Outstanding Ethiopia historian, journalist and diplomat Zewede Retta passed away yesterday in London at the age of 81, Ethiopia Observer has learnt. Zewde who was considered a great historian of modern Ethiopia, and a commentator on social affairs was on vacation in the United Kingdom. He was taken to hospital by ambulance, after he fell down on the street in London. He died at the hospital.
Zewde Retta, former Ethiopian Ambassador to Italy and Tunisia, wrote two important books on the life and times of Haile Selassie and another on the question of Eritrea.
Born in Addis Ababa, Young Zewde went to French Lycée Guebre-Mariam, where he completed his primary and secondary education. According to his biography in Amazon, he began his professional career at the Ministry of Information in 1952 and became the youngest news correspondent for Ethiopian radio as well as press correspondent to the Emperor’s palace. “He then spent four years at the school of journalism in Paris where he graduated in 1959. Soon after he became editor in chief for the newspaper The Voice of Ethiopia and for Menen magazine,” the bio reads.
Throughout the 50’s and 60’s he held numerous positions including deputy information minister, chief director of the Ethiopian news agency and President of the Pan African News Agency. In 1969 he was appointed to the foreign office and assigned as minister counselor to the Ethiopian Embassy in Paris, it was stated.
“His diplomatic ability enabled him first to become deputy foreign minister and later ambassador of Ethiopia to Italy and Tunisia for the Emperor’s government. Overall he had a twenty two years career in the government of Emperor Haile Selassie until the military takeover of Ethiopia by Mengistu. The change of government and the uncertainty about Ethiopia’s future forced him to stay in exile in Italy where he joined the UN Agency IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), headquartered in Rome, where he served as Chief of Protocol and Secretary for Member State,” Amazon posted on its page.
(First phtoto-Zewde Retta in the middle with the stick photographed on September 27, 2015 at Fairfield House, Bath home of Emperor Haile Selassie during his exile years. Zewde’s second visit, the first one being in 1958.Second photo at an Award honoring Amabsaddor Zewde in Addis Ababa. Taken by Muluken Asrat. )