Prominent nobleman, historian and former deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia Dejazmatch Zewde GebreSelassie has died at the age of 80.
Born to a royal family, Dejazmatch Zewde has a had a varied and distinctive career as governor of Shere, Minister of justice, Mayor of Addis Ababa and Ambassador to Somalia, and deputy Prime Minster and Foreign Minister.
A great-great grandson of the Emperor Yohannes IV and related thorough marriage to the Crown Prince, Dejazmatch Zewde is widely recognized among Ethiopians as possessing an unparalleled knowledge of Ethiopian history and of the past and present day Ethiopian personalities, their relationships, intrigues, foibles and strengths. As John H.Spencer wrote in his book, Ethiopia At Bay that through his official positions and relationships with the leading figures in political life, he has been a witness to some of the important events recounted in his book.
He was too independent minded to get on as minister and his attempt to reform the judicial system were thwarted. He fell into disfavor with HaileSelassie due to his liberalism as Minister of Justice during the trial of General Mengistu Neway and went into self-imposed exile. He later served as Minster of Foreign Affairs under the provisional military government, but soon resigned in protest against the massacres of the former regime officials in November, 1974.
He was the author and editor of many history books. “Yohannes IV of Ethiopia: A political biography, Oxford” is one of the most cited works.
In the preface, Edward Ullendorff wrote that he has devoted to his royal ancestor, his great-great grandfather, a treatise that is fair and dispassionate, yet for the first time recognizes Yohannes’ crucial role in the re-unification of Ethiopian.