For 17 years Tesfu Gessesse has been the director of CORE in Pilton, an organisation that supports minority ethnic people and has helped shape the social landscape in north Edinburgh – Friday, June 24 is Tesfu’s last day.
He is leaving to take a new post in Ethiopia, where he was born and the country he left 26 years ago for the UK.
He will be heading up a consortium of 18 international NGO’s. A position he says he would have been unable to get without the rich experiences he has had at CORE.
In a letter announcing his departure last month he wrote: “I will miss the great and wonderful community activists of Greater Pilton, who have taught me about self-respect, dignity, social justice and equality.
“Your courage and support has given me enormous confidence in standing for and fighting for social justice for all.”
The CORE office is at the foot of a white high rise building in a housing estate with a semi-circle of shops facing it.
As I chained up my bike to meet Mr Gessesse at 9.30am on a Tuesday morning, a man walked past and said: “Make sure it’s locked up tight, they’d steal the sugar out of your tea round here.”
This statement gained more weight as I walked into the building through open, metal doorways with thick bolts – I then met the friendly face of Tesfu Gessesse who over the course of our time together gushed with pride for the people of Greater Pilton.
CORE was created by a group of white working class people who formed the Muirhouse Anti-Racism Campaign (MARC) and the Pilton Community Education Team to fight the racist abuse that a mixed-race family suffered in 1991.
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