IGGERS DIGEST | Katar River: flavors and aromas of Ethiopia

It’s easy to miss the Katar River restaurant, hidden away in a little industrial strip behind the Lake & Hiawatha shopping center in south Minneapolis. And even if you saw the big sign outside, you probably wouldn’t know that this is specifically an Ethiopian restaurant, and a very good one. The basic menu is pretty much the same as most of the other Ethiopian restaurants in town – you get a big platter draped with thin sheets of spongy pancake-like injera bread, topped with your choice of one or more meat or vegetable dishes. Most entrees are in the $10.95-$12.95 range, and easily big enough for two. The meats are mostly stews of lamb, beef or chicken, ranging from mild to spicy, while the vegetable options include slow-cooked preparations of cabbage, carrots, lentils, split peas, beets, green beans and collard greens. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | #OromoProtests in Perspective

Since April 25th, thousands of high school and university students across Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, have turned out in peaceful protest against a government land grab that stands to displace millions of indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands. Even though the country’s constitution theoretically allows for peaceful demonstrations, the student protesters, along with local populations in many cities and towns, have faced a ruthless crackdown from Ethiopian Special Forces, known as the Agazi Commandos. These forces have used excessive violence by indiscriminately shooting into crowds in an attempt to quash the protests. Children as young as eleven years old have been killed, according to statement issued by Amnesty International on May 13, and reports of fatal injuries, torture, imprisonment, disappearances and killings have been coming out of Ethiopia since then.

Continue Reading

Killings in Ethiopia outrage Minnesota’s Oromo community

Members of Minnesota’s Oromo community plan to rally Friday in St. Paul and are calling for a hunger strike to mourn the deaths of student demonstrators gunned down last week by Ethiopian security forces in Addis Ababa.Oromo students and others in Ethiopia have been protesting since April 26 a plan to develop the capital Addis Ababa, saying the proposal will displace farmers in the city outskirts, erase significant landmarks and dismantle the rich culture and identity of the ethnic Oromo people. Because the Oromia region surrounds Addis Ababa, an expansion of the city will mean a further blow to the region and its people, who have been marginalized for decades, they say.Addis Ababa city officials argue the plan will develop and improve the city — one of the fastest growing cities in Africa — and its surrounding suburbs.Thousands of people, mostly university students, took their anger and frustration to the streets of Addis Ababa to express their disapproval of the plan unveiled in April. The ongoing demonstration erupted in violence May 1, the day U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Ethiopia as part of a tour of Africa.There are conflicting reports about casualties, with government officials saying the death toll has grown to 11 and witnesses counting nearly 50 dead.Community Sketchbook focuses on the economic and social challenges facing communities, especially low-income communities and communities of color, and how people are trying to address them. It is made possible by sponsorship support from The Minneapolis Foundation. Continue Reading

The Jupiter International Hotel — Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Although I have not rented a room and slept there, the Jupiter International Hotel has been a “home away from home” during my time in Addis Ababa. I have found the staff, the atmosphere, the food and managers much more than pleasant. There is a hospitality that I have never experienced in any of the hotel chains I have patronized back in the States. I come to the lobby bar of the Jupiter 3 or 4 mornings per week to use their free Wi-Fi, have breakfast and when I work into the afternoon, lunch and drink or two. 🙂 Continue Reading

Humbly musing on borrowed ideas that somehow ended up on my hard-drive…

“I loved my mother and father, not because they were perfect parents, but because despite whatever lenses they saw the world through, they held me in the deepest part of their hearts.” They struggled, with much effort, in extremely difficult circumstances, to give me the best of what they had materially, spiritually and intellectually. I certainly didn’t understand this on too many occasions as I was growing up and moving into my own adulthood, but now I see more clearly as I push toward 70 years. And yes, I am laughing out loud as I write this now! Continue Reading

Desperate times and transitions of global dimensions

This trip to Ethiopia is coming to an end in a few days from now. In the moment I feel some sadness about that need to say goodbye, but it’s also about the state of things here, Africa as a whole and how that reflects the state of the world. I know that I have a certain perspective influenced by the environmental, peace and human rights movements I have actively been a part for most of my life…no apology for that really. From my perspective, and I am not alone on this, there is a catastrophe unfolding now that has not peaked yet. It is like watching an accident in slow motion with silent screams that cannot interrupt our slide into chaos. Continue Reading

Ethiopian snapshots: Still to come

I told many people that I was going to Ethiopia to visit the sacred and historical sights. Am I procrastinating the posting of a story about my trip to the headwaters of the Blue Nile, the island monasteries on Lake Tana and the ancient monolithic stone churches of Lalibela? I have many photos of all that from both our Ethiopian-Italian cousins and myself. Continue Reading

Ethiopian snapshots: Goats and food security

I see goats all over the city here in Addis Ababa in small herds crossing the chaotic urban street’s seemingly lawless traffic. Every day one can see herds of cattle, sheep and goats grazing in open urban fields. Given that back home in Minneapolis there is an active local food movement growing month by month, year by year, this experience here tells me that a lot of our foreign born neighbors know something about HOW to live with livestock in urban settings. I don’t think we will do what I see here in Ethiopia, but change is coming as the necessity to localize food production unfolds. We currently allow for chickens under certain conditions in the Twin Cities. I have never seen goats actually running wild or being unruly here in Addis. It seems to me with effective rules of law, goats could be a part of the movement for food security. Continue Reading