Thursday, May 5, 2016

የአንድ ብልህ አባት አርበኛ ጥሪ

ውዴ የሰላም ልብ ያለህ ወጣቱ ልጄ፣ ጉልበቴ ደከመ፤ ዓይኖቼም ደከሙ፤ እንግዲህስ ለኔ መቃብሬ የተቆፈረ ነው። ግን አንድ ተስፋ አለኝ ልጄ፤ እግዚአብሔርንም እርሱን ከ፸፭ ዓመት በላይ ስለምነው ኖሬያለሁ። ሐሳቤ በሁለት ነገር የተከፈለ ሆኖ ሐሳቤና ምኞቴን እንዲያሳካልኝና ከመንታ ሐሳቤ ክፍልፋይነት ወደ ምሉዕነት ተመልሼ ወደ መቃብሬ እንዳርፍ ነው እግዚአብሔርን ስለምነው የኖርኩት።
ውዴ ልጄ የደማችን ክፋይ፤ እነሆ በዚያ በ፭ ዓመት የፋሽስት ዘመን በዱር በገደሉ የወዳደቁትን ንጹሐንን፣ ከነጻነት በኋላ በሴረኛ ሀገር ሻጭ፣ አሽቃባጭ ባንዳዎች ተንኮልና በግብዝ ንጉሳችን ተገደሉትን አርበኞች አባቶችህን አደራ ተሸክሜ እጠብቅሀለሁ። ትመጣለህ ብየ ስጠብቅህ እነሆ ፸፭ ዓመት ሆነው፤ …. እህ … እህ … እህ ……. አይ ልጄ አሁንማ ልጄ ይኸው አደራየን ሳትቀበለኝ ዕድሜየ ወደ አንድ ምዕተ ዓመት ሞላ።
ውድ ልጄ የወገኖቼን አስከሬን ተራምጄ ጠላትን መትቻለሁ፤ የወደቀው በህይወትና በሞት መካከል ያለው ጓደኛየ አርበኛ ጠላትን ለመምታት እርሱን ዞሬ እንዳላየው፤ ከወደቀበት እንዳላነሳው፤ እርሱ የሰማይ አሞሮች፣ የዱር አራዊት ቀለብ ለመሆን፤ እኔ ግን ጠላትን በገባበት ገብቼ እንድወቃው ተማፀነኝ። የነገዋን ኢትዮጵያን እያሰበ ሞትን አልፈራትም፤ ወድቆ በሚያሳብቅ ዓይኑ የሐገር፣ የወገን ፍቅርን ለናንተ አደራ እንዳስተላልፍ በሥራው ነገረኝ። እናም ልጄ የዛሬዋን የእናንተን ዘመን በጎ፣ ሰላም፣ ፍቅር እና መልካም ለማድረግ እነሆ የወደቀውን፣ የምወደውን፣ የማውቀውን ሰው ተራምጄ ጠላትን ቆላሁት።
ውድ ልጄ! የሀገር ጠላት ባንዳዎች፣ ግብዝ ንጉስ፣ ክፉ መንፈስ ያለበት ዘመን መጥቶብን የወዳደቁትን አባቶቶችን አደራ ለመቀበል የተገባና የሚፈልግ ሰው አጣሁ፤ እነሆ ልጄ ፍቅርና ሀገር ወዳድነት በሥልጣንና በግብዝነት ከነጻነት ማግስት ጀምሮ ተለወጠ፤ ልጄ፣ እኛ ሐገራችንን ከጠላት ፋሽስት ጣሊያን ነጻ ካወጣን በኋላ ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ስላሴ ወደ ሀገራቸው ሲመለሱ በየክፍረለ ሀገሩ የነበሩት ጠላትን መውጪያ መግቢያ ያሳጡት አርበኞች ስልጣንና ዕውቅና ተነፍጓቸው በየክፍለ ሀገሩ የነበሩ ሀገር ክደው ለጠላት ያደሩ ባንዳዎች ሹመትና ሽልማት ተሰጣቸው። እንግዲህ የዚያን ጊዜ ነው “ኢትዮጵያ ሀገሬ ሞኝ ነሽ ተላላ፤ የሞተልሽ ቀርቶ የገደለሽ በላ፤” ተብሎ የተገጠመና የተዘፈነው።
ልጄ! ከዚያ ጊዜ ጀምሮ ለወገኑ የሚኖር ሰው እየተገለለ በሀሰተኛ ክስ፣ በብልጣ ብልጥ ራስ ወዳዶች እየተገፋ፣ እየተሰደደ፣ እየተገደለ፣ እየታሰረ ወዘተርፈ እነሆ ጨለማ፣ ምቀኝነት፣ ራስ ወዳድነት፣ ብልጣ ብልጥነት፣ ሀሰተኝነት፣ ጎሰኝነትና ጎጠኝነት፣ ሙሰኝነትና ስልጣን ወዳድነት በመሳሰሉት ክፉ መናፍስት ትውልዱ ተይዞ ክቡር ዕንቁ የሆነው የፍቅር፣ የአንድነት፣ የመተሳሰብና የመከባበር አደራ ተናቀ።
ይህ አደራ ከሥረ-መሰረቱ ከጥንታዊት ኢትዮጵያ ሲወርድ ሲዋረድ መጥቶ በአስራ ሰባተኛው ምዕተ ዓመት ጀምሮ ለአንድ መቶ ሰባ ዓመታት ካሁኑ ሁኔታ ጋር በተመሳሰለ ሁኔታ ይህ መልካም አደራ ተዳክሞ በአስራ ዘጠንኛው ምዕተ ዓመት አጋማሽ ጀምሮ ተመልሶ ለምልሞ፣ በአድዋ አብቦ ከትውልድ ወደ ትውልድ ሲተላለፍ ከቆየ በኋላ እነዚያ ውድና ዕንቁ አርበኞች ጓደኞቼ በደማቸው ጽፈው ለኔ አስረከቡኝ።
እነሆ ልጆቻቸውና ልጆቼ አደራየን ለመቀበል በ፲፱፵ዎቹ እንቅስቃሴ ጀምረው የኤርትራን ፌደሬሽን በውብ ሥነ-ጽሑፋቸውና በክርክራቸው ውብ እንቅስቃሴ ጀምረው ነበር። ነገር ግን ልጄ! በዚያ ጊዜ ግብዝ ንጉሳችንና መፍቀሬ-ንጉስ የሆኑ ሆዳም ባላባት ተብዮቹ እንቅስቃሴውን ነጥቀው ውል ያለው የፍቅርና የሰላም ማህተም ሳይደረግ፣ አደራየንም ሳይቀበሉኝ የተወሰኑት ሞት በላቸው፤ አንዳዶቹ ደግሞ እስር፤ ሌሎቹ ደግሞ ስደት።
ይኸው ልጄ እስከ ዛሬ ውል ያለው የአንድነትና የፍቅር በርን የሚከፍት መልካም፣ ቸር እረኛ ጠፍቶ ልጆቼ ተመልሰው ሁለት (ብዙ) ክፋይ ሆኑ። እኔም አንድ ሰው ሳልሆን፣ አደራየንም ለማን እንደምሰጠው ግራ እንደገባኝ፣ ከልጆቼም አንዱ አባቴ እነሆኝ እኔ አለሁ ሳይለኝ መቃብር መውረዴ ነው።
እናም አንተ ልጄ፣ ፍቅር የሚያቃጥልህ፣ የፍቅር ድርሰትን፣ የፍቅር ዜማን ድምፅ የምታወጣ፣ አንተ ሰብሳቢ ምልክት (Uniting Figure)፣ ከወዴት አለህ? ከአፋር በረሃዎች ነው የተሰወርኸውን? እዚያ አለህ ቢሉኝ እኮ እመጣ ነበር ልጄ - በረሃው ሳይገድበኝ፣ ሽበት የጨፈረብኝ ሽማግሌ መሆኔን ማሰብም አልፈልግም ነበር፤ ወዳንተ ስመጣ ወድቄ አሞራ ይብላኝ እንጅ። ብቻ ልጄ አንተ ባትመጣ እንኳ ያለህበትን ብቻ ንገረኝ እኔው እመጣለሁ። ከሞያሌ ጫፍ ነውን? ከኦጋዴን በረሃ ነውን ወይስ ከመተማ ድንበር ባሉት ደኖች? የት ነው ያለኸው ልጄ፣ የት ነው ያለኸው? ከጋምቤላ ደኖች መካከል ነውን ወይስ በከፋ ደኖች? በተከዜ በረሃ ነውን ወይስ በሃማሴን ተራሮች? የት ነው ያለኸው ልጄ? እባክህ ንገረኝ ልጄ፣ ባለህበት ልምጣ ወይ አንተ ና፤ የአንተንና የመጪው ትውልድን የህልውና አደራ ተሸኽሜ እጠብቅሃለሁ።
ብዙ ጅቦች የያዝኩትን አደራ ሊበሉ፤ ብዙ ቀበሮዎች የያዝኩትን የሀገር ህልውና ወይን ሊያበላሹ ከበውኛል። ልጄ እኔ ደግሞ ቀበሮዎቹን የማባርርበት ፍጥነቴ፣ ጅቦቹን የምከላከልበት ጥንካሬየ ደከመ፤ አይኖቼም ፈዘዙ፤ ጆሮዬ የክፉ መናፍስትን ድምጽ ለመለየት ጃጀ። ልጄ ናልኝ እባክህ፤ መቃብሬ ጉድጓድ አፋፍ ላይ ነኝ። ና እባክህ በዚህ ደብዳቤ ውስጥ ያልጠቀስኩልህ ብዙ ምስጢራትን በእጄ ይዤ እጠብቅሃለሁ።
ጠላትም ከቦኛል፤ ምስጢራቱን ከጄ ነጥቆ ለመበተን፤ የልጆቼን የፍቅርና የአንድነት ቁልፎች ሊያማስኑ የጨለማ ጭፍራዎች ከበውኛል፤ ምናልባትም እስካሁንም በእጄ የጠበቃቸው የኔ ጥንካሬ ሳይሆን የወገኖቼ ደምና አጥንት እንዲሁም የ፸፭ ዓመት ልመናዬ ነው፤ ፈጣርዬ ዐይኔ እያየ የጨለማ አበጋዞች ምስጢራቱን ከጄ እንዳይነጥቁብኝ፣ በሲኦል የበርባኖስ ጥልቅ ባህር ወስደው እንዳይቀብሩብኝ ለምኜዋለሁና። ሳልሞት ናና ተረከበኝ ልጄ፤ ከመቃብሬ ቀድመህ ካልመጣህ፣ ከሞትኩ፣ ዓይኔም ካላዬ ጠላት ይውሰዳቸው!? ዓይኔ እያየ ጠላት ከመዘበራቸው ግን ሳልሞት ሲኦል ገባሁ ማለት ነው፤ የሞት ሞት ማለት ይሄ ነው።
እናም ልጄ! ናልኝና ሁለታችንም እናትርፍ። አንተ እራስህንና ልጆችህን አትርፍ፤ እኔ ደግሞ ከቁም ኲነኔ ልዳን፣ ሆዴ።
ትመጣለህ ብዬ ሳይ ኖርሁኝ መምጫህን፣
ለ፸፭ ዓመት ሳዳምጥ ዱካህን፣
እኔንም ላክብኝ ቀድመህ ሞተህ እንደሆን።
እክባሪው አርበኛ አባትህ

