Harar is one of the ancient cities in Ethiopia and the fourth holiest city of Islam, owning 82 mosques. It served as the capital of Harari Kingdom from 1520 to 1568 until its integration with Ethiopia in 1887. It has been officially registered as an Ethiopian National Heritage site since 1974. History tells us that the Egyptians conquered Harar in 1875 a situation which gave tremendous support to the growing power of Harari Muslims to dominate the region’s community and to force them change their religion into Islam.
Harar is mostly known by its warm hospitality, harmony and friendship. Those whoever visited Harar witnessed the mutual understanding and integration of its diverse residents. It is the home of several different Afro-Asiatic speaking ethnic groups who believe in various religions. They include the Oromo, Somali, Amhara, Gurage and Tigray. The Harari who refer to themselves as ‘Gey Usu’ (People of the City) are predominantly Semitic language speaking people. They lead their livelihood in trade and handicrafts. Weaving, basketery and book binding are the long-standing traditions of the Harari society.
Harar is located in the eastern part of the country on a plateau with deep gorges, deserts and Savannah. This sacred Muslim town was built in the 13th century. What the town differs from other towns is that it is surrounded by spectacular defensive walls. These magnificent walls were built in the 13th and 16th centuries by Amir Nur Ibn Mujahid. The walls have 3.5 km length and 4 km height. It has also five entrance doors. The doors are used as special emblems of the city of Harar.
The architectural designs of the city that depict African and Islamic traditions have played significant role in the city’s urban development. Although there have been some urban development on the eastern and south-eastern parts, the basic relationship and strong bond between the urban and rural areas is still maintained. Except some changes took place in the 19th and 20th centuries, the overall structure and design of this historic city is still intact.
Beside, its tourism potential, Harar had been serving as the centre of commerce and pilgrimage for many centuries. Historical manuscripts indicated that Harar had its own currency to undertake business transactions within its territory and with other strong states of that time. Considering its reach cultural and natural heritages, UNESCO has inscribed the city of Harar in its tangible heritage lists. Moreover, the Jugol wall was registered in UNESCO’s list in 2014. There are also other five tangible heritages to be inscribed in the list. These are: Dire Sheik Hussein sacred Islamic area, Holka Sof Omar, Gedio Integrated Agricultural topography, Melka Kunetere and Bale National Park. In Harar, it is also normal to see wild animals like hyena living with human beings. The tradition of feeding meat to spotted hyenas was started during the 1960s to be changed into an impressive night show for tourists.
In 2003 the City was given a World City of Peace award by the United Nations, in honour of Harar’s unique ability to accommodate many ethnicities with different religions in a small area without conflict. This could be taken as a miracle to live as an island of consolidated peace, love and harmony in a region often plagued by tribal conflicts. Most states in Ethiopia in particular and neighbouring countries in general have acknowledged the recognition of Harar as world’s city of peace and tolerance. They have also learnt huge lesson which is conducive for ensuring peace, security and mutual concern within their tribal groups.
Currently, the city of Harar is serving as the administrative capital of the Harari People National Regional State. The state government in collaboration with Federal government has been working to sustain the prominence of the city by enhancing its tourism, culture and social aspects. It has been undertaking various activities to bequeath the city’s good image on peace, love and tolerance to the coming generation.
BY TSEGAY HAGOS
One solid month has elapsed since we lost the beloved son of Ethiopia who fought in many battles that no one could imagine. Professor Richard Pankhurst played a leading role in the campaign to have artefacts looted from Ethiopia by the European colonial powers returned to their country of origin, a campaign which achieved its most spectacular success in 2005 when Italy returned the Axum obelisk, a 1,700-year-old, 180 ton carved granite stele that had been hauled away by the Italians in 1937 during Mussolini’s occupation of the country and subsequently re-erected in a busy Rome piazza.
This article doesn't discuss about the renowned historian. But to let readers peruse his work written on Addis Tribune, in 1998.
The article tries to illustrate how the world embraced Ethiopia's Literature following the victory of Adwa.
We hope the script could brief us how the world perceived the victory and the power of literature in influencing the then and current readers.
(From Covent Garden, London, to Ras Alula and the Battle of Dogali )
BY RICHARD PANKHURST
Despite the publication of James Bruce's classic Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in 1790, and of several other important travel works on Ethiopia in the next few decades, creative writing on the country was slow to resume in any inten— intensity Mirza Abu Taleb Khan, an Indian visitor to Britain at the turn of the century nevertheless reported seeing a play at a Dublin theatre which ﬁgured a supposed "Ethiopian" magician, called Harlequin.
The Theatre Royal in London's Covent Garden likewise put on a play: William Dimond's The Ethiop, or the Child of the Dessert, but it had in fact little or nothing to do with Ethiopia. Bruce's inﬂuence was, however, eventually felt, and a French author, Francois Joseph de la Seerie, duly wrote a short novel set in Ethiopia, with the title L'Abyssinie ou les Sources du Nil, i.e. “Abyssinia or the Sources of the Nile” (Paris, 1818)
In Russia meanwhile the poet Alexander Puskhin was reﬂecting on his partial African – and, in all probability Ethiopian ancestry - his descent from one of the country's most famous slaves, Abraha or Ibrahim Hannibal. This caused Pushkin to begin a story about his ancestor. Never completed, and containing little in fact little about Ethiopia, it was written in 1827-8, and published as Arap Petra vilikogo, (St. Petersburg), and translated onto English as "The Moor of Peter the Great".
Biblical interest in Britain had led meanwhile to another line of interest in Ethiopia. This caused a Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Thomas E. Hankinson, of Corpus Christi College, to compose a long poem, entitled Ethiopia Stretching Out Her Hands unto God (London, 1838)
In the decades which followed, the term Ethiopia was appropriated by numerous Negro, or Black American, minstrels, who produced various musical works embodying the name. This led to a ﬂood of publications with such titles as Ethiopian Quadrilles, (New York, 1843) Ethiopian serenades, (Philadelphia, 1845, Ethiopian Accordion Instructor (Boston, 1848) Black American use of the term also led to the publication by an American, Robert M. Be Witt, of a volume of Ethiopian Plays (New York, 1873), which had, however, no relationship with the country except in their title.
The publication in 1853 of an eye-witness account of Ethiopia, Life in Abyssinia by a British resident, Mansﬁeld Parkyns, led his compatriot the proliﬁc British writer William Dalton, author children's stories about Africa and the East, to produce one such work set in the country: The Tiger Prince or Adventures in the Wilds of Abyssinia (London, 1863). Widely read at the time it was duly translated into German as Der Tiger-furst (Leipzig and Berlin, 1881).
The Anglo-Indian expedition against Emperor Tewodros of Ethiopia in 1867-8 generated further international awareness of the country. This led to the composition by an English musician, John Pridham, of a piano suite entitled The Abyssinian Expedition: Grand Divertimento for the Piano (London, 1868).
This coincided with the performance and publication, in France, of two plays about Tewodros: Theodore Barriére's Theodoros: Drame en 5 actes. i.e. "Theodore: "Play in 5 Acts" (Paris, 1868) and Jules Renard's Deux prisonniers de Theodore... Pochade abyssinienne en un acte, i.e. "Two Prisoners of Theodore... Humorous Abyssinian Piece". (Paris, 1869)
Interest in the country soon afterwards led to the publication of an imaginary travelogue: Emile Jonvaux's Deux ans dans l'Afrique Orientale. i.e. "Two Years in East Africa" (Paris, 1871), which was followed by an English translation, with the somewhat expanded, and more explicit title, Two Years in East Africa: Adventures in Abyssinia and Arabia.(London, 1875) A further fictitious travel work was subsequently produced by a Polish writer, Dr. I. Zagiﬂ, whose Podroz Historyczna po Abissynii... was published in Wilno in 1884.
