Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s moving family story as revealed by siblings ; lesson for African leaders

It is not unusual to hear stories of African leaders linked to corruption stashing away millions of dollars (even billions) in oversea banks. Ethiopia itself is now corrupted at a higher level. However, the story of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, who is currently living in Zimbabwe, is remarkable different in a good way. Two of his siblings revealed the story in an interview with Journalist Dereje Haile.

Ethiopia - Mengistu Hailemariam - Ethiopians
Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam

borkena
August 20, 2019

As a man who led Ethiopia for 17 good years, Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam is definitely one of the most controversial figures in Ethiopian history.

There are those who accuse him as “butcher of Ethiopia,” as was often propagated in mainstream media in the west.  He is mostly accused of the “red terror”, certainly one of the darkest spots in the contemporary history of Ethiopia, and they claim that he is personally responsible for the deaths of thousands of young Ethiopians.

And there are those who tend to see his leadership within the context of a revolutionary situation in the country starting the year 1974 and in light of struggle between “revolutionary” and “counter-revolutionary” forces. This group argued that the “red terror” was rather a response to a political group that dared to advance opposition to the transitional military government, which Mengistu led; through violent means (they call it “white terror).

We still have another group of Ethiopians who tend to criticize Mengistu but for a different reason. They blame him for leaving Ethiopia and for not fighting to the end of his own life in Ethiopia.  From the perspective of this group, there seems to be an assumption that Mengistu made a conscious choice to escape from Ethiopia and leave for Zimbabwe – which is still a debate that is not settled for good. 

What is not disputable about Mengistu Hailemariam is that he led a selfless life as a leader and is not implicated in corruption – in all its forms.

Two of his siblings (he has four brothers and two sisters) are now revealing the circumstances ( economic and social) under which Colonel Mengistu’s parents and siblings lived both when he was in power and after he was toppled by Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led a coalition of guerrilla groups. 

Dereje Hailemariam, host of Benegerachin lay in Arts World TV, spoke to Yeshi Hailemariam (sister and last born) and Dereje Hailemariam.

The interview revealed that Mengistu Hailemariam’s family led the life of an ordinary Ethiopian. In fact, it even appeared that the family struggled.

Dereje Hailemariam is a plumber and he still does not have a permanent job and has to struggle in the slow market for plumbers in Ethiopia, in the capital Addis Ababa.

All that his sister, Yeshi Haile Mariam, remembers as far as the financial benefit is concerned is while colonel Mengistu was in power is that at one time she asked him money for shopping; three siblings wanted to buy clothing.  And she remembers that he told her “Medab will give you.” He was referring to his wife Wubanchi Bishaw. And the wife gave them 150 Ethiopian birr – probably about the US $70 during that time.

Most Ethiopians do seem to know that Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam is clean when it comes to corruption and most of his colleagues have similar stories.

But what the two siblings revealed about their economic situation is very moving.

They also revealed that neither Mengistu himself nor his children (who are all grown up now and medical doctors by profession) are in touch with them.

The interview with Dereje Haile (in Amharic) is shared below.



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11 Responses to "Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s moving family story as revealed by siblings ; lesson for African leaders"

  1. wedinakfa   August 20, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    Borkena please check your

    “They also revealed that neither Mengistu himself nor his children (who are all grown up now and medical doctors by profession) are in touch with them.”

    Say
    They also revealed that neither Mengistu nor his children (who are all grown up and now medical doctors by profession) ARE NOT IN TOUCH with them.

    OR

    They also revealed that Mengistu and his children (who are grown up and now medical doctors by profession) ARE IN TOUCH with them.

    I think!

    Reply
  2. wedinakfa   August 20, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    No matter how much lipstick or different shades of colour the BRUTALITY OF THIS repugnant evil man called Mengistu is a modern day most BRUTAL, SADISTIC and psycho is beyond any one comprehension, he should be skinned alive and left to dry in the sun.

    Reply
    • Mai K   August 20, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      I totally agree . No need for sugarcoating

      Reply
  3. rezen   August 20, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    Subject: Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s moving family story as revealed by siblings ; lesson for African leaders, borkena, August 20, 2019

    Commentary, 20 Aug 2019
    In my humble opinion and very limited knowledge of World History, the crime perpetrated by Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam during his leadership for twelve years [1974 to 1986] is equal to the savagery of World Dictatorial Butchers against Humanity. How could one forget/forgive, for example, Hitler. How could we easily forget – as Human Beings regardless of who we are and where we are – the savagery of rounding-up, in a prison field, sixty Ethiopian officials and decimating their life without a trace of humanity for justice.

