POWr Social Media Icons

Sunday, August 11, 2013

By: Kinkino Kia, August, 2013

As known, a Sidama nation is among the few nations in the world who have its own calendar. Its new year and calendar, which is based on the lunar calendar, is also different from the Gregorian, Muslim and Ethiopian calendar. Moreover, the Sidama’s new year calendar is not based on pre-determined and fixed date. Its date is fixe and determined only through the ablest observations of the Sidama traditional astrologists who follow the location of the stars in relation to the moon and fix the date of Fichee accordingly. This is the very unique element inherent in the Sidama’s calendar and which also distinguishes the Sidama’s from other counterparts.

However, this unique historical and cultural heritage has been not able to get wider media coverage for long. This short piece criticizes the national television and its regional allies to give due and aappropriate, comprehensive transmission and coverage of this year’s Fichee-chambalala celebration festivity.

As a matter of fact, Sidama’s fichee has been celebrated among the Sidamas since the time immemorial. It has also passed through different historical passages which is beyond the scope of this piece. Even if it has long history traceable to the history of the nation itself, lack of publicity and media coverage has critically hampered its notability outside the Sidama world. This also partly derives from the prevalent larger political pattern in which the cultures, norms and values of the conquered peoples are not given appropriate state recognition, let alone publicity. To the contrary, the state machinery worked day and night to demolish and diminish multi-culturalism and cultural foundations of the politically peripheral peoples. It forced them to succumb to the norms of the dominant groups who preached mono-ethnic, mono-lingual, mono-cultural and mono-religious Ethiopian state.

Despite previous state-perpetrated horrific injustices, the Sidama nation preserved its core cultural values and norms. It safeguarded its Fichee-chambalala and its inherent elements. The question now became “how has the existing political and media atmosphere accommodated/accommodating the cultural elements of different nations/nationalities such as Sidamas?”

In today’s world, media has became the single most important and powerful instrument in transforming and shaping the world. And even single, piecemeal event matters in the global arena. Sidama’s culture can be a global event and element only if it gains its proper place in different public and private media outlets. 

The Ethiopian media atmospheres propagate and at a time reinforce the creations of the old political system. Until today, the media are not accommodative of the cultures and identities of the marginalized communities- marginalized not because of failure on the part of concerned communities, but marginalized due to the failure of political system a t work. The national media has no apatite to integrate, transform and publicize the unique cultures of the other nationalities. So, the media reinforces the conservative, partial and old political system. 

Coming back to the theme at hand, this year’s Fichee-chambalala has been/and is being colourfully celebrated throughout all Sidama region. But, as is the case always, the available national and regional state-owned media outlets such as South Fm 100.9, ETV and other newspapers are taken away by deep sleep so that they can’t notice anything in the surrounding. They can’t hear and see what is going on in the greater Sidamaland. Or they are told not to act so. The can’t report or bring to the attention of the public what is done by entire Sidama nation despite the professional calling of media and journalism.

In today’s world, the quality of modern media is partly measured by the production and dissemination of indiscriminate, fair, impartial and reasonable information/news reports about the events of regional and national importance. They are there to serve the world’s quest for ‘what is going on/ new on the globe?’. But the Ethiopian media as we witnessed in particular Fichee celebration, is uni-dimensional, only tends to focus on the political face of the country. If not so, it focuses on the issue of selected cultures and values of old systems.

This year, as is the case always, our Fichee-chambalala is celebrated throughout Sidama region by beautiful Qeexala chants, faro and many other distinct games, very essential for the global media consumption, the ETV is found to be doin quite contrary. To the great detriment of the culture, it even failed to produce enough one-time news stories on the festival. The Fichee celebration in Sidama capital, Hawassa and its outskirts is very outshining, immensely worthy for global media consumption and international community. It also has invaluable importance in identifying the people, tourist attraction and works of scholarship. 

However, the Ethiopian television, which works day and night to derogate every single political item in the Sidama region, it is not there to produce a single news story concerning the Sidama new year celebration which concerns over 5 million Sidama public and other peace loving sisterly nations. It reports about Tigray’s Ashenda and Oromo’s Erecha for over a week, but nothing for Sidama. But why? As one commentator observed, Fichee is one of the few events in the country in which respective ethnic groups are nationally mobilized. It is the super norm and representative Sidama culture respected and observed by entire Sidama public. However, its nature and significance is less noticed outside of Sidama region and its children outside Sidama. 

