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Ethiopic as a Writing System for African Languages


By Getachew Molla
June 25, 2020

Dr. Aberra Molla and Mark Powell ዶ/ር ኣበራ ሞላ እና ማርክ ፓወል

In the late-1990s (sometime between the years 1997-1999 but before 2000), Mark Powell, a U.S. African American PanAfricanist, started using the Ethiopic alphabet for a number of African languages. Mr. Mark Powell (a.k.a. Òòlògún Ọmọ’Oòrùn, Khnumhotep Djehutimes Gakou: assembles African-centered modern orthographies by using Ethiopic/Ethiopian African letters for numerous African languages such as Yoruba, Luba, Zulu, Zande, Pwani (Swahili), Maasai, Shona, Kikuyu, Dinka, Luganda, Nuer and more.

According to Powell, “We are in modern times in a very technically advanced age in history. Therefore, it is appropriate that we keep as much of our practical African culture as we continue to advance into the future. Thus, in order to do that while maintaining ancient African literacy continuity simultaneously, we need an African writing system that meet those demands as well as being fully developed and well-established (used for administrative documentation, trade and commerce, already available and accessible in modern digital media, etc.). African languages such as Oromo should be written with African writing systems.”

ግዕዝ Ge’ez (a.k.a. Ethiopic today is used to write numerous East African languages such as Agew, Amharic, Basketo, Bilen, Dawro, Gamo-Gofa, Ge’ez, Gumuz, Meen, Oromo, Guragie, Tigre, Tigrigna, etc.) written with their own character sets. And according to Dr. Aberra Molla Ethiopic is It the only African writing system that definitely met all these requirements. “For Africans to continue to use non-African imposed writing systems to write their traditionally illiterate African languages is like willingly holding on to European and West Asian colonial indoctrination when we most certainly have the option of choosing a real African writing system that is certainly far more African than Latin and Arabic. Dr. Aberra made great contributions for the modernization of Ethiopian literacy and his software helped me greatly.”

We Africans don’t need Latin to write our languages. We can use Ethiopic, the ancient and modern alphabet of Ethiopia. Ethiopic is Africa’s oldest and most developed living alphabet and its continued writing system has remained politically relevant without intermission for approximately 3000 years and never needed to be deciphered and has been passed down from Africans-to-Africans from antiquity to today’s generations of Africans. For the sake of our unity we can all use the same indigenous alphabet preserved for millennia along with their independence by Ethiopians.[1].

Dr. Aberra Molla who lives in U.S. is a scientist, inventor, and pioneer in the computerization of the Ethiopic alphabet. He invented a method for Ethiopic users to render their languages, which contains more than 564 Unicode glyphs, accurately on a computer, using at most two keystrokes per character that were in excess of the default. Ethiopic is a unique ancient phonetic alphabet that can be used efficiently for various African languages. Ge’ez and Amharic are now taught in some European and North American universities and there is no reason why Africans can’t take advantage of this perfect African alphabet and use it for writing in their various languages. Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia, can be the written language of the United States of Africa. Ethiopia can also offer its landmark green, yellow and red flag as well as its ancient Ethiopic calendar. [2]

Ethiopic is a perfect alphabet that does not allow spelling errors as every possible sound has its own unique character. The alphabet that even used Gutenberg’s printing press in 1513 was computerized by Dr. Aberra Molla [3] since 1982. This alphabet became the Ethiopic Unicode and the invented computerized writing system that he invented and patented in the United States and Ethiopia [4] is even utilized by smartphones. Dr. Molla gave his Ethiopic TrueType typeface to Unicode in 1989 and his improved character sets include Ethiopic zero, stretch mark and novel signs such as the Ethiopian currency (Birr) [5]. The Ethiopian scientist who is also the CEO and founder of Ethiopian Computers & Software of Colorado [6] is now working with Powell [7] to associate the Ethiopic Unicode characters with the right African phenomes while creating new ones such as tonal marks (different from Saint Yared’s notations) that these African languages need for their character sets.

Also, taking the results of Dr. Molla’s creative science as a prerequisite example uses of Amharic are below:

  1. Amharic became one the working languages of the government of the District of Columbia, the capital city of the U.S.
    2. Amharic is being taught as a subject by parents and education committees in Alexandria, Virginia.
    3. The African Union is also considering it as its working language.
    4. Israel is also engaged in a similar consideration.
    5. In Jamaica, pressure from Ras Teferians has been mounting to bring Ethiopic to the forefront.
    6. More than 75 churches are using it in Trinidad and Tobago.
    7. Amharic is one of the working languages of DSTV, the international football. Because of his numerous contributions to the society Dr. Aberra Molla, who is also known as the father of Ethiopic should be honored with title such as Father of Ethiopian Literacy.
    8. Amharic is one of the languages used in USA 2020 census.


  1. Ethiopic Computerization by Dr. Aberra Molla.
    2. The Ethiopic Calendar (
    6. Ethiopian Computers & Software, N1846 References (Family of TrueType Fonts supporting Gurage Extensions, 1993,
    7. Mark Powell ማርክ ፓወል, 2016, Phrases in Ethiopian Letters



  1. እናመሰግናለን ዶክተር አበራ ሞላ አገርህንና ህዝብን ወገንህን በስራህ ስላስከበርክ እንዲህ ነው ለወገን አለኝታ አርአያና ምሳሌ መሆን እድሜና ጤና ይስጥልን።

    Thank you Mr.Mark Powell (African American Pan Africanist)
    For your Outstanding Work.God Bless You.

  2. I thank you sincerely for this highly informative article, and the recognition you accorded Dr Aberra Molla. I met Dr Aberra in the late 1970s and early 1980s while he was working on his pioneering computerization of Geez/Amhaic alphabet, working from his office in the U St NW corridor in the DC area. Dr Aberra Molla was the most likable person I met in the area, I being new to the area too. We all must thank and hold in high honor Dr Aberra Molla as a great Ethiopian scientist, pioneer computer genius. The service he rendered in the Ethiopic computerization is incalculable. I just hope he is well and happy wherever he he is. He is my great symbol of wisdom and Ethiopian Patriotism. Keep Safe All. Glory to Ethiopia. Tecola

  3. ጤና ይስጥልኝ,

    First of all it’s totally ridiculous for Aberra Molla to claim that he invented anyting to do with the Ethiopian langue or computers. You can’t invent something that already existed that’s bordering on fake news.  Despite this አፈ ታሪክ claim  the first documented introduction of Ethiopic Script to modern computers was done by Dashen Engineering, the first Ethiopic software company, founded in the 1980’S by Ethiopian-American Engineer and entrepreneur Fesseha Atlaw, an early pioneer of digitized Ethiopian script. (Google it). Secondly, as Engineer Fesseha mentioned in an interview with Tadias Magazine a couple of years go: “The most important development in the history of Ethiopic software came in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Voice of America (VOA) international service gave Xerox a contract to develop multilingual computers and one of the languages they requested was Amharic. Collaborating with Joe Becker from Xerox I pushed for “Ethiopic” to be the unicode name in the Unicode list of languages,” Fesseha emphasizes. “I am proud of that struggle and I consider it to be my biggest contribution. Now the computer knows our alphabet as ‘Ethiopic’ and even a brand new computer will be able to display and allow you to write Ethiopic characters without having to download or install fonts or programs. Fesseha emphasizes that the development of Ethiopic Script incorporated the participation of many individuals over the years in helping to fine-tune the process. From the beginning it was a community-based effort and the credit goes to lots of people and especially the young engineers who are continuously refining the use of Ethiopic in various technology platforms.”

    Please Habeshas, learn to five credit where credit is due and base it on quantitative facts, not on this kind of አፈ ታሪክ and fantasy. Case closed.

  4. This article makes a big mistake. The first Amharic (ethiopic script) was developed by an Ethiopian man in California named Fisseha Atlaw. He was one of the early engineers working for The Hewlett-Packard Company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, that developed and provided a wide variety of hardware components as well as software and related services to consumers, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and large enterprises, including customers in the government, health and education sectors.

  5. Thank you for this interesting and informative discussion. Just googled it. Unlike the Molla guy Fesseha Atlaw the person who actually pioneered the computerization of Ethiopic script gives credit to other Ethiopians based on the following text that lifted from Tadias.

    Were there others who were working on digitizing Ethiopic at that time? If so who were the key players? What makes your unique and why is your name mentioned at the forefront? How about others? Did you patent the software?

    The short answer is, YES there were many others who were working on “Amharic Word Processor” about the same time as me or later-on. I started my research around 1982 and had the first usable Amharic word processor in 1985 that has been released to the general public. But others were released to the market soon afterwards.

    The Ethiopian Science and Technology commission, under the late commissioner Ato Abebe Muluneh, had been tasked with developing an Amharic word processor by the Mengistu government and and they had demonstrated a working model around 1989 shortly after my demonstration at Addis Abeba Hilton. Others who worked on Ethiopic/Amharic word processor and should be recognized include: Dr. Yitna Firdyiwoq (Virginia), Daniel Admassie (Ethiopia Science & Technology), the late Feqade Mesfin (Los Angeles), Abass Alemneh (Texas) and Yemane Russom (Texas).