Another source of interest in Ethiopia had meanwhile been unleashed in Italy, and later throughout the world, by the Italian Composer Giuseppe, Verdi's renowned opera Aida. First commissioned by the Egyptian Khedive in 1869 it was performed in Cairo in 1871, and later in many European and American towns.
The story, which was entirely fictitious, was written by the Italian author Antonio Ghislanzoni, on the basis of a French text by Camile du Lonze. It told of the invasion of Egypt by an Ethiopian king, Amonasto, whose beautiful daughter Aida was also taken prisoner. She falls in love with the Egyptian commander Radames, and “they both die a tragic death. A French version of the opera was later published in 1877.
The coming of the Italian Colonialists to northern Ethiopia (later the Italian colony of Eritrea) in 1885, and the Ethiopian commander Ras Alula's victory over the intruders at the battle of Dogali in 1887, resulted in the appearance of a number of Italian novels, plays and songs on Ethiopian themes. The ﬁrst of these publications included three anonymous works, which appeared in 1887: Una leggenda Abissina, i.e. "An. Abyssinian Legend" published in Milan; a pamphlet highlighting the departure of Italian women for Africa, to accompany their lovers, published in Florence; and "To Circe", an allegedly "barbaric song, published in Foligno. There was also an Ode, by Manfredo Vanni, to Lieutenant Alfredo Busatti, the ﬁrst Italian killed at Dogali, published in Florence, also in 1887. Many chauvinistic Italian poems were also turned out around this time by the pro-colonialist poet Remigio Zena.
Ras Alula and Dogali
Opposition to colonialism was at the same time voiced by the Italian anti-imperialist poet Ulisse Barbieri, who composed an Inno abissino, or "Abyssinian" Hymn", to the stirring tune of the Italian patriotic anthem Irma di Garibaldi, or "Garibaldi Hymn". Barbieri's repeated refrain was Va fuori del'Africa, i.e. "Go out of Africa".
Italian interest in Ethiopia, in the aftermath of the battle of Dogali, soon afterwards found expression in a popular romance by Luigi Gualtieri. Entitled La ﬁglia di Ras Alula 0 le notte abissine, i.e. "The Daughter of Ras Alula or Abyssinian Nights" (Milan, 1888), it was almost immediately turned into a play, with the same title, by one A. Castelletto, an English translation of which appears in Ethiopia Observer for 1972.
A somewhat shorter work, Gli amori dellafiglia di Ras Alula in Africa, i.e. "The Loves of the Daughter of Ras Alula in Africa" (Florence, 1888) also appeared. Other Italian publications of this time included a sensationalist pamphlet entitled I mangatori di carne uimma nell'Africa, i.e. "Eaters of Human Flesh in Africa" (Florence, 1888) and a popular song on the Battle of Saganeiti and the Death of Five Italian Ofﬁcers, (Milan, 1881).
Such Italian writings for and against the war were followed in the next few years by several others. Prominent among them was a novel by Carlo Rigetti, entitled I fascino di Dogali, i.e. "The Fascination of Dogali"; (Milan, 1889); Guglielmo Merloni's ﬁve’act play Il seminarista in Africa, i.e. "The Seminarist in Africa" (Fano, 1889); and Napoleone Corazzini's Pantera nera, scene abissine, or "Black Panther, Abyssinian Scenes" (Naples, 1890).
Interest in Ethiopia at the end of the 19th cenTury also continued to be fueled by the Queen of Sheba story. This found expression in the Portuguese poet Eugenio cle Castro's Belkiss, rainloa de Salad, d'Axum et do Himyar, i.e. "Belkiss, Queen of Sheba, Axum and Hymer” (Coimbra, 1894), which was translated into Italian by Vittorio Pica in 1896. MT
Intro Mengistab Teshome
Today’s guest is Abebe Dinku. He is a Professor of civil engineering at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology. He is responsible for teaching courses related to construction materials and construction management. He served as a member of a task force set up by the Prime Minister’s office to draft Terms of Reference for the nationwide fire-safety. He is as well main researcher in assessing and improving the quality of bricks and blocks in the Ethiopian construction industry and co-researcher in developing basic construction equipment such as mixer, vibrator and grinding machine in the project funded by the Agency for Rented Houses.
Likewise, Prof. Abebe was a lead expert in producing documents entitled “Preparation of Construction Projects Cost estimation Guidelines and Bidder pre-qualification criteria development for the Addis Ababa City Construction Bureau. Besides, he is the only civil engineering professor in the country in his area of specialization and has been serving Addis Ababa University since his graduation in 1982. The Ethiopian Herald had a short stay with Prof. Abebe with a view to familiarizing his personal and professional life with esteemed readers: Enjoy reading!
Tell us about yourself.
To start with, my name is Abebe Dinku. I am a professor of civil engineering at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology. I am responsible for teaching courses related to construction materials and construction management. I was born in 1959 at a place called Addis Alem, 45km west of Addis Ababa, though my parents permanently lived here in the capital. The thing was, when I was about to be born, my mom went to Addis Alem town to deliver her first baby son as her parents were living there. This being the case, I was born and baptized there and later grew up in Addis Ababa at a place called “Teklay Biro” which is also called “Quas meda”.
I belong to an extended family and blessed with seven sisters and two brothers. To my amazement, my brothers are civil engineers too. My mother departed this life seven years ago due to natural cause and my father is active at the age of eighty two. By the way, I attended primary and secondary education at Medhane Alem Elementary School and Medhane Alem Comprehensive Secondary School, respectively. Having successfully passed the Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Examination, I joined Addis Ababa University and later enrolled in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Faculty of Technology. Eventually, I graduated and began working as a graduate assistant at the same Faculty which is now named Addis Ababa Institute of Technology.
What are some of your childhood memories?
I have so many childhood memories. They still trail across my mind. I lived in a community that cares about others. As our parents were not the only people responsible for our life, the community at large was showering us with pieces of advice. As a child, I had a habit of playing football with my peers over and over again. I was leading a happy life. At the time when I was a grade nine student, the 1974 revolution erupted. Red terror was raining havoc in every nook and cranny of the country and thus many of my peers passed away including one of my best friends. There was also a campaign called development through cooperation.
Did you take part in the campaign?
No I did not. At that specific juncture, they were calling grade ten and above students and thus I could not participate in the campaign since I was a grade nine student at the outbreak of the revolution, I missed that. But about 10 years later, in the summer of 1985, we were forced to go and build houses/shelters for the reallocated communities. I was then assigned in the north-west part of the country, the current Benishangul state.
What inspired you to study civil engineering?
It is very difficult to accurately point out why I was inspired to study civil engineering. What I knew for sure was my being academically successful in any field of study. My dad was a business man. Often he was encouraging me to focus fully on my education. Although my dad was very intelligent, he was not able to pursue further his education. Therefore, he wanted me to have a successful professional career than involving in business sector. I was working hard to fulfill my family's expectation. My father was always proud to tell and show my grades to his friends. Being the elder son in the family, my father had a habit of taking me to different places, such as churches, market places, celebrating Gena at Janmeda, anniversary celebrations of Emperor Haileselassie, etc.
While crisscrossing the capital, I developed the habit of recording street and business/shop names, bus numbers with destinations and so on. When I got home, I used to sketch them in order using rough scale so as not to miss the location when I traveled alone next time. That was a kind of surveying concept which probably encouraged me to pursue my study in the area of civil engineering. This being the case, I pursued my undergraduate studies in Civil Engineering from 1978 to 1982 and was recruited to serve as a graduate assistant in the Civil Engineering Department immediately after graduation.
