It is with great sorrow and pain I learnt about this tragic event in the lives of those of us who knew and honored this special giant and patriot Son of Ethiopia, Major General Nega Tegegne, the only Ethiopian Patriot of his generation who received the Imperial Solomonic Order of Merit, Grand Cross, from Imperial Crown Prince Zere-Yacob Asfaw Wossen at the recent special dinner and service (Nov 2001) at the House of Lords, London England.
General Nega was for me a person of honor and dignity, always honorable, knowledgeable
about every thing Ethiopian and most importantly a man of faith, character and
utmost integrity. I knew our beloved General in exile while he returned from
Sudan in the latter part of the 1980s and early 1990s in London, England. He
soon joined the Anglo-Ethiopian Society and the Ethiopian Community in Britain
and excelled in his wisdom and integrity giving us his wisdom and integrity
to all of us who knew him. For me General Nega was a friend, a father, a patriot,
a teacher and most of all a pillar of Ethiopian Patriot. I am sorry I can not
attend this heroes funeral. May the Lord bless his children, his wife and his
beloved friends in London, Gonder and Addis Ababa and those patriotic Ethiopian
soldiers who he immortalized in his recent book whose copy he gave me at the
London Hilton during our recent meeting in Jan 2002. I am sorry I never connected
when he called for Eth Christmas and that was his last word, which I still have
on my answering machine. I am sorry General I missed you.
I will quote from his own words which is found at the cover of his book, The historical struggle of Ethiopians and the establishment of modern military 1955 - 1974 with a map of beloved Ethiopia and the most beautiful tricolor entitled the Great Pincer.
General Nega the author : "Major General Nega was born in Gonder Province and was educated at Shemi Mariam monastry and at his parents residence. He learnt to read and write Amharic at home. He then traveled to Addis Ababa with his uncle Kegne Azmatch Dagnew Desta and studied his primary education at Emperor Menelik II School. He than moved to the technical school or "Tegbare Id" and under took technical education. In 1938 Eth Calendar, he joined the Imperial Body Guards Corps military academy and graduated as a Lieutenant with distinction.
After graduation from the military academy he became a teacher and trainer at Debre Zeit Imperial Air Force, Jijiga Air Force trainer the second and third course trainees and graduates. He then joined an elite group of officers selected to undertake special studies in cryptography course as part of military intelligence training.
In 1951 Eth Calendar, he joined an elite group that was commanded by Colonel Kebede Gebre at the Korean War and served as Intelligent Officer code communication and fianance officer. When the 2nd Kagnew Brigade intelligent officer has to return home due to health reason, the Captain Nega served for three months as intelligent officer at the war front.
On his return from Korean War, he joined the Commercial School in Addis and completed the four-year course and graduated with intermediate diploma. In 1957 Eth. Calendar, he was sent to India to study at the Wellington Staff College and graduated as staff officer. He participated in a special Officer's course training called "Mao". He returned to his beloved country in 1960 Eth Calendar, and joined the distinguished Harar Military Academy and taught military administration course. He later joined the Imperial Ethiopia Military High Command in Addis Ababa and served in the education and military high command. When General Kebede Gebre was appointed as the Commander of the Congo UN military command, Major Nega served as General Kebede's Chief of Staff and later served as the Congo Command Chief Military Operation Officer. On return from the Congo, he joined the 3rd Imperial Army Division and served in Ogaden Front and became the commander of the Fifth Commando Force. After serving for one year in this capacity he was appointed as the Governor of Northern Ogaden and Commander of the 10th Emergency Brigade.
In 1966/67, Eth Calendar, General Nega was transferred to Addis Ababa and served as an officer in the education and military command center. At the special time in history when the Angolan Liberation Fronts were being courted to have a special seat at the Organization of African Unity, a contention arose between the two factions Dr Augostino Neto and Olden Roberto. A team of military group was assigned to examine the situation on the field and General Nega Chaired a special Task Force of Military Officer who visited Angola for a month and prepared a detailed report with a recommendation of one group the MPLA to occupy the special seat.
In 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, when there was a concern about the question of genocide, General Nega was part of the Organization of African Unity nominees who along with United Nation Observer who visited Nigeria for 8 months and prepared a detailed report.
Between 1971 and 1972 he was sent to Great Britain and studied at the Royal College of Defense Studies and graduated with success (RCDS).