    There are many more names of developers that came later and who have contributed to the Ethiopic digitization, but the above names stand out as early researchers and each of them had complete usable products.

    I am also aware there are people who claim being early pioneers and writing their own Wikipedia pages. Unfortunately the ever growing Ethiopia media grab such claimants and mislead the general public (much the same way as they have done with rampant stories and interviews of the Dr. Engineer ZeMichael did). I wish our media develops the culture of due diligence and doing their homework of what exactly happened and when and report it accordingly.

    I like to focus on the many positive achievements of Ethiopians and some non-Ethiopian that are working hard developing applications for our script. I am impressed by many new and young Ethiopic Digital application developers who are doing amazing and creative work but shy away from the media limelight and
    don’t even want their names to be mentioned.

    Some ask “Do you have patent or copyright protection for your early work?

    The original MLS Ethiopic Word Processor I (as a founder of Dashen Engineering) had developed has been Copyrighted since 1985. Software is not generally patentable as such. However some typing mechanisms/schemes are patentable. There are several individuals who hold “Amharic/Ethiopic” typing method or KEYBOARDING patents. While these are legitimate patents they are easily misunderstood on what they mean. I have helped few young people apply for Ethiopic Keyboarding Patents on new method of typing. In fact any new scheme of typing/Keyboarding can be submitted for a patent in the US quite easily. There is a free software tool available from Keyman and others that allows anyone to come up with new Ethiopic (Amharic, Afaan Oromo, etc) Keyboarding method and submit that to PATENT office. I know some people who developed a new Keyboarding method to meet a certain needs in less than a week and submitted it for patent. There are many people who still are working to come up with a new “keyboarding scheme for Amharic and other languages. The tools are available to allow any non-technical person to design a unique keyboarding method and can easily patent it. These tools are listed on website. I like to emphasize that these patents should Not prevent from coming up with new application of Ethiopic.

    The patents are given for a unique method of keyboarding (typing) for example using (“ha” or “H” or “h” to type “ሀ”). The Ethiopic Unicode assignment is FREE to anyone who wants to develop an app or use Ethiopic in anyway. In fact I have heard stories that new developers were being harassed and attempts were made to discourage them from using Ethiopic in new apps.

    On the other hand those who design fonts can legitimately claim ownership of their artistic efforts in designing fonts and assign them to the Unicode. The two major font designers are Ato Abass Alemneh of EthioSystems ( and Ato Solomon Hailu ( have done a great work in designing creative Ethiopic fonts.

    Recently, you were quoted, in one Ethiopian magazine, as making a call to the Oromo Intellectuals to use Ethiopic/Geez . “ …..የኦሮሞ ምሁራን የግዕዝ ፊደላትን እንዲጠቀሙ ጥሪ አቀርባለሁ….” What is your opinion on the Afaan Oromo writing system using Latin?

    Yes, the magazine in Ethiopia extracted some of the Tadias interview and reprinted it in Amharic. However I want to clarify some issues. I never gave an interview to this particular magazine. Most of what they printed was correct but there were lots of exaggerations and some factual errors. All in all what they wrote was mostly correct and reflects my views also.

    Some people call the alphabet – Amharic. The correct term is Ethiopic or “Ethiopian Alphabet.” 30 years ago during my participation in the UNICODE committee, I helped push for the adoption of the name “ETHIOPIC” as a name to be recognized for all computer systems. The computer knows the alphabet as Ethiopic not as “Amarigna”. In doing so, it was important we include special characters that were left out in the old Amharic type writer (such as: for “ ቐ” Tigrigna and for “ዸ”Afaan Oromo). So using the term Ethiopic is correct in that the alphabet belongs to all Ethiopians. Because of the Unicode there are many new software applications are developed in Ethiopic (such as Google Translate; Web Translate; text to speech and speech to text applications, etc). We now have computer languages and Operation systems in Amharic and other languages that use Ethiopic characters.

    In the 1970’s the concern of many Oromo intellectuals about the growth and development of Afaan Oromo with computer technology was legitimate. Selecting the use of an already existing Latin alphabet was an advantage. Yes, in the 70’s most of computing was done in the English language- using Latin alphabet. Now that is no longer the case— thanks to the Unicode organization, almost all world languages that have a well develop script system have been included in all computers. From technical point of view, using Ethiopic to write Afaan Oromo is much more efficient and will ensure the rich language and literature of the Oromo develop faster. I give this advice as a technical person and do not get involved in political reasons. It is my strong belief that the decision rests entirely on the Oromo speaking people and no one else.

  6. G. Molla,

    ነገር ስንት ነው ሁለት ምን ያበዛዋል ውሽት
    ነገር በሆዴ እየተመኘሁ ቢከፍቱት ተልባ ሆኜ ተገኘሁ
    ነገር በልክ ሙያ በልብ
    ነገር በምሳሌ ጠጅ በብርሌ ዜማ በሀሌ

  7. ዶክተር አበራ ሞላ ለመጀመሪያ ጊዜ ዩኒኮድ ሲቋቋም ይተሟሉ የኢትዮጵያ ፊደላትን አቅርበው ያስገቡና በዚሁእንደዚህ እያለ እነ ኢንጂነር ፍስሀን የምሳሰስሉ ፊደላችንን ማቅጨጭ ከሚፈልጉ ፈረንጆች ጋር በመሆን ዶክተር አበራ አስቀድመው ያስገቡትን ፊደል በዛ በማለት በመሻረክ ፊደላቱን አስቀንሰው ሳለ እንደገናም ዶክተር አበራ ሞላ በቂ ሳይንሳዊ ማስረጅ በማቅረብ የቀነሱትን ፊደሎች አስመልሰው ሙሉ የኢትዮጵያ ፊደሎች እንዲወከሉ ያስደረጉ ያስቻሉ ጀግና አርበኛ የፊደላችን ዘመናዊነት አባት ናቸው።Dr. Aberra Molla is a scientist, inventor, and pioneer in the computerization of the Ethiopic alphabet. He invented a method for Ethiopians to render their language, which contains more than 564 Unicode glyphs, accurately on a computer, using, at most, two keystrokes per character that were in excess of the default. He now owns four U.S. patents for this unique system’s utilization in various apps including smartphones.

    Ethiopic is a unique ancient phonetic alphabet that can be used efficiently for various African languages. Ge’ez and Amharic are now taught in some European and American Universities and there is no reason why Africans can’t take advantage of this perfect African alphabet and use it for writing in their various languages.

    Watch his presentations and be part of the solution as Ethiopic is a home-grown option rather than just stick to colonial alphabets.

  8. As correctly indicated a lot of people have contributed and continue to contribute to the digitization of Ethiopic script including originally Engineer Fesseha Atlaw, Dr. Yitna Firdyiwoq (Virginia), Daniel Admassie (Ethiopia Science & Technology), the late Feqade Mesfin (Los Angeles), Abass Alemneh (Texas) and Yemane Russom (Texas) and many more. But the bizarre suggestions that some how someone in the 1970s and 1980s invented ethiopic sounds so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; absurd and plane ludicrous, farcical and silly.

  9. Subject: “Ethiopic as a Writing System for African Languages. By Getachew Molla
    June 25, 2020”

    Commentary, 21 Aug 2020
    I SINCERELY WISH THE AUTHORS MIRACULOUS GOOD LUCK on the development of a common African written language. It is a mammoth undertaking. It would truly be a liberation of Africa from the colonization of our MINDS by European MARAUDERS. I hope, there would be, not only just a few lines of reaction but, HUNDREDS of ENTHUSIASTIC ANALYTICAL COMMENTARIES for the benefit of Africa and Africans.

    I was lucky to have seen the effect of not having a common African language in an African meeting, ECA African Meeting, on African matters, in Addis Ababa, chaired by an Ethiopian, living in England. Sadly, the meeting was interrupted because an African delegate officially interrupted the meeting until a French language simultaneous Translation was provided— even though the African Delegate spoke fluent English!!!!!!! It was a matter of obedience and loyalty for an African to honour the COLONIAL MASTER at any cost!!!!!!!! One can’t help remembering “CRY, MY BELOVED COUNTRY “ ALEN PAITON It was a gem of an experience for me what colonialism can do to the colonized people, any where around the Globe. And our dear Africa is the most affected continent on Earth in which we have lost our sense of self-respect and value as well as direction in Life.

    The main subject above (Article ) should be seen as a crucial and essential step towards the restoration of the dignity of the African BLACK RACE and LIBERATE OUR AFRICA from the COLONIZATION of OUR MINDS by European MARAUDERS. Sadly, there wasn’t a single commentary. until I finished writing this piece and on the process of sending it off. Luckily, I was delighted to see a few commentaries.

