Denver Sister Cities International Axum Committee “2017 Tour Ethiopia”

SPEARHEADED BY David Landes (Debre Berhan 1968–70) and Chuck Kreiman (Asella 1968–70), and with the support of Gloria Curtis (Asmara 1963-65)  and Janet Lee (Emdeber 1974–76), Denver/Axum Sister Cities International is sponsoring a tour within Ethiopia from September 25 to October 9, 2017.  DSCI has extended an invitation to Aurora/Adama Sister Cities International and Corvallis, OR/Gondar Sister Cities Association to participate in what surely will prove to be a great adventure.

  • Travelers from throughout the U.S. will arrive in Addis Ababa and spend two days in the city.
  • The group will then fly north to tour the “historic circuit” of Ethiopia for five days.
  • Next the travelers have the choice of traveling to Gondar or to Adama to spend five days in the region of their choice .
  • Finally, the entire group will reunite in Addis Ababa for a city tour, shopping, rest and relaxation for three days.

The Itinerary follows.

For more information contact:

David Landes, 720-238-0901 negusdawit@hotmail.com
Chuck Kreiman, 303-770-2827 axumchair@denversistercities.org

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Itinerary for All on Tour

Monday — Sept. 25: Arrive Addis Ababa at the latest.
In’quan dehna metah and “Welcome to Ethiopia.”

david-ethiopia-final-2Tuesday — Sept. 26: Ethiopia celebrates the Festival of Meskel, which commemorates the finding of the True Cross in the Fourth Century. Addis Ababa marks the holiday with a colorful parade of floats, music, and religious pageantry that culminates in the lighting of a huge bonfire, and we will take in all the festivities from a special VIP viewing stand in Meskel Square. This will be an unforgettable day!

Wednesday — Sept. 27:

  • Fly to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lalibela, perhaps the most memorable stop on Ethiopia’s historical circuit. Here, 11 unique rock-hewn churches were carved into the rugged mountainsides.
  • Enjoy an afternoon excursion to the first group of the 11 rock churches.

Thursday — Sept. 28:

  • A Mule trip through the countryside to the ancient Asheton Maryam Monastery at an elevation of 4,000m (13,000ft), with return by car.
  • In the afternoon, visit the second group of the 11 rock churches in Lalibela.

Friday — Sept. 29:

Fly to Axum, the epicenter of Ethiopian Christianity. Afternoon visit to the Obelisk Park. The seven granite stelae, the tallest rising to 108 ft., mark the royal cemetery where the tombs of kings are still being excavated. The stelae imitate multi-storied palaces and are decorated with carved doors, windows and beams.

  • Visit the excavations and explore the tombs.

Saturday — Sept. 30:

  • Visit Yeha, the 2,500 year-old ruins of a Sabaean city. The 40 ft. high stone temple, which now encloses a church, is inscribed with Sabaean inscriptions and reliefs of ibexes. Judaic relics and historical artifacts are housed here.
  • Drive back to Axum via Adwa, site of King Menelik II’s 1896 victory over the Italians that preserved Ethiopia from colonial occupation.

Sunday — Oct. 1:

  • Morning tour includes Axum’s museum, widely rated as Ethiopia’s best; the outside of the chapel where the Ark of the Covenant is said to have been housed for some 3,000 years; and the 17th century Maryam Tsion Cathedral (unfortunately closed to women), the holiest church in Ethiopia.
  • Sister City visits this afternoon for the Denver-Axum committee members.
  • For our other tour participants, why not spend the afternoon at leisure visiting some of the local shops for exquisite locally made clothing, jewelry, and handicrafts.
. . . . . . . . .



OPTION 1 — Adama Sister Cities itinerary

Monday — Oct. 2: Morning flight to Addis Ababa and drive on the new four lane toll highway to Adama (formerly know as Nazareth), a showplace of the nation’s transformation to modernity.

Tuesday — Oct. 3: Adama sightseeing, including visits to the Wonji Sugar Factory, the local train station of the new, Chinese-built Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, and the Oromo Parliament Building, symbolic of Ethiopia’s recognition of formerly ignored ethnic groups.

Wednesday — Oct. 4: A morning of Sister City visits for our Aurora-Adama Sister City committee members. Leisure time for everyone else. In the afternoon a relaxing and refreshing visit to the Sodere Hot Springs.

Thursday — Oct. 5: Adama-Lake Langano and an afternoon at leisure.

Friday — Oct. 6: Lake Langano is a popular destination for Ethiopians and international tourist alike, famousfor its variety of birds and other wildlife. Our wildlife viewing excursion will include both land visits and a boat trip on the lake itself.

