Poet Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin’s response on writing in English
The late Ethiopian poet Debebe seifu’s M.A thesis was on Ethiopian Literature in English and at the last pages ,Debebe wrote the interviews he had made wth three writers , including poet laueate Tsegaye Gebre Medhin.I have posted excerpts of the interview.Question- Why do you write in English?
Tsegaye: I wish I could also write in Oromo.In fact, i tried something in it, though unsuccessfully.I can express myself best in Amharic.It has simmered much into my personality. But writing in english is altogether a different matter.While I was a student in elementary school, I had partipated in a play called King Dionysius and had my first intimate acquaintance with the English langage.Later on, when I went to England I did some scribblings .Yet, writing in a languae which the people do not understand is ceasing to communicate with the people, because language is one of the most sensitive instruments in a given culture.As such one should express himself in the language in which he dreams in, that is in his vernacular tongue. But we have difficulties, and we had more difficulties in the past , because of the state of affaire which were predominant. Most of the time these problems come in the forms of censorship.It would not have permitted me to produce, my plays like Oda-Oak-Oracle which is based on pagan background, on a legend of the Wolayita people; had I written it in Amharic.The plight in which the cultures of the opreesed peoiple was in, was not allowed to be expressed.Thus, it is sometimes a rebellion to the domination of one culture over the others.The culture of the people is handled by little people who impose on you stringent censorship; So , at times ,I try to write in English and express myself freely.In fact, English comes in my writing when I have no way out and when i feel the situation is completely blocked.Furthermore, it bring you international reknown easily than the Amharric would.