Haddis Alemayehu was a true all-rounder who contributed to Ethiopia in many number of disciplines. First and foremost, he was arguably the single most talented Ethiopian novelist who wrote some of the most loved and admired novels to date in Ethiopia.
He wrote from the heart and the stories in his novels have touched the hearts of many Ethiopians. Among his great works, his 1968 novel, Love Unto Crypt, which is the Ethiopian equivalent of Romeo and Juliet, is by far the most talked-about and admired Ethiopian novel ever. This masterpiece is now being read by English readers after its translation by Sisay Ayenew. The translated novel hit the shelves of numerous book stores worldwide in 2005. It was put at best book sections in New York Times’ 14 August issue.
The other Haddis Alemayehu was a true patriot who defended his country from the invasion of fascist Italy in the 1930s. After vigorously fighting the Italians, he was held captive for seven years in Italy. He went back to an independent Ethiopia in 1944, three years after the defeat of Italy.
The young Haddis Alemayehu, prior to earning reputation as a novelist and a patriot, was a passionate teacher who believed in the power of education. He also served his country as a Foreign Minister from 1960 to 1961 under the government of Emperor Haileselassie.
Haddis was a dignified and selfless man who defended Ethiopia at the frontline, protected the country’s interests through remarkable diplomacy and educated and entertained Ethiopians through his novels of highest standards. He was awarded the Special and Gold Mercury Prizes of Emperor Haileselassie Award Trust and also an Honorary Doctoral Degree by Addis Ababa University. He died on 6 December 2003 at the age of 94.