. . . . . . . . .



OPTION 2 — Axum – Historic Route for non-Adama Sister Cities participants

Monday — Oct. 2: Today the long but rewarding drive from Axum to Gondar, the former royal capital of Ethiopia. The drive cuts through the impressive Simien Mountains — the “Roof of Africa.” This is Ethiopia’s most mountainous region filled with spectacular scenery and gorgeous views. Hopefully we will encounter birds and game like the Gelada baboon, Walya ibex, and the Simien fox — animals found nowhere else in the world.

Tuesday — Oct. 3: Gondar is the former royal capital of the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia, embodied in the castles of the Royal Compound, which led to its name the “Camelot of Africa.” Explore the castles and visit the Debre Berhan Selassie Church.

Wednesday — Oct. 4: Today our Gondar Sister Cities committee members will visit their local counterparts. This will be a leisure day for the other participants. FK Tours will offer an optional opportunity to visit the Ethiopian Jews (“Bete Israel”), the last of a once larger community many of whom have now emigrated to Israel.

Thursday — Oct. 5: Fly to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile River and an area known for its island monasteries. Boat trip on Lake Tana to visit these ancient monasteries.

Friday — Oct. 6
: Excursion to the Blue Nile Falls. Great birding en route. Cross a 17th-century bridge built by artisans sent to Ethiopia from Portuguese India. Return across the Blue Nile River by tankwa, a traditional Ethiopian reed boat. After lunch, a guided visit of Bahir Dar town.

. . . . . . . . .

Final 3 days

The two groups reunite

Saturday — Oct. 7:

  • Return to Addis Ababa from either Bahir Dar or Lake Langano.
  • For the afternoon our F.K. hosts will offer a program of optional sightseeing activities, including a visit to the sprawling Merkato — the largest open air market in Africa.
  • This evening enjoy a traditional Ethiopian dinner followed by colorful folkloric singing and dancing highlighting Ethiopia’s cultural diversity.

Sunday — Oct. 8: Full day city tour of Addis Ababa: Menelik’s Mausoleum; National Archaeological Museum; a drive to Mount Entoto for a breathtaking view of the capital and a visit to Emperor Menelik II’s palace and the Entoto Mariam Church.

Monday — Oct. 9:

  • A day at leisure.
  • This evening  transfer to the airport for departures to the U.S.
  • Some of our travel companions may remain in Ethiopia for independent touring .
. . . . . . . . .


Note: Those taking the tour are responsible for arranging their own flights  and paying for their travel between the U.S. and Ethiopia.

Tour participants must choose one of the in-country options. It is not possible to do both. Prices are per person based on double occupancy,


  •  All transfers to/from airports in Ethiopia.
  •  Hotels including all taxes and fees.
  •  Three meals each day (only two meals on Sept. 26 and Oct. 9).
  •  All ground transportation by bus.
  •  Expert English-speaking guides throughout the tour.
  •  All taxes and service charges.
  •  Porters’ fees, tips to waiters, drivers and guides.
  •  All activities named in the tour description.
  •  All entrance fees.
  •  $200 tax deductible donation to the Axum Sister City Projects Fund.
  • Not Included are: Drinks, telephone calls, laundry, personal items purchased, excess baggage fees, vaccinations and medications, passport/visa fees.

— the cost for those choosing:

  • OPTION 1 — Adama Sister Cities Itinerary is $2,770.00.
  • OPTION 2 — Axum-Historic Route is  $2,930.00.


  • $188.00 if you arrive in Ethiopia on Ethiopian Airlines.
  • $544.00 if you arrive in Ethiopia on any other airline.
. . . . . . . . .



  • A $250.00 deposit is due at time of booking.
  • The balance is due 90 days prior to departure. (June 27, 2017)
  • Payments may be by personal check or credit card (with an additional 3.2% premium).

Cancellations: Tour participants are strongly advised to purchase tour cancellation insurance that covers cancellation for any reason. Cancellations received:

  • 90 days or more prior to departure (June 27), $100 per person.
  • 89–60 days (July 27): 25% of the tour price;
  • 59-45 days (August 11): 50% of the tour price;
  • 44–31 days (August 25): 75% of the tour price;
  • 30 days or less: 100% of the tour price.

Travel Insurance: Medical facilities are very limited. Tour participants are urged to purchase travel insurance that covers medical and hospital expense and also includes medical evacuation when necessary.

Single passengers: Single passengers can be accommodated with payment of an additional $400.00 single supplement. Please phone for details.

