Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 11

May 7, 2012 by

Aba Gebre Meskel (Father Servant of the Cross) was the morals teacher/orthodox priest assigned to our Haile Selassie 1 Secondary School in Gondar, Ethiopia. My sense was that he arrived at about the same time as the twelve of us. Even without his turban he was very tall. As our nearest neighbor we saw a lot of him and gained a deep respect for his views and good works.

Emerging Powers vie for Influence in Africa

May 4, 2012 by

The end of the Cold War resulted in the strategic disengagement of western countries, including the United States, from Africa. They continued their trade, aid and assistance relationship with Africa, but once the threat of communist expansion disappeared, the West interacted with the continent in a different way. This change permitted an opening for a variety of emerging countries to expand their ties with Africa.

YPIA Announces its 2012 Top 5 Young Hollywood Celebrities (Under 40) Helping Africa

April 24, 2012 by

YPIA is happy to announce its 2012 top five young Hollywood celebrities who take time out of their busy schedules to assist the African continent. This is an annual award and serves as a precursor to the May release of YPIA’s top 35 under 35 project. These under 40 years old ‘megastars’ often help shine light on topics that would otherwise go unnoticed by most of the general public. And for that, we thank you.

Goldman Prize for Kenyan River Activist Ikal Angelei

April 16, 2012 by

Ikal Angelei, the founder of Friends of Lake Turkana in Kenya, receives the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco today. The award will honor an activist who is defending the interests of 500,000 poor indigenous people against a destructive hydropower dam, and has successfully taken on many of the world’s biggest dam builders and financiers.

Commentary: Somali’s Compete for Foreign Domination

April 12, 2012 by

The 23 March 2012 death of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed – former president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) – sparked an intense debate about his political legacy. President Yusuf left an indelible mark on the history of Somalia. Some present him as a national hero and honest broker; others see him as a dictator, a corrupt politician, and a tribalist. These diametrically opposing views were the result of President Yusuf seeking military support from Ethiopia to establish his rule in south central Somalia. As a result, Ethiopia dominated the internal and external affairs of Somalia.

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 10

April 9, 2012 by

As I write this I am listening to a 16 minute “bootleg tape”, now a CD, of the concert Martin Benjamin and I performed on March 9, 1963 (49 years ago) in a talla bet (beer house) in the arada (market) of Gondar, Ethiopia. Marty was the lead on the guitar and I just did my best to follow along. I doubt either of us would be described today as a couple of aging rockers. The flavor of the concert was Kingston Trio, aka “Gondar Duo”.

Assessing China’s Role and Influence in Africa

March 29, 2012 by

The most important difference between the United States and China is the very structure of the American and Chinese governments and the way their respective systems engage in Africa. American commercial activity (trade, investment and bidding on contracts) in Africa is conducted by private companies with limited involvement by the U.S. government. If two or more private U.S. companies are competing for the same project, the U.S. government must be impartial, providing essentially equal help to all U.S. interested parties. When this situation occurs, my experience was that the role of the U.S. government diminishes even further.

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 9

March 25, 2012 by

Days after our arrival in Gondar we were approached by numerous students asking for employment in our house in exchange for a place to stay and a small stipend. While, as I’ve indicated in a previous chapter, we were reluctant to admit we needed help we were impressed by the story of one tenth grade student, Yimer Mekonnen.

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 8

March 12, 2012 by

Marty Benjamin, John Stockton, Dallas Smith and I who shared a house in Gondar had the naïve notion that we were going to be self sufficient and live without servants. Little did we realize that in Gondar servants had servants. It took us several months to put aside the quaint notion of complete independence and hire much needed help.

Somalia’s indivisibility, sovereignty and polity

March 5, 2012 by

The Communiqué coming out of the February 23 Conference on Somalia falls far short of all expectations. The promised new approach by the international community to tackle the root causes of insecurity and lack of a functional government responsible for Somalia’s inexorable decline over the past 20 years did not materialize.

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 7

February 29, 2012 by

When we arrived in Gondar, Ethiopia on September 21, 1962 we were assigned to houses rented by the Peace Corps office in Addis. John Stockton, Dallas Smith, Marty Benjamin and I were given a house on a hillside surrounded by several acres of fields across from the school. The house was enchantingly reminiscent of a Joseph Conrad novel. It was of frame construction set on a massive elevated stone foundation.

International Efforts to Counter Al-Shabaab

February 21, 2012 by

Since the al-Shabaab (The Youth) took control of most of south and central Somalia in 2007, no Somali force or coalition of forces has developed the capacity to counter the al-Qaeda affiliated organization. Militias under the control of Somali warlords were largely a spent force before al-Shabaab seized much of Somalia. The international community has trained a significant number of Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces, but they have not yet achieved the numbers, tenacity and ability on their own to challenge al-Shabaab.

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 6

February 21, 2012 by

During our Peace Corps stay Gondar was an important market town for much of Begemedir Province. The overwhelming majority of residents of the town and countryside met their daily needs by participating in the weekly Saturday market. The market was attended by thousands of people and took place on a large stony field about two miles from our house.

“SSC” is the Last Hope to Bridge Somalia Back Together

January 24, 2012 by

Like many nations in Africa, Somalia has endured the legacy of the foreign expedition of greed throughout the continent. After the Berlin Conference 1884, Western European powers sought to divide Somaliland—one of the most homogeneous regions of Africa—into British Somaliland, French Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, Ethiopian Somaliland (the Ogaden), and the Northern Frontier District (NFD) of British Kenya.

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 5

January 23, 2012 by

In the early 1960’s from north of Gondar in the Simien Mountains to south of Gondar in Ambover there lived thousands of Falasha Jewish Ethiopians. The name “Falasha” is not politically correct today, however, it was the only name we ever heard used. Since the 1980’s over 80,000 Ethiopian Jews have been permitted to “return” to Israel. Within our school in Gondar we were told that there were three Falasha students, however, no one was ever identified.

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