How long did you serve as a graduate assistant?
At that specific juncture, outstanding students were retained in the institute. For that reason, I was retained to be a graduate assistance at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology. After a year, I was promoted from the rank of graduate assistant to the rank of assistant lecturer. At that time, we were very dedicated in our academic duty and after working more than two years with the rank of assistant lecturer; one was expected to produce well organized teaching material. Having produced a comprehensive teaching material in the subject of Strength of Materials and after my performance was assessed by the senior staff’s, I was promoted to the rank of lecturer earlier than going abroad to do my M.Sc. Degree in Construction Engineering, at the University of Leeds, UK. After a successful completion of my M.Sc. degree, I spent another year doing research on concrete construction which was the base for my M.Phil. degree. Then, I came back to Ethiopia, finished my research and went back to England with a view to defending my thesis and had another post graduate research degree, Master of Philosophy in Civil Engineering.
When I returned home from UK, I turned out to be a full-fledged lecturer. I started teaching senior level courses such as construction management and quantity surveying to 5th year students and construction materials and building construction to 3rd year students. In fact, I served for only four years with a BSc and was relatively young when I went abroad. Some of the students I taught at that time have become influential in many sectors. For instance, some of them became successful contractors, consultants, academicians, civil servants, business people and the like here and abroad.
The current Prime Minster, Haile Mariam Desalegne, and some more cabinet ministers were students of my class. Though I was young then, I still remember that PM Haile Mariam Desalegne was an outstanding student in the courses that I taught in his class. After returning from UK, I was assigned to serve as an Assistant Dean, School of Graduate studies and served in the post for two and half years until I left for a PhD study.
Tell me about your major involvement in the AAU?
After returning from Germany with a Dr.-Ing. Degree, I was reinstated in my academic engagement including teaching, research and community services. I served as Associate Dean and then later Dean of the Faculty for a total of eight years. During these times, I served as chairman and member of various committees in the Civil Engineering Department, in the Faculty and AAU wide committees. The major involvement include Department Graduate Committee member (1997-1999), Department Examinations Review Committee member (1977-2000) and responsible for the overall activities in the Construction Materials laboratory of the Civil Engineering Department (1997-2001).
Likewise, the other involvement also included member and chairman faculty research and publications committee (2001-2005), member council of graduate studies (2001-2005), member of Addis Ababa University senate, Editorial Board member of ZEDE Journal of Engineers and Architects, and signed a number of Memorandum of Understanding with local and international institutions on behalf of the Faculty Technology (2001-2005) and chairman, AAU Restructuring: Construction and Property Management Task Force and the like.
Besides being a member and fellow of Ethiopian Civil Engineers Association, I am also a founding member and Fellow of Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, Board member of Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, President of American Concrete Institute Ethiopia Chapter, Board member of Ethiopian Quality and Award Organization.
What challenges did you pass through as student?
At the time when I was a student, our interest was to be a good student. We were working hard with the intention of achieving the intended target. We were dedicated to our education. If truth be told, I did not pass through any major challenge both in Ethiopia and abroad. I had faced no academic and financial problem in my life. I enjoyed my stay in the United Kingdom. My stay in the UK further fueled my passion for the field of civil engineering. To your surprise, we took a course in bridge design during our undergraduate study at the time when there was almost no modern bridge in Addis Ababa. After I left to the United Kingdom, I was able to see fascinating bridges, buildings, stadiums and so forth. Little by little, I realized that they are all being the product of civil engineering. After that, I came back to Ethiopia, worked as a lecturer and assistant dean and at last left for Germany to do my PhD studies in 1991.
What was your next move?
I was appointed as an assistant dean of School of Graduate Studies at a young age with fresh MSc degree. I was living with my parents and started building my private home with the intention of getting more freedom. Then after, I got married and began living under the same roof with my wife, Aynalem Debebe. Like my contemporaries, I had so many opportunities to stay in Europe or elsewhere. Many of my colleagues went abroad for good. I stayed in German for over five years. In fact I spent my time in Germany with my wife and our first son was born in Germany. By the way, I have two sons, Brook and Samuel. Brook is currently studying Civil Engineering and Samuel is due to take high school leaving certificate exam this year.
It was not even a year after my return from Germany that I was appointed again as an associate dean of the engineering faculty. I worked there for three years. Later on I was elected Dean of the faculty and served in my capacity as a Dean between 2001-2005. I was responsible for all academic programs of the institution apart from getting involved in teaching, doing research and other assignments. I was also heading Infrastructure Development Unit of the university. That was the beginning to build more university nationwide. At that point, the Addis Ababa University was diversifying its MSc and PhD programs and we were to enroll many more students and build numerous buildings in many campuses of the university. I was responsible for design coordination, construction supervision and contract administration of the infrastructure development of the university and later became Director of the Infrastructure Development unit. That was the time when many of the new buildings were initiated at various campuses of Addis Ababa University.
Academically I have supervised over 30 undergraduate final year projects which deal mainly with design of concrete structures and materials. What is more, I have supervised over 200 MSc theses on research topics related to construction management and construction materials to students of Addis Ababa University, Bahirdar University and Hawassa University. I have also widely published over 40 articles in reputable journals. I hope I have groomed several young people and promoted engineering excellence and professional ethics in my areas of interest. I am happy to see many of my students doing their PhD at this point in time. Some of them who obtained there PhD degree are now assuming important positions working in Europe and USA in various capacities. Whenever I travel to Africa, Europe, USA and other parts of the world, I come across many of my former students. I have also partaken in various international and local conferences and received a number of awards.
Tell me about the awards.
I am a recipient of a Senor Fulbright Scholarship award between 1st August 2005 and 30 June 2006 and spent my sabbatical leave affiliated to the University of Maryland, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, USA. What is more, I was awarded a travel grant from Fulbright Councils for International Exchange of Scholars, under the occasional Lecturer program to Florida International University, Miami; Michigan State University and University of South Florida, Tampa. I was also awarded a three month each research leave, by the German Academic exchange service, DAAD, at the University of Stuttgart in the summers of 2000, 2004 and 2007.
I am happy to have two awards from Addis Ababa University. I was honored for Distinguished Service to the University and the University Community, Addis Ababa University, February 7, 2010. And I was also recognized for Excellence in Academic Leadership, Teaching, Research and Community Services at AAIT, Addis Ababa University, May 2015. I think such positive recognitions would encourage others to serve their institutions with more dedications. In addition I received 2015 American Concrete Institute Chapter Activities Award for the tireless and enthusiastic dedication in support of the ACI Ethiopia Chapter, January 2015.
What is the happiest moment in your life, if any?
In addition to teaching, doing research and publishing my articles make me happy. Besides, when my students graduate or complete their studies successfully defending their research work, I turn out to be very happy. Also when I finish drafting a book I get infinitely happy. So far I have authored two text books and a laboratory manual which are used my students of engineering in all Ethiopian universities. Together with my colleagues from Tanzania and Botswana, I have also published a text book which is used as an important reference material in some African Universities.
At some point, being a person born in Addis Alem, I sought to do something to the local community. After that, I began checking whether there is good elementary school or kindergarten in the town. There was a public elementary school but no kindergarten. Consequently, I used my little financial and technical resources to lease a land from the Government and build a kindergarten and elementary school. I spent my time and personal resource to build the school and run the teaching service to the community. We charge extremely fair amount of money to partially cover the cost.
