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The Killing of Engineer Simegnew Bekele will not Deter Ethiopians from Completing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

IDEA Editorial  July 27, 2018

July 26, 2018 or Hamle 19, 2010 (EC) will be remembered as the saddest day in Ethiopian history. The great Engineer and hero Simegnew Bekele has fallen victim to the enemies of Ethiopia who hired mercenaries to do their mission in obstructing and if possible halting the completion of the GERD. Ethiopia indeed has lost one of her brightest and brave sons, but the paid agents and the sponsoring governments (or political groups) are too naïve and too shortsighted to entertain such a foolish idea of deterring Ethiopians from completing the Dam by just shooting and killing the chief engineer. They may have underestimated Ethiopian resolve and resilience, two important values that are part and parcel in the corpus of Ethiopian patriotism. The murderers may have forgotten the long and rich history of Ethiopians that is directly correlated with their unflinching determination to preserve Ethiopian sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. It is for this apparent reason that Ethiopia is defined or perceived as the quintessential symbol of independence for Africans in the continent and in the Diaspora elsewhere in the world. The flame of patriotism strong nationalism, which is part of the Ethiopian psyche, will never be extinguished; thus, given the hard fact of Ethiopian determination, Ethiopians will move on and complete the GERD. The dogs may bark but the camels will ignore them and keep going!!

The GERD is one of the major projects ever initiated by Ethiopians in modern Ethiopians history without any foreign aid and expertise; it is a uniquely Ethiopian enterprise that has united Ethiopians across the board in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Government (until the most recent past) and the people are constructing the Dam with their own money and resources – material as well as professional knowledge and capacity. The GERD perhaps is a constant reminder of other major Ethiopian superstructures, such as the obelisks of Aksum built and erected during the classical or later antiquity of Ethiopian civilization; the rock hewn churches of Lalibela during middle ages and the Gondar castles in the early 17th century; in the latter two edifices, the legacy of Aksum architecture is incorporated, and by the same token the GERD is a sum total of the Ethiopian experience of mega projects.

Engineer Simegnew Bekele is the 21st century Ethiopian hero in engineering and architecture who offered unusual gift for Ethiopia by exhibiting unparalleled commitment and confidence with respect to completing the GERD, and by design enabling Ethiopia as the power house of Africa. Therefore, Engineer Simegnew’s legacy and his colleagues (engineers and the multitude of workers) at the GERD site of Beni Shangul Gumuz regional state will render a positive and major impact on the Ethiopian economy. After all, Ethiopia has made a remarkable progress in economic growth in the last two decades and is heading toward becoming a manufacturing hub. The GERD, thus, is most essential and most promising for the transformation of the larger Ethiopian society and the uplifting of millions of Ethiopians from poverty.

At a time when the federal government and respective regional states are relatively weak and the center seems to yield to the breaking down peripheries, and widespread ethnic clashes and insecurity are rampant all over Ethiopia and Addis Ababa has become a convenient rendezvous for murderers, it is not surprising that Engineer Simegnew has fallen victim to “unknown” gunman (or men) in the capital of Ethiopia. On top of this, the current instability in Ethiopia very much reflects camouflaged politics that is angelic in words but satanic in deeds. One, in fact, can attribute the present overall situation in Ethiopia to the Serengeti of East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya), in which both the predator and the prey are perfectly camouflaged and both are well adapted to their common territory. But the Serengeti is the most insecure habitat for the prey, as Addis Ababa was the most dangerous place for the great Ethiopian engineer.

Engineer Simegnew Bekele is gone but his legacy will live on. May his soul rest in peace!

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