Hermela Aregawi

Hermela Aregawi was born in Addis Ababa and moved to the United States shortly after. Raised in an apolitical household, her understanding of Ethiopian politics was limited to reporting by CNN, AP and BBC. She pursued a career in media graduating from Emerson College with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism. Hermela worked for a decade as a writer, producer and on-air presenter for various local news agencies, including Aljazeera America. However, prioritizing activism, she suspended her term as a news anchor at CBS Los Angeles in July of 2021.

At the outset of the war in November 2020, while volunteering at an aid distribution center in Tigray, Hermela discovered intentional discrimination against sources of aid by some humanitarian agencies in order to avert accountability and redirect resources to war efforts. Disassociating from these groups, she questioned and reexamined her initial understanding of the conflict.

Currently, Hermela works with independent news organizations to combat propaganda and false narratives concocted by the TPLF and promulgated by mainstream media outlets. Though she is subject to online harassment, and threats, she continues to encourage Ethiopians to be active participants in the telling of their stories. This is exemplified through the #NoMore movement she spearheaded this November; a social media campaign which unites people from across Africa and the diaspora in their fight to end great-power politics and meddling in African nations.

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines (ET), having started operations in April of 1946, is the largest and most profitable airline in Africa. Annually, with 116 international 23 national and 44 freighter destinations, it services 5.2 million passengers and 500 tons of freight through its main hub in Addis Ababa.

Although the airline is publicly owned by the Ethiopian government, it is managed autonomously. This private management, unlike most African state-owned airlines, protects against nepotism and politically influenced business decisions. Where government regulations, and protectionism plague African airlines, Ethiopian Airlines greatly benefits from governmental support in the form of tax exemptions and special loans, allowing for the redistribution of revenue for investments and other improvements. Consequently, it has become the most profitable airline in Africa due to its three pronged approach: strategic network building, decentralized management structure, and diversification of income streams.

But similar to the experiences of other Ethiopian institutions, the conflict in the North has exposed ET to defamation campaigns in the digital space through crusades like Boycott Ethiopian Flowers and the amplification of falsehoods about the use of Ethiopian aircrafts to transport weapons in Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis. Both campaigns, propagated by partisan critics like Martin Plaut and Nima Elbagir, did little to damage the airline’s profit margins with 95 million stems sold during the valentine’s season and the Airline earning a revenue of 3.3 billion dollars in 2021.

Suleiman Abdella

Suleiman Abdella, born in Dessie, is amongst the Ethiopian Diaspora living in Saudi Arabia. Since January of 2020, he has used his Arabic language skills to translate and share Arab perspectives on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,which would otherwise be inaccessible to the Ethiopian public. Suleiman is a self-prescribed digital diplomat who uses his Twitter and Facebook accounts to combat unsubstantiated narratives and unpack biased reporting.

Acknowledging the deep mistrust the community has towards traditional media, Suleiman works to rebuild that trust as one of many independent voices providing evidence-based narratives for both internal and external audiences.

Suleiman advocates for increased participation of the Ethiopian community so as to provide a varied and honest depiction of the reality on the ground. His resolve in countering harmful claims, particularly as it relates to GERD, dubs him a pioneer in digital advocacy.