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Welcome To Dallol, Ethiopia: The Hottest Place On Earth

Hottest Place On Earth
An Afar man overlooks Dallol’s psychedelic slat formations. Source: Sometimes Interesting

No matter how low you have your thermostat set this summer, chances are your neighborhood’s heat conditions pale in comparison to everyday temperatures in Dallol, Ethiopia. With average temperatures consistently hovering at 94 ˚F, Dallol, Ethiopia might just be the hottest inhabited place on the planet. The sultry Danakil Desert surrounds the desiccated settlement, which contributes to Dallol’s unforgivingly hot climate. The annual average high temperature is 105 ˚F, but in June the temperatures can skyrocket to a fiery 116 ˚F. Heat and drought pummel Dallol, making visitors feel like they’re on another planet. 
 
Colorful Sulfur
Source: Salambo in Addis
Unique geological conditions contribute to Dallol’s seemingly Martian landscape. The region is home to both the Dallol hydrothermal field and a volcano, which–given reports of an incandescent ash cloud covering the area earlier this year–may have erupted as recently as January 2015.  
The volcano is one of the lowest volcanic vents in the world, but it is Dallol’s hot springs that make the region so visually striking. The earth releases chemical compounds like ferrous chloride and iron hydroxide within the springs, which harden some upon release and paint the subsequent salt deposits and lakes a greenish white. After some time, inactive springs oxidize and become brown just like metal rusts in the rain. The process repeats for years, drenching an otherwise lifeless area in incredibly vibrant tones.
Sulphur and solidified black lava engulf some springs; vibrant cyan pools hide poisonous waters. Openings in the Earth’s crust, called fumaroles, spew steam and gas into the burning hot air, raising the surrounding temperature even more. This alien terrain is literally coming apart at the seams and in a hundred million years, scientists predict that the Earth will rip open and the nearby Red Sea will swallow the painted desert whole.
Hottest Place On Earth Deposits
Source: Sometimes Interesting

Dallol’s unforgiving climate has also made it one of the most remote areas on Earth. Roads are non-existent and camels are the only form of transport available. In spite of these obstacles, the value of the salt produced in the region has attracted a number of extractive firms throughout the 20th century. In the early 1900s, a mining town sprang up in the crater, soon to be filled with Italian and American mining operations until the 1960s.
While these towns are all but abandoned today, salt merchants still travel to Dallol to collect minerals and haul it on camelback to Berhale or Mekele, where it’s transported to the Ethiopian highlands and on to Sudan. The salt fields supply nearly 100 percent of Ethiopia’s salt. 
Car Remains Dallol
An abandoned car rots in the salty air of the desert. Source: Photo Volcanica

Fallen Buildings
The remains of a mining camp. Source: Photo Volcanica
It is this salt that adds another element of danger to the region. Dallol’s salt is worth a good deal of money, and thus serves as a potential source of conflict–especially in an area where various groups are vying for political and territorial control. The armed nomadic Afar people protect it as theirs, and defend the salt reserves–“white gold”–from encroaching thieves and rebels. Border skirmishes are ongoing between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and often spill into the Afar region. In fact, from 2007 to 2012 insurgent fighters kidnapped and killed tourists and locals in various attacks.
Nevertheless, tourist excursions continue. Visitors are advised to travel with armed guards and bring plenty of water. Dallol is unlike any other place on the planet and for the brave few, a once in a lifetime opportunity. For the Afar, however, it’s just home. Take a closer look at life in the hottest place on Earth in the following images.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Remarks by President Obama at State Dinner of National Palace Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at State Dinner of National Palace Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as it was released by the White House  is given below. 

