Friday, March 10, 2006


Harrar Horse

If you think the Harrar Horse logo is popular here, you should see what it means in Ethiopia. Ogsadey’s reputation is legendary: first beginning as a truck driver, then becoming the first native African coffee exporter in Ethiopia, and ultimately, building a coffee empire which is famous throughout the county and the world. I’m not exaggerating. As soon as the horse logo and the driver of the company jeep were identified, entire villages would swarm chanting: OG-SA-DEY!-OG-SA-DEY! One might think that kind of adulation could affect one’s ego. I never saw that. Everyone was treated seriously and with respect, as if they were the biggest buyers in the world.

He once drove me to a place in the Harrar growing region three hours from his home in Dire Dawa. While listening to recorded prayers from the Koran on the tape player, Ogsadey told me a story of how, in the good old days, getting to this same place would take two to three weeks, and require winches, machetes and guns to ward off pirates, and in my imagination, big hungry animals.

He worked tirelessly to the end. In his eighties, retirement never occurred to him. Just a few years ago he invested in two big new warehouses. Hundreds of big rigs with the Harrar Horse logo are on the road. He took pride pointing out any new factories or new neon lights in Addis Ababa. He possessed a patriotic pride in his county; despite its poverty, he was ever optimistic. Perhaps a contradiction, he greatly admired both Presidents Reagan and Clinton. Reagan for bringing down that wall, and Clinton, for his tireless statesmanship and efforts to bring peace to the world, particularly in the Middle East. When the Communists took power in Ethiopia, they seized all of Ogsadey’s assets. With a big smile he would tell the story of how they could not figure out how to run the coffee business, so wisely, they gave it all back.

Never, despite frost, droughts, up markets or down markets, did we ever have concern about our contracts with MAO. Doing business was a pleasure. Straightforward, old-fashioned and old school in the most positive sense--- the words honorable and integrity come to mind. He was a tremendous mentor and influence. Together, we had the opportunity, with the help of our customers, to make some significant donations to the Dil Chora Hospital in Dire Dawa. Royal will continue charitable work in Ethiopia as long as we are in business. In this way we will continue to honor our great friend. May he rest in peace.
-Robert Fulmer

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