Observers state different reasons for the failure of national media to report news story concerning Fichee-chambalala celebration. They claim that even though the country and its supreme law-constitution vows to succumb to the concepts of democracy, equality and non-discrimination, its institutions including the media do not reflect such covenants in real terms. The national television is still dominated by the people surrounded by the same northern ethos and conceptions. Center-periphery dichotomy is still prevalent. This critically hinders the room for equal recognition and appraisal of the cultural values and identities of the marginalized and maltreated. The media are there to serve ‘correct groups of theirs’. As the popular saying runs, ETV prefers to show ordinary dances of Amhara or Tigray than to working to integrate and cover big cultural events of other nations/nationalities. This shows us that the media is not democratically serving the people, not accommodative and above all, not institutionalized in such a way that it can accommodate and equally serve the interests of Ethiopian people. 

Other commentators also observe that the current TPLF core who dominated both politics and media, has a hidden political hatred against the Sidama people. This emanated from the political and historical discourse in which Sidama liberation fighters punished and devastated TPLF’s soldiers in the highland Sidama regions in the early days of EPRDF intrusion in to the Sidama territory. This is a public tale repeatedly told by TPLF leaders whenever they appear. Moreover, the contemporary Sidama is one of the potential regions to democratically challenge the administrative arrangements sponsored by the TPLF leadership. Sidamas are the first to oppose the unreasonably forced political surgery and merger of the 5 autonomous southern regions and who democratically and peacefully mobilized to regain their lost regional status in the country. This is truly a real danger for the victorious TPLF leadership. So, it forces the political core to be cautious enough while dealing with cultural and natonal issues of Sidama nation. 

Ultimately, it can be argued that lack of access to media and media coverage –both electronic and print- to report distinctive cultural events has been hampering the publicity of the Sidama’s uniqueness in respect of cultural endowments. Lack of recognition and publicity in the media world also has a big political and cultural bearings on the identity of Sidama nation at large. 

A Sidama nation has an enormous potential to donate to the global community. Its true cultures, norms, values, if properly documented and reported has a lot to aid to the knowledge creation for the peace-loving international community. Everything what a Sidama nation has is a world heritage-both tangible and intangible. Its unique new year Fichee-chambalala celebration is one of the invaluable heritage the Sidamaland can lend to variety and beauty of world. However, its uniqueness is not duly and properly served by the national media. The Ethiopian television is not able to serve the void created by the lack of freely circulating media atmosphere to report comprehensively on the cultural life of a society. 

Overall, this partly justifies the Sidama public’s quest for its own TV channel. The Sidama people since the olden days have been claiming to have their programs transmitted on the television. The participants of 19th symposium on Sidama language and culture and Fichee in Sidama cultural hall this year in one voice urged “let Sidama nation have its own TV channel!”. The question then is: if the existing media atmosphere is not responsive to the calls of Cultures of Sidama nation, how long the marginalization should continue?
1. Introduction
The Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project aims at
supporting the GoE’s efforts to transform the smallholder subsistence agricultural sector to a
more market-oriented smallholder sector to contribute to the new GTP. The project will be
implemented over a 6 year period, starting April 2012 till March 2018, including a planning
phase. The project shall be implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in partnership with the Ethiopian
Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Bureau
of Agriculture/Livestock Development Agencies and Regional Agricultural Research Institutes.
The project is funded by The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The project uses a value chain framework to develop targeted commodities. Such a framework
recognizes value chain actors who add value at different stages of the value chain and individuals
and organizations which provide inputs/ services to the value chain actors. Key value chain
actors are producers of agricultural inputs and outputs, traders and processors at village, district,
regional and national level. Important service providers include the public research and extension
sector which are involved in technology development, capacity development, knowledge
generation and dissemination. The agricultural offices are also involved in input supply and
services e.g. supply of seeds, artificial insemination, veterinary services and other agricultural
crop and livestock inputs. However, community, cooperative, farmer and private sector
involvement in producing inputs and providing services is emerging.
The project will carry out a range of activities in five focus areas: capacity development,
knowledge management, promotion, commodity value chain development and documentation.
For all activities the project will aim for a gender balanced and environmentally sustainable
Project implementation will focus on clusters of Districts in 10 Zones, in which 4 priority
livestock and irrigated fruits and vegetables will be supported in the selected districts.
The Sidama Zone is one of the targeted Zones and this report documents the processes followed
to select commodities and interventions, provides diagnostic background/baseline information on
the Zone, selected Districts and selected commodity value chains. It also describes potential
interventions for capacity development, knowledge management and value chain development
complemented by a plan of action for implementation.
Read more @ http://lives-ethiopia.wikispaces.com/file/view/Sidama+zonal+report-+final.pdf
Fantu Debele, a mother of four small children, has been preparing the corn for half a day and is about to carry it to a street near to her village, Cazainchis.
She bought a sack of corn (corn on the cob) for 150 birr from the market, where many gather to bargain with the wholesalers, helped by the brokers who mediate. This is her main business and the way she provides for her four children, for whom she cares alone after her husband died six years ago.