    Comparing the effect of colonization of THE BRAIN as opposed to the occupation and taking advantage of physical territorial colonization is like comparing between Heaven and Earth.
    Now, take the effect of BRAIN washing by communication language. We Africans are divided by so many foreign languages — I.e. English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, German etc — as if WE BLACK AFRICAN PEOPLE are “naturally” devoid of any trace of written communication language of our own!!!! The negative and demeaning attitude of people that we encounter every where, every day, under any circumstances around the Globe, against the BLACK RACE is openly vivid. We struggle to ‘exist’, instead of ‘living’, on the same pedestal of human creatures. We are denied that fundamental natural component of Life. In short, the greatest CRIME has been — and still practiced — upon the AFRICA PEOPLE by virtue of the COLOUR of their SKIN. IT IS THE TOP MOST CRIME PERPETRATED BY WHITE SKIN HUMAN BEINGS UPON BLACK SKIN AFRICANS. And there seems to be NO END to such a CRIME. Take the example of BLACK —WHITE RELATIONSHIP in the so-called most-liberated, free, and democratic country around the Globe :USA.
    I leave it to your own judgement.

    Dear Reader: Let me share with you a little story. One day I felt like being mischievous !!! I tested the attitude of a White Man with whom we cross our ways occasionally. Obviously, civil conversation ensued and I showed the person a book that I was holding, adding these words: “THIS IS WRITTEN IN OUR LANGUAGE”. That is all I said. He looked at the book; opened it; glanced at me; looked at the book again and made sure that I heard him correctly with these words of statement/question >>> “it is your language?!?!” I nodded. He gave me back the book politely, with a smile; exchanged awkward good-byes. And We NEVEr mentioned about the book in our subsequent encounters. The exact same thing also happened to me with an elderly, gentle, peaceful couple from Asia. Obviously, my fellow human beings couldn’t fathom books written by black coloured skinned people!!!!! I was NOT surprised. I have encountered so many individuals, at so many times, in my entire Life.

    Concentrating on essential matters, I tried to be useful to my African birthplace. It didn’t work, as my close friends expected it but they were honourable and decent enough to say ‘we told you so’. I survived the sadness with a philosophy of smile and keep on going. I am happy and proud of my successful Life, in general. I am lucky enough to have travelled and met all kinds of people. to know the negative attitude of people against the BLACK RACE. As one honest and daring Radio Commentator (WHITE) put it sadly: “It will never go away” I agree!!! If Africans are to be worthy of themselves in Life we can only depend on ourselves. There is no short cut.

    Let us turn back to the subject of ‘Ethiopic Language ‘ — based on Geez, comparable [not related] to Latin — to be used as a common written language in Africa, by Africans. There will be hurdle both in Ethiopia itself [YES, ITSELF} and around the rest of Africa. I thank Getachew Molla, the writer of the Article as well as the initiation of Dr. Aberra Molla and Mr.Mark Powell, wishing them my sincere good wish in their noble undertaking, which has a lot of hurdles. In view of the cruel experience in Africa — from every direction — it will not be easy convincing and working with African Leaders and ordinary people (with cruel experience) to believe in the noble undertaken for the benefit of the BLACK RACE. AFRICA has gone through so many upheavals to just survive from day to day for seemingly time immemorial to care about a new ’written language’!!!!! Imagine any African Dictator spending time to “educate” the docile and obedient people to be FREE and be against the Dictators!?!?!? I AM DIGRESSING. I better STOP HERE, with apology for straying outside the prescribed circle.

    I thank htt network for the provision of SPACE to express my opinion for what it is worth. May Africa find its way to find its salvation by itself, for itself. AMEN and Inshalah (in alphabetical order, if it means anything for the benefit of AFRICANS) THE END


  10. Razen,

    When it comes to Ethiopians especially in Diaspora like you the problem are not Europeans but it is Ethiopians. Look at the state of our politics. I have read your comments (and articles) now and then and here and there, and to be brutally honest you’re also very much part of the problem. It’s not a matter of what language we use but how well we use it. How ironic that you write in English while complaining about another African brother who prefers French instead of English. LOL. Is the irony lost on you? As Ugandan dictator Museveni (not my favorite person) one put it humorlessly while speaking to a European Journalist about the tension between French speaking and English speaking Africa he joked: “I’m neither a francophone nor anglophone. I have my own megaphone. LOL, HAHAHA.

  11. Thank you Dr. Aberra and Mark Powell. I wish you luck and good fortune in your efforts. Having Africans use a common writing system for our many different languages is very important. Especially Ethiopic/Geéz which has been in use for at least 4,000 years. The fidels are not alphabets they represent philosophical features, such as ideography, mnemonics, syllograpy, astronomy, numerology and grammatology as Ayele Bekerie in his book “Ëthiopic and African writing system”: I highly recommend this book as the author refutes many of the misnomers promoted by European scholars such as the Semetic Hamitic/Kushitic debate. Great read

    Ethiopic (Ge’ez), an African writing system designed as a meaningful and graphic representation of a wide array of knowledge, including languages. Ayele Bekerie argues that Ethiopic is a component of the African knowledge systems and one of the major contributions made by Africans to world history and cultures. Ethiopic is not only a cultural agency, but also a foundation to a great literary tradition in Ethiopia, which, for instance, has made a critical contribution to the history of Christianity by organically preserving The Book of Henok, widely believed to be a precursor of Christianity. In a sharp departure from the established view of most Ethiopianists of the old school, Ayele Bekerie contends that the Ethiopic writing system is much older than it has been previously thought, tracing back its origins to as far back as 2,000 B.C.E. This study also explores the dynamic linkages between the Ethiopic and Egyption writing systems, suggesting the possible relationship between all African writing systems of the Nile Valley.

  12. When exactly did Fisseha Atlaw (you) start working on the Amharic typewriter version for computers?

    What computer and what program did he use?

  13. “Fesseha’s biggest contribution is that now the computer knows our alphabet as ‘Ethiopic’ and even a brand new computer will be able to display and allow you to write Ethiopic characters without having to download or install fonts or programs.” says ሰላም መኮንን. No one will buy your usual fiction as computers and related instruments need installation of fonts and programs. If you don’t have fonts on the computer, you just see boxes. Typing Ethiopic on computers for the first time in the 1980s was Dr. Aberra Molla’s invention.



    One of the ancient heritages Ethiopia contributed to the world is the Ethiopic alphabet and its writing method. Ethiopians have been using their own alphabet, numerals and symbols for millennia. Ethiopic has also managed to take advantage of printing press and the typewriter.

    During the last decade, many countries have started using the computer for writing and other purposes. A few years ago the Amharic (Ethiopian) typewriter (የዓማርኛ የጽሑፍ መኪና) typing method, that was developed to use fake and ligated characters by modifying the English typewriter, has been computerized. Modifying the English typewriter print head for typing Ethiopic and computerizing this technology is an excellent work. However, though the fake characters created by ligating character parts located on different keys have spared us from using handwriting, the characters are incomplete and not proportional and the typing method is difficult. On the other hand, the ancient as well as the modern Ethiopic handwritten and the printing press characters are independent solitary glyphs and thus not ligated. For instance, the typewriter “ላ” glyph is concocted by adding a vertical bar on the right leg of the “ለ” character while the Ethiopic “ላ” character is an independent character with a short left leg. The length of the right legs of the Ethiopic “ለ” and “ላ” characters are equal.

    Recently, an Ethiopian, Dr. Aberra Molla, for the first time invented a breakthrough computerized method of typing and printing each and every one of the Ethiopic characters. As a result of this invention it is no longer necessary to use incomplete and ligated fake characters or reduced glyphs to fit the technology. Instead, Ethiopic as well as Ethiopia hereafter can take advantage of the technology to fulfill their needs. The novel method is fast and simple and each glyph is typed with no more than two keystrokes. For instance, the “ዊ” character is typed by striking “W” and “F3” or “W” and “Comma” or “W” and “3” or “W” and “I” etc. keys. The screen/print character is the independent “ዊ” character and not the “ዋ” character with a “_” or underscore ligated to it. This novel method has become a shortcut for Ethiopic and Ethiopian usage to adapt the various computerized technologies. An Ethiopian word publisher software package that utilizes this technology has been released as “ModEth” (ሞዴት) for the IBM PC and compatible computers and many have been using it in various Ethiopian languages with the Amharic, Tigre, Oromo and Guragie Ethiopic alphabet.

    This (Amharic) document was typed and typeset with the ModEth software, a standard ten point font of its Shewa (ሸዋ) scalable typeface and a LaserJet III H-P printer. For more information the phone number of the company, Ethiopian Computers & Software, (የኢትዮጵያ ኮምፕዩተሮችና ሶፍትዌር) is (303) 972-2186. The address is 9781 W. Fremont Pl., Littleton, Colorado 80123-4102, U.S.A.w

    The Amharic article, on how Dr. Aberra Molla computerized Ethiopic was published in the Ethiopian Review magazine of January, 1991.


    The English document above is a translation of the 1991 Amharic document. The graphics below is a picture of page 25 of the Ethiopian Review magazine Amharic article.


