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  • Teddy Afro: At the top of his game

    Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro), Ethiopia’s best selling artist, controversial, often times poetic, at all times talented, released his long awaited album – Ethiopia –last week. It has since shot to number 1 in Billboard’s World Album chart – a milestone for Ethiopian music. At home, relaxed, uplifting and vulnerable at all the same time, he hosted Samuel Getachew and Dawit Endeshaw of The Reporter as he opened up on his family, career, Ethiopia and what it means for him to be loved by millions of people around the world. Excerpts:

    The Reporter: Congratulations Teddy on your new album. Since we saw you four years ago, you have become a second time father. You seem more in love with your wife.  How is it different to perform, not just as an artist, but as a father?

    Teddy Afro: The difference is perhaps felt more by others who observe me when I perform. It is true, being a responsible husband and a father has given me a sense of who I am and where I belong. It has changed me. It has helped me become a better person, a better artiste. It has given me a home, a place to belong. It is something to behold.  It really has been a blessing and a happy experience for me.

    Going to your latest work, inside the album cover, you describe yourself as “Ra’ey” (vision). What exactly are you referring to? Are you referring to yourself having a vision, your country’s vision or something else?

    As you saw for yourself, I included pictures of my parents, my father, mother and a picture of Emperor Tewodros II.  It is to be a remembrance, a memorial. As a child, I called my mother Ra’ey. For me, Ra’ey is to be Ethiopian. Ra’ey is to be given by God. That is what I meant.

    Your album is a hit and has given a sentiment value to your fans. You named your album Ethiopia. What does Ethiopia and Ethiopianism mean to you?

    I have often been asked that question and I have always been frank with my assessment of what it means. I have reflected on it a lot by the way. For me, being Ethiopian is to be free, kind, patient and humble. It is to have and hold on to better ideals for oneself.

    The current generation, sees you as the voice of a generation. Even at the beginning, when you released your Abugida album, you were seen as a voice of that generation. The current generation also sees you, as the current generation’s voice. You seem to have a way with every generation. Do you see yourself as the voice of a new generation?

    I cannot be far from any generation, especially my own generation. I can only reflect on an experience. Mine or others!

    Woubshet Werkalemahu, has congratulated you on your interpretation of the iconic book “Fikir Eske Mekabir”. The book is 600 pages. Do you think your interpretation in a four-minute song is inclusive of the message of the book?

    It’s true, the book is 600 pages and it’s long. I believe I only reflected the main characters in the book, which is the story of Bezabih while he was trying to find Seblewengel. Basically, the song narrates the story of Bezabih from Gojam to Addis Ababa. It talks about when Gudu Kassa helps Bezabih when he tried to find his love. So I have tried to capture this part of the book.

    Was there anyone aside from you who was involved in writing the lyrics for the song entitled Fikir Eske Mekabir?

    No, there wasn’t. I finished both the lyrics and the melody in one night. Then I made some improvements after. So, except the contribution from the author of Fikir Eske Mekabir itself the song belongs to me.

    Some say you’re all over everything.  Given your popularity and fame people involved in the music industry always want to work with you. So how are you planning to work and mentor those young producers and musicians who want to be the next Teddy Afro?

    Well, when I do my music, I always try to use every possible resource at my disposal. I always want and try to work and collaborate with other musicians. I go out of my way to do that. We have tried many times but effort couldn’t go beyond trying.

    Speaking of your new album, in one of your songs, which is about Emperor Tewodros II, the style of your voice you used in this song is somehow unique and resembles with the tone of the so called Azmaris. How did you come up with the song and such unique ways to capture the unique voice of an Azmari?

    I always found myself attracted with such unique and old voices. By the way, it was not the first time that I have played with such tone. Previously, I played the song by Bahru Kangne. So it comes from emotion and compassion. It was not planned. It just happened.

    When did you write the song about Emperor Tewodros II?

    It has been a while since I started to process the song but there were improvements made on the way. It was this year that I have completed the whole song about him.

    Some people relate your song on Emperor Tewodros with the recent political unrest that erupted in the city of Gondar. Did you write the song after violence in Gondar?

    Well…some may link it with what happened in Gondar. However, the song has nothing to do with the unrest. So my answer is; this was not the first time I sung about our emperors and praise them at all the same time.

    After the release of your album, we have seen many people lineup to purchase your album. It must be nice to be appreciated and loved by many people.

    All is because of the grace of God; it is a blessing from the almighty God. But seeing this from my perspective, it is really hard. Having all this acceptance and recognition by itself put a sense of pressure. So I have no words to express my gratitude for the love and acceptance I get.

