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  • St. Cloud woman wants to be Somalia’s first female president

    ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — A St. Cloud woman is laying the groundwork to run for the presidency of Somalia.

    Anab Dahir, a medical clinic interpreter who has lived in St. Cloud since 2008, believes the time she has spent in the U.S., gaining experience and education, will aid in her goal of repairing her native country. She’s already spreading the word among friends, family and colleagues in anticipation of the elections next year.

    “I think the country needs me … and other people like me,” Dahir said.

    A few other women, including Fadumo Dayib of Finland, also are hoping to become the first female president of Somali, the St. Cloud Times  reported.

    “My goal is, I want to be the woman who is challenging the man,” Dahir said, adding that men haven’t succeeded in rebuilding the country over the past 25 years.

    “Now, it’s the turn of women,” she said.

    Dahir is confident that she has the qualities necessary for the job.

    Source: www.twincities.com

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  • Performance art in Addis

                    

    Performance art is an essentially contested concept: any single definition of it implies the recognition of rival uses.

    Like concepts regarding "democracy" or "art", it implies productive disagreement with itself. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated, spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. Now, this art form is on its way to becoming popular in Ethiopia, writes Tibebeselassie Tigabu. 

    Many spectators who are used to mainstream media know the grandmother of performance art, Serbian Marina Abramovic, and her recent collaboration with the renowned rapper Jay-Z in a video entitled Picasso Baby.  

    Inspired by one of her projects, “The artist is present”, where the artist sits immobile and silent in a museum for three months, 736 hours and 30 minutes. Spectators were invited to take turns sitting opposite her.

    By far this is not her most bizarre performance art piece. The artist has tested the most visceral experiences of art. She has volunteered her body for a self-designed study on torture. In her famous 1974 installation, “Rhythm 0”, she laid out 72 items on a table and invited the audience to use them on her body in any way they want. 

    Among the objects were a feather, a rose, a braided whip, scissors, a nail, a scalpel and a gun with a single bullet. After six hours of passive acceptance to participants’ cutting her clothes, trying to mutilate her in increasing acts of cruelty, an audience member reached for the gun and shot her. Her blood spilling, the performance came to an end. She was quoted saying, “If you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.” 

    Many other performance artists, like Abramovic, also pushed the limit; they were subjected to pain and torture; they were shot, burned, disfigured, and mutilated; they even ate parts of themselves. The Guardian’s list of the most shocking performance art works includes the Russian artist Petr Pavlensky, who nailed his scrotum to the cobblestone in Red Square to challenge “totalitarianism”.  Another gruesome performance art piece was by Japanese artist Mao Sugiyama, who, in 2012, had his genitals surgically removed to raise awareness of sexual rights and after keeping them in the fridge for a while, he cooked them and served his friends. 

    Looking at these gruesome deeds, one might raise the question of what performance art is. In the 21st century, experts say performance art is an essentially contested concept. There is no rule or guideline, but often challenge the audience to think in new and unconventional ways while breaking conventions of traditional arts. The performers use their body, space, and time and interact with the audience. Co-signing with post-modernism concepts, it challenges the orthodox art forms and cultural norms. The performance art borrows from music, theatre, fine arts, and any form of art to take it one step further by taking its art directly to a public forum. In this instance it eliminates the need for galleries and agents, and rather makes the audience the commentators of the art. 

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    Source: the Ethiopian Reporter

     

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  • “Ethiopia Rising”: High level event held in Addis Ababa

     

    Addis Ababa: July 15, 2015 (FBC) - A High-level Side Event entitled “Ethiopia Rising: Determined to become a Carbon Neutral Middle Income Manufacturing Hubby 2025” was held today (July 14) at Sheraton Addis Hotel, in Addis Ababa.

    The High Level event was one of the most important events held on the sidelines of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and chaired by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. The High Level event was also attended by Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank. Private sector views from Mr. Zemedeneh Negatu, Ernst and Young Managing Partner for Ethiopia and Ms. Bethelehem Tilahun, Founder and Executive Director of Sole Rebels were presented on the business opportunities and environments in Ethiopia.

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, opening the event, said that the government strongly believes that the private sector is a fundamental partner in the post-2015 development agenda. He calls for the business community, both national and international, to partner and play a central role in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals and in Ethiopia’s vision of becoming a middle-income economy in about a decade’s time. He said achieving and sustaining economic development will fundamentally depend on the extent to which “we can effectively mobilize both domestic and external private sector investments.”

