Since the bloody and controversial elections in May, 2005, Ethiopians have taken the African blogosphere by storm. A number of blogs disputing offcial results have recently been created. They are dynamic and diverse, counteracting brainwash while encouraging the exchange of ideas.
Until recently, it was South Africa that held the highest number of bloggers in sub-saharan Africa. The winds of change have been blowing for sometime now, however, on the continent. More precisely, Trade Winds. Indeed, we saw rising numbers in the hue and cry of Ethiopian blogs with respect to the controversial May 2005 elections. Just like Egypt, blogs made in Ethiopia have become a real source of information. Journalists and civilians reacted to the demonstrations which took place in Addis Ababa following the elections and the ferocious repressive measures that were taken by the government, as well as the many arrests that followed.
This political uproar only ignited a swelling of blogs. Among them are some of the most known pioneers Ethiopundit, followed by Weichegud! ET Politics and Meskel Square, a blog belonging the journalist, Andrew Heavens. An example of blogs that are mostly cited on sites also offering information that differ from official ones, is Ethio-Media (a source of alternative news and view points on Ethiopia), based in the United States.
« Welcome to Blogtopia »
Lots of bloggers show a certain level of corrosiveness towards the government, like Tsegasaurus or Satisfy my soul [ego] who critises “ridiculous goverment”. This verbose blogger welcomes his readers with: “Welcome to Blogtopia, a mini-version of my Ethiopia, a non-discriminatory area”. He then goes on to excuse himself for his numerous silences. He explains that he “changes his location as often as the Prime Minister Meles changes his definition of democracy!” Dr. Y. Gondemo’s front page on Ethiopian Politics, alias “THE SHINKURT” showcases a photo of the Prime minister with the title: “Dictator of the Month!”, an idea copied by another blog.
Other blogs to consider are: Ethiopian News and Views, Nazret, Ethiopian paradox, Friends of Ethiopia, a very pink blog, belonging to a young woman based in New York and “who hates wars”. Redeem Ethiopia basically delves into a SWOT analysis of petrol prospection in Ethiopia. Carpe Diem Ethiopia describes the obnoxious atmosphere in the capital and the « ill-ease » that one feels over there. There is also EthiopiaOnMyMind who “shares her thoughts on Ethiopia, its people and thier politics”, Ethiopia Watch, EthioExodus, Enset or One Ethiopia.
Unpleasant Chronicles of an ordinary dictatorship
One of the most biting blogs with respect to the present regime is that of a french expatriate, one Ferengi from Addis “an expatriate’s blog or the unpleasant chronicles of an ordinary dictatorship”… “taking sides has already caused me a few unofficial problems, shamefully relayed through a certain embassy whose name i dare not mention… for now. So, do not hesitate to recommend, comment or link this blog”, says she in her preface. She has even started an online petition. “Ethiopia is still battling with post-electoral torment and the EPRDF, the ruling party which announced its victory after the elections in May 2005, a victory that was aquired through intimidation, murder and fraud. You’ll find herewith, a reminder of events, a few pointers on human rights, repression, state violence, assassinations and abuses of a regime, accepted by completely indifferent rich countries, who despite some religious indignations, prefer political stability to a piping hot democracy”
On her January 6 posting, there was a photo report of a high school demonstration, from her mobile phone. “I personally observed the arrest of very young people, loaded into pick-up vehicles from the Wyngate high school around 4:30 pm. The girls were crying, while the worried parents looked on with great distress”.
A more Intimate Ethiopia
For least political contents, Travels in Ethiopia blends information on Ethiopian travel and tourism. Tezeta.org archives articles dealing with historical, religious and cultural themes. A final click on a very rich blog: EthiopiaLives.net, to have the clichés which go hand in glove with Ethiopians over and done with. Cafod an NGO equipped 19 Ethiopians, from both urban and rural areas (Yabello in Borana and Mekelle in Tigrai), with cameras. These people filmed their daily lives… which are light years away from miserable or abnormal. The project was launched last summer and is worth watching to enter into the intimacy of Ethiopians.