Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015



Next week, President Obama will become the first US President to visit Ethiopia. While there, he will address the African Union, which is headquartered in the capital Addis Ababa. Barack will also confer with military advisers, to congratulate their recent victories over the evil al-Shabab Terrorist group. Nonetheless, the visit has confused many, as the word 'Ethiopia' has become a unfortunate metaphor. It's either associated with Famine or BFE: The most remotest of places. We here at the DUNER BLOG thought we'd clear up the confusion with Five important items.

Ethiopia loves the USA.  Prior to Obama, the only US President to care about the distant land was Theodore Roosevelt. In 1903, he dispatched an emissary to meet with Emperor Menelik II. Formal relations were established, including the coveted Most Favored Nation status. During the Italian invasion in the 1930's, the US stood by this accord, much to the disdain of Europe.

Ethiopia is admired by the rest of Africa. During the Scramble for Africa in the 19th century, 93% of the continent was claimed by one European nation or another. The remaining 7% was Ethiopia, which repelled all invasions. Also, it was the first African nation to join the League of Nations and the U.N. This prestige is evidenced by the flags of the continent. Nearly half of the African nations have green, yellow and red in some form on display as a nod to Ethiopia's history of independence.

Ethiopia is growing. With 90 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is full of folks who want to work. Many are, as the nation posted a 10% economic growth rate last year. Ethiopia also earned a B+ ranking from Moody's Investment Bank. While Obama is aware of these possibilities, the US lags behind China and India in investment. They are currently building hydroelectricity plants on the Atbara and Blue Nile Rivers. Other projects including light rail and a freeway to Djibouti.

Ethiopia is the birthplace of Rastafari. Monarchs have been in charge for the vast majority of Ethiopia's three thousand year history. Some dynasties claim to be descendants of the Queen of Sheba, thus ensuring Biblical status. One such ruler was Emperor Ras (Head) Tafari Selassie. When crowned in 1930, he proclaimed a new Zion in Ethiopia, the original birthplace of man. While not many adhered to the faith in Africa, it found many adherents in Jamaica and Berkeley, California.

Ethiopians regret USA for AFRICA. In the 1980's a severe drought plagued Ethiopia's Northern regions. Already in the midst of a Civil War, the situation spiraled out of control, with a million people perishing. Fortunately, Pop Music Stars stepped in. 'Do They Know It's Christmas' and 'We Are the World.' and subsequent super-concerts raised nearly a billion in aid. Unfortunately, it also formed a seemingly irreversible stereo-type (Ethiopia = Starvation) that still plagues the nation. This harmful notion is the biggest obstacle in luring Western investment today. 

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