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Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopia’

O Mighty Cross

Posted by addisethiopia on March 19, 2010

The Ethiopian Cross, like the one in the picture, usually has an elaborate design, baroque style or filigree, reflecting the richness of the hearts of people in the Ethiopian Church.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church celebrates the appearance of the Glorious Life-Giving Cross of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ twice during the Liturgical year. The First celebration is held on the Seventeenth day of Meskerem (Ethiopian calendar) Twenty-seven day of September (Western calendar). The Second celebration of the Glorious Life-Giving Cross is celebrated on the Tenth day of Megabit, the Nineteenth of March.

The First and “Major” celebration celebrates the Finding of the Holy Cross by St. Helen, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine. St. Helen having been a Christian for most of her life (long before her son accepted the Faith) had made a vow to go to Jerusalem. After her son became Emperor and put an end to the persecution against Christians (the Edict of Milan 312 A.D.) he arranged for his mother to fulfill her desire to visit the Holy Land.

When St. Helen arrived in Jerusalem with her traveling companions and a company of soldiers, she inquired about the “Holy Places” of Our Lord’s Passion and Death, particularly the place of His Crucifixion. After a long search she found the place where The Cross of The Lord had been buried by the Jews. She ordered them to clear out the site of Golgotha where they found three Crosses and that was in the year 326 A.D. However, they did not know which of the three Crosses found was that upon which Our Lord Christ was crucified.

It happened at that time that there was a funeral procession passing the site at which these three Crosses where found. St. Helen had the funeral procession stopped. They lay upon the deceased man one of the Crosses and then the other but he did not rise up but when they laid the third Cross upon him he rose up immediately. They realized that this was “The Cross” of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Empress and all the believers kneeled down before The Holy Cross; after the Empress sent a piece of the True Cross and the nails which pierced Our Lord’s hands and feet to her son The Emperor, at Constantinople.

The Second celebration (which is celebrated today – Megabit 10 – March 19) commemorates the recovery of the Holy Cross by the Christian Roman Emperor Heraclius in 627 A.D.

The Persian Empire had long been at war with the Roman Empire. At that time another decisive battle occurred at which the Persians were defeated by the Roman Emperor Heraclius. As these defeated Persian’s retreated from Egypt to their country, they passed through Jerusalem. A Persian Prince entered the Church of the Holy Cross, which had been built by Empress St. Helen. He saw a great light shinning from a piece of wood located on a place decorated with gold. He thrust his hand to it and there went forth from it fire which burned his fingers. The Christians told him that this is the base of the Holy Cross and they told him how it was discovered and no one was able to touch it except a Christian. This Persian Prince deceived the two Deacons who were standing to guard it and gave them much money so they would carry this piece and go with it with him to his country. They took it and put it in a box and went with him to his country along with those whom he too as captives from the city of Jerusalem.

When Emperor Heraclius heard that, he went with his army to Persia, fought with them and slew many of them. He traveled about this country searching for this piece of The Holy Cross but he could not find it, for the Persian Prince had dug a hole in his garden and ordered the two Deacons to put the box in it and buried it and then he killed them.

One of the captives of that Persian Prince, which was the daughter of one of the Deacons, was looking out of the window by chance and saw what happened. She went to the Emperor and told him what she saw. He went with the Bishops, Priests, Deacons and the Soldiers. They dug there and found the box, which they removed from the hole. Upon opening it, the piece of the True Cross shone – this was in 628 A.D.

The Emperor provided costly silks and cloth of gold and a chest made from gold encrusted with gem stones. The Bishops wrapped this piece of The True Cross in these costly silks and cloth of gold fabrics and placed into the Gold gem encrusted Reliquary. The Emperor then took it back to the city of Constantinople where it was placed in the Basilica of The Holy Cross.

Note: No wonder Muslim raiders from the Arab peninsula defeated Persians in 632 A.D — four years after the true Cross was rescued from Persia. This particular event probably paved the way for the Islamic conquest of the once great Persia.



