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  • Ethiopia’s traditional rhythms are about to dance across Japan

    The Ethiopian National Cultural Troupe is in Japan from Nov. 30 to hold performances, workshops, and dance nights at eight different venues across the country. Offering a variety of dance performances from different ethnic groups of the east African country, this is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to learn more about dance or Ethiopian culture.

    As one of the oldest locations of human life, its roots having been traced back to 2000 B.C., Ethiopia has a 3,000-year history of dance. Traditional Ethiopian dance is said to be like a mosaic of the cultural characteristics of the 80 ethnic groups of the country, with styles differing depending on region, each having unique steps and rhythms. In the north, dancers move their necks, shoulders and chests in time to the melancholic melody of the one-string guitar, whereas in the east — a region influenced by Islamic culture — women dance gracefully in long swaying skirts to the beat of drums.


    This tour, organized by the Ethiopian Embassy and other parties, wraps up on Dec. 7 with its Ethiopian Night, which features music, dance and cuisine at the Nippon Foundation Building in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

    Mocha Ethiopia Dance Group, the only Ethiopian dance group based in Japan, will also take part in the tour.

    Source: japantimes

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  • An underwater hotel opens in Africa

    Joining a list of other experimental under-the-sea hotel rooms in Florida, Sweden and the Maldives, the underwater room at Manta Resort on remote Pemba Island in Tanzania’s Zanzibar Archipelago immerses guests 4m below the surface. The room sits on the bottom of a three-level floating structure, located 250m from shore in the Indian Ocean.

    Above and below each of the room’s eight windows, spotlights illuminate the sea life that swims by. Frequent visitors include a trumpet fish known as Nick, as well as squid and octopus at night. Above the underwater space, guests can climb a ladder to the water level, which contains a bathroom and lounge, or ascend to the rooftop to soak up the sun or lay beneath the stars.


    The floating structure was designed by Swedish artist Mikael Genberg, who also constructed the structurally similar Utter Inn in Sweden’s Lake Malaren. For this project, he sought a more remote location with clearer waters, and found it off Pemba’s coast in the form of “the blue hole”, a circular clearing within the coral reef, measuring about 50m in diameter.  The open space made it the ideal location to anchor the new underwater structure.

    The room officially opened for guests on 1 November. Since Manta Resort has only one underwater space within the now 17-room resort, single nights in the room can be added to an existing stay for $1,500 per night.

    Click here for more pictures from BBC


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  • China's Huawei to roll out 4G service in Ethiopian capital

    (Reuters) - Ethiopia's state-run Ethio Telecom said on Thursday it had picked Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world's second largest telecom equipment maker, to roll out a high-speed 4G network across the capital Addis Ababa.

    The introduction of the service is part of a $1.6 billion deal signed in July and August between the Ethiopian firm, Huawei and ZTE, China's second-biggest telecoms equipment maker, to expand mobile phone infrastructure throughout the Horn of Africa country.

    "In terms of allocation, Huawei will be responsible for the expansion of 4G in Addis Ababa, including other mobile services - the 2G, 3G, IP and the like," Abdurahim Ahmed, Ethio Telecom's head of communications, told Reuters.

    Abdurahim said the allocation plan was finalized on Wednesday.

    "It is expected to benefit more than 400,000 subscribers. Within an eight-month period, the expansion project of Addis Ababa, including 4G, will be completed."

    The deal, signed by ZTE in August and Huawei a month before, will enable Ethiopia to double subscribers to more than 50 million by 2015 and expand 3G service throughout the country.

    Both firms will split their work along 13 expansion areas.

    The contract was awarded under a long-term loan package to be paid over a 13-year period with an interest rate of "less than 1 percent", Abdurahim said.

    Africa's rapidly expanding telecoms industry has come to symbolize its economic growth, with subscribers across the continent totaling almost 650 million last year, up from just 25 million in 2001, according to the World Bank.

    Ethio Telecom is the only mobile operator in the country of more than 80 million people, among the last remaining countries on the continent to maintain a state monopoly in telecoms.

    The government has ruled out liberalizing its telecoms sector, saying the 6 billion birr ($321 million) it generates each year is being spent on railway projects. Ethiopia plans to build 5,000 km of railway lines by 2020.

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  • Joel Mwale - bringing 'Facebook' education to Kenya

    A young social entrepreneur from Kenya might have solved one of the conundrums of the Facebook generation - how to stop social media getting in the way of studying.

    Joel Mwale, a 20-year-old who never completed his own education, has realised the answer is to stop trying to push social media away, and instead embrace it.

    More than one million people around the world seem to agree with him, because in the five weeks since his website went live, they have signed up as users.

    Teachers and schools have always faced the problem of stopping students using social media in class, seeing it as a distraction.

    But they also know that teenagers are addicted to chatting to each other online.

    His website allows schools and teachers to be part of it, so you can sign into class-specific areas of the site where academic materials can be shared.

    There is a personal library section where you can share books at a class level, and there is a section for mentoring.

    This is all on the same site which you can also use for all the usual personal social media chats and sharing with friends.

    Although he wants his idea to be taken up in East Africa, his ambition is global.

    Read more from BBC

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  • Terrorist threat forces TV's Kathryn to cancel Great Ethiopian Run

    OPERATION Transformation host Kathryn Thomas was forced to pull out of the Great Ethiopian Run after al-Shabaab terrorists threaten to sabotage the charity event.

    Kathryn (34) was due to travel to Africa last week and run 10k to raise money for Self Help Africa.

    But the Carlow native had to cancel her flight after the charity advised participants not to travel for the run.

    She told the Herald: "I've travelled to Ethiopia and to Addis Ababa before and I think it's a great place and city -- I've always been happy and felt safe travelling there.

    "But the al-Shabaab terrorists were responsible for the Westgate Mall attacks in Nairobi, so the organisers had to take things seriously.

    "Ethiopia has been on high alert since those two suicide bombers accidentally blew themselves up before Ethiopia's World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria."

    Kathryn added organisers were particularly conscious after the Boston Marathon bombings earlier in the year. "They really had to alert participants to the danger and advise them not to travel," she said.


    "The event wasn't cancelled but Self Help Africa had to warn everyone about it."

    Despite the alert, several Irish participants made their way to Ethiopia.

    The hard core marathon men and women ran a different race in Hawass, several hours south of Addis Ababa, and dubbed it The Alternative Great Ethiopia Run.

    Kathryn added: "I'm delighted the other participants ran an alternate race and the event was a success despite everything.

    "It was obviously a disappointment. It's the biggest run in the city -- over 40,000 take part -- but these things happen and safety is always a priority."

    Kathryn is currently down in Cork filming the next series of Operation Transformation. But despite being in a different continent, she made sure to make a contribution to the 10K run.

    So she threw on a pair of sneakers and hit the pavements in the south.

    She revealed: "We did a 10k run down in Cork to make up for it.

    "I was going to run it on the same day but I was travelling so did it the following day."


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