Views from the Horn of Africa

The blogosphere in the Horn of Africa and Sudan has been awash with discussions spanning the realms of culture and politics. One common feature, which seems to have arisen amongst Ethiopian bloggers is their lack of sympathy for the ruling government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Ethiopian Paradox, a thought provoking and very insightful blog, presents a write up titled: “Ethnicity gone awry” in which it accuses the Meles government of playing the ethnicity game for political gain:

“In Ethiopia, the world is witnessing ethnicity gone awry. The division of Ethiopia into ethnic administrative regions was mandated by the TPLF [Tigrayan People's Liberation Front, a part of the ruling party in Ethiopia] government and written into a new constitution approved by faux elections. The idea of ethnic federalism did not originate from the people nor did they approve of it in free and fair elections…ethnic federalism must be viewed as an artificial system imposed from above.”

The blog ethiopundit appears to fully concur with the views expressed by Ethiopian Paradox on ethnicity. In an article titled: In Whose name?, ethiopundit states:

“…ethiopundit is not denying the importance of ethnicity. It is a profound and necessarily respected aspect of every person. However, that aspect of identity is more often than not manipulated for selfish ends with the classic aim of divide and rule… Ethnic politics does serve the interests of a very few whose security in power trumps all other considerations.”

Meskel Square, a blog by a journalist who gets to travel around Ethiopia, presents some fascinating topics that touch on daily life in the country. For instance, it speaks of young Ethiopian boys’ fascination with English Premiership football (yes, even those that reside in remote Ethiopia). Meskel Square also speaks of Ethiopia becoming a new tourist destination. In its opinion, Ethiopia with its “Gondar castles and underground churches… is really a great place to visit.”

Inside Somaliland presents some very beautiful pictures of the arid and serene landscape of Somaliland (Somaliland is an unrecognized state. It is viewd by the wider world as being part of Somalia). In an article called “Finding Peace”, its author tells of the serenity that comes from being in such a landscpae, and of a little nomad girl called Hilda. Of Hilda, the author writes:

“Deep inside, I wished I could be like her even for a moment. No hassles, no pressure, no demands of the hectic busy life in the city where everything is measured and judged by how you talk, you do and wear. Where life is controlled by the latest technology. Where life is sometimes superficial and mundane, sometimes not. There are times, when my soul wishes to be still. Moments when I long to reach deep inside to know my truth and find peace.”

Djibouti is a small African nation perched between Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Red Sea. With a population of less than half a million, this French and Arabic speaking nation appears to be hardly ever mentioned in the blogosphere. However, Djibouti recently decided to take France to the International Court of Justice over the latter’s violation of a treaty obligation to provide some assistance to the former in a criminal investigation.

All of a sudden, this bonsai African nation made the waves in the blogosphere. Djibouti had finally arrived! The blog Opinio Juris, having posted on the Djibouti-France case, asked the following question of its readers:

“I know many of our readers are savvy well-educated, well-travelled internationalists. But how many of you really know where Djibouti is? How many of you knew it is located in between Somalia and Eritrea and the location of the main U.S. military base in that region?”

The blog Punks Page simply titles its article: “Djibouti Rocks” and chips in the following lines:

“this small, seemingly insignificant east African country is taking FRANCE to court! ahhh… i love africa!”

Several other references to Djibouti in the blogosphere appear in the French language.

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