Posted in Ethiopia, Faith | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pilot Error, Not The Cause For Ethiopian Plane Crash

Posted by addisethiopia on March 2, 2010

It was unlikely that pilot error was the single cause of the incident, Canadian aviation expert Max Vermij told reporters Monday in a news conference with US legal firm Ribbeck Law.

The loss of control in flight is nearly always initiated by a mechanical failure of the aircraft … pilot error is not the primary cause in those kind of crashes. This crash is a loss of control in flight,” said Vermij, who has over 30 years experience in investigating air disasters.

He added that the evidence so far obtained on the flight was “not in line with any type of pilot error that I have experienced.”

Continue reading…

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted by addisethiopia on February 15, 2010

This Sunday, the Seventh of Yekatit, on the Western calendar the Fourteenth of February, thousands upon thousands, maybe millions upon millions of people around the world will exchange “Valentine Day” cards, flowers, box candy etc., as an expression of love. While the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church does not “Commemorate” St. Valentine tomorrow, we here at the Monastery thought it might be good to share with the readers of the Monastery Webpage the facts concern the “Man behind the Day.”

Firstly, there was a man, a Priest in fact, named Abba Valentine. He served the Church in Rome during the middle to last Third Century. He was an Orthodox Tewahedo Christian. He is noted for helping those imprisoned and facing martyrdom; he would bring them the Holy Mysteries – The Sacraments, Read the Sacred Scriptures – Gospels to those imprisoned and comfort those who were soon to be martyred for their faith in Christ Jesus. Eventually Abba Valentine was apprehended and sent by the Roman Emperor Claudius II to the Prefect of the City of Rome, who tried by making Father Valentine renounce his faith in Christ Jesus with many promises. Abba Valentine refused to renounce his faith in Christ and was beaten with clubs as his punishment for “refusing” the Emperors wishes. Continuing to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world, the Emperor had Abba Valentine beheaded. He received the “Crown of Martyrdom” on February 14, about the year 270 A.D. Archaeologists working in ancient Rome unearthed a Catacomb and an ancient Church dedicated to Abba Saint Valentine. This Church was originally built by the Archbishop of Rome, Julius I.

So while the majority of our secular society will be exchanging their cards, flowers, box candy, etc, it only right and proper that we remember the “Man behind the Day” and more importantly the conviction of his Faith in Jesus Christ the Lord! May God grant to each of us that strong faith and may Abba Saint Valentine intercede us all too the Lord.

Source: Nine Saints Ethiopian Orthodox Monastery


Posted in Love | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ethiopian Airlines Conspiracy

Posted by addisethiopia on February 10, 2010

Feb 10, 2010 (AFP) – AN ETHIOPIAN jet which crashed off Lebanon’s coast last month exploded after take-off, Lebanon’s health minister said on Tuesday in the first such official comment since the mysterious crash.

Remarks by Jawad Khalifeh could not be immediately confirmed by other officials in Beirut and came as Ethiopian Airlines said one of the plane’s black boxes has been sent to France for analysis.

‘The plane exploded during flight and the cabin, as well as the bodies of those on board were dispersed into the sea, in different locations,’ Mr Khalifeh said to explain why some corpses were found dismembered. ‘The first bodies which have been retrieved following the crash were intact but after that, we began to find body pieces or mutilated corpses,’ he told reporters.

Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi refused to comment on the reported explosion. ‘I have no information about this,’ he told AFP.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 plunged into the Mediterranean before dawn on Jan 25, just minutes after take-off from Beirut airport during a storm. It was bound for Addis Ababa with 83 passengers and seven crew on board. No survivors were found and searchers have been struggling to recover bodies as most victims were believed to be still strapped to their seats.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether the jet exploded while airborne or after it hit the water, and officials have said there will be no answers until the data from the black boxes is analyzed.

