Agazi is the name of a school located in Adigrat, Tigray, Ethiopia. Agazi School has been more of a need for support from Alumni and friends. The number of students joining the school has increased in the past few years and the school budget per student has dwindled and the cost of running the school has substantially increased. Nevertheless, students and teachers of the school are defying the difficult conditions they face and carry on their daily school works. They need our support to facilitate their education, and to overcome their challenging circumstances.
The activities of Agazi Alumni predate the legal formation of the Agazi School Alumni Association in 1963 EC. In fact students of Agazi during the 1950’s (EC) may remember the hand held battery operated loudspeaker which was donated by Agazi alumni who were attending Atse Yohannes High School in Makalle. This loudspeaker had some laughing matters that you probably had heard how Sheka Weres addressed a school gathering holding the speaker near his ear and started talking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This loudspeaker had some laughing matters that you probably had heard how Sheka Weres addressed a school gathering holding the speaker near his ear and started talking. Other activities of the community-oriented alumni who were themselves students at the Haile Selassie I University (now Addis Ababa University) include the tutorial program. During their vacation in the summer (kremti), these dedicated children of Agazi were offering special tutorial classes to students who completed grades 7 and 11 and who were expected to take the 8th and 12th grade national exams the following academic year. It was to help them perform better at those exams. These activities of the alumni were in operation long before the Association was legally formed. The association was formed with the hard work of all its alumni and respected community members in Addis Ababa. Before its legal recognition, the organizers were faced with many difficulties including some hesitation by some alumni. Among the few people who were active in organizing all these activities and later served as officers in Addis Ababa were: Ato Ambaye Gezahegne, Ato Haileselassie Derso, and Ato Reda Tamarat. While everyone was helping with fundraising and all other activities and it may not be appropriate to pick a few names from the community of many, we thought it would give a good reference to some of our young readers and members that we tried to include a few more names both who were in Adigrat and others in Addis who could be recognized for their role with the alumni. Among these are: Ato Kahsai Gebrehiwet, Gebremeskel Kahsai, Kegnazmatch Seyoum, Hailemariam Derso, Bahta Gebrehiwet, Fitawrari Ambaye Baraki, and memhir Girmay Hagos Baraki. Among the people who served as Board members at the ASAA headquarters in Adigrat were teachers Girmay Hagos Baraki, Aregawi Tedla, Kebede Seife, Yihdego Meles, Arefe Gebretsadik, Alemseged Gezahegn, Lemlem Hagos, Gebrelibanos Tewelde, Gebremichael G.medhin, Embaye G.giorgis. The major Alumni activities were in Addis Ababa and Adigrat. However, other offices in Makalle, Gondar, Bahr Dar, Dessie and Asmara also played a role. Establishing the association legally was difficult in Addis since the government of Emperor Haileselassie feared an association of Tigrayans could lead to political activity. It was possible only after the then Tigray Governor, Ras Mengesha, was convinced and gave his permission for the association in Tigray. One of the key rules of the association at that time was its openness to all interested. When it came to contributions for the Association, the Addis Chapter played a major role. The Addis Chapter had successful fundraising events where they were able to collect the money and books that helped the association in developing its first library in Adigrat. All the materials (Mies, Thilo and all other necessary items) were sent from Adigrat through the association. The public library also received donations from Aba Yacob Gebrekiristos who was then operating the Adigrat YMCA on his own effort. When he got a chance to go abroad he donated all his books to the alumni library. At the initial stages of the library, there was no one specific librarian employed for the job. The school teachers served as volunteer librarians on a rotation basis. After a short period, the association hired Gebremedhin Tesfai as its first librarian immediately after he graduated from Agazi comprehensive high school. Another librarian was Hailu “Jirru” followed by Laake Ghebre, and Hailu Gebretsadik who served till 1977.
Thank you to our dedicated Board of Directors and Auditors listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 5, 2017 – Present

Hagos Gebre – (Chairman) Haile Mariam Asefa (Vice Chairman) Aster Eyob (Secretary) Kahsay Abraham (Treasurer) Aregash Abraha (Financial Secretary) Bruck Girmay (Public Relations Officer) Elen Tareke (Business Planning/Membership Drive) Alem Berhane Meskel (Business Planning/Membership Drive) Assefa Tesfay (Business Planning/Membership Drive)

July 5, 2014 – July 11, 2017

Dr. Yohannes Woldegabriel (Chairman) Alem Gebretsadik (Vice Chairman) Negusse Hailu (Secretary) Tsegay K Medhin (Treasurer) Binyam Tsehaye (Financial Secretary) Birikty Atsbeha (Public Relations Officer) Embaye Danfa (Public Relations Officer) Gebreyessus Engida (Public Relations Officer) vacant – Seatle chapter will have special election for this seat