8:02 P.M. EAT
"PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM:  Your Excellency, the President of the United States of America, Mr. Barack Obama, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:  In the history of the relationship by Ethiopia and the United States of America, this is an exceptional occasion.  Never before did we have the opportunity to be able to welcome a sitting President of the United States for an official visit to Ethiopia.
And, Mr. President, we welcome you and all the members of your delegation to Ethiopia with open arms.  (Applause.)  Your visit is a mark of the long friendship between our two countries and our two peoples -- a friendship that I am certain will be further enhanced in the future.  It shows the strengths and depths of the diplomatic and cultural relations we enjoy today, and underlines our hopes for the future.
Mr. President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, our links were formally established at the beginning of the last century when a treaty of commerce was signed during the reign of Emperor Menelik and President Theodore Roosevelt administration in 1903.  Since then, and even earlier, the United States provided an inspiration for the advancement of science and technology, and indeed, of democracy and good governance.
Ethiopia, similarly, as the only surviving vessel of freedom and independence in Africa, offered an inspiration to many in America.  It was a source of inspiration for a great African American thinker and philosopher, Du Bois, as well as more recently, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  And many saw a source of enlightenment in the spirit of Ethiopia.  They saw the courageous struggle of Ethiopia as the symbol of the struggle of the whole community of Africans across the world for civil liberty, equality, and freedom.
Our relationship established on the basis of mutual understanding, respect and dignity, and matured in the struggled against fascism.  The role of the United States to the struggle can only be described as historic.  People all over the country protested against Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia.  You raised funds and sent medical supplies.  People in New York, Harlem, Oklahoma, Texas, and many other cities paraded in support of Ethiopia.  Thousands offered to enlist to fight for us.  And even after the war, many more came to Ethiopia to help in our post-war reconstruction.
It is perhaps appropriate to single out one person, as I feel this is an appropriate moment to mention one African American hero who grew up in Mississippi during the early 1920s, and came to Ethiopia in 1935 to help us in our struggle against fascism and colonial aggression.  Colonel John Robinson was, I believe, one of the first Americans to take up arms against fascism.  Having earlier established an aviation school in Alabama, Colonel Robinson was largely responsible for founding the Ethiopian Air Force during the Italian invasion.  Called here the “Brown Condor of Ethiopia,” he then became the first commander of the air force.
He was a wonderful example of those Americans who did so actively support Ethiopia both in time of peace and conflict.  And here, let me also mention the exemplary dedication displayed by your youth in the Peace Corps, both in the 1960s, all over the way through today.  
In this context, let me also remember all those Americans who have given their lives to Ethiopia, not least the late Congressman Mickey Leland who worked so hard to build the relationship between our two countries on the basis of dignity, faith and hope.  He would have very much appreciated this visit as a symbol of the friendship that has been built up over the years, and which he did so much to encourage.
We, and indeed other Africans, who owe very gratitude to your administration and the members of Congress for the recent renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another decade.  And this bipartisan action by Congress was an impressive example of the way the United States had prepared to assist in the development and growth in Africa.  I cannot speak too highly of those congresswomen and men who are so active and for so many years in support of this cause.  I believe I can see a number of you here today.  May I offer my very sincere thanks for your determined efforts.  You showed a very real example of the understanding that the people of America have for the problems of Africa.
Your effort also provides another clear demonstration of the way we can do work together, closely and harmoniously, for joint development of our people.
Mr. President, Excellencies, today we are celebrating a longstanding, time-tested, and exception relationship.  I believe I can speak for us all when I say that this closeness could now be expressed at a new level of contact and development.  The United States of course continues to play a major role in global efforts for peace and development.  
There are the central issues for us as well, and I believe I can say that we have similar views on major regional and global issues.  We have been cooperating closely at the United Nations, in the African Union, and in our regional organization, IGAD.  We greatly appreciate this support we have received and continue to receive from the United States for the resolution of conflict and peace-building and stability in our region.  We are most grateful for your steadfast support to our collective efforts in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism.
Mr. President, with all this in mind, we in Ethiopia would like to infuse a new level of commitment into our relationship with the United States.  We have built a firm relationship on the basis of mutual trust and respect, and now we’d like to extend this and raise our links to a new level, to explore further opportunities for development and build a wider network of activity that can strengthen our bilateral relationship.  It is something from which I believe we can both benefit.
Mr. President, you have here a very trusted friend, a country and people that highly appreciate what the United States stands for.  Now, in the spirit of the friendship, I would therefore like to propose a toast to the bright future that awaits the people of our two countries, and to the good health and happiness of Your Excellency.
Distinguished guests, may I ask you to stand and join me in a toast to the President of the United States of America and to all the people of the great nation.  Long live Ethiopia-U.S friendship.  Cheers.  (A toast is given.)  (Applause.) 
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you so much.  Good evening, everybody.  I would greet you in all the languages of Ethiopia, but I’m told that there are more than 80.  (Laughter.)  So that would keep us here all night.  (Laughter.)  So let me just say indemin walachu.  (Applause.)  
Prime Minister Halemariam, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor for me to be here tonight as the first sitting United States President to visit Ethiopia.  And I want to thank the great people of Ethiopia, including Teddy Mak -- he’s the one who sang that catchy song upon my welcome -- I want to thank all of you for the wonderful reception we’ve received.
You know Ethiopians are an ancient people in an ancient land.  We honor Ethiopia as the birthplace of humankind.  In fact, I just met Lucy, our oldest ancestor.  (Applause.)  As your great poet laureate wrote, “Here is the land where the first harmony in the rainbow was born…Here is the root of the Genesis of Life; the human family was first planted here.”
When you see our ancestor, 3.5 million years old, we are reminded that Ethiopians, Americans, all the people of the world are part of the same human family, the same chain.  (Applause.)  And as one of the professors who was describing the artifacts correctly pointed out, so much of the hardship and conflict and sadness and violence that occurs around the world is because we forget that fact.  We look at superficial differences as opposed to seeing the fundamental connection that we all share.
And for more than a century, our two nations have enjoyed a harmony that enriched us both.  We’ve worked together to lift up the fortunes of those most in need; tonight we also remember former Prime Minister Meles and his dedication to reducing poverty.  Together, we’ve sheltered and cared for refugees fleeing conflict.  We’ve sought to secure our shared future against those who would threaten us.  
Of course, of the many contributions Ethiopia has made to the world over the centuries, I’m certain that Americans want to thank you for one in particular, discovering something that sustains people around the world, day and night, and many people in the White House, and that is coffee.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, Ethiopia.  (Applause.)  We are large consumers of coffee in the White House.  (Laughter.)
And Ethiopia has ignited the imagination of Americans for generations.  Before African Americans won their civil rights, many of them were inspired by this country -- a nation that never suffered the indignities of colonialism, people who defended their freedom and their right in self-determination.  You already mentioned, Mr. Prime Minister, Colonel John Robinson, an American who was one of the fathers of the Tuskegee Airmen, nicknamed the Brown Condor, who then came to Ethiopia and trained Ethiopian pilots to tame their heavens and, as you indicated, helped to set up the Ethiopian Air Force.  You sparked the passion of American poets like Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes, who saw in Ethiopia a dignity to be celebrated and emulated.
Ethiopia kindled a commitment to service for generations of young Americans who volunteered for the Peace Corps and who have for decades worked alongside the people of this proud land.  For my part, I was impressed by the courage of the Ethiopian journalists that I welcomed to the White House earlier this year, moved by their determination to champion a robust free press, and I very much appreciated the comments you made at the press conference today about the evolution that’s taking place to deepen democracy here.
So the deep connections between our peoples is built on the values that we share.  We saw that so clearly two years ago when the Boston Marathon suffered that horrendous terrorist bombing.  And in a gesture of great solidarity and compassion, the runner who won the race, an Ethiopian, returned his medal to honor the victims of the attack.  And at this year’s Marathon, Americans cheered all the harder when he once again crossed the finish line first with an even faster time.  (Applause.)  And that, I think, is the hallmark of the American and Ethiopian bond.  
We don’t give in or give up when things get hard, but we come back better and we come back stronger.  So there’s no doubt that Ethiopians and Americans are sprung from the same root of life -- we have evidence of that.  Tonight, I’d like to offer a toast:  To another century of friendship, to our one human family, and to a bright future for the land where the first harmony of the rainbow was born.  Letenachin.  (Applause.)  For you Americans, that means “to our health” or “cheers.”  (Laughter.)
Thank you very much.  (Applause.)"

END
8:18 P.M. EAT

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Remarks by President Obama to the People of Africa

U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a keynote speech Tuesday at African Union headquarters in Mandela Hall in Ethiopia's capital city of Addis Ababa. It was the first time a sitting American president addressed the 54-member continental bloc, and the historic speech marked the end of Obama's five-day, two-nation tour of East Africa.
The full text of Tuesday's remarks, provided by the the whitehouse has released, follows below: 
Mandela Hall
African Union Headquarters
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2:07 P.M. EAT
 "Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much. Madam Chairwoman, thank you so much for your kind words and your leadership.  To Prime Minister Hailemariam, and the people of Ethiopia -- once again, thank you for your wonderful hospitality and for hosting this pan-African institution.  (Applause.)  To members of the African Union, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen -- thank you for welcoming me here today.  It is a great honor to be the first President of the United States to address the African Union.  (Applause.)

I’m grateful for this opportunity to speak to the representatives of more than one billion people of the great African continent.  (Applause.)  We’re joined today by citizens, by leaders of civil society, by faith communities, and I’m especially pleased to see so many young people who embody the energy and optimism of today’s Africa.  Hello!  Thank you for being here.  (Applause.)

I stand before you as a proud American.  I also stand before you as the son of an African.  (Applause.)  Africa and its people helped to shape America and allowed it to become the great nation that it is.  And Africa and its people have helped shape who I am and how I see the world.  In the villages in Kenya where my father was born, I learned of my ancestors, and the life of my grandfather, the dreams of my father, the bonds of family that connect us all as Africans and Americans.

As parents, Michelle and I want to make sure that our two daughters know their heritage -- European and African, in all of its strengths and all of its struggle.  So we’ve taken our daughters and stood with them on the shores of West Africa, in those doors of no return, mindful that their ancestors were both slaves and slave owners.  We’ve stood with them in that small cell on Robben Island where Madiba showed the world that, no matter the nature of his physical confinement, he alone was the master of his fate.  (Applause.)  For us, for our children, Africa and its people teach us a powerful lesson -- that we must uphold the inherent dignity of every human being.

Dignity -- that basic idea that by virtue of our common humanity, no matter where we come from, or what we look like, we are all born equal, touched by the grace of God.  (Applause.)    Every person has worth.  Every person matters.  Every person deserves to be treated with decency and respect.  Throughout much of history, mankind did not see this.  Dignity was seen as a virtue reserved to those of rank and privilege, kings and elders. It took a revolution of the spirit, over many centuries, to open our eyes to the dignity of every person.  And around the world, generations have struggled to put this idea into practice in laws and in institutions.

So, too, here in Africa.  This is the cradle of humanity, and ancient African kingdoms were home to great libraries and universities.  But the evil of slavery took root not only abroad, but here on the continent.  Colonialism skewed Africa’s economy and robbed people of their capacity to shape their own destiny.  Eventually, liberation movements grew.  And 50 years ago, in a great burst of self-determination, Africans rejoiced as foreign flags came down and your national flags went up.  (Applause.)  As South Africa’s Albert Luthuli said at the time, “the basis for peace and brotherhood in Africa is being restored by the resurrection of national sovereignty and independence, of equality and the dignity of man.”

A half-century into this independence era, it is long past time to put aside old stereotypes of an Africa forever mired in poverty and conflict.  The world must recognize Africa’s extraordinary progress.  Today, Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.  Africa’s middle class is projected to grow to more than one billion consumers.  (Applause.)  With hundreds of millions of mobile phones, surging access to the Internet, Africans are beginning to leapfrog old technologies into new prosperity.  Africa is on the move, a new Africa is emerging.

