The history of Ethiopia is not just interesting, but can as well be described as a tale of courage and bravery, starting from its emergence as an empire under the Aksumites to its current form as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The country has been led by educated men, and here you will know all about Ethiopian Presidents’ Academic Qualifications.

The journey has not been all that easy, considering the years of Egyptian invasion and their heroic defeat, the Italian first and second invasion and their repeated defeat of the Italians, the military coup and lots of bloodsheds that took place in different eras before the emergence of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in 1991.

No doubt, very many people know about Ethiopian history, but it appears most people know little or nothing about the men who fought with their blood and also took it upon themselves to save the country’s neck many years ago. That being said, this article tends to bring to light lesser-known facts, as well as academic qualifications of past Ethiopian presidents, starting from the first military president to the current president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Presidents And Their Academic Qualifications

Aman Mikael Andom 

  • Date of Birth: 21 June 1924
  • Place of Birth: Tsazega, Eritrea
  • Died: 23 November 1974, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Education: Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
  • Rank: Lieutenant general
  • Time in Office: Sep – Nov 1974
  • Office: Chairman of the Derg and de facto Head of State of Ethiopia

General Aman Mikael Adom was Ethiopia’s first post-imperial acting Head of State. He was born to parents Ato Andom Michael and Woizero Ghidey Reda, on June 21, 1924, in Khartoum, Sudan. He was originally from the village of Tsazega in Hamassien province of Eritrea, which makes him Eritrean by origin. Aman attended Comboni College and later St. George’s Military School in Khartoum.

He acquired a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in May 1964 when he was assigned as military attaché to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. General Adom served as the head of state from September 12, 1974, to November 17, 1974. He died November 23, 1974, in Addis Abeba, in a shootout with troops deployed to his home to arrest him, at the age of 50.

Former Head Of State Teferi Benti 

  • Date of Birth: October 1921
  • Place of Birth: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
  • Died/Murdered: 3 February 1977
  • Education: Holetta Military Academy,
  • Rank: Brigadier General
  • Time in Office:1974 – 1977
  • Office: Head of State of Ethiopia

Like interim president Mengistu, Teferi Benti also graduated from Holetta Military Academy. He was born in October 1921, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Empire. Benti, a one-time chairman of Dreg, served as the Head of State of Ethiopia from November 28, 1974, to February 3, 1977. He died at the age of 55 on February 3, 1977.

Former President Mengistu Haile Mariam 

  • Date of Birth: 21 May 1937
  • Place of Birth: Wolayita Zone, Ethiopia
  • Education: Holleta Military Academy
  • Time in Office: 1977- 1987
  • Office: President of Ethiopia

Mengistu Haile Mariam is an Ethiopian politician born on September 10, 1987, in Addis Ababa. He rose to the position of the president of the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in 1987 and served till 1991. Before his ascension to the number one position, he was the leader of the Derg, the Communist military junta that ruled Ethiopia from 1977 to 1987. Mengistu graduated from the prestigious Holetta Military Academy, where he received advanced military training in the United States, in the late 1960s.

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Tesfaye Gebre Kidan

  • Date of Birth: 1935
  • Place of Birth: Shewa, Ethiopia 
  • Died/Murdered: 2 June 2004, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Education: Holetta Military Academy
  • Time in Office: 21 May 1991 – 27 May 1991
  • Office: Acting President

Best known as Ethiopia’s president to have spent the shortest time in office, Tesfaye Gebre Kidan served as Ethiopia’s president for one week. Like his predecessors, Kidan was also a member of the Derg and a graduate of Holetta Military Academy. He served as the president of Ethiopia from May 21, 1991, to May 27, 1991. During his time as the president, Tesfay constantly fought with his colleague Berhanu Bayeh, who was the Foreign Minister at the time. On one occasion, he had a glass cut injury on his head, which led him to bleed profusely. However, on June 2, 2004, he was pronounced dead at Menelik II Hospital, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Transitional Government of Ethiopia

Meles Zenawi 

  • Date of Birth: 8 May 1955
  • Place of Birth: Adwa, Ethiopia 
  • Died: 20 August 2012, Brussels, Belgium
  • Education: Addis Ababa University (1974), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Open University
  • Time in Office: 23 August 1995 – 20 August 2012
  • Office: Prime Minister of Ethiopia

Meles was born as Legesse Meles Asres on May 9, 1955, in Adwa, Ethiopia. He was sworn-in as the 10th Prime Minister of Ethiopia on August 23, 1995. He, however, served as the acting president of the East African country between May 8, 1991, and  August 22, 1995.  Zenawi had his elementary education at Queen of Sheba Junior School, in Adwa, and his high school in prestigious General Wingate High school in Addis Ababa on a full scholarship, graduating in 1972.

