Ethiopia

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Gezahegn Mekonnen is an Ethiopian journalist and filmmaker, and one of the founding members of PEN Ethiopia. He currently lives in exile in Toronto, Canada, where he edits the journal New Perspectives, among other projects.

Open letter to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia

Solomon Hailemariam, author and founder of PEN Ethiopia, had to leave his homeland Ethiopia in 2015, after repeated attacks on himself and the organization. He now lives in exile in Canada, and serves as chairman of PEN Ethiopia.

The Unsung Heroes

It is now more than six years since Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson returned home after 438 days in Ethiopian prison, accused of terrorism. Today, Martin Schibbye serves, among other positions, as editor-in-chief for the reporting website Blankspot, where he devotes himself to helping journalists exposed to situations similar to the one he was in.

Poems from Exile

Sosina Ashenafi, author and journalist, was born and raised in Ethiopia, and is known for her sarcastic essay style, short story writing and her poetry. She now works and lives in Canada, where she has published a number of collections of short stories. In her poem “Tapestry” she describes her longing for something lost, in a melancholy and nostalgic tone.

Let Me Hear Your Truth

Chaala Hailu Abata, an Ethiopian poet who was imprisoned and tortured in his country of origin for writing poetry critical of the regime, lives in safety in Sweden today. But his thoughts remain back in Ethiopia with the oppressed Oromo people.

Salt and Metal

The metallic taste of clotted blood, like the salt from a cold sweat, seems ubiquitous. Ineradicable. Liyou Libsekal was born in 1990 in Ethiopia and currently lives in Addis Ababa. She is an award-winning author and poet and received, for instance, the 2014 Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Her poetry explores themes such as identity, origins and rootlessness.

The Booksellers on the Street

Mohammed Selman is a journalist and freelance writer, presently working for BBC Amharic. He was previously an editor at Littmann Books, one of the leading publishing houses in Ethiopia. In “The Booksellers on the Street,” his readers can glimpse how authors, publishers and street vendors warily united to deliver books in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Texts about Hope

The Dawn is Not Here

In 2011, award-winning Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu was sentenced to fourteen years in prison for her writing, on an accusation of “terrorism”. Her crime was having written critical texts on political and social issues, focusing on poverty and equality.  She spent five years in the infamous Kality prison. In this issue, she writes of the challenges facing Ethiopia in the coming years.

Journalism in Ethiopia: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Woubshet Taye Abebe is an Ethiopian journalist and writer. Prior to being convicted, along with three other journalists, under the Ethiopian terror act in 2011, he served as editor-in-chief of the Awramba Times, among other posts. He now works for the Gulale Post Magazine in Addis Abeba.

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