The Walelign Legacy

The Walelign Legacy

— Today is the birthday of the late Walelign Mekonnen “Kassa”, born on this date on March 22, 1945 in Debresina Wollo.
Walelign is regarded as one of the most controversial yet celebrated names during Ethiopia’s 1960s-1970s student movements that sought to address issues of the day.

A student in political science at Haile Selassie University (now AAU), and inspired by Marxist philosophy, Walelign’s widely read and distributed 1969 essay “On the Question of Nationalities of Ethiopia” is considered an early hallwark treatise addressing the plight of the nationalities within Ethiopia during the period of Haile Selassie.

Walelign’s outspoken behavior drew much attention but all came to an end on December 9, 1972 when he and six other associates were killed by Ethiopian security forces that claimed they had subdued them seconds before they intended to carry out a “terrorist” act. Much controversy and questions remain unanswered in regard to those final moments.


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