At this moment in time, I have about ten students whose tuition fee I fully cover. In Addis Alem, my school is now the only one that gives nursery, kindergarten and preparatory school private education opportunities to the local community children. I have now close to180 students from nursery to grade 4.I have created job opportunities for about 18 employees. I am really very happy in this regard and expect to see these students becoming future engineers, pilots, medical professionals, teachers, business people, modern farmer, etc. Together with Engineers without Boarders Maryland, I was instrumental in designing and constructing a pedestrian bridge; youth center and model market place for the residents of Addisalem, West Shewa, since 2010. Over all, next to my academic engagements, giving service to the community makes me more than happier.
Does Ethiopia possess building code?
Yes, it does. When we get ourselves involved in a certain building construction, we need to have some kind of building code as per the building construction code of Ethiopia. Building codes are not rules and regulations by themselves. They are condominium of facts. If you do not follow these codes, mistakes can be made and destruction may follow. Therefore, we have to do things according to the different rules and regulations of our country’s building code. Otherwise, it should be difficult to achieve the intended target. In fact, having building code by itself is not enough. Enforcement of code is also very important. If we do not enforce it as it should be, we cannot achieve the desired goals,for the construction industry encompasses several components.
What causes building collapses?
To begin with, the construction industry encompasses clients, consultants, contractors, local authorities, finances and users. The client is the owner. The consultant is the professional body that understands the interest of the client and interprets it in the form of sketch. A contractor is the one who realizes the desire of the client by translating the design made by the consultant into reality. Moreover, we need to have local authority like sub cities as they are the one who give construction permit. We also have financiers in view of the fact that we have to get loan from banks and insurance companies. Therefore, they are all major stakeholders. Also we do not have to forget end users. In the absence of a healthy and professional link between the above stakeholders, we will in one way or another fall in trouble. Clients sometimes, without having the necessary professional competence, claim to be contractors and do things on their own. They keep changing the design made by the professionals as they wish. In this way, it will be very difficult to have good construction practices.
Good consultants understand the interest of the specific clients and create something for the benefits of the society harnessing their creativity. However, there are also professionals who simply copy and paste designs and do not have creative capacity. As a result of such malpractices, repetitive building collapses have been witnessed in different parts of the country. Coming to contractors again, there are ethical contractors who spend their time and money for the success of a certain project. On the contrary, there are others who make use of cheap materials for they do not care about the quality of the construction. According to many preliminary studies, we have numerous defective buildings which may collapse sometime in the future. For instance, there are buildings in Addis where construction permits are given to a certain number of floors while construction is made two or more floors over the permit without considering the foundation carrying capacity. There are also buildings done using wrong design principles. The quality of construction materials is also another important factor to consider. That is why we see buildings collapse in Addis Ababa. The aforesaid fact is the problem of the client, the consultant, the community, the contractor, local authorities and even financers. Unless they work in harmony for the benefit of the society, we will definitely miss the intended target. This being the case, recently, a three-storey building hadcollapsed in Addis Ababa. Unfortunately, one G+3 building in Addis is heavily damaged and will soon collapse . Apart from Addis, building and other infrastructure collapses are manifested in Hawassa, Wollaita and Gondar and other parts of the country.
What should be done to get to the bottom of the problem?
To the best of my knowledge, professionals associations should focus on these kind of issues. I do want them to come out and discuss such concerns in a professional manner. Some of us are used to teaching our students about similar problems and mitigation majors and boldly presenting our findings in workshops. But the media people do not necessarily report things as they should be. The problem related to the health and safety construction industry is one of the other disasters in this country. Many people are dying and some of them are losing their body parts particularly those working in different construction sites. This is actually owing to the backwardness of the construction methods. In our country, there is building code but due to wrong designs, wrong construction, wrong supervision, wrong mishandling by all parties, we will have a serious problem in the future unless coordinated care is taken sooner.
What is your take on a variety of glass being used for building?
It is crystal clear that glass is one of the important building construction materials if we make use of it properly. There are different types of glasses namely reflecting glasses; normal glasses, transparent glasses and so forth. One has to choose the right one for the right purpose. In Europe, they have different climatic conditions. But the material they use is properly investigated and studied to fit in the various climatic conditions and other factors like impact resistance, radiation, sound insulation, etc. We cannot simply import building materials used in other countries without checking the compatibility with the specific Ethiopian conditions. Most of our country’s problem, I feel, is using everything they see elsewhere straightaway without localizing it.
I know in some places it is becoming very difficult to drive vehicles owing to the reflection. I personally came across a situation in Addis where I could not see even three meters far due to glass reflection from the building in front of me. This incident will certainly be a cause for a serious road accident. Moreover, it is very difficult to resist the heat as there is no proper ventilation in the rooms. The windows are not open-able and the air conditioning system has not been well studied. As far as I am concerned, clients should allocate enough amount of money so as to build quality buildings.
By Addisalem Mulat
The poem below decrying war was written by Lithuanian poet Salomeja Neris when her country was invaded by Nazi Germany. By way of showing how it is possible to explicate a narrative poem and invite readers reread the poem and grasp the meaning I will explicate her poem Spring as follows.
Once again will lilac sing,
And brooks will babble, brooks, will ring,
The heavens’ Nieman like a river
Where floes, not clouds, float on forever.
In the birches flows your blood,
Green as their leaves-my hot blood!
In chilly meadow and damp dell
The trill of liberty is felt.
It shows in clouds above the field
And in stream where willows kneel,
In skies where swallows fly pell-mell.
Where Freedom rings its thrilling bell.
It sings, it chimes to me again,
Its chimes new joy and love proclaim,
New joy, new love, new life will start,
My earthly brother! Set off, heart,
Ride over hill, ride over dell
Where liberty’s light trill is felt
- An evil Ghost wheels in the sky
An evil ghost wheels in the sky. . .
The days of earthly joy fly by
Like flowers that bloom one day and die,
Or like a short-lived butterfly.
The dandelion’s weak and small;
Blow once at it-it’s gone-that is all!
Like dandelions full of glee,
A boy goes skipping on the lea.
“O Dandelion, brother see
All creatures want to play with me;
The flowers wave at me their hats,
And, full of life and joy,
The sun smiles at me from on high!
An evil ghost wheels in the sky.
The ghost’s enormous shadows creeps,
And sunshine fades, life, dying, weeps.
No nothing will the whirl wind miss!.
O Dandelion, fear its kiss!
And yet the child still plays and plays;
He’s glad at all the earth displays.
While earthly joy is running high,
An evil ghost wheels on the sky.
III The sun in blossom
The sun is blossoming below
Its crimson flowers in meadows blow
I only beneath the soil
Will see a sun black as oil.
The firs and oaks their boughs will spread
In that sweet world above my head.
Both pain and joy for me will pass
And life will fade like mowed -down grass
My love, you’ll carry my cold urn.
The ashes of our friendship warm,
The cinders that my soul will leave
Into warm hands you will receive.
The red sun blossoms. There, below
Red flowers throughout the meadows glow.
A black sun rises only here,
Where I lie in my graveyard sear
IV The Archer
Mighty and brave
Like the sun’s twin marching
Over the universe
Strides the archer.
Darkness and cold descend on the world-
Shadows from evil wings unfurled.
The raven of death waves its wings-and lo!
Awe fills our hearts, dread fills us below.
O, shoot, aim better,
Bold Archer –sun
One arrow of yours night is gone!
Pull, pull, Archer, your bow-string tight!
The world will revive and I too will see light.
Out of our hearts will vanish all fear
For the archer his bow-string pulls tight to his ear.
Sunshine will shower
On everything living,
Caressing us all
Loving and giving.
Let prophets curse the world, so be it,
And of its sordidness complain
If friendship can be warm as sunlight
And bring a hint of joy to pain.
