Sunday, June 20, 2021

Lalibela Cross

Lalibela Cross with Bete Mariam church in the background.

Painting by Fikru Helebo. May 2021.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hadiy-oss caberra!

Sintayehu Tilahun singing Dereben accompanied by Ras Band. I love the song's fast beat and the way he goes back and forth between Hadiyissa and Amharic. I heard in an interview he gave to Bawza TV that "Dereben kee bee'eh" means "find your peer" in the language of the Hadiya. Hadiy-oss caberra! Tope-oss caberra!

Monday, March 03, 2014

So much for "reset" and "flexibility"

Syria? Iran? Ukraine?

Context from the third presidential debate between Obama and Romney:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that al-Qaida's a threat because a few months ago when you were asked, what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia — not al-Qaida, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years. 
MR. ROMNEY: ...But I'll respond to a couple of the things you mentioned. First of all, Russia, I indicated, is a geopolitical foe, not — 
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Number one — 
MR. ROMNEY: Excuse me. It's a geopolitical foe. And I said in the same — in the same paragraph, I said, and Iran is the greatest national security threat we face. Russia does continue to battle us in the U.N. time and time again. I have clear eyes on this. I'm not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin, and I'm certainly not going to say to him, I'll give you more flexibility after the election. After the election he'll get more backbone.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ethiopian Wolf Catches a Mole Rat

We were delighted to witness this Ethiopian wolf successfully hunt its meal on our trip to the Bale Mountains National Park in June of 2013. The Ethiopian wolf is an extremely endangered species -- only about 500 of them left! Three out of five of these wolves are found on the Senati plateau of Bale Mountains, arguably the prettiest landscape in Ethiopia. Please learn more about these wolves by visiting the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme web site at:

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Sowell on Victimhood

Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite opinion writers. In his latest column (A Challenge to Our Beliefs) he elucidates on the relationship between victimhood and low achievement. For an immigrant person like me, Sowell's article only reaffirms what I know to be true -- that there is very little, if any, difference in intelligence between people of different ethnicities that can be attributed to genetic differences. 
What do low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States have in common? It cannot be simply low incomes, because children from other groups in the same low-income brackets outperform whites in England and outperform blacks in America. 
What low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States have in common is a generations-long indoctrination in victimhood. The political left in both countries has, for more than half a century, maintained a steady and loud drumbeat of claims that the deck is stacked against those at the bottom. 
The American left uses race and the British left uses class, but the British left has been at it longer. In both countries, immigrants who have not been in the country as long have not been so distracted by such ideology into a blind resentment and lashing out at other people.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Quote (lie) of the decade

"If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." -- Barack Obama

Thursday, September 05, 2013

I love Malian music!

We really enjoyed watching Cheick Hamala and his band play at Reston Town Center a few weeks ago. They were great! The video clip below performed at NPR for their Tiny Desk Concerts series and has three songs. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Charter (Start-up) Cities

The idea of creating new cities that are unencumbered by the problems of the host countries where they are located has fascinated me ever since I watched Paul Romer's TED talk titled "Why the world needs charter cities" (first video below). It looks like his idea is catching on. The Central American country of Honduras has recently amended its constitution to pave the way for creating start-up cities called ZEDEs, Zones for Employment and Development of the Economy (second video below). The idea for the ZEDE's originates in Paul Romer's idea of a charter city, but it is also distinctly Honduran. I am sure Ethiopia and other African countries can adopt this idea for the benefit of their people.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Relationships of Ancient African Languages

"Almost all of the more than 1,000 African languages spoken today belong to just four families -- Afroasiatic, Niger-Kordofanian, Nilo-Saharan, and Khoesan. As these language families spread out across the continent in the early Holocene, they gradually drove out hundreds of other languages that used to be spoken in Africa. Christopher Ehret (UCLA) reflects on the relationships of these languages to the existing African families and to the language families of the rest of the world, and asks what this information can tell us about human origins and early human history."

Friday, August 02, 2013

Interview with Ali Hussien

A moving and informative interview. Please take your time to watch the whole interview.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What is the message the Chinese are trying to convey?

The Chinese are arguably Sub-Saharan Africa's biggest trading partner. They are Ethiopia's, too. I have no problem with that. But I have a problem with their way of doing business in Ethiopia. For example, take a look at the picture below from a Chinese shoe factory that opened in Ethiopia last year. What is the point of writing the messages in the ceiling of the factory, which seem to be directed at the workers, in Chinese? Okay, I see some Chinese managers working there. But, isn't the factory located in Ethiopia? Doesn't it make sense to have the message written in Amharic first, and then in Chinese or English? Why is the message in Chinese written in bigger fonts compared to the messages in Amharic and English? What is the message the Chinese are trying to convey? Isn't this a manifestation of an unequal partnership between the Ethiopian and Chinese sides? If so, I think this is a sign of an unhealthy partnership and it must change.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stereotype Threat

The passage below is from a 2009 interview of Claude M. Steele conducted by Henry Louis Gates about the effects of "stereotype threat" on Afro-American achievement, or anyone else for that matter. I do not subscribe to the prevailing notion of diversity in the American education system, but a thoughtful discussion of the topic covered in this interview should be a required right of passage discussion for all Ethiopian-American/Canadian kids.

HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.: Claude, what exactly is “stereotype threat”? And why does it matter for the intellectual performance of Black youth at school?
CLAUDE M. STEELE: Stereotype threat is a very simple experience that everybody has, I believe, a couple times a day. It refers to being in a situation or doing something for which a negative stereotype about one of your identities—your age, your race, your gender—is relevant to you. You know then that you could be seen and treated in terms of that stereotype. And if you care about what you’re doing, the prospect of being judged and treated this way can be upsetting, distracting, and can interfere with your functioning in the situation.
GATES: But I was thinking of Black immigrant children.
GATES: As opposed to indigenous, African American children.
STEELE: You get very little stereotype threat effects among first generation immigrants, but you get them in second generation immigrants.
GATES: Because they become “Americans,” replete with psychological conditions induced by socialization?
STEELE: They become Americans and they know how they could be seen. And they don’t have, say, the same dialect, or maybe the same features. The social patterns that they know in the first generation will deflect their being seen stereotypically — “If people know this about me they’re not going to see me in terms of this American racial stereotype.” But their kids don’t have those same markers, so to speak. And they know they could be seen that way.

Here is a link to the video of the interview and here is a link to the print version.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Elbert Guillory: "Why I Am a Republican"

A Louisiana Satate Senator explains why he switched his party affiliation to the Republican party.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Venting off

The authorities in Ethiopia allowed an opposition protest to take place in Addis Ababa yesterday. Perhaps this is the first legal protest held in Ethiopia since 2005, I am not sure. Regardless, it should be regarded as a positive development if the ruling elite may have come to the realization that allowing their subjects to vent off their grievances in a peaceful way is a good thing for all concerned. 

And then there are subjects who hold scary thoughts like the view expressed by a young person quoted in the article at the above link. Here is what he said:
"I don't care about politics. I don't care if they (the ruling party) rule forever but I would die for my religion," said a young protester who would only identify himself as Ahmed. "I am here to demand the release of our representatives . we won't stop until they are free," said Ahmed.
I am afraid this is not an uncommon sentiment in the Muslim community. The young man is totally justified in protesting against the unfair imprisonment of his religious representatives, but his talk of "I will die for my religion" while at the same time he shows no concern at all to the political condition of his country should be a big concern to all Ethiopians.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Benghazi-IRS-AP scandals

This cartoon by Jerry Holbert cleverly captures the scandals that are engulfing the Obama Administration. Here are some good reads on each scandal: Benghazi, IRS and AP. All these scandals arose out of the re-election campaign of Obama. Here is an article that ties the Benghazi and AP Phone Records scandals: A Tie of Two Scandals.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Konso: Terracing and Moringa

I had seen pictures of Konso terracing before, but never a video documentary on it. There is a lot other people can learn from the Konso about terracing and the medicinal value of the Morinaga tree. This video comes to you courtesy of the Konso Cultural Centre.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What is marriage? Seriously!

It is truly a sad moment in human history that we are forced to debate what marriage is, but here we are. This paper from the Heritage Foundation titled "Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It" gives a thorough answer to the question, and I highly recommend that you read it in its entirety. Here is a quote from the paper:
Marriage is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. The government does not create marriage. Marriage is a natural institution that predates government. Society as a whole, not merely any given set of spouses, benefits from marriage. This is because marriage helps to channel procreative love into a stable institution that provides for the orderly bearing and rearing of the next generation.

This understanding of marriage as the union of man and woman is shared by the Jewish, christian, and Muslim traditions; by ancient Greek and roman thinkers untouched by these religions; and by various Enlightenment philosophers. It is affirmed by both common and civil law and by ancient Greek and roman law. Far from having been intended to exclude same-sex relationships, marriage as the union of husband and wife arose in many places, over several centuries, in which same-sex marriage was nowhere on the radar. Indeed, it arose in cultures that had no concept of sexual orientation and in some that fully accepted homoeroticism and even took it for granted. 
As with other public policy issues, religious voices on marriage should be welcomed in the public square. Yet one need not appeal to distinctively religious arguments to understand why marriage—as a natural institution—is the union of man and woman [emphasis mine].


Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage. The future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.