መጨረሻ በጸሎት እናሸንፋለን

የዚህ አውሮፕላን አሳዛኝ የሆነ አደጋ በጠላቶች እጅ የተፈጸመ እንደሆነ የብዙዎች ኢትዮጵያውያን ልብ ያውቀዋል። የኢትዮጵያ ጠላቶች ያገሪቷን አዲስ ዓመት ጠብቀው በኒውዮርክ ላይ መስከረም 1 ቀን ጥቃት ለማካሄድ በቅተዋል። ይህም ለኢትዮጵያውያን ሁሉ ድብቅ የሆነ መልዕት ያለው ምልክት ሊሆነን ችሏል። አሁን ደግሞ በኛው ዓየር መንገድ ላይና በእህቶቻችን ላይ የተካሄደው አረመኔያዊ ተግባር ሌላ ተጨማሪ ምልክት ነው። ይህም ድርጊት የተከሰተው የዘመኑ ኢትዮጵያውያን ጾመ ኢትዮጵያብለው በመሰየም ለአገራቸውና ለህዝባቸው ጾምንና ጸሎትን በሚያደርሱበት በ ነነዌጾም በጥር 17 ዕለት ነበር።

ኢትዮጵያ አገራችን አደጋ ላይ ናት! ኢትዮጵያን የሚተናኮሉ ኅይሎች አገሪቷንና ሕዝቧን ከባዋል። በቅርቡ፡ ወይ ከጎሳ ጋር ወይም ከአክራሪ እስላሞች ጋር የተያያዘ ጥቃት በቅርቡ በአገራችን ላይ የሚደርስ መስሎ ይሰማኛል፡ ምናልባት ታይቶ ወይም ተሰምቶ የማይታወቅ፡ የዓለምን ሁሉ አትኩሮት የሚስብ ነገር በአገራችን ይከሰታል የሚል ፍራቻ አለኝ። ለአገራችን፡ ለወገናችን፡ ለቤተሰቦቻችንና ለምንወዳቸው ሁሉ የጠለቀና ጥብቅ የሆነ ጸሎት የምናደርግበት ወቅት አሁን መሆኑን መንፈሥ ቅዱስ ይነግረኛል።

እግዚአብሔር አምላካችን ከኛ ጋር ይሁን

ትንቢተ ኢሳይያስ ምዕራፍ 18

1፤ በኢትዮጵያ ወንዞች ማዶ ላለች፥ ክንፍ ያላቸው መርከቦች ላሉባት፥

2፤ መልእክተኞችን በባሕር ላይ የደንገል መርከቦችንም በውኃ ላይ ለምትልክ ምድር ወዮላት! እናንተ ፈጣኖች መልእክተኞች ሆይ፥ ወደ ረጅምና ወደ ለስላሳ ሕዝብ፥ ከመጀመሪያው አስደንጋጭ ወደ ሆነ ወገን፥ ወደሚሰፍርና ወደሚረግጥ፥ ወንዞችም ምድራቸውን ወደሚከፍሉት ሕዝብ ሂዱ።

3፤ በዓለም የምትኖሩ ሁሉና በምድር የምትቀመጡ ሆይ፥ ምልክት በተራሮች ላይ በተነሣ ጊዜ እዩ፤ መለከትም በተነፋ ጊዜ ስሙ።

4፤ እግዚአብሔር። በፀሐይ ጮራ እንደ ደረቅ ትኩሳት፥ በአጨዳም ወራት እንደ ጠል ደመና ሆኜ በማደሪያዬ በጸጥታ ተቀምጬ እመለከታለሁ ብሎኛልና።

5፤ እርሱ ከመከር በፊት አበባ በረገፈ ጊዜ የወይንም ፍሬ ጨርቋ ሲይዝ የወይኑን ዘንግ በማጭድ ይቆርጣል፥ ጫፎቹንም ይመለምላል ያስወግድማል።

6፤ በተራራ ላይ ላሉ ነጣቂዎች ወፎች፥ ለምድርም አውሬዎች በአንድነት ይቀራሉ፤ ነጣቂዎችም ወፎች ይባጁባቸዋል፥ የምድርም አውሬዎች ሁሉ ይከርሙባቸዋል።

