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Mengistu Haile Mariam


Communist leader of Ethiopia (1974-1991) during the Ethiopian Civil War, and the most prominent member of the Derg, the military junta responsible for the deposition of Haile Selassie.
Mengistu Haile Mariam
Menghistu had the problem of coming from... a very dubious background socially of coming from the South West of the country from a border region he didn't have good Ethiopian credentials. Good blue blood of any kind. There were rumors in later years that supposedly he had descended from some Ethiopian emperor, but there was no evidence whatsoever that this was the case. Therefore Menghistu felt necessary to prove his nationalism and he had to prove he was as tough as anybody else and he was desirous of protecting Ethiopia's interests.
Mariam quotes
I'm a military man, I did what I did only because my country had to be saved from tribalism and feudalism. If I failed, it was only because I was betrayed. The so-called genocide was nothing more than just a war in defence of the revolution and a system from which all have benefited.
Mariam
If I had resigned on my own accord, to whom would I have transferred the reigns of power?




Mariam Mengistu Haile quotes
For me and for many others, Mengistu was the best choice [as chairman of the military council] for several reasons. He had come from a poor family background and was not an Amhara, the dominant ethnic group under Haile Selassie. As a person and as a junior officer he represented our rejection of past values. He would bring about a greater sense that all Ethiopians were equal, an end to class arrogance and racism. Many of us felt he would embody the spirit of the Revolution and symbolize the change we wanted to bring about.
Mariam Mengistu Haile
Mengistu seemed to symbolize the revolution. He was the baria, the slave who overthrew the master, the member of the conquered tribe who got even with the conquerors, the poorly educated son of a servant who rose against the intellectual elite.
Mengistu Haile Mariam quotes
Mengistu does not understand the meaning of self-determination, either historically or in the abstract. He cannot conceive of a nation as anything but an absolute centralized authority, totalitarianism, for his rule is nothing less than that now.
Mengistu Haile Mariam
After Mengistu consolidated his power in 1978, his personality gradually began to change. His ability to listen and his patience faded away. We could now see these qualities were pretences only; he had been putting on his best behavior in his bid for support.
Mariam Mengistu Haile quotes
In this country, some aristocratic families automatically categorize persons with dark skin, thick lips, and kinky hair as "Barias" [Amharic for slave]... let it be clear to everybody that I shall soon make these ignoramuses stoop and grind corn!
Mariam
When as an American emissary I met him in September 1977 in his office in the Menelik Palace, I was struck at how much darker he was than his portrait on the wall behind him. The fact that he was more Negroid than the average Ethiopian highlander gave him an inferiority complex.
Mariam Mengistu Haile
We thought that the proletariat would eventually run the world. But it is the Americans who have assumed that position... The American people have changed.
Mengistu Haile Mariam
Major Mengistu Haile Mariam sounds like someone who likes Ethiopia very much, and as someone who has a great love for his country. But he has no love for anyone save for himself. He gives the impression of someone who has dreams for the growth, development and prosperity of Ethiopia, though he doesn't know how development and prosperity come about. He is an extremely cruel person who doesn't know pardon, forgiveness or kindness. He readily listens to what others tell him about someone, then acts upon that information without verifying the truth. He defends those who favoured him... He is very happy when he is flattered, but doesn't trust anyone, and is even suspicious (afraid) of his own shadow. He will do anything to promote his personal interest. He has the good habit of carefully listening to someone else's ideas and subsequently presenting those ideas as if they were his own (as if these ideas originated from him). He is very jealous and suffers from an inferiority complex. My dear friend Major Mengistu Haile Mariam lies a bit too.




Mengistu Haile Mariam quotes
We fought them when they sought to dismember the nation. Is this why I should seek exoneration?
Mengistu Haile Mariam
One of the fundamental preconditions of successful socialist construction is to ensure the people's readiness to defend themselves from the ravages of probable regional or global wars on the basis of the balance of forces generating from the basic contradictions of our epoch.
Mariam quotes
When [Nelson Mandela] was in prison I admired him for his moral strength...
Of his period in power I can see few results. Apartheid no longer exists, at least to all appearances, but no one understands what the new government in South Africa is doing.
Mariam Mengistu Haile
I am a revolutionary; my life is dedicated to freeing the people.
Mariam Mengistu Haile quotes
Mengistu is a barbaric and cruel creature who becomes happy with the death of human beings.
Mengistu Haile Mariam
Mugabe fought and liberated his country from colonists. But I am here as a guest of the Zimbabwe people. I am not a personal guest of Mugabe. And veterans of the liberation struggle are well aware of this fact.
Mengistu Haile Mariam quotes
We did not even know his name.
Mengistu Haile Mariam
[Haile Selassie] died a natural death, as far as I know. I can't deny that there were many of my men who would have been glad to kill him with their bare hands to avenge the fathers and brothers they had lost due to him. The doctor looking after him told me nothing about any deterioration in his health, so there was no way I could personally ascertain what happened.
Mariam Mengistu Haile
Ethiopia did not have the same problem [of corruption]. African leaders looked at us with envy.


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