In September 1981, a four-seater aircraft mounted into a scorched sky from an African desert track carrying two brothers to freedom. So ended the fifty-five year saga of the Fanouris family in Ethiopia. As Lukas Fanouris looked down and saw patches of gold in the receding landscape, he realized that the Meskel flower was in bloom everywhere. He wept, for the carpet of Meskel around Addis Ababa had been the first sight to meet his father's eyes when he had arrived in 1926 from his Greek island with his wife and infant son to seek his fortune among the descendants of Solomon and Sheba.
Manoli Fanouris began his new life by opening a restaurant but soon realized that Ethiopia's hungers did not stem from the stomach but the mind. Soon he began selling newspapers, gradually adding magazines and books and thereby laid the foundations for what was to become one of the largest book and press agency in Ethiopia.
Because of Emperor Haile Selasie's efforts to modernize his country and eradicate illiteracy, close bonds had developed between the Fanouris enterprise and the Palace. Nevertheless, the rising expectations generated by modernization outstripped the will and power of the Emperor. In 1974 creeping dissension was whipped into military revolution by a hushed famine, deposing the old and frail ruler. While the new dictatorship proclaimed that the Emperor was under house arrest at the Menelik Palace, members of his family and his ministers were thrown into the cells of common criminals, deprived of the bare necessities of life. Sixty princes, ministers and high government officials were executed en masse and flung into an unmarked trench. The wives and mothers of men detained and tortured without charges were imprisoned, others forced to sell what little remained to them to pay for the bullets that had killed their loved ones.
Meskel is the true and poignant saga of a Greek family who lived to witness and record the devastating destruction of a beautiful country which was turned into a living hell by the tyrant Mengistu Haile Mariam.