Propelled by this progress, and in partnership with the world, Africa has achieved historic gains in health.  The rate of new HIV/AIDS infections has plummeted.  African mothers are more likely to survive childbirth and have healthy babies.  Deaths from malaria have been slashed, saving the lives of millions of African children.  Millions have been lifted from extreme poverty.  Africa has led the world in sending more children to school.  In other words, more and more African men, women and children are living with dignity and with hope.  (Applause.)

And Africa’s progress can also be seen in the institutions that bring us together today.  When I first came to Sub-Saharan Africa as a President, I said that Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.  (Applause.)  And one of those institutions can be the African Union.  Here, you can come together, with a shared commitment to human dignity and development.  Here, your 54 nations pursue a common vision of an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”

As Africa changes, I’ve called on the world to change its approach to Africa.  (Applause.)  So many Africans have told me, we don’t want just aid, we want trade that fuels progress.  We don’t want patrons, we want partners who help us build our own capacity to grow.  (Applause.)  We don’t want the indignity of dependence, we want to make our own choices and determine our own future.

As President, I’ve worked to transform America’s relationship with Africa -- so that we’re truly listening to our African friends and working together, as equal partners.  And I’m proud of the progress that we’ve made.  We’ve boosted American exports to this region, part of trade that supports jobs for Africans and Americans.  To sustain our momentum -- and with the bipartisan support of some of the outstanding members of Congress who are here today -- 20 of them who are here today -- I recently signed the 10-year renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank them all.  Why don't they stand very briefly so you can see them, because they’ve done outstanding work.  (Applause.)

We’ve launched major initiatives to promote food security, and public health and access to electricity, and to prepare the next generation of African leaders and entrepreneurs --investments that will help fuel Africa’s rise for decades to come.  Last year, as the Chairwoman noted, I welcomed nearly 50 African presidents and prime ministers to Washington so we could begin a new chapter of cooperation.  And by coming to the African Union today, I’m looking to build on that commitment.

I believe Africa’s rise is not just important for Africa, it's important to the entire world.  We will not be able to meet the challenges of our time -- from ensuring a strong global economy to facing down violent extremism, to combating climate change, to ending hunger and extreme poverty -- without the voices and contributions of one billion Africans.  (Applause.)

Now, even with Africa’s impressive progress, we must acknowledge that many of these gains rest on a fragile foundation.  Alongside new wealth, hundreds of millions of Africans still endure extreme poverty.  Alongside high-tech hubs of innovation, many Africans are crowded into shantytowns without power or running water -- a level of poverty that’s an assault on human dignity.

Moreover, as the youngest and fastest-growing continent, Africa’s population in the coming decades will double to some two billion people, and many of them will be young, under 18.  Now, on the one hand, this could bring tremendous opportunities as these young Africans harness new technologies and ignite new growth and reforms.  Economists will tell you that countries, regions, continents grow faster with younger populations.  It's a demographic edge and advantage -- but only if those young people are being trained.  We need only to look at the Middle East and North Africa to see that large numbers of young people with no jobs and stifled voices can fuel instability and disorder.

I suggest to you that the most urgent task facing Africa today and for decades ahead is to create opportunity for this next generation.  (Applause.)  And this will be an enormous undertaking.  Africa will need to generate millions more jobs than it’s doing right now.  And time is of the essence.  The choices made today will shape the trajectory of Africa, and therefore, the world for decades to come.  And as your partner and your friend, allow me to suggest several ways that we can meet this challenge together.

Africa’s progress will depend on unleashing economic growth -- not just for the few at the top, but for the many, because an essential element of dignity is being able to live a decent life.  (Applause.)  That begins with a job.  And that requires trade and investment.

Many of your nations have made important reforms to attract investment -- it’s been a spark for growth.  But in many places across Africa, it’s still too hard to start a venture, still too hard to build a business.  Governments that take additional reforms to make doing business easier will have an eager partner in the United States.  (Applause.)

And that includes reforms to help Africa trade more with itself -- as the Chairwoman and I discussed before we came out here today -- because the biggest markets for your goods are often right next door.  You don't have to just look overseas for growth, you can look internally.  And our work to help Africa modernize customs and border crossings started with the East African Community -- now we’re expanding our efforts across the continent, because it shouldn’t be harder for African countries to trade with each other than it is for you to trade with Europe and America.  (Applause.)

Now, most U.S. trade with the region is with just three countries -- South Africa, Nigeria and Angola -- and much of that is in the form of energy.  I want Africans and Americans doing more business together in more sectors, in more countries.  So we’re increasing trade missions to places like Tanzania, Ethiopia Mozambique.  We’re working to help more Africans get their goods to market.  Next year, we’ll host another U.S.-Africa Business Forum to mobilize billions of dollars in new trade and investment -- so we’re buying more of each other’s products and all growing together.

Now, the United States isn’t the only country that sees your growth as an opportunity.  And that is a good thing.  When more countries invest responsibly in Africa, it creates more jobs and prosperity for us all.  So I want to encourage everybody to do business with Africa, and African countries should want to do business with every country.  But economic relationships can’t simply be about building countries’ infrastructure with foreign labor or extracting Africa’s natural resources.  Real economic partnerships have to be a good deal for Africa -- they have to create jobs and capacity for Africans.  (Applause.)

And that includes the point that Chairwoman Zuma made about illicit flows with multinationals -- which is one of the reasons that we've been a leading advocate, working with the G7, to assist in making sure that there’s honest accounting when businesses are investing here in Africa, and making sure that capital flows are properly accounted for.  That's the kind of partnership America offers.

Nothing will unlock Africa’s economic potential more than ending the cancer of corruption.  (Applause.)  And you are right that it is not just a problem of Africa, it is a problem of those who do business with Africa.  It is not unique to Africa -- corruption exists all over the world, including in the United States.  But here in Africa, corruption drains billions of dollars from economies that can't afford to lose billions of dollars -- that's money that could be used to create jobs and build hospitals and schools.  And when someone has to pay a bribe just to start a business or go to school, or get an official to do the job they’re supposed to be doing anyway -- that’s not “the African way.”  (Applause.)  It undermines the dignity of the people you represent.

Only Africans can end corruption in their countries.  As African governments commit to taking action, the United States will work with you to combat illicit financing, and promote good governance and transparency and rule of law.  And we already have strong laws in place that say to U.S. companies, you can't engage in bribery to try to get business -- which not all countries have.  And we actually enforce it and police it.

And let me add that criminal networks are both fueling corruption and threatening Africa’s precious wildlife -- and with it, the tourism that many African economies count on.  So America also stands with you in the fight against wildlife trafficking.  That's something that has to be addressed.  (Applause.)

But, ultimately, the most powerful antidote to the old ways of doing things is this new generation of African youth.  History shows that the nations that do best are the ones that invest in the education of their people.  (Applause.)  You see, in this information age, jobs can flow anywhere, and they typically will flow to where workers are literate and highly skilled and online. And Africa’s young people are ready to compete.  I've met them -- they are hungry, they are eager.  They’re willing to work hard.  So we've got to invest in them.  As Africa invests in education, our entrepreneurship programs are helping innovators start new businesses and create jobs right here in Africa.  And the men and women in our Young African Leaders Initiative today will be the leaders who can transform business and civil society and governments tomorrow.

Africa’s progress will depend on development that truly lifts countries from poverty to prosperity -- because people everywhere deserve the dignity of a life free from want.  A child born in Africa today is just as equal and just as worthy as a child born in Asia or Europe or America.  At the recent development conference here in Addis, African leadership helped forge a new global compact for financing that fuels development. And under the AU’s leadership, the voice of a united Africa will help shape the world’s next set of development goals, and you’re pursuing a vision of the future that you want for Africa.

And America’s approach to development -- the central focus of our engagement with Africa -- is focused on helping you build your own capacity to realize that vision.  Instead of just shipping food aid to Africa, we’ve helped more than two million farmers use new techniques to boost their yields, feed more people, reduce hunger.  With our new alliance of government and the private sector investing billions of dollars in African agriculture, I believe we can achieve our goal and lift 50 million Africans from poverty.

Instead of just sending aid to build power plants, our Power Africa initiative is mobilizing billions of dollars in investments from governments and businesses to reduce the number of Africans living without electricity.  Now, an undertaking of this magnitude will not be quick.  It will take many years.  But working together, I believe we can bring electricity to more than 60 million African homes and businesses and connect more Africans to the global economy.  (Applause.)

Instead of just telling Africa, you’re on your own, in dealing with climate change, we’re delivering new tools and financing to more than 40 African nations to help them prepare and adapt.  By harnessing the wind and sun, your vast geothermal energy and rivers for hydropower, you can turn this climate threat into an economic opportunity.  And I urge Africa to join us in rejecting old divides between North and South so we can forge a strong global climate agreement this year in Paris.  Because sparing some of the world’s poorest people from rising seas, more intense droughts, shortages of water and food is a matter of survival and a matter of human dignity.

