Home > In the news > Tributes pour in for Dr. Berhanu Abebe, dead at 75.

Tributes pour in for Dr. Berhanu Abebe, dead at 75.

Tributes are flowing in to Dr. Berhanu, the internationally renowned acadamicand researcher who has died in Harare on Tuesday while on duty with an electoral observation mission of the African Union. According to ENA, French president Nicolay Sarkozy sent a letter to President Girma Wold Giorgis saying the death of Dr. Berhanu was a loss not only to Ethiopia but also to Africa.

A press release from the French Embassy in Addis Ababa also said “Professor Berhanu Abebe will be sorely missed”.

“An incredible mind and a wonderful scholar, Professor Berhanu Abebe was, all through his lifetime, a committed and outstanding proponent of the Ethiopian culture as well as of Francophony.”

 “A lawyer, historian and erudite , Professor Berhanu Abebe was entrusted with prestigious positions, which he owed to his great talent: an academic and researcher of great renown, he was also appointed Vice-president of the PanAfrican Congress and Deputy General Manager of the Ethio-French Railway Company.”

“Professor Berhanu Abebe authored a French-Amharic dictionary and an Amharic-French one and translated several pieces of work into Amharic (notably “le Bateau ivre”, by French poetArthur Rimbaud). In 1998, he published a remarkable history of Ethiopia in French, a testimony of his love for both Ethiopia, his native country, and France, to which he was the greatest of friends.”

“France honored Professor Berhanu Abebe’s many achievements by bestowing upon him its greatest destinations: he was made a knight of l’Ordre National du Mérite, an Officer of the Palmes Académiques (for academic excellence), a knight of La Légion d’Honneour and a Commander of “Arts et Lettres”‘.

In a letter published in the Capital, English weekly, the membership of Rotary Club of Addis-Ababa Entoto extended thier sympathies saying he was a great man and Ethiopia has indeed lost its most outstanding scholar and a nation’s pride.

Dr. Amakeletch Teferi, president of the Association of former Lycée Guebre-Mariam School Students, said the cultural life of Addis Ababa will never be the same again without Dr. Berhanu.She said he was an exceptional man and source of pride for all Lycée students. 

Funeral of Dr. Berhanu Abebe conducted ENA

(In the picture, Stéphane Gompertz, French ambassador to Ethiopia is handing out the knight to Dr. Berhanu.It is taken from Les novelles d’Addis, a Paris-based publication)

Categories: In the news
  1. rahel mekuria
    July 4, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I am really shocked by the news of my beloved uncle death. He was not just an uncle for me; he was also a very caring father. May my dear GOD rest his sole in peace?

  2. Elias Adan
    July 5, 2008 at 3:07 am

    I am still shocked that Prossesor Berhanou is no longer with us. It is true that this is not only a loss for Ethiopia it is also a big loss for Africa. Students in Addis Ababa University will never and ever forget how kind, outstanding, amicable and sociable he was. When we were in Gojam Metekel 20 years ago for the resettlement campaign he used to come to my tent looking for me to share his food with me that his beloved wife Fikirte would send for him. He would always come and say, “Elias let us go to my tent, Fikirte has sent some food for us; let us go and share it.”
    And that’s just one example of how kind he was.

    May God rest his soul.

  3. Senait
    July 5, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    It is still very hard for me to accept is death. How can you accept the death of you father who gave you true love? It is a big loss for me and he is irreplaceable. Words cannot express how much I going to lose him.

    May God rest his soul in peace

  4. July 5, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Dear friends and family members of Dr. Berhanou Abebe. I am very closely related to Dr. Berhanou, he is a nefew of W/ro Tenegne dibachew, my mother, her father Dibatchew Zewge is the uncle for Dr. Berhanou. I have known my uncle since I was a child. I was told that I looked like him, and growing up I was so proud to carry his given name. I was told I looked like his father Abebe Gebdil. Passing is a fact of life and I know he soul is resting in peace, because he has done what he thought right. So far I have not heard any complaints. But for the family members, we lost the bridge between our past and the present. Every thing that transpired in our past families from Wagshums to Tayech, and to dibachew and all the way to myself. That bridge is broken. He knew what Ethiopia meant and what it stood for., from mythology to its current figure. Most imporantly the children Dave and Miku, and the beautiful wife he left behind. He lived life to the fullest, no compalints, no regrets, a fullfledged intellectual life decorated by a powerful Ethiopian citizenship. Lots of people crossed his life, from the panhandlers in front of his house to the ministers and presidents of the world. But he is only human and he had to go. Thoes of us who living, and thoes of us touched by his life, or simply his worm God’s greeting, and particularly thoes students his, I call upon you to keep his work alive. As the second elder of the family on the side of Abebe Gedil, I am asking family members to establish the Dr. Berhanou Abebe Foundation for Ethiopian History and Records. The foundation, among other thigs will categorize his collections, and works, as well as provide a prestigious scholarship to students of history. This foundation will work tireless to establish the Berhanou Abebe Institute of Ethiopian History to be housed in Addis Ababa University, in Ethiopia. Please join us in developing the concepts. Dr. Berhanou Abebe is blessed with large families. There are so many who I don’t know please feel free to email me at the following Addresses

