The story around town last week was that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
would have one of his rare audiences with members of
Addis Abeba’s artistic community today, on June 5,
Rare because, unlike his soft spot for a very few select songs in
Tigrigna, Sudanese, English, and Amharic
(particularly those of Aster Aweke), seldom is his
habit of attending theatres in town to be
entertained by stage performances, gossip claimed.
During his reign of two decades, his once reported private audience
with three legends – the late Tilahun Gessese,
Mohammoud Ahmed, and Aster – was probably the only
to date, according to gossip.
A few years ago, there was a great deal of debate among the industry’s
bigwigs on whether the quality of art in Ethiopia
has improved. However, it is obvious that the
artistic community in Ethiopia has long been an
orphan of official patronage, felt gossip.
Another aspect of drama appears to have been refined over the years,
gossip observed. It could also be described as a
real life soap opera; two seemingly unrelated events
stand especially tall and above other occurrences of
The Revolutionary Democrats have a leader whose dissertation for a
doctoral study has slipped into the official policy
of his administration, despite a disclaimer that it
did not reflect the views of the government.
The only social group that should not be welcomed in the broader
coalition of society to create a one party dominant
state is the private sector, he argued in the paper.
There is no ambiguity; it is very clear!
Yet, last week Addis Abeba witnessed several banners on its
“boulevards” and main roads conveying “happy
anniversary” wishes from an obscure collection of
businessmen who have established a self-described
investor’s forum in support of the EPRDF.
It was formed by a little over 80 businesspeople during a meeting held
at the Intercontinental Hotel a couple of months
ago, with Tsegaye Abebe as chairman and Abnet W.
Meskel as its deputy. Many members are in a quiet
tug-of-war with the EPRDFites over their vested
interests, claimed gossip.
Ironically, the latter appears to know full well what they say in
private about their policies and governance,
according to gossip.
Their relationship of convenience is based on deception and pretence,
claimed gossip. Perhaps, this is the “Catholic
marriage,” those in the gossip corridors mused.
Funny enough, this pretentious and deceptive nature of the relationship
was exhibited last week by some of the movers and
shakers of Addis Abeba’s business circle, gossip
With May being the month of merry making, a grand and extravagant
wedding party was held at the Hilton on Sunday, May
Abebaw Desta, the embattled member of the trio at Star Business Group (SBG),
who has made substantial investments in five-star
hotels in Bahir Dar and Debremarkos Town, both in
Amhara Regional State, gave away his daughter,
Sentayehu, in marriage.
Close to 3,000 guests were invited to attend the party for which the
hotel put up two colossal tents behind the building
to absorb latecomers and the spillover from the main
By any measure, it was successful, efficiently organised, and
demonstrated the family’s wealth, came the verdict
from the gossip corridors.
This would have been the case if it were not for the hypocritical
presence of a few sworn enemies of the trio, gossip
observed. Woldeher Yezengaw, the businessman behind
Ghion Industrial; Getu Gellete of GetAs
International; and Bizuayehu Tadelle of East Africa
Holdings claimed central seats alongside Sabir Argaw
of Al-Sam Group.
What gossip found bizarre was that, with the exception of Sabir, these
businessmen had fought one another to maintain
control of the Bank of Abyssinia’s board of
Abebaw came up against the alliance between Bizuayehu and Getu who
subsequently became at odds with each other as well,
only to be seen recently on speaking terms. Most
important is that arcane Abebaw felt compelled to
invite particularly Getu and Woldeher, who testified
against him and his partners in a criminal case that
is still pending at the Federal High Court, and
which involves Nile Insurance Co.
How these businessmen could be so polite to share in the happy moments
of their business rivals (whom they once sought to
see rotting in jail) made gossip wonder.