  15. August 24, 2018

    Mr. COFFMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Dr. Aberra Molla on his achievements in computerizing the Ethiopic or Ga’ez alphabet.
    Dr. Aberra Molla is a scientist, inventor, and pioneer in the computerization of the Ethiopic alphabet. Dr. Molla invented a method for Ethiopians to render their language, which contains more than 564 Unicode glyphs, accurately on a computer, using, at most, two key- strokes per character. He now owns two U.S. patents for his invention of this unique system.
    I am grateful for Dr. Aberra Molla’s contribution to the Ethiopian people in Ethiopia, in Colorado, and throughout the rest of the world. His hard work and ingenuity has enabled Ethiopians to use their language and alphabets ef- fectively and efficiently on the standard size keyboards that are synonymous with today’s technology. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Molla for making his invention available to the general public to use free of charge, im- proving the everyday lives of all Ethiopians.
    I have the honor of representing the largest Ethiopian community living in Colorado in my Congressional District and deeply appreciate the value of Dr. Molla’s invention to them. Fur- ther, it has been my pleasure to get to know Dr. Molla through the years and I am pleased to have this opportunity to recognize him on the House floor here today.

  16. ዶክተር ኣበራ ሞላ ኮምፕዩተራይዝ የኣደረጉትና ለዩኒኮድ ከለገሱት የሞዴት 480 የግዕዝ ቀለሞች በከፊል። An example page of the 480 Ethiopic glyphs in ModEth computerized by Dr. Aberra Molla for the first time that was also presented to Unicode around 1989. The glyphs were distributed on eight ASCII fonts.


    ይህ ዶ/ር ኣበራ ሞላ የግዕዝ ፊደላት ኣይደሉም በማለት ዩኒኮድን እ.ኤ.ኣ. በ1992 ካስጣሉት ቀለሞች ኣንዱ ነው። ይህ የአማርኛ የታይፕ መጻፊያ (Amharic Typewriter) ዓይነት ብጥስጥስና የኣልተሟላ የፈጠራ ፊደል በ፲፱፻፳፭ ዓ.ም. ግድም በኢንጅነር ኣያና ብሩ ፊደሉ ለመሣሪያው እንዲመች በኣንድ የእንግሊዝኛ ቋንቋ ገበታ ምትክ የተሠራ ዓይነት በመሆኑ ወደ ኮምፕዩተር እንዳይገባ በማለት ዶክተሩ በጽሑፍ ቢቃወሙም በሌሎች ለዩኒኮድ የተሰጠ ነበር። እንዲህም ሆኖ እነዚህኑ ቁርጥራጮች ዛሬም አማርኛና ግዕዝ ነው እያለ የሚያታልል ኣለ። ለእዚህም እንዲመች የዶክተሩን ሥራዎች የሚሠርዙም ኣሉ።

    ቀደም ሲል ዶክተሩ ለዩኒኮድ የኣቀረቡትን 480 ቀለሞች በማስጣል በእነዚህ ከ100 የኣነሱ ነገሮች ለመተካት ቢሆንም ኣልተሳካላቸውም። ዶክተሩ ኮምፕዩተራይ የኣደረጉት የጥንቱና የማተሚያ ቤቶች የግዕዝ ፊደላችን የተበተነው ስምንት የእንግሊዝኛ ቋንቋ ገበታዎች ላይ ሲሆን የግዕዝ የዩኒኮድ ፊደል ሆኗል።

  18. ነፍሱን ይማርና ይህ ደብዳቤ ከፈቃደ ሥላሴ መስፍን የዛሬ ሠላሳ ዓመት (November 2, 1989) የተላከልኝ ነው። ፈቃደ
    በቅጥልጥል የአማርኛ የጽሕፈት መሣሪያ ዓይነት የፈጠራ ቍርጥራጮች የሚያስከትብ ፊደል በተባለ ፕሮግራሙ የጻፈልኝ ሲሆን
    ቅጥልጥል መሆናቸውን ማወቅ ኣስቸጋሪ ነው። በእዚህ ሶፍትዌር ከተጻፉ መጽሓፎች ኣንዱ “የኤርትራ ጉዳይ” መጽሓፍ ነው። ፈቃደ በቅጥልጥል ፊደል በአማርኛ እንዲከትብ ከሠሩት ኣንዱ መሆኑን (በ1991 Ethiopian Review) ጽፌኣለሁ።

  19. First of all it is totally ridiculous for someone to talk about Dr. Aberra Molla’s invention by saying that “he can’t invent something that already existed”. What is that something that has already existed? Can you please produce any evidence to that effect? It is one thing to simply claim, but totally different to genuinely produce an evidence.

    It is also ridiculous that the so called ሰላም መኮንን who posted a comment on August 21, 2020 at 2:27 pm also posted another comment under another name, Yonas R. at 2:50 pm on the same day. It was unequivocally written by the same person which proves his desperation. Both comments heap praise on the same so called Engineer …! It is very ironic that you were able pinpoint an interview of the self-aggrandized individual named Fisseha Atlaw with Tadias magazine in such a supersonic speed!

    Suffice it to say, Dr. Aberra Molla is a scientist who substantiates his inventions related to computerizing Geez writing system with several US patents. By the way, he also has a patent in his area of training which you can find easily if you do a USA Patent Search under his name.

    Secondly, the idea of using the “Ethiopic” word was not yours. It is Ethiopic which Dr. Molla has been working on since 1982 that became Ethiopic Unicode and not your obsolete and abandoned typewriter parts which should have not been introduced in the first place.

    I very well agree with you on one point that you mentioned in your comment, “learn to give credit where credit is due and base it on quantitative facts, … not on አፈ ታሪክ and fantasy”. May I suggest that you read this quotation to yourself five times before you start writing a comment about anybody? You also said you “started your research around 1982 and had the first usable word processor in 1985 …”. Was it in 1982 or AROUND 1982? I can’t figure out why you don’t remember your years correctly? You very well know that “around” 1982 and “in” 1982 are two different things and you know why you preferred to use the word “around”. Anyways, what was the name of your word processor (if you remember)? Can you show us any proof of what your FONTS looked like? Just in case you are telling about those fake Amharic typewriter character parts, they were neither Amharic nor Ethiopic. You never received a patent for the typewriter parts distributed on a single English keyboard or produced a single Ethiopic product. Ethiopic required distributing the Fidels on eight keyboards and Dr. Molla computerized the hundreds of the characters of the printing press for the first time and typed them with two keystrokes each.

    While talking about patents, you claim that you have helped many people obtain patents. Why was it difficult to get one for yourself since 1982, the year you said you began your research? You also claim that one can submit new keyboarding methods to US Patent Office in less than a week. Surely? Would you please prove this to us? It is an insult to the over 10 million US patent holders to spit such rubbish of getting a US patent in less than a week! Those brilliant and genius individuals who had obtained US patents know how rigorous the process is. Fisseha did not get any patent. You don’t get a patent by saying yes whenever you are asked if you have a patent.

    It is unfortunate that you also compare Dr. Aberra Molla, a very well respected scientist with a certain guy, Engineer ZeMichael! Shame on you Fisseha! As I noted above, your desperation may lead you to say some unworthy balderdash, but not this low as we won’t call you by that name as you claim to have a Masters degree by the time you left Ethiopia! You graduated from the University of Nebraska. It would have been appropriate for an educated person like you to check Dr. Aberra Molla’s credentials. He obtained his post doctoral degree from Colorado State University, right from your school’s neighboring state of Nebraska. Finally I would like to point to you that I had a lot to comment, but preferred to stop here for now.

