THE JACK KRAMER PAPERS: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Note: To get a perspective on Kidane’s youth and nationalism, Minister Naizghi Kiflu and Professor Berhe Habte-giorgis (Chairman of Rowan University’s Marketing Department, New Jersey, USA) were interviewed.
Issayas: Did you know Kidane Kiflu when he was a kid in Adi Ugri?
Minister Naizghi. I knew him very well. He was older and also in a higher class than me. His given name was Kebede. His nickname was Kebedom and his baptismal name was Kidane.
Issayas: Did you notice any qualities in him when he was a kid?
Minister Naizghi. Kidane was brilliant and wise. He was smart in his studies. He used to be always first in his class. He used to help and tutor kids like us who were in the lower class during exam. He used to be hard working and considerate and was always helping his mother. He has an older brother called Yohannes Kiflu. I don’t know too much about his father but I think his father died when they were young.
Issayas: Did you know Kidane Kiflu?
Professor Berhe: Yes, Kidane Kiflu was my classmate at the formerly Haile Selassie I Secondary School in Asmara. Perhaps the most memorable image I have of him is his ever-present smile and very calm demeanor. He was quiet to the point of shyness, always low keyed, and never got into heated argument, as many of us at that age would.
Picture courtesy of Professor Berhe Habtegiorgis.
A class (tenth grade) photo taken on 10/25/1958, tenth grade at Haileselassie I
Secondary School, Asmara.
Secondary School, Asmara.
Kidane (Kebede at that time) Kiflu is on the third row, extreme left column, in front of the person with dark glasses. Professor Berhe Habte-giorgis (The person with dark glasses). Professor Tekie Fessehatzion (Back row, extreme right next to the column). Second row, second from the right is Capt. Mebrahtu Teweldemedhin who joined the EPLF in 1975 and was killed with Ibrahim Affa. Mebrahtu was also a classmate of Professor Berhe Habte-giorgis in the
at Harar. He joined the EPLF from the airborne regiment in Debre Zeit. Military Academy
Issayas: What were the qualities of Kidane Kiflu as a student?
Professor Berhe: As a student Kidane was very intelligent, hard working, with a penchant for social studies, especially geography. He did not participate in sports and physical activities. In terms of social relations at school, he had the quality of being friendly with everybody without getting particularly close. His politeness and respect of others earned him plenty of respect and love by his classmates. He was always neat and meticulous in everything he did and displayed a high level of discipline and seriousness of purpose. After high school he joined the then Haile Selassie I University in Addis Ababa in 1961. From there he went to the field and the last thing we heard about him years later was that he was murdered in Kassala, Sudan by the same movement that he joined to liberate his country.
Issayas: Did Kidane show nationalistic feeling when he was in Adi Ugri or after he went to Haile Selassie I University?
Minister Naizghi: He was a very observant and patient person. For anything we used to do, he used to approach us in a calm and collective manner and advise us. If one did not accept his ideas he would continue to make us understand, tirelessly. Whether in Adi Ugri or at Haile Selassie I University, he had a lot of nationalism. Not the see me hear me type. Especially at the University, he was a very active participant. He did not finish his studies there because he had so much love for his mother; he wanted to help her financially. Putting in consideration his active political participation, he decided to get a job. He then got a job at Agip Co.
NEXT: PART FIVE. The interview continues with Mr. Kramer.