July 2011 – July 5, 2014

Kahsay Abraha Bissirat (Chairman) Yeshi Gebremeskel (Secretary) Mulugeta G. Melles (Treasurer) Alem Gebretsadik Ameha Amene Hagos, Dr. Birhane Girmay, Ph.D. Haileselassie Desta Ogbazgi Melles Zelalem Woldu

July 2008 – July 2011

Ogbazghi Melles (Chairman) Kahsay Abraham (Treasurer) Aster Eyob (Secretary) Michael Gebre, Ph.D. (Financial Secretary) Zelalem Woldu (Public Relations) Girmay Tesfagiorgis (Member) Alem Seyoum (Member)

July 2005 – July 2008

Ogbazghi Melles (Chairman) Zuryash Amarework (Treasurer) Michael Gebre, Ph.D. (Secretary) Kahsay Abraham (Public Relations) Mekonen Ambaye (Public Relations)

July 2002 – 2005

Berhane Hagos (Chairman) Hagos Gebrai (Treasurer) Teka Sahlu (Secretary) Dr. Teame Embaye (Public Relations) Genet Tessema (Member)

July 1999 – July 2002

Michael Gebre, Ph.D. (Chair) Yeshi Gebremeskel (Vice Chair) Hagos Gebrai (Treasurer) Teka Sahlu (Secretary) Mulugeta Melles (public Relations) Ogbazghi Melles (public Relations) Kidane Teklu (Member)

July 1996 to July 1999

Board of Directors Michael Gebre, Ph.D. (Chair) Lemlem Yohannes (Vice Chair) Teka Sahlu (Secretary) Ameha Amene (Treasurer July 1996 – March 1997) Kidane Teklehaimanot (Treasurer, March 1997 – July 1999) Tafere Haileselassie (Auditor) Berhane Tesfai (Member) Berhane Hagos (Member)

Auditors July 2005 – July 2011

Hagos Gebre Kidane Teklehaimanot

Audit Committee 2002 – 2005

Daniel Belai Kahsay Abraha Laake Ghebre

Audit Committee July 2001 – July 2002

Kahsay Abraha Hagos Gebre Eyob Kebede

agazi school alumni

If our alumni succeeded in establishing the association and coordinated their help for their community, it could be that there were others before them who had shown keen interest in development programs. Two people that are always mentioned as key to such programs are Dr. Mengesha Geberhiwet and Ato Girmay Hagos Teklu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Mengesha was the Ethiopian Vice Minister of Education. He was a dedicated person that without his major influence in Addis Ababa many things would not have come to reality. This is not to disregard the other dedicated people who did many valuable contributions financially and morally. Ato Girmay Hagos Teklu was later employed at the Ministry of Education office in Addis. Having two Agazi alumni at the Ministry of Education Office at the same time may have been one of the good luck opportunity for the opening of the Agazi High school because both worked tirelessly to help their community towards that end. They organized the community to come up with the financial support while they worked with officials in getting the recognition and need for a high school. In case you are confused by the many Girmay Hagos’s in Adigrat, this Girmay Hagos is the father of Biruk Girmay who is himself an active member of ASAA in North America. Ato Girmay Hagos as an alumni of Agazi was a very far sighted person who thought much on the development of Adigrat in general and Agazi in particular. He was fighting for the development of a good health center and a better electricity for Adigrat. The Health Center which used to be on the way to Chianadoug was one such result. According to a report on Addis Zemen (see story about Ato Hadgu Gebreyohannes) that was kindly provided to us by Bruck and his family, the health center was built by the support of our alumni in 1957 EC. Ato Hadgu provided the university students with housing. According to statements we obtained from Ato Berihun Belai who was the head of Adigrat Municipality in 1956 EC, both Dr. Mengesha and Ato Girmay traveled from Addis to participate in organizing support for development programs in the Agame area. Among the issues discussed in one such event was road construction overall as well as with tourism in mind, health services, electricity, and high school. Ato Berihun recalls that the car accident that took away the life of Ato Girmay Hagos Teklu in 1956 EC happened when both Dr. Mengesha and Ato Girmay were returning to their work in Addis Ababa after attending a meeting in Adigrat. Among the success stories of these two dedicated Agazi Alumni was the meeting that was held to open a high school in Adigart. Ato Girmay Hagos Baraki recalls on the day many influential people from Agame were to meet, Ato Kahsai Gebrehiwet approached Balambaras Mehari Hagos and asked him if he would agree to build one classroom for a high school since he was considering that himself. The reply was without hesitation, yes. There was a calculation that five people could each pledge to build a classroom. On that evening, at the dinner, four of the five expected donors: Balambaras Hadgu, Balambaras Mehari, Ato Kahsi Gebrehiwet, and Ato Yohannes G.Mariam each pledged to build one classroom while others were to build another room. All four rooms were finished during the same summer (Kiremti). In summary, the Agazi High School was born out of the leadership of its alumni and the dedication of its community. Besides having its alumni as officials in the Ministry of Education in Addis Ababa, the officials at the local level such as Ato Sebhatu Bahre and Girmay Hagos Baraki were key in the success for establishing the school and support for later activities by its alumni. In the end, the benefit is not for the alumni since they are done with their school, but for the children that attend the school in the future regardless of where they came from and for the community in particular and the country in general. The purpose of Agazi School Almuni Association NA is just a continuation of what our brothers and sisters had done despite the difficulties they faced. We hope we could do better than what they have done because we believe we have much better conditions now than it used to be during their time. This will be the challenge for all our members.
  1. Nurture loyalty, pride and tradition of Volunteerism and sharing: We work to strengthen the powerful attributes of loyalty, pride, and tradition in our alumni, students, and friends that contribute to the quality of education in Agazi and other schools around Adigrat.
  2. Working to make ASAA-NA a model of learning organization from which other Alumni Associations can learn to serve their communities.
  3. Communicate openly:  We value open communication, both within the Alumni Association staff and among alumni members, other ASAA boards, Agazi high school administrators, teachers and students.
  4. Promote collaboration: We seek out partnerships with other individuals and groups (ASAA chapters, NGOs…) to achieve the objectives of our alumni.
  5. Build a positive team and family spirit: We value and respect each other as individuals, work well together as a team.
  6. Exercise good governance: We strive for quality, Transparency and accountability.

