GERD Filling Up: Ethiopia must celebrate the late PM Meles Zenawi

Yohannes Aberra, PhD
July 23, 2020

The somber mood  induced by the Corona pandemic and the tragic violence of the past week has been brightened by the news of the start of the filling up of the GERD. Every time some significant milestone is reached that could elevate Ethiopia our attention is normally focused on who were the initiators and leaders whose dedication was instrumental for the great achievement.

We celebrate Tewodros II not because he was an angel but whatever bad things he did he united Ethiopia and sacrificed his life for Ethiopia’s honor. Yohannes IV had also his own share of vice but we celebrate the great role he played in National defense. Menilik II is also blamed by many for atrocities but he gave us the large Nation that we are proud of. Haileselassie I was a modernizer and the father of Africa. We don’t need to curse him for the serfdom that he allowed to prevail and abandoning Ethiopia during Italian occupation. Mengistu was a blood thirsty tyrant but he ended serfdom and defended Ethiopia against Somalian invasion.

Next in the line is Meles Zenawi. He is cursed for “giving out” Eritrea,  for turning blind eye to rampant corruption and bad governance in the EPRDF. It is unfair to allow double standards creep into our judgments when it comes to the role played by Meles Zenawi to break the “Nile spell” over Ethiopia by boldly starting the construction of the GERD. Even Afework Gebreyesus was being celebrated as the first to write a novel in Amharic by a certain FM radio broadcast last week. The FM was at the same time telling the public that Afework was a Banda serving Italians against Ethiopian patriots. He also foul-mouthed the north. As a person whose maternal grandfather was killed by Italians I could bear grudges on Afework. However, I feel that his contribution to literature should not be obliterated by his betrayal of Ethiopia in bad times.

Meles Zenawi invented GERD like Thomas Edison who created the light bulb. The bulb created by Thomas Edison is inferior to the high tech light bulbs of today, but creating is harder than improving. Many past leaders of Ethiopia may have dreamt of a GERD as many scientists before Thomas have dreamt to replace  candle light. Fate was on the side of Meles to realize that dream of generations as it was for Thomas Edison. How do we celebrate Meles Zenawi? I have to inseparable proposals: 1. To name the GERD reservoir as “Lake Meles”; 2. Include his name in the history curriculum.

If we fail to celebrate heroes that have toiled and boiled for Ethiopia we will never have heroes in the future. If our criterion for judging heroism has conflicting indicators we will never have heroes in common. A Country with shared heroes is a Country that would endure. If a hero for one is a villain for the other this is a recipe for disintegration.     


Editor’s note : views in the article reflect the views of the writer, not the views of

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