Leaders eulogize Meles at state funeral
By: Dejene Sojato
Tens of thousands of Ethiopians and many African leaders among others mourned late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Sunday at state funeral. They praised Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for his remarkable contribution to his country and the African Union.
African leaders including Beninese President and current Chairperson of the AU Boni Yayi, Djibouti's Ismail Omar Guelleh, Kenya's Mwai Kibaki, Rwanda's Paul President Kagame South Sudan's Salva Kiir, Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, and Somalia's Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, South Africa's Jacob Zuma, were in attendance at Meskel Square to bid their farewell to the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Ambassador Susan Rice, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, among other prominent figures were also at the funeral. Hereunder is some of the quotes taken from speech delivered by heads of states at Meskel Square.
"Meles Zenawi had the energy and vision to fight to the achievement of African prosperity and to ensure peace and stability in Africa. He strongly supported the visions of the AU and represented Africa at different international stages such as G8 and G20 and reflected African interest.” said Benin's President and current Africa Union Chairman Thomas Boni Yayi.
“Across Ethiopia, Africa and many parts of the world, millions of people are mourning the untimely death of this illustrious son of Africa at a time when there is still so much he could do for his country and Africa. History will record that Prime Minister Zenawi used his immense gifts of intellect, eloquence and vision to chart a path of remarkable growth and transformation for Ethiopia. Unfazed by difficulties and challenges, he spoke to the issues of his time with candour, courage and conviction. He was a truly visionary African leader who was sincerely and steadfastly committed to the socio-economic upliftment of not only the people of Ethiopia, but of all Africans.
“Prime Minister Zenawi fought his way from the trenches and mountains of Ethiopia to the seat of power here in Addis Ababa, and from there to ultimate eminence on the global stage on issues of sustainable development, equity in international financial management and climate change. When he spoke on these issues, he spoke not only for Ethiopia, but for the entire continent of Africa.
“Africa certainly owes Meles a huge debt of gratitude for his services as Chairman of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee and Chairman of the African Union Heads of State and Government Committee on Climate Change.
In his immensely remarkable performance in these capacities, Meles truly became the spokesman on the major issues which have become the focal points of the continent’s socio-economic transformation agenda.
“I was honoured indeed to count this great son of Africa amongst my personal friends. I remember with a very heavy heart my official visit to Ethiopia last October when Meles and I had very useful discussions on bilateral cooperation between our two countries. My dear friend, Meles, I will miss you greatly as a most worthy friend and colleague with whom I shared dreams of greater peace, political stability, good governance, progress and unity in our countries and all Africa.
My country, Nigeria will miss you as a great friend of our nation and all of Africa will miss you as a truly selfless, forthright and extremely dynamic leader. As you go to your eternal rest, our prayer is that the fires of patriotism and national inspiration which you have ignited amongst your people and the youth of Africa will burn forever to the glory of Ethiopia and Mother Africa.
“We pray that your irrepressible spirit will remain with us for all time, inspiring present and future generations to even greater feats of statesmanship, accommodation and innovation in defence of the unity, stability, progress and prosperity of the Ethiopia and Africa you loved so much.
It is our hope and expectation that the good people of Ethiopia will build on the immense legacy of peace, stability, unity, national cohesion and steady progress which Meles has bequeathed to his nation.
The best way of honouring his memory is to ensure that the nation continues steadfastly along the path of harmony, stability and sustainable development which he has established.
“The people of Ethiopia can always count on Nigeria as a friend and dependable partner in their march forward and we will work with the new leadership of Ethiopia to pursue Africa’s agenda for renaissance, peace, security, stability and progress,” Nigerian President Jonathan “He was a man of such high calibre, rare talent and selflessness that we all feel the magnitude of the gap he has left. The Late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi did not court greatness. He led a humble and simple but very meaningful life. He was an unassuming person - but his sharp intellect and tremendous courage to face any kind of challenge made him a formidable presence. He had the capacity to grasp and cut through complex issues and move forward. It is these qualities that he used to lead the charge in the transformation of his country and that of our continent - restoring the dignity of Ethiopians and Africans as a whole.