“I rise from bed early in the morning and cook breakfast for the kids, then leave for the market. I spend the whole day making up the corn, which I aim to get ready before six,” she says. She has been doing it for four years and predicts it would have been successful if she had had enough money and someone to help her. “The most difficult part of the job is purchasing the corn on the cob from the market and breaking it down so that the pot can hold it up to its brim,” she says.

Many Ethiopians endure the cold winters by sipping hot drinks or wearing overcoats and scarves, any way to generate warmth. Eating hot food like boiled corn on the cob is also popular. Corn can be prepared by either boiling or roasting over a fire. As one of the most common cereals in the country, it can also be mixed with other foods. In fact, maize (corn) is widely known as the source of every food in Africa. It is important for Ethiopians, who prepare their multifaceted edible dishes and brew local beverages such as tela and areke.

Corn can be served at breakfast in a coffee ceremony, and can also be powdered to bake kitta, a slim bread that many low-income households eat throughout the country. Ethiopian cuisine offers various products made of whole grains, including teff, the most common daily meal.  A game many Ethiopians played during their childhood, Buhe, is a popular one that involves a special bread called yebuhe dabo, and eshet, corn roasted over coal-fire. “We used to eat it while playing hoya hoye, along with the tradition of lighting up a torch to endure the winter,” recalls Mussie Gebremairiam.

When people flock to the cities in pursuit of a better life, they are likely to miss out what they had in their childhood. Eshet is a good example of this, according to Mussie. Cities rarely grow eshet and other cereals that are common in the countryside, making people yearn for the winter or the arrival of Kiremt, especially those with no family, who find purchasing eshet from the streets as a blessing. It can be expensive and difficult to set fire to the charcoal, nevertheless, many households can buy corn from the street vendors and boil it at home. A single corn can either be boiled or roasted, selling for around four to five birr depending on the size.

Many people are aware of the dangers of eating corn from the street due to the insanitary conditions experienced in the preparation. Except for those who use a fork or glove to pick up the boiled corn from the steam jars, many use their dirty hands, especially on the ashy-cooking pans that use charcoal. “It is full of risk,” says Mesfine Tadele, a physician. “When you look at the street markets,” the vendors can take money that has been stained with toxic substances in pockets. Moreover, the ashes blowing over the charcoal stove can damage one’s health. Buyers are also hardly taking care, as they seize it with unwashed hands and put it in their mouths.

Wassie Emiru, a daily laborer, told The Reporter that he doesn’t even think of the danger when he buys corn from the street. Sometimes he might use his fingers to blanch the seeds off the cob, when walking with friends. He buys it daily as part of his dinner, just like a dessert. He chews it with friends who might join him as he heads home, or he eats alone as he slowly strides towards his house. Beyond its heat generating power, he bought it in his childhood and it reminds him of his village.

Fantu and many of her friends seem to be enjoying the profit they make from selling corn on the streets, except that the price is surging sharply. Every year it increases by at least two to three hundred birr, according to them. They sometimes find it difficult to sell a single corn for even five birr. It may cost them more than they think is profitable. Charcoal, the main production material they require, has seen a significant increase in its price over the last couple of years. Nevertheless, it is still one of the most viable businesses for poor women. It is not a job solely for women, men also do it, particularly corn cooked over a fire. Women prefer to prepare it in a big pot of boiling water.

