Heritage trafficking crime has become a major problem not only for Ethiopia but also other countries around the globe. Close to worth 60 billion USD heritage traffic crimes has been reported before two years worldwide.
Preventing heritage trafficking is one of the major missions given to the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage. Therefore, focusing on control activities in border areas and the airline, it has been exerting efforts in this task in collaboration with the Customs Authority beginning from 1997 EC. Trainings are also given for heritage protection officers, air ports, customs, hotels, tour agents, security forces and other stakeholders. As a result, close to 100 codices were under controlled by the Federal police from traffickers and handed over to the Authority. The criminals are currently on legal sentence. A guide book, which has listed heritages that would not be purchased and are not allowed to be taken out of the country, was also published by the Authority.
“We are intensifying effort on preventing or protecting heritages from trafficking,” said Desalegn Abebaw Cultural Heritage Inventory, Inspection and Standardization Director at the Authority.
On the other hand, the restitution of heritages that have been looted in different times and situations have been the major issue of concern that the Authority has been dealing with for years. But there are several challenges slowing down the efforts and the process.
“When we see the reality, most Heritages of Africa have been looted during the colonial periods. The international convention of 1972, focuses on the issues of heritages stolen or trafficked after the convention was made. That means the issues of heritages stolen or taken from their original places to other countries before 1972 are not to be dealt with the terms of the convention” noted Dessalegn.
In terms of restituting heritages that has been taken (looted)from Mekdela of Ethiopia, during the British envision in Emperor Tewodros’s regime, higher officials including Emperor Yohannes and other group of individuals and scholars as well as the authority have been conducting several researches (studies) and making official requests for the British government. As a result, some heritages have been restituted, he said.
But most of all, the restitution of Axsum Obelisk was the result of great diplomatic efforts and it is one of the successful operations that has shown promises for the restitution of other heritages. There are also heritages returned by countries that have possessed the looted heritages but the procedure has been depending on the generosity or willingness of these nations. Thus, Including the efforts of highly concerned citizens initiatives like the Association For the Return of Mekdela Ethiopian Treasures (AFROMET), diplomatic procedures are the options that have been undertaken.
Tesfaye Arage Senior Heritage Researcher said Heritages could be moved out of a country in different ways, but mostly in three ways, they could be stolen or smuggled by traffickers, could be robbed in the times of war, they could be presented as gifts.
After the United Nations was established and the Treaty of Geneva was signed countries have made agreements not to destroy heritages during war and to return heritages that has been taken illegally for the rightful Nation, according to him.
Different conventions have been signed including the one made during The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization meeting in Paris from 17 October to 21 November 1972, at its seventeenth session. However, the conventions are not strict in ensuring the restitution of heritages that are taken during colonial periods and before, said Tesfaye.
But that does not mean that there are no heritages returned to their origins at all. Even individuals are returning looted heritages voluntarily. For instance, two daughters of General Napier have come to Ethiopia and returned different heritages, which were taken from Mekdala, to the IS Ethiopian Studies of Addis Ababa University. The task is more of negotiating.
Somehow, if the problem of heritage trafficking is not tackled and more heritages are being stolen, the restitution may lose its value. Therefore, both protection and restitution activities need more organized effort between governmental and nongovernmental institutions, as well as the public. The greater damage would be caused if the public is not aware of its own heritages and how to protect them. Thus, efforts are crucial in terms of awareness raising. The authority is putting effort on identifying and giving codes with lists for Ethiopian heritages, which are in the hands of foreign governments and individuals. So far 3058 are confirmed to be kept in governmental institutions and some 363 in the hands of individuals in France, Italy, Germany, England, Israel, Vatican, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Sweden Switzerland and USA, according to Tesfaye. There are many more which are not discovered yet.
BY HENOK TIBEBU
As a country home to about 76 ethnic groups, Ethiopia has many towns inhabited by more than one ethnic group. One of such towns is Shewa Robit, Located 225 kms north of Addis Ababa, and is a rapidly growing town in North Shewa zone of Amhara State.
