By Paulos Milkias
An unsung hero, a great Ethiopian, Professor Fassil Nebebe, suddenly passed away in Montreal, Canada on August 23, 2022. As citizens of Ethiopia by far control, Dr. Fassil and I started to teach at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada at the same time, in 1986: he in Statistics and I in Political Science. Because of his gregarious nature, it did not take me time to befriend him. He immediately became a trusted comrade, a brother in spirit, and a trustworthy advisor when I needed him.
Dr. Fassil always did what he said he would do. He would stand up for you In your presence or without. All the time I knew him, Dr. Fassil was a friend who had impeccable integrity. He was a friend I could trust, rain or shine. He was loyal to me through and through. He was trustworthy and dependable. I could meet Dr. Fassil and discuss matters with him as my true self.
Dr. Fassil was never insipid. He knew himself and behaved and spoke in ways that were consistent. He was totally transparent. He was honest and spoke from the heart with good intentions. He told one what one needs to hear in a way that was frank rather than being nebulous, thus allowing for gossip to build in the background. Precisely due to that, people like me who knew him well for a long time had no problem believing in his utterances and demeanor.
Dr. Fassil had unlimited empathy for others even when he did not know their core values and did his best to understand what they were feeling and reacted accordingly. He was non-judgmental. He was respectful to even people whom others believe do not deserve it.
Dr. Fassil was loyal and stayed with you no matter the circumstances. He would listen to your side of the story and defend you when you deserve it. He had strong moral principles, and knowing that as humans, people cannot always be perfect, he was flexible and accepted people’s frailties with magnanimity and compassion.
Dr. Fassil was a great academic in his own right but he was not the kind of scholar who would write huge praises for his beloved country, Ethiopia; via social media and community journals. Nevertheless, he was an incorrigible nationalist. He loved Ethiopia so much that he wished nothing but good for her sovereign existence, sustainable development, unity, and territorial integrity. May God bless Dr. Fossil’s soul and give him eternal peace.
Paulos Milkias (Ph.D. )is Professor of Political Science at Concordia University
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