Adane Legacy

Written by Dagem Adane

Dagem Adane is the founder of Adanelegacy. Born in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, his family moved to the America when Dagem was at the age of four. Moving to America brought new opportunities and experiences, for which he is forever grateful. However, growing up as an Afro diaspora brought with it many hardships due to the cultural barriers. The lack of identity, community, and guidance resulted in Dagem struggling in school. He brings up identity or the lack thereof, because a lot of immigrants tend to lose themselves while trying to find it.

_______________________________________

The idea behind building Adanelegacy can be traced back to when I was young and would sneak into my father’s room to try on his watch. Of course, it did not fit, but I loved the feeling and confidence it gave me. I think it was more than the watch itself.

The timepiece was a symbol of my father which I cherished.

My father exemplified the sweetest fruits in life. He was the personification of love, empathy, confidence, and resilience. My father had an insatiable curiosity, yet, he was wise enough to know the limits of wit. He was an avid reader, and the Bible was his favorite text. He enjoyed traveling, yet, his favorite place in the world was home with his family. A trailblazer, my father made superman obsolete. He was always first to rise, and then – the first to set.

That being said, I created this brand to honor him by continuing his legacy.

He taught me to be in charge of my life and to make something of myself regardless of the obstacles.

I ran with that and decided to share with the world, that you too are in charge of your life and legacy. Our slogan “Own Your Legacy” embodies the importance of being in charge, being a student  of life, contributing to this world, while doing it with style and grace.

With a promise to legacy and livelihood, Adanelegacy works closely with the non-profit organization, WEL, who’s focused on the growth and development of rural towns.

For every dollar earned, adanelegacy proudly contributes a portion of the proceeds to wel in efforts to build a primary school for young boys and girls of ethiopia.

The mission of Adanelegacy is to build a community that can sustain itself when the sun sets each day. As a legacy grows, each person must be willing and ready to teach others how to fish and how to do it successfully. For me, fashion was the gateway to continuing the legacy of excellence. Adanelegacy was created to help men and women of color exude confidence, resilience, and distinction. With an eye for style and a heart for community, I’ve set out to bring the two together. Adanelegacy is the combination of sophisticated style, deep love for the community, and dedicated service. Your journey is what makes you who you are! The fact that I was able to overcome time after time helps me understand the struggles of our community. I built this brand to represent those who are striving better themselves.

Adanelegacy represents those who:

  • Are learners of life
  • Enjoy exploring the world
  • Contribute and give back to their community
  • Understand the importance of education and higher learning
  • Dress with a mission for success

“own your legacy”

make sure to follow dagem here and head over the make a purchase of your legacy watch with adane legacy.

A Letter to Us

Written by Naome Seifu 

A Letter to Us

Stemming back centuries, black skin has always been a target. A color that is outcasted. A people overlooked. Over the past few weeks, it has become evident for many people that systematic racism is still alive and thriving. The racism that Rosa Parks, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that Rep. John Lewis and countless others who fought in hopes for basic rights just a few generations ago.

What a tragic irony for black people who aren’t valued or represented by the country we built. 

Black people built this country from the ground up – its foundation laid with the bone, blood, sweat, and tears of slaves. But it was never enough. When black people were “free” and excelled in their all Black cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma and many others – this country chose to bomb the all Black city and burn it all down, there was no justice. When a young Emmitt Till was murdered in 1955 for being falsely being accused of whistling at a young white woman, there was no justice. When Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X. – men who fought with the people for the protection and representation of black people were murdered, and again there was no justice.

And now, in 2020, we are facing two pandemics. 

COVID-19 swarmed this world and killed thousands of innocent lives in a matter of weeks. In response, we were told to abide by the CDC regulations and quarantine. Little did we know, the whole world would end up watching a man who, as a child dreamt of being a justice on the Supreme Court, would have a police officer in Minnesota have his knee pressed on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. That would be the end of George Floyd’s life. His execution caught on camera in broad daylight for the world to see. But would his life and death had mattered if no one was there to record? 

A young woman, Breonna Taylor – an EMT, would get shot and murdered in her own home because police officers stormed into the wrong house in plain clothes without announcing who they were. Her life was lost because her killers didn’t think her life mattered. But her life will always matter. George Floyd’s life will always matter. And now, on what seems to be a never-ending list of people whose lives were devalued by this country, Rayshard Brooks’ life will always matter.