Instead of just sending medicine, we’re investing in better treatments and helping Africa prevent and treat diseases.  As the United States continues to provide billions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and as your countries take greater ownership of health programs, we’re moving toward a historic accomplishment -- the first AIDS-free generation.  (Applause.)  And if the world learned anything from Ebola, it’s that the best way to prevent epidemics is to build strong public health systems that stop diseases from spreading in the first place.  So America is proud to partner with the AU and African countries in this mission.  Today, I can announce that of the $1 billion that the United States is devoting to this work globally, half will support efforts here in Africa.  (Applause.)

I believe Africa’s progress will also depend on democracy, because Africans, like people everywhere, deserve the dignity of being in control of their own lives.  (Applause.)  We all know what the ingredients of real democracy are.  They include free and fair elections, but also freedom of speech and the press, freedom of assembly.  These rights are universal.  They’re written into African constitutions.  (Applause.)  The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights declares that “every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being.”  From Sierra Leone, Ghana, Benin, to Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, democracy has taken root.  In Nigeria, more than 28 million voters bravely cast their ballots and power transferred as it should -- peacefully.  (Applause.)
Yet at this very moment, these same freedoms are denied to many Africans.  And I have to proclaim, democracy is not just formal elections.  (Applause.)  When journalists are put behind bars for doing their jobs, or activists are threatened as governments crack down on civil society -- (applause) -- then you may have democracy in name, but not in substance.  (Applause.)   And I'm convinced that nations cannot realize the full promise of independence until they fully protect the rights of their people.

And this is true even for countries that have made important democratic progress.  As I indicated during my visit to Kenya, the remarkable gains that country has made with a new constitution, with its election, cannot be jeopardized by restrictions on civil society.  Likewise, our host, Ethiopians have much to be proud of -- I've been amazed at all the wonderful work that's being done here -- and it's true that the elections that took place here occurred without violence.  But as I discussed with Prime Minister Hailemariam, that’s just the start of democracy.  I believe Ethiopia will not fully unleash the potential of its people if journalists are restricted or legitimate opposition groups can't participate in the campaign process.  And, to his credit, the Prime Minister acknowledged that more work will need to be done for Ethiopia to be a full-fledged, sustainable democracy.  (Applause.)  

So these are conversations we have to have as friends. Our American democracy is not perfect.  We've worked for many years  -- (applause) -- but one thing we do is we continually reexamine to figure out how can we make our democracy better.  And that's a force of strength for us, being willing to look and see honestly what we need to be doing to fulfill the promise of our founding documents.

And every country has to go through that process.  No country is perfect, but we have to be honest, and strive to expand freedoms, to broaden democracy.  The bottom line is that when citizens cannot exercise their rights, the world has a responsibility to speak out.  And America will, even if it’s sometimes uncomfortable -- (applause) -- even when it’s sometimes directed toward our friends.

And I know that there’s some countries that don't say anything -- (laughter) -- and maybe that's easier for leaders to deal with.  (Laughter.)  But you're kind of stuck with us -- this is how we are.  (Applause.)  We believe in these things and we're going to keep on talking about them.

And I want to repeat, we do this not because we think our democracy is perfect, or we think that every country has to follow precisely our path.  For more than two centuries since our independence, we’re still working on perfecting our union.  We're not immune from criticism.  When we fall short of our ideals, we strive to do better.  (Applause.)  But when we speak out for our principles, at home and abroad, we stay true to our values and we help lift up the lives of people beyond our borders.  And we think that's important.  And it's especially important, I believe, for those of us of African descent, because we've known what it feels like to be on the receiving end of injustice.  We know what it means to be discriminated against.  (Applause.)  We know what it means to be jailed.  So how can we stand by when it's happening to somebody else?

I'll be frank with you, it can't just be America that's talking about these things.  Fellow African countries have to talk about these things.  (Applause.)  Just as other countries championed your break from colonialism, our nations must all raise our voices when universal rights are being denied.  For if we truly believe that Africans are equal in dignity, then Africans have an equal right to freedoms that are universal -- that’s a principle we all have to defend.  (Applause.)  And it's not just a Western idea; it's a human idea.

I have to also say that Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end.  (Applause.)  Now, let me be honest with you -- I do not understand this.  (Laughter.)  I am in my second term.  It has been an extraordinary privilege for me to serve as President of the United States.  I cannot imagine a greater honor or a more interesting job.  I love my work.  But under our Constitution, I cannot run again.  (Laughter and applause.)  I can't run again.  I actually think I'm a pretty good President -- I think if I ran I could win.  (Laughter and applause.)  But I can't.

So there’s a lot that I'd like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law.  (Applause.)  And no one person is above the law.  Not even the President.  (Applause.)  And I'll be honest with you -- I’m looking forward to life after being President.  (Laughter.)  I won't have such a big security detail all the time.  (Laughter.)  It means I can go take a walk.  I can spend time with my family.  I can find other ways to serve.  I can visit Africa more often.  (Applause.)  The point is, I don't understand why people want to stay so long.  (Laughter.)  Especially when they’ve got a lot of money.  (Laughter and applause.)

When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife -- as we’ve seen in Burundi.  (Applause.)  And this is often just a first step down a perilous path.  And sometimes you’ll hear leaders say, well, I'm the only person who can hold this nation together.  (Laughter.)  If that's true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.  (Applause.)

You look at Nelson Mandela -- Madiba, like George Washington, forged a lasting legacy not only because of what they did in office, but because they were willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully.  (Applause.)  And just as the African Union has condemned coups and illegitimate transfers of power, the AU’s authority and strong voice can also help the people of Africa ensure that their leaders abide by term limits and their constitutions.  (Applause.)  Nobody should be president for life.
And your country is better off if you have new blood and new ideas.  (Applause.)  I'm still a pretty young man, but I know that somebody with new energy and new insights will be good for my country.  (Applause.)  It will be good for yours, too, in some cases.

Africa’s progress will also depend on security and peace -- because an essential part of human dignity is being safe and free from fear.  In Angola, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, we’ve seen conflicts end and countries work to rebuild.  But from Somalia and Nigeria to Mali and Tunisia, terrorists continue to target innocent civilians.  Many of these groups claim the banner of religion, but hundreds of millions of African Muslims know that Islam means peace.  (Applause.)  And we must call groups like al Qaeda, ISIL, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram -- we must call them what they are -- murderers.  (Applause.)

In the face of threats, Africa -- and the African Union --has shown leadership.  Because of the AU force in Somalia,
al-Shabaab controls less territory and the Somali government is growing stronger.  In central Africa, the AU-led mission continues to degrade the Lord’s Resistance Army.  In the Lake Chad Basin, forces from several nations -- with the backing of the AU -- are fighting to end Boko Haram’s senseless brutality.  And today, we salute all those who serve to protect the innocent, including so many brave African peacekeepers.

Now, as Africa stands against terror and conflict, I want you to know that the United States stands with you.  With training and support, we’re helping African forces grow stronger. The United States is supporting the AU’s efforts to strengthen peacekeeping, and we’re working with countries in the region to deal with emerging crises with the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership.

The world must do more to help as well.  This fall at the United Nations, I will host a summit to secure new commitments to strengthen international support for peacekeeping, including here in Africa.  And building on commitments that originated here in the AU, we’ll work to develop a new partnership between the U.N. and the AU that can provide reliable support for AU peace operations.  If African governments and international partners step up with strong support, we can transform how we work together to promote security and peace in Africa.

Our efforts to ensure our shared security must be matched by a commitment to improve governance.  Those things are connected. Good governance is one of the best weapons against terrorism and instability.  Our fight against terrorist groups, for example, will never be won if we fail to address legitimate grievances that terrorists may try to exploit, if we don’t build trust with all communities, if we don’t uphold the rule of law.  There’s a saying, and I believe it is true -- if we sacrifice liberty in the name of security, we risk losing both.  (Applause.)  

This same seriousness of purpose is needed to end conflicts. In the Central African Republic, the spirit of dialogue recently shown by ordinary citizens must be matched by leaders committed to inclusive elections and a peaceful transition.  In Mali, the comprehensive peace agreement must be fulfilled.  And leaders in Sudan must know their nation will never truly thrive so long as they wage war against their own people -- the world will not forget about Darfur.

In South Sudan, the joy of independence has descended into the despair of violence.  I was there at the United Nations when we held up South Sudan as the promise of a new beginning. And neither Mr. Kiir, nor Mr. Machar have shown, so far, any interest in sparing their people from this suffering, or reaching a political solution.

Yesterday, I met with leaders from this region.  We agree that, given the current situation, Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar must reach an agreement by August 17th -- because if they do not, I believe the international community must raise the costs of intransigence.  And the world awaits the report of the AU Commission of Inquiry, because accountability for atrocities must be part of any lasting peace in Africa’s youngest nation.  (Applause.)

