Beker Shalle: ‘Fire Fighter’ Still on Duty

He is usually assigned to putting out fires in institutions where there are challenges.

Beker is on the quiet side.He has made optimum use of the past twenty years, both in terms of his education and political carrier, starting afresh from teaching 13 years ago.

The trend of his appointments has seen him fillinga number of high-level posts when predecessors vacate unexpectedly. In 2009, he left his position as State Minister for Government Communication Affairs to become Adama’s Mayor, after his predecessor was fired. Later in 2013, he was assigned to take over the Ethiopian Revenue & Customs Authority, after the Director General and a number of his staff were taken to court on huge corruption charges.

Before he settled down and asserted himself in his new territory, the EPRDF decided to throw the hot potato once more. Now, the Oromia unrest and sporadic violence are on his hands, after he was surprisingly shifted to the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) as office head after sucking up to his top officials.

Despite the seemingly dead end of failing the national exam twenty years ago, he has optimised the last two decades, reaching a Masters level while ‘fighting fires’.

We questioned him about his life now compared to 20 years ago:


Fortune: Key Priorities

BS: Passing the National School Leaving Examination. I failed the exam once just twenty years ago and have since been focused on passing the Exam. Now, I am entrusted with huge responsibilities, which are my priority now.

What Tickles the Taste Buds?

BS: I had no particular preference on food, twenty years back. I ate everything placed on my table. But those days are gone now. At the moment, I have a preference for Kitfo and Shiro, which are easier to chew.

Evolution of Earnings

BS: I started as a teacher – Affan Oromo and Amharic in Oromia region. There I was paid 445 Br in gross pay. This has grown more than tenfold now, with a gross salary of 7,000 Br.

Fortune: Splashing Out on Fashion

BS: I do not remember what my expensive item of clothing was twenty years ago – it was never an issue. But now I have one suit worth 6,000 Br.

Switching Off

BS: My physical love for playing football back then has now shifted to a mental preference for reading books.

Major Aspirations

BS: Being the best teacher was my ultimate dream. Now, along the same lines, I aim to be the best public service provider. Being ‘the best’ cuts across the time frame.

Perception of Death

BS: I have never feared death – not then, not now. I know nobody can escape that. Now, I start looking after myself so as not to facilitate the pace.

In Your CD Collection

BS: When I was around twenty years old, I loved Abetew Kebede and The Amharic Gener Tizita. Now There are so many of them to choose from. I could not cope if ever I had select just a limited few. If I had to pick though, I would focus on the message rather than the melody.

Your Inspiration

BS: Learning. I changed when I learnt new things, so I loved education. Now, again it is about learning. I learn new ways to better carry out my duties.

Fortune: Tipping the Scales

BS: I have changed over the years. With marginal fluctuations. I have gained around 15 to 17 kilos. I was 52-53kg for a long time.

Favourite Brands

BS: I had no clue of brands or their values twenty years ago. Now I know, I do not endorse the idea. I look for quality. And I believe brand and quality are not the same things.

Lost Passions

BS: I used to go out with my friends to have some coffee, discuss what seemed relevant for us and laugh ar things. I no longer have the time. No public places as an ordinary guy, no laughing with friends. All this boils down to having no time to do the things that I used to love to do.

Celebrating Festivities

BS: I still do it in the same way I used to – at home with family. But now the feeling has changed. The quiet and social moments mean so much. Especially on the eves, when the roads are crowded.

Published on May 03,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 835]



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