In the hours before the UoG delegation reached Debre Tabor to discuss matters pertaining to Emperor Tewodros’s 150th anniversary another type of celebration was taking shape. On 6 February 2018 the town known for its high altitude and gusty winds commemorated the late king with a larger than life statue in the heart of the city. The day saw some of the countries dignitaries and political figures coming together to share in the event. Those who were also present were, amongst others, the presidents and representatives from UoG, Wello University, Debre Markos University, Bahar Dar University and Maqdala University.
With the help of the city administration and the funding and organization of Debre Tabor University on Tuesday morning the city erected a 20 meter high statue of the late king.
During his reign King Tewodros spent most of his time in his fortress in this Ethiopian highland region where he fought of countless enemies. The cutting of the ribbon was done by Mr. Yalew Abate, a spokesperson from the House of Representatives.
Afterwards representatives from the various institutions visited a number of newly built facilities in the city. The UoG President, Dr. Desalegn Mengesha, was also awarded and recognized for his contribution in the academia at a ceremonial cutting of a ribbon for an administrative G+ 5 office block.
For over a year now Emperor Tewodros’s 150th anniversary arrangements has been in full throttle. Many institutions and stakeholders have been in constant preparation and their dedication was witnessed on Tuesday. A high stakes meeting with regional University presidents and Dr. Hirut Kassew, state of Amhara Culture and Tourism head, was conducted at Debre Tabor University.
At first the president of the University of Gondar Dr. Desalegn opened the discussions by putting forth ideas on the way forward. He stressed the need to make the event a hit and alluded to the underlying truth that the past defines the present. “Our history is our identity,” he said, “And most of our history is being written by foreigners.”
He believes the natives of the country should do the work in this regard hence passing its own history to its own citizens for succeeding generations.
One of the crucial elements of the talks came about when the president asked the question: “what should the respective universities do in regard to the event? And what should their fair share be?”
Because the anniversary unites all, each educational institution gave their two cents about their contribution in the future ceremony. Bahar Dar University committed to certain vows. One of their pledges was to assign its own textile institute, which is under Bahar Dar University, to produce cultural attire that will ensure the smooth running of the program and brighten one of its talked about agendas the beauty pageant.
Marshet Girmay who is the head of the department of History and Heritage Management also spoke in length about the elements of the ceremony. When speaking he stated that the first element is the academic element. This incorporates call for papers, the history of the late leader and the web page that illustrates all the ins and outs of the event.
The second element he said is cultural. “There will be recreational activities, refreshments and festivities” he enumerated. Some of the proceedings that will take shape are beauty pageants, as stated above, football matches, concerts, poetry readings, theater and more.
Most notably the third element is concentrated with tourist attractions. Dr. Hirut Kassew who was also in on the talks spoke of this specific element in length and stressed its vital importance, not only for the event, but, for the country.
“Maqdala and Quara need to be on everyone’s radar and looked into,” she said, “tours must be a priority.” But before anything she said the 150th anniversary of the death of Emperor Tewodros needs to be “promoted” and “advertised” so all can enjoy. She stated that the media, journalists, and other organizations should be notified about all the things that are going on so that the late king who had his life celebrated in the streets of Debre Tabor can see his due reward in Gondar.
Now imagine if the whole country knows the life and story of its fallen heroes. This is the scene that is set to take place in Gondar for Emperor Tewodros. The potential for the whole nation and even the world to take part has been set with the successful press conference from a couple of weeks ago.
One of the greatest kings known in Ethiopian history is set to be celebrated. Despite the short time frame until its launch, the memorial service of his anniversary will be well funded. With stern financial commitments from all the educational institutions who were present the funding of all the necessities are near completion. Eventually that final day is drawing near and with Debre Tabor University passing the symbolic baton to UoG, with the inauguration of its statue, we are set to bring it home.
By Samuel Malede| Public and International Relations Directorate