By Tseggai Isaac, PhD.
Tigrai Onlne - August 24, 2014
The untimely death of great leaders is not unusual. President Lincoln on April 14, 1865, Emperor Youhannes IV on March 10. 1889, and President Kennedy on November 23, 1963, departed before they could attend to the daily agenda they had planned to undertake at the hours their lives were suddenly interrupted. Prime Minister Meles’s departure on August 21, 2012 was also sudden and unexpected. He is no more with us, but his leadership legacies are immortal in their demonstrable testimonials for generations to come. His grand ideas, his broad and all-encompassing visions, and the nobility of his intents for his country, the region, Africa and the world are here on earth as a catalogue of a heroic leader, Meles Zenawi Legesse.
Ato Meles Zenawi was an extraordinaire statesman. He was the brightest star to have ever emerged from the dark firmaments of the region, the Horn of Africa. For decades, this region was clouded by incompetence, ignorance, mundane petulance, and the attendant results of famine, wars, and abject poverty. The rise and brief illumination that Prime Minister Meles represented was a respite from the ugliness of interminable miseries.
Meles Zenawi was a quintessential son of the classic Ethiopic temper. That temper had desperately needed reviving, but could not manage achieving its ascent until he rose as a courageous lion from the gentle valleys of the Mereb River and the towering mountains of Adwa. He combined an Ethiopic essence of nobility long erased by colonialism and Ethiopian incompetence that was thought to find its resurrection in the fulfillment of his visions.
Historians will easily notice the subtle similarities between Meles’s style of leadership and the great Ethiopian leaders of the past. His greatness is an echo of the distant past that had enlightened with the brightest lights of alphabets and a grand civilization. He was truly gifted in ways that were manifestly obvious in the past glories of Ethiopia. The Ethiopia of Caleb and Ezana was preponderant across the seas and oceans. Meles was inspired by their legacy. The Zaguwe household was transitional, but continued the tradition of valor. They shook Egypt to its senses of good neighborliness when its jihadist ambitions went out of line to offend Ethiopia’s honor. Lalibela and Yetbarek were amazing! The Solomonic Dynasty came at the worst time in Ethiopian history. It’s unfortunate “restoration” theme harnessed its mandate by parochialzing Ethiopianness. It was also, by circumstances not of its own making, in a defensive mood against jihad from all corners of Ethiopia. Against formidable odds and continuous threats to the stellar Abyssinian Civilization, it stood firm and indomitable. It maintained the legacy of courage and perseverance. From its great warrior kings, AmdeTzion, Dawit I, ZerAYacob, Yeshaak, Glaudewos, Fassiledes, Iyassu, the towering Tewodros before his unfortunate derangement, and the incomparable Emperor Youhannes IV inspire the aptitudes and amplitudes of Legesse Meles Zenawi.
Meles Zenawi was not a simple fly-by-night ruler. He was an authority who has sought and earned the institutional legitimacy from his people. They had authorized him to lead, not to rule. He obeyed and executed the popular will .That legitimacy had enabled him and his government to faithfully uphold the will and the accolade of the Ethiopian people. He was not a perfect angel, but he was not a sadistic monster with unquenchable thirst for the blood of Ethiopians as the diabolical Mengistu Hailemariam was. And he had not placed his ego as a priority for ruling for life by reducing his country to a pathetic, enfeebled, and quadriplegic carcass. Legesse Meles Zenawi was a noble hero, a man of honor, and courageous enough to defend the underdog, the defenseless, the persecuted, the rejected, and those humiliated by satanic tyrants and human rights abusers.
Ezna’s royal predecessors planted the immortal obelisks of Axum at its authentic foundation. Mussolini uprooted one of these grand obelisks, and planted it at a false foundation in Rome to fabricate a false glory by stealing Ethiopian greatness. Meles forced Italy to uproot his ancestors’ treasured monument. That was not all. He also forced them to erect it at the exact location where Ezana’s great-great-great- grandfather had first planted it! Meles, in less than fifteen years of leadership accomplished far grander deeds than any other Ethiopian plenipotentiary since Ezana and Lalibella.
Meles Legesse Zenawi was a cosmopolitan. It took little time for the brilliant Meles to master global diplomacy, and gain the deserved praise of world leaders. They instantly recognized the sharpness of his mind and the depth of his wisdom. His wisdom was broad and the range of his visions wide and clear. He was willing to listen and learn. He was gracious and humble, but his humility came from his unshakable and enormous self-confidence rather than from cheap fawning, and false pretences. If any one of the regions leaders, in their stupid tyranny, and shameless greed are in any small measure to be regarded a leader, it is for the type of a leader that Meles was not; it is not for the type of superior quality of leadership that Meles had shown with a straight face, firm backbone, robust energy, and quick intelligence. Meles understood events, had deep and wide grasp of the circumstances that triggered them, and possessed razor sharp mind to judge them, weigh their merit and execute fast decisions that never went wrong. Global confidence on Ethiopia’s future that was non-existent with the Stalinist derg recovered under President Meles when he presided over the snap-elections of 1991 barely six months since the EPRDF entered Addis Ababa. He presided over the writing of a new democratic constitution, held elections, and was reconfirmed as a legitimate head of government serving a new Ethiopian Republic.
I, an Eritrean scholar, will always miss Meles Legesse Zenawi for the all encompassing promises love and prosperity as well as the prospects of peace and reconciliation that he had represented for our region. I hope and pray we will be wise enough to uphold his vision and continue his legacy by heeding the Apostle’s exhortation – to follow after “hope, faith, and love”. 1st Corinthians 13: 13.Tseggai Isaac, PhD. Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, Missouri 65409 Tseggai@mst.edu
By: Haileselassie Beyene Tesfai