Many speak of Meles speak of him
Addis Ababa, September 6, 2012 (WIC) - A lot has been said about the late prime Minister Meles Zenawi— his leadership, his role in Africa and beyond. In this article, people who were close to the Prime Minister during his childhood would tell us who he was.
In an interview with 'Infotainment magazine', Meles's father the late Zenawi Asres once expressed Meles as a normal happy child, disciplined, respectful who loved his neighbours and elders in his village. Most of the individuals who knew him very well since childhood agree that Meles had never wasted a single minute in vain from early on. Alemseged Kelemework, a childhood neigbour and friend who used to know Meles, says Meles studied hard and loved swimming in the nearby rivers with friends.
According to Alemseged, Meles loved swimming as he was one of the top swimmers in his village. It is to be easily recalled that Eyasu Mengesha in his book titled “Meles Zenawi ena Yehewahat Ytegel Guzo” which literally means ‘Meles Zenawi and the Journey of TPLF’ has also written a story about the young Meles and his courage when it comes to swimming.
Seble Teweldebirhan, Addis Ababa based reporter for Ezega.com. has the account of that story as follows. There was a lake known as ‘Yeseytan Mewagna” (‘Devil’s swimming pool') near Meles’s village.
The children in the village were told never to go to that lake especially at mid-day. The villagers believed that the Devil appears when the sun is over the head. There was a great fear that if anyone goes near to the lake at midday, they would draw in the water and their body would never be found. However, this story, instead of frightening the children, it made them more curious. Meles and his friends wanted to see if the devil could actually appear in the lake. If he would, it was something they certainly wanted to see. _
Therefore, one day, they went to the lake on mid-day. They hid behind the mountains to see the devil making his appearance. It did not happen. That really tested the patience of Meles and he asked his friends to swim in the lake thereby to see if the devil really lived inside the water. His friends agreed and all of them started to jump to the lake. They did not find the devil. However, their courage made a name for them in their village, breaking a long-lived fear concerning the relationship of the lake and the devil.
Academically, Meles was excellent. Alemseged says, he was interested in his education. As a result score was very fascinating. Meles' record testifies that he was a brilliant student with a constant high grade in both elementary and high schools. He was able to skip some grades and promoted to the next grade before the end of the scholastic year. According to documented sources, he finished elementary and junior school in five years, instead of the regular eight years. _
He was able to pass grade eight national exam with a high score, which opened a great opportunity for young Meles to be chosen to join Winget. At that time, General Winget High School was, one of the country's prominent high schools in Addis Ababa and it used to give scholarships to young students who managed to pass the 8th grade national exam with high scores.
Awoke Ejigayehu, a classmate from 1969-73 at the General Winget boarding school, says in spite of his academic excellence, Meles was kind and friendly. Awoke a visually impaired remembers how Meles used to treat him and his other two visually impaired friends. ''He was our intimate friend who devoted his time to record written materials for us even at the exam times when every one is busy due to the harsh competition among one another. Meles never stopped helping us in those four consecutive years.''
''Even sacrificing his time for us,'' says Awoke , ''He scored highest point and awarded by emperor's scholarship.'' Documents also prove what awoke said. According to the documents, in 12 grade national exam, Meles was one of the top ten scorers in the entire country. He was awarded for his achievement by Emperor Haile Selassie's Award Organization scholarship.
In addition, Meles was an active student who participated in many extra-curricula activities. He was an excellent writer his closer friends witness. It is, in fact, a plain truth that Meles was editor in chief of the newspaper which was the voice of TPLF in the bush and Meles used to write inspirational articles with a pen name. But Awoke contends Meles's writing ability goes back to his stay at the General Winget School. According to Awoke, Meles used to write interesting articles in' 'Winget Chindit' a magazine which used to be published at the General Winget School, and it was there that Meles's political interest began.
Awoke says ''Meles was a very good writer. We remember him of raising questions and discussing on the Ethiopian ruling system of the time. He compared it with the democratic system in the world especially in the developed world.'' Awoke said Meles was bitterly against the monarchy of the time.
''I remember the time when Walelign- and Marta Mebratu were murdered while attempting to hijack an airplane. Though all of us were sorry, Meles was very angry with that barbarous measure and began to spread secret papers condemning the administration of the time and evoked students to stand for freedom. The written materials had the intention to evoke anger in the minds of students and ask to stand for freedom,'' said Awoke.
According to EH, Awoke recalls his stay with Meles years back. Our dormitories were classified by the school administration as yellow, green, red and blue houses and Meles chose the red one. When we asked him why he preferred to live in that building, he used to say,” One day I will shade my blood for my fellow people in the fight against feudalism.”
According to Awoke, Mr. King, head master of the school in those days, once said 'Believe me Meles will become either a leader of this country or a scientist.' Mr King said so, says Awoke, not only because of Meles's educational excellence but also because of his political interest and the noble ideas he used to generate at that time.
Prof Andreas Eshete is one of those persons who knew the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi closely for years. Asked about Meles's personality by FM 102.1 Andreas once said ''I always appreciate his kind treatment of individuals. I appreciate his care and kindness though I never advise leaders to have such a soft personality.'' Andreas in appreciation of the primer's care for others, also said, “All the time I worked with him as his advisor, he always used to advise me for my personal betterment. I sometimes wonder who the advisor is.” (EH)
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