Mek’ele vessel’s name corrected after public backlash

Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise corrected the Geez inscription on the controversial Mek’ele vessel body, after weeks of lobbying. Historian Gebrekidan Desta urge there is more to be done.Ethiopian Shipping lines - Mek'ele vessel name corrected after public backlash - photo 3

Mek’ele vessel – named after the capital of Tigrai state, was delivered by the Chinese ship builder firm six weeks ago had became controversial as it triggered criticisms on facebook and twitter as the Geez inscription on the vessel’s body reads መቀሌ rather than መቐለ.

At the time, officials of the Shipping lines told HornAffairs that the name inscribed on the vessel was obtained from “official sources” and that they have no predilection on the matter and would correct the vessel’s name if requested by an official organ.

Ethiopian Shipping lines - Mek'ele vessel name corrected after public backlash
Ethiopian Shipping lines – Mek’ele vessel name corrected after public backlash

Since then, thousands expressed their dismay through several channels. For example, a single facebook post received more than six hundred “likes”. Hundreds signed a petition, titled “Correct the Name on Mek’ele Vessel“, arguing that the vessel has the potential of giving permanence to an already ubiquitous misspelling of the city’s name. It also urges for the rectification of similar problem in the use of other Tigrai related names in the federal government.

The Shipping lines quietly corrected vessel’s name about a week ago.

HornAffairs received a photo taken last night by an employee of the Shipping line, who wishes to remain anonymous, confirms the changes on the the Geez inscription.(We hope to publish a day-time photo by tomorrow).

The information was corroborated by a senior official of the Shipping lines.

In a phone interview with HornAffairs, Chief Engineer and deputy CEO of shipping services Alemu Ambaye said that: “We decided to make the change after deliberating on the feedback we received from the public”.

It is to be recalled that the petitioners urged the Tigrai state administration to take a proactive role, while historian Gebrekidan Desta publicly commented, on HornAffairs, in favor of the cause.

Alemu, however, was unwilling to disclose if and whether Tigrai state had lobbied in the matter. He refrained from divulging details except saying that: “We have received suggestions from different quarters”.

After learning the changes, Gebrekidan told HornAffairs that it is a commendable development but there is more to be done, citing the inscription on Alula Aba Nega international airport, Mek’ele city, as one of the cases that needs to be corrected.

Gebrekidan wondered whether misnaming of Tigrai towns on the state media is a deliberate one or an innocent mistake.

It remains to be seen whether other federal government organs, especially the Ethiopian Radio and Television, Ethiopian News Agency and Ethiopian Press Agency, will bend to public opinion. The three organs have so far been unresponsive to informal lobbying, HornAffairs learnt.


Daniel Berhane

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