7፤ በዚያን ዘመን ለሠራዊት ጌታ ለእግዚአብሔር፥ ከረጅምና ከለስላሳ ሕዝብ፥ ከመጀመሪያው አስደንጋጭ ከሆነ ወገን፥ ከሚሰፍርና ከሚረግጥ፥ ወንዞችም ምድራቸውን ከሚከፍሉት ሕዝብ ዘንድ እጅ መንሻ የሠራዊት ጌታ የእግዚአብሔር ስም ወደሚገኝበት ስፍራ ወደ ጽዮን ተራራ ይቀርባል።


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Charles Darwin Was an Ethiopian

Posted by addisethiopia on February 5, 2010

I thought I’ve seen Darwin somewhere near Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Well, “Lucy” could recognize her children very easily, and she won’t be quite amused by Charlie. And Prester John, he could probably give Darwin a lesson or two about the origin of Adam and Eve.

Genographic Project’s DNA Test Reveals Charles Darwin’s Ancestors’ Migratory Journey; Gives Insight into Deep Ancestry of Scientist Who Developed Theory of Natural Selection

It is something that Charles Darwin himself may never have imagined. The man who penned “On the Origin of Species”, the seminal work that hypothesized that all humans evolved from common ancestors, could now discover his own “human deep ancestry.”

Today, 200 years after his birth, DNA technology has helped determine who Darwin’s ancient ancestors were. Darwin’s great-great-grandson, Chris Darwin, 48, who lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, took a Genographic Project public participation cheek swab test analyzing his “Y” chromosome. According to Dr. Spencer Wells, project director of the Genographic Project, a research partnership between National Geographic and IBM with field support from the Waitt Family Foundation, Darwin’s deep ancestry shows his ancestors left Africa around 45,000 years ago.

I couldn’t wait to find out my family’s deep ancestry. I suspect that most people would be fascinated to know their family history over the past 60,000 years. After all, how can you understand who you really are, if you don’t know where you have come from?,” Chris Darwin said.

The test revealed that Chris Darwin, and therefore his paternal great-great-grandfather, Charles Darwin, are from Haplogroup R1b, one of the most common European male lineages. “Approximately 70 percent of men in southern England belong to Haplogroup R1b, and in parts of Ireland and Spain that number exceeds 90 percent,” Wells said.

The Genographic Project’s test results show that Darwin’s paternal ancestors would have migrated out of northeast Africa to the Middle East or North Africa around 45,000 years ago. Diverging from this Middle Eastern clan, a new lineage emerged in a man around 40,000 years ago in Iran or southern Central Asia. Before heading west towards Europe, the next mutation, which defined a new lineage, appeared in a man around 35,000 years ago. Men belonging to Haplogroup R1b are direct descendants of the Cro-Magnon people who, beginning 30,000 years ago, dominated the human expansion into Europe and heralded the demise of the Neanderthal species.

Continue reading…


Posted in Ethiopia, Ethnicity, Genetics & Anthropology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Plane Black Box Ain’t Black!

Posted by addisethiopia on January 31, 2010

With any airplane crash, there are many unanswered questions as to what brought the plane down. Investigators turn to the airplane’s flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR), also known as “black boxes,” for answers. In Flight 261, the FDR contained 48 parameters of flight data, and the CVR recorded a little more than 30 minutes of conversation and other audible cockpit noises.

A flight data recorder (FDR) (also ADR, for accident data recorder) is a kind of flight recorder. It is a device used to record specific aircraft performance parameters. Another kind of flight recorder is the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), which records conversation in the cockpit, radio communications between the cockpit crew and others (including conversation with air traffic control personnel), as well as ambient sounds. In some cases, both functions have been combined into a single unit.

