When I left home last month, it was not easy to say goodbyes to friends and families. However, the excitement of travelling, seeing new places, and meeting new people from different part of the world, surpassed the butterflies in my stomach. Then two weeks after arriving in Phoenix, breaking news from my country started to pull me back home; it seems that things that Ethiopia see in eighty or fifty years time are happening in just two weeks. I could not help feeling as if I missed history in the making. His holiness Abune Paulos, the Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church passed away due to undisclosed illnesses. He has been the head of the Church since 1992. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19285459 . Even before the funeral of the Patriarch was executed, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died at the age of 57 and no detail was given about his illness. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19454253 . By the way it is not a cultural thing to hide cause of death in Ethiopia. When normal people get sick and passed away, we often get to hear the whole story.
Prime minister, Meles was in power since 1991 and I never thought I would see him step down from power let alone dead. So you can imagine how shocked I was by the news. But, I started to get rather fascinated, when I read and heard about how the news was received by people at home and abroad. For the first time I heard many people and some of my friends using words like ‘great leader’ ‘hero’, ‘father of the country’ ‘symbol of Ethiopia’s unity’ to describe our late prime minister. Probably I had not been paying enough attention or these words came out of pure emotion. But they surely are portraying him as a person who commands great leadership in Ethiopia and that remains debatable. The government is going to build mausoleum to commemorate his life, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19463563. I wonder if this would be one of those monuments that we get rid of when we have a regime change.
But I should not forget the groups on the other extreme, who rejoiced by the news. They see
m to have hard time addressing the prime minister anything but a dictator and keep on reminding people of his grave mistakes and flaws as a leader of the country for the past 21 years.
With all the praises on the one hand and condemnation on the other, I started to ask what makes a leader a great leader. Doesn’t one need to have a charisma and command of respect even by his opponents to be a great leader?