BRETT WILLIAMSON Bismarck Tribune
Members of One Million Cups in Bismarck and Mandan sat down for a cup of coffee Wednesday with a former communist rebel leader and one-time prime minister of Ethiopia.
Tamrat Layne, who worked to overthrow the dictator regime of Ethiopia and became prime minister in 1991, was imprisoned five years later because of ideological and political differences.
Tom Ackerman, the director of communications for the University of Mary, characterized turnout for the presentation as strong.
“He wanted students and those that attended to have a purpose in life. Also, he believes we become our own prisoners in life until we are able to find forgiveness that, ultimately, sets us free,” Ackerman said.
The communal exchange of information, held Wednesday mornings in the auditorium of Dakota Stage, delved into Layne’s time in jail while serving 12 years of an 18-year sentence. Upon his release, Layne said he was able to forgive his captors and now travels the world and speaks about his enlightened journey and the series of events in his life that brought him to this point.
During his presentation, Layne spoke about his new perspective on the world, which he hopes to change through love, forgiveness, peace and resolution.
“The fate of North Dakota is on the young generation,” Layne said. “They have to realize for themselves that they are the ones who can change the state and future. It is on their shoulders. … We can change our nation in love, forgiveness and unity.”
Every week, Wednesdays at 9 a.m., the One Million Cups organization shares cups of coffee as it presents local and national speakers, who talk on a range of topics from local business to advancing technologies to production advice.