No matter how obscure and boundless,
How dim and dark and blind is night,
Yet all the great wide world around us
Is bathed in soft and melting light.
What light is this? Whence comes its magic?
Why does it never dim or wane?-
Of friendship born, it is the music
That, radiant, course in our veins!
Because of it we live and prosper, And sing, delighting in its glow;
Because of it, the forests whisper, Because of it, the rivers flow.
- The Dandelion
Dandelion, dandelion, frail and coy and light,
Standing in the very wind, feeling all its might,
Where will you lie down to rest, where will be
Where will you wake up when the night
Never stopping, blows the wind, ruffling your
Plucking off the silver fluff till your head is bare.
Over empty fields it flies, over barren roads,
Far away the fluff is blown, in white flocks it
Dandelion, dandelion, uncomplaining brother,
Sorry am I for your head-you will have no
Sorry am I for my youth, sad and poor in joy,
Which the boy has carried like a wicked
Better were I fruitless sand or slept in the damp
Better were I anything than what I am by birth,
Better had I fallen down in the Nieman cold,
Better that the Nieman’s stream over me had
For a discerning eye the central tension in this poem is between war and peace. The impending catastrophic specter of war looming large is showed by the recurrent metaphoric expression an evil ghost wheels in the sky (S2).
Using spring as a public symbol of bliss and peace as well as creating a personal metaphor that brooks will babble brooks will sing (S1) the persona records a firm hope that the statuesque restored peace will reign supreme. The extract once again (S1) shows peace is under treat. Each word in the poem shows every fiber of the poet is itching for peace.
Using the metaphoric expression like a flower that bloom one day and die Or like a short lived butterfly (S2) the poet shows a daily mounting death toll is squarely facing human beings changing their life into woes. The words flower and butterfly show the casualty or the worst hit mainly comprises young children.
Dandelion (S2), a special flower, is metaphorically used to represent young boys. Also the line “Blow once at it, it’s gone, that is all!” (S2) shows the ghost (war) is nipping flowers (youngster) in the bud.
Youngsters unaware death is in store for them, probably overwhelmed by the motley flower like uniform they don or perhaps not grasping the full import of war, march to the front with a high glee. Standersby bless off the marchers. This as well is showed by the “flowers wave at me their hats.”(S2)
The ghost’s enormous shadow creeps and sunshine fades show the enraged ghost of war, whirlwind (S2 ) casting its shadow on peace, is mercilessly slaying young boys (Dandelions). The ghost’s brutality (kiss,S2) dandelions would like to evade. With the lines I only from beneath the soil /will see a sun black as oil(S3) display the narrator has passed away. Also the simile a sun black as oil shows the specter of war is not averted. Another simile life will fade like mowed down grass (S3) popularize the enormity of the death toll, that comes on the wake of the specter. The sun is also used as a metaphor of an archer, a hero. An archer shoot an arrow while a sun spreads rays. As the rays (arrows of sun) dissipate darkness, so do arrows from archer for they ensure freedom.
O, shoot, aim better (S4)
And light is gone
Pull, pull, archer, your bow-string tight!
The world will revive
And I too will see light
The narrator also metaphorically represents peace with a sun that allows people to bask in its glory. Though the narrator engulfed by the shadows of war seems to show despair yet still s/he harbors hope.
Plucking off the silver fluff till your head is bare shows the young boys referred as little eagles in the poem are bearing pain and sustaining injuries. The persona indicates the figurative speech all the great wide world around is bathed in soft and melting light as a symbol to the presence of peace in the neighborhood, a beacon of hope for those sweltering under war.
Fair, coy and light (S6) shows young boys, while standing in the wind(S6) means at war.
The poetical extract the night has fled suggests the reversal of aggression.
Sorry am I for your head you will have no other.
Sad and poor in joy
The wind took away a wicked boy
Better in the Noeman cold
I had fallen.
The extracts above show, a despairing citizen caught up in the tempest of war and besieged by anxieties and mournful as a blood hued sunset. As clearly showed above, to lament the youth being cut by war, the persona uses the metaphoric expressions, a ghost and a terrible wind.
The tension of imageries of war and peace and the persona’s seesawing from one emotion into another is one input to the unifying theme. The following are word images, metaphoric expressions and personifications that create tributary paths to the central theme. They hint at peace: spring, lilac (small trees with flagrant flower), sing, brooks, babble, brooks ring, floes float, thrill, liberty, stream, willows kneel, skies, swallow pell-mell, freedom rings, thrilling bell, sings, chimes, joy, love, proclaim, new, joy, life, brother, ride, light, earthly joy, bloom, blue, all creatures play, flowers wave hat, sun smiles, plays, good joy running high. Blossoming, crimson flower, soft melting light, we live, prosper, sing, delighting, glow, whisper, rivers flow.
Notice that all the imageries above are borrowed from nature, which takes the normal flow if the statuesque remains undisturbed. The images, metaphors, personifications that show war are evil, ghost, wheels (torture consisting a wheel, a ring of fire) die, dim, dark, blind, night, death, short-lived, blow, gone, ghost’s, shadow, creeps,(sunshine) fades, might, (life), dying, weeps, whirlwind, its kiss, black, never, stopping, blows the wind, ruffling your hair. Darkness, cold, descends, shadows, evil wings, unfurled (Unfolded). Raven of death waves its wings, awe, dread.
Similarly the figurative expressions that show death are, I only beneath the soil will see
the sun black as oil, the firs and oaks their boughs will spread in that sweet world above my head, life fade, mowed –down grass, cold urn, ashes, cinder, black sun, I lie in my graveyard sear, grave yard sear, plucking off, bare, wind, carried as a wicked boy, head you will have no other.
Images that suggest it is young children who are marching to the front are: flowers, butterfly, dandelion (a plant native to Europe having yellow flowers), full of glee, weak, small, child, frail, coy, light.
The metaphoric expression the poet employed in rendering the poem vivid are dandelion for young children, evil ghost for war, wheels on the sky for war looms large, spring for peace, flowers for solders marching, whirlwind for the devastating blows of war.