The grind halting stillness of COVID-19 opened the eyes of most the world to see that systematic racism is still a well oiled machine, firing at all cylinders. A disease that has engulfs the souls of too many people.  

Dr. Tony Evans once said, “racism isn’t a bad habit. It isn’t a mistake. It is a sin. The Answer is not sociology; it’s theology.” 

Protestors, young and old, captivated the world when they took to the streets. People chose to step into a movement to say enough is enough. We see people of all colors, and all nationalities voice their anger that a Black life doesn’t seem to matter in this world. Why in 2020 is this still up for debate? How are we supposed to raise black children in a world that has already punished them? A world that will do everything it can to crush their dreams. How do we explain the injustice without stealing their innocence? How do we not get tired of being used and abused? Black children are raised in a country that doesn’t recognize their humanity. 

When will there ever be a time where a black life is more than enough? 

Regardless of every single odd stacked against us, Black people are resilient. Black people are champions. Black people have and will prevail. We must continue to protest and make our voices heard. In the midst of the pain, there is a beauty – that we can come together and shake up a city, a nation, a world – because that’s how important a black life is.

We cannot just sit still. We must continue to mobilize and vote. Not only at the national level but at the local level. Who is on your local school boards? Who are your city council members? Who are your police chiefs? Do you know who your mayor is and if those elected officials represent the values you believe are important? The district attorney and state legislators? Do all these elected officials  value and care for a black life? Will they protect a black life? Will they fight for it? If you don’t know this answer, if you don’t even know who these people are, I urge you to do your research. And then vote. Make your voice be heard. 

I end this letter with this:

“We’re literally at a deflection point and man. [George Floyd’s] death was a deflection point. We’ll master the sin of racism, or the sin of racism will master us.” – Pastor Patrick Ngwolo

May we always remember that no matter how dark and violent this world is, you will always be chosen by God. Your life is a life given by Him. It can be hard to remember that during such difficult times, but this world isn’t meant for us. We are meant to be with Him. So, take honor to know that you, in your many shades of Black, are an image bearer. That your life is  valued and held by the Creator. There is no greater value than that. 

Sincerely,
A Black Woman

 

 

Aida B. Solomon

Written By Aida B. Solomon 

Aida B. Solomon is a marketer and writer originally from Los Angeles, California. Aida B. Solomon holds a Masters from the University of Southern California in Communication Management. Aida is the founder of the media group HabeshaLA and co-founder of a strategic communications firm, Integrate Africa. Aida is currently based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
_______________________________________

Culture, by definition, can be defined as, “the social behavior and norms found in human societies”. In the last few years, the concept and idea of culture has been interpreted and redefined in various ways. “For the Culture”, coined by hip hop group Migos, refers to the outward expression that young folks of color take on to represent our new age sense of culture.

It is quite a time to be alive. 

As a black woman of Ethiopian descent born and raised on the West Coast, I have come to embrace culture and cultural identity as fluid, encompassing the numerous factors that have shaped how I choose to define myself.

My parents emigrated from Ethiopia in the early 80s. After choosing to settle in Pomona, California to raise their two children, my parents knew early on that they wanted my brother and me to have strong ties to Ethiopia.

My mother who was a stay-at-home mom throughout our childhood, would make us pay her 25 cents every time we spoke English in the house. 

Till this day she says, “Why would I not teach my children my own mother tongue? Don’t I want to be able to communicate with my kids? Express myself fully without stumbling on grammar and vocabulary?”

My parents would spin stories on their life back at home: carefree childhoods in Dessie and Adama, surrounded by family and neighbors and communities that all played a part in raising my parents.

As I grew older, I wanted the ability to create my own narrative of Ethiopia. 

After graduating from the University of California Irvine in 2011, I set off to Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa to finally experience the Motherland for myself.  

During my eight-month stint in Addis, I was working for the Reporter Newspaper with my beat on culture and the arts. I was blown away by the outpour of creativity in the Addis arts scene. Growing up as a first-generation Ethiopian, I was often encouraged to pursue the sciences or mathematics. Practical, stable career paths were always preferred by my parents’ generation.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, I realized that the Ethiopian community I was raised in was disconnected. Apart from annual celebrations and weekly church gatherings, my generation often did not have the opportunity to meet or network.  I began researching on Tumblr and was pleasantly surprised to find an online community of filmmakers, models, writers, and other creatives not only based in LA, but around the globe.

I Began to develop to HabeshaLA as a platform to celebrate and connect creatives in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Diaspora. 

