by Tigist Geme
October 19, 2013 (OPride) – Author and novelist Tesfaye Gebreab released his eighth book “Ye Sidetengaw Mastawesha” – an immigrant’s memoir – online, as a free PDF, after an alleged fallout with his publisher,Netsanet Publishing Agency (NPA).
The dramatic decision to distribute the book for free – at an
estimated loss of $30,000 – came, according to Tesfaye’s people, after
NPA leaked a doctored copy of the book following the author’s refusal to
omit two controversial chapters, one of which is about Oromo.
Tesfaye is not new to controversy, especially one involving the
divergent Oromo and Ethiopian narratives. His well-received book, YeBurqa Zimita –
the silence of Burqa – is the first major work of contemporary Amharic
fiction with main Oromo characters based on a true story.
Tesfaye, who is of an Eritrean descent, grew up in Bishoftu in
Oromia, central Ethiopia. He identifies himself as “Ijjoollee Bushooftu”
meaning a proud Bishoftu native. His third major novel “Ye Bishoftu
Qorxoch” and two subsequent memoirs, although less controversial, dealt
with the plight of Oromo people under successive Ethiopian regimes.
Suffice to say, over the years, Tesfaye had distinguished himself as a
controversial, introspective, and critical novelist by going against
the tide of mainstream Ethiopianist narrative. For this, he’s been
accused of many things, like being a paid Eritrean spy.
In the latest disputed book, one of the chapters that the publishers
allegedly sought to censor was “Chaltu as Helen”, which is based on a
novelized story of Chaltu Midhaksa, a young Oromo girl from Ada’aa Barga
district, also in central Oromia.
Born to a farming family in Koftu, a small village south of Addis
Ababa near Akaki, Chaltu led an exuberant childhood. Raised by her
grandmother’s sister Gode, a traditional storyteller who lived over 100
years, the impressionable Chaltu mastered the history and tradition of
Tulama Oromos at a very young age.
Chaltu’s captivating and fairytale like story, as retold by Tesfaye,
begins when she was awarded a horse named Gurraacha as a prize for
winning a Tulama history contest. Though she maybe the first and only
female contestant, Chaltu won the competition by resoundingly answering
eleven of the twelve questions she was asked.
Guraacha, her pride and constant companion, became Chaltu’s best
friend and she took a good care of him. Gurraacha was a strong horse;
his jumps were high, and Chaltu understood his pace and style.
–For full report click Opride