If you have followed my travels or have read my blog over the years you know that Ethiopia is my favorite country in the world. There is something about the people, the culture, its beauty and the sheer size of the country I love. Even though I love Ethiopia I have never been under a grand illusion that it is a unified country. There have been mass arrests and killings in Oromia, journalist and freedom fighter imprisonments, and now a civil war with mass atrocities and forced starvation against the people of the Tigray region. In fact, just this week reports of an airstrike on a market near Tigray’s capital Mekele killed at least 64 people and wounded over 100.
Even as war is still happening in Ethiopia’s northernmost region, its national election officially wrapped on Monday without voting in Tigray, of course. Now, ballots are being tallied across the country with the likelihood that the current prime minister Abiy Ahmend will be reelected.
I love all kinds of chocolate. I love dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate with caramel, chocolate with nuts, you make it and I’ll eat it. This company, Tony’s Chocolonely, however, has decided to make the delicious desert the right way. Until yesterday I had no idea there was still slavery in the world, and I definitely didn’t know slaves harvested cocoa beans in Ghana and the Ivory Coast to provide me with the sweet treat that I love so much. And to make it worse the slaves harvesting these cocoa beans are children! Can you believe that? It is 2017 and there are still people in the world who are treated like dirt so we can enjoy a small bar of chocolate that only provides a short period of happiness.
That’s why this new chocolate company I’ve discovered is so important. Teun van de Keuken, a Dutch journalist, discovered that large companies in the chocolate industry were buying cocoa from plantations that had child slavery which is unacceptable! He ate twelve chocolate bars and then decided to turn his back on the tainted sweets and created his own chocolate company to combat the cocoa slave industry. So Tony’s Chocolonely was born.
Intermittently the media has covered the plight of the Rohingya people in and out of Burma (now known as Myanmar). You may have seen stories of boats full of refugees escaping the country and of other countries refusing to take them in, but awareness is scarce. Even finding information for this article has proven to be a challenge with an absence of consistent coverage and lack of statistics.
The Rohingya are a minority group of Muslim people who make up approximately 5% of the primarily Buddhist Burmese population. Their history and the conflict surrounding them is extremely complicated with both roots to the British annexation of Burma in 1826 and religious/political issues. There is also disagreement about just how long the group has existed. Some say for several decades, while others say for several centuries.