  20. Advances Made by Ethiopians in the Computer Technology (1991)
    5 ኦገስት 2012 በ 10:31 ጥዋት
    By Dr. Aberra Molla© 1991 Ethiopian Computers & Software
    If you show the Ethiopian alphabet to an American you meet on the street the chance that it would be guessed right is one in a hundred. Most of the people do not know that Ethiopians had developed beautiful and perfect alphabets and have been using them for thousands of years. Many wouldn’t know that Ethiopians have their own printing presses and books such as the Amharic,Tigre and Oromo Bibles had been in print using these Ethiopian alphabets for over a century. Most of the people would not know that the Ethiopian child learns how to read and write the 400 or so phonetic Ge’ez characters along with the English alphabet in grade schools.
    Unlike the ancient Egyptian and Chinese alphabets and its Japanese modifications where pictures were drawn to write down ideas, the ancient Ethiopians came up with a character for every possible sound. They figured out that there are eight varieties, orders or vowels of some forty Ethiopian primary [alphabets or] characters. The primary or the first order characters are altered into second order character by adding a second small uniform piece at the right side of the character in a simple pattern to create a uniform pattern of sounds. This process is repeated for the other orders though complications do occur because of numerous exceptions.
    The Ethiopian alphabet is as simple as the Greek and its Latin derivatives. They are different from the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets and those of the English and other related alphabets. The Ethiopian and Greek alphabets share the lack of the Arabic “0” number probably because these alphabets were developed before the scientific significance of this number was realized.
    Ethiopia does not have a typewriter which can be used for typing each and every one of the characters. If Ethiopia had such a keyboard, it would probably look like a piano keyboard. The Amharic typewriter was developed about forty years ago by modifying the print head of an English typewriter. It was built such that some of the keys were saved for modifying the primary characters into their vowel forms. Other keys were arbitrarily assigned to other characters such that the major criterion was whether or not a character could be created out of different smaller pieces or were to be assigned a single key. Thus the primary and most of the other orders or characters such as those which create the “R” sound were given numerous separate standard or shifted key spots while some of the primary characters had no keys of their own.
    Typing using an Amharic typewriter requires concoction of the characters on the fly on the paper during typing. Creating some of the characters require going over the characters, sometimes twice, and one has to got to a typing school to study this complicated typing which resembles a series of key sequence recording. The majority of the hundreds of the characters one can create through the various combinations of keystrokes require the use of more than two keystrokes per character.
    The other major problem with the Ethiopian typewriter is the poor quality of the characters which are completely different from what Ethiopians use in their handwriting and from what the printing presses use for typesetting. The Ethiopian handwriting characters are equivalent to the English cursive styles which are genuine imitations of the corresponding typesetting characters. The need to use the Amharic typewriter created aesthetically inferior characters the majority of which never existed and were distorted in all dimensions. The method is also besieged with lack of control over the right margin, pitch and spacing and some characters even lost their baselines. However, the Amharic typewriter did serve an invaluable service by saving Ethiopians from using handwriting for routine office work over the last few decades since typesetting was not an inexpensive and practical alternative.
    The task of building an Amharic typewriter out of an English typewriter was not simple. The difficulty of creating an Amharic typewriter out of an English typewriter and writing with it is as difficult as creating an English typewriter out of the numeric key pad and use this for typing the English alphabet. Unlike the standard Ethiopian alphabet, most of the typewriter character took twice as much paper space as an equivalent typeset Amharic and English character.
    In 1982 Grum Ketema, one of my brother-in-laws, came home from college and told us how he has been cracking his brains with an Arab classmate to write Arabic on a computer. That kindled my childhood love for the Amharic alphabet and I told him that if he is good enough to write from right to left, he should try to come up with one for writing the Ethiopian syllables. He told me that working with the 27 Arabic characters is not the same as dealing with the hundreds of the Ethiopic characters. We agreed that these Sabean alphabets may require creating a special chip and an Ethiopian computer and then developing Ethiopian computer languages. In the meantime (ABSHA was established and) we thought there may be alternative methods of creating Ethiopian word processors so that the thousands of English computer programs would be available to Ethiopians.
    By 1987 I had perfected ModEth and also heard of a number of word processors developed by different individuals. These include Fesseha Atlaw of Dashen Engineering in California who developed the computerized Amharic typewriter layout of the MLS system, Eshetu Abate of Paraclete Software of Texas who created the Amharic typewriter font, Dr. Gillette of Duke University who, in collaboration with Dr. Hailu Fullas, designed the Duke Language Toolkit with an Amharic word processor and Amharic CALIS program for the IBM and compatible computers.
    By 1988 the number of Ethiopians and Americans known to have developed some sort of an Ethiopian word processor had increased and included Yemane Russom of Phonetic Systems of Texas who wrote GeezWord for the Macintosh computer; a MacWrite font set developed by Linguists’ Software of Massachusetts, and Fekade Mesfin of California who developed Feedel, also for the Macintosh computer.
    Professor Curt Peterson of Illinois developed one for the Commodore system while Dr. Philip LeBel of New Jersey developed an Ethiopic word processor for the Apple II computer. This is not a complete list, and with the exception of one, I have not even seen any of these programs; but I have heard of a number of others, some of which include methods and add-on utilities to dump scanned Amharic characters. A Newsletter, published by Friends of Ethiopia, which I recently came across, lists six of the above. I have also come across a number of documents printed using computers which I could not associate with any of the programs I have heard of. Creating an Ethiopian document one way or another is not a simple task and I have my admiration for the ingenuity and persistence of these people, especially since most of them struggled on their own in the absence of corporate and government involvement. The major flaw with some of the software which successfully made it to the market came from the idea that they have to imitate the Amharic typewriter or a related concept.
    The Amharic typewriter is not a machine worth simulating to standardize it for computer keyboards. This is because the Amharic typewriter does not write the Amharic characters and the process in not the same as transition of the English computer keyboard from the English typewriter keyboard. With a few exceptions, the relative sizes of the Ethiopian characters are almost the same with those of English. As a result the Ethiopian alphabet is well suited to adapt to and exploit the English typewriter. The need to concoct the hundreds of Ethiopian characters was brought about with the need to use the English typewriter with less than one hundred keys for the 400 characters and this problem should not be carried over into the computer environment. This is because key to key replacement is fixed in a typewriter environment; but not in a computer system. It is possible to replace an English key with an Ethiopian key in a computer environment where different varieties of layouts can be brought onto the screens and printers through the use of internal and soft fonts. There is thus no need to simulate the Ethiopian typewriter which was created to solve an old problem with an old machine when we have numerous simple and efficient alternatives with computers. Reasonable improvements may result in more confusion on top of the problems carried over into the computer with the typewriter keyboard.
    What I did over the last few years was to tinker with a number of software and hardware until I perfected a simple novel method of using computers for use with the Ethiopian alphabet. Unlike the concept of using the computer as a modified Amharic typewriter the way other people used it, I came up with methods of using the computer to fulfill the needs of the Ethiopian characters and beyond. I came up with a method of simulating the Ethiopian printing press in a system which was never possible heretofore. This took me from creating each an every Ethiopian character pixel by pixel to developing scaleble outline fonts with only a few thousand bytes for the various screens and printers. The method involved mapping each character as a single solitary character under any one character and bundling them in various orders or groups. Each order was then mapped under a function key or any other character such that writing each character required no more than two keystrokes.
    The purpose of the two keystrokes is to pull up the character from the computer memory; not to connect two pieces of a character. Another size or configuration was saved under a different map or another case such that with the use of an IBM PC or a compatible computer one can write in thousands of fonts.
    A series of Ethiopian fonts along with English and other language alphabets is also accessible through a few keystrokes. I thus came up with numerous simple methods which do not even require the knowledge to type Amharic while at the same time eliminated the complications we have gone through to write in one font. By the time I was finished I found out that not only have I come up with a reasonable command structure, but also with potential methods which made the Ethiopian typewriter obsolete; and also effectively put the XT computer in competition with the Ethiopian printing presses. Encouraged by my effort my brothers, Dr. Bekele and Getachew joined my endeavor with their PC’s. Dr. Bekele also edited and printed the manual with ModEth and his other contributions have been invaluable.
    Our use of different font designers and formats, which we intend to release, has given us the flexibility and potential to use different programs, word processors and desk top publishers. We have also met a number of challenges, including the demand for a number of keyboard layouts which the user can change or create, and high resolution characters with hundreds of points in weight. When one starts ModEth with the ME command the vowels are with F2, F3, etc. When started with ME2, the vowels are mapped under comma, period etc. respectively for fast typing; ME3 replaces the function or vowel keys with the numeric keys while ME4 changes the Ethiopian-English keyboard into English-Ethiopian. ME5 is to create compatibility to read documents created by the various keyboards. In the past the Ethiopian writing methods and printing presses had been limited to a few fonts while the English alphabet enjoyed thousands of fonts. Adobe alone has many thousand English typefaces and the computer technology we have now developed for the Ethiopian languages may come handy for others.
    Other Ethiopians have approached us to incorporate more fonts, though fonts can not be protected even by copyright. In the process of applying for a patent on these and other novel uses of computers, we have come to communicate with Ato Abebe Muluneh who heads the Ethiopian Scientific Commission and have found out that a team of Ethiopian engineers headed by Ato Daniel Admasie have been doing an excellent job.
    Support of my wife, Senait, was crucial while the help of my brothers, and of Grum as well as those of my extended family has made a big difference. Other Ethiopians have been very supportive with their suggestions and continue to buy the incomplete ModEth program since early 1989 from Ethiopian Computers and Software, Inc. Others have been very appreciative of our approach of not jumping at eliminating the characters; but rather been adding essential ones while creating new standards. ModEth stands for modern Ethiopia since it includes the Ge’ez characters of the Amharic, Tigre, Oromo and Gurage alphabets. A colorful optional transparent keyboard overlay was created so that each key represents an Ethiopian consonant and those who are used to the Amharic typewriter have found it very simple and convenient though the user has the option of using it with any layout.
    It is our policy to keep the confidentiality of our customers which include the various Ethiopian political organizations, churches, universities and individuals who are using it for writing Amharic, other Ethiopian languages, and English documents, and for publishing books. We have sold the software in countries wherever Ethiopians have settled in large numbers. For instance, the Ethiopian Evangelical Churches in Colorado, California, Texas, Washington, Washington DC, Canada, Kenya, and other places are using it by even sharing expensive printers located in only a few churches. We have also introduced it to Ethiopia. We are grateful to the many Americans who continue to help us though most of them still wonder how we are using their hardware and software outside the power and purpose they were made for. ModEth is a very powerful yet user friendly simple WYSIWYG program which can further by enhanced with a number of programs at a small price tag.
    We have scrambled and unscrambled fonts for the various screen boards, dot-matrix and laser printers and the non-copy protected program requires an activator. The Amharic documents are handled just like the English with routine word processing commands such as cut and paste. Priority was given to simplicity and the print quality of the Ethiopian characters and many believe the ability to type the Ethiopian and English fonts with standard typing methods of a qwerty keyboard is a breakthrough. The purpose of this document is not to advertise ModEth or belittle the Amharic typewriter, but to share the significant developments. For instance, it is a scientific fact of life that only statistically significant advantages be utilized. We do not need statistical analysis to show the obvious that it is an economic reality to use programs where each and every character takes a space as opposed to programs which because of their simulation of the Amharic typewriter or its modifications require more than one character space and thus more than twice as much space on the screen, disks and papers to view, retrieve and store the same information.

