The Jesuit Fathers who served as administrators and teachers at Tafari Makonnen School powerfully influenced the intellectual development of thousands of students over the course of their three decades of service to Ethiopia’s premier secondary school, witness the many TMS graduates who have earned baccalaureate and graduate degrees at Haile Selassie I University and other distinguished postsecondary institutions around the world. But the educational mission of these dedicated teachers was far more expansive than traditional classroom learning. They were passionately devoted to shaping their students’ character as well, instilling such values as self-discipline, honesty, and service to their fellow human beings, to their community, and to their nation.
Two distinguished TMS alumni, Dr. Aklilu Habte and Dr. Moges Gebremariam, attest to the tremendous influence of the Jesuit teachers on their intellectual development and character formation in the video interview that Fr. Festo Mkenda, SJ, recorded for this blog a couple of weeks ago, with my and Bisrat Aklilu’s assistance. In their fascinating interview, Drs. Aklilu and Moges also acknowledge the tremendous contribution of Emperor Haile Selassie to education in Ethiopia, including founding Tafari Makonnen School and the University College of Addis Ababa (later Haile Selassie I University).
Fr. Festo, you might recall, is currently writing a history of the Jesuits in Ethiopia, including a chapter on Tafari Makonnen School, A Splash of Diamond, which he describes in a video interview we posted at this blog several weeks ago. Members of the Tafari Makonnen School Alumni Association of North America, which is closely associated with www.entwinedlives.com, can look forward to learning more about his forthcoming book when he appears in person at a future TMSAANA meeting, when such gatherings are deemed safe.
It is both a pleasure and distinct honor to present this memoir by distinguished Tafari Makonnen School alumnus Dr. Aklilu Habte, who recorded it expressly for Entwined Lives. When another distinguished TMS graduate, Bisrat Aklilu, suggested several weeks ago that I contact Dr. Aklilu, whom I hadn’t met, about recording his reflections and reminiscences, I was, frankly, skeptical that he would be willing to spend the time. I was aware that he was in the midst of an ambitious writing project – a history of the development of higher education in Ethiopia – and couldn’t imagine he would welcome the distraction. But, thank heaven, Bisrat was insistent, so I telephoned Dr. Aklilu, who, to my delighted surprise, readily agreed to do the recording. Before providing you with an overview of Dr. Aklilu’s illustrious career, I want to thank his son, Ameha Aklilu, who took time from his tremendously demanding schedule as a senior IBM executive to assemble a treasure trove of photographs that you’ll see as you listen to the podcast.
Dr. Aklilu received his baccalaureate degree with distinction from the University College of Addis Ababa (later Haile Selassie I University) in 1954, the Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba (Canada) in 1955, and the Master of Education and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio State University in 1956 and 1958, respectively. From 1958 to 1969, Dr. Aklilu served as Head of the Education Department, Dean of the Faculties of Arts and Education, and Associate Academic Vice President of Haile Selassie I University, and he was the University’s President from 1969 to 1974. From 1974 to 1977, Dr. Aklilu served as Minister of Culture, Sports, and Youth Affairs in the Government of Ethiopia.
Dr. Aklilu’s long and illustrious career has also included serving as Director of the Education and Training Department at the World Bank and Chief of the Education Division and Special Advisor to the Executive Director of UNICEF.