Late Ethiopian ruler to be mourned in Victoria

Zanawi brought dignity to impoverished country's residents

Victoria resident Selam Ayele

Victoria’s Ethiopian community is celebrating the life and mourning the death of a man seen as a champion for that African country’s basic human needs, at a gathering on Sunday.

Prime Minister Ato Meles Zanawi, who battled the country’s communist regime nearly 20 years before being named Ethiopian leader in 1991, died at 57 earlier this month after an illness.

“This was the saddest day for Ethiopia,” said Selam Ayele, a Victoria resident and co-organizer of the Sept. 2 event.

While she has been away from her native country for 13 years, she feels strongly about Zanawi’s effect on the health and welfare of her people.

“In 21 years he never took a vacation,” Ayele said. “He was the change that Ethiopia needed.”

His dreams, she said, were to see everyone fed three times a day and have ample clothing, “the basic things that we’ve been missing for so long.”

Mekonnen Tedla, who has lived in Victoria 17 years after emigrating to Canada from Ethiopia in 1990, called Zanawi’s death “a terrible loss for the country.”

“He was a visionary for all of Africa,” said Tedla, most of whose immediate family members remain in his native land. “Some people forget about poverty when they move here, but some of us, we feel the sorrow for our country at this time.”

Such changes as educational opportunities for residents – Ethiopia went from having two universities when Tedla left to 37 now – and the freedom to travel in and out of the country came about under Zanawi’s leadership, Tedla said.

While Zanawi was seen as a positive influence on economic development for the country – Ethiopia enjoys one of the fastest growing non-oil dependent economies in Africa – critics said the country’s human rights had begun to suffer under his rule.

The Victoria event gets underway at 6 p.m. at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church hall, 1112 Caledonia Ave. It is open to everyone.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Sentencing delayed for man who attacked VicPD dog

Uno later recovered from his injury and returned to work

Police ask for public’s help in locating Johnny Sam

Sam was last seen on April 17 in Esquimalt

Eco warriors to shut down Douglas Street on Earth Day

Environmentalists to call on banks to divert investments into green infrastructure

Fire damage to Esquimalt building leaves some tenants out for at least six months

Structural damage has barred half of the tenants from returning, while others might move back sooner

Plans to clear-cut old-growth near Port Renfrew causes an environmental outcry

Groups call logging a provincial government ‘blind spot’

Victoria church bells toll in solidarity with Notre Dame Cathedral after devastating fire

Churches around the globe ring bells to honour iconic Paris cathedral

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Police probe eight fires set at B.C. elementary school

Nanaimo RCMP say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Inquest into Port Hardy police shooting moved to Campbell River

Family disappointed James Hayward coroner’s inquest rescheduled hours away

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

Most Read