Salambo in Addis

Salambo discovering Ethiopia

Death of a Ruler

When I started writing this blog I took the deliberate decision not to write about politics, but concentrate instead on Ethiopia’s amazing cultural heritage so often overlooked in other publications.  Many news organisations write at length about the politics of Ethiopia, while ignoring its culture. This morning, as I heard the news of the passing away of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, I felt the need to acknowledge it on this blog. His unexpected death at the age of 57 is raising concerns about the future growth and stability of Ethiopia.

Meles Zenawi

A former rebel who ousted the feared and dreaded socialist government in 1991, he was the one who guided his country through modernisation and change after decades of struggle and famine. In the 20 years he was in power, he put in place the highly ambitious growth and transformation plan, which is taking Ethiopia into the 21st century with an annual economic growth of 11 percent. But although his economic policy has been widely approved and attracted substantial international public and private investments into the country, his government was also criticized on the level of democracy and human rights.

There are in Ethiopia underlying religious and ethnic tensions, which for now cannot be felt in our daily life there. The country is still relatively peaceful and safe. Like many, I am hoping that this sudden change will not alter the fragile balance of the country, and that Ethiopia will be able to go through the transition smoothly, and continue moving forward. I will write more about it when I am back in Addis next month.

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