Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The passing of Araya Zerihun

The passing of Araya Zerihun

It is utterly shocking to hear the passing of Araya Zerihun, a gallant and hard working Ethiopian who tirelessly dedicated his time for the welfare of his people. I have known Araya for a long time, spanning at least three decades but my affinity to him was reinforced when we became colleagues in the formation and subsequent operation of the Tigray Development Association (TDA).

We have exchanged ideas and experiences with respect to development efforts several times through either formal meetings or informal contacts that we have had when he was in the United States. There were times when we had to spend nights together in my apartment in New York whenever TDA sponsors discussion forums and/or music nights. I vividly remember once we had to drive from New York to his home in Maryland and through the entire period of our sojourn we were immersed in discussing development agendas. But there were also times when we had a relatively relaxed atmosphere on the Ethiopian restaurants on 18 Street when we had to simply chat and dine.

Few years after the formation of TDA, Araya was assigned to head the international headquarters of the organization in Mekelle, and during the second annual conference of TDA at Mekelle in 1994, we met again. TDA conferees came from all over the world and despite the festive mood and well organized schedules for an entire week at the Mekelle City hall; I can't help but read fatigue on Araya's countenance. He was a brave man with utmost commitment but he too is flesh and had to exhibit wear and tear on his physiology. And I said to him, 'you are well dressed and look sharp but you look so tired' and he replied, 'I am ok but I did not sleep last night.' I don't think Araya
have had enough sleep in the last ten years and his untimely death could have been a combination of fatigue, stress, and unwell ness. I am terribly sad by his departure, but I can see his legacy living through the ages and his torch blazing as beacon and hope for future generations of Ethiopians.
May his soul rest in peace!
On behalf of the Institute of Development and
Education for Africa (IDEA)
Ghelawdewos Araia, PhD

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