    Abebe Kebede
    Also please check the review of his books in the following website


    Thank you

  5. Getachew Dessiye
    July 7, 2008 at 2:10 am

    It is with great sadness that I learnt about Dr Birhanu Abebe’s death. He was a person of great character, wisdom and knowledge. I had a chance to talk to Dr. Birhanu in the past. A few minutes with him will add value to ones life. The last time we had extended talk with Dr Birhanu Abebe was during my vacation in August 2006 in Addis. That evening his nephew Dr.Abebe Kebede (my wife’s elder brother) and myself walked with him from “Arat Killo” to “Piassa” chatting on various academic issues, and I shall never forget that conversation. His loss will definitely leave a big gap in the country’s source of knowledge. May God console the grieving family and rest his soul in peace.

    Getachew Dessiye
    Edmonton, Canada

  6. Helen Shiferaw Mekuria
    July 8, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Dr. Berhanu Abebe was like a father to all the 11 children of his sister Mrs Maria Hapet who now resides with her children in USA. When the news of the sudden death of my uncle was broken to my mother, she was devastated and almost uncontrolable. Her immediate wish was opportunity to see her brother for the last time to say goodbye but unfortunately, her bother was buried few hours before her plane touched down in Ethiopia.
    The death of our uncle is a great loss to the family. My Prayer is for God to grant him eternal peace and also for God to protect the wife and two children he left behind.
    Goodbye Uncle, we will all miss you. Helen Shiferaw mekuria

    • Kristin
      September 8, 2009 at 8:00 pm

      Ms. Mekuria,

      I came across this posting when doing a name search on google. I work fr International Social Service-USA. There is a possibility that someone might be looking for you. Please contact me at 443-451-1224 or via email kreuter@iss-usa.org.

      Thank you,

      Kristin Reuter

    • Kristin
      October 6, 2009 at 1:13 pm

      Ms. Mekuria,

      please contact me again at 443-451-1224 Mon-Wed between the hours of 8:30am – 4:30pm. Recently, there have been some positive developments and I would like to share some information with you.
      You can also reach me via email at kreuter@iss-usa.org.

      Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

      Kind regards,

      Kristin Reuter

  7. Fedila S. Reshid
    July 8, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Dearest Aklil, Betty, Zabel Maria, Salih and the rest of the family

    I was dismayed to hear of Dr. Birhanu Abebe passing and am writing to extend my deepest sympathies to you and your family

    I know how difficult this must be for the family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    I know how much you will miss him. I encourage you to draw on your strength and the strength of your family.

    May God rest his soul in peace.

    With warmest regards,

    Fedila Shabedin
    Perth, Austrlia

  8. July 8, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I can not wait to express my sincere thanks to all who are writing messages of good will and hope. Dr. Berhanu Abebe is with us, and will be with us as long as we carry his tourch and contniue to teach and to inform the rest of the world about his work and his commitments to the history of Ethioipa. I am very glad to read that there are so many family members that I have, please make sure to contact me. Particularly Helen, Hiwot and all Mrs. Maria Hapet family. The following family members are expressing their condolances. We are on Abebe Gedil side via Dibachew Zewge and Tayech Engida. For now I experess my condolances on behalf of the following families

    TenagneWork Dibachew, Romanework Dibachew, Mersha Dibachew, Mamo Dibachew, Endale Dibachew, Azalech Dibachew, Workinesh Dibachew, Gedion Dibachew. Some of the members of these families members are outside Ethiopia. We will be very happy to know where every one is.

