Kitaw Ejigu remembered

EthiopianReview.com | January 12th, 2011

Tomorrow, January 13, 2010, is the 5th anniversary of the passing away of Ethiopian scientist and patriot Kitaw Ejigu. Ethiopian Review pays tribute to this great Ethiopian whose life was cut short at a young age.

Brief biography of Dr Kitaw Ejigu (Source: Wikipedia)

Kitaw Ejigu (February 25, 1948 – January 13, 2006) was an Ethiopian-American scientist who worked for NASA as Chief of Spacecraft and Satellite Systems engineer. He was also a political leader.

Kitaw was born in Bonga, Kaffa, Ethiopia. He attended the Miazia 27th High School in Jimma. He then went to Bahir Dar Polytechnic Institute, and in 1966, as the top student in his class, he received his diploma in mechanical engineering with specialization in agricultural technology. After graduating from the Institute, Kitaw worked at the Ethiopian Automotive Services and Sales Company (EASSCO) as chief technical advisor and assistant manager for two years.

In 1972, he won a scholarship from the Japanese Overseas Technical Association and traveled to Japan where he studied automotive engineering at Hiroshima University, as well as language and economics at Osaka University. He later moved to the United States and began his intensive research and training and earned an MBA in 1979. He then completed his doctorate in space vehicle systems engineering from Northrop University in California.

Upon completion of his studies and researches in the late 1970s, he started working for NASA as a system engineer and space research scientist. He collaborated with other scientists on the space shuttle and other rocketry projects. Kitaw Ejigu was Ethiopia’s first aerospace scientist. The only Ethiopian in the field, Kitaw also worked for Rockwell International and Boeing.

Apart from his work as an aerospace scientist, he was also known for his efforts to bring about political change in Ethiopia. He publicly denounced the regime in Ethiopia and its actions and policies. Even though he was ambitious about using his knowledge, experience and high-status to help his homeland Ethiopia , he repeatedly said he was not made welcome by the regime. In 2002, he founded a political party, the Ethiopian National United Front, to help overthrow Meles Zenawi’s regime.

Kitaw Ejigu died at the age of 58 on 13 January, 2006 in the United States.