“Dink Nat Ethiopia“ show bringing Ethiopians together

eventThe Ethiopian community is the Washington, DC area are the largest African immigrant with most residing in Virginia and Maryland. The Ethiopian communities are very vibrant and cultural people. For entertainment they attend local bars and restaurants like Dukem Restaurant on U Street to see live cultural show to connect to home land, Ethiopia. On a occasion, the Ethiopian community are privileged to see free live show provided by Menew Shewa Entertainment to bring the community together in downtown Silver Spring, MD yearly. Menew Shewa Entertainment was able to put the best Ethiopian cultural showed called, “Dink Nat” Ethiopia.

“Dink Nat Ethiopia“ cultural show was designed to promote the cultural and musical diversity of Ethiopia to the people of the Unites States of America, the host of the largest Ethiopian community outside Ethiopia. Each members of the “Dink Nat “ cultural group was selected based on their unique and specific cultural, artistic and musical talent and skills representing the diverse cultures of Ethiopia. The group has also been training and represent and play unique part in the show that held in Silver Spring & Boston. Ethiopian Cultural,” said , President of Menew Shewa Entertainment. The Ethiopian community is very appreciative for the opportunity to watch this amazing show to bring the Ethiopian community together to celebrate of what it means to be Ethiopian.
Dink Nat Ethiopia is currently working on their upcoming events across the state and the one that will be taking place in downtown Silver Spring, attracting thousands Ethiopians and Non-Ethiopian from the three states. Shewa Etana hopes the Dink Nat Ethiopia cultural shows teach everyone the beauty of our culture. “I feel responsible to share my culture and im happy to be part of this amazing show”, says Shewa.

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Enebla-“Let’s Eat Together” Program by King’s Marketing

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Jacky Gosee Music Life Story

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Unisoul Circus 2014 in Washington, DC

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Education: an Ethiopian Success Story

By 7.30 a.m, the roadsides in rural Ethiopia are thronged with hundreds of kids rushing, exercise books in hand, to school. Conversations with farmers are dotted with references to the importance of education. Are they just saying what they think their NGO visitors want to hear? Not according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute in London, one of its new series of studies of ‘development progress stories’. Here’s the summary:

“Access to education in Ethiopia has improved significantly (see graph). Approximately 3 million pupils were in primary school in Ethiopia school enrolment rates1994/95. By 2008/09, primary enrolment had risen to 15.5 million – an increase of over 500%.

Progress has been enabled through a sustained government-led effort to reduce poverty and expand the public education system equitably. This has been backed by substantial increases in national education expenditure and aid to the sector, as well as improved planning and implementation capacity at all levels.

Increased regional and local autonomy and community participation have also had a key role in expanding access to education across the country.”

According to Samuel Asnake, the dynamic director of Ethiopia’s Adult and Nonformal Education Association (more on their work in a minute), having got kids into school, the government is now focusing on quality issues, especially in the lagging pastoralist regions, where it is considering options like mobile schools with teaching in local languages, and boarding schools for girls.

But what about the two thirds of adult Ethiopians who cannot read and write? Samuel’s organization is working closely with the Limmu Innara Coffee Union discussed yesterday, using an approach it calls ‘functional adult literacy’. Getting people involved meant asking coffee farmers ‘what do you want to learn?’ and the answer came back, “how to improve the quality of our coffee crop”. So they broke down the coffee production process into 26 steps and these became the syllabus for the literacy programme. Each module follows the pattern of general discussions on the topic, identifying key vocabulary, and agreeing actions (e.g. family discussions between classes). It reminds me of the teachings of Brazilian education guru Paulo Freire, but with the focus on livelihoods rather than social transformation.

Trust me, they were enjoying it.....

Trust me, they were enjoying it…..

So much for the theory, what does it look like in practice? We visited one of the classes in a mud floor schoolhouse, with rain drumming on the tin roof. 30 farmers of all ages were discussing the division of tasks within the family, especially relating to the upcoming harvest. Cards with words like ‘the husband’, ‘the wife’ and ‘the children’ formed the basis of the literacy homework. The women in the group argued that women generally work harder than men, but the men were divided on the issue. The 10:1 ratio of men to women suggested that the women had a point, and Samuel is looking at options such as organizing classes nearer the home, and women only groups to try and get a better balance. But paradoxically, the gender imbalance is partly caused by the success of the methodology – because the content is so relevant to their work, the men insist on coming to class themselves! If you’re worried about the serried ranks in the pic, it was because of the rain – the only dry room large enough was the school, with fixed desks. They normally work in less regimented ways.

The conversation was animated and enthusiastic, with everyone chipping in, clicking their fingers urgently when they wanted to contribute. We left them still arguing, as we ran across the fields back to the car through the pouring rain, inspired, impressed and very wet.

And that is it on Ethiopia for the moment. Back to a more varied diet next week.

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Ethiopia’s clothes firms aim to fashion Global sales

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Ethiopian fashion designer Fikirte Addis kneels down and wraps a tape measure around the waist of a customer, before scribbling on a piece of paper on which the outline of a flowing gown takes shape.

The customer, Rihana Aman, owns a cafe in the capital, Addis Ababa, and went to Ms Fikirte’s shop in the city, Yefikir Design, for a wedding dress fitting.

The dress, however, is actually for her sister, who lives and works in London, but will soon return to her homeland with her English fiance.

Ms Rihana explains how she shares her sister’s figure, and that the cotton dress will be ready for when her sister arrives back for her “melse”, the Ethiopian wedding ceremony.

