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Returnee’s Holiday

Returnee’s Holiday

Ethiopia is one of the countries in the world with more than three million of its citizens residing in foreign land. From the neighboring Gulf region to places as far as Australia, Asia and the entire western hemisphere, Ethiopians have conquered many places. Just as their numbers Ethiopians in the diaspora are quite diverse in their views; politics looks to be the biggest divisive issue. In spite of everyone’s aspiration to come back and settle in the mother land they call Ethiopia, so far only few have succeeded in this regard. In fact, some are making great strides in the local economy. Hence, in light of the upcoming New Year, The Reporter has approached eight diaspora returnees to ask lighthearted question about their life, their hopes and dreams and what they wish for in the coming year.

There are thousands of Diasporas in the capital involved in all sectors of the new Ethiopian society. In business, charity, nation building and communications, they are helping change the makeup of Ethiopia. For instance, for Addis Alemayehou, who came to Ethiopia from Canada on vacation yet decided to stay in 2001, a frequent happening among many returnees, he has had a busy life. “I have to get a DV (diversity visa) and leave and come back to qualify as a Diaspora now”, he told The Reporter.  In our holiday issue, Samuel Getachew of The Reporter converses with a number of Diasporas on a set of topics on heroes, eateries, business, the Weeknd (the international star), American politics and on Ethiopia, and they each had much to say. Hard was finding anyone who liked President Donald J. Trump compared to President Barack Obama.

The communicator

Addis Alemayehou

Addis Alemayehou is the CEO of 251 Communications. He came to Ethiopia for vacation from Toronto in 2001 and he decided to stay. He was taken aback with all the business opportunities that existed in the country. He created the first all English FM, Afro FM and has since moved on to the communication sector with 251 Communications.

If you were to re-live your teenage years with everything you know now, what advice would you give yourself?  

Invest in Tech, have kids earlier in life, start saving early and never ever put off what you want to do until later.

If Ethiopian was to offer you a courtesy ticket to anywhere in the world, what country would you choose to visit?

Brazil.

If the Weeknd, the Ethiopian-Canadian superstar, asked you for your suggestion which Ethiopian artist to collaborate with, which Ethiopian artist would you suggest?

Mulatu Astatke.

What is your New Year’s wish for Ethiopia?

That we see beyond our Ethnic issues.

If you could fix one world problem with Bill Gates money, what area would you focus on?

The environment; because if we don’t, there won’t be a world to live in.

How do you define the legacy of the late legend, Ababa Tesfaye?

He thought us the basics of humanity.

If you were to be handed 1 million Birr to spend in an hour, not simply donate, how would you spend the money?

Invest it.

Who is your favorite Ethiopian Olympian?

Abebe Bekila.

What is your favorite restaurant in Ethiopia?

Dashen.

Trump or Obama?

Obama.

 

The Corporate Climber  

 

Daniel Hailu

Daniel Hailu started his GE career in 2002 as a member of GE’s Junior Office Leadership Program and quickly climbed through GE’s corporate ladder to join its Oil & Gas business as a Global Commercial and Risk Director.  He also served its Oil& Gas Localization Director for the Sub-Sahara region. Having moved to Ethiopia in 2015, he is currently the CEO of GE Ethiopia and the president of the American Chamber of Commerce Ethiopia. 

 

If you were to re-live your teenage years with everything you know now, what advice would you give yourself?

Follow your dreams/passion – you don’t have to compromise when you are that young/you have those many years ahead of you to achieve.

If Ethiopian was to offer you a courtesy ticket to anywhere in the world, what country would you choose to visit?

I’d prefer a continent–Antarctica.

If the Weeknd, the Ethiopian-Canadian superstar, asked you for your suggestion which Ethiopian artist to collaborate with, which Ethiopian artist would you suggest?

Teddy Afro.

What is your New Year’s wish for Ethiopia?

Peace and Prosperity.

If you could fix one world problem with Bill Gates money, what area would you focus on?

Vocation learning.

How do you define the legacy of the late legend, Ababa Tesfaye?

A constant and positive presence for multiple generations of Ethiopian children.

If you were to be handed 1 million Birr to spend in an hour, not simply donate, how would you spend the money?

Invest in a local manufacturing– specifics TBD!

Who is your favorite Ethiopian Olympian?

Miruts Yifter.

What is the favorite restaurant in Ethiopia?

Five Loaves.

Trump or Obama?

Obama.

 

The Networker

 

Henock Assefa

Henock Assefa is the managing partner of Precise Ethiopia.  A former athlete, he has almost two decades experience in the corporate world. He has also served as a board member with the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce, the American chamber of Commerce having moved to Ethiopia in 2017. The Fordham University graduate is also a shrewd investor in real estate and enjoys mentoring the next generation of diasporas.

 

If you were to re-live your teenage years with everything you know now, what advice would you give yourself?

Trust your instincts.

If Ethiopian was to offer you a courtesy ticket to anywhere in the world, what country would you choose to visit?

