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Memory of Our Members

The autobiography of the philanthropist Brambaras Hadgu Gebreyohannes

Brambaras Hadgu Gebreyohannes

Early Childhood and Family

He lost his parents at a very young age and was raised by his beloved grandmother who loved him unconditionally and offered him the blueprint on how to be productive young man.

Barambaras Hadgu was blessed to have 13 children, 34 grand children and 7 great grand children. While his business ventures were blossoming and nurturing, the community and growth of Adigrat was his passion, he had to deal with unfortunate and untimely tragedies. Fortunately, he had the right disposition, tremendous mental fortitude and temperament to cope with all the losses: W/o Tsdaka Kidanu (a loving wife), Gebrezigabher Hadgu (eldest son and a gentle giant), Tsegu Hadgu (tough and humorous), Tafere Hadgu (simply amazing and full of life), Elias Hadgu (the quite one) and Girmay Hagos (son in-law, who loved him like his own son).

Barambaras Hadgu didn’t have the opportunity to attend formal education, rather to contribute like everyone else his age in a family farm. As he became a teenager, he couldn’t see himself as a peasant for long, so he moved to Adigrat to further his opportunities. Thereafter, he traveled north to Eritrea to work at a bakery shop owned by an Italian. His tenacious work ethics includes waking up late nights, when everyone was asleep, to practice and master the art of making delicious bread. That indelible effort led to his promotion as the only non-Italian assistant manager. Consequently, he saved enough money to move back to Aidgrat and open the first Ethiopian owned modern bakery in Tigray.

The indomitable determination and perseverance propelled him to become the quintessential merchant that Tigray had ever seen. He had the foresight and vision to diversify his businesses to support Aidgrat and surrounding areas by opening the following adjacent businesses: modern hotel, gas station, supermarket, transportation, real state, mechanized agriculture, dairy products shop, assortments of vegetables and fruit shop, sweater shop.

Influence of his Grand Mother

Most of his major business decisions that he had made were always in accordance to the values he garnered from his grandmother. That includes not venturing his business outside Adigrat. He had many chances to relocate his businesses to Addis Ababa, Asmara and Mekelle… but every time when opportunities presented, he reverted back to the inner voice of his grandmother - “ To not leave the land that is good to you for another land”.

Principle and Ethics

As a father, first and foremost he expected his kids to be good citizens, and then to be top of their school activities or help in the family businesses. One thing he couldn’t care was idleness. There were many instances where he subbed-in for absentee workers on night shifts at the bakery, and to top that he did it at an old age of 65 to 70 years. Therefore, his work ethics were exemplary that couldn’t be matched by anyone.

Contribution to the community and awards

One of the main purposes of Barambaras Hadgu’s life was to give back his fortune to the community tirelessly, and at the same time encouraging his peers to do the same. The following are the selected few of the good deeds:

  • In 1980, he contributed the entire projected budget of his son’s (Tsegu) wedding for hospital improvement, as a result downsizing the wedding.
  • In 1984, he contributed all cash that was collected as gift from Tafere’s elaborate wedding to Medhani Alem church. Again, this is not only about the money, but he always thought what could be a teaching moment for the community.
  • He was a consistent donor to many churches in Adigrat and mosques.
  • He gave two distinct businesses establishments to trusted and hard working employees as a gesture for many years of services and loyalties.
  • Along with many Adigrat greats, he was instrumental in funding academia, infrastructure and helping the poor.
  • He received many awards from Emperor Haileselassie to the current government for his dedication, generosity and for being a pillar and beacon of hope for Adigrat and Tigray at large.

Wisdom and Knowledge

Barmabaras Hadgu learned how to write and read in both Tigrigna and Amharic without any formal education. He spoke fluent Italian and conversational Arabic and Swahili. He had passion for world affairs and history and enjoyed intelligent conversations with people who ventured to engage him. He received his formal education by brute force of curiosity, by an ending hunger for knowledge and information and hard work.

Hero and Voice for Just

One afternoon during Derg regime, all merchants were summoned at a local town hall located in mission middle school, and the cadres were interrogating everyone to find out if they are supporting TPLF and/or EPRP by selling goods. So much so, they killed one craftsman to put all on notice. Everyone was so scared, but not Barambaras Hadgu. He raised his hand, and told the cadres “we are merchants and we don’t ask for an ID to decipher who is who, and that is not our job, we are in the business of selling goods and STOP terrorizing us.” Everyone thought that could be the last day on earth for him, but they were wrong. He was passionate about just and fair action in civic matters and was never afraid to speak his mind in front of government officials.

His sense of fairness and civic duty was something to be desired. He believed and encouraged everyone to contribute their fair share to the well being of their community, and his life was an example of his dedication to that belief.

His First International Visit – USA

Few nuggets from his US trip at age of 75:

  • He was impressed with the infrastructure and forestry, and he hoped we could emulate the same with the minimum resources that we have in Ethiopia.
  • He regretted that he didn’t visit the US at a younger age.
  • He impressed many spectators in target shooting competition.

Rest in Peace Grand Father!

You have been my role model all my life, I am who/where I am today because of you.

The eldest grandson,

Bruck Girmay
California, US


Daniel Hagos August 1961- January 2017


Message of Condolence from Agazi School Alumni Association North America

Memhir G.Michael G.Medhin

The Agazi Alumni Association family is deeply saddened by the recent news of the passing of a fellow alumnus, memhir G.Michael G.Medhin. Memhir G.Michael G.Medhin was a polite father figure, an educator, a mentor and a leader. He was well liked, loved and respected by his students, family and friends.

We are grateful for Memhir G.Michael G.Medhin’s contribution in the formation of Agazi School Alumni Association in North America. In the early 1990's, together with the school director and librarian, he dedicated his energy and time to find help for Agazi high school which had an empty library. He asked for books from anyone who visited the school. He made sure to send receipts and thank you letters for those who provided financial and material support. As detailed in our 20th anniversary publication in July 2015, his letter of January 11, 1995 was the motivator for starting the Association in North America. Even when he was not administrator of Agazi high school, he continued to encourage those who replaced him to communicate and work together with Agazi School Alumni Association in North America to improve quality of education at Agazi high school.

We send our heartfelt condolences to Memhir G.Michael family and pledge to honor his lifetime service to Agazi community by continuing our support to Agazi high school to improve the teaching and learning environment for the current and next generation Agazians to achieve their potential and realize their dreams.

ASAA-NA Board







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