“Start Quote

Ethiopia has some wonderful and interesting craftsmanship”

Markus Lupfer British fashion designer

“I love the traditional aspect of the clothing,” Ms Rihana says of why she chose Yefikir. “So many dresses now are too modern, and use fabrics that lose what it means to be Ethiopian.”

Along with other designers, Ms Fikirte is drawing on Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage while adding a modern twist to find success in the fashion industry at home – and increasingly abroad.

As a result, fashion design is proving to be one of the most successful Ethiopian sectors for small business and entrepreneurs, generating profit margins ranging from 50% to more than 100%.

Rich heritage

Companies such as Yefikir have flourished in Ethiopia due to the absence of big chain department stores, and relatively low start-up costs, set against the high prices individuals are willing to pay for quality, traditionally made fashion garments.

All Yefikir designs are made by hand on weaving machines operated using techniques that go back centurie

Flashes of colour come from strips of tilet and tilf – intricately woven or hand-embroidered multi-coloured patterns – which skirt hems, go around waists or course down backs.

It took Musie Teamrat, a 27-year-old embroider, 10 days to make three tilfs for one Yefikir dress.

As a result of such painstaking work, Yefikir’s custom-made dresses can sell for up to 15,300 birr ($850; £530), a sizeable sum, especially in a country where many toil for no more than 50 birr a day.

Despite such apparent inequities, many Ethiopians – especially those in its growing middle class – are happy to pay handsomely for tailored garments with traditional influences, says 25-year-old fashion designer Mahlet Afework.

Fikirte Addis (centre) attending an Ethiopian cultural festival Fikirte Addis (centre) is looking at increasing her overseas sales

She adds that Ethiopians take great pride in the country’s ethnic diversity – about 84 languages and 200 dialects are spoken – and in displaying allegiances through clothing at special events such as weddings and festivals.

Her clothing line, Mafi, specialises in ready-to-wear garments offering a notably funky take on the country’s ethnic melting pot, and one that has proved successful.

In 2012 Ms Mahlet won the Origin Africa Design Award, and showcased her work at African Fashion Week New York.

Home-spun skills

Ethiopia’s successful fashion designers are predominantly women who grew up surrounded by traditionally woven cotton fabrics, and did not need to be taught the tailoring and embroidering skills required to make beautiful and delicate clothing.

At the same time, a lack of formal fashion design education is preventing many Ethiopian designers from breaking out internationally, says Ms Mahlet, who is self-taught, and credits Google Search as her primary tutor.

Traditional Ethiopian weaving machine Ethiopian clothing-makers generally stick to traditional methods

She adds that those few Ethiopian institutions teaching fashion design run courses that are far shorter than the typical three-year fashion degrees taught in the West, and need to better impart the skills needed to compete internationally.

Other Ethiopian fashion houses

  • Ethiopian Cultural Dress by Hiwot
  • Ayni’s Design
  • Paradise Fashion
  • African Mosaique
  • Urban Roots Couture
  • Esete Fashion
  • Meshke
  • Yohannes Sisters

Another problem in the international arena is conducting sales transactions.

Banking restrictions mean there are no foreign banks in Ethiopia, and international customers are often suspicious of paying into African accounts, Ms Fikirte says.

Yefikir currently sells through Africa Design Hub, a US-based online store founded in 2013 by Western expatriates to showcase African designs while bridging markets.

Elizabeth Brown, the store’s co-founder, says: “After living in East Africa for several years we saw the potential of African designs in the global market, but also a gap in market linkages, and knowledge sharing, between the industry and global consumers.”

International arena

Yet global interest in Ethiopia’s fashion scene is undoubtedly growing.

“Ethiopia has some wonderful and interesting craftsmanship,” says Markus Lupfer, a British fashion designer who since 2010 has mentored young Ethiopian fashion designers in developing collections.

He adds that growing international recognition for Ethiopia’s designers is partly a result of increasing demand for ethically produced fashion designs.

Although for the majority of Ethiopia’s fashion designers, there is not yet enough of that recognition.

And while local demand remains buoyant – this year Ms Mahlet plans to open in-store Mafi fashion concession areas in Addis-Ababa-based boutiques; common practice in the West, but a new concept in Ethiopia – designers agree that international demand is essential for significant business growth.

Ms Fikirte and Ms Mahlet plan to bolster their companies’ online presences this year, with both sharing a goal of exporting their designs to overseas boutiques and online stores.

“Ethiopia’s fashion industry is changing the image of Ethiopia,” Ms Fikirte says. “It is showing the diversity and beauty of Ethiopian culture, and providing some of the world’s best hand-woven cotton fabrics.”

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Ethiopia, World Bank sign loan agreement amounting to $320 Million USD

worldbankADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia and the World Bank on Tuesday signed financing loan agreement amounting to $320 million U.S. dollars for road supporting project.

Ahmed Shide, Ethiopian State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, and Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, signed the agreement at a ceremony.

The project aims to upgrade the 258 km road of Nekempte-Bure, which provides a strategic link between the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, and it forms part of the regional road link to Sudan. Speaking during the signing ceremony, Ahmed said the project upon completion in 2019 would benefit about 600,000 people who live within the areas the road crosses, and ultimately consumers and producers that are based within the project areas.

“The Government of Ethiopia appreciates the World Bank’s efforts so far not only for its substantial support to our development endeavor but also for its leading role in bringing together other development partners to support development effort of the country,” he said.

Guang Zhe Chen, WB Country Director for Ethiopia, noted that the project is a clear indication of WB’s continued commitment to supporting Ethiopia’s effort to develop its roads network.

According to WB’s press statement, the total cost of the project is 385 million dollars of which the Government of Ethiopia contributes an amount of 65 million dollars.

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