Mail & Guardian

Ethiopian set to run for US Congress

- Elias Meseret in Los Angeles

Born in Ethiopia, Ted Alemayhu came to the United States at the end of 1987. He was just 14 at the time, and studied in Santa Barbara, California, under the guardiansh­ip of an American family.

Three decades later, he plans on joining his adopted country’s ruling elite.

He intends to become the first ever Africa-born representa­tive in the US House of Representa­tives.

Alemayhu, who is best known for founding the charity US Doctors for Africa in 2001, is running as an independen­t candidate in California’s 37th congressio­nal district, a famously diverse area in Los Angeles. The election is scheduled for November 2018.

“I’ve been interested and involved in both local and internatio­nal politics and humanitari­an works for quite some time,” he told the Mail & Guardian.

“I believe that it’s time for me now to run for the US Congress because I’m better prepared and able to address issues that affect both my community and that of US citizens.”

Alemayhu said he has been deeply involved in his local community over the years, especially regarding issues of healthcare, immigratio­n, unemployme­nt and education.

“The immigratio­n system is pretty tough now. The new administra­tion is strict in many forms but I believe that when I get elected, the president and his team will work with me very closely,” he said.

Alemayhu has previously testified before the US Congress to help to mobilise global partnershi­ps to defeat the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa. He was also involved in relief efforts during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Francis.

Several dozen people attended the formal launch of his congressio­nal bid on August 3. Although this particular seat has been held by the Democratic Party for nearly 40 years, Alemayhu believes that constituen­ts are ready for change.

“Due to the current toxic political climate in the US, voters are fed up with the two-party system and don’t feel as though their voice and concerns have been heard,” he said.

“That is precisely the reason I decided to throw in my hat in the upcoming 2018 congressio­nal race.”

He stressed that his chances of winning the seat as the first Africaborn congresspe­rson are “very real”.

Alemayhu promised that he would not forget his African roots if elected.

“We have seen our brothers and sisters from Africa losing their lives in oceans and seas trying to get to different countries in Europe,” he said. “That’s a major concern to me, and I plan to fight for those refugees and immigrants in the halls of Congress so that their cause is properly heard and rapid action is taken by the state department.”

Alemayhu has previously worked with the City of Los Angeles, the state of California, the US state department, the Rand Corporatio­n policy think tank, the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations and the World Health Organisati­on.

“In America, we celebrate and practise true democracy,” he said, reflecting on how politics in his adopted country differs from what he remembers of politics in Africa.

“But in some African countries that necessaril­y is not the case. That’s why you see a lot of frustratio­ns, especially in Africa. Though I haven’t lived in Africa for nearly 30 years, I can see the massive difference.” A Senegalese singer was arrested after recording a song critical of President Macky Sall. Amy Colle Dieng (39) was charged with distributi­ng fake news and offending the head of state. In the song, Dieng called the president a sai sai (which means scoundrel in Wolof) who has done nothing for the country. Dieng’s lawyers dismissed the charges as arbitrary, but the country’s top prosecutor has vowed to stamp out “abusive” online behaviour.

Zambian rivals come to table

Zambian President Edgar Lungu and jailed opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema have agreed to a mediated dialogue to end months of political instabilit­y, according to Commonweal­th secretary general Patricia Scotland. Scotland visited Zambia this week and met both leaders. Hichilema was arrested in April and accused of treason for failing to recognise Lungu officially as president. The Commonweal­th Secretaria­t will appoint a mediator.

What Magufuli wouldn’t do

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has rejected calls from supporters for him to stay in office beyond his constituti­onally mandated two terms. “It’s impossible. I will respect the Constituti­on ... I shall play my part and pass on the leadership reins to the next president when the time comes,” he told a public rally in Tanga. He is in the second year of his first term, so there is still plenty of time for him to change his mind.

“I believe that when I get elected, the president and his team will work with me very closely”

 ??  ?? African dream: Ethiopian-born, United States-raised Ted Alemayhu says he won’t forget the plight of refugees if elected by California voters
African dream: Ethiopian-born, United States-raised Ted Alemayhu says he won’t forget the plight of refugees if elected by California voters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa