Bishopston resident Dr Teame Mebrahtu, an international advocate for the peaceful integration of refugees and a respected academic – who also became one of Bristol’s few black magistrates in the 1980s – has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.
The award is for services to education, refugees and the Bristol community.
Dr Mebrahtu was already a leading educationist in Asmara, Eritrea – then part of Ethiopia– – when he sought asylum in Britain. In 1976 he had returned to Bristol – where earlier he completed a Masters degree at the city’s university – to undertake a PhD. His application for refugee status because of the danger he faced in his home country was granted, followed by UK citizenship.
After successfully completing his doctorate Dr Mebrahtu was appointed as lecturer, rising to become a senior lecturer at the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education. For 24 years he taught and mentored students from all over the developing world, many becoming leading academics in their own countries.
But he was determined to also serve the communities of his adopted country. He became an acknowledged and much sought after expert on the issues of immigration and how newcomers to this country can live harmoniously together with the host population.
His service to the Bristol community was recognised by an invitation in 1984 to become a Bristol magistrate.
His commitment to the local community included assisting his wife Teblez, who set up a feeding the homeless project in the city. Every week the two of them would provide food and help distribute it. But he also spent many hours of his free time assisting his fellow refugees cope with the issues of settling into a new country. He understood the challenges they faced and sought to help them integrate with the community.
He believes that everyone needs to learn to live with an understanding and acceptance of differences.
Bristol journalist Stan Hazell has chronicled Dr Mebrahtu’s life story in Long Way from Adi Ghehad, Journey of an Asylum Seeker published by Shepheard Walwyn.