“Friend and foe alike recognised and respected Meles as a man of strong convictions, principles and long term vision. Where some could have been compromised for short term profit or gains, or easily succumbed to pressures, he was steadfast and always took a definite stand on issues of right and wrong. And more often than not, he was on the side of right. For all of these, he was sometimes misunderstood, not because he was wrong, but because he was ahead of many in these matters. Yet we can all see the remarkable economic growth and surge in well-being of Ethiopians that has been achieved in a relatively short time.
“The people of Rwanda will always remember with immense gratitude the aid he and the people of Ethiopia gave our country in the time of need; the immediate aftermath of the genocide. Ethiopia did this even when Ethiopia had just started its own transition. Meles led from the front with other leaders in working for the stability of this region, in mediating in such places as Sudan and Somalia. As in everything he did, he spared no effort and did not shy away from taking tough but right decisions to bring peace and security to our region.
“As a person, Meles was a serious man. But he combined this with a very good sense of humour and a sense of good judgement. He was a man of substance and dignity, an irreplaceable voice for humanity.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s legacy has deep roots in the rich heritage of independence and dignity that this great nation of Ethiopia has inspired on our continent. He was a true heir and fierce champion of that tradition and sought to share it with the rest of Africa. He was a very able voice for Africa in leading NEPAD, Climate change, agriculture and food security, to mention but a few. This is the friend, the colleague, I knew, I worked with, the man with whom I shared so many views and the person I will always remember,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
“As African leaders we are proud of Prime Minister Zenawi and the leadership he provided on issues affecting the continent, around the globe. He took a leading role on Africa’s negotiations on climate change, in peacemaking in Sudan and in the fight to bring stability back to Somalia.
“Prime Minister Meles’s ascendancy as a liberation fighter and then later as the leader of Ethiopia was due to the force of his intellect, which not many could match. He was ready to engage in debate with policy makers, diplomats and scholars from around the world. He was invited to groups of powerful nations such as the G8 and G20, not only due to the size or history of his country, but mainly due to the size of his ideas. Prime Minister Zenawi was a builder of institutions. He played a prominent role in the New Partnership of Africa's Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee and formed a solid alliance between Ethiopia and South Africa in our joint efforts to promote the African Renaissance.
“Undeniably, our colleague, friend and comrade has left a lasting impression in Ethiopia and on the continent as a whole. We should, as a collective, within the institution whose headquarters he generously hosted,advance his achievements in honour of his contribution and leadership,” South African President Jacob Zuma
“The grief you have expressed in your millions throughout the length and breadth of Ethiopia, and over so many days, constitutes an extraordinary tribute to a truly outstanding son of this ancient and historic land and a truly eminent son of Africa – a tribute more powerful than can ever be expressed in words.
It is a matter of great pain to many of us who had the privilege to work with him that because of cruel, unexpected and untimely death he could not be with you to hear what you thought of him, to listen to you in your millions tell him that all the sacrifices he made for the liberation and upliftment of the people of Ethiopia were not in vain.
“We too, your fellow Africans, are here to join you to pay tribute to Meles Zenawi and to convey to you our sincere condolences at the loss to you of a great architect of the new Ethiopia, and to us who come from outside the borders of this country, the loss of one of the great architects of the new Africa of which the billion Africans dream, and for which they are engaged in daily struggle.
In terms of our years of birth, Meles Zenawi was younger than me.“And yet throughout the years I have had the privilege to know and work with him, it never occurred to me that he was my younger brother. He carried within his head the gift of a brilliant mind, which was enriched by constant study and sustained learning.
He was forever a student the better to understand not only the challenges facing Ethiopia, but also the imperatives our Continent has to address, both of which have to achieve their advance within the context of the evolving global situation within which we live and work.
He was forever the diligent student of whom I have spoken because he had taken to heart the injunction that he had a task not merely to understand the world, but also to change it.
