Africa’s only female head of state is Ethiopian

In this Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis walks next to then Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) Sahle-Work Zewde, right, upon his arrival there in Nairobi, Kenya.
Simon Maina / Pool via Associated Press, File

Africans could well propagate a MAGA slogan using Make Africa Great Again as a parodied theme to an agenda positioned to restore and advance the former continental legacy established by rulers of kingdoms, dynasties and discoveries.

From the horn, Ethiopia, the second most populous country recently announced that Sahle-Work Zewde, a 68-year-old woman is now the president of the nation.

She is the only female leader on the entire continent.

“Congratulations, Madam President! Women do make a difference. We are proud of you!” María Fernanda Espinosa Garces, the female president of the United Nations General Assembly, said in a Twitter post.

The historic news triggered a viral social media response throughout much of the world.

During her acceptance speech, the pioneering leader told a joint session of Parliament that she is eager to take on the duty.

The millennium-era pioneer said in her newly placed position one of her priorities is to focus on gender equality. Another is to ensure peace throughout the east African nation.

“When there is no peace in country, mothers will be frustrated. Therefore, we need to work on peace for the sake of our mothers,” Sahle-Work told parliament after her approval.

Reportedly she also joked: “if you think I am talking a lot more about women, well, I have not even started.”

Appointed by 41-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — Africa’s youngest leader — he boldly placed confidence in a woman who has historically promoted gender equality as being a priority in reforming the nation.

“In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life,” his chief of staff said on Twitter.

Elected in April, October also marked a month of key decision-making dates when Prime Minister Ahmed reshuffled and reduced the size of the cabinet to 20 from 28. He named women to half of the ministerial roles. Women now fill the two most prominent cabinet positions: minister of defense and the newly created minister of peace.

A woman also oversees the powerful National Intelligence and the Federal Police Commission.

The appointments of 10 female ministers makes Ethiopia the third country in Africa — after Rwanda and Seychelles — to achieve gender parity in their cabinets.

To his credit the reformist prime minister has also freed many jailed journalists, bloggers and political prisoners arrested by previous administrations. In addition he has honored an agreement that ended a 20-year border war with neighboring Eritrea.

“The African continent is leading the way in showcasing that women’s engagement and leadership are crucial to lasting peace,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter.

Making reference to President Zewde’s historic acquisition, Guttieres endorsed the bold appointment.

Described to being “a career diplomat and senior official at the UN, she brings the right competence and experience to the office,” Fitsum Arega, chief of staff to the prime minister’s office, tweeted on Oct. 25.

Zewde previously served her country as ambassador to France, Senegal and Djibouti. She was the UN secretary general’s special representative to the African Union and was named the first director-general of the U.N. office in Nairobi. She also maintained accreditation to Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and Guinea.

Zewdie’s appointment although ceremonial is not unprecedented in Ethiopia. Empress Menen Asfaw, the bride of Emperor Haile Selassie I was acclaimed for impacting major progressive advances for women during her husband’s imperial reign in the 1930s. As consort, Empress Menen was very active and undertook a number of charitable duties focused on women, children and religious issues. She served as patroness of the Ethiopian Red Cross and the Ethiopian Women’s Charitable Organization. She also served as patroness of the Jerusalem Society which organized pilgrimages for Ethiopians to the Holy Land. In education she established the first all-girls school in Ethiopia.

Prior to Zewde’s rise to prominence, Empress Zewditu governed the country between1916-1930.

Past African female leaders include Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was the first to be elected to head an African state in 2006. She served 12 years before leaving office earlier this year.

Mauritius also boasted a female leader with President Amenah Gurib Fakim. She served from 2012 to 2018 before resigned earlier this year amid allegations of abuse from over-spending. She has denied the scandal.

Rwanda recently announced that its cabinet comprises 50 percent women.

That country has received international recognition for female representation in government.

DARC Banquet Commemorates Ethiopian King & Lauds 11 With Rastafari Awards

“Look to the East for the crowning of a Black King, he is the redeemer for the days of deliverance are near” — Marcus Garvey.

Consistent with a commitment implemented three years ago to “pay homage” to exemplary sons and daughters of Africa, Diasporan African Rastafari Congress (DARC) will exalt 11 worthy individuals during their 2018 Ethiophile and Meritorious Awards Banquet.

Dedicated to ensuring a mission they said to “promote and preserve the advancement of Rastafari through social, cultural, economic, scientific and technological ventures:” Neville O’Riley Livingston acclaimed reggae singer AKA Bunny Wailer, Israel Vibrations’ Cecil “Skelly” Spence and Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin, Vinton Lindo, Kabu, Dr. Trevor Dixon, Taj Weekes, Ras Imandy, Sheeba Levi Stewart, Dr. Peewee, Prof. Otandel Robotham and attorney Marina Blake exemplified that purpose.

Named recipients of the Nov. 4 regalia, the diverse honor roll and their guests will be feted with food, music, dance, poetry, drumming and platitudes at Antun’s in Queens Village, 96-43 Springfield Blvd.

“During the event we recognize the works of our peers within the global Pan-African community, and congregate in a united and exemplary manor that befits the moral integrity of royal Ethiopian subjects,” a statement from their web portal said.

In addition to acknowledging distinguished achievers, DARC organizers said the regal, elegant and formal affair will also commemorate the 87th anniversary of the coronation of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Advocates and promoters of the Rastafarian culture, DARC loyalists revel in the fact that when the Ethiopian king was crowned Nov. 2, 1930, Ethiopia was the only independent Black nation (except Haiti).

By 1974, many African countries gained independence but the sole monarch Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. prophesied to reign with majesty at the forefront of the Pan African liberation movement was the emperor from the east.

For more information, check www.darcfoundation.org.

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