Extra nights in Addis Ababa: Available before and after the tour at $79 per person (double) per night. Especially recommended for passengers arriving in Addis Ababa the morning of Sept. 24.

Air connections: Passengers are responsible for making their own way to Addis Ababa.

Tour managers are not responsible for failure to take tour flights or for missed activities.

Required Documentation: United States citizens are required to have a visa to enter Ethiopia.

Medical and passport/visa requirements: Passengers are responsible for compliance with all medical and passport/visa requirements for entering Ethiopia. Please visit the Ethiopian Embassy website for up-to-date requirements.


RPCV Legacy Program

Axum Children’s Library Enhancement

Championed by Dwight Sullivan (Yergalem, Dodola, 1970-72) and Janet Lee (Emdeber 1974-76)

Colorful Ethiopian scarf

Colorful Ethiopian scarf

These beautiful pieces by Gloria Curtis sold out immediately. More on the way!

These beautiful pieces by Gloria Curtis sold out immediately. More on the way!

E&E RPCV treasurer Randy Marcus in his annual financial report indicated that Dwight Sullivan and Janet Lee have reached 51% of their initial fundraising goal of $10,000 thanks to the generosity of E&E RPCVs. Fundraising included direct donations, sales of Ethiopian-inspired jewelry crafted by Gloria Curtis (Asmara 1963–65), and the sale of Ethiopian scarves. The limited number of jewelry sets sold out quickly, but fortunately more are on the way.  Dwight is in Axum and has purchased additional crosses for Gloria to craft into jewelry sets.

Janet Lee presented on the Axumite Heritage Foundation Library and Cultural Center, a Legacy Project.

Janet Lee presented on the Axumite Heritage Foundation Library and Cultural Center, a Legacy Project.

Gloria Curtis sets up the sales table for the Timket celebration

Gloria Curtis sets up the sales table for the Timket celebration

Janet recently presented on the project during the annual Denver Sister Cities International Timket celebration at the Africana Café in Denver. Those in attendance were in awe of the overall project.  The Ethiopian scarves were a big hit!

This RPCV Legacy Program project has joined in the efforts of the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), founded by former Peace Corps language and cultural instructor, Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, in the building and development of the Axumite Heritage Foundation Library and Cultural Center in Axum, Ethiopia. This project is limited to supporting the development of a children’s library.

The Axum Children’s Library will provide:

  • A welcoming area for all children of the community to read books, participate in story hours, participate in arts & crafts, and view movies.
  • Child-sized furniture that is comfortable and suitable for a variety of activities.
  • Age-appropriate books in English and local languages as they become available.
  • Access to computers for older children for them to learn basic computer skills.
  • Shelving for the books and a desk for the library assistant.
  • Curtains for the windows that may be closed during video presentations.

Dwight, currently in Ethiopia, has given an update of the overall project:
He witnessed 45 workers working on three exterior projects including exterior walls, the septic tank, and walkways.  He is confident that the library will open within the year.  On his first day back, Dwight reports that Dr. Tsehaye Teferra was able to provide the President of Tigre a tour of the library.  He was so impressed that he donated 10 solar laptops and numerous books.

Building contractor, Negus, and Library manager, Arefaine, stand on the balcony of the new building with a glimpse of the old library in the background.

Building contractor, Negus, and Library manager, Arefaine, stand on the balcony of the new building with a glimpse of the old library in the background.

We are on our way!

To support the Axum Children’s Library . . .

. . . you can send a check to:

Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs
c/o Randy Marcus
1634 Martha Terrace
Rockville MD 20852-4134

Make out your check to “Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs,” and in the subject line enter “Axum Children’s Library.” Include your email for tax receipt.

To donate online through “Just Give” click on the following button (a small processing charge will be included):  Donate Now





RPCV Legacy Program

ITC for Mettu School

Championed by Patti Garamendi (Mettu 66–68) and Faith Garamendi


Students in the St. Gabriel School’s Computer Lab


E&E RPCV treasurer Randy Marcus recently transferred funds from the Legacy Program to Tefere Kebede the in-country manager of the ITC for Mettu School Legacy Program Project.  The ITC for Mettu School project is an ongoing project championed by Patti Garamendi (Mettu 66-68) and her daughter Faith.

Once a Legacy Project has fulfilled its initial goal, typically $10,000, the champions can opt to continue raising funds to sustain the project and periodically transfer funds to the project.

The ITC for Mettu School project aims at introducing Information and Communication Technologies for teaching and learning as well as enabling school administration to manage information in a timely and organized manner. It intends to create a favorable environment to harness the potential of web-resources for the benefit of educators and learners.