After high school, Meles proceeded to study medicine at Addis Ababa University (formerly Haile Selassie University) for two years. He dropped out of the University in 1974 to join other students to form the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). In 1995, Meles was awarded an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from the Open University of the United Kingdom. He was also awarded a Master of Science in Economics from the Erasmus University of the Netherlands in 2004.

In July 2002, Zenawi received an honorary doctoral degree in political science from the Hannam University in South Korea. Meles Zenawi died from an infection he contracted in Belgium, on August 20, 2012, bringing his 21 years of leadership to an abrupt end.

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Negasso Gidada (1995 – 2001)

  • Date of Birth: 8 September 1943
  • Place of Birth: Dembi Dolo, Ethiopia 
  • Died: 27 April 2019, Frankfurt, Germany 
  • Education: Goethe University Frankfurt
  • Office: President of Ethiopia
  • Presidential term: 22 August 1995 – 8 October 2001

Ethiopian President's Educational Qualification

Dr. Negasso Gidada Solon assumed the office of the President of Ethiopia on August 22, 1995. He left office at the expiration of his term on October 8, 2001. Solon, born on September 3, 1943, holds a doctorate in social history from the Goethe University in Frankfurt-am-Main. He currently works as a part-time lecturer in history at Addis Ababa University. He was the first president to assume office following the founding of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia in 1995.

Girma Wolde-Giorgis 

  • Date of Birth:  28 December 1924
  • Place of Birth: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Died:15 December 2018, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Education: Ethiopian Orthodox Church school, Scuola Principe di Piemonte. He also studied Management in the Netherlands, Air Traffic Management in Sweden, and Air Traffic Control in Canada.
  • Office: President of Ethiopia
  • Presidential term: 8 October 2001 – 7 October 2013
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Ethiopian Presidents' Academic Qualifications

Born on December 28, 1924, Girma Wolde-Giorgis is the former President of Ethiopia. He ascended to the prestigious position on October 8, 2001, and served until October 7, 2013. Girma was well educated and no doubt among pas Ethiopian presidents with enviable academic qualifications. He attended The Ethiopian Orthodox Church school and later joined the Teferi Mekonnen School in Addis Ababa, where he continued his education until the Italian invasion.

The school was then renamed “Scuola Principe di Piemonte” (Prince of Piedmont School) for the Crown Prince of Italy, in Addis Ababa. In 1944, Wolde-Giorgis proceeded to the Genet Military School in Holeta, Ethiopia, from where he graduated as a sub-lieutenant. Between 1950 and 1952, he earned certificates in Management in the Netherlands, in Air Traffic Management in Sweden, and Air Traffic Control in Canada through a training program sponsored by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Mulatu Teshome (2013 – 2018)

  • Date of Birth:  1957
  • Place of Birth: Arjo, Ethiopia 
  • Education: Beijing Language and Culture University, The Fletcher School, Peking University
  • Office: President of Ethiopia
  • Presidential term: 7 October 2013 – 25 October 2018

Ethiopian Presidents' Academic Qualifications

Mulatu Teshome, Ethiopia’s former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, assumed office as the president of the country on October 7, 2013. His tenure lasted from then to October 2018 when he resigned, leading the country to have a snap presidential election for new leadership. Mulatu one of Ethiopian past presidents with incredible academic qualifications. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in philosophy of political economy and doctorate in international law from Peking University, Beijing, China.

He subsequently got admitted to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he received his Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy in 1990. He was born on January 1, 1955, at Arjo, Welega Province, Ethiopia, and has only one son.

Aside from his role as the President of Ethiopia, Mulatu has held other prominent positions in government, and they include the following:

  • Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Cooperation – Mid-90s
  • Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development – 2001
  • Speaker of the House of Federation from 2002 to 2005.
  • Ethiopia’s Ambassador to China, Japan, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
  • Mulatu also taught in different foreign institutions before his role as president.

Sahle-Work Zewde (2018 – Present)

  • Date of Birth: 21 February 1950 
  • Place of Birth: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
  • Education: University of Montpellier, Lycée Guebre-Mariam
  • Office: President of Ethiopia (incumbent) 
  • Presidential term: 25 October 2018 –
Ethiopian Presidents' Academic Qualifications
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Sahle-Work Zewde ascended into power in October 2018 as the first female president of Ethiopia. She was elected without contest by the Federal Parliamentary Assembly during the fifth presidential election of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to elect the country’s fourth president. Also, her six-year term makes her the first female head of state of the country since the demise of Empress Zauditu in 1930.

Zewde was born and raised in Addis Ababa. Also among Ethiopian presidents with the best academic qualifications, Zewde graduated from the University of Montpellier, France, where she studied natural science. She had her early education, including her elementary and secondary education, at Lycée Guebre-Mariam in Addis Ababa. Zewde is a multi-lingual speaker and is fluent in English, Amharic, and French.

Apart from the many records which she has broken as the president of Ethiopia, Zewde is also among the only two women to hold an ambassadorship, representing the country in Senegal, France, UNESCO, African Union, and ECA, among other key positions.

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