It is now home to various nations who live together with tolerance. The Amhara, Argoba, Oromo, Afar, Tigray, Gurage and others are among the ethnic groups that give variety to the ethnic composition of the town. But the Argobas who are generally considered as ethnic minority nationwide account for 20 percent of the towns which is home to about 50, 000 total population. They stand second next only to the ethnic Amharas, native to the area.
Yitafer Dagnaw, the Zonal Culture and Tourism Office Coordinator on his part said that the town is inhabited by 5 to 10 nations and nationalities who live together peacefully and harmoniously. The peoples of Argobba are one of them. Though not exactly known, some historians believe that the Argobas first came to Ethiopia in the 12th century. Even though a large number of Argoba people are found in the town, they also have cross cousins who live in Afar region.
Nevertheless, they had a long time living with other nations in tolerance. Even if the peoples are beneficiary from infrastructure, but they have not been advantageous in terms of modern education. And the reason is that these people depend on religious thoughts only. Due to their strong attachment to their religion no one from argobas join the modern education. Their livelihood which is mainly dependent on trade has also led them lose interest for modern education, noted Yitafer.
According to Aminu Indiris , an Argoba elder and former constituent of Argoba peoples at the House of Peoples Representatives (HPR) the total population of the people was around 32000 during the 2005 census and is estimated to have raised to 60,000 after 10 years.
Aminu says the word Argoba is derived from '' Arab Geba'' literally meaning “Arabs came in”. According to him the peoples of Argobas entered to Ethiopia by the cause of conflict and not for state expansion.
Though it was not their original intention when coming to Ethiopia, Argobas have involved in the expansion of Mosques here. Accordingly, they have built 40 mosques. The first one is known as ‘‘Nejashi’’, among the historical religious shrines in Islam. The last historical mosque established in 722E.C is known as ''Gozze mosque'' found around Shewarobit town, and its meaning is that settling permanently.
Argobas are sub divided in to clans. The ''suppa'' are the first ethnic groups who have migrated to the country. However, they had not lasted a century, they returned to their country when peace was settled. The current Argoba peoples came to Ethiopia following the Suppas’ return. Jeberti is the first market place to Argoba peoples and it is found in Yifat of North Shewa Amhara State.
On the other hand, the expansion of Argobba peoples had caused the rise of Yifat dynasty. In addition to this, a large number of Argoba peoples have lived in Amhara State, particularly around Yifat. The Wolasema, another sub-ethnic group the Argoba, also live in this town and their livelihood is based on trade, agriculture, weaving, and hand craft, according to Aminu.
“There were two gateways when the Argobas entered to Ethiopia on the northern and the eastern borders. The ones who entered by the northern side passed through Tigray and expanded to Minjar-Berhet. The subethnic clans of these group are called the Shenkore fara (meaning traditional house builder), Abba morras (traders),Abba siyya( gave judged),and Assifa (teachers and traditional healers),” he noted.
The other group who have entered by the east began from Harrer and expanded to Awashr. “Those group of people have always been obedient to governments and tax collectors in ancient times,” according to Aminu.
Like many other ethnic groups in the country, Argobas also cherish a long-standing tradition of conflict resolution. ''Amedel mehide, Amedel hette, and mehidel herette''are the ancient conflict resolution systems of Argoba peoples.
''Amedel mehide had been the justice system that when someone killed another deliberately would be sentenced to death. But if the victim’s family show forgiveness, the punishment will be compromised by paying 100 camels for them.
Amedel hette on the other hand is traditional arbitration system that deals with people who killed others unintentionally. With this traditional system the punishment would only be paying camels.
According to Aminu the above three traditional conflict resolutions are practiced in a locality called Kallu. In addition to these ones, the people also practice arbitration systems called ‘‘Rekebote’’, a small coffee table where people gather around to drink coffee socially and ''Abagare'' a traditional system of Ombudzman practicing in and around Shewarobit town. If any offender refuses the decision of the elder , he will hand him/her over to the government to face legal measures.