    Ethiopia is one African country whose ancient alphabet has jumped from Gutenberg’s printing press to the microcomputer by virtually bypassing the patented English typewriter. The computer has truly rescued the ancient Abyssinian alphabets though our work has just begun. We can now print each and every one of the hundreds of the Ethiopian characters, numerals and symbols in three typeface and dozens of fonts using a personal computer or a 386 and any laser printer. It remains to be seen if this ancient alphabet will in turn come to the rescue of the computer by bridging the gap between this machine and the human brain.

    [This paper was written in a rush to meet deadlines. Words such as characters and alphabets which were interchangeably used have been replaced and minor mistakes corrected to avoid confusion.]
    Dr. Aberra Molla is President of Ethiopian Computers & Software, Inc., Littleton , Colorado and a contributing editor of ER.
    The above article was published in the April, 1991 issue of the Ethiopian Review magazine

  21. ጤና ይስጥልኝ:

    Nothing said so far changes the basic fact that the first documented introduction of Ethiopic Script to modern  computers in the United States was done by Dashen Engineering, the first Ethiopic software company, founded in the 1980’S by Ethiopian-American Engineer and entrepreneur Fesseha Atlaw.  That’s simply an established  fact that you can not wish away because you insist by creating an alternative fact or propaganda if you will? You may bend the truth, but you can’t break it.  Secondly it remains unanswered:  How can you invent something that already existed and in use by Society መጀመሪያ ቀድመው ፊደልን የፃፉት አባቶቻችን ምንይበሉ? 

    It’s silly  and Orwellian in a true sense  of the adjective describing a situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society, especially with reference to his dystopian account of a future totalitarian state in Nineteen Eighty-Four a frightening view of an Orwellian future. It’s like Mengistu Hailemariam conferring titles on himself without any documentation of facts.  Are you now claiming that a congressional speech written and given to an unsuspecting congressman that most Ethiopians are familiar with as establishing a fact? C’mon.  

  22. Thanks To Aberra Molla For You Developing The First Ethiopic Computer.

    Testimony of Dr. Bekele Molla
    Before Council of the District of Columbia
    Subcommittee on Human Rights, Latino Affairs and Property Management
    Public Hearing on the DC Language Access Act
    Chaired by Councilman Jim Graham
    Bill No. 14-902
    November 4, 2002

    My name is Bekele Molla and I am Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Communality Services Center of Washington DC and President & CEO of the Haile Selassie I International Development Foundation. First I would like to thank the Honorable Chairman and members of the subcommittee for giving me the opportunity to be a participant in this important hearing on “The Language Access Act of 2002.” I am pleased to provide testimony on the importance of adding Amharic, the Ethiopian official national language, to the list of languages, other than English, to be included in the “The Language Access Act.”

    It is estimated that there are between 200,000 and 250,000 Ethiopians who reside in the Greater Washington DC area. It is expected that the number will increase at a fast rate in the next decade. The majority of these individuals live in the District of Columbia. Most speak, write, read and understand English and some are highly qualified, proficient professionals and entrepreneurs. Most Ethiopians are hard working competitive individuals who, without serious difficulties, manage to become part of the American mainstream. However, it has become increasingly clear to those of us who are practitioners in the social sciences that many recent arrivals have been confronted with tremendous difficulties particularly because they are not proficient in English.

    Councilman Graham, I am here to urge your subcommittee to include Amharic as one of the languages to be used as a medium of communication, both oral and written, in the provision of services to the public by the DC Government. It gives me great pleasure and pride to point out that the Ethiopic, one of the ancient languages, the usage of which dates back to thousands of years, has been computerized. Dr. Aberra Molla developed and released the first truly Ethiopic word processor in 1987. Fettan Graphics & Printing has helped thousands of Ethiopians by utilizing the software package to publish everything from simple letters to books. Currently the latest Windows upgrade is on the market and could easily be installed on servers or laptops. Hence the technology to allow Amharic speakers to complete forms or effectively communicate with staff members who understands the language, is readily available. Any official documents could be prepared in the language by using the application package.

    It is incumbent upon every government agency to provide services on an equal basis for all its constituencies. Fairness and equity are paramount especially when it comes to new residents who are burdened with the challenges of adjusting to an exciting but strange environment. A very important element in the process of acculturation to a new environment is communication skills. For a person who attempts to settle and build a new home in Washington DC or anywhere else, efficient oral and written communication, essential ingredients in acculturation, entail a broad understanding of the customs, traditions, values, attitudes and behavioral norms of the new community. Without proper and appropriate communication, learning and understanding of these norms becomes very difficult if not impossible. Hence having someone to translate or interpret information is crucial in the performance of tasks. US Courts routinely provide interpreters for those who do not speak English.

    For new arrivals in particular, the challenge is complicated by the lack of proficiency to communicate in English language, and compounded by misunderstanding of these cultural and legal norms. The lack of basic communication skills, especially among many individuals who come to the United States on Diversity Visas (DV) has a traumatic impact because of its influence on opportunities for communal life, education, employment and access to government services. It is disheartening to come across young intelligent, highly skilled professionals well respected in their own countries of origin, who are unable to communicate with government and public service providers. Misunderstanding and miscommunication at times have dire consequences for the individual and the concerned agency. The issuance of driver’s licenses, diagnostic and emergency medical services, crime scene investigations and court trials, occupational permits and safety guidelines, just to mention a few, require accurate communication.

    Thus, It behooves the government to provide services in these and other services, in the native language of the tax paying resident. The United Sates Department of Justice has also issued the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Guidance to assist recipients of federal funds to fulfill their responsibilities to persons whose primary language is not English. According to this guide, if individuals have a limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English, they are classified as limited English proficient, or “LEP.” Most importantly, effective communication fosters compliance with regulations, full understanding of and participation in the expression of civil rights, and the fulfillment of civic and national responsibilities.

    I have run across several individuals who carry Ethiopian permits but when they applied to the DC government for an American driver’s license, they were told to have the Amharic language document translated to English in order to receive a new permit. It thus becomes clear that those who may not be employed are required to pay translation fees to private businesses in order to get city services. Today, I have brought with me an Ethiopian Youngman who recently came to the United States after he became a winner of the lottery for Diversity Visa. He wants me to share with you the fact that he has not been able to get a job after completing many applications that he barely comprehended. He has repeatedly been told that he will be contacted if he qualified for the positions but to no avail. Not having a driver’s license also leads to other difficulties such as not being able to open a bank account. Therefore it is very importance that the government passes this legislation and enacts it into law. Thank you for the opportunity you have given to me to provide testimony.


    1. The DC Council unanimously approved the Act (B15-0139)

    2. As of the year 2006, Amharic speakers not fluent in English can soon begin to receive oral communication and documentation in Amharic from city offices. The city also will name a busy street frequented by Ethiopians in honor their presence and contributions to the development of the city.

    Haile Selassie I International Development Foundation
    U.S. Registered 501 (c) (3) Non-profit Corporation. Copyright 2003-2005.

  23. እኔ እምለው ፍስሃ የሚባል ሰው ጤነኛ አይደለም እንዴ ስለ ኢትዮጵያ ግድ የሚለው ከሆነ ለምን ለኢትዮጵያ መልካም ሰወችን አያከብርም ::
    ምን አይነት በሺተኝነት ነው ?
    ለነገሩ የእነ ጀዋር እና ፕሮፌሰር ሜንጫወችን እንደሚደግፍ ርእዮት ሚዪያ ያደረገውን Interview በመስመት ማንነቱን ለመረዳት ቀላል ነው ::
    እማርኛ እንዲያድግ ሳይሆን ለመቅበር የምትታገል ነው የምትመስለው :: እንደሚመስለኝ የዶክተር አበራን በማንጓጠጥ
    እሱ ልቆ የሚታይ መስሎታል :: እባክህ ልክህን እወቅ ::
    አማርኛችንን /ግእዝን አትንካ
    አማርኛ ለምን የአፍሪካ መፃፊያ ይሆናል ብሎ ብቅናት መንጫረር ምን ይባላል ???
    እስካሁን ቻልንህ አሁን ግን ጥላቻህ ወይም አለማወቅ በዝቶ ይሄን ያህል ኢትዮጵያዊ ምሁራኖችን እየተከታተልክ አርባ ክንድ ምላስህን ማሾል አቁም ::
    በቃ ሰው በለጠኝ ብለህ አትመቀኝ ከቻልክ ሁላችሁም አብራችሁ በፍቅር ስሩ ካልሆነ ግን ስድብ ምን ይባላል ::
    ይሄን ግን መታገስ አልቻልኩም ::
    Actually Fesseha Atlaw is no better than the fake Engineer Dr. Solomon ZeMichael. Fesseha falsely claimed
    the word Ethiopic known even to the Webster dictionay since 1600 while he as
    well as none of his plagiarist friends own, have any patent or publications. Had it
    not been for Dr. Aberra Molla’s hard work anybody in the world could have patented
    the technology while fake legends of Ethiopic were burning up because a fellow Ethiopian
    national protected the right of Ethiopians to their alphabet through patents. Fesseha even encouraged
    the Oromos for abandoning Ethiopic and writing their language in Latin alphabet by falsely telling them
    that they used the Latin computer in the 70’s while their false excuse was the Amharic typewriter
    after Dr. Molla made it and its digitized versions obsolete. Fesseha is one of the enemies of Ge’ez. ፍሰሓ ኬኛ እና እነ ይጥና ሲታገሷቸው የማያስተውሉ ቅሌታሞች ናቸው።

