Dr. Mulugeta is an associate Professor Physics at Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopia. He completed his Ph. D in Physics from the Indian Institute of Science, India in the year 1997 and now he’s back at his alma matter for a month. It has been a deeply inspiring experience to have interacted with him, firstly to know the Physicist he is, and with subsequent interactions, I have known other nuances of this humble science and math enthusiast from Ethiopia with a life long of struggle.
Dr. Mulugeta was the only Physics major student at Haile Sellasie University, and he pursued his passion Mathematics via Physics during late 1960’s, as a lone student during his under-graduate days.
After the monarchy in Ethiopiawas overthrown by a military regime – socialist for name sake; although it did nationalise banks, industry and land, it was far from being the encapsulation of people’s aspirations. As Dr.Mulugeta says, “The monarchical hierarchy under which Ethiopia was ruled until the 1974, using military had just lost its head – the monarch alone was gone, and there was a total military oligarchy. With zero representation of the people’s voices, the new military regime had to suppress numerous popular people’s struggles”.
The people’s struggles which were taken up in the form of student movements, workers unions, and other representation of the common man in Ethiopia ended up in a ghastly phase of Ethiopian history. During this time, Dr.Mulugeta was teaching at AAU and did participate in the revolutions during the monarchical oligarchy, and post that against the military oligarchy.
The military regime was ruthless and suppressed all forms of uprisings, and in doing so killed hundreds of youth and imprisoned thousands of them even without a trial.
The Physics teacher from AAU that Dr.Mulugeta was during the people’s uprisings against the military regime did participate in all the youth movements. “As the educated section of the society, all young students and teachers were actively participating in the demonstrations, and it was natural for me to join in those struggles”, he says.
The ruthless regime in order to curtail such people’s struggles killed hundreds of the young students and put a whole lot of them into prison. Dr. Mulugeta was put into a prison during one such retaliation by the military. He speaks of the uncertainty about the term they would be serving, or even the future of all the captured people, for, there was reckless genocide going on.