Corn, widely referred to as a native crop of America after Christopher Columbus first discovered it in Cuba, is very familiar in Africa. In Ethiopia it would find importance as a way to resist the rainy season. However, physicians are warning people to prepare it indoors to prevent the germs that cause abdominal infections.
Coffee, the mainstay of the Ethiopian economy, is bringing some gloom to the big businesses and some boom to the lowly ones, such as street vendors.
Sibhat Hailay, 25, from Hawzien, Tigray, came to Addis Abeba nine months ago, after quitting school in sixth grade.  He started selling cheap shoes and clothes for women by the road side around Megenagna.
Five months into this business, the profits continued to be so small that he could hardly keep up with his expenses. In around April, he learned than selling coffee would bring him more profits. By way of a trial, he invested 300 Br in five kilos.
“It is incomparable,” Sibhat says, when considering the new business against the old one.
Several vendors like Sibhat have turned to coffee, over the past months, and are reaping the rewards – selling a kilo for an average of 65 Br.
Last Wednesday, Sibhat was left with only 10kgs, having sold 20 of the 30kgs he had bought the day before.
For the 57-year-old Molash Maru, a pensioner, the reduction in the price of coffee has come as a relief, with many others, including teff, seeming expensive. She lives alone and the cheaper coffee has kept her warm during the cold rainy season, she says.
For Misika Kassim, 25 and a mother of one, the low price has meant spending less to make more. She makes and sells coffee, tea and doughnuts on the streets.
A year ago, when she was not in the business, she heard that people like her bought a kilo of coffee for 90 Br and sold a cup for 2.50. Now the price of a kilo has come tumbling down to around 60 Br, but the price per cup has retained its price.
“I didn’t hesitate in starting to make coffee,” Misika says.
It has, however, not been the same everywhere. The bigger traders are complaining of large losses. Saada Mussie, a retailer in Merkato, now has more sales but less profit. She says she gets most of the coffee she sells from farmers in Jimma, 346kms from Addis Abeba, which she says is of better quality than what she could get from traders around Addis Abeba.
“It is cheaper and of better quality; two birds with one stone,”  she says.
Most wholesalers get their supplies from the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange (ECX), but some traders feel that there is too much coffee at too low a price. The situation has been complicated by coffee that comes into the market through illegal channels, according to some that talked to Fortune.
An exporter, who complained about poor business, said that the market was suffering from low prices in the international market, as well as smuggling to Somalia and Sudan.
“The current situation is making our job very difficult,” he said.
Ethiopia has exported more quantitatively compared to earlier years, according to Abenet  Bekele, Chief Strategy Officer at the ECX, but the earnings have declined.
“The profit we made is too low,” he said.
The overall coffee production, in 2012/13, has declined as well, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). This low production has, ironically, also been the cause for the surplus in the market. The year saw a total production of 339,141tns, down from 498,767tns, in 2011/12.
“The larger part of the total production is not fit  for export. That is why there is an excess in the local market,” says Kebede Lakew, a public relations officer with the MoA.
Anticipating an export total of 253,859tns for 1.038 billion dollars, the country actually only managed to export 171,290tns, during the last 11 months of 2012/13. The earnings were also down to 653.83 million dollars. The current figures show that there is a visible, periodical decline in coffee export earnings.  This is especially true in comparison to 2010, when the country’s overall coffee earnings reached two billion dollars.
“What is ugly with Ethiopia’s coffee market is that it is dependent on the international market. We can in no way change the situation,” complains Abenet, who attributes all the problems to the decline of the international market.
Sibhat, however, disagrees.
“I have no idea about what the coffee export decline means to the country’s economy,” he says.
He only knows that it has created a means for him to earn money to survive.
የኢትዮጵያ መንገዶች ባለሥልጣን የአገሪቱን የመንገድ አውታር ወደ ላቀ ደረጃ ያደርሳሉ ካላቸው ግዙፍ ፕሮጀክቶች መካከል አንዱ የሆነው ከዝዋይ ሐዋሳ ድረስ ለሚገነባው የፍጥነት መንገድ፣ የዓለም ባንክና የቻይናው ኤግዚም ባንክ 750 ሚሊዮን ዶላር እንዲያበድሩት ጠየቀ፡፡
ባለሥልጣኑ የብድር ጥያቄውን ባለፈው ሰኞ ለዓለም ባንክ ሲያቀርብ፣ በሳምንቱ መጨረሻ ደግሞ ለቻይናው ኤግዚም ባንክ ማቅረቡ ታውቋል፡፡