The tensions in the poem are between: joy/pain, light/dark, rays of sun/cloud, death/life, appeasing aggression/condemning aggression and war/peace. The semantic oddities or ambiguities at sentence level put in a form of personification are lilac sing, brooks babble, brooks sing. We also see a subtle use of language such as inversion. The ambiguities at sentence level the poem shows are listed below
Once again will lilac sing, and brooks will babble, brooks will ring. The heaven’s Nieman like a river where floes, not clouds, float on forever suggest once again peace reigns supreme aggression reversed, nature or life takes its normal course. In chilly meadow and damp dell means all around. While Ride over hill, ride over dell where liberty’s light thrill is felt hints fight to the end paying all the necessary sacrifices. An evil ghost wheels in the sky. The days of earthly joy fly by like flowers that bloom one day and die or like a short-lived butterfly means war has stricken out joy from the life of people and marred day to day activities. It could as well mean death is taking a larger toll; even young children (flowers, butterflies, dandelions) couldn’t evade the blow. The ghost’s enormous shadow creeps. And sunshine fades, life, dying, weeps suggest the specter of war looms large. No, nothing will the whirlwind miss, dandelion fears its kiss suggest the blow is so severe that it doesn’t spare anyone the strong and feeble alike. And yet the child still plays and plays; he’s glad at all the earth displays, while earthly joy is running high, an evil ghost wheels on the sky suggest young children are not fully aware of the impending catastrophe. Both, pain and joy for me will pass, life will fade like mowed -down grass, I only beneath the soil will see the sun black as oil, black sun rises only here where I lie in my graveyard sear suggests the persona is dead. You’ll carry my cold urn ashes of our friendship, where the ciders that my soul will leave, into warm hands you will receive, hints at the persona’s and the compatriots’ love for the country, peace, freedom and heroic deed will be vindicated by posterity. Darkness and cold descend on the world, shadow from evil wings unfurled, The raven of death waves its wings-and lo. Awe fills our hearts; dread fills all below could mean a full-scale war is unleashed. O, shoot, aim better bold archer sun one arrow of yours And night is gone suggests like the way the rays of a sun melts clouds and darkness a bullet from a heroic sniper could herald freedom. See the following extract pull, pull, archer, your bow-string tight! The world will revive and I too will see light. Out of our hearts will vanish all fear, for the archer his bow string pulls tight to his ear suggests we haven’t lost hope for our combatants are ready to salvage us paying the necessary sacrifices. Let prophets curse the world, so be it, And of its sordidness complain if friendship can’t be warm as sunlight And bring a hint of joy to pain suggests stopping appeasing aggression neighboring countries should help a country victimized by war. No matter how obscure and boundless, how dim and dark and blind is night, yet all the great wide world around us is bathed in soft and melting light means though our country is in war there is peace all around. Because of it, we live and prosper, And sing, delighting in its glow, because of it, the forests whisper, because of it, the rivers flow suggest peace as a beacon draws us forward. Dandelion, dandelion, frail and coy and light, standing in the very wind, feeling all its might, where will you lie down to rest, where will be your bed? Where will you wake up at dawn when the night has fled suggests young children though physically delicate to face war they are tasting to the full the brunt of a full scale war and God only knows how many of these children survive and reminisces the sad episode in retrospect.
Never stopping, blows the wind, ruffling your hair, plucking of the silver fluff till your head is bare. Over empty fields it flies suggests far away from their native motherland children face the incessant ugly blows of war. Dandelion, dandelion, uncomplaining brother, Sorry am I for your head-you will have no other suggests you will be dead. Better had I fallen down in Nieman cold, Better that the Nieman’s stream over me had rolled suggests I wish I dropped dead in my mother soil Nieman sand than in a foreign land. Next we see inversion in the extracts in the poem skillfully used for aesthetic effect: will vanish all fear, its sordidness complain, sorry am I for my youth, Better were I. The major personifications used are the ghost’s enormous shadow creeps, life dying weeps, flowers wave at me their hats, full of life and joy, sun smiles and crimson flowers blow. Condemning war is of a universal significance. This poem, which shows organic unity, is aesthetically and thematically unsurpassed.
BY ALEM HAILU
In order to meet the rising demand of electricity, Ethiopia has continued cultivating its immense potential of renewable energy sources such as hydro power, wind, solar energy and geothermal energy. The nation is the source of several river basins that are helpful to develop electric power- clean power generation. For instance, the Nile, the longest river in the world, gets about 85 per cent of its waters from the Blue Nile which originates from Ethiopia. There are also huge potentials of non-renewable energy resources such as natural gas and coal energy in the nation.
The increasing demand of power to commensurate economic growth the country has been pursuing necessitates high investment in the energy sector. Hence, the nation has been working aggressively to increase the power supply reliability and generate foreign currency. It has set the target to reach the generation capacity 17, 208 MW at the end of the second Growth Transformation Plan (GTP-II).
As the journey to this target, 4,828 MW from hydro power, 324 MW from wind power, 50 MW from urban solid wastes, 252 MW from sugar factories, 7 MW from geothermal energy, 120 MW from biomass and 87 MW emergency generation, in total 5,670 MW generation capacity was planned at the end of 2008 E.C. The construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that is expected to generate 6,450 MW has reached over 58 per cent. Moreover, more than 16,000 km high voltage transmission lines have been stretched. The lines that are under construction will be stretched to reach 27,000 km at the end of GTP II.
Ethiopia has planned to be one of the middle income countries by 2025. Hence, to achieve this goal, the country has focused on industry-led economic development. It also identified that the key instrument to realize its vision is to expand its energy development strategy. In the journey from water tower to water power, Ethiopia offers a great deal of opportunity for clean energy production which has become vital in the current global environment. It creates a new investment opportunity with high returns.
Beyond satisfying its energy needs, the country is currently working to export electricity to neighbouring countries which is executed on the basis of the master plan, a 2,000km line that connects Ethiopia-Kenya-South Sudan-Rwanda. Ethiopia has connected its power grid with Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti and currently exporting 195 MW of electricity to the three neighbouring countries. The potential of the sector has created huge opportunities for the country to export electricity to neighbouring countries and boost regional integration. “Ethiopia is becoming a major producer of hydroelectricity, and the strategy of integration includes the interconnection of neighbouring electricity networks,” stated Robert Wiren, a French journalist who dealt with issues in the Horn of Africa.
Explaining the necessity of universal access to modern energy for Africa, Kofi Annan who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations said, “In several countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa, renewable energy makes up an increasingly important share of national power generation. There are also a number of promising initiatives aimed at providing electricity across borders, mostly drawing on renewable resources such as solar, wind and hydro power. We now need to see more of them deployed at far greater scale to bring power and light to Africans who still lack modern energy.”
BY ALAZAR SHIFERAW
Dereje Belay is owner of the Dereje Farming Development Enterprise. Above and beyond, he is a model agricultural investor engaged in farming activities at Benshagul-Gumuz State, Assossa District. Dereje works to transform himself and his family, starting with small-scale farming and with the support of technologies in agriculture. Dereje is married and has a child. The Ethiopian Herald has held an interview with him. Excerpts:
Would you please introduce yourself to our readers ?
I was born in Gojam province of Amhara State. At the age of 14 in 1993, I came to Addis Ababa City and started to live with my older sister. I attended most of my primary education in Addis Ababa. I have taken some entrepreneurial courses and trainings before I engaged in various businesses.
How did you start your business life?
I was first working in my sister's hotel service during night time as a cashier, and side by side working in a garage called Belay Garage around Bulgaria Square. Then, I made an agreement with my parents to open a spare parts shop around the garage. In addition, my family also opened a restaurant for me as a start up. In line with this, my friend and I used to bake Injera and sell for hotels. From this business, we were also making much money, however, we quit shortly because we were luring for other business matters.
Recognizing the benefit of hard work, I was devoted to engage myself in larger businesses. So that I bought a minibus for a short period of time. Then, due to the inefficiency of transport business, I sold the minibus and bought Isuzu track to make better business. But, it could not also satisfy me any more to stay in this business.
In 2006, watching over my cousins previously working in agriculture, I wanted to join and support them to boost incomes better than before. Then, I immediately sold my properties and joined them buying an old tractor in a place called Sogie, 70 KM away from Nekempte. And I started on 70 hectares of land rented for 300 birr. In this small plots of land, I could grow ginger, soya bean, maize, millet and other crops. Recognizing the benefits of high value crops for generating income, I am currently producing vegetables and fruits.
Were you satisfied with the market price of your agricultural products?
Of course, the price of ginger was rising high at that time. So that, we could get profit from selling ginger and other crops, too.
How did you transform your small-scale agriculture into a larger one?
In 2008, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi called on investors to engage in agricultural investment. As soon as the announcement was made, I just went to Assosa Zone Investment Bureau to ask them to give me land for investment. After carefully examining my profile, the authorities accepted the application and provided me a farmland estimated at about 1,000 hectares.
After two years, when the land was measured by the modern GPS system, the measurement indicated the land I received is only 400 hectares, which shows a decrement by 600 hectares. Although I requested the Office of Investment to give me the remaining hectares, the authorities told me to first develop the approved farmland; and I am still working on there for several years.