“As much as Meles Zenawi carried in his head a brilliant and analytical mind, in his warm heart was also deeply-embedded a passion, a dream and a prayer for the upliftment of the peoples of Ethiopia and Africa, their emancipation from poverty and underdevelopment, and the fundamental renewal of our Continent.
And thus did he come to stand out as one of the principled, dependable and militant cadres for the renaissance of Africa, ever ready to contribute whatever he could to help realise this vitally important goal.
There are many of us present here today who will bear witness to the important contributions he made during such seminal moments in Africa’s recent history as the formation and development of the African Union, the adoption and implementation of NEPAD and the African Peer Review Mechanism, and the continuing processes towards the resolution of conflicts in the Horn of Africa.
There are also many present here who will speak with admiration about the fact that Meles Zenawi did not provide leadership merely by word of mouth.
“He and his colleagues in the leadership of this country have done an outstanding job in terms of agricultural and rural development, education, health, the provision of water, electricity,telecommunications, infrastructure development, and generally the economic development of Ethiopia, as well as the national unity of this diverse country.
In this way he and his colleagues have added very valuable practical experience to the store of knowledge which Africa is accumulating as she continues the historic process to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment, thus to achieve a better life for all our peoples, which is fundamental to the achievement of the renewal of our Continent.
“The illustrious Ethiopian and African patriot whose mortal remains we lay to rest today was a man of slight build.
But that slight frame hid within it a true African giant who carried high above his head a bright torch which lit our way to the new future towards which Africa’s masses aspire. Our best tribute to this giant, Meles Zenawi, must surely be that we do not allow that torch either to fall or be extinguished,
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
“ Meles was a champion of human rights, peace and development to Africa particularly to the region. He provided unwavering support to the peace process between Sudan and South Sudan that led to our freedom ultimately. South Sudan seceded from Sudan last year as part of a 2005 peace deal. He was a one who can't give up confronting even to extreme difficult challenges" Kiir said adding "we have learned a lot of lessons from Zenawi,” South Sudanese president Salva Kiir.
“Meles Zenawi was a great leader but we are confident that the Ethiopian people are able to continue along the process of development and construction and reunification of Ethiopia to support the stability in the East African region. He had been trusted by all parties in the Sudan and had played a crucial role in bridging the gaps and overcoming the obstacles between Sudan and South Sudan. He was intimate and friendly person. When a problem occurs we did not need for an external mediation or external meeting but personal relationships were the most important element to resolve problems and return to normal relations,” Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.
“Ethiopians should He appealed to them to move forward with Zenawi’s vision of Growth and Transformation of their country; a vision of providing electricity, industrial development, modernasation of agriculture and creating an educated society. He told the people that Africa’s problem was not resources but lack of vision to transform these resources to our advantage. When Meles Zenawi and the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Party assumed leadership of the country, Ethiopia was only producing 300 MW of electricity but today they produce 2,100 MW and by 2015, after the completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the country will be providing 10,000MW to the people for industry and development,” Ugandan President Museveni
“Meles was disarmingly regular, unpretentious, and direct. He was selfless, tireless and totally dedicated to his work and family. In the toughest of times, he retained that twinkle in his eye, his ready smile, his roiling laugh and his wicked sense of humor. True, he never belied any lack of confidence in his judgments. He was tough, unsentimental and sometimes unyielding. And, of course, he had little patience for fools, or “idiots,” as he liked to call them.
“For, among Prime Minister Meles’ many admirable qualities, above all was his world-class mind. A life-long student, he taught himself and many others so much. But he wasn’t just brilliant. He wasn’t just a relentless negotiator and a formidable debater. He wasn’t just a thirsty consumer of knowledge. He was uncommonly wise – able to see the big picture and the long game, even when others would allow immediate pressures to overwhelm sound judgment. Those rare traits were the foundation of his greatest contributions. Even as we argued, whether about economics, democracy, human rights, regional security or our respective foreign policies, I was always struck by two things: Meles was consistently reasoned in his judgments and thoughtful in his decisions,” Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
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