BY MESERET BEHAILU
Ethiopia is expediting efforts to generate large amount of electricity. Currently the production has gone quite over 4,000 mws. But its potential from water alone is believed to be more than 60,000 mws while from wind it can generate more than 1 million mws.
Owing to its rapidly growing urbanization, there is a need to increase the electric power supply as electricity is likely to be in use by every household. Previously electricity is limited only to light bulbs. And lately with the capacity of households to buy more household utensils, people buy appliances like TV, refrigerators etc.
Availability of adequate energy is mandatory to ensure stable living condition in such rapidly growing urban areas of the country. Alongside generating more electricity, saving the already available energy is a good solution to address the issue.
In this regard Ethiopian Energy Authority is introducing several measures to mitigate the increasing wastage of energy due to unwise use, lack of public awareness and inefficiency of electric materials, Engineer Zewge Worku, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Acting Director with the authority said. According to the acting director the amount of energy wastage at this time is around 25% and it needs strong controlling to wisely use the supplied energy.
By distributing CFL light bulbs to save energy wastage on two rounds Ethiopian Electric power was able to save 100 mw of electric power , Engineer Zewge recalled.
But currently, even though incandescent materials are banned legally, since the energy efficient materials are run by the market there is a problem on their quality and the incandescent materials are also importing illegally and available on different shops, he added.
The acting director said that to control the illegal activity, the authority is working closely with the Ethiopian Customs and Revenue Authority and to handle the quality problems, obligatory standard were set in collaboration with the Ethiopian Standards Agency.
But due to the loopholes in implementation and regulation, still using false certificate and different illegal mechanisms materials are importing below the standard set, he stated. Three discussion forums were held on this fiscal year with all stakeholders to solve this problem.
The authority is focusing on energy audit on heavy factors, energy data analysis, checkup the efficiency of household electric materials and electric motors, Engineer Zewge said. The authority has done assessment study on the power use of baking plate, electric stove and electric motors and standard has set on these three materials as the only remain thing is leveling, he restated.
The acting director said that baking plate on average consumes 3.5 kilo watts of electricity and there is no requirement on fabricate it as energy efficiency is not considering since it produced locally. Based on the assessment study a plan was set to implement energy efficiency standard leveling which is implementing at the international level.
The Authority has set a Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) by taking sample from every producer to check the energy efficiency, he said. And at this time the minimum efficiency of making plate is 56%, which means the 56% from the total energy used properly and the remains is wasting and to increase the minimum efficiency MEPS has been set, engineer Zewge added.
Engineer Zewge said that to solve the problem on baking plates energy efficiency test has been held, MEPS sets, range and level is also already set, level logo identified and discussion with stakeholders have been held and the only remain thing is leveling implementation, which absence of enforcement directive on the authority makes becomes an obstacle currently drafted and send to Council of ministers for ratification.
Next to the ratification of the enforcement regulation of the authority, prepared enforcements will put on work and the same to the making plate MEPS will implement on stove and electric motors, the acting director restated.
According to the director the authority is also focusing on energy audit on industries through audit and detail energy auditing. Based on the energy auditing held on five industries in 2016/17 fiscal year, 259.5 gigawatt/hour saving potential has identified which already has been wasted and it is too much, he added.
In this fiscal year, reassessment has been held on seven heavy industries, which held the first assessment and response before 2016/17, 1.24 gigawatt/hour electric energy and 462, 742 litter heavy fuel oil has been saved and this indicates that if we care the energy saving there is the capacity of saving too much energy from wastage, he stated.
For the future the authority plans to invite energy audit private companies to the field and the authority focuses on regulatory and license and factories will lead to forced auditing based on their wastage amount, he added.
Lack of public awareness, attitudes of factories on energy leveling and energy inefficiency on investment are among the obstacles for the authority on its work, he said. He stated that due to the electric tariff is too low, the people didn’t give concern for the energy saving, but when we see nationwide, too much energy is wasting and it needs big attention.
Lastly, Engineer Zewge calls the people to use standard energy efficient electric products and not see the cost to buy because they are too much important to save power.
