Home > poems > Apologies to Ms. Ullman

Apologies to Ms. Ullman

September 30, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m a Hama Tuma fan.He writes the most marvellous poem, with a warm feel to it.There is always some surprise or other just lurking around the corner.The next poem, ‘Apologies to Ms. Ullman‘ reprinted from his poetry collection ‘Of Spades and Ethiopians'(1991) has a taunting use of apparent praise and aplogies for dispraise.I have no idea if Liv ullman, the character in the poem, is a real or fictitious one but it seems a familiar story told in an appealing way.   Liv ullman visited Ethiopia

                  and saw the starved in special camps

Sha patted the hungry kids

                 comforting them

Some say with tears in her eyes.

(She is Norwegian alright,

                           but I don’t know if she has blue eyes.)

She also met a starved old man

           sadly staring at his dying wife

She complimented him

                on his hand-knitted cap

 Ms Ullman does have a kind heart.

But, the ungrateful old man 


unable to grasp the beauty in a cap

while his wife was dying and himself starved

Had the nerve to shout back

(or was it a whisper and not a bark?)

‘Do you think I can eat my cap?’

May I send an apology sincere

                                        to nice Ms Ullman

Please don’t judge the Ethiopian

by one ignorant man.

Just go Stockholm or Washington

           to meet many an Ethiopian

smart and not starved

who will undrestand the beauty in a hand knitted cap.

Forget the camps and the starved

who by hunger finesse-deprived

May wound your kind heart

By failing to grasp the beauty in a hand-knitten cap.

Categories: poems
  1. L.B
    October 1, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I think it is about the famous Norwegian actress Liv Ullman. She has played in many of the highly respected Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman’s movies. He recently passed away. She’s an excellent actress. Just thought I’d let you know.

  2. Endalkachew Hailu
    October 10, 2007 at 7:06 am

    I think the poem reveales that the famous westerners who visit Ethiopia in the name of aid are indifferent to our problem.May be they come here just to improve their public image and watch the unique culture and enviroment.May be they don’t feel our pain except utilize the condition for their own benefit.Afterall the Oromo proverb “a gland won’t bleed except a vein” meaning your kinsman can feel something for you but the 0THER can’t -is may be true.

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