Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sole Rebels For a New Ethiopia

When I was an adolescent, I had an Uncle who was
Headmaster at Medhane Alem school in Addis Ababa,
during the reign of the greatly admired
Emperor Haile Selassie. This uncle filled my ears with
wonderful stories of this part of the 'Dark Continent', leaving
me fascinated and in love with a place I longed to visit.

Then along came the AIDS epidemic, Poverty, War and
Famine -and Live Aid- and my notions of Ethiopia were
not as fanciful, but more mindful of the human condition.

Somehow out of all that misery, some of my Uncle's students
survived, went out into the world and seized the first
opportunity to make a better life. I ran into a few of those
students in different parts of America purely by chance,
as if it was their destiny to retell the story of happier days
They regarded him as a legend of sorts, for here was an Indian
from Mumbai, befriended by an Emperor with majestic visions
and plans for Ethiopia.

One Ethiopian who is making a better place for his countrymen
is Kiru Alemu, whom I read about in an excellent article by the
brilliant Sarah Rich, Managing editor of
Alemu from Addis Ababa is poised to introduce the world to his
Sole Rebels
, footwear

from tire rubber soles, the kind of footwear seen on the feet of
soldiers and rebels in the poorest parts of the world, and
Urban Outfitters in the USA and Europe are to be
applauded for envisioning this as the next big thing for eco-conscious

Quote from
This will be the first time any Ethiopian firm has shipped footwear to
the United States, and the first time an Ethiopian firm has
DIRECT (no middleman) to a major US retailer.”

If only my Uncle or The Lion were alive to see this

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