And finally, Africa’s progress will depend on upholding the human rights of all people -- for if each of us is to be treated with dignity, each of us must be sure to also extend that same dignity to others.  As President, I make it a point to meet with many of our Young African Leaders.  And one was a young man from Senegal.  He said something wonderful about being together with so many of his African brothers and sisters.  He said, “Here, I have met Africa, the [Africa] I’ve always believed in.  She’s beautiful.  She’s young.  She’s full of talent and motivation and ambition.”  I agree.

Africa is the beautiful, talented daughters who are just as capable as Africa’s sons.  (Applause.)  And as a father, I believe that my two daughters have to have the same chance to pursue their dreams as anybody’s son -- and that same thing holds true for girls here in Africa.  (Applause.)  Our girls have to be treated the same.

We can’t let old traditions stand in the way. The march of history shows that we have the capacity to broaden our moral imaginations.  We come to see that some traditions are good for us, they keep us grounded, but that, in our modern world, other traditions set us back.  When African girls are subjected to the mutilation of their bodies, or forced into marriage at the ages of 9 or 10 or 11 -- that sets us back.  That's not a good tradition.  It needs to end.  (Applause.)

When more than 80 percent of new HIV cases in the hardest-hit countries are teenage girls, that’s a tragedy; that sets us back.  So America is beginning a partnership with 10 African countries -- Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- to keep teenage girls safe and AIDS-free.  (Applause.)  And when girls cannot go to school and grow up not knowing how to read or write -- that denies the world future women engineers, future women doctors, future women business owners, future women presidents -- that sets us all back.  (Applause.)  That's a bad tradition -- not providing our girls the same education as our sons.

I was saying in Kenya, nobody would put out a football team and then just play half the team.  You’d lose.  (Applause.)  the same is true when it comes to getting everybody and education.  You can't leave half the team off -- our young women.  So as part of America’s support for the education and the health of our daughters, my wife, Michelle, is helping to lead a global campaign, including a new effort in Tanzania and Malawi, with a simple message -- Let Girls Learn -- let girls learn so they grow up healthy and they grow up strong.  (Applause.)  And that will be good for families.  And they will raise smart, healthy children, and that will be good for every one of your nations.

Africa is the beautiful, strong women that these girls grow up to become.  The single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed is how it treats its women.  (Applause.)  When women have health care and women have education, families are stronger, communities are more prosperous, children do better in school, nations are more prosperous.  Look at the amazing African women here in this hall.  (Applause.)  If you want your country to grow and succeed, you have to empower your women.  And if you want to empower more women, America will be your partner.  (Applause.)
Let’s work together to stop sexual assault and domestic violence.  Let’s make clear that we will not tolerate rape as a weapon of war -- it’s a crime.  (Applause.)  And those who commit it must be punished.  Let’s lift up the next generation of women leaders who can help fight injustice and forge peace and start new businesses and create jobs -- and some might hire some men, too.  (Laughter.)   We’ll all be better off when women have equal futures.

And Africa is the beautiful tapestry of your cultures and ethnicities and races and religions.  Last night, we saw this amazing dance troupe made up of street children who had formed a dance troupe and they performed for the Prime Minister and myself.  And there were 80 different languages and I don't know how many ethnic groups.  And there were like 30 different dances that were being done.  And the Prime Minister was trying to keep up with -- okay, I think that one is -- (laughter) -- and they were moving fast.  And that diversity here in Ethiopia is representative of diversity all throughout Africa.  (Applause.)  And that's a strength.

Now, yesterday, I had the privilege to view Lucy -- you may know Lucy -- she’s our ancestor, more than 3 million years old.  (Applause.)  In this tree of humanity, with all of our branches and diversity, we all go back to the same root.  We’re all one family -- we're all one tribe.  And yet so much of the suffering in our world stems from our failure to remember that -- to not recognize ourselves in each other.  (Applause.)

We think because somebody’s skin is slightly different, or their hair is slightly different, or their religious faith is differently expressed, or they speak a different language that it justifies somehow us treating them with less dignity.  And that becomes the source of so many of our problems.  And we think somehow that we make ourselves better by putting other people down.  And that becomes the source of so many of our problems.  When we begin to see other as somehow less than ourselves -- when we succumb to these artificial divisions of faith or sect or tribe or ethnicity -- then even the most awful abuses are justified in the minds of those who are thinking in those ways.  And in the end, abusers lose their own humanity, as well.  (Applause.)

Nelson Mandela taught us, “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Every one of us is equal.  Every one of us has worth.  Every one of us matters.  And when we respect the freedom of others -- no matter the color of their skin, or how they pray or who they are or who they love -- we are all more free.  (Applause.)  Your dignity depends on my dignity, and my dignity depends on yours.  Imagine if everyone had that spirit in their hearts.  Imagine if governments operated that way.  (Applause.)  Just imagine what the world could look like -- the future that we could bequeath these young people.

Yes, in our world, old thinking can be a stubborn thing.  That's one of the reasons why we need term limits -- old people think old ways.  And you can see my grey hair, I'm getting old.  (Laughter.)  The old ways can be stubborn.  But I believe the human heart is stronger.  I believe hearts can change.  I believe minds can open.  That’s how change happens.  That’s how societies move forward.  It's not always a straight line -- step by halting step -- sometimes you go forward, you move back a little bit.   But I believe we are marching, we are pointing towards ideals of justice and equality.

That’s how your nations won independence -- not just with rifles, but with principles and ideals.  (Applause.)  That's how African Americans won our civil rights.  That's how South Africans -- black and white -- tore down apartheid.  That's why I can stand before you today as the first African American President of the United States.  (Applause.)

New thinking.  Unleashing growth that creates opportunity.  Promoting development that lifts all people out of poverty.  Supporting democracy that gives citizens their say.  Advancing the security and justice that delivers peace.  Respecting the human rights of all people.  These are the keys to progress -- not just in Africa, but around the world.  And this is the work that we can do together.

And I am hopeful.  As I prepare to return home, my thoughts are with that same young man from Senegal, who said:  Here, I have met Africa, the [Africa] I’ve always believed in.  She’s beautiful and young, full of talent and motivation and ambition. To which I would simply add, as you build the Africa you believe in, you will have no better partner, no better friend than the United States of America.  (Applause.)

God bless Africa.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  (Applause.) "


END
2:54 P.M. EAT 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ETHIOPIA IS ELECTED AS WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2015

On June 25, 2015 the General Assembly of the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT), has taken under consideration the list of candidates for WORLD BEST TOURIST  DESTINATION for 2015.
Academician Dr. Mircea Constantinescu, Director of European Tourism Academy presented the list of candidates and the list of reports and accompanying reports for each of the 31  countries registered candidatures.
Ethiopian tourists site
Abune Yemata Guh of Tigiray Region (Source:-Embassy of UK in Ethiopia Tweeting)
 Professor Dr. Mircea Constantinescu presented also the figures regarding previous award winner for 2014-The Republic of Zimbabwe who become the most sought after destination  and the number one country in Africa, in term of tourism growth for last year.


Lao PDR- 2013 winner of WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION- also crossed the 3 million tourist bench mark, surpassing all the countries in the region in terms of tourism,  concluded Academician Mircea Constantinescu.

Afterword, the debate on the WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2015 started at the indication of ECTT President-Professor Dr. Anton Caragea. On the debate for  the WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD FOR 2015, Professor Dr. Anton Caragea, President of European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) presented a report  titled: ETHIOPIA : THE PERFECT CULTURAL DESTINATION; THE LAND CHOSEN BY GOD !

He proposed ETHIOPIA as the winner of WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2015 and as receiver of the FAVORITE CULTURAL DESTINATION distinction for 2015.

The report noted the reasons for awarding WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2015 PRIZE to ETHIOPIA:

1. The excellent preservation of humanity landmarks such as: ruins of the city of Aksum- the heart of ancient Ethiopia, Fasil Ghebbi- the residence of the Ethiopian emperors during  the 16th and 17th century, Harar Jugol- 82 mosques, 102 shrines, and unique interior design in the townhouses, Lalibela- holy site encompassing eleven medieval stone carved churches from the 13th century, Konso Cultural Landscape (containing 55 kilometers of stonewalled terraces and fortified settlements), Lower Valley of the Awash-where humanity made his first steps and where was found the Eva of all mankind-Lucy fossil’s, Lower Valley of the Omo also containing fragments pertaining to early humanity development and the fossils of Homo Gracilis.  
All this sites where recognized as being of world significance and registered as UNESCO World heritage monuments.


2. The rich cultural and historical legacy of Ethiopia is not confined to the previous  presented list: new prominent landmarks are added such as: Sheik Hussein Religious, Cultural and Historical Site, Melka Kunture- Paleolithic site in the upper Awash Valley, Gedeo Cultural and Natural Landscape, Bale Mountains National Park, Sof Omar Cave- the longest cave in Ethiopia at 15.1 kilometres long; and the longest system of caves in Africa- sacred for Islam and for local Oromo population.

In order to fully grasp the natural potential of Ethiopia natural parks and natural reservations we must look at the potential of Simien National Park garnering mountain peaks, deep valleys, and sharp precipices dropping about 1,500 m.


