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A British based Television Channel Bright Entertainment Network Television (BEN TV) conferred a posthumous award of honour called “the Order of Kilimanjaro”
to the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, at a grand event held on 23rd November, the highest award to be bestowed on anyone by indigenous African residents in the United Kingdom. BEN TV is a television channel founded with the main view aimed at expatriate Africans living in Europe and North Africa and prides itself at being the first and longest-running African and Caribbean-focused television channel in the United Kingdom with its tagline of “Bridging the Gap”. Meles who had represented Africa at different bilateral and multilateral events was praised as “The True Son of Africa” during the ceremony for his outstanding and life-long commitment to the development of his nation and that of the African continent. In opening remarks at the event, the representative of Ben TV said “though we are deeply saddened over the loss of Meles, we are also here to celebrate achievements of this great son of Africa, who dedicated his life for the development of Ethiopia and firmly stood for African interests.” Upon receiving the award from Burundian Minister of Finance, Tabu Abdallah, who was the guest of honor at the event, Ambassador Berhanu Kebede Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries said “PM Meles was a staunch freedom fighter and a man of the people who had always been at the forefront in the long and arduous journey to uproot the repressive military regime and put in place a democratic order that guarantees equality and prosperity to the people of Ethiopia, now empowered to decide on their destiny.” Meles’ achievement were touted at the event during the ceremony with a particular mention of The Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), and its predecessor, Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP), being massive blue prints produced under his leadership to ensure a faster economic growth that saw millions lifted out of abject poverty even at the time of economic crisis elsewhere in the world. “For the late Prime Minister, there is no greater indignity than poverty and that is why he underlined the imperative of defeating poverty for Ethiopia to be viable and honor the dignity of its people,” said Berhanu adding that he had a deep affection and unswerving commitment to the people of Ethiopia, making him a true Panafricanist. He said Meles had effectively argued for fair prices, for African commodities, for increased investment and financial flows, for payments in compensation of adverse impacts of climate change, and for fair regime of international trade making him a true son of the African continent. Slides depicting tributes paid to PM Meles by world leaders and eminent personalities and highlights of his achievements and visions were shown during the event. Speaking at the event, Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Member of Parliament for Southwark and Bermondsey, said, the late Prime Minister Meles “put his country on the map globally and diplomatically…He changed the culture and perception of Africa by arguing against, not just for the poor at home, but for planned change to be controlled for people, to understand the need for international global responsibility and we need more African leaders like him.” He further said that, there should be more leaders like Meles to make sure more and more African countries are still practicing good governance, anticorruption governance, democratic governance and representative governance and that every country in Africa in a matter of the present generations’ lifetime should make sure that it becomes an example of good governance and good leadership. Present on the occasion were Government representatives, parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic corps, companies and businesses, representatives of the Ethiopian community in the UK, among the invited guests.