Thursday, February 23, 2012

Art and the Artist: Sibhat Gebre-Egziabher


Back in 2010, a friend asked if I would like to contribute a question for his upcoming interview with  Gash Sibhat Gebre-Egziabher. I had tons of questions in mind. But he said 'a question'; so, as gullible as this may sound, I sent in a marriage proposal. Despite knowing he was happily married at the time and was three times older, I figured I would take my chance so that way I can have him around to answer my endless questions. What girl would pass such opportunity, right? 

Rightfully so, he delicately declined my proposal. But he promised that we will make it happen in the next life.  I wasn't disappointed at all. That was my only but most treasured interaction with the legendary author behind some of the great literary works in Ethiopia. Ever since I learnt about his passing early this week,  watching back at that interview has been my comfort. 

The sheer honesty behind his work is unlike anything we have ever experienced in Ethiopian literature. If you ask any Ethiopian (including those who have never read any of his books) to name an author/ poet who tells it like it, I guarantee you the first name (probably the only) they would tell you is Sibhat Gebre-Egziabher. 

Gash Sibhat said what was on his mind and wrote as if he was writing just for himself.  No topic was off-limit . His stories were colored with graphic description and blatant truth. His unapologetic and unrestricted approach to the art garnered him respect and huge fan base. His passing definitely left a huge void in Ethiopian art and literature world. 

Rest in peace, Gash Sibhat and Thank you for staying true to yourself. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Style: SoleRebels by Betelehem Tilahun Alemu


There is something about hand crafted shoes that just makes you feel uber chic. Few months ago, I was introduced to ShoeRebels, a really awesome shoe line by none other than the super talented and multi award recipient Ms. Betelehem Tilahun Alemu. I've been hooked ever since.  All shoes by SoleRebels are handmade in Ethiopia from recycled and eco-friendly materials. 

Workers First soleRebels

The shoes are well crafted and extremely comfortable. They also come in various styles and colors to cater to your liking. Visit  http://www.solerebelsfootwear.co/  to learn more about the founder, the products and the mission of the business. 

While you are there, don't forget to support this incredible line by purchasing a pair. :-)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Social Commentary: The Importance of Having a National Language

A couple of days ago, I had an interesting chitchat with a colleague as of why small countries in Africa have so much conflict whereas this huge continent we call the North America stays relatively peaceful. I haven't done a research on the topic so please don't quote me. This is strictly a personal opinion based on a conversation between two minds who are fascinated by the world and human interactions.

I don't recall how the whole conversation started but somehow ideas were bouncing back and forth and somewhere in there felt like we came across the core reason behind conflicts around the world. And that would be, ladies and gentleman....*drum roll* ....lack of communication. Now that we know the issue, UN and AU officials can take a vacation :-) I know some of you are going.. 'duuuuhhhhh'... pretty obvious.

 Think about it, what was one trick God used when He wasn't too pleased with Babylonians building the tower of Babel? He confused their language so they couldn't function together. And what do two year olds who, by the way, know exactly what they want to say but don't know the words to express it do? Scream, bite and cry :-(

There are over 90 different languages ( not dialects... LANGUAGES) in Ethiopia and at the moment no national language. Every region has its own official working language. You must get your documents translated to the region's official language if you want something done in that region's branch office. Don't get me wrong. I am all for a cultural development and preservation. But how can one work together if we can't even understand each other? Can we be a little realistic here? It is clear that the more barrier we create, the more drifted apart we become. Egos aside... a nation needs ONE working language across to grow stronger as one. Otherwise we are creating 90 little future countries in already torn up nation. I am just saying...

Monday, January 9, 2012

5 Websites for Job Vacancy Listings in Ethiopia

Happy Monday Everyone. 2012 is shaping up to be such a fantastic year on this part of the globe. Let's work on keeping that positive energy flowing.

 If you are looking into working for few years or move to Ethiopia for good, here are five websites to check out for jobs.

