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Tadias Magazine Fusing Past and Present for Ethiopian Americans

NCM Profile

NCM, Elena Shore Posted: Mar 20, 2003

On May 8th, over 50 members of the ethnic media enjoyed a lively Ethiopian feast at a party hosted by Tadias Magazine and NCM at Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant in San Jose. Check out the photos and festivities.

Although there are more than 500,000 Ethiopians in the United States–100,000 of them in California–no Ethiopian-American magazine has been able to survive yet, according to Nebi Alemu, president of the newly released Tadias magazine. “Tadias,” the Amharic word for a popular casual greeting (“what’s up” or “how are you”), is attempting to defy these odds by avoiding the divisive political issues that have caused other Ethiopian publications to fail.

Nebi Alemu, president, and Liben Eabisa, publisher of Tadias Magazine

With a circulation of 15,000 copies nationwide in California, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Denver and Minneapolis, the magazine documents the Ethiopian American experience and celebrates the successes of Ethiopians in the United States. Through profiles of successful Ethiopians, analysis, personal reflections, arts, entertainment and articles on Ethiopian history, the lifestyle and business magazine is “an outlet for our growing Ethiopian community to exchange ideas and learn from each other.”

To celebrate successful entrepreneurs in the community, the premiere issue of Tadias features an interview with Ethiopian-born fashion designer Amsale Aberra. Today the fashion designer-–who says “being raised Ethiopian and having been taught pride and dignity” has helped her become a success–has only one regret: not teaching her daughter the Amharic language.

Language–and the role it plays in the formation of an Ethiopian identity–emerges as a theme in numerous articles throughout the English-language publication. The magazine’s discussion forum offers one psychologist’s advice on how to raise a bilingual child. An excerpt from Ayele Bekerie’s book “Ethiopic: An African Writing System” explains the origins of the Amharic language and the ways it is being replaced by the study of Western languages, literature and history in contemporary Ethiopia.

In “Negotiating My Ethiopian Identity,” scholar Rekik Alehegn speaks out about her own journey across languages and cultures to understand her own identity as an Ethiopian. With only a minimal knowledge of Amharic and a greater familiarity with American culture, she asks, “Could I still preserve a personal Ethiopian identity while embracing a different cultural and linguistic one?”

Tadias magazine answers this question by catering to English-speaking readers while celebrating their Ethiopian heritage. The magazine’s arts and entertainment section includes reviews of a CD of English and Ethiopian Christmas music and a children’s book of Ethiopian folktales. Its history section features an essay on the history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem from the first references to the church in the Bible to its struggle to survive today amidst the turmoil in Israel.

“ We are intensely proud of our heritage,” write the editors of Tadias, “and are aware that Ethiopian-Americans are not merely a distinct immigrant group, but also vibrant members of modern-day America.”

As the magazine celebrates Ethiopian culture, it also engages in a dialogue with other communities. One opinion piece by African American writer Steven Ivory describes his experience being treated as an outsider in an Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angeles, and questions the divisions that exist between Africans and African Americans.

Publisher Liben Eabisa hopes Tadias will also foster communication between Ethiopian Americans and readers in Ethiopia. “My vision for the magazine is that it will eventually have a presence in Ethiopia and will lead more Americans to invest in the country,” says Eabisa. “We want to create a bridge between Ethiopians living in America and Ethiopia, and we want our magazine to be that bridge.”

Tadias magazine, a joint venture of Bati International L.L.C. and Ocopy Inc., is online at www.tadias.com.

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