A Statement Made on Being Awarded an Honorary Degree
by Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher
Your Excellency Ato Girma Woldeghiorgis, President
of the Federal Democratic
the First Democratic
Your Excellencies Ministers of the Federal
Your Excellency Professor Andreas Eshete,
Old Colleagues of
My Many Young Old Students Who Are Here,
All You Young Students Who Keenly Worked for, Awaited
and Graduated Today,
All You Young-at-Heart Old Seekers of Truth
Being Hounoured together with me Today,
Parents, Family Members and Friends of
the Young Graduates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
[Note: The speech in the next paragraph appears in Amharic and those with updated browser may be able to read it.]
XMfqDk# nb!b bLún G:Z¿ bLúNy zx!Rt$:½ x§ mn# YsM;n! XMkRS MDR? bx¥R¾ BÂgRM bflGk# nbR¿ GN lz!h# KBR Ãb”" ›lM ;qF DUF xD¥˜N XNÄsÍ YgÍÍ¾LÝÝ
Therefore, I shall speak in English.
things have happened since then. For sure my small
I am here being honoured. Old men should savour honour. I suppose I do. I think that it is because old men are no longer sure, that honour soothes them.
I really done all this service? I can tell you for sure that when I tried to
But, provided you stay on top so you can still breath, even lying on the ashes of burnt past options is comfortable.
Look at me here. I am breathing fine. And I am enjoying this honour. My honour is particularly sweet. This is because it is here that I have nearly always been. And thus it is here where every one knows me most. That means that it is here that my ash heap is most visible. In Amharic, we say, "xwQk#>½ ÂQk#>¿" meaning, "I now know you; so I despise you." Yet, I am being honoured where I am known. I have been honoured elsewhere as well. But there, much of my ash heap could be out of sight. Not so here. Hence the fact that my honour is sweet.
Have I been good at hiding my ash heap even here? I leave the question for you to answer. But, I can confess that I have had many burnt options. Nevertheless, I have, perhaps, genuinely taken some correct options.
But, alas, most of them seem to me to continue needing more work.
My country is still very poor. I leave it to you young graduates with myriads of options ahead of you to bring sufficiency to every Ethiopian life. I would love it if you could change every child that begs for a meal to a student like you.
My continent is still the most down-trodden. I would love it if every African could be so respected that she/he would be granted a visa to any country in a matter of minutes. I would like to see the queues in every European and American Embassy gate in every African capital dissolve away. I would love to see all Embassy gates deserted.
Life in my biosphere is still uncertain. I would love to be assured of a stable climate. I would love to see human and other forms of life fully protected from human adventurism.
In this age of globalization, local differences are seen as a nuisance. We are all being pushed towards congealing into an indistinguishable human mass, all of us becoming approximately American. I love globalization; but I love diversity even more. I would love the brilliance of the totality of our heterogeneity to be accessible to every point on Earth. That is the globalization for me. I recommend it for you all. I leave the unfinished business of changing globalization to be thus to you, the young.
Let me now go back and lie on my ashes and savour the rainy season before global warming dissipates it; watch the plants flowering, mammals scampering, birds flying and diverse peoples chattering in their languages - over 60 in Ethiopia - and leave you, the young, with the job to finish.
Finally, I would love to wholeheartedly thank my wife and children and the rest of my family for withstanding the smoke that produced my ashes and also for helping me reduce it; my colleagues here for their generosity in thinking the heap is small; my University for accepting their evaluation; my Government for never interfering in my attempts which, at times at least, must have seemed foolish; my sisters and brothers all over Africa for the tremendous strength they have given me in my global encounters; and my many wonderful friends all over the world for shielding me, especially at my times of greatest vulnerability, particularly with vital information. Whatever I have done internationally has been possible owing to internationalism. It is there waiting for you all who want a better world to use.
And, irrespective of ashes, it will become a better world.
Thank you all.