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  • The Weeknd is helping University of Toronto resurrect a lost Ethiopian language

    University of Toronto launches a course in 2,000-year-old Ge’ez, part of its Ethiopian studies program—aided by a star

    Along with Greek, Hebrew and Arabic, Ethiopia’s Ge’ez is considered one of the world’s oldest Semitic languages—but you’ve probably never heard of it.
    Michael Gervers, a professor in the department of historical and cultural studies at the University of Toronto, believes it’s important to resurrect it. “The entire history of Ethiopia is in this language,” he says. “Everything written up until 1850 was written in Ge’ez, so we have 2,000 years of textual material that people don’t have access to.” It was replaced by Amharic as Ethiopia’s official language.

    In 2015, Gervers started a fund to create an Ethiopian studies program at U of T, setting a goal of $200,000 and donating $50,000 of his own money. The dean’s office matched that donation; and this year, so did Abel Tesfaye—the Toronto-born, Grammy-winning R&B singer professionally known as The Weeknd, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia in the 1980s.

    Tesfaye promoted the cause to his more than four million Twitter followers. “Sharing our brilliant and ancient history of Ethiopia. Proud to support the studies in our homie town through @UofT and @bikilaaward,” he wrote.

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  • 40,000-Year-Old Tools Used By Stone Age Artisans To Create Body Paint Are Found In An Ethiopian Cave

    With its rust and sand-coloured pigments, ochre was used at cave sites for thousands of years to paint pictures of animals and hand prints of our long-gone ancestors.

    Now, the remains of stone tools left by a community of cave dwellers in East Africa 40,000 years suggests they were carefully grinding it to paint themselves are create prehistoric art.

    The findings are shedding new light on Stone Age culture, suggesting that these people may have had far more artisan flare than previously thought.

    Fragments of the tools were found at a cave near the city of Dire Dawa in Ethiopia.

    Researchers at the University of Bordeaux analysed 21 tools taken from Porc Epic cave, a cave system known as an important site for early humans since the discovery of ancient teeth and bones in the 1930s.

    Evidence suggests that early humans concocted a Stone Age super glue from mixing red ochre with the gum of Acacia trees.

    But some groups held that the coloured pigments obtained from grinding were used for more symbolic purposes, such as body painting or creating patterns and designs.

    To dig into the history of the rocks, the team at Bordeaux used X-ray and spectroscopy to scrutinise the ancient stone tools recovered from the site.

    Rather than bashing the coloured stones to pieces, the researchers revealed the groups used a variety of tools were to carefully prepare the pigment.

    By using different tools for different jobs, they would have been able to produce a variety of pigment preparations – from courser grains for mixing as glue, to finer powders used for body paint.

    What’s more, the group also found that one of the stones may have been dipped in ochre ‘paint’ and used as a stamp to decorate soft objects.

    ‘This study analyses the largest collection of such tools, found at [the site], in levels dated around 40,000 years ago,’ said Dr Daniela Rosso, a researcher at Bordeaux and first author of the study, published today in PLoS One.

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  • Press Release: The Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week

    The Hub of Africa Addis Fashion Week with the support of Vogue Talents, is pleased to announce its fifth annual international fashion show to be held at Millennium Hall on the evening of Thursday, October 6, 2016.

    HAFW is once again working with prominent international Designers, Stylists, Hair and Makeup Artists as well as Models from all across the African continent to promote African Fashion on an international stage.

    For a second time, The Hub is working in tandem with several Italian organizations which will be represented on the ground by teams brought in with the considerable support of the Italian Embassy in Addis Ababa, which will host a networking event among the different stakeholders at the Embassy compound, and Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

    Sara Maino Senior Editor Vogue Italia, Head of Vogue Talents (for the second time in Addis Ababa for HAFW)  Simonetta Gianfelici Fashion Consultant and Talent Scout; Serena Tibaldi Fashion Journalist for “Repubblica”; and Ingrid Tamborin Model Scouter for Brave Modelling Management in Milan will attend all HAFW 2016 events.  During her stay, Sara Maino, together with her colleagues, will direct a talk show for the industries’ stakeholders on “Becoming the next Vogue Talent” at the Millennium hall.