3.  The ambitious plan drafted by the Government of Ethiopia under the name of Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Tourism as a tool for poverty eradication, for local  community development and for economic independence is a successful strategy carved by H.E. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Community based, social oriented tourism, promoted by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, is a perfect way of sharing revenue, growing income and supporting marginal and rural communities development.

The way in which social-tourism has become the base for local economic development,  providing benefits to communities, makes social-friendly tourism, the lesson that today-the REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA is offering to the world.

4. Giving tourists access to outstanding and pristine nature and the opportunity to explore nature, to contribute to ecological preservation, and the opportunity to visit extraordinary places.

All these regions and national parks, are a model of achieving ecological and green tourism that must be recognized throughout the world.

5. The ongoing development and protection of cultural, religious and historical shrines of the Republic of ETHIOPIA , the transformation of Lalibela into a historical and spiritual center,  offering to the visitors a glimpse into rich culture and heritage of peoples of ETHIOPIA.

Ethiopian tourists site
One of Lalibela's famous stone-cut churches (Source:-Embassy of UK in Ethiopia Tweeting)
 

Lalibela is the land of faith and miracles that must be presented to the world as a center of religious and faith significance equal to Jerusalem only in the world.

Lalibela must be the center of religious pilgrimage and cultural tourism offering to world  tourists the complex healing experience of cultural legacy, religious special atmosphere and faith imbued air.

6. The preservation of outstanding historical and cultural heritage in the form of the former capital of the Kingdom of Ethiopia, the Gondar cultural complex , an ample palatial complex from the 13th Century, offering a pungent presence of one of the African greatest empire.

7. Today, Gondar castle complex offers tourists bound for Ethiopia an open air museum with a rare collection of historical and archaeological treasures that educate and enrich the world.

8. The REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA is also a perfect center for safari and adventure tourism, offering large areas suitable for this special kind of tourism, and the necessary infrastructure to welcome the adventure seeker, its safety and peace, makes the country, one of the world’s top adventure destinations.

9. Keeping alive community blending traditions, allows tourists and visitors to be part of the ETHIOPIA unique people’s ethnic fabric, which offers the possibility for an enriching cultural experience, are all achievements that make the REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA a perfect cultural class destination.

Mr. Mihai Prundianu, Chairman of the Trade Mission of the ECTT, marked the necessity that, out of the regular order, to have another African country declared as WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION in sign of continuity for last year and as appreciation mark for President Robert Gabriel Mugabe , the current President of African Union and Zimbabwe Tourism Minister-Walter Mzembi.

This year we have to select another African country to mark Europe and world solidarity with Africa and Africa`s Union President Robert Mugabe.

It is appropriate for Europe to express its commitment to, and appreciation for, Africa by  crowning ETHIOPIA as THE FAVORITE CULTURAL DESTINATION AND WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2015 stated Chairman Mihai Prundianu.

Senator Ionel Agrigoroaiei, Director of European Parliamentary Committee in the European Council on Tourism and Trade and Senator of Romanian Parliament stated the opinion of all present at ECTT conference and declared that the REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA is the deserving candidate, with a perfect record of promoting social-friendly tourism, ecological and poverty reduction strategy based on tourism, and asking for a unanimous vote in favor of the REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA.

President Dr. Anton Caragea asked for a vote and European Council on Tourism and Trade decided, unanimously, to award WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION FOR 2015 TITLE TO REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA and to declare REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA- THE FAVORITE CULTURAL DESTINATION in 2015.
Hamer tribeswomen's brightly coloured dresses
Hamer tribeswomen's brightly coloured dresses

The meeting was also presented with the Official Invitation, from the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of the REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA via the Minister of Culture and  Tourism Mr. Amin Abdulkadir, for a  delegation of high ranking officials of the European Council on Tourism and Trade, to present the WORLD BEST TOURIST DESTINATION AWARD in Addis Ababa, in person, to His Excellency Prime Minister of  REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA- HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN, European Academician and  outstanding personality in world tourism, today.

Concluding the debate, Professor Anton Caragea, President of the European Council on Tourism and Trade marked the importance of the moment the most impressive world tourism prize was entrusted to ETHIOPIA.

The safety of the country and the huge hospitality potential of Ethiopia is revealed by the acceptance of the invitation for a familiarization visit of high ranking members of European Council on Tourism and Trade to the ETHIOPIA.

Ethiopia is from today a perfect, safe and outstanding place to visit, the countries gates are opened and all world tourism experts expressed their confidence in the potential and future of tourism in ETHIOPIA, concluded Professor Anton Caragea, President of the European Council on Tourism and Trade.

 
 

 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Divine Ethiopia

Its landscapes are biblical and its rituals haven’t changed for centuries. But amid the cave churches and primitive tribes are new lodges – and helicopters (or donkeys) to reach them


By: Stanley Stewart from Telegraph.com

Sunday Service in the church of Abuna Yemata Guh  requires nerves of steel. Yet they assured me the congregations were good. “Don’t worry,” the priest fussed. “Pregnant women are attending, old people are attending, tiny children are attending.”

I wasn’t sure I would be attending. I was standing on a narrow ledge. Below me was a 1,000ft drop to the valley floor. Somewhere above me, beyond a sheer polished cliff, was the church. My legs felt like water. I was sweating in places I had never sweated before. At that moment, the eye of a needle seemed easier to negotiate. “You must try,” the priest whispered. “God is watching.”

There are moments when Ethiopia seems to belong to an atlas of the imagination – part legend, part fairy-tale, part Old Testament book, part pulling your leg. In this land of wonders there are medieval castles of a black Camelot, monasteries among Middle Earth peaks accessible only by rope and chains, the ruined palace of the Queen of Sheba and the original Ten Commandments in a sealed box guarded by mute monks with killer instincts.

In the northern highlands priests with white robes and shepherds’ crooks appear to have stepped out of a Biblical painting. In the southern river valleys bare-breasted tribeswomen, who scar their torsos for erotic effect and insert plates the size of table mats in their lower lips, seemed to have emerged from a National Geographic magazine circa 1930. Ethiopia “resembles no other country in Africa”, wrote the great explorer Wilfred Thesiger, “or anywhere else.”

Exploring Ethiopia by helicopter
Exploring Ethiopia by helicopter
 Its isolation is legendary. Not only was Ethiopia never colonised, but it also inflicted the greatest defeat on a European army in the history of the continent – at the Battle of Adwa in 1896. It was only the Italians, of course, but it still counts. Ethiopians were “forgetful of the world”, Edward Gibbon wrote, “by whom they were forgotten”. For long medieval centuries Europeans believed that Ethiopia was home to Prester John, legendary Christian ruler, descendant of one of the three Magi, keeper of the Fountain of Youth, protector of the Holy Grail, and all-round good guy who would one day rescue the Holy Land from the Muslims.

Crossing the threshold of the church of Medhane Alem in Lalibela , I seemed to step back a thousand years. Cut by shafts of dusty light from high windows, the interior gloom was scented with frankincense. I came round a pillar to find a dozen priests leaning on their croziers, chanting in Ge’ez , a language no one has spoken since the Middle Ages. The sound was a curious cross between Gregorian plainsong and a nasal Arabic call to prayer. These were among the earliest Christian rites, unchanged for well over 1,500 years (for more than 4,000 years, the writter assumes ages of Christianity after King Ezana only) . Worshippers sat on the ground against the bare stone walls, wearing clothes that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Book of Genesis. They gazed mournfully at a pair of threadbare theatrical curtains. Beyond the curtains lay the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies , which held the Ark of the Covenant .

For a country with so much to offer, it is surprising to find tourism in Ethiopia still in its infancy. The war and famine of the 1970s and 80s, though now almost ancient history, may be partly responsible. But a deeper issue may be a feature of the national character – a lack of entrepreneurial urgency. Ethiopia may not be big on stylish boutiques hotels, littered with objets d’art and architectural magazines, but it is a delightfully old-fashioned place, with ravishing landscapes, sleepy villages and friendly, unhurried people.

It is difficult to pick a single destination from Ethiopia’s treasure chest, but first-time visitors shouldn’t miss Lalibela and its remarkable churches, all below ground level, and all carved from the rock as entire buildings with surrounding courtyards, exterior walls and roofs. Historians are uncertain about much of their history but Ethiopians have a handle on it. A celestial team of angels came in at night to help out after the terrestrial workforce had clocked off. 

There are always two histories in Ethiopia: the history of historians, sometimes a trifle vague, often tentative; and the history of Ethiopians, a people’s history, confident, detailed, splendid, often fantastical. The two rarely coincide. Historians are still wringing their hands about the mysteries of Aksum  in Tigray  in the north, with its colossal stelae, its underground tombs, its ruined palaces and its possible connections to the Queen of Sheba. For a thousand years, until about AD 700, it was a dominant power in the region, “the last of the great civilisations of antiquity”, according to Neville Chittick , the archaeologist, “to be revealed to modern knowledge”.

