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Legesse Zenawe (Meles) A Generous Man

By: Entehabu Berhe (PhD), Canada, August 27, 2012

Over the years many, including me, had wanted to meet the late great Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and discover what made him tick. Some, including many who were highly skeptical, have succeeded  in getting to know him closely and found him to be an honourable, generous and decent man. Indeed, it was comforting to know that he was “Legas”, generous just like it was wished upon his name “Smu Yemeriho L'Gibru.”

Like many of his revolutionary comrades, he was generous and ready to make tremendous personal sacrifices for a just and worthy cause. He has admirably championed that cause until he exhausted his last breath and has now joined many of his comrades in everlasting peace. I have no doubt many of his comrades would smile upon seeing him, warmly greet him, embrace him and pat him on the back with the  satisfaction that he has not let them or his people down. Ye'IS, wedi Zenawi well done!

Those who knew him personally, since his early days, have also provided glowing testimonies about his personal character and generosity.   Some fondly remember him during his early days of student activism, as a person of very high intellectual and social intelligence and social conscience. These were the days just before he joined the fight for freedom, justice and liberation of his people.  In 1975,  Legese Zenawi (also known as Meles Zenawi), started as a young  fighter and medic and in the late eighties ascended to become the leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the guerrilla organization that formed the core of the Ethiopian People's Democratic Front (EPRDF) which in 1991 had defeated the Derg. Tens of thousands of his comrades and compatriots have perished in the struggle against the Derg, which had Africa's largest army and was one of Africa’s worst military dictatorships. In 1991, this fierce young guerrilla leader became the President of a transitional government and subsequently the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and one of Africa's most transformational dynamic leaders.

Tegadalay Meles Zenawi, like many members of the student movement and the multitudes of guerrilla movements of the time, started as a fanatical Marxist and an ideologue. Over time, however, Meles was able to see that the world had significantly changed, since his early guerrilla days; so he ditched communism and quickly adopted to the new realities. In doing so, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had managed to climb a steep scholastic curve in a very short time, through sheer intelect, and went on to be a statesman and one of the most visionary and engagging leaders, intellectuals and thinkers in Africa. He has successfully articulated his vision for his country and Africa, with rare clarity and diplomatic finesse, and restored Ethiopia’s and Africa's place in international arenas.

The late great Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had a passion for justice and a strong vision for his country and an unwavering sense of duty and urgency to see his vision through. The overwhelming majority of the Ethiopian peoples, Nations and Nationalities have bought into his vision of a new Ethiopia :

  1. Where nations, nationalities and peoples choose to live together in a federal arrangement; fully exercising their god given rights, developing their full potential and aspiring for a better tomorrow with complete respect, love and sense of responsibility for each other and for their country and without trampling on the rights of their fellow citizens and others. 
  2. Where poverty, illiteracy and  backwardness are left behind and thrown to the dust bins of history,
  3. That is at peace with itself, with its neighbours and with the world.
  4. That is restored back to glory and its rightful place among nations and is able to lead the way towards a just , peaceful and equitable world.

Some doubted his vision, but events since his untimely departure have confirmed that he has successfully articulated his people's vision and paved the path of peace, development, democracy and prosperity for the new Ethiopia. The peoples of Ethiopia, from coast to coast, have expressed their love and admiration for the late great Prime Minister, His Excellency Meles Zenawi with unprecedented outpouring of grief and sense of loss and renewed their commitment to continue on realizing the renaissance of Ethiopia with out reservations. This attitude and culture is a new and welcome development that needs to be nurtured and cultivated in order to preserve our nations gains and build on them. It is heart warming to see the new generation of Ethiopians united, more educated, more skilled and highly motivated to realize their dreams and aspirations; and ready and able to claim ownership of the destiny of their country. We all need to join hands with them in realizing the dream of a developed, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia.

Finally, Legese Zenawi was “legas”, generous to a fault; one who worked day and night, and with out fail, until the day of his untimely departure from this world. What more can we ask?

My condolences to the late great Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's family and the Ethiopian people. May we all find the strength and determination to build on his good works and continue with the transformation already in progress. May you rest in peace.

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