Meet Meles Zenawi: “World’s Poorest Leader!” Eskinder Nega

April 1st, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Sniff…sniff…sniff…you have to excuse me… I am fighting for tears here…come on, man!…you could do it!…lets see some tears!…squeeze..squeeze those eyes! ….oomph… oomph … oomph …oh, doggone it!..still no tears!!… (more…)

Sniff…sniff…sniff…you have to excuse me… I am fighting for tears here…come on, man!…you could do it!…lets see some tears!…squeeze..squeeze those eyes! ….oomph… oomph … oomph …oh, doggone it!..still no tears!!…

Here I am, in my small living room on a beautiful tenish Thursday morning, comfortably settled in front of the solitary window. In my hand, I hold a transcript our first lady’s (sorry, President Girma, she insists on the title) undated, and, to my knowledge, unaired TV interview.

It was recently posted on a little known pro-EPRDF blog. (you could watch the interview at:

Azeb Mesfine interview

I gather this is the loyal troops’ rejoinder to the recent news from Spain about an alleged shopping spree in Europe by first lady Azeb Mesfin, wife to Ethiopia’s PM Meles Zenawi; MP; Politburo member of the TPLF and EPRDF; board member of one of the largest business conglomerates in the country , EFFORT; and Czar of the anti-HIV/Aids campaign.

There are more titles, of course. But these will suffice to underscore an important point: Azeb Mesfin is to be taken seriously! Take her for granted only at the risk of THE GLARE, famously witnessed and written about by an American reporter.(Meles was at the receiving end.)

But there is also a version of her popularized by Addis’ hyperactive, and apparently, at least as far she and her defenders are concerned, “delusional” grapevine: Azeb as a fabulously rich woman.

Indeed, no grapevine has ever demanded proof for its most sensational scoops, and in all fairness, Azeb’s is no exception. But the image has lingered doggedly over the years, believed rather than disbelieved by most people (as bitterly noted by the pro-EPRDF blog.)

And Azeb had felt the need to speak about it.

“…it is with this paltry amount that we pay for the children’s schooling…(inaudible)… (laughs)..I save for three months…and then I settle the (school) payment…”… way to go, first lady!…sacrificing for the children!…perfect role models!… “…Like I said earlier, both of us(Azeb an Meles) don’t have (money)…this is how(by saving) we manage (to handle the financial pressure)…”…poor Azeb!…Poor Meles!…aren’t you already feeling sorry for them?….I am!…sniff…sniff… “…One of our children, the eldest(Semahel), schooled at Sandford… She scored high marks in the SAT exams in the sixth grade…”…wonderful!…we are mighty proud of you, first daughter!…keep it up, gal!… “…She won a scholarship to a girl’s boarding school in England…I refused to let her go at that age…”…good for you, Azeb…that was the right decision… “…I asked for the scholarship to be transferred to (Sandford)…so that it could help me….”…hold it there, Azeb…they rarely oblige such requests…what
happened?…must have been turned down, eh?…the rascals!…. “…They transferred the scholarship (to Sandford)…”…what?…how did you do it, Azeb?… “…She finished school( with the scholarship)…She (Semehal) will finish this year…”…so six years of free schooling!…how many smart kids have the same chance, one wonders….“…I rarely carry money on me…If I do, I always give it away…I support 11 street children children in Addis. They live on Bole street. They are like my children…”…touching story, Azeb…I believe you…“…it (their bank accounts and assets) could be checked by all means….”….ummmmm… “…I think the world knows us…If you ask, America knows…”….oooohhh…juicy!…Yamamato, any comments?… “..any country with information knows…We are the worlds poorest leaders…”…Guinness book world records: take note…”…you know what they said to me in Sweden?…they said, (people say) you are dirt poor… But no…I am not poor…Meles is not poor…”…excuse me ,Azeb…but…but…but…this goes against every thing you had said so far… “…If we wanted money, we would not steal from the Ethiopian people… I would convince Meles to leave this job (the Premiership), because Meles’ smarts is enough to buy me a house…”…yep!…here comes the inevitable Meles is a genius speech…brace yourselves… “…Meles’ smarts is good enough to pay for our children’s schools….He could go anywhere, enter any labour market and be in demand for his brilliance….So I don’t steal..”…Azeb has finished now….great speech, Azeb!…Thanks!!…

Remember Imelda Marcos?