Recent contributions provided training for 25 teachers and 648 students at the St. Gabriel School in February 2015.  Training was also provided from other elementary schools.  All trainees had access to the Internet.  This recent transfer of funds will enable project leaders to expand on providing training.

John Garamendi  (Mettu, 1966-68) sent the following message:

In 1966, my wife Patti and I started our married life together by serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia. We spent our years of service teaching and doing community development work, providing the foundation that would guide us in our life-long commitment to public service.

Today, we remain dedicated to the Peace Corps mission and are proud to have passed that dedication on to our family. Along with our youngest daughter, Patti and I support a Peace Corps Legacy Project in Mettu, Ethiopia, that provides students and teachers with computers, access to the Internet, and IT training. Patti and I had the opportunity to return to our host country last summer to visit the Mettu School and meet the students. We are truly blessed with the opportunity to work on this project and are grateful for the Peace Corps volunteers who are using their service to turn this dream into a reality. You can learn more about our legacy project in Ethiopia by clicking the link below:


Readers who wish to contribute to the ongoing fund may send a check to:

Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs
c/o Randy Marcus
1634 Martha Terrace
Rockville MD 20852-4134

Make out your check to “Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs,” and in the subject line enter “Mettu ITC Lab.” Include your email for tax receipt.

Recently acquired computers from the One Laptop per Child program funded by Legacy Program donations

Recently acquired computers from the One Laptop per Child program funded by Legacy Program donations.

A bank of computers in the Garamendis' Computer Lab.

A bank of computers in the Computer Lab.


RPCV Legacy Program

Borana Student Advancement

Championed by Fuller Torrey (Ethiopia staff: 64–66)

Photo taken during a 2011 trip to Ethiopia, several of these students are likely graduates of universities this past year.

Photo taken during a 2011 trip to Ethiopia, several of these students are likely graduates of universities this past year. With Dr. Torrey, at left, are Teshome and Mohammed, Mega Vision Developmental Association staff.

Map of Mega, Borana

Map of Mega, Borana

E&E RPCV treasurer Randy Marcus recently transferred a sizeable contribution from Dr. Fuller Torrey and other supporters of the Legacy Program to the in-country project director in Ethiopia. The Borana Student Advancement project is our largest legacy project, thanks to generosity and dedication of Dr. Fuller Torrey, who was a Peace Corps staff doctor in Ethiopia in the 1960s.  This Legacy Program project supports the Mega Vision Developmental Association in Mega, Ethiopia in the Borana Zone of the Oromia Region.

Once a Legacy Project has fulfilled its initial goal, typically $10,000, the champions can opt to continue raising funds to sustain the project and periodically transfer funds to the project.

The Borana Student Advancement project aims at providing educational opportunities for girls in Borana in southern Ethiopia. Dr. Torrey sent the E&E RPCV Board an update on the 19 participants who have recently graduated with college degrees. It’s noteworthy, too, that they all found jobs after graduation.  Of the 19 female students, five have been with the Mega Vision Development Association for nine full years.  The young women have graduated from Debub, Haromaya, Gondar, Jimma, Wodo, and Adama Universities, as well as the Bule Hora Teacher Training College.  Their majors include Education Planning, Rural Development, Management, Gender & Development Studies, Accounting, Plant Science, Statistics, Civil Engineering, and Oromo Folklore and Literature. The Mega Vision Development Association can rightfully boast of the major accomplishments of these young women.

Mega Vision staff member, Teshome, with students in 2011.

Mega Vision staff member, Teshome, with 11th and 12th grade students in 2011.

To support this project, send your check to:

Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs
c/o Randy Marcus
1634 Martha Terrace
Rockville MD 20852-4134

Make out your check to “Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs,” and in the subject line enter “Borana Students.” Include your email address to receive a tax receipt.



In Memoriam

Professor Richard Pankhurst with a model of an Axum stele

Richard Pankhurst “Champion of Ethiopian culture” ( December 3, 1927-February 16, 2017)

It is rare that an expatriate is held in as high esteem in a country as have members of the Pankhurst family been held in Ethiopia. It is with great sorrow that the world learned of the passing of Richard Pankhurst, of Great Britain, on February 16, 2017 in Addis Ababa at the age of 89. Richard Pankhurst was the son of famed suffragette, Sylvia Pankhurst, a hero to Ethiopia in her own right and who received a full state funeral in Ethiopia at the time of her death.

