Tuesday, July 8, 2008

From colleagues who knew Dr. Berhanu Abebe

Date: Tue, 08 Jul 2008 09:04:40 -0400
To: gutaye@ncat.edu
From: Teferi Abate
Subject: Possible contacts at AA
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Dear Professor Abebe,

Please accept my deepest condolence. I had the privilege of working with working with Dr. Berhanu Abebe for several months at the French Ethiopian Studies Center in Addis some years back. He was a great man with big heart. I was always looking forward to meeting him on the corridor or just stopping by his desk to get struck a discussion on something so that I could slowly get him enlighten me about land tenure issues under the imperial regime (I was writing a dissertation on land and society in Wollo with particular reference to local consequences of land reform in the post 1975 period). He was a walking encyclopedia with amazing patience to answer questions even when the question you are asking was not clear enough. He was also the most grateful man I ever met in my life. As you know very well, learning and working at AAU can be painful at times. But Dr. Berhanu was always grateful to everything around him. I remember meeting him near his apartment in Piassa one afternoon. He invited me to a small tea room around the block. It was a real pleasure looking at this great man in the eye from the other side of the small table and listen every single word from him. He used to quote his beloved mother for beautiful sayings; "God would always straighten life for the lucky man especially in the twilight years" (I hope my translation makes sense). You can see how happy he was doing what he always wanted to do even after leaving AAU (the French Center was an excellent place; the Director at that time was a young Professor called Betrand Hirsch and prior to that the late Jacques Bureau- Getie Gelaye and myself were his students). Finally, I also remember seeing Dr. Berhanu with tears on the eyes when he came across a picture of his mother with the emperor in one of the Ethiopian Studies exhibitions (in the ethnographic section of IES Museum). His love and attachment was very obvious.

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