I read somewhere that a person is only loved twice; when you are born and when you die. For some, that is very true. There are those, however, that are loved by some all the time.
Habib Mohamed Yayo is one such person.
Habib was one of the sons of the greatly renowned Sultan Mohamed Yayo. His mother was of great renown herself, Makiya, the granddaughter of Kabir Hamza, a Saint of the Kabirto Tribe of Awsa. Safe to say, Habib came from a very prominent family.
Habib and I were one of 24 Afar children that were sent to Addis Ababa and presented to Emperor Haile Selassie I to begin our schooling there. I grew to know him to be an honest and courageous man. Humble, kind, and regal, Habib echoed the footsteps of his late father in everything he did. He never said anything that could harm anyone.
During the reign of The Derg, Habib was one of the few Afar nobles to remain in Ethiopia in an attempt to protect the Afar People. Habib and his brothers banded together to preserve peace in the region.
The communist Derg regime led by Mengistu Hailemariam benefited off of the stability Habib and his brothers created in the Afar Region, but they still had a disdain for nobility. It was due to this that Habib's older brother, Kadda Yayo, was arrested multiple times, simply for being descendants of Sultan Mohamed Yayo. Despite purposeful provocation from The Derg, Habib knew that opposing them would threaten many innocent Afar lives, and so he patiently remained.
At the fall of The Derg, like any power hand-off, Ethiopia descended to instability.
Habib maintained peace in his region. The mayhem that was overtaking the country was slow to reach areas he controlled. Eventually, when it was time for him to retreat, Habib did so by protecting all public property. Most of all, were the contents of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia's Aysaita Branch. Realizing that some might take the opportunity to loot and rob the bank, Habib took all the money, millions of Birr, all the way to the Ethiopian Embassy in Djibouti, where he relinquished all the assets to theirs and the banks custody, declaring that the money belonged to the people and he wanted to ensure its safety.
I was not surprised to hear that Habib had done this. I knew, like many others that are lucky enough to know Habib, that his character was beyond reproach. A noble man, not due to who he was born of, but due to his character and spirit. The Afar people have many amongst them to venerate, but highest amongst them is Habib Mohamed Yayo. His honesty is an example for all, especially those harmed by the evils of corruption. His is a legacy that should be recognized, acknowledged, supported, and celebrated by all Ethiopians, forever, but most importantly, while we still have him alive, well, and in good spirits amongst us.