Point Four: A Film About Haramaya University

Mel Tewahade (center) working on his new documentary “Point Four” about Haramaya University - formerly Alemaya College. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – A new documentary entitled Point Four highlights the history of Haramaya University, an agricultural technical campus in Ethiopia established in 1956 in collaboration with the U.S. government and with assistance from Oklahoma State University. Formerly known as Alemaya College, the institution was officially inaugurated by Emperor Haile Selassie on January 16, 1958.

The film borrows its name from President Harry Truman’s 1949 inaugural address in which he announced a technical assistance program for developing countries that later became known as “The Point Four Program.” It was so named because it was the fourth foreign policy objective outlined in the speech. The Point Four program resulted in America’s close partnership with Ethiopia in helping to establish some of the country’s technical higher-education institutions.

“The documentary is about a US foreign policy that was successfully implemented in Ethiopia,” said Mel Tewahade, the film’s Denver-based producer. He noted: “The Alemaya College was established with the help of Oklahoma State University. Oklahoma State provided the expertise and Ethiopia provided the funds.”

The film is narrated by the director and features interviews with Americans who were involved with the program in Ethiopia as well as Ethiopian graduates from the school. “My inspiration to make the movie is to honor all the great people including my own father who worked hard to establish this agricultural college,” Mr. Tewahade said. “As a kid I traveled to Alemaya from our house in Harar and I have a pleasant memory of the place.”

You can learn more about the film at www.pointfourethiopia.com.

An Interview With Documentary Filmmaker Mel Tewahade (curve Wire)

Watch the trailer:

‘Point Four’ Trailer from Aashish Mayur Shah on Vimeo.

26 Responses to “Point Four: A Film About Haramaya University”

  1. 1 thomas ayalew Nov 26th, 2011 at 2:19 am

    i know this university

  2. 2 Z Nov 26th, 2011 at 3:40 am

    like it -:)

  3. 3 Carol Devore Nov 26th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I just wanted to say that I trust Mel confidently. I am proud of him for doing this documentary and wish him all the success that he can have in this venture. This is a good thing for our country and Ethiopia.

    Good Luck Mel.

  4. 4 munit Nov 26th, 2011 at 11:46 am

    my father is a graduate of Alamaya. Thank you for preserving family history, therefor giving a gift to the rest of us. Thank you. But you should also focus on strong Ethiopians who are not only grateful but more than that. My father is now a professor here in the states.

  5. 5 Ras Mitat Nov 26th, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Good start Mel.

  6. 6 kassa Nov 27th, 2011 at 2:10 am

    wow i am proud of this guy i know alamaya very well and i graduated from there.

  7. 7 Dr. Clyde R. Kindell Nov 27th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I was President of the university from 1960-1966. It was then officially called “The Imperial Ethiopian College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts”. I was the last American to hold the title of President. I personally knew His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie, who was the Chanchellor of the Ethiopian University system. In my many contacts with HIM, he was always kind and cordial to me.

    I personally knew Mel Tewahade’s father, Fitawara Tewahade Woldeyasus. He was Governor of the district in which the University is located. He was very supportive of the development of the institution.

    I highly commend Mel for his developing the documentary on the Point IV Program. As far as I know, there is not one like it, especially one that expresses the appreciation of those who benefited from the programs that Point IV provided.

    All of us who served in the Point IV program through the Oklahoma State University benefited from getting to work with such wonderful people as the Ethiopians. Several of us have children who were born in Ethiopia and we all retain fond memories of our close relationships we established with the Ethiopian people.

  8. 8 Dawit Nov 28th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Great story

  9. 9 Mary Larson Nov 28th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I think we are all looking forward to seeing this documentary. For those who are interested in more stories from the perspective of Oklahoma State University faculty and staff who went to Ethiopia, you may also want to look at the interviews done by the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at OSU. They are online at http://www.library.okstate.edu/oralhistory/ostate/ . You can click “Search collections” at the left and then type in “Alemaya” or “Ethiopia” to find the relevant interviews, or you can click on “Interviews”/”View All” and select from individual oral histories, including those with Dan and Jenice Bigbee, Conrad and Joy Evans, Ben and Susie Jackson, Clyde Kindell, Yack Moseley, and Billy and Jean Webb.

