Ethiopian journalist, visiting fellow named a ‘Young Global Leader’

AbeABEBE GELLAW comes from a country where expressing your views can be “extremely dangerous.” The exiled Ethiopian journalist and democracy activist came to Stanford as a Knight Journalism Fellow in 2008-09 and is currently a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and a visiting scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Now he has a bigger megaphone: The World Economic Forum has just named him one of this year’s “Young Global Leaders.” Other “distinguished young leaders” under 40 years old honored this year include Evan Williams, co-founder and CEO of Twitter; Steven Chen, co-founder and chief technology officer at YouTube; Jon Favreau, President Obama’s chief speechwriter; and 15 government ministers and many CEOs from around the world.

“Though I don’t consider myself in league with these people, I am excited to get the privilege,” said Gellaw. “I am one of Ethiopia’s hundreds of exiled journalists and activists who are leading the charge to prevent our country from being completely silenced. There is nothing as subversive as the truth that discomforts and undermines tyrannical regimes. That seems the reason why journalists who dare to write the truth usually face ludicrous sedition charges.”

Gellaw, a founding editor of Addis Voice, an online journal in English and Amharic that focuses on Ethiopia, is also working on a book, Ethiopia Under Meles: Why the Transition from Military Rule to Democracy Failed.

— Cynthia Haven