    In a number of times you sang about Emperor Haile Selassie I. Speaking about Emperor, people have different opinion on him. Some consider him as god, others as a prophet and many asking. How do you see him?

    The amount of grace and knowledge that our forefathers and emperors had is not something that would be easily explained. By their time, our kings were feared and respected by the world. So for me Emperor Haile Selassie I was a very kind leader – a leader who has ruled his country with grace and compassion.

    So you see him as an Emperor?

    Yes

    One of your admirers is The Weeknd. He has listed you, along with Aster Aweke and Mulatu Astatke, as his musical heroes. He has said how his mother used to play your songs all the time. Are you open to the idea of working with him?

    The simple answer is yes. I would be happy. He seems like a nice, decent young man. I met with his family inside a plane. It was indicated to me how much he loves my music. He is a talented artist. The simple answer is yes, I would love to work with him.

    There are new artists, in their teenage years, in their twenties who are struggling and want to follow in your footsteps. What advice do you have for them?

    The first thing is to know your real talent and your own potential. You need to have the right attitude. One has to be able to listen to different kinds of music. Attitude and confidence is the foundation to a great success in art. Build the foundation early. Be a team player.

    Your wife is staring in a movie currently in local cinemas. You are both talented artists.  Will there be any chance for a collaborative effort for both of you?

    We have already teamed up (laughs). We worked on the video, for the song, Mar Eske Tuwaf. She was the star, playing Seblewengel and she was also the director. We saw the finished product yesterday and it was beautiful. I expect it to be released very soon. 

    Source: The Reporter

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  • U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa response to Ethiopians Visa Quota to USA

    "We have seen questions on Facebook about a quota system for Ethiopian visa applicants.

    Last week, the President of the United States initiated a review of national security procedures which applies to visitors and potential immigrants from seven countries.

    Ethiopia is not among those seven countries and Ethiopian citizens are not addressed nor affected by the President’s executive order.

    The U.S. Government remains committed to facilitating legitimate travel for international visitors. In fact, in 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa issued more than 18,000 non-immigrant visas, with the majority to Ethiopian applicants.

    For more information on the recent Executive Order or on the application process for U.S. visas:

    https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html"

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  • 5 Ethiopian Multi-Millionaires You Should Know

    A few Ethiopians have built multi-million and billion dollar empires in industries as diverse as agriculture, food, construction, energy and distribution and earned multi-million dollar fortunes to boot. Their names don’t ring with the African public, and you’ve probably never heard about them before, but they are very successful — and very wealthy. Meet 5 Ethiopian entrepreneurs, who own businesses with annual revenues of $50 million or more.

    Belayneh Kindie

    Source: Agricultural Commodities

    Belayneh Kindie Import And Export (BKIEA), the eponymous company Belayneh founded and runs, is the largest agricultural commodities trading company in Ethiopia. He founded the company in 2005 to primarily export oil seeds and subsequently expanded into other commodities such as sesame seeds and nuts. Its commodities trading business has revenues of a little over $60 million in 2016. The company also has a thriving transportation business that boasts a fleet of more than 100 dry & fuel cargo trucks. BKIEA also owns hotels in Ethiopia and a port handling service company.

     

    Tewodros Ashenafi

    Source: Oil

    Ashenafi is the chairman and co-owner of Ambo Mineral Water, Ethiopia’s bestselling naturally-carbonated bottled mineral water, along with beverage giant SABMiller. He is also the founder and CEO of oil exploration firm SouthWest Energy, one the largest oil and gas acreage holders in East Africa. SouthWest has a leading acreage position in the Jijiga Basin, Ethiopia’s largest proven hydrocarbon-bearing sedimentary basin, covering an area of approximately 350,000 km2 and in the eastern region of Ethiopia bordering Somaliland.

     

    Buzuayehu T. Bizenu

    Source: Diversified

    Bizenu is the chairman and controlling shareholder of East African Holding, a leading industrial conglomerate in Ethiopia that operates in a variety of sectors such as manufacturing of Fast Moving Consumer Goods, tea processing, printing and packaging, transport, real estate, cement production and coal mining.

    Ato Ketema Kebede

    Source: Diversified

    Kebede is the founder of KK PLC, an Ethiopian company that manufactures blankets primarily to export across Africa and North America. The company also owns an acrylic yarn dyeing plant, and is also engaged in the import and distribution of heavy-duty machineries and equipment for mining, construction, road making and quarrying. The company is also one of the largest exporters of Ethiopian coffee, cereals and spices.

