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  • Over 50,000 illegal Ethiopian workers sent home from Saudi Arabia


    Addis Ababa (AFP) - Ethiopia has flown home over 50,000 citizens in Saudi Arabia after a crackdown against illegal immigrants in the oil-rich state, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

    "We projected the initial number to be 10,000 but it is increasing," foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told AFP, adding that the final total once the mass airlift ends is now expected to be around 80,000.

    Ethiopia started repatriating citizens living illegally in Saudi Arabia after a seven-month amnesty period to formalise their status expired on November 4, sparking violent protests between Saudi police and Ethiopian migrants preparing to leave the country.

    The Ethiopian government said three of its citizens were killed in clashes.

    Dina said the government is spending $2.6 million (1.9 million euros) on the repatriation programme to bring citizens home, the majority women.

    Ethiopia has said relations with Saudi Arabia remain "sisterly", with Dina saying the government's main priority was to bring citizens home.

    "We are focussing on the repatriation... we have not evaluated that one, we have not assessed that," he said, referring to Ethio-Saudi ties.

    Large numbers of Ethiopians -- often women seeking domestic work -- travel to the Middle East each year looking for jobs.

    Around 200,000 women sought work abroad in 2012, according to Ethiopia's ministry of labour and social affairs.

    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said many face physical and mental abuse, low pay, discrimination and poor working conditions.

    Reports of mistreatment of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia has sparked outrage in Ethiopia.

    In an emotional speech this month, Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said the government was in "around the clock crisis management" mode trying to bring citizens back.

    With 91 million citizens, Ethiopia is Africa's most populous country after Nigeria, but also one of the continent's poorest, with the majority of people earning less than two dollars a day.

    Around 27 percent of women and 13 percent of men are unemployed, according to the ILO.


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  • Interview: “An uninformed society is better than a misinformed one”

    Negeri Lencho (PhD) is an assistant professor of journalism and communication at the post-graduate school of journalism, Addis Ababa University.

    He sat down with The Reporter’s Yemane Nagish to oversee the ups and downs of Ethiopia’s practice on journalism, on which he did his PhD.

    The Reporter: How do you see journalism in Ethiopia, it appears to rest at two extreme ends?

    Negeri Lencho: I think there is a debate on whether journalism is a specific profession, like a medicine. It is quite different when looking at its precise nature. Medicine could be similar here and in America, or anywhere else in terms of a profession, but journalism differs from place to place according to the land’s politics and socio-economic issues. It looks after the land. In Ethiopia, democracy is still in its infancy and the society is also divided, in language, culture and perception. Since the profession is used to serve the people it should never be done in the way that it is done somewhere else. It should go in line with the situation here. Nevertheless, there should also be common trends, and principles that we need to share with others. For instance, there should be objectivism that governs the profession, even if the way we practice it is different. This is one of the issues that some people would like to talk about when it comes to professionalism, but it should be seen that we are dedicated to render comprehensive, quality and unbiased information.

    How do you see the impact of democracy and development on the profession?

    There is a huge impact indeed. There is no common consent among the media and state regarding the revolutionary democracy that the country has witnessed so far. This type of democracy has a massive impact on the ownership of the media. And, of course, it is different from the western world. In America and Britain the media is not under government control because of the type of democracy they follow. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is financed by the government in Britain but it’s managed by a neutral board. Since the media in Ethiopia is state-controlled it represents the parliament, and the management is also appointed by the parliament, so it is absolutely different from the BBC, which belongs to the general public in Britain. In our case, need the government and private media to serving the public better. And it may be meaningful as well that the parliament is representative of the general public.

    Do we have media that belongs to the general public here?

    I can answer yes if the state doesn’t interfere in the editorial policy. However, it doesn’t sound so when the state is involved in the nomination and appointment of management to influence the editorial board. It should be free all the way. And recruiting and positioning journalists should be another concern. If they are in favor of the state, the media is subject to be state-controlled. I asked those journalists hired by the state media how they differ from the privately hired ones, and the difference was visible. “Since we are in the government media we have to promote developmental polices, and that is all about what to do,” they replied. So, it looks pretty paralyzed, and they tend to be a mouth piece for the government, or like a spokesperson for the government, since their editorial policy is to carry out state policies and strategies.

    Those who responded said that they are not compelled to produce media-oriented stories, such as investigations, as their editors are not interested. “We are encouraged at the editorial meeting, but they are unaccepted when they come up,” they said. We rarely see investigative programs on Ethiopian Television (ETV),which is unsatisfactory as those on the board are specifically chosen. They do not want to do these programs because of the budget, knowledge and capacity it requires. They tend to put themselves as developmental journalists, focusing on economic development to insure peace and prosperity.

    Read more from thereporterethiopia

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  • Mulatu Astatke: Reviving African Jazz Village

    In the evenings a couple of years ago it was common to hear a deep, soothing voice on FM 97.1, dissecting different jazz elements and saying, “This is African Jazz Village.” This voice was the renowned Mulatu Astatke, the man who invented Ethio-jazz forty years ago. It was his radio program that started African Jazz Village, together with a club and music school.

