I was introduced to Lij Teodrose Fikremarim few months ago through a common Facebook friend named Senait. After I tagged Meshesha Kassa, who is a descendant of Atse Tewodros II, on a picture I posted on Facebook, Senait tagged Lij Teodrose on the same picture only for him to respond and tell me that he too is related to Atse Tewodros. I immediately inquired about Lij Teodrose’s lineage only for him to kindly share his family tree that shows that he is a direct descendant of one of Ethiopia’s greatest kings.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam, though he was proud of his lineage, was noticeably hesitant to proclaim what his ancestry made him. To a fault, he insisted that he was just a commoner every time I told him that he was nobility. After few weeks of conversation and numerous emails, I realized that Lij Teodrose has a great heart even if it is occasionally clouded by past hurts. Lij Teodrose told me about the struggles and hardships he faced.
As a first generation immigrant who left Ethiopia at the age of seven, he has a tenuous connection to a culture that he loves so much. That is what stands out about Lij Teodrose, though he struggles to speak Amharic and he is very Americanized, in his heart he has a deep and abiding love for Ethiopia and most importantly for Ethiopians who struggle back home. He cares, sometimes too much, about fairness and justice.
The struggles he faced growing up and his recent bouts with tribulation has made him more compassionate towards the struggles others face. After growing up in America trying hard to fit into a culture that is vastly different than the culture that he is from, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from George Mason University, an MBA from Johns Hopkins University and worked at a prestigious consulting firm. But then four years ago, Lij Teodrose’s life got turned upside down, he went from upper-middle class lifestyle to homeless. He eventually traveled to Wellington, Colorado to live in a mission called Harvest Farm.
Lij Teodrose shared with me that it was his stay at Harvest Farm that brought him closer to God. It was there that he learned to face the painful memory of leaving Ethiopia, losing his dad and countless occasions of personal loss and the despair of not understanding why bad things happen to good people. The same way that Atse Tewodros found a connection to God while he was living in a monastery in Ethiopia, Lij Teodrose likewise found his purpose through hard times.
The more I talked to Lij Teodrose, the more I realized how much his life mirrored that of Atse Tewodros. Both of them were born into royalty but both of them were disregarded growing up. Both of them love Ethiopia with all their hearts. Both of them are deeply moved and feel called by God even though both of them battle their own personal struggles. Both of them are very kind but also very prideful, each time I talk to Lij Teodrose, I am awed by this feeling as if I’m talking to Atse Tewodros himself.
Emperor Tewodros was an Ethiopian king of kings who traces his roots back to Menelik I, the son of Queen Sheba and King Solomon. Through his veins coursed the bloodline of the Solomonic kings and queens who presided over Ethiopia and protected the nation from internal and external threats for more than 3,000 years. Given the legions of kings and queens who ruled throughout the Axum Empire and into the 20th century, Emperor Tewodros stood out because he united Ethiopia during a time where Ethiopia was being shattered by self-serving royals.
Atse Tewodros, born Kassa Hailu, came of age during Zemene Mesafint, the era of princes, where Ethiopia was splintered into fiefdoms as the nobility competed over territory and made life exceedingly difficult for everyday Ethiopians. Instead of serving with humility and doing God’s work of protecting the people, the nobility made it their purpose to take from the people as they enriched themselves.
Kassa Hailu rose to power by standing up for the commoners and giving back to the poor. Atse Tewodros was Robin Hood in real life, it is for this reason why Atse Tewodros is one of the most beloved Ethiopian kings of all time. Atse Tewodros was a man of God who led with a sense of justice — he loved Ethiopia with all his heart. He ended up dying for Ethiopia; instead of being captured by the British at Magdala, he took his life rather than being taken prisoner by imperialists. His act of defiance made it possible for Ethiopians to defeat would be colonizers at the Battle of Adwa.
As we look at the recent history of Ethiopia and the events that are unfolding before our eyes, it is clear that the removal of the Monarchy in 1974—after more than three thousand years of continuous rule—caused a deep and tremendous harm to Ethiopia and East Africa as a whole. In one fell swoop during the dark of night, legions of Ethiopian leaders and nobility were purged. Shortly thereafter, Emperor Haile Selassie was led away by force and died under captivity. The last emperor of Ethiopia, the king who labored to free Ethiopia from Italian subjugation during WWII, was killed as the brutal Derg government rose to power and killed over 500,000 Ethiopians.