How could one forget the 3000 pairs of shoes? What you probably have not heard about are the 1000 handbags, over 500 gowns, and perfumes “no one has ever really tried to tally.”
Her estimated net worth: 10 billion US dollars!

This works out to a cool half a billion for each of the 20 years her husband, Ferdinand Marcos, was in power. All good years to unabashed Imelda. “Ferdinand was good for the Philippines. He was responsible for the only real economic development the country has ever known,” she frequently reminds her fellow citizens. And indeed, the economy has suffered since he left power; the world’s first victim to people power. But this not where the real story is.

“I am poor!” Imelda, now 82 and still going strong, intones frequently.

Every time she utters these words, they climb right to the top of world headlines. Best of all, there is her outrageously bejeweled image to go along with the story. Journalists couldn’t have enough of it. Neither could an intrigued, fascinated world.

And there is Leila Trabelsi, wife of Tunisia’s Ben Ali. Though noted widely for her passion for racy cars, mansions(50 of them), and shopping sprees, it was her occasional impulse to fly in exotic foods from Europe that earned her world fame. Her husband, somewhat low key, preferred a private Tiger, which was fed prime beef.

“I am poor!” Lelia, too, has claimed repeatedly.

Tunisians seem less charmed with their first lady than Filipinos are with theirs. Unlike Filipinos, who consistently besiege Imelda for autographs, they normally demand Leila’s hanging.

Fortunately, even Ethiopians, are graciously less harsh on Azeb. Anger is expressed in other ways. A facebook Azeb fan page, for example, boasts only 28 people. Her husband, on the other hand, has attracted over 3000 people on two pages. But a “Meles is a great leader” page has enlisted only 17 people. That is 11 less than Azeb’s. All is not lost, after all.

Ethiopia’s Federal Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission defines corruption as “the offering, giving, soliciting or acceptance of an inducement, promise, or reward; the making of threats or the use of intimidation, in words or in behavior; exerting influence by the abuse of authority or its inconsistent application; which may improperly influence the actions subsequently taken, or not taken, by a body, its members, or its officers; for the benefit or competitive advantage of self or another.”

How this exactly relates to the atypical scholarship of the Prime Minister’s child (children?) demands more information. Foul play could not reasonably be assumed just because a PM is involved. He deserves the benefit of the doubt; the alternative being too crudely cynical But that the scholarship is also worthy of serious scrutiny is also beyond doubt. I seriously hope this serves as a reminder to Transparency International. Ethiopia patently lacks a potent anti-graft body.

How poor or rich Azeb and Meles exactly are may never be satisfactorily answered. What could rather be satisfactorily explained is why people, including passionate EPRDF supporters, are more inclined to believe than disbelieve the stories about hidden riches.

In the absence of the checks and balances of a democracy, a despot is at liberty to take at will. Such a person is Meles Zenawi. He has unlimited power. Whether he has succumbed to the temptation or not is secondary. It is the unlimited power he has that unnerves people and induces them to suspect.

The End.

A friend sent this (author not specified):

DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA= Program installation:

GUINEA: 100% Complete…
TUNISIA: 100% Complete…
EGYPT: 100% Complete…
LIBYA: Downloading…
ALGERIA: Downloading…
IVORY COAST: 60% [Alert: Virus-Gbagbo detected_Trojan Horse Ouattarra in Quarantine]
CONGO: Connection lost since 1997
ETHIOPIA: 404 Error – Server not found

Cute! Thought it would be great for facebook posting.

Keep on posting articles on your facebook pages. Fight tyranny from your PC!

The writer could be reached at

  1. Gash Polisu
    | #1

    Eskinder thank you for your eloquent tomar once again.