The HabeshaLA website featured interviews with local and rising talent, such as the likes of writer Hannah Giorgis, entrepreneur and Taste of Ethiopia founder Hiyaw Gebreyohannes, and rapper Yonas Michael.

The other component of HabeshaLA is to produce and launch events to bring the community together. HabeshaLA has produced musical showcases with performances by Marian Mereba and Hewan, hosted the Los Angeles screening of the film The Diaspora Journal, and launched the monthly Origins party featuring live DJ sets.

HabeshaLA has aimed to create a much-needed niche in Los Angeles and beyond. 

It is most rewarding to see the impact that HabeshaLA has made on the community. Receiving feedback from a new LA transplant that they were able to finally meet other Habeshas at one of our events, or receiving positive comments on a blog post, or even a DM from Instagram with a simple “thank you for what you do” is what has motivated myself and our team over the last 3 years to keep going.

Creating a brand from scratch and putting yourself out there for the world to see (and sometimes judge) can be terrifying.

For myself, it was the passion that I had to “do it for the culture” that kept me going. 

Putting our culture on the map, whether it is among other African diaspora communities, within Los Angeles, or on a global scale, is our end-goal.

Fast forward 6 years later, I find myself back in Addis Ababa to explore other opportunities. While HabeshaLA is currently in a rebranding hiatus, I pray and hope that the impact it has made on the Habesha community is not lost. To see so many of our folks killing it, from Amine to Kelela, to the Weeknd to Ruth Negga to Nipsey Hussle to Marcus Samuelsson, shows there is much, much more to look forward to.

Find Aida Bee at @AidaBeeSolomon on Instagram.
Find HabeshaLA at @HabeshaLA on Instagram.

Tsyon Feleke

WRITTEN BY Tsyon Feleke 

Tsyon Feleke was raised in Perth, Australia after her parents arrived from Ethiopian in the mid 90’s. She is currently studying her master’s in Architecture and spends her time working on creative projects that have cultural significance. She sees the power in creativity, and believes that if we identify ourselves from the crowd, we can truly share meaningful ideas. She is currently working on the launch of her “Slog”, a term which she coined as the “conceptual evolution of the Blog and Vlog.”

_______________________________________

When Naome reached out to me for a chance to share my personal narrative I was so excited to hear what she had envisioned, and I was elated at the thought of sharing my story with a fellow group of like-minded and receptive creatives. So, as I sat down to pen what would be my first creative “tell all” I was humbled by the idea that perhaps my story, so far would be much, much shorter than the artists I admire.

You see, growing up in the Australian SUBURBS isn’t exactly CONDUCIVE to inspiring the ARTISTIC spirit that would otherwise be fostered in the GRIT and grime of big city living. 

Instead in its place exists the holy trinity of outback living: the bush, the beach and of course the most important “B”of them all, boredom. It is this senseless, hot, dusty discomfort felt most in the heat of the summer months which has produced some of Australia’s greatest artistic talents because well, if there was anything better to do, there wouldn’t be time to think of ways to make life more exciting. So here I am, a little Ethiopian girl in the heat of the suburban sink mispronouncing her own name just to feel a little cooler. Bored, curious and a little weird it would be years until I mustered up the courage to correct my professor’s mispronunciation of my name at university. Even worse would be how much longer it took to figure out how the hell I could express myself in an environment where I belonged, but still felt foreign.

There was always an idea of australia and it’s australian’s and for the most part it sounded like me.

I’d switch on our old analogue TV, adjust the antenna and enjoy a few hours of kid friendly drama. Lockie Lenard was a favourite of mine, and I was intrigued by the way he flung that stringy blonde hair behind his ear. The following week, as I helped my mum correct the spelling mistakes on her English competency test for work and she finished perming the little knots out of my concealed afro, I had planned to impress my friends at school with my new ear-tuckable-do. Like me, some were struggling with the idea of what Australia meant to them, but the ones I felt most at home with were bright, inquisitive and surprisingly, Indigenous. I liked them, and although we didn’t speak the same language (at home) we understood we were different, and perhaps deeper down knew that it was this difference that kept our voices so soft and disadvantaged only we could hear one another. Early on art had always been the least challenging way we could express our opinions and it was liberating to see how well people responded to something I had made. There was power to be found in their recognition of my ability and for a little quiet girl like me each piece felt like a roar from within. I took these praises as a sign of my potential and decided to make use of a voice I could learn to grow. 

My identity and who I thought I’d become were still yet to be found, but all I knew was that I could speak louder with my hands.