Fortunately, the Ethiopians are on hand to fill in most of the historical blanks. The city was founded, they say, by the great-grandson of Noah. For 400 years it was ruled by a serpent who enjoyed a diet of milk and virgins. Historians may be divided about the Queen of Sheba but Ethiopians know she set off from here to Jerusalem with 797 camels and lot of rather racy lingerie to seduce King Solomon. Historians carelessly lost track of the Ten Commandments not long after Moses came down from Mount Sinai. Ethiopians have the originals under lock and key in a chapel in Aksum, guarded by those mute monks, assigned to kill all intruders.

Crossing the threshold of the church of Medhane Alem in Lalibela , I seemed to step back a thousand years. Cut by shafts of dusty light from high windows, the interior gloom was scented with frankincense. I came round a pillar to find a dozen priests leaning on their croziers, chanting in Ge’ez , a language no one has spoken since the Middle Ages. The sound was a curious cross between Gregorian plainsong and a nasal Arabic call to prayer. These were among the earliest Christian rites, unchanged for well over 1,500 years. Worshippers sat on the ground against the bare stone walls, wearing clothes that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Book of Genesis. They gazed mournfully at a pair of threadbare theatrical curtains. Beyond the curtains lay the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies , which held the Ark of the Covenant .

The landscapes of Tigray are appropriately Biblical. It is a world where everything comes and goes by foot or hoof, a world of timeless villages perched beneath vast mesas and plunging ravines, a world where it is possible to imagine startling young men turning water into wine. With my bag loaded onto a Palm Sunday donkey, I set off on a three-day walk down the Erar Valley . I strolled through the latticed shade of eucalyptus trees, past scented banks of sage and mint, past stands of prickly pear and neatly ploughed fields framed by irrigation channels. I rested under the shade of vast fig trees beneath colonies of hornbills, bee-eaters and firefinches. A man in a white robe was winnowing wheat, tossing yellow forkfuls into the air, allowing the wind to take the chaff. Children ghosted out of orchards with home-made toys: a ball of goatskin and twine, a doll of twigs and wool. In the late morning I passed people coming back from the weekly market, two hours’ walk away. They were carrying some of life’s essentials: bags of rice, new sickles, bolts of bright cloth, blocks of salt that had come up from the Danakil Desert  by camel caravan. Everyone stopped to greet me with handshakes and smiles.

For a country with so much to offer, it is surprising to find tourism in Ethiopia still in its infancy. The war and famine of the 1970s and 80s, though now almost ancient history, may be partly responsible. But a deeper issue may be a feature of the national character – a lack of entrepreneurial urgency. Ethiopia may not be big on stylish boutiques hotels, littered with objets d’art and architectural magazines, but it is a delightfully old-fashioned place, with ravishing landscapes, sleepy villages and friendly, unhurried people.
The Church of St George in Lalibela
The Church of St George in Lalibela

It is difficult to pick a single destination from Ethiopia’s treasure chest, but first-time visitors shouldn’t miss Lalibela and its remarkable churches, all below ground level, and all carved from the rock as entire buildings with surrounding courtyards, exterior walls and roofs. Historians are uncertain about much of their history but Ethiopians have a handle on it. A celestial team of angels came in at night to help out after the terrestrial workforce had clocked off.

The trek was part of a new community project. The guides and the transport – my faithful donkey – were provided by local villagers who, with the help of NGOs, have also built hedamos,  or guesthouses. There is something special about these Tigrayan guesthouses – their location. Tigray is a mountainous region, characterised by ambas: dramatic, sheer-sided, flat-topped mountains. Most of the treks are easygoing, following the valley floors through pastoral landscapes. But towards the end of each day I started to climb with the guide, following steep paths along narrow rising ledges, to the summits of these anvil-headed ambas.
Tigray
Tigray

On the top, we emerged into a whole new world of luminous light and distant views. Here we found our home for the night, the community hedamo, perched in splendid isolation on the lip of a colossal escarpment, perhaps 3,000ft above the landscapes below. The views were breathtaking. We looked straight down, past circling eagles, to the world we had just left – ploughed fields, stone tukuls, eddying sheep, tiny white-robed figures trailing along dust lanes. Farther away, rivers carved swathes of ancient earth, canyons yawned open and valleys tumbled into one another. Farther still, mountains patrolled the horizons. With a slight turn of the head, I took in hundreds of miles.

Hamer tribeswomen's brightly coloured dresses
Hamer tribeswomen's brightly coloured dresses
At Erar and Shimbrety , the stone-built guesthouses, with their little courtyards and roof terraces, were comfortable but basic. Village women prepared delicious Ethiopian dinners that made little concession to Western tastes. The loos, Western-style, were in spartan huts. Washing facilities were wooden buckets of warm water. There was no electricity, just lanterns and candles. Yet these felt like the most luxurious places I had ever stayed. It was the luxury of unique experience, of meeting local villagers on their own ground, of engaging with an ancient way of life, of being far from tourism’s well-trodden trails. And it was the luxury of spectacular location. I have never been anywhere with more stunning views. 
At Erar, night came with equatorial suddenness. A troop of gelada baboons , 30 or so strong, made their way home across the summit of the amba after a day’s feeding. They climbed down over the edge of the escarpment to precipitous ledges where they would be safe from leopards. The sun set over distant, mythical-looking mountains. When I turned round, a fat full moon was rising directly behind me. The world seemed to be in perfect balance.

Tigray, too, has its remarkable buildings. Scattered across these mountains are more than 120 ancient churches, most excavated in remote rock-faces like caves. Until the 1960s they were virtually unknown to the outside world. Older than the churches at Lalibela, they are little understood by historians. Which means we are left with the fabulous oral history of the Ethiopians.

Abuna Yemata Guh  is one of the more challenging churches to reach. A rock butte soared above us; I was getting a crick in my neck and a serious case of vertigo just looking at it. I imagined, as with the sheer-sided ambas, that there would be some circuitous path, some scrambling route to the top. It was only when we had trekked up from the valley floor and gained the narrow ledge that I began to realise I was going to have to climb a cliff-face, in fact several cliff-faces, to get to church.

A priest was waiting on the ledge, with the kind of morbid face usually reserved for the last rites. He advised me to remove my shoes and socks; bare feet would give me a better grip. It turned out that two men, who I had assumed to be casual passers-by, were in fact there to try to prevent me from plummeting to my death.
We started to climb. My two assistants, one above and one below, guided me to precarious foot- and hand-holds. This was rock climbing without the ropes, the safety harness or the Chris Bonington confidence. Spread-eagled on the cliff-face, clinging to the minor indentations that passed for handholds, I felt a trifle out of my comfort zone. Had I know what was in for, I would probably not have chosen Abuna Yemata Guh for a casual visit.

But once I reached it, I was thrilled I had. The climb might be hair-raising but the church is unmissable.

At the top of the cliff, not daring to look down, I gazed ahead, just in time to see a side-chamber full of bones – the priest insisted they were deceased clerics, not fallen visitors. Then I shuffled along a narrow ledge and came to a cave-like opening. The priest wrestled with a key the size of a cricket bat. A door opened and I stepped into the gloom of the tiny church, hardly larger than a modest drawing room. As my eyes adjusted, I became aware of faces round the walls. Then the priest lit a torch and held it aloft. Suddenly the dark walls were alive with figures: apostles and saints, prophets and the archangels, Mary and the infant Christ. The famous Nine Saints from the Levant , who had brought Christianity to Ethiopia in the fifth century, were here, as was Saint Yared,  who wrote so many of the early Ethiopian chants. The builder of this cliff church was here, Abu Yemata, mounted on a horse and accompanied by his nephew Benjamin, who had painted the murals.
The priest, a humble villager, told me the stories that swarmed across these walls. He told the stories as they had been told to him, as they had been handed down from one priest to the next from the earliest days of the Christian era. He referred to the apostles as if they were old friends. He talked of the saints as if they were men who had known his grandparents. He told me about the groom who had neglected Yemata’s horse. Yemata had turned him into a weasel. There, he said, bringing his torch near to the wall, illuminating a small weasel-headed man beneath the horse. 
I asked why the church was here, so difficult to access, so high in these cliffs. The priest said it was for reasons of safety – it may well have been built when Christianity was still vulnerable. Then he added: “We are closer to God here, away from our world, and closer to His.” He lifted an ancient text enclosed in an ox-hide satchel from a nail on the wall. He asked if he should say prayers. I said I thought a few words might be a good idea. After all, I still had to get down that cliff-face.

Journeys by Design (01273 623790; journeysbydesign.com) can organise a two-week private journey to Ethiopia, including Lalibela, a three-night trek through northern Tigray staying in Gheralta Lodge, and three nights at Bale Mountain Lodge, from £6,200 per person, excluding international flights. A seven-night helicopter safari to include all of the above, plus a flight to 300ft below sea level in the Danakil Depression, costs from £19,810 per person, based on four sharing a Eurocopter B4.

This feature appears in the summer issue of Ultratravel, the Telegraph's luxury-travel magazine, available on Saturday May 30