1. http://www.ezega.com/Jobs/

2. http://unjobs.org/duty_stations/ethiopia

3. http://federalgovernmentjobs.us/job-location/ethiopia.html

4. http://www.ethiojobs.net/vacancylist.asp

5. http://www.ifesh.org/where-we-work/ethiopia-2/  (For educators - directly contact IFESH for volunteer+employment opportunities.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Delicious Friday: Buticha - A simple yet delicious vegan delicacy

When I decided to give up on any kind of meat except fish, the question on everyone's mind was "how is she going to survive without eating kitfo or dorowot?" as beef and chicken are obviously the biggest part of Ethiopian cuisine. My Pescitarian life style has been a challenge for my family and friends to wrap their mind around. I still have some family members who think that something is seriously wrong with me and try to force feed me kitfo. :-)

It has been almost two years since I abruptly became a Pescitarian. The most adventurous part of my life style change actually has been watching everyone eventually come to accepting it. What it used to be our casual Friday night Tire siga (that is raw beef chunks dipped in a hot spices for those of you who don't know)  fiesta with the family, now includes a baked Salmon or some seafood meal, and even better, a delicious Shiro  or some sort of vegetarian dish.

Last week, I flew up north to welcome 2012 with my dearest friends and it warmed my heart when my best friend made a special effort in selecting dishes that me as well as the rest of our friends would enjoy together. That is when the name BuTicha first came as part of the variety dishes we were preparing for the night. I honestly had no clue what she was talking about  neither did she know how to prepare it. Nonetheless,the name, BuTicha, was  not strange to my ears. I remember being so fascinated with the name after having it as a kid. It had been so long since then I forgot the taste. I also remember seeing it listed on the menus of some Ethiopian restaurants. I never come around to ordering it ... something in the name turned me off.

We were standing in the kitchen clueless with a bag of chickpea flour in hand when another friend came to the rescue. After our friend finished preparing it and I took the first bite, I was beating myself up for missing this yumminess in my life for all these years. I figured you might enjoy it as much as I did so here are the ingredients and what goes into making BuTicha:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Style: Designer Fikirte Addis at African Fashion Week New York


Fikirte Addis, the talented young Ethiopian fashion designer and child psychologist from Addis Abeba, won  a design competition at Origin Africa Fiber to Fashion held in Mauritius. The win opened doors to Fikirte to bring her designs to African Fashion Week in New York where the big names in African fashion scene showcased their creations. Her designs are all traditional pieces with a modern flair to them. 


one of my favorite pieces of Yefikir Design by Fikirte Addis

Glad to see a sista representing at AFW and hope to see her work in more bigger stages. To learn more about Fikirte and her work check out her site yefikir design

Social Commentary: Intellectual Disability (Down Syndrome) in Ethiopia

Intellectual Disability as wiki defines it is a broad concept encompassing various intellectual deficits, including mental retardation (MR), deficits too mild to properly qualify as MR, various specific conditions, and problems acquired later in life through acquired brain injuries and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. Intellectual disabilities may appear at any age.

I hardly saw a person with a mental disability growing up in Ethiopia so the issue never appeared to me that significant. The superstitious gossips I heard about the causes of the condition has even made discussing the topic among each other a taboo. The gossips ranged from 'he/she is possessed by an evil spirit' to 'the mother was cursed' or the most common, 'she laughed at a mentally disabled person while she was pregnant with her now disabled child'. 
           One spring break, I had a privilege of visiting an aunt whom I have never met in person before. I had heard some family members sucking their teeth (a gesture used by most Ethiopians to show sympathy) and talk about her 'sick one and only child'. No one further  discussed the extent of his illness. When I met her son, I was in for quite a shock. I really didn't not expect to be confronted by what I walked in to. I didn't know what to do or say at that moment. This handsome thirteen year old boy right in front of me can't utter a single word, couldn't stand up on his own or walk properly. My ignorance took over for a second and I kept on staring at him then his mom trying to figure out if  a 'devil' or  any sort of 'curse' had anything to do with it.
             My aunt had Ebeneezer when she was in her forties. At that age, the probability of a first time mother having a child with a Down syndrome or any intellectual disability is astronomical. Ebeneezer, not only was born with down syndrome, but he was also autistic.