Popularly referred to as a “black box,” the data recorded by the FDR is used for accident investigation, as well as for analyzing air safety issues, material degradation and engine performance. Due to their importance in investigating accidents, these ICAO-regulated devices are carefully engineered and stoutly constructed to withstand the force of a high speed impact and the heat of an intense fire. Contrary to the “black box” reference, the exterior of the FDR is coated with heat-resistant bright orange paint for high visibility in wreckage, and the unit is usually mounted in the aircraft’s empennage (tail section), where it is more likely to survive a severe crash. Following an accident, recovery of the “black boxes” is second in importance only to the rescue of survivors and recovery of human remains.

Although many of the black boxes in use today use magnetic tape, which was first introduced in the 1960s, airlines are moving to solid-state memory boards, which came along in the 1990s. Magnetic tape works like any tape recorder. The Mylar tape is pulled across an electromagnetic head, which leaves a bit of data on the tape.

Solid-state recorders are considered much more reliable than their magnetic-tape counterparts. Data from both the CVR and FDR is stored on stacked memory boards inside the crash-survivable memory unit (CSMU). In recorders made by L-3 Communications, the CSMU is a cylindrical compartment on the recorder. The stacked memory boards are about 1.75 inches (4.45 cm) in diameter and 1 inch (2.54 cm) tall.

The memory boards have enough digital storage space to accommodate two hours of audio data for CVRs and 25 hours of flight data for FDRs.

Airplanes are equipped with sensors that gather data. There are sensors that detect acceleration, airspeed, altitude, flap settings, outside temperature, cabin temperature and pressure, engine performance and more. Magnetic-tape recorders can track about 100 parameters, while solid-state recorders can track more than 700 in larger aircraft.

All of the data collected by the airplane’s sensors is sent to the flight-data acquisition unit (FDAU) at the front of the aircraft. This device often is found in the electronic equipment bay under the cockpit. The flight-data acquisition unit is the middle manager of the entire data-recording process. It takes the information from the sensors and sends it on to the black boxes.

Any sounds in the cockpit are picked up by these microphones and sent to the CVR, where the recordings are digitized and stored. There is also another device in the cockpit, called the associated control unit, that provides pre-amplification for audio going to the CVR. Here are the positions of the four microphones:

  • Pilot’s headset

  • Co-pilot’s headset

  • Headset of a third crew member (if there is a third crew member)

  • Near the center of the cockpit, where it can pick up audio alerts and other sounds

Most magnetic-tape CVRs store the last 30 minutes of sound. They use a continuous loop of tape that completes a cycle every 30 minutes. As new material is recorded, the oldest material is replaced. CVRs that used solid-state storage can record two hours of audio. Similar to the magnetic-tape recorders, solid-state recorders also record over old material.

Further interesting readings…

Ethiopian Airlines Plane crash ‘similar’ to Earlier Disaster

Say, British investigators

British aviation lawyers have launched their own investigation into last week’s Ethiopian airliner crash and are examining similarities with another air disaster less than three years ago.

Ethiopian Airlines’ flight 409 caught fire five minutes after take-off from Beirut on Monday and plummeted into the Mediterranean two miles off the Lebanese coast, killing all 89 passengers and crew, including two Britons.

The plane crashed in similar circumstances to a Kenya Airways plane that came down in Cameroon in May 2007 killing all 114 people on board.

Continue reading…


Posted in Ethiopia | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Father of Ethiopian Plane Crash Victim Dies of Grief

Posted by addisethiopia on January 31, 2010

This is a very saddening and distressing situation!

The grieving father of Albert Assal, one of the Ethiopian plane crash victims whose body hasn’t been found yet, died from a heart attack on Friday. Jirji Assal was admitted to Bitar hospital in Batroun after suffering a heart attack. However, he later died. Meanwhile, the bodies of Ali Ahmed Jaber and Anna Abes, two victims of Monday’s jet crash, were handed over to their families for burial on Friday. Jaber, 40, will be buried in Nabatiyeh at 2:00pm while Abes, 37, will be laid to rest at her hometown of Tripoli’s Mina district. The body of a child, Mohammed Kreik remains at hospital because his family is awaiting for news on his father, Hassan Kreik, who was aboard the plane and is still missing. Also five bodies of Ethiopians remain at the hospital morgue. Lebanese officials plan to send a team to Ethiopia to take DNA samples of victims’ families there. Four people, including a child, were buried on Thursday. The fate of the remaining passengers remains unknown.