BY DARGIE KAHSAY
According to the Federal Cooperative Agency (FCA), nearly 80,000 cooperative unions and associations have been serving the society across the country in providing loan and saving services as well as being a means for accessing basic commodities for rural households.
Out of the toal, 78,684 are Primary Cooperative Associations while the remaining 370 are Cooperative Unions. Members of the Primary Cooperative Associations have currently reached at 14,902,340. Of these, 10,684,557 are male 4,217,783 are women. This shows that the participation of women is almost 28 per cent. As part of their total capital 15,720,560,928 Birr, they could currently accumulate savings amounted over seven billion Birr.
On the other hand, members of the Cooperative Unions have reached over 11 thousand with a total capital of 3,460,539,792.00 Birr and total savings of 451,723,813 Birr.
Most of the cooperatives have been currently playing indispensable role in ensuring market stability and bringing fair economic benefit to the society both living in urban and rural, particularly in accessing basic commodities such as sugar, oil, and flour with reasonable prices.
Indeed, the Agency has been established with the vision to meet two core targets such as creating strong cooperatives that can improve the living standard of its members both in the rural and urban centers, and to contribute share to the national economic development through various socio-economic policies and strategies.
Cooperatives contribute a lot in creating best market choices, financial access and transporting agricultural products through volunteer participation.
The active participation of cooperatives in the policy and decision making process is useful to build strong democratic culture and in ensuring peace, development and good governance. Direct promotion and participation of cooperatives would enable the market to reach the lower segments of the society in a bid to creating one economic society.
A strengthened cooperative sector can play an instrumental role in agricultural transformation in a way that they can create an organized outlet for surplus agricultural produce by acting as an agent of aggregation, market orientation and commercialization.
In many countries such as the Republic of Korea, The Netherlands, India and Thailand, cooperatives can play roles to support farmers in earning a greater share of their final produce through collective marketing and economies of scale.
In Ethiopia, farmers’ cooperatives currently account for the primary channel through which agricultural inputs reach farmers. Cooperatives in urban areas are also providing more effective input delivery services to urban dwellers despite some complains from those who do not have their own house number and residing in rental houses.
While visiting cooperative associations recently in Addis Ababa, this writer has observed that the government disregarded those living in rental houses to provide access to basic commodities through cooperative associations. Basically, the Associations are not allowed to provide basic commodities to people without residential identity card. As most of the renters are also offensive to allow their rentees to give residential Id card, the Ministry of Trade need to address how to serve these segments of the society at large.
Regardless of these contradictories, the cooperatives are well-functioning and helping smallholder farmers and agro pastoralists to increase their yields and incomes by transforming coo peratives into competitive and efficient business oriented entities.
Thus, Cooperatives are now uplifting the socio-economic lives of millions of households and ensuring food security. In fact, traditional forms of cooperation has begun in the form of “iqub”, which is an association of people having the common objectives of mobilizing resources, especially finance, and distributing it to members on rotating basis. There are still cooperations in the rural farming communities termed as “Jigie”, “Wonfel”, and the like that are used for labour resource mobilization in order to overcome seasonal labour peaks. The other is “idir”, which is a social activity for provision of social and economic insurance for the members in the events of death, accident, damages to property, and the like.
These informal associations continue to operate in Ethiopia as a legal institution since 1950s. Among these, Ethiopian Airlines Workers’ Saving and Credit Cooperative was established in 1956. Currently, cooperatives are recognized as an essential means for socio- economic improvement of the community.
In sum, although Cooperatives have been installed as vital instruments for accessing financial resources, they are currently stabilizing consumer prices, accessing agricultural inputs at reasonable prices, and providing voice for the poor.
To exploit their potentials more, cooperatives need to build their inclusive service delivery system, and enhance the need for realizing market opportunities, in Ethiopia’s wider socio economic conditions. The efforts being made to support cooperatives should be strengthened. Sustained capacity building activities should be provided through training, material and technical support to make the cooperatives as major contributor of the national growth pathways.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
Ethiopia and US relations has passed through various ups and downs during the last century and reached this level. It will continue to an ever-stronger level with the sole interest of the people and good will from both sides.
