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Yacob Wolde-Mariam on Sebhat

September 8, 2012 3 comments

Veteran journalist Yacob Wolde-Mariam writes of his colleague and friend, Sebhat Gebre-Egziabiher and how his love of journalism and literature sustained him to the end.
I came across Sebhat Gebre-Egziabiher late in the 1960s. A group of five Ethiopian intellectuals under the leadership of the late Baalu Ghirma were then making frantic efforts towards founding and running a newly-established weekly magazine known as Addis Reporter on the basis of a press whose freedom, in their opinion, was unfettered – an attempt that fizzled out less than two years later when the original staff members were dismissed and when I was installed as its new editor. Anyway, the magazine died an unlamented death late in 1969.
I knew Sebhat then as a very talented writer who was very smart in his appearance and had, in fact, married the daughter of Yilma Deressa, one of Haile-Selassie’s outstanding ministers who had graduated from the London School of Economics. He was in complete contrast then to the latter-day Sebhat following the flight abroad of his wife with his child in the early days of the Dergue regime.
From 1974 onwards Sebhat had given one the impression that he was some sort of a Bohemian intellectual who didn’t care a hoot what people had thought how he had dressed and comported himself – or what he had drunk or chewed. I had thought that he was probably influenced by the existentialist philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre during his not more than six-month stay in France and his extensive reading of French poets like Rimbaud, in particular the latter’s Les Fleurs du mal. Read more…

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