Brazil.

If the Weeknd, the Ethiopian-Canadian superstar, asked you for y our suggestion which Ethiopian artist to collaborate with, which Ethiopian artist would you suggest?

Teddy Afro.

What is your New Year’s wish for Ethiopia? 

Peace.

If you could fix one world problem with Bill Gates money, what area would you focus on?

Economic empowerment.

How do you define the legacy of the late legend, Ababa Tesfaye?  Moral father to generations of Ethiopians.

If you were to be handed 1 million Birr to spend in an hour, not simply donate, how would you spend the money?

Trip around the world.

Who is your favorite Ethiopian Olympian?

A tie between Haile & Tirunesh.

What is the favorite restaurant in Ethiopia?  

Gusto

Trump or Obama?

Easy. Obama

 

The Marketer

 

Tigst

Tigist Getu is a brand manager with Coca-Cola Central East & West Africa Limited. She moved from the United States. She has been involved heavily with the Coca Cola’s corporate responsibility gesture from the building of schools to helping promote healthy living.

If you were to re-live your teenage years with everything you know now, what advice would you give yourself?

Don’t rush to be an adult, indulge in the moment

If Ethiopian was to offer you a courtesy ticket to anywhere in the world, what country would you choose to visit?

Bale, Indonesia

If the Weeknd, the Ethiopian-Canadian superstar, asked you for your suggestion which Ethiopian artist to collaborate with, which Ethiopian artist would you suggest?

Aster Aweke since she was his inspiration growing up. It would be great to hear their collaboration.

What is your New Year’s wish for Ethiopia?

Prosperity and love

If you could fix one world problem with Bill Gates money, what area would you focus on?

Health care

How do you define the legacy of the late legend, Ababa Tesfaye?

A father figure who engraved love, discipline and dream in every child’s heart by his famous saying “Yezare abebawoch, yenege ferewoch”.

If you were to be handed 1 million Birr to spend in an hour, not simply donate, how would you spend the money?

Invest in real estate

Who is your favorite Ethiopian Olympian?

Derartu Tulu

What is the favorite restaurant in Ethiopia?

Yilma Sega Bet

Trump or Obama?

Come on, that is not a serious question.

Of course, Obama.

 

The Shaper

 

Rebecca Araya

Rebecca Araya is the curator for the Global Shapers Addis Ababa Hub. She is currently with the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia, helping promote and advocate better business relationships with both. A graduate of Syracuse University, she was previously with Precise Consult International.

 

If you were to re-live your teenage years with everything you know now, what advice would you give yourself?

Only go to a university that gives you a full ride scholarship. Student loan debt will outweigh the prestige of going to any good private college. It's not worth it.

If Ethiopian was to offer you a courtesy ticket to anywhere in the world, what country would you choose to visit?

Japan - never been and can't wait to go one day

If the Weeknd, the Ethiopian-Canadian superstar, asked you for your suggestion which Ethiopian artist to collaborate with, which Ethiopian artist would you suggest?

Kelela, she's a great soulful artist. I think they would make great music together

What is your New Year’s wish for Ethiopia?

I wish Ethiopian men would treat their women as their equal. I've experienced and heard too many stories of men who undervalue a woman's worth, here. We can only grow as a country, as much as our women and children can grow.

If you could fix one world problem with Bill Gates money, what area would you focus on?

Egotism - the root of all evil and conflict.

How do you define the legacy of the late legend, Ababa Tesfaye?

Didn't grow up watching Ababa Tesfaye, but I know he impacted the lives of many children in Ethiopia so I'd say his legacy is infinite.

If you were to be handed 1 million Birr to spend in an hour, not simply donate, how would you spend the money?

I would buy land in Dire Dawa so I'd always have a place to call home there. That's my favorite place in Ethiopia.

Who is your favorite Ethiopian Olympian?

Robel 'the Whale' Kiros, he taught me (and the world) a lot without even knowing it. Thank you.

What is the favorite restaurant in Ethiopia?

Solo Majet. Best Habesha megeb, excellent service and consistency I appreciate.

Trump or Obama?

Is this really a question? Obama

 

The Social Entrepreneur

Michael Tesfaye Hiruy 

Michael Tesfaye Hiruy is the founder and managing partner of Andalem. He is a social entrepreneur with a passion for technological progress and social innovations. He has a decade worth of experience in the high-tech sector, both in France and the Silicon Valley. He holds graduate degrees in biotechnology and innovation management from France. He moved to Ethiopia in 2013.

If you were to re-live your teenage years with everything you now know now, what advice would you give yourself?

Learn to code and focus on solving problems no matter how big they are

If Ethiopian was to offer you a courtesy ticket to anywhere in the world, what country would you choose to visit?

Probably Cuba,

If the Weeknd, the Ethiopian-Canadian superstar, asked you for your suggestion which Ethiopian artist to collaborate with, which Ethiopian artist would you suggest?