The recent passing of HR 128 by the US congress has raised varying views among people. Those who wish to use the western governments and institutions for their ill intents are considering it a great success to assault the government of Ethiopia. On the other side the government of Ethiopia viewed the steps as lacking considerations to the real ties between the two countries as well as the progresses that the country is making in terms of ensuring justice and democratic system.
The good thing is the bill is non-binding resolution and has yet to be endorsed by the senate to be material. For example the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 (HR 2003) which was highly anticipated by the extremists diaspora to strike the government of Ethiopia ended up without being endorsed thanks to the strong diplomatic relations between the two countries and peoples.
Even after HR 2003 Ethiopia and United States have worked closely in various fields including building democratic system and counter terrorism. Ever since Ethiopia started journey in building democratic system it has shown a lot of progress and has currently attained a remarkable level in various instances.
The government and people of Ethiopia have also witnessed an unprecedented practice of peaceful power transition, which is highly acclaimed by the vast majority of the people across the nation. The people are also by now highly aware of the values and principles of democracy and their commitment towards it.
The leadership have also developed a sense of tuning themselves and responding to the genuine desire of the people. This has been expressed through the manner they handled the unrest the flared up in parts of the nation during the last couple of years.
The path travelled during the last 27 years as well as the various incidents and ups and downs have drawn lesson to the people and government of Ethiopia. The lesson they derived includes what it takes them to properly practice their democratic system and what support they need and from whom.
This is not to under estimate the will and motive of the United States government and people to cooperate in ensuring justice, democratic system and development in Ethiopia. Such good causes of friendship are always welcome by the Ethiopian people. It should also be noted that the Ethiopian people also have their own long-standing civilization and sovereignty and have a right to make decision on issues that fit their genuine interest.
Therefore it is always important to remember that the strong ties the two peoples established is not going to be affected by frictions that could be created over night and the fate of HR 128 is not going to be any different from its predecessor.
A state of emergency is put in place to protect innocent citizens and to maintain peace and stability in a nation. Any nation uses State of Emergency when lawlessness and anarchy prevails and when peace and stability is disturbed. State of emergency happens even in democratic nations when such things happen. A glaring example is that of France that lasted for over a year.
The government of Ethiopia used State of Emergency twice in order to protect its citizens from foreign funded terrorists and toxic Diaspora violence and terror campaign instigators. The first declared State of Emergency in Ethiopia lasted three months and all those culprits who were found guilty of terrorism were given amnesty by the government and were released and now they are free citizens.
The current one will take six months because there were lives lost and heavy damages inflicted on property and massive violence was inflicted disturbing national peace and security and resulting confusion and insecurity amongst the public at large; therefore, the government did the right thing in imposing state of emergency in order to preserve law and order on the one hand and to maintain peace and stability of the nation on the other.
Here, it should be noted that the stance made by the government had a full support of the majority of the public here at home and now because of that people are free to move and work anywhere and anytime they want. When peace and stability and the rule of law is respected just like that of civilized nations such as the United states give the highest priority towards, then the government as promised will lift the state of emergency.
Here another issue in point is that when developed nations like France, China and others put State of emergency in place, nations like the United States keep silent while the same thing is practiced within the developing nations like Ethiopia, it is sad least to say that the US is the first one to accuse without even seeing and analyzing the whole situation going on within the country in question. This reminds me of my former Professor who said “ a weather man who works in an office with no window says it is raining when in fact it is shining outside and says it is shining when in fact it is raining outside” therefore, it will be wise to see things in reality for ones perusal. It would have been wise to see things before putting the current HR128 against Ethiopia by the United States Congress intended to punish Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is fighting terrorism instigated by foreign based terrorists and enemies of the nation. Some are based and stationed right there in the United states and working day in and day out to defame this beautiful nation that maintained international reputation for securing its freedom against colonizers and neo-colonizers, for fighting terrorism, for maintain peace and stability in the region and for contributing peace keeping forces towards the United nations peace keeping mission, for developing a democratic process in the country, the current peaceful transfer of power conducted in the nation and prior to that the five free, fair and peaceful elections conducted in the nation, and, for being firm against those who tried to twist its arms so that they can put in place a government rather a stooge who can be manipulated to serve their interest and not the interest of its people.