Agazi Alumni Historic Documents

For almost 20 years, members and supporters of Agazi School Alumni Association – N.A. (ASAA-N.A.) have justifiably argued that ASAA is not a new organization except for the residency of its members. It was a continuation of what was established in the 1960’s in Ethiopia with its main office in Adigrat (see the introduction at our website www.agazi.org). Some people did not believe it or did not want to believe it. Regardless of the argument, we persisted and celebrated our 15th annual event in Adigrat.

It was during the “home coming” last July in 2010, we were able to get hold of a historic document. Thanks to Ato G.Mariam Kiros, one of the first ASAA officials in Ethiopia at the time the Association was officially recognized by the government, we have a copy of the letter of legal recognition in 1964 E.C. The scanned image of the letter from Ras Mengesha Seyoum (then Governor General of Tigrai) to Ato Seyoum Yakob (then Governor of Agame Awraja) is shown below.

Please note how soon Ato Seyoum Yakob wrote his letter (Tahsas 27, 1964) notifying ASAA about the authorization from Ras Seyoum (Tahsas 24). For those of us who used to hear how hard Ato Seyoum Yakob worked for ASAA’s official recognition, this may be an indirect proof how happy he was to get that letter and pass it immediately to the ASAA office. See the historic documents below:

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The autobiography of the philanthropist Brambaras Hadgu Gebreyohannes

agazi alumni helpers

Early Childhood and Family

He lost his parents at a very young age and was raised by his beloved grandmother who loved him unconditionally and offered him the blueprint on how to be productive young man.

Barambaras Hadgu was blessed to have 13 children, 34 grand children and 7 great grand children. While his business ventures were blossoming and nurturing, the community and growth of Adigrat was his passion, he had to deal with unfortunate and untimely tragedies. Fortunately, he had the right disposition, tremendous mental fortitude and temperament to cope with all the losses: W/o Tsdaka Kidanu (a loving wife), Gebrezigabher Hadgu (eldest son and a gentle giant), Tsegu Hadgu (tough and humorous), Tafere Hadgu (simply amazing and full of life), Elias Hadgu (the quite one) and Girmay Hagos (son in-law, who loved him like his own son).

Barambaras Hadgu didn’t have the opportunity to attend formal education, rather to contribute like everyone else his age in a family farm. As he became a teenager, he couldn’t see himself as a peasant for long, so he moved to Adigrat to further his opportunities. Thereafter, he traveled north to Eritrea to work at a bakery shop owned by an Italian. His tenacious work ethics includes waking up late nights, when everyone was asleep, to practice and master the art of making delicious bread. That indelible effort led to his promotion as the only non-Italian assistant manager. Consequently, he saved enough money to move back to Aidgrat and open the first Ethiopian owned modern bakery in Tigray.