Richard Pankhurst is a noted scholar, having written more than twenty books on Ethiopia. He taught at Addis Ababa University, then known as the University College of Addis Ababa, and was a founding director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in 1962.  During his career he edited the Journal of Ethiopian Studies and the Ethiopia Observer.

Of great significance was his advocacy for the return cultural artefacts taken by British troops in 1868 and the 1,700 year-old obelisk taken from Axum by Mussolini’s forces. The Obelisk of Axum stood in the Piazza de Porta Capena in Rome until 2005.  It was returned and re-erected in Axum in 2008 and both Pankhurst and his wife Rita were in attendance for the dedication.

U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia posted on Facebook:

The U.S. Embassy mourns the loss of the great scholar of Ethiopian history, Richard Pankhurst. Dr. Pankhurst was a renowned and highly respected scholar who was a founding member of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies and former professor at the University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. His long standing and dedicated study of Ethiopian history had a profound impact on the study and understanding of Ethiopia, and is an example for others to follow. We honor his life and work and offer our deep condolences to his family and close friends.

Followers of the Facebook post and others paid tribute: “a hero,” “a son of Ethiopia,” and “one of Ethiopia’s greatest friends.”

Our colleagues posted on the E&E RPCV Facebook or in emails:

  • James Gage: He was a fine man and tireless friend of Ethiopia.
  • Paul Doherty: I worked for Dr. Pankhurst at Haile Selassie University in Addis Ababa during the summer of 1969 between my two years in Ethiopia. I recall him as soft-spoken and scholarly and very much a gentleman.
  • Sandra Tychsen: In 2013, my daughter and I (who is writing a dissertation on the Peace Corps in East Africa), were invited for tea with Dr. Pankhurst and his wife Rita. We were daunted and honoured. Despite advanced illness, he conveyed kindness and erudition. Dr. Pankhurst, who could barely speak, tried very nicely, twinkling, to sort out a confused conversation between his wife and me — an absurd misunderstanding about leopards vs. lepers in Addis in the ’60s.
  • Gerry Jones: While his recent years have been difficult with health issues, that is dwarfed by his enormous contribution over the years. . . . My wife and I saw him just a week ago at the launch of the “wide 20” book (“Change and Transformation in Twenty Rural Communities in Ethiopia” edited by his son, Alula.

An extensive reflection on Dr. Pankhurst by Phillip LeBel (Emdeber 1964–67) may be found in the elsewhere in this issue.

Our condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.


Gerald R. Jones (Dessie, Debre Berhan 1967–71, 1972) attended the funeral of Richard Pankhurst at Saint Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa and related the following:

Went to the Pankhurst funeral on Tuesday, February 21st. Regretfully photos were not possible from where I was sitting.

It was a grand send off. We (family, friends, admirers) were seated under awnings set up on the steps of the grand Trinity Cathedral.The coffin was processed into the Churchyard behind a military band playing the “dies irae” and accompanied by old warriors from the Patriots’ Association. Richard’s grave site is next to his mother, Sylvia, which is in a very prominent location in front of the entrance to the Cathedral.

The service was conducted by the Patriarch himself (HH Abune Matthias) with many prayers and blessings offered by a bevy of bishops and clergy. President Teshome Mulatu was in attendance, as was a large number of professors and staff from Addis Ababa University, representatives of civil society and many ordinary citizens who appreciated Richard’s devotion to Ethiopia.

The British Ambassador and several ranking Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia officials spoke. Richard’s son, Alula Pankhurst, spoke (in his flawless Amharic) in tribute to his father.

Richard came to Ethiopia in 1956 as a professor of economic history. In addition to his founding and leading the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at AAU for many years, Richard authored approximately 25 books on Ethiopia and hundreds of articles; he also founded “The Association for the Restoration of the Magdela Treasures (books, artifacts, sacred tabots stolen during the British incursion against Teodros) and was instrumental in securing the return of the Axum obelisk that had been taken to Rome during the Occupation.

Throughout the funeral, Richard’s widow, Rita, was supported by their children Alula and Helen.

There is a nice little book done by Richard and Rita Ethiopian Reminiscences, Early Days. It is a good picture of their life in Addis Ababa in those days.

If any E&E readers are in Addis Ababa, they might want to visit the historic Trinity Cathedral Churchyard. It is choc-a-bloc with historical personages. Emperor Haile Selassie and his family are entombed inside the Cathedral (as is the custom for Emperors); former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is buried here (for the moment, though his own  mausoleum is under construction out in Gulele); the 68 members of the Imperial government who were executed in Nov 1974 at the beginning of the Revolution are buried in a single grave with a striking and simple modern style monument; singer Tilahun Gessese, novelist Sibihat Gebre Egziabher are also there. The whole place is a monument to modern Ethiopian history!

