Tamrat, who served as Ethiopia’s prime minister from 1991 to 1996, was a political prisoner for 12 years. He was a self-professed atheist for more than 23 years before becoming a Christian in 2002 while still imprisoned. Since his release in 2008, he has spoken in schools and churches in more than 20 states.
“He has a very powerful testimony,” says Tibebe Eschete, visiting assistant professor of history at Whitworth who grew up in Ethiopia the same time as Tamrat and experienced the same dramatic political climate of the country. “For me, the best part of his story is that he really once believed power grew from the barrel of a gun, but after he experienced the saving power of Jesus Christ, he understands that power comes from the gospel.”
During the Ethiopian Civil War, Tamrat was a leader in the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement, which came to power in 1991 after defeating Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. After the war, Tamrat was made prime minister for the transitional government and later served as deputy prime minister and minister of defense. In 1996, he was imprisoned on charges of alleged corruption and embezzlement and spent the next 12 years in prison. While serving his sentence, Tamrat converted to Christianity.
“He has a very powerful testimony,” says Eshete. “People in the university and Spokane communities will get a tremendous benefit from hearing his story.”
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Bonnie Wakefield, academic program assistant, history department, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or email@example.com.