I'd suggest for him to work with Betty G, beyond her talent it's also for solidarity because we went to school together

What is your New Year’s wish for Ethiopia?

I wish that Ethiopia will focus more on connectivity, capacity building in Science & Technology and the digital economy, and the creation of incubation hubs for Technopreneurs.

If you could fix one world problem with Bill Gates money, what area would you focus on?

I would focus on equal opportunities for all through access to energy and information (connectivity).

How do you define the legacy of the late legend, Ababa Tesfaye?

Like all the Ethiopian people of my generation, I was heavily influenced by his story telling capability and have a lot of respect to the values he has transmitted to our generation. May he rest in peace!

If you were to be handed 1 million Birr to spend in an hour, not simply donate, how would you spend the money?

I would rush into one of Ethiopia's tech hubs and methodically invest it into one tech start up in the knowledge economy (probably in off grid energy or in education).

Who is your favorite Ethiopian Olympian?

Abebe Bakila for his bare foot accomplishment in Rome and the first Gold medal for Africa!!

What is your favorite restaurant in Ethiopia?

A small grilled chicken restaurant right next to Jakros junction on the way to Salite Mehret (I think the name is Viva)

Trump or Obama?

Obama all the way!!

 

The Activist

 

Tseday Mekbib

Tseday Mekbib is a Francophone with a BA in Political Science and a certification in digital marketing. After residing in Canada for over a decade, she moved back to Ethiopia in 2014 and has since been working in the tourism industry for both private/public sectors. She moved back to Ethiopia in 2014 and is currently working with the Ethiopian Tourism Organization.

If you were to re-live your teenage years with everything you know now, what advice would you give yourself?

I would tell my teenage-self that the key to a successful life is maintaining balance in four areas: spirituality, health, finance and social.

If Ethiopian was to offer you a courtesy ticket to anywhere in the world, what country would you choose to visit?

I would choose to visit Palestine, the birthplace of Jesus.

If the Weeknd, the Ethiopian-Canadian superstar asked you for your suggestion which Ethiopian artist to collaborate with, which Ethiopian artist would you suggest?

I would ask him to play with my favorite artist Teddy Afro (whom he mentioned in one of his tweets a few years back).

What is your New Year’s wish for Ethiopia?

My wish is to see leadership in all sectors that values new thinking; free speech; youth engagement and women empowerment.

If you could fix one world problem with Bill Gates money, what area would you focus on?

I would invest in cultural exchange programs. In my opinion, much of the world problems arise from lack of awareness (Islamophobia; Stereotyping Africa; Migrant Crisis, War on Terror, etc…) People should discover the world themselves and not form their opinions influenced by mainstream media. For example, I will not hate Iran just because CNN tells me ‘Iran is bad’. I would choose to educate myself first on Persian history, culture and people.

How do you define the legacy of the late legend, Ababa Tesfaye? Ababa Tesfaye was instrumental in instilling ‘Ethiopiwawi Chewanet’ in the generation of kids that absorbed passionately his storytelling and advice on ETV.

If you were to be handed 1 million Birr to spend in an hour, not simply donate, how would you spend the money?

I would spend the money by investing on educational projects that would foster the implementation of digital regulations in Ethiopia and empower unemployed youth to take advantage of digital-based opportunities.

Who is your favorite Ethiopian Olympian?

My favorite Olympian is Abebe Bikila for his Adwa-esque victory in the world of athletics.

What is your favorite restaurant in Ethiopia?

My favorite is Limetree for their panini, shawarma, falafel and healthy juices.

Trump or Obama?

Obama. But JFK is my all-time favorite of US presidents for standing up against the Status-quo and sacrificing his life for it.

 

The Dreamer

Blayne Tesfay 

Blayne Tesfay co-founded TruLuv Granola, through which she seeks to fuel meaningful experience with convenient, nutritious, and natural snacks infused with flavors of Ethiopia and crafted with love. She is driven by creating products, whether granola or communication that helps folks create better lives for themselves. 

If you were to re-live your teenage years with everything you know now, what advice would you give yourself?

Be bolder, try new things!

If Ethiopian was to offer you a courtesy ticket to anywhere in the world, what country would you choose to visit?

Cuba

If the Weeknd, the Ethiopian-Canadian superstar, asked you for your suggestion which Ethiopian artist to collaborate with, which Ethiopian artist would you suggest?

Zeritu Kebede

What is your New Year’s wish for Ethiopia?

Peace, love and Granola

If you could fix one world problem with Bill Gates money, what area would you focus on?

Addressing food global shortages

How do you define the legacy of the late legend, Ababa Tesfaye?

I didn’t grow up watching that unfortunately. 

If you were to be handed 1 million Birr to spend in an hour, not simply donate, how would you spend the money?

Invest in TruLuv Granola, of course and on my upcoming wedding!

Who is your favorite Ethiopian Olympian?

Haile Gebreselassie

What is your favorite restaurant in Ethiopia?

Sakura or Kategna

Trump or Obama?

Is that a question?.