In 1972, as he was serving as the Commander of the Imperial 3rd Division Military Brigade in Harar, the new government of Lij Endalkatchew Makonnnen removed him from his military post and was made Governor of his beloved home province Gonder. As the Military Junta took power and started massacring its own precious sons and daughters, General Nega protested this inhumane treatment of patriotic Ethiopians and left his post and made his way to the Sudan to begin a military and patriotic campaign to liberate his country. He traveled secretly for over 8 months among his people, at times under the nose of the enemy and I recall General Nega's passionate stories how his beloved people of Gonder protected him from the Butchers of the Derg for several months in the villages and farms of Ethiopia.
In 1975, he moved to the Sudan as en exile and patriotic leader where he organized and commanded the EDU (Ethiopian Democratic Union) Military Command for several years. However, in 1978, when he realized that the organization and patriotic struggle picture was changing radically against the interest of the country and patriots, he is one of those noble and briliant officers who decided that it was better to stop his participation and declared so by facing his officers and patriots and resigned from his active participation in the struggle.
He later came to England in 1989 where I met him and spent 6 wonderful years until I left Britain for the United States. As honorable, as he is he met with me two years ago when he visited the United States and shared drafts of his very interesting book about the genesis and revelation of the Ethiopian patriots and modern military.
General Nega wanted to return home desperately but felt that it was not in the interest of his country nor the patriots that shed their sacred blood and lives to return under the current condition. During the recent massacre of our people in different parts of Ethiopia, General Nega has written many articles and attended many conferences representing himself and patriotic Ethiopians.
I recall two interesting conferences, one in Oxford, in 1991 at the Yarnton Manor at the 40th Anniversary of the Founding of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Exodus or Operation Solomon of Ethiopian Jews when Professor Stephen Israel of Hebrew University was misrepresenting the Falashas or Bete Israel, General Nega with dignity and honor told the young professor, that his maps of Gonder, Quara were wrong and that his assertion that the Bete Israel of Ethiopia were not Jews was mistaken and erroneous. I will never forget where over 40 International Scholars were present and Professor Stevens face was changing from pink to ash in front of every one. General Nega always spoke with dignity in his immaculate English and pose.
The second time was at another International Conference (London Conference on Strategic Directions) where General Nega and I presented at papers in Strategy 92 organized by the International Media Corporations Limited, Empire House, 175 Piccadilly, Suite 1A, London, W1V 9DB, UK (tel: 071 491 2044). Please contact Gregory R Copley the author of Ethiopia Stretches Her Hand Unto God, which I believe was influenced if not supported by General Nega in this interesting publication.
Please contact Gregory Copley for a copy of this Strategy 92 conference report to see General Nega's excellent presentation under the title of " The specter of political change and discontinuity in the Horn of Africa" which I believe one of his masterpiece about his military and historical analysis of the time. I believe this article is a masterpiece and should be read by all Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia. He in effect forecast about Alakeda or Fundamental Islam and its influence and he looks a prophet in the post 911 world. At the end of the presentation at the Officer's Club in Picaddily/Oxford Street area, General Nega had a standing ovation from all the international Generals and Foreign Office senior diplomats (US, UK, China, Russia, Scandinavian, Israel, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia). In fact, the Saudi Prince Sultan who was then the Chief of Intelligence invited us for lunch after the presentation and said the following.
General Nega, there were many Generals and Admirals in this conference from all over the world, the real and true General is only one person and that is you. I know you from Ethiopia and then the Sudan during the Patriotic Struggles and you have always been honorable. Please tell me are these two boys in Asmara and Addis communists or not. If they are communists watch us we will be in Addis. The General gave his honorable statements about the TPLF and EPLF and about the presence of Saudi Arabia in Ethiopia it is a matter of history and Ethiopian intelligence to figure out.
Here goes this beloved son of Ethiopia, which I had the privilege and honor to know and learn a lot from. General Nega your spirit will always remain with me. Your dignity and patriotism will be taken on by the younger generation, so long I have breath on earth I will testify you were and are the precious patriots of Ethiopia and Gonder and especially Harar and Ethiopia is proud of you for ever. You have left us so many memories may your children grown to learn what a hero their father was and may your widow understand that we all love her and pray with her so that your soul may rest in that special place where Ethiopian Patrots and Saints live in heaven.
Good by my only true General, my friend, brother, and mentor. General Nega I love you and respect you even as I cover my keyboard with my tears. You are truly a hero who deserved to be at home in his beloved country among his beloved country. But you loved England, your second home, may the English soil keep you warm.
God bless my friend, I miss you. I will never forget you. May your wife Princess Ruth and your three children have solace from the Holy Spirit.
Your brother and friend
Belai Fikre Mariam Habte-Jesus