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.

There is Hope Now

Lena Bezawork Grönlund was born in 1975 in Addis Abeba and was raised in Northernmost Sweden. She is a librarian, and her first novel, Slag, was published in 2017. This issue contains a text in which she portrays newly-rekindled hope that has been latent for decades—hope ignited by students in Ethiopia in the 1970s with their dreams of a just society.

Under the Ethiopian state

Without investigative journalists, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how a dictatorship abuses the legal system and courts. Here, the well-known Ethiopian journalist Temesgen Desalegn describes such a circumstance. Desalegn himself was sentenced to three years in prison for his articles in the now folded newspaper Feteh. This is a newly written text  by him from prison. 

No one cares about women’s rights in Ethiopia

The problem is not just that advancements in women’s rights in Ethiopia seem to have come to a standstill—whoever calls to attention these grievances and the betrayal of the female half of the population runs a real risk of reprisals. Because of this, the author of this grim report on stalled development has asked to remain anonymous.

My country’s government will fall by its obsessive need for control

From afar, Ethiopia might seem like a success story—from the famine of the 1980s to a country in which the west and China are only too happy to invest. But the real threat to the country comes from the government’s fear of genuine debate and the lack of real freedoms of speech and the press, writes journalist Argaw Ashine

Letter from Kality prison: Who’s guilty?

No one who has not been wrongly imprisoned can really understand how the system, bit by bit, erodes one’s dignity and self-respect. Prizewinning Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu was sent down for what she had written to fourteen years for “terrorism”, a sentence that has now been commuted to five years. Her open letter describes her life in the notorious Kality prison.

Diamonds form under high pressure

Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were held for one and a half years in Kality prison. Martin is very familiar with the environment described in many of the texts in this issue. Here he describes why solidarity with the imprisoned journalists is a universal imperative—it’s a matter of human dignity.

Dogs and humans in Addis Ababa

Where does the idea of a just society begin? Perhaps in a sudden moment in the morning traffic. Author and chairman in Ethiopian PEN Solomon Hailemariam sees the biggest change in the smallest thing on the way to school with his son—and has hope for the coming generation. It happens in Addis Ababa, but could be anywhere in the world.

Welcome to Zone 9: Ethiopia

It has been exactly a year ago since Ethiopian forces in the Ogaden Province arrested the two Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson. They have been sentenced for “terrorism” and remain in prison.  In this article, the Ethiopian journalist Mesfin Negash explains the situation and puts their fate in its larger context—that of growing threats to journalists everywhere.


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