Following the unexpected death of Ethiopia’s former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, his deputy, Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, is now a Prime Minister, after the ruling party, EPRDF, appointed him as its Chairman and recommended him to Parliament, which approved him recently. That means Ethiopia now has a new First Family.
Often, behind every leader, there is a loving husband or a wife. And so Ms. Roman Tesfaye is the newest First Lady of Ethiopia as the wife of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Ms. Azeb Mesfin was the former First Lady.
Here is Ms. Roman Tesfaye’s profile:
Born in Wolaita, Southern Ethiopia, Ms. Roman holds two master’s degrees in Economics and Leadership. Served as economic advisor of South Region’s administration and worked as high level official in Ethiopian Women’s Affairs Ministry and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Currently, she works for African Union (AU), according to reports.
The following message has been attributed to Ms. Roman’s Facebook account, which has yet to be verified:
My fellow Ethiopians, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all, and congratulate you in our rare peaceful transition of power. My husband and I stand before you as a humble servant of you, the people. In the coming year, I plan to work tirelessly as your first lady to represent our great nation in good light it deserves and to the betterment of our people in all aspects of life.
Both the Prime Minister and the First Lady follow a protestant denomination known as the Apostolic Church of Ethiopia—the first ever in the country’s long history. Ethiopia’s previous leaders were associated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (except communist ex-leader Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam who is an atheist, but raised as Orthodox Christian; ex-PM Meles Zenawi who was suspected of being an atheist though he identified himself as Orthodox Christian and publicly attended Orthodox Church events and was photographed kissing the Cross from the ex-Patriarch’s hands; Lij Iyasu who was more like a freethinker and became fond of Islam though he was also raised as Orthodox Christian—his detachment from his upbringing eventually cost him the power to rule; Emperor Susenyos who converted to Catholicism, but was immediately deposed through a mass uprising and was replaced with his son Emperor Fasilides who supported the public’s revolt and reinstated the indigenous Orthodox Church as the official religion of his empire; and, Queen Yodit, an Ethiopian Jew, who destroyed the Aksumite Empire and ruled for forty years until she too was overthrown).
It should be noted that PM Hailemariam Desalegn and First Lady Roman Tesfaye are also the first husband and wife to hail from the South Region as power couple. They have three children, all of them girls.
Enjoy this Wolaita tune! :)
For your information:
There is also a different person with almost similar name: Roman Tesfay:
She is the Director General of Policy, Planning and Finance in the Ministry of Health, Ethiopia. You can read more about her here and here. Ms. Roman holds a certificate in Health System Reform and Sustainable Financing from Harvard University (2009); MA in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University, USA, (2009); BA in Business Management from Addis Ababa University (1989/90). Ms. Roman is from or has worked in Tigrai region.
Trivia: People who have perhaps confused the two Romans (or who have political interest) have been spreading a rumor on the web that Roman the first lady is an Eritrean born in Ethiopia. But what if she has Eritrean origin? Does that erase the fact she is now an Ethiopian citizen? And how will such a smear campaign going to contribute to both domestic and regional harmony?