Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Ten interesting tidbits about Ethiopian and Irish relations.
1. Ethiopia and Ireland established diplomatic relations in 1994, setting up embassies in each country. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was the first Ethiopian head of state to visit Ireland in 2002.
—> Ethiopian Embassy in Ireland
—> Irish Embassy in Ethiopia
2. Dublin is 6322.6 Kilometres from Addis Ababa. Approximate flight duration time from Addis Ababa to Dublin is 8 hrs, 9 minutes. Dublin resident and Ethiopian expat Haymanot Hayme told Ethiopia the African Tibet Show that the ‘Habesha” community in Dublin is growing and efforts are underway this year to create an official community organization. Hayme also hosts the Habesha in Ireland Facebook group.
—-Entrepreneurs take note: There are currently no Ethiopian restaurants in Dublin.
—> Irish Habesha Community – Facebook
3. Rock musician Bob Geldof is Irish. Geldof is best known for his efforts in raising awareness of the 1984-85 famine in Ethiopia by coordinating musicians to raise money through numerous live performances under the banner Live Aid.
—> Pic of Bob Geldof
4. No surprise that rock band U2 and its lead singer Bono are Irish. They also performed in the Live Aid concerts and are strong proponents in the struggle to end poverty on the African Continent. But did you know that their 1987 hit song “Where the streets have no names” was inspired and written by Bono while in Ethiopia.
—>Pic of Bono performing at Live Aid
5. On May 3, 2010, Ethiopian runner Urga Negewo won first place in the men’s 29th Belfast Marathon, finishing 2:16:53. In October 2009, Feyisa Lilesa was the first Ethiopian to win in the men’s 30th annual Dublin City Marathon finishing in 2:09:11. In 2008, Ethiopian Marashet Jimma placed first for women’s in the Belfast Marathon with a finish time of 2:39:22, setting a new record. In 2007 Ethiopian Desse Demelesh took first in the women’s in the Belfast Marathon with a finish time of 2:46:45. In April 2006, Ethiopian Meselech Melkamu finished first in women’s in the Great Ireland Run held in Dublin, breaking the official record finishing in 31:41. In 2005 Ethiopian Lemma Urge took first in women’s with a finish time of 2:41:33 in the Belfast Marathon.
—–>Pic of Feyisa Lilesa in Dublin
6. Philip Berber is an Irish millionaire and philanthropist. He is well known for his former company, CyBerCorp, which he sold for $488 million dollars in 2000 and his subsequent philanthropy through his and his wife’s charity, A Glimmer of Hope Foundation. According to the foundation, it has “provided 1.7 million Ethiopians with access to clean water, constructed over 330 school buildings, improved access to health care to approximately one million citizens, and funded more than 19,149 micro-loans.”
—->Pic of the Philip and Donna Berber during a visit to Ethiopia
7. Since the opening of the Irish Embassy in Addis Ababa in 1994, the Irish Community of Ethiopia has hosted a St. Patrick’s’ Day Charity Ball for members of its Irish and its diplomatic community, Ethiopian government officials, and others associated with the Irish Aid Program in Ethiopia. This event has grown in popularity over the years, according to numerous bloggers who have attended the event, which includes traditional Irish cuisines, drink, musicians and dancers. The event is becoming one of the year’s biggest social events. This year the charity dinner will again be hosted at the Sheraton Addis Hotel on March 20. An estimated 500-1000 people are expected to attend this year’s event. Tickets will be 750.00birr (approx65$), and a portion of the amount will go toward the charity.
—-> Irish Dancing Practice in Addis Ababa in 2008
8. On 3 October 1992, Irish musician Sinead O’Connor provoked controversy and outrage on the NBC’s Saturday Night Live show after performing a slightly modified rendition of Bob Marley’s classic song “War”. The song is in fact the 1963 speech to the United Nations by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. After finishing the song, O’Connor, adoring a scarf on the microphone of the red, orange, and green colors of the Ethiopia flag, yelled into the camera “Fight the real enemy” after she tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II. The event was broadcasted live and uncensored. SNL faced enormous damage control immediately afterward, and O’Connor was widely condemned for her actions.
—>Pic of Sinead singing during SNL performance, the Ethiopian colors on a scarf hangs on microphone http://www.morethings.com/music/sinead/sinead_oconnor_pictures/snl_1992war-pope/saturday_night_live10-3-1992sinead_occonor-war-pope04.jpg
—>Pic of Sinead tearing up the picture of the Pope, the Ethiopian colors clearly visible
9. The Irish Embassy reported as of 2008 there are 70 Irish nationals living and working in Ethiopia. One of Irelands’ renowned travelers to Ethiopia was Arnaud-Michel d’Abbadie (1815 -1893). One of two brothers born in Dublin to an Irish mother and French father, they landed at Massawa, in February 1838. According to Wikipedia, “they visited various parts of Ethiopia and after collecting much valuable information concerning the geography, geology, archaeology and natural history of Ethiopia, the brothers returned to France in 1848 and began to prepare their materials for publication. Arnaud paid another visit to Ethiopia in 1853. The general account of the travels of the two brothers was published by Arnaud in 1868 under the title of ‘Douze ans dans la Haute-Ethiopie’ (Twelve Years in Ethiopia). Both brothers received the grand medal of the Paris Geographical Society in 1850.”
—> Pic Arnaud-Michel d’Abbadie
10. No current information is available providing an actual number of Ethiopians expats residing in Ireland. One note worthy citizen of Ethiopian descent is Ruth Negga, born in 1982, who is an Ethiopian-Irish actress. According to Wikipedia, “Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she lived until she was four, to an Irish mother and an Ethiopian father. Her father died in a car accident when she was seven.” Negga has starred in numerous Irish films and television mini-series and was nominated as the 2003’s Most Promising Newcomer at the Olivier Awards. She was chosen as Ireland’s Shooting Star for the 2006 Berlin Film Festival.
Beautiful picture of Ruth Negga (1)
————————————————————————-Other interesting links and articles
The Irish Ethiopian Friendship Association
How the humble Irish potato saved a village in Ethiopia
By Alan O’Keeffe ,Herald, Thursday February 26 2009
A Glimmer of Hope Foundation
Expats of Ireland living in Ethiopia
Irish charity for Ethiopia
War and Tourism: An Irish-Ethiopian Story
By Tiziana Cauli (13 March 2009)
Connectethiopia – An Irish business initiative for trade & partnership
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Ethiopia the African Tibet Show