On June 1977 a young man who represented one possible future for Ethiopia left his friend’s house in Asko area and headed to Haya Hulet Mazoria to meet members of his party. His host had an eerie feeling and advised him to take a gun with him. However, he was not happy about the suggestion. “How can I bring a gun with me when I am going to see comrades?” he asked. Getachew Maru— a former engineering student at the then Haile Selassie University (now Addis Ababa University), — had led the University Students’ Union of Addis Ababa (USUAA) as secretary general in 1971, for a few months. He later formed with like-minded friends Abyot group which was incorporated into the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), the best-supported party among the intelligentsia at the time.
Find full story at the Ethiopia Observer.
The noted historian Prof. Bahru Zewde has quipped in his ‘Pioneers of Change in Ethiopia’ that, “There are few people as obsessed with history as Ethiopians.” Certainly, if the number of books run through is any guide to gauging the interest and taste of the readership here, works dealing with various aspects of the county’s past are the ones that top the list.
Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam’s recent Amharic book, a slim volume entitled, ‘Mekshef Ende-Ethiopia Tarik’ (which literally means “ missing the mark, à la Ethiopian history”) has definitely proved controversial and provocative, achieving the distinction of being the most reviewed book in recent memory. It is not strictly a work of history but rather a second order study taking issues with certain established approaches to Ethiopian history writing. It is also a jeremiad on the many failures and disappointments characterizing the history of the fair nation he loves and has been serving for many years now. Read more…
A new book chronicling the use of photography as communication and propaganda medium in Emperor Menelik II’s palace is set to launch next week here in Addis Ababa. The book entirely written in French and entitled, ‘Le Roi des rois et la photographie. Politique de l’image et pouvoir royal en Ethiopie sous le règne de Ménélik II’ is the offering from the French scholar, Estelle Sohier.The author said her book is about the history of the creation of photographs by the court, their uses, and their political stakes. “These documents bring a new perspective to the history of Ethiopian royalty at the beginning of the 20th century and its relations with the outside world,” she said.
Estelle received her PhD in history from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the University of Naples in 2007. She is now a lecturer at the Department of Geography of the University of Geneva. Her current research focuses on the history of photography and its political uses between 1880 and 1930.
The book would be launched on 14 May at two different venues, one at the French Center for Ethiopian Studies (CFEE) at 12.30 pm and at the Alliance Ethio-française at at 6.30 pm.
The Ethiopian poet and playwright Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin’s biography hit bookstores last week, according to Tsehai Publishers.
The new book, called “Soaring on Winged Verse,” was based on interviews that author Fasil Yitbarek has held with Tsegaye, family members, friends, colleagues, the publishing company said in a press statement.
The 244-page book, priced $24.95, chronicles the life of one of Ethiopia’s most remarkable authors, tracing Tsegaye’s days from his Boda village to his rise as luminary figure.
“This book gives readers the most complete look into the life and prolific career of Tsegaye, a playwright and author of influential poetry in both Amharic and English,” the press statement reads.
“Beyond providing a biographical account of the events that shaped the poet’s life, Soaring on Winged Verse serves as an intimate window into the writer’s world and provides readers a glimpse into his creative musings and to his remarkable journey as a writer, traveler, and advocate for his home country.”
The biographer, currently professor of English at Qatar University in Doha, has published an English novel, The Texture of Dreams in 2005. “In Soaring on Winged Verse, readers will encounter a story that goes beyond mere facts to encompass the inspiration of Tsegaye’s remarkable and dynamic life,” the publisher said.
With its stirring plot, profound themes and lushly imagined language, Lib weled Tarik was so much more than Africa’s first novel. Jack Fellman turns the pages of a literary work of art.
The novel as an art form was late in appearing on the African literary scene. The first novel in an African vernacular tongue was the 90-page Amharic work, Lib Weled Tarik (literally, a story produced from the heart or an imaginary tale), written by the Ethiopian, Afewerk Gebre Eyesus, and published in 1908 in Rome.
Afewerk was born on July 10th 1868 on the Zeghe Peninsula of Lake Tana. His family was related to Empress Taytu, wife of the Emperor Menelik, who early on noted the talents of his young relative. In 1887 Menelik sent the 19-year-old Afewerk to study in Italy, where he proved an exceptional student. In 1902 he was appointed Assistant in Amharic to Professor Francesco Gallina at the Oriental Institute of the University of Naples, and it was in this capacity, and with the professor’s active encouragement and support, that Afewerk produced his novel- Africa’s first. Read more…
Historian, author and commentator Professor Richard Pankhurst talks about the renowned intellectual, statesman, diplomat and Ethiopia’s first western trained physician, Hakim Workneh Eshete (also known as Dr. Charles Martin). In an article published in the Capital newspaper, the most prolific writer on Ethiopian historical matters reviews two recent books that saw the light of the day on the historical figure.
Hakim Workneh, aka Dr Charles Martin, was the first Ethiopian I ever met, and the first Ethiopian doctor to give me medical advice – albeit only once or twice during my childhood. Hakim Workneh, who was an important figure in Ethiopian history, is the subject of two recent biographies. He came from a prominent Gondar family that, for one reason or another – we do not know precisely why – was attached to Emperor Tewodros’s court at Maqdala. Read more…
Where do you find the world’s oldest Christian manuscripts? Specialists say that they are in Ethiopia.Two illustrated gospels that date to fifth-century found in the Abba Gerima monastic complex, seven kilometers away from the northern town of Adwa, are possibly the earliest surviving illustrated Christian manuscripts, according to experts.The rare treasures that represent a unique survival of an early Christian text in Ethiopia, predating all others by more than 500 years, are hoped to make the Abba Gerima monastery one of the country’s main touristic attractions. A museum is now under construction on the site to preserve the treasures and scheduled to open June 2012. Read more…