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Ethiopian girls celebrate Ashenda, the Virgin Mary festival

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Ethiopian girls celebrate Ashenda, the Virgin Mary festival

Ethiopian girls have reportedly trooped out in their thousands to take part in the annual Ashenda festival, which celebrates the Virgin Mary. It gives girls carte blanche to sing and dance over the three-day celebration.

At the eve of the festival, which first started centuries ago, girls plait their hair in an elaborate design called Ga’me and head to the market, where they buy necklaces and other traditional cosmetics.

The girls also gather Ashenda grass from the riverside. Ashenda means “the tall green grass” in the region’s language, Tigrinya, and gives the festival its name.

The grass is sewn together and worn on the girls’ waists as a skirt.

The girls form groups of eight to 12 with a lead singer and a drummer, and they gather in the public squares of Mekelle, Tigray’s main city.

Read also: Tourists in Algeria Battle Beach Umbrella Mafia

For the first time this year, Tigray’s culture and tourism bureau allowed the festivities to take place at Baloni Stadium.

The party goes on from sunrise to sunset. The celebrating girls see the festival as a source of fun and an opportunity to tell the world that they are proud of the Virgin Mary.

The Ethiopian government plans to get the festival recognised by Unesco.
Ashenda is also celebrated from 30 August to 1 September in Aksum, central Tigray, and goes by a slightly different name, Ayni Wari.

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Planning a trip to the Horn of Africa? Ethiopia scraps visas for all Africans

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Planning a trip to the Horn of Africa? Ethiopia scraps visas for all Africans

Is Ethiopia on your next travel plan? If yes, here’s some good news. You don’t have apply for a visa ahead of your travel. The country has now made it possible to procure same on arrival.

Though the African Union’s promise of easy travel for Africans throughout the continent is still some way off, Ethiopia is taking a step towards helping that become a reality.

Speaking at the opening of parliament and outlining the government’s legislative programme, President Mulatu Teshome said that African nationals would be able to get visas on arrival in the country rather than applying for them in advance.

Under an AU plan African nations were supposed to scrap visa requirements for all African citizens by 2018.

Read also: Ghana’s first photo festival opens in Accra

But to date, the Seychelles is the only nation where visa-free travel is open to all Africans – as well as to citizens of every nation – as it always has been.

A recent AU report found that Africans can travel without a visa to just 22% of other African countries.

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4,000 year-old Egyptian Tomb opens to the public for the first time

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4,000 year-old Egyptian Tomb opens to the public for the first time

An ancient Egyptian tomb hidden away from public eyes for more than 80 years has opened near Giza, the home of the ancient pyramids.

The 4,000-year-old Tomb of Mehu belonged to a high-ranking official.

Archeologists say its colorful wall decorations shed light on how Egyptians lived more than a thousand years before the pyramids were constructed.

It was originally discovered back in 1940 by Egyptologist Zaki Saad, but was closed to the public until the recent completion of restoration work.

The tomb is one of the most beautiful in the Saqqara necropolis, an ancient burial ground south of Cairo, says Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

It’s the final resting place of Mehu, an offical who lived during the time of King Titi in the Sixth dynasty. The chambers also house Mery Re Ankh, Mehu’s son, and his grandson Hetep Kha II.

Read also: Ancient village that predates pharaohs discovered in Egypt

Mehu’s tomb is notable for its colorful walls, adorned with vibrant drawings and inscriptions chronicling ancient Egyptian life. The Ministry of Antiquities notes the scenes include hunting, fishing, cooking and dancing.

According to the Ministry of Antiquities statement, the tomb consists of a long narrow corridor with six chambers.

In August 2018 the UN’s latest Tourism Highlights Report highlighted Egypt as the fastest growing tourist destination in 2017, with a 55.1% growth in 2017 international arrivals.

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Two sisters die after undergoing FGM in Somalia

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Two sisters die after undergoing FGM in Somalia

Two sisters have died in Somalia from complications that arose after undergoing female genital mutilation, according to Hawa Aden Mohamed, who campaigns against the procedure.

Ten-year-old Aasiyo Abdi Warsame and her sister, Khadijo, 11, died a day after they were subjected to the procedure in the remote village of Arawda in Puntland State on September 11, said Aden Mohamed, director of the Somalia’s women’s rights group Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development.

According to Aden Mohammed, the sisters were cut the same day by a local circumciser.

They continued bleeding 24 hours after the procedure, and died while their mother was taking them to a health center, Aden Mohamed said.

“Unfortunately, they never made it to the hospital as they all died on the way,” said Aden Mohamed, who has been calling for legislation banning the practice commonly done on young girls in Somalia.

Read also: Jail fear prevents women in Mauritania from filing rape complaints

The sisters’ death comes two months after Somalia’s government vowed to pursue a landmark prosecution in the case of a 10-year-old girl who died after female genital mutilation, a practice that is legal in the country.

“It is another sad story coming even before the dust settles and action is taken in the Deeqa case. Yet there seems to be reluctance in discussing and passing the anti-FGM law,” she said.

“We hope that this will serve as a wake-up call for those responsible to see the need to have the law in place to protect girls from this heinous practice,” Aden Mohamed added.

In Somalia, 98% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been cut, the highest rate in the world, according to United Nations statistics.

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