    HAFW 2016 will also provide a platform for ten emerging designers from all across Ethiopia to present their work on the main stage.  The Hub extended invitations to the up and coming designers that would be able to put their work forward on an international stage with the help of stylists and international fashion editors

    Fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry of which Africa only has a minute share. The Hub of Africa seeks to remedy this and has worked conscientiously towards this growth.  Since 2010 its events are one of the most important platforms in developing the African fashion industry for designers, models and all stakeholders. 

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  • Interview: Irreecha is One of the Oromo’s Ancient Ceremonial Events Taking Place Twice a Year

    Last year, during the last week of October, Addis Standard witnessed the gathering of, by state radio and television account, about 4 million Oromos to celebrate Irreecha. Shortly after the celebrations, Addis Standard conducted the following interview with Alemayehu Diro (please see short Bio of our interviewee at the end of the interview), about the relevance of Irreecha for the Oromo nation and Ethiopia at large.

    Addis Standard – If you can please start by telling us about the historical background of Irreecha (Thanksgiving) within the Oromo nation?

    Alemayehu Diro- Irreecha is one of the ancient ceremonial events taking place twice a year ever since the existence of Oromo as a nation. The Irreecha festiv­ity celebrated in Birraa (in September and October) is the cultural expression of Gal­ata (thankfulness) to Waaqaa (equivalent to the English word God) for providing life necessities to human beings and other living things. This is because the Oromo believe Waaqaa is the sole creator of everything and source of all life. It is also regarded as pure, omnipresent, infinite, incomprehensible and intolerant to injus­tice, crime, sin and all falsehood. It can do and undo anything.

    Irreecha constitutes one of the several re­ligious and cultural practices defining the hallmark of the entire Oromo life. It has promoted and enhanced understanding and unity among the Oromo. It has helped build their common values and shared visions, and consolidated peace (Nagaa Oromo), tolerance and resilience. Dur­ing Irreecha festivity, the Oromo pray to Waaqaa for peace and stability to prevail; prosperity and abundance to exist; law and social order to be maintained; and the environment to be protected. The Oromo also pray to the supreme Waaqaa for de­liverance in times of difficulties and chal­lenges.

    This cultural and religious practice of the Oro­mo was systematically outlawed for more than a century following the fall of the Oromo nation under the tyrant and brutal rules of Minilk II and subsequent Regimes. Despite several odds and difficult circum­stances, however, Irreecha has begun to revive in the last two decades. The festivity has registered impressive development from year to year in terms of the number of people attending the occasion and cultural shows being demonstrated. In particular, the Irreecha festivity taking place at Hora Harsadii in Bishoftu has uniquely become Oromo-wide religious and cultural event drawing millions of people from all cor­ners of Oromia and beyond.

    AS – How do you describe the main differ­ences between Irreecha and other tradi­tional or religious festivities celebrated by Ethiopians, such as Meskel, Christmas (Gena), or Easter (Fasika)?

    AD – All religious and cultural festivities prac­ticed by different people have some de­gree of similarities and differences. All such festivities describe worldviews of the respective people practicing them. By a worldview I mean a system of values, attitudes, and beliefs, which provide peo­ple with different mechanisms to understand the world around them. Irreecha, Meskel, Gena and other similar rituals are cere­monies that celebrate or commemorate specific events that have deep religious and cultural significance. Rituals serve to reinforce important religious and cultural beliefs through meaningful activities that bring comfort and unity of the respective followers. I think in this general sense we may talk of similarities of various religious and cultural festivities. However, since our value systems, attitudes and beliefs are different, their reli­gious and cultural ceremonies and practic­es remain different.

