My return to bloggerdom, and perhaps even readership, continues today!
For those who are not up on their African politics, Meles Zenawi was the Prime Minister of Ethiopia (where I not so coincidentally just visited) from 1991 until his death this year. He was considered an incredibly smart man and had some very sound policies (or at least it seems that way, always hard to know) but was ehhhhh not so into the political rights/freedom of expression thing. While in Ethiopia though, I heard about a Meles story that I thought was kind of hysterical.
A coffee chain in Addis Ababa is known as “Kaldi’s Coffee,” and suffice to say, their logo and sign have erm, a few similarities to a rather well known chain of coffee houses in the United States. I even took a picture (basically one of the only pictures I took there, OOPS) to let all you all judge for yourselves the extent to which Kaldi’s might have drawn its inspiration from elsewhere. Apparently the owner makes no effort to deny it. And when asked if she feels guilty about “stealing from Starbucks” she replied not, that “After all, they stole our coffee.” Apparently Starbucks disagreed with this assessment, and attempted to sue them.
This is where Meles enters the picture. Apparently he told Starbucks that if they sued Kaldi’s, Ethiopia would simply stop exporting coffee to Starbucks. Funnily enough, they dropped the lawsuit.