country flocking to Eritrea in the hope of finding multiple wives.

    The Eritrean government has since been battling to set the story straight, dismissing the document as a fraud, and explaining that polygamy is illegal in the East African nation. It hasn't been able to stop chatter spreading on social media, and a raft of jokes at the countries expense.

    Read more at the BBC

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  • Ethiopia's Rastafarian community living in limbo

    Rastafarians around the world see Ethiopia as their spiritual home. Many of them believe the country's last king, Haile Selassie, was a descendent of King Solomon and the messiah.

    Many of the men travelled thousands of kilometres to live in what they say is their promised land. The town of Shashamane in southern Ethiopia is a place of pilgrimage for Rastafarians around the world.

    The Rastafarians say they smoke marijuana because it is their sacrament - the equivalent of bread and wine given during Christian communions.

    The nearly 800 Rastafarians who live in the area say they are fulfilling a prophecy that descendants of slaves will return to Africa.

    However, they also face considerable challenges, having left their lives in countries including the UK, the US and Jamaica. They have few legal rights, their passports having expired a long time ago.

    They have no Ethiopian IDs, which means they cannot work legally. Local development has shrunk the land they currently live on to an area of around 5sq hectares.

    Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford reports from Shashamane.

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