Source: Lebanon News


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Ethiopian, Lebanese community Relations Sour after Crash

Posted by addisethiopia on January 29, 2010

After Lebanon’s Transport and Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi suggested Tuesday pilot error could have caused the crash, several Lebanese media outlets carried stories inferring Ethiopia was to blame.

The aviation discipline is such that when there is an accident, you don’t rush to conclusions, you have to wait for the investigation to be completed,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Girma Wake told reporters on Tuesday following Aridi’s comments. “Rushing remarks, I don’t think … helps anybody.”

Message boards on Lebanese and Ethiopian websites have seen a flurry of activity, with tersely-worded accusations being hurled on either side. One commentator on the Al-Arabiya website said they believed “the Lebanese government is looking for a scapegoat” to cover up for poor airport safety.

On Monday night a regional broadcaster conducted a live interview outside the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, where bodies of the passengers are being taken. A bereaved Ethiopian who accidently walked into shot was quickly dragged out of view by the television crew.

At the hospital grounds Thursday, a group of Ethiopian women gathered to wait for news of their friends. They initially said they had been treated well by the Lebanese following the plane crash but later said they were being ignored. “There are too many problems here,” said one woman who wished to be identified as Kelile. “Many of our friends aren’t being allowed to come to the hospital. The employer of one of our friends didn’t even tell her that her sister had been onboard.”

There are around 20,000 Ethiopian migrant workers in Lebanon, mostly women who work as live-in house-keepers or nannies. According to many of those gathered outside the hospital, many of those who perished on Monday were workers who were returning home after finishing their contracts in Lebanon. Others were escaping abusive employers. “The friend I had on the plane was just released from prison,” one woman told The Daily Star, declining to identify herself or her friend. Her friend spent nine months in prison because her papers were not in order.

Pathologist Ahmad al-Muqdad told OTV the Lebanese would accept DNA samples from the Ethiopian Consulate in Beirut to help identify Ethiopian victims on board, but did not say whether genetic data would be sent to Ethiopia.

I had friends on the plane,” said Ethiopian freelance worker Desta (not her real name). “They worked hard in Lebanon and some weren’t treated well by their employers. It makes me so sad to think how much they suffered here and then, on their way home, to have this happen.”

Desta said she’d heard from other members of her community that relatives of Ethiopian passengers were put in a separate waiting room at Beirut’s international airport following the crash. “It’s as if we’ll contaminate them [the Lebanese],” she said. “But everyone is suffering. Don’t the Ethiopian families deserve respect too?”

Source: Daily Star – Lebanon


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What Caused the Ethiopian Boeing 737 to Crash?

Posted by addisethiopia on January 27, 2010

There are still no answers as to what caused an Ethiopian Airlines jet to crash into the Mediterranean just off the coast of Lebanon early this morning, killing 90 people.

The Boeing 737 passenger jet took off in bad weather from the airport in Beirut heading for Addis Abeba in Ethiopia.

The jet went up in flames shortly after take-off and plunged into the sea with 90 people on board.

The plane crashed only four minutes after starting out on its journey at 2.30 am local time (1.30 am Central European Time).

Eyewitnesses reported hearing a loud noise and seeing a ball of fire in the sky. Then the Boeing 737 crashed into the middle of the sea.

A police spokesman ruled out a terror attack as the cause of the accident.

A spokesman for the airport said that the plane was clearly hit by lightning. “The weather really was very bad”, confirmed the transport minister Ghazi al-Aridi.