What were the obstacles to engage in such agricultural investment?
When I first began the investment, I faced with infrastructural challenges such as road and water accessibility. As the road was so hideously dangerous for travel due to the existence of wild animals and insects in the forest, I used to debauched the road part of the forest to make the working environment safe and secure. The other challenge was changing the attitude of people towards the benefits of agricultural investment.
For instance, most of my friends were not happy when I was engaged in this sector. Because they do not consider that agricultural production is profitable. On the other hand, the bureaucratic red tapes among service providers were the other challenge to smoothly undertake the investment activities starting from renting lands, and getting loans from banks.
Apart from the bureaucratic red tapes, the major challenge is protecting plant diseases. Stealthy diseases sometimes trick plants by reducing their defence system. Hence, prevention is the best remedy when it comes to dealing with most plant diseases in the locality.
Many diseases cannot be effectively controlled once symptoms develop or become severe. Upon recognizing the occurrence of urgent diseases, we use mechanisms such as sanitation and seasonal spray applications purchasing from Mercato, around Gojjam Berenda.
How much was your initial capital?
My initial capital was about 400,000 birr to begin with agricultural investment. But, the main thing that helped me to be successful is my onward commitment to face such challenges, and able to contribute for nation's effort towards poverty reduction.
What was the reason behind for to be a model agricultural investor and receive an award?
Well, taking many steps in the development of farmlands for years, I focused on transforming technology to boost productivity. Effectively implementing with the help of agricultural extension experts, I was successful as I anticipated in the production of crops as well as vegetables and fruits.
Therefore, I could became the first in registering significant agricultural production from Benshangul-Gumuz State utilizing modern agricultural technologies. Currently, I secured a capital of over 25 million birr, and created 50 permanent and 150 temporary jobs for women and youths. For this achievement, I receive a trophy award from the hands of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on the 8th Farmers' and Semi-Pastoralists' Day held at Adama last week.
Is there any contribution you made for the local people?
Of course, I have been providing support for local youths engaged in sport. The team is known as Basha Buda Kebele Sport Club. My support is providing sport facilities such as balls, T-shirts, and some financial assistance. In addition, I built a store house in the locality that could collect over 30,000 quintals. This can be considered as the first in the state as well as may be the second in west Ethiopia. Such efforts are also the reason for receiving the award.
What is your next plan?
In the future, I would be engaged in constructing agro-processing plant which can be used as processing raw materials into finished products. In this effort, we could pack products and provide them for export market. Thus, it will be realized if the support of the government added to our efforts.
What is your agricultural practice you want to share for other farmers?
Well, I currently transformed from rain-fed agriculture into irrigation one using modern technologies. Technology has a big role in developing the agricultural activity. Today, it is possible to grow crops in a desert by utilizing agricultural technology. With this technology, plants can be engineered to survive in drought conditions.
Now, a farmer can cultivate on small plots of land with less labour, and can cut costs even more when they are looking for a used tractor and other harvesting technology, versus new equipment. In agriculture, time and production are so important; you plant in time, harvest in time and deliver to stores in time. Modern agricultural technology allows a small number of people to grow vast quantities of production in a shortest period of time.
What do you suggest to make the agriculture sector move one step forward?
Yes, agricultural experts must spend their time to conduct research on the prevention of crop and vegetable diseases. The other is the availability of transportation facility to the most remote areas. If the government prioritizes for the construction of roads in rural areas, anyone can go and engage in producing agricultural food crops easily.
Of course, transportation helps in making products available on markets in time from the farm. With transportation facility, consumers in cities will consume fresh fruits from farms within the same day that the fruit lives the garden in rural area. Thus, modern transportation technology facilities help farmers easily transport fertilizers or other farm products to their farms. It also speeds the supply of agricultural products from farms to the markets where consumers get them on a daily basis.
Whom do you praise for contributing in your effort?
Okay, I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to government authorities, particularly those who still provide me support in the investment offices. Above all, I really thank my wife and friends for their continuous support and for providing me courage and moral assistance.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
Political independence has not yet brought about the desired change in many African countries. By and large, many African nations have been dependent economically on either their former colonies or international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and others. Many have not yet been successful in standing on their own i.e. becoming self-reliant or competent in the international market. As a result, they have been suffering from a debilitating economy for many years.
It is a very sad reality that over 30,000 children die daily in Africa due to poverty, malnutrition and diseases. Generally, while the winds of change and development have already blown in many countries across the globe, the continent of Africa continues to suffer from natural as well as man-made catastrophes.
Conflicts and wars caused by territorial, ideological, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and many other differences have become part of the daily lives for millions of Africans. These conflicts and wars have brought not only hardship and insecurity to millions but also impoverished many African countries.
Many African leaders frequently depend upon their military might rather than seeking peaceful and democratic solutions to their internal as well as external problems. Instead of feeding their people, many of them spend a great deal of their budget to build and re-build their military might. Consequently, during the late 1980s and into the 1990s, conflicts and wars have caused loses of so many lives and forced millions of Africans to flee their countries in order to find peace in neighbouring and western countries.
Generally, Africa's immigrants or refugees live within neighbouring African countries consisting by and large, of rural migrants, moving over short distances. Recently, however, more and more African migrants and refugees, generally those with relatively better educational background and professional training have legally or illegally managed to enter industrialized countries. These people have lived and studied there; others have acquired skills that can be very useful for the economy of their country of origin.
International organizations such as the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN), International Organization For Migration (IOM), The European Union and other international agencies working in collaboration with industrialized nations, mainly the G-8, have been active and have done a better job in mediating and helping resolve political problems many African countries face. They have also been assisting African countries financially from time to time, mainly to alleviate poverty and to address relief aid. However, generally their assistance has been inconsistent and not sustainable. Further, their assistance focussed on politics rather than economics. Therefore, it did not help tackle the unbearable economic problems and did not bring about significant change in either the economy or in the life standards of millions of Africans.
Recently, however, industrialized countries of the world, the G-8 have finally put their acts together and made the African issue their priority and by doing so, they seem to have developed the right economic approach to resolve the number one enemy of the continent: poverty and under development. The G-8 countries during their summit in Scotland made a big effort to reach at debt annulment; better trade relations and more funds to poor African countries mainly those in Sub-Saharan Africa. They made a buoyant move to allocate over $50 billion a year (on debt cancellation) in order to help poor African nations unravel their precarious economic conditions. There is also a belief that North-South cooperation will build bridge with the international community and help increase global support. This can also help create a conducive and enabling environment for the international community to create a positive setting for poverty eradication and livelihood improvement for millions of less fortunate people in many African countries. Further, this noble decision will help narrow economic disparities and increase global integration between the rich and the poor countries.
It is hoped that the G-8 leaders will continue giving due considerations to the predicament of poor countries in order to bridge the unfair economic imbalances between the North and South. Further, it is hoped that the initiatives taken by these G-8 nations to increase development fund, cancel the cumbersome debt obligations and provide equitable and favorable market provision for African products in the global market will have a positive impact on the economy of those poor African countries; therefore, African nations must get their acts together and do their home works in fighting rampant corruption and mismanagement and develop workable strategies in order to escape from the vicious circle of poverty and underdevelopment. It is also important for African countries to implement NEPAD to further embark on the issue of proper democratic norms, good governance and put every effort to achieve sustainable development.