Wendell Brooks, Makelle 1962-64, Ethiopia I

Julian Brooks, son of Wendell Brooks (Makelle, 1962-64) brought to The Herald’s attention that his father passed away in 2012.

Wendell singing

After graduation from Whittier College (Whittier, CA), Wendell served in the Peace Corps in Makelle,Ethiopia, lived in Europe, earning his Master’s Degree from Uppsala University in Sweden, and returned to the United States in 1971. For the rest of his life he taught primarily at California State University East Bay, Berkeley High School, and Holy Names University. Wendell was in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Ethiopia.

A tribute to his life may be viewed on this obituary. He was indeed an educator, singer, and citizen of the world.

Douglas J McKelvey (Ghion 66– 68); October 13, 2013

Doug was born in Aurora, IL, to James and Henrietta McKelvey. He graduated from high school, went off to Cornell College (IA), where he met and married his wife Susan. Doug and Susan volunteered as teachers for the Peace Corps in Ethiopia for two years before returning to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa.  Doug then taught at North Carolina A&T before joining the U.S. Department of Transportation, retiring after over 30 years.

Herbert Siegel

Herbert Siegel

Herb Siegel (Addis Ababa 62–64) August 16, 2016

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he moved to California after high school. He met his wife, Suzanne, on a blind date at UC Berkeley summer session, and they have been best friends for 56 years. As soon as he graduated from UC Berkeley as a math major in 1962, he and Suzanne joined the Peace Corps, serving as teachers in Ethiopia for two years. Returning to the United States, he obtained a M.A. in math and started his 40-year career as a computer programmer.

Maura T. Smith

Maura T. Smith

Maura Smith (Addis Ababa 62-64), January 3, 2017

Maura unselfishly served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia during the Kennedy Administration.



Ty Vignone

Ty Vignone

Ty Vignone (Asmara, Eritrea 1962-64), 2016

Ty was born in E. Longmeadow, MA in 1937. He was the son of the late Daniel and Marion and the brother of Tim.  Prior to his 51-year career as a teacher, he served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia from 1962 to 1964. Ty began teaching at Day Junior High School in Newton in 1965. He moved to Newton North High School in 1983, and taught there until this year. Ty instituted two programs for students that were often life-changing. One was the Close-Up Program, when he and his students would spend the week in Washington, D.C. learning about the government first hand. In recognition of his tenure and his dedication to teaching students about government, Ty was recognized by both Joe Kennedy, III and Elizabeth Warren.  Ty made life-long friends with many co-workers in the Peace Corps and fellow skiers. He was an inspiration to his fellow teachers.

Will G. Hall

Will G. Hall

Will G. Hall    (Dire Dawa, Addis Ababa 1962-65) January 3, 2017

He was born on August 17, 1940, in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of Pastor Willie Hall and Virginia (Ashworth) Hall. Will and his four siblings grew up in Morehead City on the North Carolina coast, where he developed a lifelong love for the ocean and fried fish. Following graduation from North Carolina Central College in 1962, Will became one of the founding members of the Peace Corps and was in the first group of Volunteers sent to Ethiopia.


John Timmons

John Timmons,  (Asbe Teferi 1964-67)    June 2, 2016

Born December 21, 1942 in Chillicothe, John was a native of Clarksburg, and attended Clarksburg schools, graduating from Clarksburg High School in 1960. After graduating from Marietta College in 1964, he served in the Peace Corps until 1967, teaching school in Asbe Tefari, Ethopia. While there he was able to travel throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. In 1965 he traveled to Tanzania and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro after a three day climb.Following his return from Ethiopia, John taught school in the Columbus Public Schools for several years and enrolled in graduate studies at the Ohio State University.




In Memoriam

 An RPCV remembers Richard Pankhurst

by Phillip LeBel (Emdeber 1964-67)

This is an account of my friendship with Richard Pankhurst (1927–2017), a noted historian, and founder and Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, who passed away on February 16, 2017. 

I FIRST CAME TO KNOW Richard Pankhurst while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer history teacher in Emdeber, Shoa, Ethiopia in 1967. At that time I was teaching a successive cohort of students who were progressing through the opening of grades 9 through 12 during the 1965 to 1968 years that I taught in the Emdeber public secondary school.

In my lesson plans, I followed the Ethiopian School Curriculum for history, which was based on the London O level standards then in place. Each year, students in history examined a concentric circle of events around a specific time period, beginning first with Ethiopian history, followed by African history, and then world history.