     Akiko Seyoum Ambaye

    Source: Construction

    Akiko Ambaye, one of Ethiopia’s most prominent female business leaders, is the founder of Orchid Business Group (OBG), an Ethiopian construction company engaged in road construction, the supply of construction materials, rental services of construction machinery and haulage.

    Source: forbes

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  • 20 Easy Ways to Save More Money

    How do you save more? There doesn't seem to be enough money to save anything by the end of the month, does it? Saving money is not easy when you have never done it. But if you manage to form the habit, it will become second nature. Here are 20 tips to use.

    1. Have a spending audit

    For a week, write down everything you spend. Tedious, I know. But for every expense, ask yourself: Did I really need to spend that money? How could I avoid that expense? Did it bring me value? If it doesn't, stop. If it does, let's move on. I used to spend a lot on nights out, until we decided with my friends to gather at someone's place. Half the cost, same fun. It doesn't have to be drastic, or affect your lifestyle. Challenge the spending and find alternative ways to get the same value for less.

    2. Turn saving into a challenge

    One such challenge could be getting rid of one bad spending habit, such as eating lunch out every day. Try bringing lunch to work once a week. Then make it twice a week. Put the savings into a jar or a savings account. Throw all your spare change into a jar at the end of the day, and deposit the savings into your bank account at the end of the month. By making it fun, you will make it easier.

    3. Start slow

    You won't go from zero savings to $1,000 a month the first month. Try saving $5 or $10. Then try saving $5 more the next week. Before you know it, the slow increment led you to saving $50 a month. Which is better than nothing. Keep going until you feel the pinch.

    4. Have a savings goal

    Why do you want to have savings for? Is it for a holiday, for a new car, for a deposit on your house? By having a goal, you will be able to ponder whether it is worth to spend $100 going out tonight, or have one day of fun on your next holiday.

    5. Round it up

    When you spend $54.11 at a restaurant, round it up and save the $0.89. Some apps will do it for you and reroute the excess to savings automatically. Small amounts add up.

    6. Get rid of the waste

    Do you often throw food? Have magazines piling up unread? Clothes you just wore once? All this is money you spent on things you don't need. Get rid of the ones you can (and make money in the process!), and stop buying anything you don't use. Buy half the food you use to, and go through your freezer and cupboards for the rest of the week. Send the difference to savings.

    7. Prioritize

    Pretend there is only money for one thing. Would you rather have HBO or go out once a month? Only keep the one you prefer.

    8. Get a cashback card Or a loyalty membership to your favorite supermarket. Put the savings into... savings.

    9. Get a discount On everything you buy

    Try to get it for less. Look for online coupon codes, cheaper stores, ways to get it for free on Freecycle.

    10. Cut down meat And other expensive items in your groceries, such as cheese or nuts

    You can make a ton of delicious vegetarian dishes, or recipes with just a little meat as a way to add flavor.

    11. Make your own coffee

    Coffee on the go is expensive! Buy a nice thermos for your car, flavorful beans and you're all set for a $0.10 cup.

    12. DIY

    Be it painting the living room, fixing a leak, moving house, try to do things yourself instead of hiring out. There are plenty of online tutorials to help you out.

    13. Master your FOMO

    It is OK to say no to peer pressure. Find cheap and free activities to do with your friends instead of the expensive one they suggest.

    14. Get a roommate

    An easy way to save $500+ on rent, if you don't mind having less privacy. Again, remember why you are doing it and it will be much easier.

    15. Carpool or cycle to work

    Socialize or get free exercise on your way to work, cutting on your commuting expenses.

    16. Reconsider your car (or second car)

    Do you really need a car or two? How often do you use it? How much does it cost in maintenance, fuel, insurance, parking... is it cheaper than using Uber or renting one when you need?

    17. Keep track of your progress

    It is easy to get frustrated when saving money. By keeping track of your progress, you will remain motivated.

    18. Repair broken things

    Try to DIY or have things repaired for a fraction of the price of replacing them.

    19. Look for free entertainment

    Your nearby college, the adult learning center, your church.. may have free or cheap activities for you to enjoy.

    20. Bring your water bottle

    Bring water everywhere you go and avoid buying bottles that are not only expensive but also bad for the environment.

    Saving money is a slow process, but it doesn't have to be painful. With these little tips, you can easily get started and gain momentum to save more and more!

    Source: huffingtonpost.com 

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