Our Defense and security Forces are unique in a sense that they originate from the Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and peoples; therefore, they are the peoples’ base and are part and parcel of the community at large. Further, they stand side by side with the people and are loyal to the constitution and the constitutional order of the land. They are therefore signs, symbols and reflections of the Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and Peoples.
The Ethiopian Defense and Security Forces have been established on the basis, needs and benefits of the public at large. The Ethiopian Defense and Security Forces believe upon quality, purpose and principle as opposed to quantity or simple numbers. The Ethiopian Defense and Security Forces enjoy the full support and confidence of the public at large because they firmly defend the political power and side with the public at large; therefore, the Ethiopian Defense and Security Forces are very much linked with and respected by the public at large.
It is a big mistake to accuse the Ethiopian Defense and Security Forces of any wrong doing against their own people. Therefore, the accusation in that regard doesn’t hold water at all and it must be put on the back burner once and for all. It is simply a propaganda accusation by few toxic Diasporas that do not represent the Ethiopian Diasporas at all. In the same way the disturbances that occurred during the Oromia Irrecha festival which is a very proud culture and tradition of the Oromo People has been orchestrated by few foreign funded terrorists. Thanks to the patience and maturity of our security and police forces, the terrorist attack was repealed without any bullet fired by the security forces.
Unfortunately, few people lost their lives and few were hurt because of the massive pushing and pulling of people trying to escape from the festival. This rich Oromia tradition has been going on for generations with the exception of some interruption during the former regimes especially during the Derg regime. However even then, the Oromia people kept this noble tradition and were able to preserve and pass this enriched and noble tradition to the next generation with dignity and pride. Irrecha means peace, Irrecha means tolerance, Irrecha means sharing and caring and Irrecha means hosting and providing assistance, providing the right direction and providing food, shelter etc. to everyone that shares this rich and noble tradition and there can be nothing better than helping and caring than being peaceful with one self and with others.
Therefore this envied and enriched tradition must continue with no interruption what so ever and must pass from generation to generation with dignity and respect because it benefits the society at large. However, recently few foreign aided and funded individuals and groups tried to divert this rich tradition into violence and anarchy in order to fulfill the sinister agenda of the enemies of Ethiopia and in order to spoil the good image of the nation. It should be noted however that our security forces reacted intelligently and were able to save so many lives and no bullet was fired against those violence instigators. Those who started the violence were tried and later released from detention as opposed to the accusation by the HR128 against Ethiopia.
BY YOHANNES GEBRESELLASE (PhD)
When some people have continued to express delight over the US congress endorsement of HR 128, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa has reaffirmed the government’s stance to further uphold the current robust relations chilling the sentiments.
According to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, the U.S government looks forward to renewing and strengthening cooperation with Ethiopia in areas of shared interest. Ethiopia’s current commitment to advance democracy and human rights laws as provided in the Constitution is commendable, said officials from the Ethiopian government.
It is to be recalled that the US congress had passed the Ethiopian Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 (HR 2003). But the bill failed to be endorsed by the senate and the two countries underwent an ever growing level of bilateral ties since then.
Recently too, Following the declaration of a non-binding resolution recently passed by the US Congress, several opinions have also been released from various segments of the society and the Ethiopian government. In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald the US Embassy in Addis Ababa states that the United States values Ethiopia as a steadfast friend and partner, signalling that the resolution has not yet become a document that affects the strong relations between the two nations.
“We look forward to renewing and strengthening our cooperation in areas of shared interest. We believe that our continued partnership is in the interest of both our countries as we support the aspirations of all Ethiopians to build a brighter future.”
