Didumo Alemo shows a picture of her father, Agwa Alemo, who was killed in Ethiopia in 1992 after encouraging peace in the region. Alemo will leave for Ethiopia in one week. Matt Peterson/matt.peterson@austindailyherald.com
Didumo Alemo shows a picture of her father, Agwa Alemo, who was killed in Ethiopia in 1992 after encouraging peace in the region. Alemo will leave for Ethiopia in one week. Matt Peterson/matt.peterson@austindailyherald.com

Archived Story

A journey for closure: Mother plans trip to Ethiopia to slain father’s grave

Published 11:00am Friday, March 15, 2013

Didumo Alemo wants answers that aren’t really available, but she’s still going to search for them.

Someday, she believes, God will set the record straight about why her father was killed amongst so much unrest in Ethiopia in July 1992. Alemo spoke to her family, friends and members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Wednesday about her upcoming trip to Gambela, Ethiopia, where her father died and where members of her family still live.

“I still want to go back and see that cemetery,” Alemo said about her father’s grave.

Alemo’s father, Agwa, died because of his views during political unrest in the region. He wanted peace for his people, was part of the revolution, but the government and military eventually killed him for his views, she said. Alemo doesn’t know everything that happened, but her father was taken, and the rest of her family survived.

“We don’t know really what went wrong,” she said.

Alemo and her sisters were left with nowhere to go when their father died. Their mother was in a different village, and she had uncles nearby. However, those relatives had very little, and no means to support others.

“So I decided this is not enough,” Alemo said. “If I don’t get strong for myself and my family, everything will be crashing.”

A Catholic mission group took them in and supported them, but Alemo later fled to Kenya, and eventually, from there came to the U.S. She needed more out of life for her family.

“Here I am,” Alemo said passionately on Wednesday. “I’m alive. I’ve got all my family.”

Alemo has been in the U.S. for 18 years, and now she has eight children, some well-known, former and current AHS athletes, such as Babaye Oja and Ajuda Nywesh.

However, she feels the need to go back and see her relatives, see her father’s grave and see what is still happening in the region.

“I think for her it’s a bit of peace, sort of a sense of closure,” said Pastor Karen Behling. “To have a sense of closure, to see her father’s grave is really significant, and just to reconnect with those aunts and uncles that she’s been apart from so long.”

Behling said it was an enlightening experience for other members of the church to hear Alemo’s story. Alemo’s community of Anyuak Ethiopians started a congregation at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, and Behling said it’s nice for two congregations to grow a little closer.

“We didn’t really want … a relationship where they just used our space,” Behling added. “We wanted to find ways for our communities to be connected.”

Though that hasn’t happened a lot, Wednesday was a good example of a way to make that work. People are interested in Alemo’s story, and they prayed for her safety and will continue to do so.

Alemo will leave for Ethiopia next weekend, where she will reunite with family friends and memories for the next month.


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