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Tag Archives: Horn of Africa

Happy New Years Eritrea and Ethiopia

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Oh let the celebrations begin!

Eritrean and Ethiopian New Years is one of the biggest celebrated festivities in both in the Horn of Africa and the diaspora.

The Eritrean and Ethiopian calendar is derived from that of ancient Egypt, but is unique to both these countries. The seven- to eight-year gap between the East African and Western calendars results from differing methods of calculating the date of the Annunciation.

In 2010, during my four month graduate research visit to Addis Ababa, I was able to end my trip with a unique celebration that I’ve never experienced before in Africa. After dealing with three months of heavy rain, I was excited to finally see the season coming to an end as the sun slowly started to come out. Seeing the flowers blossom all over and fields changing into bright green brought excipient to me.

My cousins told me the season of change is a period when the old blesses the young and the young hope for new prospects, which New Years brings about.

As a vegetarian I didn’t eat any of the meat, but I enjoyed observing the daylong celebrations. I started my early morning by watching my cousins slaughter the animals, followed by preparing a special lunch, which consists of mainly Injera and wot.

As the adults spent their morning preparing the food and drinks, children also got involved and shoed their own way of celebrating. The boys prepared hand pointed pictures and gave it out to neighbors and relatives through out the community. Little girls gathered together singing in groups as they dressed in their beautiful white habesha dresses.

It was amazing to not only witness, but also be apart of a celebration that brought people together through God, art, food and love. So as Eritrean, Ethiopian and the diaspora are getting ready to embark and celebrate another year of blessings, I will be celebrating a cup of bunn (coffee) and wishing my people all the best.

Melkam Hadish Amet!

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Eritrea: Celebrating Twenty-One Years of Independence

This weekend Eritreans world-wide will be celebrating twenty-one years of Independence. According to Eritrean Compass, Asmara will have their celebration “under the maxim ‘Apiary of Eritrean Independence’ in the port city of Massawa where the miracle for liberating the city from the brutal Derg regime has been conducted twenty one years ago this week.”

For those of you who would like to learn more about Eritrea, I included a three part educational clip below that covers the different villages in Eritrea.

I would also like to reach out the Eritrean diaspora and share what village you’re from and any thoughts you would to share!


World Attention on Dedieu’s Death & Not on Famine

Seems like the daily buzz all week has been over the French feminist Marie Dedieu.

The French, Kenyan, and Somali governments have been experiencing outrage since the death of Dedieu on October 19, a handicapped French woman who was kidnapped by an armed band of Somalis from her beach front home on the island of Manda off the coast of Kenya. The French Foreign ministry said yesterday

“the contacts through which the French government was seeking to obtain the release of Marie Dedieu, held in Somalia since October 1, have announced her death, but we have not been able to determine the date nor the circumstances.”

According to the French news,  her kidnappers took her without her wheelchair or medications and refused to give her medication that were sent by the French government.

Although this is a sad story, it seems like Dedieu’s death is becoming the media’s obsession when covering the latest news in the Horn of Africa. Maybe this is why we keep forgetting about the famine and the estimated 29,000 deaths of children under age 5  in the last 90 days in southern Somalia according to U.S. officials.


“Can’t Get Somalia Out Of My Skin”

Today I attended the Aspen Institute’s round-table discussion on the 7 Billion: Conversations that Matter with a talk entitled “Lessons from the Crisis in Somalia.” With Somalia being the 8th highest birth rate in the world, and the global population expecting to reach the seven billion mark this year, Mary Robinson, Walid Abderlkarim and Geoff Dablko discussed the lessons we can learn from the challenges of Somalia.

“Can’t get Somalia out of my skin,” is what former President of Ireland and chair of the Global Leaders Council, Mary Robinson said upon her return to the troubling famine in Somalia last summer. “Who would of declared in the 21st century famine in Africa would be a black-mark for all of us,” Robinson stated. With the largest refugee camp in Dabaab, Kenya— the horrifying conflict in Somalia has developed an average of 1,500 hungry and tired refugees to pour in daily. In Robinson’s opinion, it’s crucial to link the acute hunger in the Horn of Africa through education and reasonable health care. The sudden urgency of famine is one that needs to be addressed. The problem with Somalia according to Robinson is the lack of proper governance for over 19 years, and since then poverty, health, and women’s issues have been rising.

Walid Abdelkrim, Principal Officer and Team Leader for Somalia and Support to the African Union, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, emphasized the significance of learning from the past in preventing future crises in Somalia. Abdelkrim believes the root cause of famine is not simply the absence of food, but the people, security, knowledge, and bad governance. “In order for Somalia to move forward, women need to be involved in the relief efforts and gain the responsibility; if this does not happen the cycle will continue,” he stated. “Agricultural reforms, good governance and strengthening of infrastructure and health systems are vital, but they will not stand if women are not given the chance to be central players in trade, pricing, accounting, education and health.”

Geoff Dabelko, Director, Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center voiced his opinion about the need of the international community to be more effective and going beyond just recognizing and implementing strategies, but discussing environmental health and security issues. He stated that the high child and maternal mortality rates in conjunction with a high youth population would make facing this crisis more difficult. Dabelko’s solution to the crisis in Somalia is to start engaging in conversations to achieve peace-building implementation in Somalia. “Peace in Somalia will lead to democratic elections and governance which in turn will aid in the issues of mortality, food security, and health care” Dabelko stated.

The main message from today’s round-table discussion is to keep on enforcing the importance of the famine crisis and implement peace-building strategies; more importantly supporting women’s role in ending the crisis in Somalia.