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A Tribute to Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori (1936-2022)

A dedicated Husband, Family Man, Leader, Educator, Author, and Peace Maker

The late Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori (Photo source : SBS Amharic)

By Professor Achamyeleh Debela

Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori was born in 1936 in Alta in Southern Oro where his father, Ato Dori Wange, was a “Paramount Chief” of the Hamar.

He attended school through the auspices of Dajazmach Abebe Awraris, a one-time governor of the region. As a privilege for boys of his background, Emperor Haile Selassie made it possible for him to attend boarding school for his primary and secondary education in Addis Ababa. He had a higher education in teacher training and holds a directors’ and inspectors’ diploma. He also has a post-graduate diploma from Manchester University in the U.K. and he is a proud father of seven children.

His long career in government service spans three different regims: the monarchy (which colapsed in 1974), the dergue (1974-91) and the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (1991-).  Indeed, we lost a rare soul whose love of country and reverence for life and respect for his childhood experience in the Ethiopian south he spoke of quite often. Indeed no one can best tell the story of the Hammer people of the south like Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori.

The first time I met Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori was at a SHENGO Annual Conference in Silver Spring Maryland. Invited by a dear friend Ato Seifu Zewde, Fitawrari addressed the SHENGO group. And I recall most of us could not control our tears by the way he spoke of the rape of Ethiopia and how the Meles Regime divided Ethiopians and endangered her territorial integrity and destruction of her history. TPLF used ethnic Federalism as a cover to assert its supremacy. His short diaspora experience aside Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori wanted to go back home and serve his country in whatever way he could.  He was determined not to be away from his beloved country, which he served at various levels during the three regimes until he was imprisoned for ten Years by the TPLF.

His carreer started as a teacher at the Ministry of Education, where he served as director and inspector of several schools. He later developed expertise in adult education and worked in that capacity at the Ministry of Education. He was administrator in five different districts for a period of time at the Ministry of Interior, which is probably when he was given the title *Fitawrari* by the Emperor. He went to be General Manager of three different factories at the Ministry of industry, and Manager of the National Theater and the Ambassador Theater at the Ministry of Culture and Sports. He was finally a Vice minister of Information for a brief period in 1992. These government services were accompanied by social and civic activities. Among his wide ranging leadership in such fields are posts as Assistant Secretary to the Ethiopian Society for Orphans, Member of the Executive Committee of the Ethiopian Boy Scouts Association and Acting Secretary General of the Ethiopian Teachers’ Association (ETA).

Many Ethiopian men and women have given up their freedom, family, friends and career to struggle for a democratic Ethiopia and Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori is one of them. It is with great humility and great respect and admiration that we dedicate a few line  to look at his biographical sketch and celebrate this hero whose love of country and determination to see a united and strong Ethiopia still reverberate passionately up till the age of Eighty Six.

Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori, has also contributed to the Ethiopian literary works. He has authored more than twenty-five plays, all of which are in manuscript. His interests in this field found expression when he acted in a paly translated from the French by Molier. In the 1990’s he began to record Hammer culture and tradition, for whom he was also preparing literacy material. The political activities which brought him into clashes with the EPRDF began when he founded and became Chairman of the Omo Peoples’ Democratic Front (OPDF). delegating the OPDF he also became the Member of the Central Committee of the Southern Democratic Coalition (SEPDC). It was in that capacity that he chaired the organizing Committee of peace and reconciliation meeting held in December 1993 in Addis Ababa. Out of which emerged the Council of Alternative Forces for Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia (CAFPDE). He joined the SEPDC delegation to peace talks between opposition groups, organized at Atlanta, Georgia, by the Carter Center and participated as part of the negotiation team for

talks between the Ethiopian government and the opposition organized by the US Congressional Task Force in Washington DC. His arrest and detention after the failure of those talks was aimed at cracking down the non-EPRDF created parties that had gained visibility within the opposition.

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Editor’s note : This tribute to the late Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori was first shared on P2P forum.

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