As students had few textbooks, including a 1935 history by Jones and Monroe that even looked favorably on Mussolini’s claims over the 1934 Wal Wal (Welwel) incident that served as a pretext for the invasion of Ethiopia that began the following year. In response to the dearth of materials, I would buy books at the Giannopolis book store on Churchill Road in Addis, and then, using extracts, integrate them into stenciled mimeograph sheets that I used to teach the various modules.

At the end of the year, I would have students bring me their mimeographed sheets, which I would then staple together with a table of contents and cover sheet so that they would have a take-away textbook of their own. I still have copies of the four years’ worth of history text materials that I developed while teaching history to students in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. Before leaving Ethiopia to return to the U.S. in July 1968, I gave all of the history stencils to the Peace Corps office where I was told that they would be made available to any incoming Peace Corps Volunteer. I don’t think they survived the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974.

MY PEACE CORPS CONTRACT initially was set to terminate at the end of spring in 1966. Volunteers were given the option of leaving in July 1966, or extending their contract. I chose to extend my contract by one year, thus completing my Peace Corps service in July 1967. However, because I was so involved with teaching an advancing cohort of students who by then had only completed grade eleven, I decided to stay an additional year under a contract with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. In the 1967-1968 year, I taught the cohort whom I had first met in 1965 and who then were prepared to take their twelfth grade leaving exams. Out of 21 students in history who took the exam, seven passed the test. At the time, I was told that this was exceptional for students in a rural school system. I have never inquired as to whether this was true or not.

These great books by Richard Pankhurst were sources for my mimeographed textbook.

These great books by Richard Pankhurst were sources for my mimeographed textbook.

Along the way of teaching, I came to know Norman Singer, another Peace Corps Volunteer who was teaching law at Haile Selassie I University in Addis Ababa. Through Norman, I was introduced to Richard Pankhurst, founder and Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at the University. Richard already had carved out a notable reputation for his writings on Ethiopian history. I had used extracts from two of his books in my mimeo texts: Travelers in Ethiopia (Oxford University Press, 1965), and The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles (Oxford University Press, 1967).

Around that time, I told Richard that I was developing preliminary text materials for use in the Ethiopian secondary school history curriculum. He encouraged me to consider having them published by Oxford University Press, the publisher of the two aforementioned texts he had edited. I decided to stay the additional year and began discussions with the then Addis representative of Oxford University Press.

Through a series of events unrelated to my friendship with Richard Pankhurst, this never came to pass. Nevertheless, I was grateful for the opportunity to have worked on the project while I contemplated what I might do once I would be leaving Ethiopia to attend graduate school in the fall of 1968.

WHILE TEACHING secondary school history in Emdeber, I asked students what they could tell me of the history of their family, clan, and region from which they had come. Though most students had come from one of the Sabat Bét Gurage groups, some had come from as far away as Hosanna, where the Hadiya were more prevalent. From my reaching out to students, I also began looking into what was known about the Gurage from writings in the library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Haile Selassie I University in Addis.

One book I came across was a record of a French government commissioned expedition by two explorers, F. Azaïs and R. Chambard, Cinq années de recherches archéologique en Éthiopie, province du Harar et Éthiopie (Paris: Librairie Orientaliste, Paul Geuthner, 1931). One volume in the series recounts a muleback trip they took down the Rift Valley in 1926. In their account, they took photographs of rock-hewn stone carvings near Butajira, in Soddo Gurage country, not far from Lake Zwai. That they were carved in stone suggested that they pre-dated the expansion of both Orthodox Christianity and Islam in the region of Sidamo.

Given the proximity of Butajira to Sabat Bét Gurage country, Richard Pankhurst, Norman Singer, and I set out in 1967 to see whether and of these stones were still extant. Arriving in Butajira and speaking with local residents, we found one stone that had been photographed by Azaïs and Chambard. It was lying on an angle in a grain field.

Statue leaning in a field near Butajira.

A photo I took in 1967 shows what it looked like then. Noting the distinctive markings, Richard obtained relocation permits from the Ministry of Interior for placing them in the Institute of Ethiopian Studies collection. This stone, along with a few others brought up subsequently with the collaboration and support of Professor Hailu Fulass, now constitute part of the collection in the Institute. I took a photo of three of these stones and a detailed photo of one of them in 1968. When I returned to Ethiopia to teach at the University in 2009, the stones looked only slightly more weathered than they did when first placed there in 1968.