In university I decided to pursue my formal education in Architecture, but found greater solace in my creative allies online.

As I began piecing together a new creative identity for myself I found comfort in collaging. Most importantly the act of constructing these collages represents what I myself have always been searching for, completeness. Sociologist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois writes of a double consciousness experienced by individuals who navigate multiple cultures, and as the daughter of two Ethiopian refugees who have fled to Australia it has been difficult to consolidate my experience of growing up between two cultures. There’s often this sense of neither belonging here nor there, and just like the undefined barriers of a pieced together collage it is difficult to distinguish where one part of you begins and where the other ends. Generational trauma, systematic disadvantage, racism and archaic gender expectations often find themselves floating to the top of our bottle of woes, but amongst such hardships I want speak to the positivity and resilience which has ushered us to this very point in life. 

To swim against the tide of what can be an uncomfortable reality is futile, however we shouldn’t lose sight of the POSSIBILITIES that might exist just beyond the horizon.  

In this globalised world we can meet many voices which sound like our own. In my case there are many others who like me have been born out of displacement, discomfort and hope, but together we are able to take ownership of our story. Equally as important are those who will listen to our story, and their receptiveness shouldn’t be ignored. Our ability to communicate through artistic media helps not only ourselves but our audience better understand alternative narratives which has been one of the more delightful outcomes of my artistic journey. As I continue to develop my creative practice I could have never anticipated the amount of diverse and engaged individuals who reach out to me as they find familiarity in my work. Piece by piece collaging has helped me reframe who I thought I was, and I hope my viewers can see themselves somewhere in gaps.

I believe creating breeds creativity, and through art and making we are able to dismantle and rebuild a new and positive sense of ourselves.

Find Tsyon at @tsyon.feleke on Instagram.
Check out her ARCHITECTURE Portfolio. You can also check out her website full of incredible art

Rediate Tekeste

Written by Rediate Tekeste

Rediate Tekeste is a first generation Ethiopian-American and founder of Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship (EDF). Through learning the importance of forming an identity as a diaspora through her own experiences, Rediate started EDF as a build to bridge the young-professional diaspora and partner companies in Ethiopia. She’s also the Co-Founder of Integrate Africa, a strategic communications consulting firm focused on social-impact businesses and African-centric media projects. Rediate has worked for social action organizations including the Clinton Initiative, America Reads Program leading education efforts through community partnerships in low-income areas. She spent time in Ethiopia working as a journalist for World Vision Ethiopia and then building a communication department at Selam Children’s Village. Rediate discovered her passion for storytelling while working as an international Field Producer for the documentary about girls’ education, Girl Rising. She currently combines her interest in storytelling and culture as the Director of Strategy at Redbird Group, an L.A based human-centered marketing agency. She received her B.A in Interpersonal and Intercultural Communications at Arizona State University and her Master of Communication Management degree at University of Southern California.

_______________________________________

Growing up Ethiopian in an all-white small town in Iowa, I never deeply thought about my identity. I knew I was Ethiopian, but as far as I knew that meant my family had different food we would eat, we could secretly talk about things in another language, there were a lot of us, we had big weddings, my mom would yell into the phone when she talked to people from “back home,” we would receive letters telling stories of family I never knew getting married, having kids, people dying… all in one letter.  It was like binge watching a TV show while she read the letter. I imagined this family in this other place for a few minutes, and then I went back to my own world. 

I Navigated between being and not being black, not being white and being part of white culture. but truly never navigating Ethiopian’ess. 

“Ethiopian,” wasn’t a concept I knew. I didn’t have an accent. I didn’t cook Ethiopian food. I hated the smell of onions on my clothes.

I just wanted to fit into my Iowan surroundings, I did fit in.

It wasn’t a question.

It was a must.

I was just me, Rediate.  My identity was tied to my friends, my grades, my humor, my sister, my leadership qualities, my ability to stay calm under pressure, but not my cultural identity. I’m sure I had moments of confusion or awareness, but I remember being content in that space.

I went to college and through some awkward moments, I realized I was black. Yes, it took Freshmen year of college to shock me into reality.  But that’s another story.

Then Sophomore year of college my mom wanted to take us to Ethiopia.

But, first, we had to finish our citizenship process.  

The whole citizenship process felt like a weird dream. I knew I was American – this was just a silly process that would make it easier to fill out forms – I won’t have to remember my alien registration number anymore, I can participate in any contest, just a formality.

