By Bill Kaufmann |

Five years after arriving in Calgary from Ethiopia, Daniel Gebremariam decided it was time for his community to turn a page.

The SAIT Polytechnic graphic design student put his talents towards binding and inspiring fellow Ethiopian and Eritrean ex-pats in Calgary by publishing a magazine they could call their own.

This month, his dream came true with the publication of the first edition of Meznagna, or Entertainment in the Amharic tongue of his east African homeland.

“They’ve never had anything published in their own language,” said Gebremariam, who’s moonlighted the glossy publication into a first 7,000-edition run.

Its baptismal cover is graced by Ethiopian fashion model Liya Kebede and within its pages others from the Ethiopian-Eritrean world who’ve nurtured success are featured.

“When they see this, they are inspired,” he said.

“Some people who come here are confused by the Canadian culture and this magazine will be a bridge.”

In the September edition, physicist Steven Hawking, Reggae legend Bob Marley, U.S. President Barack Obama and actress Angelina Jolie all put in appearances, their stories told in Amharic script.

Gebremariam, 34, said he was surprised by the size of the 50,000-strong Ethiopian-Eritrean community in Calgary.

For his magazine to have any chance of longevity, he needs to get the city burgeoning east African business community on board as advertisers and says he’s succeeding.

The business stories contained in those advertisements serve as another kind of inspiration to immigrants finding their way in a strange land, he said.

“They see that they can succeed,” said Gebremariam.

But within the pages of Meznagna, its publisher says he has to tried a fine line in appealing — and not alienating — the many cultures of his homeland.

“In Ethiopia, there are more than 80 different tribes,” he said.

The magazine is available by subscription or at Ethiopian-Eritrean businesses in Calgary as well as at meznagna.com

Source: Calgary Sun
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