  10. 10 No Name Nov 28th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    “The past reminds us of timeless human truths and allows for the perpetuation of cultural traditions that can be nourishing; it contains examples of mistakes to avoid, preserves the memory of alternatives ways of doing things, and is the basis for self-understanding…” – Drew, Bettina

    “To remain ignorant of things that happened before you were born is to remain a child.” – Cicero.

  11. 11 Mary tewahade Nov 28th, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Great article Mel! I can’t wait for your short documentary film to come out! It will absolutley keep us informed about history of the past!

  12. 12 Ethio Nov 29th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Dr. Clyde R. Kindell:

    Thank you for your service and sharing your fond memories of Ethiopia. For those of us who are not of that generation when we look at this type of amazing progress from the past, we wonder when did Ethiopia take the wrong turn and why? Thank you also Mel for your service, sir.


  13. 13 Dean Dixon Nov 29th, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I have worked with Mel for 6 years and am very happy and proud of his work on this documentary. I feel it is a very important film that shows the greater side of our efforts to positively impact other cultures around the world. This is a story most Americans have never heard of that needs to be told! I am excited about the film coming to fruition. I look forward to the opening this month and sharing the story with my fellow Americans.

  14. 14 munit Nov 30th, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Just wanted to add to my previous comment. I am looking forward to seeing the whole film. I truly appreciate the effort. At least someone is taking the time to document!! That’s precious time, money, and energy. I respect that!

  15. 15 Tedla Asfaw Dec 19th, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Dear Tadias Editor,

    I am a graduate of Alemaya College from the Dept of Agricultural Engineering in 1980. On your Dec 16 article about the rare photos that is included on the coming documentary about “Haramaya University” I witness rewriting the past according to the demand of ethnic politics. Was it called then “Haramaya” or Alemaya ? When was it changed to Haramaya ? Even if the name change is forced on the institution due to political correctness of ethnic politics it should not be Incorporated in the documentary. I am a graduate of Alemaya not Haramaya. My diploma is my proof. I want you to pass this documentary to those who are in charge of the project.


    Tedla Asfaw

  16. 16 Michele Pensa Jan 16th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to work with Mel preparing the background narration for this documentary. I learned a great deal about the unique partnership forged between Oklahoma State University and Alemaya University in Ethiopia. It is a story of optimism and generosity and I look forward to seeing the finished documentary.

  17. 17 Lisa Keahey Skinner Feb 2nd, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    My father, Dr Kenneth Keahey was the acting President the year before Dr. Kindell came. I and my sister were two of those kids that have the good fortune to call Ethiopia our birth place. We have had so much fun going through old slides with my parents and talking of all the stories of our time there. What a wonderful experience we feel so blessed to have had the memories of all the friends, Ethiopian and other OSU people. When my dad retired from Michigan State University as head of the Pathology Dept. so many friends and even former Alemaya students came. Point Four help change Ethiopia and Ethiopia forever changed us. Thank you Mel for all your work!

  18. 18 Burqaa Apr 23rd, 2012 at 10:28 am

    This is just a short rejoinder to Ato Tedla Asfaw… the name Haramayaa… is not a new name conjured-up as you said by “political correctness of ethnic Politics” it predates the arrival of high-land Abyssinian settlers. The name Haraa in Oromo language denotes a body of water….lakes, ocean, or large expansive sea. Hence, the lake that is now dried-up due to choking with sediments and soil silts, that bordered the University was named Haramayaa… Mayaa is the district’s name where the lake was located.

    When the Abyssinian settlers arrived in the region After Ras Mokennen’s conquest of the Hararghe region in the 1870s, many indigneous names were altered to fit the settler’s launguage and culture… hence Haramayaa…. became “Alem..Maya..( the English equivalent of …heavenly-world..

    The settlers did not care about the native culture and names of localities… Chirroo became Asebe-Teferi, etc…

    Ato Tedla would have been better informed had he explored the history of the Oromo people/farmers among whom he spent… I presume four years, to attain his “agricultural Engineering”

  19. 19 habtamu Jun 18th, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Very interesting story to hear about Alemmaya and Point Four. But, we ( Professionals! ) don’t have to quarrel about”words”. Please, Ato Tedla accept the “truth”. The natural Name is Haramayaa!!

  20. 20 Tikur Sew Aug 3rd, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    As a new generation graduate of Haramaya University (formerly Alemaya College) I want to extend my deepest appreciation and sincere thanks to the filmmaker Mr. Mel Tewahede for helping to preserving our history and pass on the torch to us. Thank you sir for your efforts and for your contribution to educating the future generation! Thank you!

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