    But I think it is more important to focus on bigger issues such as the monopoly control by the Tigre gujile on the military and economy of Ethiopia. The scholarship for Semahal is only the tip of the iceberg, in my opinion. Even if Semahal’s case were relevant you could have demanded information from the registrar office at Stanford about her academic stand, her SAT performance and the said scholarship. We should not underestimate the power of TPLFite footsoldiers to retort with potentially convincing arguements such as our “contemptuous premise” that a child born to TPLF families will not excel at school and win scholarship.

  2. Kush-Kush
    | #2

    Sir Eskinder you are entitled to your views and opinions and when you tell unrelated stories, it just become tasteless . Whether the TPLF/ EPLF tribalist leader is a hidden rich acording to your assumption and openly rich does not matter . What matters most is how to over throw the regime and replace it by the people’s government . Who the hell wants to hear the story of the philipinos dictator’s wife story and that was way back in 1986-1987 . In the end, mr writer said checks and balance . Right? You want the TPLF/EPLF tribalist leader to DELEGATE his power? That is sheer nonsense . Selam Tena Yestiligne !

  3. All thieves are liars
    | #3

    Here is the video how poor Azeb lives on a budget. What a liar!

  4. From home
    | #4


    Thank you for the picture it speaks volume. This is Great PICTURE

    Please don’t ever use the one that the evil wife has netela, white scarf.

  5. From home
    | #5

    we never use this english term first something why on earth eskinder is trying to use something that never existed in our society. After all she is only first as the child killer’s wife unlike all other mothers and starved the nation with her barbaric mercenary husband. Please call her first child killer that works.

  6. Dan
    | #6

    [[eskender is geting soft what happend?]]

    This video of Azeb is probably over a year old. Abebe Gellaw and now Eskender brought it alive as if it was done yesterday.

    Abebe was BRUTAL on Azeb the other day. Regarding selling the brain of Meles? He said “no one will buy a wicked brain of a dangerous killer”.

    I don’t know how long Abebe lived here in the States but considering how much he swears by his new found “freedom” in his writings, he must have just jumped of the boat.

    The fact is Capitalism has lead to many million of deaths and is equally or even more guilty than other systems combined. Over 3 million in Vietnam War and over 160,000 in gulf war died.

    Having said that one thing is certain, “a wicked brain” is not necessarily a hard sell for Azeb to do in the Capitalist World.

    I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed…tears were flowing down my face…Eskender is terrific.

    Eskender ends, “It is the unlimited power he [Meles] has that unnerves people and induces them to suspect.” I concur.

  7. lal
    | #7

    Once again, Eskinder…I admire your courage. Keep us hoping for more.

  8. Gigi
    | #8

    Who does she say built the houses and buildings she built? Is that Effort too?

  9. Gigi
    | #9

    The flip side of the story is, that Ethiopia is not poor at all except they are stealing it. That is the thing they don’t want to admit. After all they are spending an told billions on every thing and they control all of that and never spend a dime
    On the people. And all of their investment don’t do any thing for people except them selves who are out to suck the country dry.

  10. anonymous
    | #10

    I hasn’t gone soft at all, read it again. It is very satirical and bold.

  11. Gigi
    | #11

    Guys I want you googol Issayas and see what ” alafi mengedee” posted.

    You find Gadafi singing in Ameharic and saying well… should check it your self I don’t want to spoil the funn.

    But any how who ever did this is may be saying no more war in Ethiopia they will kill you and the country will be just theirs and speaking of may be all the development sesheme or it’s danger or some thing like that. The message is
    Very bold and direct but also funny. after they find our that Gadafi is half a jewish I am sure I am sure they will think
    What ever and them selves are I think half Arab half Tigrey and half Italy and half a Jew. And of cours libyans.

    And it is a very old country and any body can be from any where any ways, business and trad and all kinds of things
    Puts people every where. Even a $500 dollar that was paid for TPLF or EPRDF in exchang of a solder.

  12. Fraudulent Woyane
    | #12

    “I hasn’t” come on! The #1 and #11 comments came non other than Selam himself. Selam, stop arguing with yourself.

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