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Meles Zenawi: Why Leaders Must Serve Their People Well

24 Nov 2012

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Meles Zenawi

He died about three months ago, August 20 to be precise, yet the Ethiopian people have continued to mourn him. The people of that country haven’t forgotten him. In fact, they seem to love him even more. I think the Ethiopian people must genuinely love their former prime minister, Meles Zenawi, who was an activist and guerilla fighter (he was the leader of the rebels that ousted Communist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991). Sensing this seeming undying love was easy.

Giant-sized portraits of the late Ethiopian leader are still standing erect in strategic parts of the capital city, Addis Ababa, particularly the city centre. The portraits bear such stirring words like, “We will continue to love and adore you our leader, Our Pride, Our Hero”; “You will always be in our heart, we will not allow your philosophy to die,” etc. During the week in Addis, I was moved by these portraits and the words they convey so much that on some occasions I stopped to seek the views of some locals about their beloved leader.

On my way from the Conference Centre in Addis where the 2012 Road Safety Workshop I came to town for was held, I asked the driver taking me to my hotel why they so loved Zenawi. “Meles did so much for us. We all love him,” he muttered, still referring to the late leader in the present tense as if he was still alive. What precisely did he do? I asked. He couldn’t really give details, except to say, “Both the rich and the poor love him”. Taking a stroll across the streets around Harmony Hotel in Bole area, Addis at another time, the people I spoke with were also effusive in their praise for Zenawi. How he really affected their lives they did not say clearly.

But the news coming out of Ethiopia while Zenawi held the forte until he took ill and later died, at the age of 57, in a Brussels hospital in Belgium were very positive and encouraging. Meles was credited with spearheading the economic developments in Ethiopia. Ethiopian economy seems to be booming at present. The Bole International Airport is a beehive of activities as tourists continue to troop in and troop out and the country continues its success in aviation. The growing economic developments in that country can also be gauged in a way in terms of the huge construction work going on.

Overnight, Addis has turned into a big construction zone. Wherever you turn, high-rise buildings are either being completed or just springing up. The government, however, needs to invest more in infrastructure particularly roads. Most of the inner roads are appalling as they are untarred and dusty. But what moved me more is not so much about the economy than the love the people and the government continue to shower on the late Zenawi. It’s the reason why a leader should serve his people well and with dedication.

Tags: Nigeria, Featured, MELES ZENAWI, Politics

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