Author: stephen kovats Date: To: Bricolabs startup mailinglist Subject: Re: [Bricolabs] Ethiopia projects?
Hi fabi and brico friends,
apologies for not replying to this earlier ... xmas / new years break etc in the way, and so i'm not sure if you have already embarked on your trip.
Ethiopia is an amazing, complex country - and quite unfortunately not going anywhere fast in terms of politics. I spent about two years working there about 10 years ago helping develop a new urban master plan for addis, and still have many contacts there, in the case one of my partners in the project, who ended up moving there. The most interesting thing about ethiopia (IMO) is that it is africa's only non-colonised country. Some will debate or argue this point as the portuguese spent a considerable amount of time there - until they got kicked out about 400 years ago (after which the then 'country' went into virtual lock-down and isolation from outside influence), and a brief 5 year italian occupation into the early part of WWII. Ethiopia actually beat the europeans in two wars before that (which is where Eritrea basically came from ... the piece of land the Ethiopians in an earlier conflict were not able to entirely beat back - again - the italians). In any case, this somewhat quirky sense of cultural identities drives much of Ethiopia and Ethiopians (for better or worse) and has led to some great things (support in the creation of the non-alligned movement, the U.A., unique 'pan-african' dialogue), and some pretty lousy things like an ingrained expectancy (i.e now dependency) of international aid and assistance as a form of 'reward' .... or revenge (?) for actually winning against the great 19th century powers.
Nonetheless, this conceptual notion of 'independence' that reigns supreme in ethiopia is also one reason I have begun looking at arranging a meeting of sorts, which for the time being I'm referring to as the 'Rogue Media Summit'. The idea has recently shifted to the possibility of doing this in Juba, the capital of the new state of South Sudan (which was alluded to in a recent mail in this thread).
All that is something for another discussion ... but fabi, if you are still interested in, and looking for information and/or contacts in Ethiopia (primarily Addis and Axum), I may be able to help you with some of it.