ይህ መንገድ ከሞጆ ከተማ ተነስቶ እስከ ሐዋሳ ድረስ የሚዘረጋው ባለ አራት ረድፍ (ሌን) አዲስ መንገድ አካል ነው፡፡ ከሞጆ እስከ ዝዋይ ድረስ ለሚዘልቀው የመጀመሪያ ዙር መንገድ ግንባታ የአፍሪካ ልማት ባንክና የደቡብ ኮሪያ መንግሥት ብድር ለመስጠት ፈቃደኛነታቸውን ማሳየታቸውን መረጃዎች አመልክተዋል፡፡

መረጃዎች እንደጠቆሙት ለዚህ ግንባታ የአፍሪካ ልማት ባንክ 350 ሚሊዮን ዶላር፣ የደቡብ ኮሪያ መንግሥት አንድ መቶ ሚሊዮን ዶላር ብድር እንደሚሰጡ ይጠበቃል፡፡

ከዚህ የሚቀጥለው ክፍል ማለትም ከዝዋይ እስከ ሐዋሳ የሚዘልቀው መንገድ 750 ሚሊዮን ዶላር ብድር ለማግኘት ለዓለም ባንክና ለቻይና ኤግዚም ባንክ ቀርቧል፡፡ የሁለቱ ፋይናንስ ተቋማት ምላሽ ከጥቂት ሳምንታት በኋላ እንደሚታወቅ ተነግሯል፡፡

የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት ባለፉት ሁለት አሥርት ዓመታት የአገሪቱን የተለያዩ አካባቢዎች በመንገድ አውታር በማገናኘት ሥራ ላይ ተጠምዶ አሳልፏል፡፡ በአሁኑ ወቅት በመንገድ አውታር ከማገናኘት ባለፈ ኢኮኖሚያዊ ጥቅምን በሚያጎለብት ደረጃ ማዘመን ያስፈልጋል በሚል ወደ ‹‹ሰከንድ ጄነሬሽን›› ቅኝት ተሸጋግሯል፡፡

መንገዶች ባለሥልጣን ይህንን እውን ያደረገው ከአዲስ አበባ አዳማ ድረስ የተዘረጋውን ግዙፍ የፍጥነት መንገድ ግንባታ በመጀመር ነው፡፡ ይህ ፕሮጀክት ከቻይና ኤግዚም ባንክ በተገኘ ከ600 ሚሊዮን ዶላር ብድር ነው፡፡ በእስካሁኑ ቆይታ የመንገዱ የሥራ አፈጻጸም 75 በመቶ መድረሱን አንድ የመንገዶች ባለሥልጣን የሥራ ኃላፊ ለሪፖርተር ገልጸዋል፡፡

በአሁኑ ጊዜ በባለሥልጣኑ የታቀደው የሞጆ ሐዋሳ 200 ኪሎ ሜትር የሚጠጋ ዘመናዊ የፍጥነት መንገድ ከዚሁ የአዲስ አበባ አዳማ መንገድ ጋር የሚገናኝ ሲሆን፣ ፕሮጀክቱ እውን ሲሆን የአገሪቱን የገቢና የወጪ ንግድ በከፍተኛ ደረጃ ያቀላጥፋል ተብሏል፡፡

በአገሪቱ ከሚገኙ ባለበጀት መሥሪያ ቤቶች ትልቁ የበጀት ተጠቃሚ የሆነው መንገዶች ባለሥልጣን ለ2006 የበጀት ዓመት ከ36 ቢሊዮን ብር በላይ በጀት ጠይቆ ነበር፡፡ ነገር ግን በአጠቃላይ ብድርና ዕርዳታን ጨምሮ የተፈቀደለት 28.9 ቢሊዮን ብር ነው፡፡