Another stone in Gurageland

From this expeditionary experience in 1967, I learned from some of my students in Emdeber that similar stones were located in Sabat Bét Gurage country. In an unsuccessful relocation sequel, Richard, Norman, and I made plans for a government authorized acquisition of one stone in Ezha, one of the Sabat Bét Gurage groups, to be taken to the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. On the day of our planned retrieval, I learned that it was still being used for ceremonial animal sacrifices. At that point, I decided that as long as such stones had an ongoing active spiritual function, no effort should be made to remove them. I do not know if the stones in Ezha were still there in my 2009 visit as I did not have time to make a return visit.

OUT OF MY LOCAL OUTREACH to students from my days as a secondary history teacher in Emdeber, I wound up writing two articles for the Journal of Ethiopian Studies. “On Gurage Architecture” was published in 1969 and “Oral Traditions and Chronicles on Gurage Immigration” was published in 1974. By that time, I was already busy with writing my doctoral thesis in economics, and so my engagement with Ethiopia was put aside, even though I still continued to follow events in what were then revolutionary times that led to the downfall of Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1974.

AFTER A CAREER IN teaching, research, and consulting in economics, I managed to obtain another Fulbright grant to return to Ethiopia in 2009, to teach in the graduate program in economics at Addis Ababa University. I was delighted to re-connect with so many friends and former students from years gone by, including Richard Pankhurst, then retired from the directorship of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, even though he continued to write and lobby on behalf of Ethiopian historical causes. In the process I wound up preparing a presentation to SOFIES, the Society of Friends of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Addis Ababa University, in the spring of 2009. Richard Pankhurst, as ever a friend, was able to attend the presentation. He thought that my topic, “Social Identity and Economic Well-Being Among the Gurage: Some Historical Comparisons,” was a suitable topic for publication by the Journal of Ethiopian Studies. I refined a version of the presentation and submitted it to the editor, but to my knowledge, it has never been published.

While I have not returned to Ethiopia since 2009, I have been giving some thought to such a trip, possibly as a visiting scholar at a local university on a short-term visit. That I might return and no longer have such a friend as Richard Pankhurst to inspire work in a field that has been a long-standing interest, but largely unrelated to work I have done as an academic economist, would not be the same. I shall miss his presence. This said, the impact of the numerous projects in which he was engaged and supported will live on for generations to come.

Richard Pankhurst in a classroom

Reviewed: Books, movies, etc.

Documentary Review

If Only I Were That Warrior: A Documentary
by Valerio Ciriaci.
Awen Films,
DVD $12.99,  Video on Demand rental $4.99; purchase $12.99.

Reviewed by Janet Lee (Emdeber 74–76)

ioiwtw_poster_v5_1_medium_winner“OF ONLY I WERE THAT WARRIOR” is the first line of Verdi’s Aida, and one wonders throughout who is the warrior of which this excellent documentary speaks.

The documentary begins and ends with the voice of Mulu, an Ethiopian radio broadcaster who lives in Italy and is on a campaign to erase all trace from a newly dedicated memorial in the town of Affile, Italy in the memory of Rodolfo Graziani, the Italian Fascist general who was responsible for numerous war crimes and the deaths of thousands during the Italian Occupation of Ethiopia in 1935.  The documentary questions how Graziani, known by many as “the Butcher of Ethiopia,” can be honored by a public monument, especially in Italy where Fascism is constitutionally banned.

Through a series of interviews of approximately 20 people in Ethiopia, Italy, and the U.S., the viewer hears differing perspectives on honoring Graziani with a memorial based on personal memories, history books, or stories from their elders. One might expect that one group of people might lean for or against the memorial based on nationalities of that group, but surprising alliances are formed or indifference abounds. To some, the genocide is “ancient history” and to others a cause to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

Particularly moving, is a short segment of an elderly monk who as a child witnessed the mass slaughter of thousands outside Debre Libanos.

Also depicted is the unlikely alliance that arises when Nicola DeMarco, the American grandson of an Italian solider who fought in Ethiopia, and joins forces with the Ethiopian diaspora, in particular Kidane Alemayehu from the Global Alliance for Justice: The Ethiopian Cause.

If Only I were that Warrior was the winner of the Premio “Imperdibili” Festival Dei Popoli, 2015 and was an official selection to the African Diaspora International Film Festival, 2016, to the Italian Film Festival of Minneapolis/St. Paul 2016; to the Addis International Film Festival, 2016; and to the Africa World Documentary Film Festival, 2016.

Ethiopian historians and non-historians alike will find this documentary informative and thought-provoking.

End of Issue 26 — March 2017