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Views from the Horn of Africa and Sudan

Ethiopia is one of only four African nations that were never colonies of a European power. Though independent, Ethiopia was subjected to Italian occupation from 1936 to 1941. ethiopundit takes us back in history—110 years ago—to the Battle of Adwa, in which Ethiopian forces defeated the technologically superior Italian colonialists:

“Rising above their regional rivalries and local concerns, all facets of this multi-ethnic society [Ethiopia] pulled together to defeat the Italian invaders who were armed with vastly more sophisticated technology and had the support of all of Europe…The Ethiopian victory at the Battle of Adwa has remained a very important event in the shared recollection of the entire African people. It is the only secular episode in the whole history of Africa that has been celebrated for more than a century with unabated popular enthusiasm.”

Paulos Dandego of Ethiopian Politics laments the deplorable political situation in Ethiopia describing the country as being on a “disturbing journey towards complete totalitarianism.” He also appears unimpressed with a speech delivered to the United States Congress on the situation in Ethiopia by the deputy assistant secretary for African affairs, Mr. Donald Y. Yamamoto:

“Mr. Yamamoto gave the usual lukewarm, wishy-washy speech he’s been giving for the past six month. His testimony made it very difficult to predict what the U.S government plans to do, other than sit on the side lines hoping for a favorable outcome.”

Andrew Heavens of Meskel Square finds bitter excitement at being able to obtain “same-day print-outs of most of the main European and US [newspapers]” in Addis Ababa for the first time. In his opinion, the Ethiopian prints are “in many ways better than the originals” as they use “whiter, cleaner paper [and have a] slightly bigger print.” However, the absence of his beloved daily Sudoku and the relatively high price of the prints makes his joy a little bitter—he states that The Times goes for £ 2.64 as against the London cover price of 60 pence).

The deployment of foreign (non-Sudanese) troops to the Darfur region of Sudan appears to be a contentious issue in Sudan. Sudan Watch quotes a Xinhua report (of China), which states that the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir has called on all Sudanese to say no to the presence of foreign troops in Sudan. In the words of President al-Bashir, “foreign intervention is but the old colonization cloaked in the new cloth of the suspicious organizations and arms dealers.” President al-Bashir also

“…lauded the role being played by the Arab countries with respect to supporting peace and rehabilitation in Sudan.”

The Arab League comes in for criticism from the blog Inside Somaliland, which quotes a Sudan Tribune report that asks: “Will the Arabs dare to listen to Somaliland?” It goes on to state:

“The Arab League has the habit of leaving issues to fester until such time when surgical intervention becomes necessary from foreign powers whose interests do not necessarily match those of the Arab world.”

It speaks of a status quo, which Arab nations appear to love, using “energy and resources to ensure that things stay as they are” out of fear of what change may bring.

The Voice of Somaliland in Diaspora-Ottawa says that eminent African scholar, historian and political thinker, Professor Ali Mazrui, has thrown his support behind the independence movement in Somaliland. Somaliland is a self-declared independent region of Somalia. Unrecognized by the wider world, it has managed to remain peaceful with a functional government, unlike Somalia that has been without a central government since 1991. Professor Mazrui urged Somaliland to begin by lobbying Commonwealth countries as it struggles to be recognized as a republic that is independent of Somalia. He also had this message for the people of Somaliland:

“You may consider modifying your name like Somalistan, which has similar ending like those of other Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan etc.”

Professor Mazrui was on an official visit to Somaliland, which began on March 21, 2006.

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