    The Prime Minister who contrasts Ethiopia’s past history of war and instability with its current growth trajectory said “Ethiopia fits naturally into the Africa Rising narrative.” He said Ethiopia’s growth has been inclusive and enabled it to make significant progress in human development.

    The Prime Minister reiterated the Government’s determination to do more in the years ahead as “Ethiopia has crafted a long-term vision of ensuring Ethiopian Renaissance, and a medium term vision of becoming a Carbon Neutral Middle-Income Manufacturing Hub by 2025.” Hence, he said, priority was given in the Second Growth and Transformation Plan to accelerate the process of industrialization and structural transformation, by focusing in particular on job creating manufacturing industries.

    President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, appreciating Ethiopia’s commitment for Climate action, said it was leading the world for low-carbon and equitable growth. The President said Ethiopia’s Climate- Resilient Green Economy Strategy is a real demonstration of its commitment and expressed his confidence that it continues its leadership in climate negotiations.

    On the development achievements of Ethiopia, Dr. Jim Yong Kim noted that Ethiopia has achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN fifteen years ago. He commended these achievements saying: with the poverty rate in the country, no one has predicted 15 years ago that Ethiopia would achieve the MDGs. “It is an enormous achievement,” he said.

    Mr. Zemedeneh Negatu, Ernst and Young Managing Partner for Ethiopia highlighted the ten most important reasons to invest in Ethiopia: its fastest economy, its demographic advantage, its rapid urbanization, its business environment to be manufacturing hub of Africa, its infrastructure development, its huge untapped resources, its agriculture, its tourism, its operating environment and its strategic location.

    Ms. Bethelehem Tilahun, Founder and Executive Director of Sole Rebels presented her experience of building climate friendly industry based on local resources and calls for foreign investors to use the opportunities in Ethiopia.

    Source: MoFA

     

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  • Can you guess the world's top tourism destination?

     

    (CNN)You would be forgiven for thinking it was Spain, Thailand or Italy. But this year the accolade of World Best Tourism Destination has been given to a surprising candidate: Ethiopia.

    The country has been praised for its outstanding natural beauty, dramatic landscapes and ancient culture, leading the European Council on Tourism and Trade to select it out of 31 countries as this year's top holiday spot.

    Visitor numbers in the country have increased by 10% over the last decade, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Last year, more than 600,000 tourists visited Ethiopia, attracted by its fertile national parks, 3,000 year-old archeological history and nine UNESCO world heritage sites.

    Tourism contributed an estimated 4.5% to the country's GDP last year, generating nearly a million jobs and over two billion dollars in revenue, according to the World Bank.

     

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  • The sky’s the limit

     

    Reopened in January 2015, after a year and a half of permit issues, Abyssinia Ballooning is back on track and is offering customers the astonishing chance to discover the earth from above. 

    To enjoy an incredible adventure, you need to make some small sacrifices. The one obligation coming with a balloon ride is to wake up really early. On a Sunday morning, at 4:30 am, I am all set and ready, waiting for my ride. Five minutes later, my cellphone rings and I can hear the strong and deep voice of Bram van Loosbroek on the other end of the line.

     “Hey, where are you?! ”

    Bram, Dutch, tall and loud, is definitely one of a kind. Almost four years ago, after twenty years spent as a pilot in his own country, he made a life-changing decision to come to Ethiopia and create the first and only ballooning business in the country. 

    “The journey has been long and bumpy; the road had real deep downs but I had to keep fighting for my team. I am proud to say that I managed to keep them hired even during the year and a half of closure we just went through. I also got support from some amazing people and companies like Zemen Bank. They helped us fund the structure and we are now happy to fly with their balloon,” he says. “It’s a win-win situation; they use it for client relationship management and also for promotions.” 

    Considering that the price of a hot-air balloon reaches up to a million birr, it sure was important for the Dutchman to find some good partnerships!

    Beehive

    Around 5:00 a.m, not far from Holeta, we finally stop alongside an empty meadow. It is still dark but I can perceive the crack of dawn behind the neighboring mountains, a thin line of light emphasizing the morning’s shadows. We jump out of the car and start walking towards a truck parked on the side of the road. Inside the trailer: the nacelle and the balloon—perfectly folded—and two of his teammates.