“We have long engaged with Ethiopia on ways to promote democratic values and greater inclusivity. In his inaugural speech, Prime Minister Abiy expresses his intent to address these same priorities.” Thus, the Resolution calls for Ethiopian government to take commitment to Human Rights, Democracy, and Rule of Law.
The Embassy noted that some promising recent steps such as the release of several prisoners, including journalists, and the restoration of mobile internet access throughout the country. “We look forward to working with Dr. Abiy Ahmed to support further steps in this direction,” It stressed.
The Two countries have been so far collaborating on counterterrorism efforts, peacekeeping, and economic growth. Hence, to make the partnerships more effective, peace and stability is crucial. It is more hopeful following the appointment of a new Prime Minister.
As Ethiopia is now on the right track in implementing key reforms, the future Ethio-US cooperation would further flourish that could help to install their transparent benchmarks in strengthening people to people ties.
In this regard, the Ethiopian government formally reacted to the issue pronouncing as the adoption of H.R 128 do not consider the country’s current political reform. The Government of Ethiopia has already remained committed to its citizens in promoting accountability, justice, freedom, and the rule of law.
It has been exerting relentless efforts to address public demands and step up the protection and promotion of human rights and advance good governance as these are pillars to the democratization of the nation.
Spokesperson to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Meles Alem told The Ethiopian Herald Wednesday, the Resolution is untimely and counterproductive that stands against the important partnership between the U.S. and Ethiopia.
According to the Spokesperson, the country has now moved to concrete and positive steps being taken recently in the area of political reforms and deepening the democratic culture in the country.
Following the launch of a new political dynamics, the Ethiopian government is functioning right at increasing transparency and widening the country’s democratic space.
Thus, the House need not to ignore the positive strides of the country and the implementation of substantive reforms such as releasing unfairly imprisoned politicians and journalists, and opening dialogue with opposition political parties, youth, women and civil society organizations.
Meles said that the two countries have led inexorable and well-regarded sound bilateral relationship for several years. So, the HR-128 will not put up negative impact on the two nations’ socio-economic ties.
As per the Spokesperson, the Ethiopian government respects the sovereignty of the country and welcomes constructive suggestions helpful to move onto good steps.
“The Resolution of HR-128 does not stand for the government of the United States of America (USA), as it is the collection of several big institutions like that of State Department, the Executive Branch, Senate and the like. Moreover, its international relations are conducted through State Department.”
On the other hand, Minister of the Federal Communication Affairs Dr. Negeri Lencho stated that good governance problems can be solely solved through the measures and collaborations of the people and government of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government believes that the Resolution would not throw big impact in this country as its duties and responsibilities are subjected to the people of Ethiopia.
Some arguments are spreading among the people saying that the resolution has a huge impact on the government of Ethiopia, but this has no grounds other than disturbing the peaceful situations in this country. The relations between the two countries will further continue and flourish in various aspects, Dr. Negeri noted.
Certainly, the government of Ethiopia appreciates those Members of Congress, Senate and Executive branch for evaluating the facts on the ground as well as weighing the importance of the bilateral relationship, worked against this biased resolution.
The Ethiopian government has now been underway in finding out sustainable solutions to internal problems that properly address the situation on the ground.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
Following the recent statement made by a museum administrator in England that Ethiopia would be allowed to borrow its looted heritages of Mekdela, in short or long terms to display them on exhibitions, concerns of heritage restitution have been posed.
The Ethiopian Heritage Studies and Protection Authority says that even if the idea might have some positive aspects, Ethiopia would not accept such an offer for the fact that there are reasonable approaches to restitute the heritages.
Desalegn Abebaw Cultural Heritage Inventory, Inspection and Standardization Director at the Authority told The Ethiopian Herald that borrowing ones own heritages and returning them where they never belong is giving legal recognition for those, who have no right, to claim ownership.
Even though the challenges are tough, the Authority in collaboration with different institutions and individuals is exerting its level best effort to restitute heritages that are not only taken from Mekdela but also others looted in different times and situations, notes Desalegn.