    To skirt around the wanton murder of Ethiopians in general by the regime of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam – during twelve years of madness and savagery — is tantamount to demeaning the Life and Worthy of Ethiopians in general. This is NOT the characteristic of Ethiopians. What it was is a shear savagery and devoid of any element of HUMAN characteristic. Any attempt to ‘modify history’ relating to the shameful criminal act by lunatic collection of self-appointed marauders is tantamount in blessing a Mass Murder Act of Ethiopians, by Ethiopians and in Ethiopia. Will Ethiopians of the 21st Century ‘swallow’ that eternal shameful history of Ethiopia? There must be some sense of HUMANITY left from the ANCIENT HISTORY of ETHIOPIA.. THE END

    Reply
  4. Ras habib   August 20, 2019 at 11:09 pm

    The Habesha people need a leader like Mengistu, you can not govern these people in peace, they are not civilized or educated to live as civil society, they need to be ruled by iron feast. a GAY leader like the current PM will do more damage than any good deeds. give it couple years to watch the civil war of the poor starving nations. the 2nd options is to divide the country in to 8 new countries. there will never be one Ethiopia.

    Reply
  5. Zufan G.   August 21, 2019 at 1:59 am

    “What is not disputable about Mengistu Hailemariam is that he led a selfless life as a leader and is not implicated in corruption – in all its forms.”

    Ni**a please!

    Reply
  6. Proud Ethiopian   August 21, 2019 at 4:54 am

    WHAT AN AMAZING STORY!!! THIS SHOWS US HOW HONEST,PROUD AND PATRIOTIC PRESIDENT MENGISTU HAILEMARIAM WAS!!! IT’S VERY TRUE THAT HIS ADMINISTRATION HAD A LOT OF FLAWS AND CRIMES BUT NO ONE CAN QUESTION THE DERGS LOVE OF ETHIOPIA AND PATRIOTISM!!! WE DEFINITELY NEED TO HELP THESE TWO SIBLINGS OF MENGISTU!!! LOOK AT THE SAVAGE AND INFERIOR BANDA WOYANES, THEY ROBBED OUR BELOVED ANCIENT ETHIOPIA UNLIKE THE PATRIOTIC DERG!!! ANCIENT AND PROUD WONDERFUL ETHIOPIA FOREVER!!!

    Reply
  7. kass   August 21, 2019 at 6:06 am

    i was not born under his rule.the only information is …..the books i have read and the propoganda from EPRDF.

    i love him and his leadership.i could have fight on the right side.
    i wish to see him here in ethiopia.

    and, even if he is dead. am sure his funeral will be the biggest in generation.

    Reply
    • mesele   August 22, 2019 at 5:43 am

      bulshit kass

      you like mengistu just because you hate TPLF. He was a killer. Many amahara oromo and other youth was killed mercilessly. Oromos donot speak their language as they do now during derg regime.

      I was studying at school at that time and I donot know very well about oromo is a big tribe just only about amahra . Now I know oromo is in wollo, shoa, and southeren ethiopia.

      Reply
  8. tedla   August 21, 2019 at 6:07 am

    please donot tell us that mengistu was leding an ordinary life. At that time 150 birr was more than 2000 ethiopian birr.I1.00 bir was enough to feed a family at that time for a lunch .
    We cannot forget that savagery just becuase they donot have money or not. It is a lie.

    Many yougesters were killed. Many people in Gonder enter USA during the red terror administered by mengistu and colonel melaku tefera ruling.

    People were forced to pay the cost of the bullet when they want to bury their dead family members.

    Reply
  9. Miles   August 21, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    I Still didn’t get what’s the moving family story here, “Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s moving family story”. I don’t really see any newsworthy and a moving family story here but a collection of admirers, bloodsucking ex-comrades & part of his then psychopathic administrative structures.

    I also wonder the stupidity of the writer when by saying that, “Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam led Ethiopia for 17 good years”. Let me tell you sth, Had I seen Mengistu alive today, I’d have cut his body parts cell by cell.
    BTW, how come you call this 17 good years while it can’t deserve to be called 17 bad years alone, these 17 years are still the darkest spots in recent Ethiopian history as a result of the war crimes, crimes against humanity & the genocide committed by this ugly idiot & sycophant, the worst evil person socalled Mengistu.

    Reply

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