By Elias Kifle
In 2011 Ethiopian Review, the longest running independent Ethiopian journal, celebrates its 20th year in service. It is a milestone period in the journal’s history and a special occasion for those of us who have labored hard to keep it going. As the editor-in-chief, in deciding who to select as Ethiopian Review’s Person of the Year, this time I have decided to look at our own accomplishments and recognize those who have been there through thick and thin over the years. While there are many individuals — too many to list here — who have been providing valuable support to Ethiopian Review, for their enduring contribution special recognition goes to: (In alphabetical order)
Dr Alemayehu G. Mariam, who played a key role during the initial stage of the magazine’s existence as a senior editor, and continues to make significant contributions as an adviser, regular writer, and associate editor.
Ato Elias Wondimu, who once served as the managing editor and after launching his own publishing house, Tsehai Publishers, continued to consult on the editorial direction of the journal.
Wzr. Meseret Agonafer, who is a fountain of inspiration and moral support, as well an authentic example of a genuine friend.
There is another person who deserves even greater appreciation, for without his consistent moral support and advise there would not have been Ethiopian Review. He is my own father Kifle Seifu.
My father is currently in the US. I, along with my sister and brothers, have brought him and our mother here a few months ago after witnessing Woyanne going after the families of its opponents. He had already survived an attack about 15 years ago by Woyanne gunmen who sprayed his house in Addis Ababa with machine gun bullets. He returned fire taking down (wounding) one of the shooters. It was nothing short of a miracle that he survived the attack. He spent 3 months in jail and was released with the help of the American charge d’affairs in Addis Ababa and Ted Dagne at the U.S Congressional Service.
After he was released, for the past 15 years, Woyanne made sure that my father could not do any business in Ethiopia. Every venture he tried was blocked. After a long legal battle, about 4 years ago, three different courts, including the supreme court of Ethiopia ruled that properties (worth over 63 million birr) that Derg confiscated from my father returned. Woyanne refused to obey the court order and told my father that his properties would be returned under one condition: That he must stop his son from publishing critical opinions and reports about the ruling junta on Ethiopian Review. My father’s answer was unequivocal no. I’m proud of him for that to no end.
I don’t know any one who has worked so hard through out his life as my father did. One time when he was working as a contractor on the Ethiopian Air Force base in Debre Zeit he collapsed due to sleep deprivation. It was normal for him to disappear for several months at a time exploring mines in some of the remotest parts of Ethiopia.
He is now 84 years old and after all the hard work through out his life he doesn’t have a penny in the bank. During the Derg era its prime minister FikreSelassie Wogderes, and security chief Tesfaye WoldeSelassie confiscated (robbed) most of his properties. The Woyanne junta that replaced the Derg refused to return his properties ignoring court orders, and made sure that he doesn’t earn a living in Ethiopia.
There are countless others who have lost much more than properties in the hands of the two barbaric regimes. They have taken away the lives of so many innocent Ethiopians. I am lucky and grateful to have my father still alive.
The two vampire regimes, Derg and Woyanne, have left my father penniless. But he has one thing that is more precious and that no one could take away from him — honor.
With his skills, experience and hard work, my father could have been one of the wealthiest individuals in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, in a country where the president is a pig, the prime minister is a mass murderer and the patriarch is a thief, it is extremely difficult for a person of honor to succeed and thrive.
I’m profoundly blessed to have a father like Kifle Seifu and in this special milestone year for the journal it is my honor to choose him as Ethiopian Review’s 2010 Person of the year.