I came home from my citizenship ceremony to a “Welcome To America!” house party my roommates threw me. We wore red, white, and blue and drank American drinks and ate American hot dogs. We laughed at the absurdity that I had to even take a test, get interviewed, and go to a ceremony to be American. I was more heartland American than some of them.

Enter: My first trip back to Ethiopia.

As our plane was landing in Ethiopia my heart started pounding and my hands were sweating. I plugged in my earphones and wrote in my journal, “my heart is beating way fast because we are getting really close to Ethiopia – I have knots in my stomach and butterflies and my hands are shaking ha I am so nervous. I might have an anxiety attack. Seriously. Whoa. I need to stop thinking about it or I might throw up – it’s such a big BIG deal. I mean I haven’t seen these people in 16 years. What do you say? What are they expecting? What do I do? Am I what they expect?”

Three months in Ethiopia: I journaled almost every day on my first trip and reading through those pages is like a roller coaster of an identity crisis. First, realizing I had an Ethiopian identity and then the up and down of figuring out what that meant. I visited my mom’s village (like, literally, village) my dad’s village (again, village), met hundreds of friends and family members, saw Ethiopia from the East to the West, the North and the South. My mom took us everywhere in 3 months. She wanted us to see everything from the Sheraton in Addis, to my aunt’s metal house in a rural area with no electricity or running water.

And this, changed my life.

My first trip to Ethiopia created a deep desire to understand how one, my identity was complex and layered and two, I was only going to understand myself by investing in understanding myself. 

Over the next few years I started that investment in everything I did, I graduated college, worked, lived in Ethiopia, traveled back and forth, went to graduate school, and through all of those experiences my Ethiopian-Iowan identity grew, conflicted, challenged, and supported me in various ways.

I majored in intercultural communications, I spent my summers in Iowa, I worked as producer and translated culture and language for Americans in Ethiopia, I joined everything diaspora related, I made friends with other third culture kids.

I started realizing it was a superpower to be from both an individualist and collectivist culture, to code-shift from language and actions emphasizing community to language and actions empowering yourself, to understand the immigrant experience and understand the “American” lifestyle. being from more than one culture increases your empathy for others, understanding of cultures, and of course, provides plenty of good stories. 

I wanted every person that felt not quite this enough or that enough or even good enough to know that they were more than enough

They were even better. 

I wanted them to use that superpower to lead others.

I wanted people to use the same energy they did trying to fit in, into figuring out how their experience was exactly what they needed and what their community needed to stick out and lead others.

I wanted all of those things and here I was, I was born in a place some people would consider deprived of opportunities, with access and opportunity my grandma could never even dream of. I could go to school for as long as I wanted, study anything, move freely from country-to-country, and at a touch of a few buttons I could talk to my family anywhere in the world and learn anything in the world.  It was as close to royalty as anyone else in my family had ever been.

So, what? One of my favorite verses says,

“For if you remain silent at this time, peace…will arise from another place…and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Basically, if you don’t do something, someone else can, but who knows that you aren’t in this exact position for this exact reason.

Enter: Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship

Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship and the community around it, is an answer to that question. Who knows if I’ve come to this position for such a time as this? The point of struggling with an identity, growing up without half my extended family, living as refugees in the middle of America – was so I could use those experiences and build something that added value to my community.

I worked with a team of people to create an organization i wish existed. a community of young, Ethiopian-American, service-oriented, creative, community-centered, leaders. 

In the last 4 years we’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned there are way more of us out there than we ever knew. We’ve learned we have so many shared experiences with people from all different cultures. We’ve learned some people just need one open door or connection and they will blow you away with their success. Mainly, we’ve learned nothing great can happen without collaboration.

We’ve struggled, we’ve succeeded, we’ve almost quit, and we’ve powered through when we didn’t think we could. we’re growing, learning and developing. but most importantly, we’re evolving.

And, that’s what it really is.

Culture. it’s not stagnant. it evolves in the same way our identity does. 

I am not the same girl that I was growing up in Iowa, but I am not the complete opposite.

I have just evolved.

I am more Ethiopian, but it doesn’t mean I am less American. In the same way I can speak more Amharic now, but it’s not like I forgot English (most of the time).

It’s a process, a journey, and I don’t think identity ever has a final destination.

You win when you’re willing to question who you are, who you want to be, and how you’ll get there.

We all win when we’re willing to let our experiences evolve us in a way where we find value in our culture and our identity.