Ethiopian Millennium Event Hosted at the US Congress- Capitol Hill




CCEM Press Release

July 14, 2007

On July 13, 2007 the evening of Friday, the Council for the Celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium in Washington DC (CCEM) held a successful dinner reception inside Rayburn Building, The Capitol Hill. Thanks to the help of Congressman Donald Payne, the House Chair on African Affairs and Congressman Mike Honda, the Chairman of Ethiopia caucus in the House, organizing the evening event inside the halls of the US congress made the occasion uniquely beautiful.

The reception dinner was attended by various Ethiopian community leaders, representatives of civic and political organizations as well as Ethiopian businessmen and scholars . The evening was graced with the presence of Congressman Donald Payne, the guest of honor, who was received by the attendees gathered there with a thunderous applause and standing ovation. Congressional staff members of both Congressmen Donald Payne and Mike Honda were also present at the event. Members of the Washington DC area Ethiopian Media outlets-Ze Ethiopia Newspaper, Addis Demis, Hibret, Kinjit and Ethiopianwinet Radios, Ethiopian Television Network (EtN)-- as well as reporters from the Washington Post, German Radio, and VOA were present at the event to give media coverage.

After a brief welcoming speech by Ato Neamin Zeleke, representing the Council for the Celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium in DC, Weizero Alemtshay Wodajo, the Executive Director of CCEM, spoke at length outlining the aims and objectives of the Millennium Celebration in Washington DC. During her speech she spoke of the progress and preparations that are underway by the council in order to have a successful celebration of the Millennium in Washington DC.

Artist Alemtsehay Wodajo also expressed her profound appreciation to Congressman Donald Payne, Congressman Mike Honda, Congressman Chris Smith, and other members of the US congress not only for their strong support rendered to the Ethiopian Millennium event in DC, to be held from September 8 to 12, but also for their tireless effort to end the suffering of our people at home. Wizero Alem thanked them for being champions of democracy and freedom in Ethiopia and the visionary bill HR2003, the Ethiopian Democracy and Accountability Act, which is now in progress for mark up and submission to the full US House of Represtatives.

The honorable Congressman Donald Payne, the guest of honor at the evening , was then invited to address the audience . Amidst several rounds of standing ovation, the Honorable Congressman Payne, then spoke of his 40 years of contact with Ethiopia and about his knowledge of the glorious history of the country. He stressed that Ethiopia--the beautiful country he knows very well, the cradle of civilization in Africa, a proud symbol for black people everywhere-- deserves better than its current standing in the world. Congressman Payne said that he had a high hope in the current rulers of Ethiopia and believed they would make a difference. But he mentioned the fact that the current rulers changed their gear from their initial promises to democratize Ethiopia. He spoke of HR2003 pending before the House of Representative with more than 70 co-sponsors as a mechanism to help Ethiopia build democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights . He stressed that the Bill will have far reaching positive influences beyond fixing short term problems.

The dinner was also graced by the presence of Métier Atrtist Afework Tekle, currently, touring US as the gust of Honor of the Ethiopian Soccer Federation in North America(ESFANA). Artist Afework shared words of wisdom with the participants and stressed the need for the Ethiopian community in Diaspora to stand up in unity to help Ethiopia and its people.

The evening was made even more colorful and filled with an atmosphere of a great Ethiopian tradition. The famous singer Maritu Legesse sang her beautiful traditional songs to the sound of the masinko played by the capable Artist Melaku. For few of the attendees of the evening, it was an emotional moment of remembering home and long past times missed. And yes, as in the Ethiopian tradition, Maritu was given poems and made in the house lyrics mostly chosen in praise of Congressmen Donald Payne, Mike Honda and Congressman Chris Smith, who have all been advocates of democratic change in Ethiopia. The historic evening ended beautifully after moments of picture taking with Congressman Donald Payne.

The Washington DC Millennium Celebration Council expects thousands of Ethiopians to come to DC from all over North America between September 8 to 12 to mark this once in a thousand years event for reflection on our past, determination and resolution to change the image and condition of Ethiopia for good towards democracy, rule of law, freedom, prosperity, and lasting peace in the coming new millennium. According to the planned activities of the Millennium celebration, there will be huge symposia where numerous Ethiopian scholars in various areas of expertise and knowledge are expected to participate, a giant parade calling for Democracy and freedom in Ethiopia as well as a cultural festival, drama and musical extravaganza organized by Ethiopian artists.