By: EsaTed 22/01/2019
In the summer of 2012, I travelled to Ethiopia. I was in the country a couple of days when the passing of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi hit the airwaves. Disbelief, sadness, and shock were how I felt as a man who followed and admired the PM for his wisdom, commitment to the country, and relentless fight to pull Ethiopia out of poverty and give his people a chance to succeed in the global economy. But above all I was worried about Ethiopia’s future after him.
In the days that followed, I like many Ethiopians lined up for hours to visit and pay tribute to this man many have come to admire and appreciate. The level of love, appreciation and sense of loss shown by the people in Addis was not something I expected and that is mainly due to the barrage of hate and opposition justified and unjustified that were daily occurrences where I lived, North America.
Before the funeral, I travelled to a small town in Semen Showa (Geenagar). When we arrived in Geenagar, I noticed a small tent not very far from the home of the family I was visiting. I asked what it was and I was told it was for the people who want to pay tribute to the PM. I decided to go see.When I got there, it was after 6pm. There weren’t a lot of people but I started up a conversation with an elderly man who was sitting outside.
After we exchanged a few words;the customary talk about family, and what brought me there from Addis Ababa, the conversation became about the tent and the few people that were there. When I told him that I did not expect to see people coming together to mourn the PM and the sense of loss felt by people for a political leader, the man looked me in the eye and said pointing his finger at an electric pole; “that is what that man did for us. That’s what we have lost.That’s why we feel the loss.” He went on explaining what a great leader PM Meles was based on what he saw on the ground in his own home town.
I recalled that conversation from over six years ago when I saw the outrage in the social media world following PM Abiy’s praise of PM Meles and his diplomatic acumen by people who oppose everything TPLF, I was not surprised. But I felt an indignation of my own because the same man singing praises of PM Meles now is the same man whose mainpolitical talking point is “27 years of darkness” and “infrastructure built by EPRDF, if any” would not be considered success orall the downplayingof positive contributions by EPRDF before him.
So I think what is outrageous here is deceiving the mas for political gains and/or even worse is faulting the success both in the economic and political sense the country enjoyed under the leadership of PM Meles and not focusing on only the areas that need fixing. And I am sure the best praise one can give PM Meles is the continuation of the fight against poverty above everything else.