    In this regard, Irreecha is different from other festivities such as Meskel and Gena in that it provides the Oromo with mechanisms to understand their worldview. For example, it provides the Oromo in a unique and particular way a system of morality that establishes right from wrong, good and appropriate from bad or inappropriate behavior. The Oromo have complete sense of ownership, full control and leadership over Irreecha as an institu­tion. Some Oromo may attend and ac­company Meskel and Gena festivities but do not have shared objectives and decision-making powers on the institutions. Irree­cha is celebrated in the manner that the Oromo would like it to be. It is an inven­tion of the Oromo whereas Meskel and Gena are not.

    AS – The Oromos’ participation in many spheres that define Ethiopia’s socio-political and socio-cultural landscape has been largely marked by absenteeism, particularly pri­or to the 1991 regime change in Ethiopia. And yet Irreecha has been one of the few festivities that the Oromos were able to preserve. Why do you think was that?

    AD – I do not think the Oromo preferred ab­senteeism to participation. As the sub­ject people, the Oromo were denied the rights and opportunities to be part and parcel of mainstream socio-cultural and political economy of Ethiopia for over a century. Successive Ethiopian Re­gimes have forcefully destroyed the Oromo Gadaa system, robbed of the Oromo land and natural resources, denied them official use of their language (Afaan Oro­mo), prevented them from exercising and developing their culture, and systemati­cally pushed them away from participat­ing in key economic matters. They were officially denied to be called Oromo and were given a derogatory name called Galla. Ethiopia’s successive regimes were nasty and hateful to anything Oromo. In short, the Oromo were reduced to slavery for over a century. Irreecha happens to be one of the Oromos’ religious and cultural rituals abandoned by these ruling regimes.

    But despite the cruelty and enmity, the Oromo paid heavy sacrifices to preserve their language, cul­ture and religious values. At present, at least in theory, the Oromo have repossessed their land and natural resources thanks to the 1974 revolution that led to state ownership of land proc­lamation. Afaan Oromo is the national working language in Oromia. Gadaa, the Oromo traditional democratic system of governance, is reviving. The traditional support systems such as Buusaa Gonofaa are also coming to existence. Irreecha is just one of the major cultural rituals the Oromo were able to preserve overcoming several odds and difficulties. It constitutes one of the vivid cultural renaissances the Oromo have been experiencing since the last few years.

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  • Ethiopians Celebrates Meskel, the Finding of the True Jesus Cross

    Orthodox priests lit a bonfire in the heart of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday evening to mark the eve of Meskel, a festival to mark the finding of the cross of Jesus. Tens of thousands of people, many holding up candles in the failing light as the sun set, crowded on terraces around the square where the ceremony was led by the head of Ethiopia's Christian Orthodox church, Patriarch Abune Mathias.

    Dressed in his golden ceremonial robes, the patriarch delivered blessings to mark what the church believes was the discovery in the fourth century of the cross of Jesus by Queen Helena, the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.

    According to tradition, in 326 AD, Helena had prayed for guidance to find the cross on which Jesus was crucified and was directed by smoke from a burning fire to the location. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians believe she lit torches to celebrate.

    The church tradition also records that the then Patriarch of Alexandria gave Ethiopian Emperor Dawit half of the cross in return for protecting Coptic Christians. A fragment of the cross is believed to be held in Ethiopia's Gishen Mariam monastery, about 100 km ( miles) north of the capital.

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  • The London Artist to Exhibit Ethiopian-inspired collection

    A talented Harrow artist is set to displays her latest works at an Ethiopian-inspired exhibition. Catherine Chambers’ work has been heavily influenced by her experiences in the east African country, and has been getting to know the large Ethiopian community in north London since her return.

     “Since returning, I have made contact with local Ethiopian Londoners who, like the friends I made in Ethiopia, have been extremely kind and have warmly welcomed me into their community, and are helping me continue to learn the national language, Amharic,” she said.

    Her exhibition, entitled “a brother’s progress”, documents one man’s attempt to establish a successful local business. Other themes explore the community in the town of Lalibela and its inhabitants’ interaction with the tourist trade. Catherine’s artworks come in many forms, from portraits and photographs to sketches and stained glass.

    Source: Local London News  


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