    I would like to ask family members, our colleagues and friends of Dr. Berhanou to form an online community, so that we can all work together to keep his memory alive. One way to keep his torch lighted is to establish educational activities on his behalf. We have contructed a conceptual framework in which we plan to support high caliber MS and PhD students in Ethiopian history and related fields. I strongly believe that this will be the legacy of Dr. Berhanu.

    Please contact me as soon time allows you
    Email: abkebede@gmail.com
    Website: Berhanu Abebe Family and Friends Foundation for Ethiopian History and Records (http://sirius-c.ncat.edu/BAFF/index.html)
    Telephone: 336 285 2113 or 336 253 4091


  9. Mistre
    July 16, 2008 at 11:12 am

    I felt sad and empty while I read the passing of Dr. Berhanu Abebe while in on a mission in Zimbabwe. I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Berhanu in Israel. He was leading a two men delegation that came to resolve the disagreement that was escalating between Ethiopians and Egyptians over Ethiopian monastery, Der Sultan (Debre SulTan). Our church keepers in Jerusalem were expecting to see some one from Ethiopian Orthodox hierarchy or at least a high level government official. Dr. Berhane was none. However, he handled the issue intelligently and his mission was accomplished. May his soul rest in peace, May the Almighty God strengthen his beloved ones and those of you who are in a grief?

  10. melaku messerte
    July 17, 2008 at 3:37 am

    I was very saddened to hear about my Father’s uncle Dr. Birhanu Abebe passing. He was someone that really lived every day to the fullest. He was an educated and knowledgeable individual who were not a power trusted, and never corrupted his country, and he is a good citizen of Ethiopian. And he was made a lot of contribution to educational institute of Ethiopia’s universities.

    His accidental death is very saddened and While I know that words are only a small gesture of support, I want you to know that his spirit has touched many people’s lives as it has mine.

    My special sympathy to his lovely wife Mrs. Fikerte Seyum, to all of his children Semerawit Berahanu, Dawit Berahnu, and his elder sister Mrs. Meria and all her family members . Also my condolence to younger brother of Dr. Berahnu Abebe Mr. eshatu who lives in Toronto, Canada. And all his family members. And also my deepest sympathy to his brother is abebe daughter, Ms. Metasebia Abebe, and also my deepest sympathy to his youngest sister Senait Abebe Gedel daughter, my sister senait and his aunt Felekech gedel to all of their family members.

    Infarcts, I must say my sympathy to all remaining Family tree’s branches members, You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Melaku messerte
    Dr. Berahnu’s nephew

  11. Jacques Bojin
    September 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Dear Ethiopian friends,

    It is with profound sadness that I just heard last night of Berhanu’s passing.
    I am still under the shock and have a great difficulty in expressing my feelings at this terrible news.

    Berhanou was like a brother to me.
    We met as students in Paris and I was blessed with his friendship for nearly half a century, despite all the vicissitudes of life. Martha, his elder daughter, lived with us in Paris while a student and was really our third daughter. Her disappearance in the prime of youth, was already a terrible drama.

    I can hardly believe that we won’t see him again.
    Rest assure that his memory will always be with us and his many French friends.

    Jacques Bojin

  12. henok birhanu abebe
    May 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    i would like to thank all for recognizing my father’s effort and his contribution for his belaved country.
    his son
    henok birhanu abebe

  13. Sebhat Tessema
    September 10, 2009 at 10:29 am

    what can one say about him.especially those who knew him,he was beautiful in spirit ,and body, workhorse, Bohem. I knew him from childhood.he was welcome guest in our Family

  14. Moges Teshager
    January 13, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Dear All,
    The death of Dr.Berhanu is indeed a great loss for all…I wish I knew him before.

    I have found myself being very much related to this family of his…which i never knew before, for some reasons.

    I would love to connect with the ones alive, and i am really in need of an email of one of you guys…families of Dr. Berhanu…

    • abkebede
      February 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Hello, my Name is Abebe Kebede, very very close relative of Dr. Berhanu on his father side Abebe Gedel. My email address is abkebede@gmail.com

      Moges Teshager :
      Dear All,
      The death of Dr.Berhanu is indeed a great loss for all…I wish I knew him before.
      I have found myself being very much related to this family of his…which i never knew before, for some reasons.
      I would love to connect with the ones alive, and i am really in need of an email of one of you guys…families of Dr. Berhanu…

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