Here, it is important to note that Africans in the Diaspora must do their part in order to help the economy of their country of origin move forward. Although the Ethiopian Diaspora have done a considerable job in that regard, considering their number and potential, a lot more can be done to help the economy of Ethiopia move forward. Despite political differences, I believe Ethiopians in the Diaspora can have one and same agenda on the developmental endeavors of their country of origin. Ethiopians in the Diaspora can agree to disagree on political differences; however, they can always agree on helping their country on many other aspects such as on economic issue. They should separate political differences with economic and developmental assistance towards their country of origin. It is when Africans help each other, care for each other and their homeland that industrialized countries such as the G-8 come to their door step to help.
It is imperative therefore, that the North-South cooperation continues to grow on a concrete and practical plan for partnership and for doing business. Since Africa has different levels of development and some have better leverage than others, the North-South Development Plan must consider among others, diversity of levels of development and different leverage for better implementation purposes. Although $50 billion a year is only 1/5th of the combined 1 per cent earning of the developed nations and thus, it may not go nearly far enough. However, the intention of the G-8 to make the African issue their agenda in their summit is indeed commendable. It is therefore a very good start that one can say: way to go G-8! However, the materialization of this very good intention is yet to be seen. Even though, the donors have to follow strictly whether the aid is benefiting the poor or not, the G-8 should not impose cumbersome conditional ties on poor countries.
On the other hand, the African nations have a lot to do in order for this pledge to be materialized and implemented. They have to act as partners and not simply as receivers from the other side. They have to direct along with the G-8 partners the right economic approach to their respective development strategic plan and display the highest degree of unity and solidarity in global issues towards a greater articulation of their concerns and interests. Further, African countries must strive for better representation of their national interests in the international trading system and must maintain great solidarity among them (South-South cooperation) in order to achieve these goals. South-South trade should also be enhanced and further market access from developing countries must continue to stimulate South-South trade, including through negotiations within the Global System of Preferences among Developing Countries.
A lesson can be drawn from the business they are doing with China in that regard. China is a big investor in many African countries and the result oriented strategy to transform the relationship between China and Africa has been working just fine. Africans must work hard to build their market economy and have a fair and equitable access within the western market. Whereas the G-8 nations way far from the continent have been concerned about poverty in Africa, some disgruntled African intellectuals in the US and Europe and few opposition party leaders from their sanctuary in North America and Europe have publicly opposed the G-8 debt relief and additional aid to their own countries of origin. Whereas Bob Geldof, Bono, J. Saches (a renowned Economist) and millions of people around the world are campaigning for debt relief and additional aid to Africa, few African opposition political party leaders are advocating just the opposite. What an irony and what a paradox. Isn’t that a crime against humanity?
BY YOHANNES GEBRESELLASIE (PhD)
This week, prime minister Hailemariam Dessalegn had presented a six month performance assessment report of his government to the House of Peoples Representatives. Foreign relation and diplomacy were among the overarching themes. The kernel of the tasks in the diplomatic sphere were fighting out poverty and sparing the country the attendant ills of this carcinogenic problem as quick as possible. Efforts were channeled towards helping the country enjoy finance either in a form of loan or aid for trade,investment,tourism and development-oriented pushes. In general the activities of the incumbent were focused on economic diplomacy.
Towards the aforementioned ends, due exertions on Ethiopia's part to ensure peace, security and stability in the country, region and continent is expected. Currently, as never before, Ethiopia is forging strong diplomatic ties with eastern African countries. Specially with Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia it is creating a multifaceted ties. Aside from its immediate neighbors, Ethiopia,nowadays, is deepening ties with east African countries Rwanda, Uganda,Tanzania and Burundi. The fact that the premier raised this issue in his report substantiates the case in point. Of course, it has been a while since Ethiopia has begun to cut a new posture in the global arena. As instance it is possible to cite its role and participation in UN and IGAD. That is why its influential power has begun gaining credence. This achievement has added hues to its image of a responsible nation. The credit for this mainly goes to decisive diplomatic directions enshrined in the FDRE's constitution,which is filled by sentiments that invite neighboring countries to jointly work for mutual benefits and to uphold peace. As such, Ethiopia has ensured its national interest and played a role in defending the sovereignty of the country. Indeed, Ethiopia's clicking with other countries is the bedrock of its national interest and security. Also it is designed in such a way that downsizes the country's vulnerability when its development and the democratic order in place send roots and the country's development picks steam. This diplomatic move is based on enough studies. It as well follows ways of amicably solving disputes around a horse-shoe table when conflicts flare up. This situation has been reason enough in rendering the country's move towards regional diplomatic ties a hit. Yet, still now, to wipe out terrorists like Alshebab creating havoc as well as address the South Sudan human crisis, there is a call for added exertions. Through discussion, parrying or scaling down the interference of some countries in the continent—In north Africa and middle east affiliated countries— with the intent of meeting their personal end is an area that needs constant attention. As prime minister Hailemariam put it, with vigilant eyes we have to watch the Eritrean regime that is constant in destabilizing peace and stability. As opposed to the interest of brother Eritreans the diabolic regime in Asmara leaves no stone unturned to stir up to dos here in Ethiopia. Studying things taking punitive measures is important and timely.
Doing works that beef up Ethiopia's power of wielding influence on global arena is also necessary. Towards this end country's of the sub region must tighten diplomatic ties that eye at a win-win approach. Such ties must mainly focus on the benefit of people of the sub region. One way or another people of east African countries have cultural, historical and blood ties. One sees others' home ones home away from home. Hence countries of the region should reinforce such ties that stood the test of time with modern diplomacy.
In this regard the multifaceted clicking between Ethiopia and Djibouti could be mentioned exemplary. The successful talk the Djibouti president Ismail Omer Guelleh held this week corroborates the case in point.
In general, though Ethiopia attaches due attention to its internal affair its growth could not be seen detached from its neighbors peace and stability. It very well understands this
Hence it confers no less attention to regional peace, development and regional ties.
The Public Enterprises Ministry said its board members need to work aggressively towards realizing effective and competent enterprises. This was disclosed during a recently held consultative forum..
Speaking at the occasion Minister Dr. Girma Amente said : “ The Ministry has assigned new board chairpersons and members based on their professional capacity, work experience, education status and their proximity to the industry.
According to him, the public enterprises board members are assigned in accordance with their ability to lift the enterprises out of multi-sectoral problems and bring significant change in the socio-economic status of such enterprises.
“ To make public enterprises flourishing in their endeavors, every board member needs to work in cooperation with the Ministry and has to play their due roles and responsibilities on a regular basis, ” he added.
Regarding enterprises privatization efforts ,Dr. Girma said it is remarkable compared to other African countries. Currently, there are over 300 enterprises which have been privatized.
It is to be recalled that the recent six- month report of the enterprises stated that among the 23 public enterprises, only three such as Coastic Soda Factory, Pulp and Paper Factory and Bahir Dar Textile Factory registered deficit of profit while the others are successful even supported by the industrial development fund.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
The Addis Ababa City Technical and Vocational Education Training Bureau said it has continued its all -round support to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) construction.
The Bureau pointed out that it has met 50% of its plan of collecting 6.3 million Birr.
Speaking at a fund raising program organized in connection with GERD 6th commencement anniversary yesterday, Deputy Bureau Head Andualem Zewudie said: “We have been working aggressively to raise fund to the Dam.”
He added that as part of its plan, the Bureau held recurring consultative meetings with public and private training colleges to urge them purchase GERD bonds.
He further said: “We have to raise our mass mobilizing efforts than ever. Besides, we are expected to produce skilled personals who can contribute to GERD construction.
Currently, GERD construction has reached over 60 %.
Ethiopia has over 45,000 MW of hydro-power potential, plus huge resources of solar, wind and geothermal energy to tap.
BY ALAZAR SHIFERAW