The indomitable determination and perseverance propelled him to become the quintessential merchant that Tigray had ever seen. He had the foresight and vision to diversify his businesses to support Aidgrat and surrounding areas by opening the following adjacent businesses: modern hotel, gas station, supermarket, transportation, real state, mechanized agriculture, dairy products shop, assortments of vegetables and fruit shop, sweater shop.

Influence of his Grand Mother

Most of his major business decisions that he had made were always in accordance to the values he garnered from his grandmother. That includes not venturing his business outside Adigrat. He had many chances to relocate his businesses to Addis Ababa, Asmara and Mekelle… but every time when opportunities presented, he reverted back to the inner voice of his grandmother – “ To not leave the land that is good to you for another land”.

Principle and Ethics

As a father, first and foremost he expected his kids to be good citizens, and then to be top of their school activities or help in the family businesses. One thing he couldn’t care was idleness. There were many instances where he subbed-in for absentee workers on night shifts at the bakery, and to top that he did it at an old age of 65 to 70 years. Therefore, his work ethics were exemplary that couldn’t be matched by anyone.

Contribution to the community and awards

One of the main purposes of Barambaras Hadgu’s life was to give back his fortune to the community tirelessly, and at the same time encouraging his peers to do the same. The following are the selected few of the good deeds:
•In 1980, he contributed the entire projected budget of his son’s (Tsegu) wedding for hospital improvement, as a result downsizing the wedding.
•In 1984, he contributed all cash that was collected as gift from Tafere’s elaborate wedding to Medhani Alem church. Again, this is not only about the money, but he always thought what could be a teaching moment for the community.
•He was a consistent donor to many churches in Adigrat and mosques.
•He gave two distinct businesses establishments to trusted and hard working employees as a gesture for many years of services and loyalties.
•Along with many Adigrat greats, he was instrumental in funding academia, infrastructure and helping the poor.
•He received many awards from Emperor Haileselassie to the current government for his dedication, generosity and for being a pillar and beacon of hope for Adigrat and Tigray at large.

Wisdom and Knowledge

Barmabaras Hadgu learned how to write and read in both Tigrigna and Amharic without any formal education. He spoke fluent Italian and conversational Arabic and Swahili. He had passion for world affairs and history and enjoyed intelligent conversations with people who ventured to engage him. He received his formal education by brute force of curiosity, by an ending hunger for knowledge and information and hard work.

Hero and Voice for Just

One afternoon during Derg regime, all merchants were summoned at a local town hall located in mission middle school, and the cadres were interrogating everyone to find out if they are supporting TPLF and/or EPRP by selling goods. So much so, they killed one craftsman to put all on notice. Everyone was so scared, but not Barambaras Hadgu. He raised his hand, and told the cadres “we are merchants and we don’t ask for an ID to decipher who is who, and that is not our job, we are in the business of selling goods and STOP terrorizing us.” Everyone thought that could be the last day on earth for him, but they were wrong. He was passionate about just and fair action in civic matters and was never afraid to speak his mind in front of government officials.

His sense of fairness and civic duty was something to be desired. He believed and encouraged everyone to contribute their fair share to the well being of their community, and his life was an example of his dedication to that belief.

His First International Visit – USA

Few nuggets from his US trip at age of 75:
•He was impressed with the infrastructure and forestry, and he hoped we could emulate the same with the minimum resources that we have in Ethiopia.
•He regretted that he didn’t visit the US at a younger age.
•He impressed many spectators in target shooting competition.

Rest in Peace Grand Father!

You have been my role model all my life, I am who/where I am today because of you.

The eldest grandson,

Bruck Girmay
California, US

Current Board Members in Pictures

Hagos Gebre

Hagos Gebre

Chairman

Kahsay Abraham

Kahsay Abraham

Treasurer

Elen Tareke

Elen Tareke

Business Planning

Haile Mariam Asefa

Haile Mariam Asefa

Vice Chairman

Aregash Abraha

Aregash Abraha

Financial Secretary

Alem Berhane Meskel

Alem Berhane Meskel

Business Planning

Aster Eyob

Aster Eyob

Secretary

Bruck Girmay

Bruck Girmay

Public Relations Officer

Assefa Tesfay

Assefa Tesfay

Business Planning

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Helping the community that helped you be who you are today is a noble thing and helping the new generation of Agazians achieve bigger dreams than yours is even more Noble!