Ethiopians Gripe About Millennium Party – By ANITA POWELL, AP

September 7th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — As Ethiopia prepares to celebrate the third millennium, the most popular joke in the capital goes like this: How do you say “millennium” in Amharic? (more…)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — As Ethiopia prepares to celebrate the third millennium, the most popular joke in the capital goes like this: How do you say “millennium” in Amharic?

The pun of an answer — “menem yellum,” which means “there is nothing” — sums up how many people here feel about the festivities to mark the third millennium, which begins after midnight Tuesday according to Ethiopia’s Coptic calendar.

With the schedule of events changing and security concerns in the capital, many Ethiopians say the celebrations — which include a concert with tickets that cost what an average Ethiopian earns in two months at nearly $170 — are beyond their reach.

The Black Eyed Peas, an American hip-hop act, will perform Tuesday night at a new, $20 million temporary exhibition hall built by Ethiopia’s richest man, and the Hilton hotel will host a $100-and-up gala.

“The millennium, it’s nothing for me,” said Mulugeta Demssie, 23, a taxi driver, who said he thought the concert should be free, or at least cheaper.

Alicha

“Because I don’t have money, I can’t enjoy it.”

Ethiopia follows a calendar set up by Roman emperor Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. that is about seven years behind the more common Gregorian calendar. About half Ethiopia’s population is Orthodox Christian.

Organizers at the Millennium Secretariat point out that some celebrations will be free, notably several cultural events at a stadium in Addis Ababa and at a field just northeast of the city center. The concert will be broadcast live on television and on a big screen at the stadium, which holds more than 15,000 people, secretariat spokesman Mulugeta Aserate said,

As late as July, millennium organizers were touting a 10-hour, $1.2 million concert that would be free to the public in Meskel Square, the city’s central landmark. That has instead been shifted to the exhibition hall, where Ethiopian acts will join the Black Eyed Peas.

“This has been the talk of the town for the last 10 days, that everything has been canceled. Everyone is saying ‘menem yellum,’” said spokesman Mulugeta.

“If you start listening to speculators and gossipmongers, you’ll go out of your mind,” he said. “No event of the millennium council has been canceled.”

The concert in Meskel Square was not canceled, but ruled out while still just a suggestion, he claimed. Another event scheduled for Meskel Square, a four-week culinary exposition, also never got off the ground.

“Meskel Square is an open space,” Mulugeta said. “To stage a 10-hour musical extravaganza in Meskel Square will cause nightmares for the security men.”

Security concerns have also been cited for a plan to kill tens of thousands of stray dogs in the Ethiopian capital. Authorities said it was aimed at eradicating rabies before the millennium festivities.

That followed an announcement by a government-backed private organization that it would move thousands of homeless people from the capital to the countryside ahead of the celebration, promising to help them with food, shelter and medicine.

The Great Ethiopia Run, a 6.2-mile race organized by distance legend Haile Gebrselassie that has drawn 30,000 runners, has been postponed because of unspecified security concerns. The race, originally scheduled for Sunday, was moved to November.

As to the high-priced tickets for the main millennium event?

“We have costs to cover. Those who are not able to pay … will be able to watch it from the comfort of their home or in a festive environment,” Mulugeta said.

Many Ethiopians say they are planning to celebrate at home with their families.

Tigist Assefa, 29, a saleswoman, said she would don traditional dress and prepare a traditional meal for her affordable fete at home.

“The cost of living is very annoying these days,” she said.

  1. nahome
    | #1

    Unlike the previous years, the upcoming New Year is marked by a double transitional period for it is an intersection of history that concludes the second millennium and ushers in a new one. This grand event is an exceptional point in time, coming only once in a thousand years. It is even more exceptional that only those who are lucky can celebrate it. Since it is about celebrating an historic double transition, there is no doubt that the event will be marked with unprecedented sense of elation and joy.

    Our country witnessed both truly impressive but also unpleasant experiences in its long history. Nevertheless, we need to assess our past and prepare ourselves whole-heartedly towards grasping greater victories in the future. This historic transition reminds us of the need to exert concerted efforts to forge a consensus towards banking on our positive records, which is the center of the commitment behind the great celebration of the new millennium by the government and the people. A typical attestation to this commitment is of course the launching of the millennium celebration by planting seedlings meant to retrieve the forest cover of our country.

    The one-year celebration of this historic event through various events will focus on concrete achievements of sustainable peace, development and democratization that need to be passed down to the coming generations. Presently, the environment in our country is highly favorable to realize our vision of handing over a developed, prosperous and democratic country to the next generation. The policies and strategies of the government for sustainable peace, development and democracy have yielded clear and encouraging outcomes. The multi-faceted transformation the country is undergoing demonstrates our capacity to overcome poverty and become one of the mid-income countries early in the next millennium. Towards this end, we must exploit all the opportunities and utilize our time properly.

    The new millennium has availed to us an environment that is favorable to realize a developed and prosperous nation through ensuring the sustainability of peace and democratization. Through exploiting this opportunity and forgoing a consensus on core national values, we must do all we can to achieve the development and prosperity we so much desire. Every one of us has the opportunity and the capacity to build a country that we are truly proud of and to promote our homeland’s positive images that it deserves.

  2. nahome
    | #2

    YES menem yellum,” MENEM FANDAT RABSHA YELLUM SALAM NOW !!!!!!!
    that what he say
    KIKIKKUKUKUUUUUU

  3. nahome
    | #3

    were is my comment man

  4. j.p.h
    | #4

    The butchers of Addis and Mogadishu have this time decided to massacre animals (dogs) instead of people. May be they think they are becoming more human by doing that. But they have forgotten one important thing; even animals have their right defended by the animal right defenders leaving aside their gross human right abuses which are well recorded by Human right organizations around the world. Look guys, recently the known American baseball player has been accused of allowing dog fights and killing several dogs and a verdict has been passed against him which is several years of imprisonment. Then what will be the verdict on African tyrants with hundred of thousands of blood of humans on their hands leaving alone the animals?

  5. FREADOM
    | #5

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LTug-ijnsQ
    The one-year celebration of this historic event through various events will focus on concrete achievements of sustainable peace, development and democratization that need to be passed down to the coming generations. Presently, the environment in our country is highly favorable to realize our vision of handing over a developed, prosperous and democratic country to the next generation. The policies and strategies of the government for sustainable peace, development and democracy have yielded clear and encouraging outcomes. The multi-faceted transformation the country is undergoing demonstrates our capacity to overcome poverty and become one of the mid-income countries early in the next millennium. Towards this end, we must exploit all the opportunities and utilize our time properly.

  6. Getachew
    | #6

    Help!
    Please do not insult your reader’s intelligence by posting a clear campaign of propaganda by certain group. Take a close look at this: Response #1 3rd paragraph and response #5. It is a photo copy.
    “The one-year celebration of this historic event through various events will focus on concrete achievements of sustainable peace, development and democratization that need to be passed down to the coming generations. Presently, the environment in our country is highly favorable to realize our vision of handing over a developed, prosperous and democratic country to the next generation. The policies and strategies of the government for sustainable peace, development and democracy have yielded clear and encouraging outcomes. The multi-faceted transformation the country is undergoing demonstrates our capacity to overcome poverty and become one of the mid-income countries early in the next millennium. Towards this end, we must exploit all the opportunities and utilize our time properly.”

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