  24. Yohannes Johnny,

    Please ተረጋጋ ያልተፃፈ ነገር አታንብብ። You got the whole thing upside down. From the interview mentioned above it’s in fact Fesseha who gave credit to many Ethiopians for contributing to the development of the Amharic word processor. አዙሮ ላየው ብላም ነገር ነው ይላል የአገርህ ሠው። It is you who are being disrespectful. Let’s be real it’s undeniable that Dashen Engineering was up and running by the mid 1980’s. It’s a documented and verified fact. There no debate about that. It’s absolutely possible that two people on different part of the U.S. were developing the same thing at the same time. That happens on many other creations. It’s a good thing for Ethiopia and for our community in the U.S. And it’s good thing for both fellows. So let’s be fair and not try to hug all the credit. There is no money in it. Why are you guys fighting? ጉራ ነዉ የምትፈልገው ወይስ ክብር? ክብር ከሆነ እራስህን አታቅልል። Learn how to give credit where credit is due especially to a colleague in the same field, which does not mean taking anything away from you. አይ የአበሻ ነገር።

  25. Even according to a Tadias author “All the allegations in the article are false defamation without any … Regarding The History of Ethiopic Computing by Fesseha Atlaw (Op-Ed). So Fesseha should refrain from using the interview as a new excuse.

    Fesseha falsely claimed that he decided to develop a software using the Ethiopic alphabet. That is not true as he pretends not to know the difference between the Amharic typewriter and Ethiopic fonts and their typing methods. Check out a list of 14 novel approaches that allowed Ethiopic computerization here:


    Also check out the 41 reasons about the weaknesses of the Amharic typewriter here:

    There is no evidence that Fesseha did anything until he joined HP in 1984 earning money to rent computers. Fesseha did not develop any original MLS Ethiopic word processer. He used the MLS software and its actuator in 1986 by adding an Amharic typewriter font and its Amharic typewriter typing method.

    Since the typing of Ethiopic in computers was achieved before 1984 by Dr. Molla, Fesseha was not even the first with the typewriter method.
    According to Fesseha, “The most important development in the history of Ethiopic software came in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Voice of America (VOA) International Service gave Xerox a contract to develop multilingual computers and one of the languages they requested was Amharic.” If Fesseha has created something for Amharic, why was it necessary for VOA to ask XEROX?

    Fesseha’s typewriter had a short life span due to the release of Dr. Molla’s ModEth in 1987 and Fisseha could not get over that anger for over thirty years. Because he is a sore loser he started a false campaign by changing the name of his Amharic typewriter product to Ethiopic word Processor.

    Even the fake story about his fake typewriter pieces do not add up. Fesseha tells tall stories about how in the 1970’s the Oromos were concerned about computers, in the 1980’s the English used 8 by 8 grids, the number of Ethiopic alphabets was 270, he made almost the entire alphabet using vowel marks and how he worked with companies like Google and Facebook which did not exist at that time.

    Ethiopic was added to Unicode because the Ethiopic truetype font was given to Unicode in 1989 by Dr. Molla. None of the materials Fesseha contributed made a difference to Ethiopic other than being a nuisance. He presented his fake character parts as Ethiopic to Unicode in 1992 and had it not been for Dr. Molla’s opposition, Ethiopians would have been laughed at for the blunder of allowing Fesseha to cheat Unicode. It was Dr. Molla’s article published in Landafta magazine in 1993 that was used for Unicode. This is in the Unicode referenced under number 6 above.

    While Dr. Molla has been trying to convince some Oromo intellectuals that they should not use Latin after he computerized the Ethiopic Oromo alphabet “ዸ” along with the rest, the Oromos decided to switch to Latin in 1992. Fesseha was advising and helping the Oromo community to standardize the Qube Latin for Oromos. Contrary to his previous claim, he advised them to use Amharic in Amharic alphabet in a language and alphabet they can’t speak, write or read.

    Nowhere in his interview with Tadias or VOA has he mentioned Dr. Molla’s name and acknowledged his monumental contributions including stopping his group from excluding language alphabets such as Guragie in 1993 from Unicode. He knew then and now that Dr. Molla’s Ethiopic writing system was and continued to be the most powerful, scientific and user-friendly. He knew all along when Dr. Molla started Ethiopian Review with Elias Kifle and he joined its editorial group in 1991 and was aware that Dr. Molla intended to patent his correct Ethiopic typing invention while Fesseha was pushing his fake font and inferior typewriter writing system to be included in Unicode. Dr. Molla came up with a novel idea of computerizing Ethiopic with about 480 characters assigning a spot for each of the original printing press beautiful characters.

    The individuals he mentioned in the Tadias interview were well aware of Dr. Molla’s Ethiopic invention over the years as Dr. Molla listed some of them as plagiarists of Ethiopic. They vary from one caught distributing a related product to some taxi drivers in Washington DC around 1988 to those who used Ethiopic glyphs distributed on a single extended ASCII position as a standard set for Ethiopic.

    Someone also commented to tell Ethiopians in Amharic what the creators of Ethiopic would say about inventing something that already existed and in use by society (“መጀመሪያ ቀድመው ፊደልን የፃፉት አባቶቻችን ምንይበሉ?”). The implication is to tell Ethiopians that nothing new has been invented as the ancient Ethiopians created the alphabet while Dr. Molla is claiming the creation of Ethiopic. The moron at least knows that Dr. Molla’s inventions are patented methods of Ethiopic computerization similar to that of Bill Gates use the English alphabet in computers and not invention of the alphabets. Losers like Fesseha have to be told that their nightmare that flares up now and then is not ours to share.

    Fesseha put his foot in his mouth! He should have gotten over it in 1987, admit that his typewriter system is not Ethiopic, was obsolete due to Dr. Molla’s Ethiopic and move on! After all, Fesseha was not the one who has seven (7) Ethiopic patents. Because of Dr. Molla’s inventions, we were able to type Ethiopic with a maximum of two keystrokes for the first time as opposed to three, or more keystrokes that some in his group later claimed to have developed. Dr. Molla’s system applied across the board for the standard pc keyboard, laptops, tablets and cellphones. Had it not been for the good doctor’s work, Fesseha would have shamed Ethiopians with his false and fake Amharic.

    Fesseha should now apologize to Dr. Molla and Ethiopians for messing up his Ethiopic with his fake typewriter fonts and calling it Ethiopic, for presenting his fake Ethiopic to Unicode as Ethiopic and also became the first to force the breakup of Ethiopic to Ethiopic, Supplemental Ethiopic, Extended Ethiopic and Extended-A Ethiopic in Unicode. Considering that Fesseha never produced an Ethiopic product, he should also stop pretending to be a know it all and refrain from damaging the progress of the alphabet by encouraging apps that do not document Ge’ez.

    So, let’s move on expanding the powerful Ethiopic as an African writing system.

  26. Fekade Mekonnen,

    Why bother sounding like a broken tape repeating what has already been stated and refuted? Both of these gentleman deserve credit. Let’s not promote one at the expense of the other. Move on please. Thank you!

  27. In 1983, a text editor was released and it allowed font design of the Amharic typewriter as well as the Ethiopic. Dr. Molla used it while his brother got the information on the Amharic typewriter and its configuration from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C. He still has the 5 and quarter inch floppy disk. His double keyboard has the typewriter in the default and the English Ethiopic layout in the shifted position.