    Being an experienced pilot, Bram halts and makes sure the weather is safe for the flight before letting his employees take the structure off the vehicle. After a few minutes, seeming happy with the conditions, he starts walking into the pasture. The truck follows him up the hill and they stop while the sunrise starts to turn the sky into an incredible melting pot of pinks.

    In the semi-obscurity, they unload the pieces, running left and right and jumping in and out of the vehicle. Their behavior amazes me: synchronized, almost like a hive. Apart from a few orders Bram has to shout out loud, they appear to be one organism following a well-known choreography. If you want my opinion, it is definitely part of the experience to watch their shadows dance in the middle of nowhere while religious chants from a nearby church permeate the air. An intriguing instant mixing calm and frenzy. 

    Time to go…

    Fifteen minutes before six o’clock, the other passengers arrive on site. We enjoy a cup of coffee and some biscuits while the team open up the valves and start to inflate the structure. The sound of the ignited propane reminds me of the long moan of a lion’s pack, rough and unfathomable. It spreads through the meadow and accords peacefully with the gospel. I cannot keep myself from thinking that I am listening to the song of escapade.

    The sun is now getting higher and we can enjoy every detail of the spectacular show taking place in front of us: the balloon rising up and lifting the nacelle. It is a really slow process that some passersby appreciate with us. 

    6:00 a.m: It’s time to go! 

    We hop on the platform and Bram releases the gas flow. The loud deflagration warms us up and dives into the balloon, hovering us up into the air. Here we go… we finally take off! Gently, one meter after another, we gradually gain altitude and in a couple of minutes, we reach up to a height of 100 meters. On the ground, I can distinguish the tiny silhouettes of some random football players trying to run after us. They quickly give up but keep on waving their hands in a goodbye—or a good luck—sign. I salute them in return before the wind takes us away. 

    Divine inspiration

    Now, I will do my best to describe to you the feeling of being carried around by this heavy assembly, but I am perfectly aware that I am not going to be able to render the complexity of the experience. In the quiet of the sky, I can only hear the chants from the churches we are flying over. on the horizon, a golden light is flooding the mountains and hurtling down the ravines, setting ablaze the calm waters. No matter where I look, the verdant lands are paying a quiet homage to Mother Nature, rolling out infinite green layers of life. From time to time, some constructions rip out of the ground, with the glowing of a million lights under the sun’s caress. 

    “Isn’t it beautiful?” Bram says.

    I turn back to Bram and the burner, feeling the heat upon my skin. I take a minute to think about it, but “beautiful” is definitely not the adjective I would use to describe this spectacle. Astonishing, maybe. I settle for a discreet nod before getting back to the magnificence of the landscapes.  

    I should probably specify that it is not my first balloon flight. I already had the pleasure of this activity in Spain a few years ago and although you might think. “a ride is a ride”, similar to another, I would definitely dispute this statement. The magnificence of Ethiopia’s lands makes it an unrivalled adventure! The emptiness of the natural surroundings hits you hard and is a constant reminder that we, human beings are nothing but a virulent form of a disease, parasitizing something bigger than us. 

    Here, the sky’s the limit and humanity is nothing but a little dot on the soil. 

    Breakfast and history

    The journey ends an hour later when we land next to a small village, on the other side of the Menagesha National Forest. Around a hundred kids run towards us, screaming and shaking their arms in a warm, welcoming wave. They stare at the balloon going down, trying to hide in its enormous shadow. When we get out of the nacelle, they come to our group with a quiet question upon their lips.

     “Where do you come from? ” 

    From the blue, my dears… 

    Once the equipment is back in the rear of the truck, we get into a van and return to Addis in order to enjoy a warm and generous breakfast with a flute of champagne. While we eat our cheese omelet, the group listens to Bram’s historical speech about the Montgolfier brothers: Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and his younger sibling, Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier, the inventors of the first hot-air balloon. Travel sure broadens the minds but a little lecture doesn’t hurt either!

    If you want to book a flight, you can call +251-926-845086 or go to the company’s website: www.abyssiniaballooning. Having to close down during the rainy season, they offer great sales for the reopening weeks in the beginning of October.

    Source: the reporter

     

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