But German Aerospace Centre spokesman, Andreas Schuetz, said: “It is still much too early – it is nearly impossible to name the exact reason or to rule out something just a few hours after such an event”.

Lightning alone can not cause a plane to crash” said Schuetz, “it can only be a part of various other circumstances”

Source: Bild-Germany


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China Invests in Ethiopia — at What Cost?

Posted by addisethiopia on January 27, 2010

China’s minister for commerce says trade with Ethiopia will reach $3 billion by 2015

ASK AN Addis Ababa taxi driver to take you to Ethio-China Friendship Road and he might just scratch his head.

The renaming of Wollo Sefer, one of the Ethiopian capital’s main thoroughfares, in tribute to the country’s burgeoning ties with Beijing might be obvious from the new street signs but it has yet to filter down to everyday use.

The road is not the only marker of China’s growing engagement with Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa’s ultramodern airport was built by the Chinese, as was the city’s ring road and flyover.

An extensive renovation of the African Union headquarters in downtown Addis is being financed by the Chinese to the tune of more than $100 million (€71 million).

Across the city, a Chinese government-built school, designed to cater for up to 3,000 students, offers Mandarin classes as part of its curriculum.

Scores of Ethiopians have been given scholarships to study subjects including engineering and architecture in China.

The Chinese restaurants and clinics advertising acupuncture and traditional herbal remedies that have become part of the landscape in almost every African city in recent years are here too. According to local media, some 1,000 Chinese companies operate in Ethiopia.

Besuited Chinese businessmen can be seen discussing deals in Addis hotel lobbies, while engineers and others fresh from working on road and telecommunications projects or building power stations and water supply systems haggle for souvenirs in the city’s sprawling Merkato before flying home to Beijing.

In some Ethiopian towns and villages, it is not uncommon for foreigners to find themselves being greeted by children yelling “China, China”.

Earlier this month Chen Deming, China’s minister for commerce, was in town predicting that trade volume between the two countries will reach $3 billion by 2015. Chinese investment in Ethiopia amounted to just under $1 billion last year, and there is much talk of future investment in agricultural projects.

China and Ethiopia have been mutually supportive on the political front and closely co-operating on the economic front,” Chen said, going on to use the stock expression Chinese officials trot out when discussing relations with African states: “It is fair to regard the Sino-Ethiopian friendship as an all-weather one.”

China’s new engagement with Africa has played out very differently across the continent, helping revitalise moribund economies in some countries, while breeding resentment elsewhere due to support for unsavoury regimes, poor work practices and threatened local industries.

There have been a few cautionary tales for the Chinese along the way. In 2007, for example, nine Chinese oil workers were killed and seven briefly kidnapped in the restive Ogaden area of eastern Ethiopia.

Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi says African states must be prudent in setting the parameters of the relationship.

The Chinese interest in Ethiopia has been nothing short of a godsend,” he tells The Irish Times.

We have benefited massively from it, but like everything else it is capable of becoming a nightmare . . . It is up to the host countries as to how they use the available resources from the Chinese in the best possible manner. Those who do will benefit, those who don’t may not benefit as perhaps they ought to.”

China’s assistance in building infrastructure and its investment in manufacturing has been invaluable for Ethiopia, Meles says.

We need investment from any quarter we can get it. The Chinese have been more aggressive in investing in Ethiopia than many others and our hope is that Chinese investment will entice not only additional Chinese investment but also investment from other countries.”

But, as in every African country wooing Beijing, there is debate over who stands to gain. A 2008 study by an economist at Addis Ababa University noted that while Ethiopian consumers will benefit from cheap Chinese imports, small local firms, particularly in the clothing and footwear sectors, will lose out.

Opposition figures, like many of their counterparts elsewhere in Africa, mutter darkly about deals agreed behind closed doors, and speculate on the motives of both the government and Beijing.

One told me he suspects that the Meles regime sees China’s overtures as an opportunity to shore up support where it matters on the world stage.

Whatever way the debate shifts, however, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that the Chinese are here to stay.

Source: The Irish Times


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