He played the role of a jovial father figure with a new generation of Ethiopian-Americans in metro Denver, far from the Red Terror atrocities of another time, another continent.
To the young men at the Cozy Cafe, Kefelgn Alemu Worku was Tufa, a paunchy, gray-haired mentor who was quick to burst into song, sit down at the piano or settle an argument when others had too much to drink. They welcomed his advice, his company and his jokes.
“Work hard. This is a good place to live. Change your life,” he told one of them, 34-year-old Nas Siraj.
Alemu Worku said he began every day in his tiny apartment with prayers. He spoke of saving tips collected on his Denver International Airport shuttle bus and sending the money each month to support the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
What he didn’t talk about was the past.