True that man is mortal; and life is short. Many hold what, life matters because it time of duration how we spent life on earth we perceive some may use it to adding values to the community they live in or to the opposite. We had witnessed some are leaving this planet with something virtuous while others sowed seeds of hate and vengeance. After putting nails in the coffin and or cremation pan as per respective deceased culture, it is common to engrave statues and inscribe words on the tomb. Moreover, relatives or colleagues of the departed come together form the foundation to sustain legacies what he/she incepted in the life time.
Professor Mesfin Woldemariam’s engagement in Ethiopian politics is rarely inter regime as only a few have featured strong and controversial careers spanning from the Emperor’s time to the current administration of Dr. Abiy Ahmed. Advocacy, academia, human rights, authorship, and strong engagements in the political discourse of the country have therefore made Professor a recognized name in many Ethiopian households. Picking and choosing what to say about the renowned public figure is surely challenging due to the immense contribution he has made to Ethiopia and the Ethiopian community in different regimes and socio-political circumstances.
“His ideas and fights were not with a specific government. He is not against the oppressor. He was always against oppression and injustice.” said a spectator that has followed the professor’s work for decades.
Professor Mesfin Woldemariam passed away a year ago he is one of the influential personalities in Ethiopians of recent history. The man spend his time confronting despotism and advocating human right that his strong convictions made him pass hard times in the Ethiopian prisons.
He had paid many sacrifices in actions with selfless and with no greedy mentality. He served nation. After he passed away friends and relatives come together to establish an institution that could help ensure to pass over his legacy to the next generation. At his first year obituary anniversary, a Foundation was set up in the name of Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, in Addis Ababa
The Foundation was established in honor of the late Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam, inaugurated on Saturday, October 9, 2021, in attendance of senior academicians, relatives, residents respectively.
Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam Foundation, Chairman of the Board, Dr. Bedulu Waqjira, said the foundation is free from partisanship, religion, ethnicity, and any political affiliation.
Bedelu said people who share their good intentions of Professor Mesfin Woldemariam and his families are rallied here to sustain the clairvoyant view of the prominent scholar
He said the project is to contribute to the realization of eradication of poverty from Ethiopia. The project focuses on the rule of law, prevalence of justice, and human rights. He also said that it will support young people and researchers who are interested to conduct a research in social sciences and human rights.
He said an agreement has been reached to work with Ethiopians residing in North America. Ethiopians are showing high interest to strengthen the Foundation. He recalled that the scholar had been working as a lecturer at Addis Ababa University since the late 1950s, so that efforts will be exerted to open library and reading centers after his name and try to distribute and publish his unpublished works of the scholar.
Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam Foundation, Deputy Chairman of the Board, Yenemengist Demissie, on his part, said the prime plan of this program commemorating the scholar values and the set-up of the foundation make his efforts and values accessible to local and international audiences.
On the occasion works from Prof. Mesfin had deliberated by senior presenters “Peace and Conflict Resolution Experiences in Ethiopia; Prof. Mesfin’s Principles of Peaceful Struggle and Unanswered Calls for Peace Studies on human rights”
Civil rights activists Obang Metho, witnessed saying “Most people know him as a defender of human rights; and yes, I am also a defender of human rights; however, I did not have the privilege of knowing him when I was young, living in Gambella. It was not until the killing of the Anuak at the end of 2003 when everything changed.”
This is when I suddenly started receiving phone calls from Anuak in many other places. At the time, I was living far from my home country of Ethiopia. I was in Saskatchewan, Canada, the only Anuak in the area. I heard about the massacre of many Anuak leaders that was going on. They asked for help. For three days, I tried calling everyone I could think of, but no one responded to these requests for intervention.
I felt as if I did in the wilderness, lost, not know what to do. Then I got the list of over 424 dead, mostly the educated Anuak leaders. Had I been in Gambella at the time, I would have been on that list. We were looking for someone to help us or to consult with us. Already, the government was trying to dismiss it, to blame others, and to cover up the truth-the last stage of genocide is the denial and cover-up according to Genocide Watch. First, they blamed the Anuak, then the Nuer, and then outsiders.
When I was feeling the most hopeless, the first report came out with the truth. That report came from none other than Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, representing the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, of which he was the head.
It was like someone reaching out to hold your hand. It was like someone offering assurance that you will be okay- that there is a tomorrow, that you are not alone, that those who care about human rights and dignity are here at your side and that justice will be done. It was the only report reaching beyond the country to the whole world that upheld human dignity, not a tribe. It reported the truth with boldness. That report was his way of encouraging me to step forward, helping me to believe I could make a difference. This was my first introduction to this man of strength and integrity. Professor Mesfin stood up for us and it restored my faith in the Ethiopian people, giving me new comfort after the resounding silence from the majority.
We should celebrate this colossal of a man whose life was well-lived. We should celebrate what he left behind-a legacy of faith and action. We will celebrate the principles, leadership, and values by which he lived.
BY LAKACHEW ATINAFU
THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD OCTOBER 15/2021