Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dejazmach Kassa Wolde Mariam

Fall 1954, the start of my junior year in college.  A new dormitory opened on campus and my room assignment was in this facility.  That same autumn Ethiopian student Kassa Mariam transferred to SPC.  He resided on the same floor in the dorm, though while I was on the east wing, he was on the north wing.  A large commons area at the junction of these halls gave ample opportunity for social interactions.

Mariam's course of study took him in a different direction when we headed for classes. I was fascinated by the force of Casey's personality and by the fact that he hailed from such a remote part of the world, remote to me being anywhere outside the Western United States.

The one year concluded my contact with Mariam, for though he plowed ahead and graduated with our class of '56, I laid out a year and he had moved on to his career before I finished.  Briefly, Kassa Mariam, hereditary royalty in his own right, returned to his homeland and in 1959 he married  Seble Desta, granddaughter of Emperor Haile Selassie. with whom he had five children.  He served as private secretary to the Emperor.  Kassa was named founding president of Haile Selassie University in 1962. and following his tenure as president of the university, he was named Agriculture Secretary, the position which he occupied when Selassie was overthrown by the Derg.  

Kassa Mariam was imprisoned in 1974 and in 1979 he was executed.  His widow, also imprisoned, was released in 1988.

For more detail click here.
Open letter from Kassa's children regarding proposed pardon of Derg leaders.  Click here.

Kassa, as a Seattle Pacific student

Kassa W. Mariam c.1934 - 1979 RIP

Seattle Pacific Response
Wikipedia, Seble Desta
The letter linked above.

"Saturday, July 14, 1979, was the feast day of the Holy Trinity. Reports say that His Excellency Lidj Kassa Wolde-Mariam (“Lidj” is the Ethiopian equivalent of a British “lord”) was led from his cell and went to his knees before fellow prisoner and priest, Patriarch Abune Tewophilos, who gave him absolution. Kassa rose and followed his executioners to the appointed spot where Amaha believes his father was strangled to death. Some reports say that his confessor died with him in the same mannr."  Seattle Pacific Response, linked above as more detail.


Vee said...

A life well-lived and remembered.

The idea that mercy means people should not be responsible for their actions does not make our world a safer place. Christian leaders need to be reeducated on why the church exists. (Or maybe they need to have a true life-change before they become leaders in the church.) I read several articles related to your post and could hardly believe so many churches supported this release.

I'm fairly certain that defending and protecting those who perpetrate evil is not a mission of the Christian Church. I also doubt that Christ's mandate to his people includes protecting lawbreakers from arrest or saving the planet. Hey, I even believe that Christianity should be divorced from politics and focus on carrying out the work of Christ. The Christian community of our time is conflicted concerning why they even exist.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7: 21-23, NKJV)

vanilla said...

Vee, hear, hear! Or were I in church, amen!

Secondary Roads said...

Right on, Vee! I sum it up with these words, "Salvation comes not from the ballot box, nor the barrel of a rifle.

vanilla said...

Chuck, well said.
Kassa was a brilliant student, focused, goal-oriented, perhaps thinking in terms of ruling a nation. I, on the other hand, was none of the above. Sure, I went to classes; but there were ditches to be dug, buses to be driven; there were seas full of fish to be sought, mountains filled with game to be hunted. There were games to be played and movies to be seen, bull to be shot. My world and Mariam’s intersected in the men’s dormitory.