As a result, several heritages have been restituted though still more remain in the hands of individuals and national museums and libraries of western countries.
The restitution process is taking too long for various reasons. Tesfaye Arrage Senior Cultural Heritage Researcher says that even if countries have agreed and signed conventions for the return of illegally possessed heritages to the rightful nations, they still bring different cases to prevent the effort.
There are also two contradictory ideas that have been entertained by scholars of the global community and the first one has been posing challenges on the efforts of heritage restitution.
This idea reflects that no matter how heritages are moved out of their origin, they are common values of all human kind. As a result, they have to be kept and protected where ever they were taken, illegally, and there is no reason that countries of origin should claim their return. This could be the result of the ideology of cultural internationalism, according to him. On the contrary others argue that heritages are not only materials but also cultural, spiritual and historical values that have strong bondage with the societies they originated from. When a heritage is kept in a society that does not have any cultural, spiritual attachment with it or that does not honor its original cultural, spiritual and historical values, it will have no meaning beyond a material. Therefore, they stress that such heritages must be returned to the rightful societies.
“The second idea is getting more acceptance and having more weight than the first one these days,” says Tesfaye.
However, some countries incline not return heritages they have possessed illegally due to some irrational reasons which they put as being considerate about the heritages’ wellbeing. “They tell us that they couldn’t give back our heritages for we do not have organized facilities to keep and protect the heritages as they do. But most of the countries, which their heritages have been looted including Ethiopia, argue that they are the origins of the heritages and there is no one that would care and protect them more than they do,” notes Tesfaye.
On the other hand, the International Conventions, that have been made so far, lack strict rules that would oblige the countries to return heritages which they illegally possessed and do not belong to themselves for the rightful ones.
As a result, countries like Ethiopia have left no choice but to bring back their own heritages either by purchasing them, through diplomacy or international courts or even by receiving them as gifts from these countries and their citizens possessing them.
Meanwhile, one of the factors that posed challenges on the effort towards the restitution of Mekdela and other heritages is related to the sophisticated international conventions. Despite the fact that the Conventions affirm the return of looted heritages during wars, lack of awareness and organized information to trace gifted heritages from the stolen ones has allowed the possessing countries to illegally keep the heritages in their hands.
Therefore, the task still needs all-inclusive and integrated diplomatic, public and religious institutions’ as well as individual efforts. “We need to organize ourselves with the new global thoughts and ideologies in order to have our heritages back,” notes Tesfaye.
Y HENOK TIBEBU
ADDIS ABABA- 150th anniversary of Emperor Tewodros is being celebrated with different occasions beginning from 11th April 2018.
Marishet Girmay Head of History and Heritage Administration Department at Gondar University told The Ethiopian Herald the anniversary is celebrated with the theme “Mekdela at 150, Emperor Tewodros King of Kings of Ethiopia”.
“The celebration has aimed at handing over the Emperor’s vision and values of his sacrifice for technologically advanced and united Ethiopia to the current generation,” noted Marishet.
It has also an objective of intensifying the efforts for the restitution of heritages looted from Mekdela by General Napier’s army during the war between Britain and Ethiopia, including the remains of Prince Alemayehu, Son of the Emperor. Thus strengthening the Mekdela Heritage Restitution Committee would be part of the tasks while celebrating the anniversary.
He also noted that the Foundation of Emperor Tewodros would be laid at Mekdela where he fought the final battle and sacrificed himself not to surrender for the invading force.
Meanwhile the foundation is in commemoration of Tewodros’s aspiration for technology and aims at providing scholarships for youths with technological interests but who have been limited because of financial problems, said Marishet.
Several academic, cultural and tourism activities have been taking place before the official launch of the celebration. Historical researches were presented, artistic works performed and voyages have been made across the places where the emperor’s life began and ended.
A beauty contest was also part of the activities that has been undertaken to remember that the first beauty contest took place during the Emperor’s regime.
BY HENOK TIBEBU
A portrait of Ethiopian warriors pulling Sevastopol(the first cannon made in Ethiopia) towards Mekdela hills