We are a people who have suffered grievous pains over the past 44 years. I take note of the fact that Lij Teodrose Fikremariam was born on October 27th, 1974—a month after Haile Selassie was deposed. Ethiopia has been shrouded in trauma and sadness for as long as Lij Teodrose has been alive. As Lij Teodrose noted in his Fasika communique, what Ethiopia needs more than anything is not cash, politics or charity, what we need is a spiritual healing. We are getting closer and closer to an implosion as tribalism and ethnic conflicts threaten to rip Ethiopia apart.
Ethiopia is firmly entrenched in another Zemene Mesafint as the ruling class compete over turf and enrich themselves while the rest of Ethiopians are relegated to the sidelines. First communism under the Derg, then tribalism under EPRDF and Ethiopia nearing the brink of anarchy at this moment, now is the time for a change of direction before our nation implodes. We need leadership that restores the dignity of work and a national pride that rises above tribal affinity. Lij Teodrose is uniquely positioned to address these pressing issues and to do so from a place of love instead of preaching from a place of politics.
As God would have it, the same way Atse Tewodros was blessed with a queen named Tewabech who stood by his side, Lij Teodrose has likewise been blessed with a most amazing wife named Bethlehem Bekele. What the future holds only God knows but I am honored to work under the leadership of Lij Teodrose as we collectively labor through Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy to restore the Ethiopian crown. Though we have many obstacles before us and the challenges we face to revive the monarchy in Ethiopia under a constitutional framework are many, I am confident that Lij Teodrose is more than up to the task.
I have been working for decades to restore the Ethiopian crown, this is my calling in life. In my efforts to bring back what was torn apart in 1974, I have had the honor of working with the Ethiopian Crown Council and Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie. I admire the work that His Highness Prince Ermias has done to preserve the good name of the Monarchy since 1996. I believe that this is a special time that is emerging before us and that now is the time to put away our egos and work together towards the common good. I believe that all who are involved to restore the Ethiopian monarchy share a love of Ethiopia and want to do right by Ethiopians, I hope we all keep this in mind as we do the work needed to implement a Constitutional Monarchy in Ethiopia.
The time has come for all Monarchist to work together and to effect positive change for our beloved country. Our nation can do better, as Lij Teodrose often notes, Ethiopia can be the Japan of Africa. All we need is headship that has service as a moral compass, empowers Ethiopians, leads with love and is guided by God. I cannot think of a better person to lead Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy than the direct descendant of Atse Tewodros who has the talent and the tenacity to give Ethiopians an alternative vision away from this age of tribalism and selfishness that is ripping our beloved Ethiopia apart.
For this, and many other reasons, I firmly endorse Lij Teodrose Fikremariam to be the chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. I urge everyone to observe this extraordinarily gifted young man and give him a chance as we go about restoring the Ethiopian crown. Sure enough he has a hard time speaking Amharic and he freely expresses his emotion, as evidenced in his video below he recorded for a website he and his wife co-founded called the Ghion Journal. He doesn’t hold everything inside, a trait that is very different than what we accept as norms. But this should not be seen as a liability, perhaps he is exactly who we need at this moment. Trying the same thing is only getting us insanity, let us find the courage to try a different path.
I wish Lij Teodrose Fikermariam and his wife Bethlehem Bekele God’s speed as they await the arrival of their son Yohannes Teodrose in a few weeks. Full circle, a lot of the rifts in Ethiopia started when Atse Yohannes betrayed Atse Tewodros as the British invaded only for Atse Tewodros to lose his life at Magdala. May old wounds heal as a new generation is born. May God keep and protect Lij Teodrose, Bethlehem and their soon to be new born son Yohannes. May God keep and protect our beloved Ethiopia.
“True royalty is not found in a title, true royalty is earned through hard work and through service towards others. The greatest King is Eyesus, let us all follow His lead and mend Ethiopia through love.” ~ Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
Mel is a successful wealth investment advisor who has spent advising his clients on ways to enhance their portfolios during periods of booms and protecting their investments during approaching economic downturns. He has also been a great friend and an advocate of Ethiopia having traveled multiple times to Ethiopia to deliver much needed medical and health necessities to under-served communities. Mel believes that the best way to lift Ethiopia is through empowering the people and investing directly into communities so that they can feed themselves and drive Ethiopia’s economy internally in the process.