Eulogy: RIP Meles Zenawi Dead at the Age of 57

All Ethiopians are united in praying for a better Ethiopia even if they are not untied in wishing you well:

by Teddy Fikre

Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, passed away at the age of 57.  The official date and time of his passing is not confirmed due to the secrecy of his health that has consumed Ethiopia for the past month and a half.  The official cause of death and he date of his passing is unconfirmed due to the Ethiopian government’s secrecy.  However, as of 12:07 AM EST, Ethiopian Television (ETV) confirmed the passing of Meles Zenawi.  Since ETV is the extension of the TPLF regime, we are led to the inconclusive fact that Meles Zenawi did in fact succumb to his illness sometime in the past 49 days.

On this solemn occasion, we ask all Ethiopians to pray for one thing. Regardless if you are a TPLF supporter or count yourself as the opposition, we ask that you pray for the well-being of Ethiopia above all.  Leaders come and go but the one thing that stays constant is Ethiopia—both her desta and her suffering.  We ask that you have a moment of silence not for Meles but for the suffering of the past 21 years and in the process ask that you only wish one thing above all—that Meles receives from God in according to his life’s work.

Now is not the time to celebrate for this is the time for deep reflection and prayer for what comes next for our country.  Regardless if you are for Meles or against him, we are all Ethiopian—this is a time for us to unite and determine our future.  This is not a time to do eskista nor is it time to extol the virtues of Meles Zenawi; now is the time to think how we move forward and build a better Ethiopia.  For too long we have been divided between the government and those that oppose it, this moment is a time to reflect what we want going forward for time does not stand still nor does it pause for us to figure out if and when we will finally come together as a people.

Born on May 8th 1955 (which is one day after one of the most tragic moments in Ethiopian history)  Meles was the Prime Minister of Ethiopia from 1995 until his deah on August 20th 2012 (although that date is in dispute).  Meles was born in Adwa, Tigray, in Northern Ethiopia, to an Ethiopian father from Adwa, Ethiopia, and a mother from Adi Quala, Eritrea. He graduated from the General Wingate high school in Addis Ababa, then studied medicine at Addis Ababa University (at the time known as Haile Selassie University) for two years before interrupting his studies in 1975 to join the TPLF.

While a member of the TPLF, he founded the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray. His first name at birth was “Legesse” (thus Legesse Zenawi, Ge’ez: ለገሰ ዜናዊ legesse zēnāwī) but he is better known by his nom de guerre Meles. He later changed his first name to “Meles” in honor of a University student and a revolutionary radical who was executed by the previous government in 1975.

 

The TPLF was one of many armed groups struggling against Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam. Zenawi was elected Leader of the Leadership Committee in 1979 and Leader of the Executive Committee in 1983. He has been the chairperson of both the TPLF and the EPRDF since the EPRDF assumed power at the end of the Ethiopian Civil War in 1991. He was president of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), during which Eritrea seceded from the country and the experiment of ethnic federalism started.

Meles’s legacy is conflicted; a lot of Ethiopians will give him credit for the vast economic development of Ethiopia during his tenure.  By some account, Ethiopia’s GDP grew at an astonishing average of 12.5% during his tenure.  However, a lot of Ethiopians will forever point at him for his flaws which include but are not limited to the vast gap between the tiny sliver of Ethiopians which were better off while the rest struggled to make it by well below the poverty line.  Meles Zenawi was a ground breaker, what is agreeable is whether or not the former Prime Minister broke new ground or broke the back of Ethiopia.

Rest in peace Meles Zenawi for it is not up to us to pass judgment on your passing.  All Ethiopians are united in praying for a better Ethiopia even if they are not untied in wishing you well.  Twenty one years have passed since the TPLF junta took over after Mengistu, it is the hope of all Ethiopians that the next Prime Minister takes into account the greater being of all Ethiopians instead of tending to the betterment of one tribe May God bless Ethiopia and her people le zelalem!

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” ~ Albert Pike

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