Republicans on the Throne [978-1-59907-047-6]


Author : Tekalign Gedamu

ISBN Code : 978-1-59907-047-6
Language : English
Pages number : 520
Format : Paperback; 6”x9”; Ills.

Republicans on the Throne is a memoir spanning the author Tekalign Gedamu’s early life during the waning days of the old feudal order, his six-decade career in the United Nations, the African Development Bank, and the government of Ethiopia. The book describes the author’s university education and early career as an international civil servant. It focuses on Ethiopia’s modernization and her painful quest for democracy. For a brief spell, the author was privileged to be an eyewitness and a modest participant to that process.

Republicans on the Throne offers a glimpse into the problems of a new educational system. The expansion of education left in its wake a demand for more fundamental reforms which Emperor Haile Selassie’s government was increasingly unable to meet. The result was a coup d’état in 1960 that failed, and another in 1974 that succeeded and triggered a ‘Marxist’ revolution that promised a new era of equality, democracy, and revitalized nationalism. The book examines closely the fundamental forces behind the revolution along with its failed attempts to improve the country’s fortunes on both the economic and political fronts.

Seventeen years later, left wing insurgents in the North who had been active throughout the revolution, overthrew the government, allowing the country’s northernmost province to secede and install a regime guided by yet another brand of Marxism (the Albanian variety) at a time when the ideology was entering a period of historic decline.

The book provides an assessment of the policies and practices of the new rulers, how the country is faring under their leadership, and concludes that major challenges remain in the struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms, national cohesion, and the fight against poverty.

The legacy of the country’s past, the continuing struggle for democracy, and the likely direction of the country’s future are the central concerns of the last part of the book. While there is little doubt that the curtain has fallen on Ethiopia’s monarchy, this has not prevented a new breed of tyrants from taking power. Ethiopia’s heritage of autocracy therefore survives, but in a far less paternalistic and more sinister form than before. This leads many to be apprehensive about the prospects for democracy and other key challenges. But the author remains hopeful and offers his perspective in the concluding chapters of the book.





Chapter 1: A Glimpse of Feudal Life 

Growing Up with Grandparents  

Getting Started in School 

My Father’s Side of the Family  

Chapter 2: Being Groomed for a Post Feudal World

Guinea Pigs for a New Secondary School  

Undergraduate Days  

Graduate Studies in the United States  

Chapter 3: Early Career and a Surprise Coup D’État

New York: Learning the Ropes  

Addis Ababa: The First Few Months  

The 1960 Coup D’État  

Settling Down to Work  

The Birth of the OAU  

The Harvard Interlude  

Chapter 4: More on the 1960 Coup D’état

The Antecedents of the Coup  Germame Neway: The Angry Young Man Behind the Coup  

Chapter 5: In the Service of the Imperial Ethiopian Government: The Initial Three Years

An Ethiopian UN Expert to Ethiopia  

A Curious Call From the Prime Minister  

The Technical Agency 

The Development Bank of Ethiopia: Chairman Haddis Alemayehou and a Contentious Board Meeting  

The Glasgow Interlude  

Haddis Alemayehu and his Instructive Anecdotes  

Chapter 6: In the Service of the Imperial Ethiopian Government: The Succeeding Three Years

Trials and Tribulations at the Planning Commission  

Highlights of Development: The Story of Ethiopian Airlines  

Socialist Countries and Ethiopia’s Development  

More on Highlights of Development: The Man at the Centre  



Chapter 7: The Monarchy on the Eve 

The Gathering Storm 

The Ominous Famine  

An Army Mutiny, the Quadrupling of Oil Prices, and a Tottering Government  

Chapter 8: The Interregnum: The Opening Four and a Half Months of Endalkatchew Makonnen’s Premiership 

A Hesitant Minister  

Uncertain Reforms 

The Travails of Resignation  

Crisis of the Congo Veterans  

Birth of the Dergue and the Demise of Endalkatchew Makonnen  

Chapter 9: The Interregnum: The Closing Forty-One Days of Michael Imru’s Premiership  



Chapter 10: The Contrived Revolution 

Forces Behind the Upheavals of February/March 1974  

The Emperor Deposed  

Chapter 11: March Towards Bloody Saturday

Enter Aman: A Much Acclaimed But Tragically Inadequate Leader 

Bloody Saturday: The Final Act of Fin D’Époque  

Chapter 12:  The Initial Policy Orientations of the Military

Ethiopian Socialism (Hibrettesebawinet)  

New Relations With Soviet Russia 

Land Reform: Manipulating a Wrong-headed Policy  

More Instances of Cabinet Manipulation  

Military Obduracy 

Chapter 13: The Parting of Ways

My Delayed Exit  

Mengistu Becomes Top Dog 

Looking for a Job and the Elusive Exit Visa  



Chapter 14: The African Development Bank 

A Nice Little Challenge  

Negotiations with Prospective Member States  

The Bank Goes Global  

The Years of Growth  

A Short Honeymoon  

Vice President: A Post More Vicious Than Presidential  

A Reluctant Vice-President and the Predictable Adieu  

Chapter 15: Mengistu Falls and a Second Republic Takes Shape 

The Cartographic Nationalist Flees and the Guerrillas Take Over  

The New Rulers and Their Political Vision  

Chapter 16: The Bank of Abyssinia: A Short Stint Turned Long

A Homecoming With Misgivings  

Launching a New Private Bank  

Initial Objectives  

Hurdles Along the Way  

Chapter 17: Retirement: Working With Charities

A Johnny-Come-Lately Rotarian  

The Hamlin Fistula Hospital  

The Gondar Development Association  

The Institute of Ethiopian Studies  

Jember Teffera’s Urban Renewal Project  

Alemnesh Mogesse’s Children’s Support Project 

Chapter 18: Retirement: A Disagreeable But Not Unexpected Episode

A Visit by the Federal Police  

Detention and its Compensations: The Many Faces of Prison  

Detention: Further Compensations  



Chapter 19: Footprints of History

A Bird’s Eyeview of the Recent Past  

The Heritage of a Multicultural Polity  

The Legacy of a Nation State  

A ‘Minimum Cultural Base’: Yet Another Legacy  

Chapter 20: The Shape Of Things To Come

The External Environment  

The Domestic Front  


Chapter 21: Conclusion

Further Thoughts on National Cohesion  

Lessons From India and China  

Final Words  



Appendix 1  

Appendix 2  


Glossary of Amharic Terms 



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