    It can be concluded that the Amharic typewriter did an invaluable service for Amharic without actually typing it as the glyphs were not Amharic or Ethiopic. The true Ethiopic glyphs are the ones used by the Ethiopian printing presses. The Amharic typewriter became obsolete before the English typewriter when Dr. Molla digitized Ethiopic, due to the fact that the typewriter did not type Amharic or Ethiopic. Recently Dr. Molla told an a writer, Matt Williams, who wrote The History of the Amharic Typewriter that “In fact, taking the Amharic typewriter concept to computers remained a disaster as the ligatures came apart on increasing or decreasing the font sizes of the letters and the parts separately wrapped around to the next line creating novel problems. Also, a separate font has to be made for each size. One of the reasons behind the absence of information especially on the computerized typewriter version was because it became obsolete due to digitization of Ethiopic by Aberra Molla, while some who computerized the typewriter decided to falsely claim their work on it as ETHIOPIC deceiving the public. The typewriter would not have handled the Ethiopic characters while Aberra Molla managed to digitize Ge’ez and type the default with a keystroke and the more than 500 Ethiopic Unicode glyphs with two keystrokes each as described in his recent ABSHA system patent. 47”

    Fesseha’s computerized typewriter had all the problems that Dr. Molla warned against its introduction to computers. Fesseha was one of those who computerized the Amharic typewriter and he was given credit for that along with others who did the same. However, it is mind boggling why this guy decided to falsely claim his work as ETHIOPIC and try to openly deceive the public. Fesseha’s computerized typewriter did not handle even the Amharic Ethiopic characters let alone the about 500 Ethiopic characters. He could not have produced Amharic or Ethiopic, because he also did not or could have them. His characters were displaced fake parts of alphabets assembled at the time of typing to look like alphabets. Yet, the hundreds of real Ethiopic “ሀሁሂ” printing press solitary characters which look like the English “abc” alphabets were the Amharic and Ethiopic characters computerized by Dr. Aberra Molla for the first time. This is an obvious fact for anybody to prove then and now.

    The Amharic typewriter characters Fesseha claimed to have computerized are not Ethiopic characters at all. The Ethiopic characters are the ones used by the printing presses. They are beautiful, stand-alone characters that Dr. Molla computerized. Let me show you the difference between the two and leave the judgement to you. This is how the Ethiopic characters of the መ orders computerized by Dr. Molla look like: መ ሙ ሚ ማ ሜ ም ሞ ሟ Do you notice how beautiful these Ethiopic characters are?

    Using the same example above, Fesseha’s fragmented Amharic fake typewriter characters may look somewhat like these respectively: Me is typed with displaced first order Me. Mu is made up from a displaced Me and a dash added to it on the right side. Mi is made up from a displaced Ma and an underscore added at the bottom of the Ma. Ma is typed with a displaced Ma. Mie requires adding a small circle at the right bottom side of the Ma. M requires adding something that looks like a slash at the bottom of the left circle of the M. Mo is typed by adding a vertical line at the bottom of the first circle of the M. Mua is typed by adding a long underscore at the bottom of the Ma. Even worse, characters like Shu (ሹ this is an Ethiopic character) are made up from three pieces involving backspace keys. As one can clearly understand, these fragmented characters which were distributed on a single English typewriter keyboard require sharing the ugly pieces that don’t properly fit in the specific space assigned for each character.

    The Amharic typewriter was invented by Engineer Ayana Birru in 1932. His invention was used for office use while books and other publications were published by the Ethiopic of the printing press for over a century. Anybody who had used the Amharic typewriter very well knows how cumbersome its characters looked and how difficult typing them were as these fragments were superimposed over each other.

    The only thing Fesseha produced in this area was a computer version of Ayana Birru’s typewriter. It is quite true that Ayana Birru’s invention had saved Ethiopians from handwriting official inter-office business or legal documents. We used these typewriters for about 55 years because we didn’t have other alternatives. Let me be very clear and blatant. What Fesseha did was computerize these awkward characters and claimed that he computerized Ethiopic. This is totally not true. This is a plain fact for all to see. Ethiopic is the hundreds of characters that has been in use for thousands of years written manually and printed for about a century in the presses that Dr. Molla computerized.

    Thanks to Dr. Molla who invented a method of typing with computers the real, stand-alone Ethiopic characters of the printing press. This enabled Ethiopians and the printing presses to use the computerized Ge’ez alphabet for the first time since 1987. Each character was typed with a maximum of two key strokes and the invention involved about a dozen new things. Yet, Fesseha pretends not to know Dr. Molla’s classic work that was ahead of his and the source of plagiarists’ methods that some so-called legends and pioneers of Ethiopic copied. (,updated%20on%20Fri%20Aug%2021%2015%3A29%3A17%20EDT%202020 ) According to Fesseha, a plagiarist who produced an Ethiopic product after 1988 by copying Dr. Molla’s 1987 method is a legend, while Dr. Molla who produced it ahead of everybody is not.

    It was Dr. Molla who was recognized for computerizing Ethiopic and revolutionizing the Geez script by the Ethiopian Research Council in 1990 (founded in 1934 by Dr. Melaku Beyan and friends). It was in 2017 that the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America honored Dr. Aberra Molla for inventing the first Ethiopian word processor of its kind. ( He was the one that was recognized by Ethiopian communities in the USA for his work on Ethiopic. It was complements from friends ( and his contributions with over 1700 references that shamed copycats. It is he whose name is on a list of famous world scientists. ( Ethiopians are grateful that Dr. Molla enabled them to use even smartphones in their Ethiopic-user languages.

    A comment above by someone states that “First of all it’s totally ridiculous for Aberra Molla to claim that he invented anything to do with the Ethiopian language or computers. You can’t invent something that already existed that’s bordering on fake news.” Really? In the first place, had there been something invented before Dr. Molla, the patent office would not have given him patents. Just in case Fesseha thinks he invented something, even his typewriter junk was rejected by the market, Dr. Molla, and subsequently Unicode in 1992. Fesseha lost out and started all over with Ethiopic by joining a group that started working on Ethiopic Unicode in 1993 using Dr. Molla’s digitized Ethiopic alphabet of the Ethiopian printing presses. After all it is Dr. Molla’s Ethiopic that became the Ethiopic Unicode; not Fisseha’s incomplete fake parts for computerized typewriter. Fesseha was also not the only one who produced the typewriter version fake Amharic for computers. So, the bottom line is he wants recognition for computerizing Ethiopic without computerizing it. And that is insulting the public!

    “There is no debate about that it’s absolutely possible that two people on different part of the U.S. were developing the same thing at the same time” says someone finally. Unfortunately, that is not true too. Unlike the English typewriter that typed English of the printing press characters, the Amharic typewriter by Ayana Birru never typed the hundreds of the solitary Amharic characters of the printing press. Now that someone lost the argument, he is trying to explain that the same thing and idea at the same time may have been developed elsewhere when no one else developed anything Amharic or Ethiopic except Dr. Molla. The English typewriter became the English computer keyboard, because it typed the alphabet of the English printing press. The Amharic typewriter never typed the Amharic alphabet of the printing press and instead became obsolete without typing it. Dr. Aberra Molla used the computer keyboard to type Ethiopic of the printing press and received seven patents for those inventions. Fesseha has none. Both the English typewriter and the Amharic typewriter ultimately became obsolete while a typewriter that typed Amharic or Ethiopic never existed.

    Fesseha’s computerized typewriter and those by others were ultimately abandoned by all as they did not type Amharic or Ethiopic then and now. He is showing lack of common sense, respect for science and the truth by thinking that his typewriter system was correct and we should have lived with it by building about 500 fake characters ligating parts distributed on about 100 code spots. Science does not reward such stupidity especially when it undermines scientists like Dr. Aberra Molla. Liars falsely claiming that theirs works are the same with that of the doctor and those who propogate their claims without fact checking should be exposed. In his attempt to stop Ethiopic from being developed his false claims interfered with the scientific development of the Ge’ez alphabet.

    A certian Selam Mekonnen commented, “How can you invent something that already existed and in use by Society. መጀመሪያ ቀድመው ፊደልን የፃፉት አባቶቻችን ምንይበሉ?” ለተባለው የጥንቶቹ አባቶቻችን እና እናቶቻችን ፊደሉን ስለፈጠሩ እጅግ የሚደነቁ ናቸው። ማተሚያ ቤቶች የሚጠቀሙበትን የግዕዝ ፊደላችንን ዶክተሩ ኮምፒዩተሮች፣ የእጅ ስልኮችና የመሳሰሉት እንዲጠቀሙባቸው ዘዴ ፈጠሩ እንጂ ፊደሉን ፈጠርኩ አላሉም። ስለዚህ ዶክተሩ ያላሉትን አሉ ማለት እውሸታምነት ነው። (He even tried to confuse some Ethiopians by telling them in Amharic that Dr. Molla claimed to have invented the Ethiopic alphabet while what the doctor said he invented was computerizing it.)

    The Amharic typewriter along with Fesseha were bypassed by Dr. Aberra Molla’s invention repeatedly. Whether he knew about computerization of Ethiopic by Dr. Aberra Molla before or after his, Fesseha should sooner or later have realized that his work was not the same as that of the Ethiopic by the doctor. The invention involves numerous new things and the Ethiopic characters were even distributed on up to eight character sets and not on one like the typewriter. It is like asking to be given credit for writing that the earth is flat. Had it not been for the doctor’s hard work, someone would have computerized Ethiopic for even gadgets such as smartphones while laughing at his fake Ethiopic. He really is behind the eight ball!

    Nobody took Fesseha seriously for decades and it should be noted now that he wants to excel Dr. Engineer Samuel ZeMichael with questionable degrees. No wonder he even thinks a product released by another fake legend of Ethiopic in 1988 was plagiarized in 1987. Yet, this other plagiarist thinks Fesseha’s work is Ethiopic while the ones he copied are not. These morons don’t even know when Ethiopic was computerized.

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