    Although interrupted as Mulatu held workshops and performed all over the world,

    November 15 witnessed the launch of African Jazz Village inside the Ghion Hotel.At the same historical venue that memorably hosted the world famous singer Bob Marley, Mulatu thinks it will be a platform to bring in creative artists and the local art-loving community.As an honorary doctor of Berkeley Music College and MIT fellow, Mulatu is an inspiration for many musicians, including Damian Marley and Nas who sampled his songs in their album Distant Relatives. His work also featured in the Oscar-nominated film Broken Flowers, and a film “Everlasting Mulatu” was inspired by his life.

    After a busy international schedule, Mulatu is back in his community and ready to contribute.

    Although he performs all over the world, back home he rarely plays concerts, with the exception of a couple of guest appearances, but he hopes this will change. The young generation who only know him through textbooks will get the chance to see why they learned about him.He has been experimenting with Ethiopian musical instruments for many years, and he says this will be a place to reintroduce these instruments.His work is not accessible in this country because production companies do not distribute his albums, so he says performing among the community will give them a chance to hear his music.Coming from a festival in Japan, Mulatu says he performed in front of more than 140,000 people, and played live on the BBC with an audience of millions. He has lectured in many places, but what gives him the deepest satisfaction is being acknowledged by his people and performing for his community.He chose the Ghion Hotel for different reasons, such as the ambience and centrality, but also for its distinct history, the place where Bob Marley jammed, “No woman No cry.”Mulatu has plans to turn the club into an East African jazz centre, where renowned artists can come and perform. Apart from his Express band, Jorga Mesfin, Bibisha and Mesele Asmamaw have also performed at the venue.According to him it will not just be a place for African Jazz Village, but also for experimental artists, reggae, azmari (traditional Ethiopian singers) among others. Mulatu says this is just the start, and they hope to hold huge international festivals at the venue.“We want this place to entertain and also educate the community,” Mulatu says.

    Source: thereporterethiopia

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  • Folk singer FETSUM on music and his Eritrean roots


    Urban folk singer FETSUM was born in Egypt to Eritrean parents and grew up in Italy and Germany, where he currently lives.

    His songs - which combine traditional African rhythms with soul, reggae, folk and rock - bear testimony to that mix of experiences.

    He sang one of them, Waitin' for You, from his album The Colors of Hope, accompanied by guitarist Leon Schurz, for the BBC's Focus on Africa.

    And he told presenter Komla Dumor more about his life and music.

    VIDEO: FETSUM on music and his Eritrean roots

    Source: BBC


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  • On Sketches of Ethiopia, Mulatu Astatke draws a map larger than his homeland

    Ethio-jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke returned to action recently with the release of Sketches of Ethiopia (Jazz Village), an impressive outing—cut with some of London's best improvisers—that embraces "jazz" as more than just flavoring. It's his first album with international distribution. His backing band here is dubbed the Steps Ahead Band, which thankfully has nothing to do with Michael Brecker's fusion band of the same name—this one includes folks like bassist John Edwards, trumpeter Byron Wallen, and pianist Alexander Hawkins. The record opens with one of its most traditional-sounding tracks, "Azmari," which was written by Astatke's longtime colleague and collaborator, Boston reedist Russ Gershon of Either/Orchestra fame. The knotty track is graced by the leader's crystalline vibraphone and the brittle twang of traditional Ethiopian string instruments like the krar and masinko (played, respectively, by Messale Asmamow and Idris Hassun). From there on out the album stretches stylistically, liberally borrowing this and that.

    "Gamo" is one of several songs featuring the gruff singing of Tesfaye, but the sweet-toned kora licks of Kandia Kora lend it a pan-African air. "Hager Fiker," which is a traditional tune from Astatke's homeland, gets a heavy jazz treatment, with a deep upright-bass groove from Edwards, percolating hand percussion, and a lyric, halting vibe solo from the leader, as well as dueling improvisations between James Arben on flute and Yohanes Afwork on end-blown wood instrument the washint, regularly prodded by sleek, swerving horn arrangements. You can check it out below.

    "Gambella," another song with Tesfaye, pushes toward a spiritual jazz vibe, while "Assosa Derache" is decidedly moody and subdued, reaching toward a brief post-Miles Davis spaciness in its final minutes before resuming a head-nodding groove. (I don't think the album title's closeness to the Davis/Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain is accidental.) The album stumbles on "Gumuz," which gives a glossy contemporary treatment to another traditional pieces from the titular Ethiopian tribe—the treacly electric keyboards and the George Benson-styled guitar interjections of guest Jean-Baptiste Saint-Martin sap all the life out of the performance. The limpid cello that opens "Motherland Abay" amid cascading piano, oboe, and kora gives the piece an almost Chinese-sounding serenity (partly due to the pentatonic scale), but then a soulful bass ostinato opens up and Wallen takes a lovely Harmon-muted solo to clearly summon the spirit of Davis. The album closes with a collaboration with the great Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, and her presence—she cowrote the song "Surma" with Astatke—pulls the song toward West Africa.

    Source: chicagoreader

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