TSEGAYE GEBREMEDHIN POEMS PDF

By Professor Negussay Ayele. For half a century now he has been continuously productive as poet, playwright, essayist, social critic, philologist, historiographer, dramatist, synthesist, peace activist, artistic director Even if he has yet to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, he has often been more appreciated and duly honored abroad than in his own land. As such his early childhood gestation period was molded by the trauma of that war of aggression against which his patriot father fought. Born in the vicinity of Ambo and the environs of the source of Awash River in Shewa region, the young Tsegaye was also influenced and shaped by the subcultures, languages and the blending of his Oromo and Amhara heritages. Indeed, as he was to relate later on, he considers himself as one who represented an Ethiopian amalgam or bridge between the two cultures.

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This was often achieved under trying circumstances. His career spanned three regimes: Emperor Haile Selassie I's feudal rule, Mengistu Hailemariam's Marxist dictatorship under which he was briefly imprisoned , and the putative democracy of Meles Zenawi.

All three banned his plays; he once estimated that of 49 works, 36 had at one time or another been censored. Tsegaye was born in Boda, a village some km from the capital, to an Oromo father, who was away fighting the Italians, and an Amhara mother. The two groups speak languages from entirely different linguistic groups, Cushitic and Semitic respectively; the latter has an alphabet of some letters. As many Ethiopian boys do, he also learned Ge'ez, the ancient language of the church, an Ethiopian equivalent to Latin; he also helped the family by caring for cattle.

He was more unusual in beginning to write plays when at the local elementary school. At 16 he transferred to the Wingate school in Addis Ababa, where he developed an interest in pantomime; this was followed, in , by a degree from the Blackstone School of Law in Chicago. The s were an important decade. He returned to Ethiopia in to run the Municipality Company at the National Theatre and establish a school which produced a number of leading Ethiopian actors. Realising the usefulness of Shakespeare in the making of dangerous political points, he translated Macbeth and King Lear.

Briefly, he was appointed minister of culture, but Haile Selassie was deposed by Mengistu Hailemariam and, during the Red Terror in , Tsegaye and the playwright Ayalneh Mulatu spent months together in a prison cell. Ayalneh, who remained friends with Tsegaye for the rest of his life, remembers a daily 11am roll call of men to be killed, and the day his own name came up. It was mispronounced, and Tsegaye seized on the mispronunciation to argue they had the wrong man, thus saving Ayalneh's life.

They wrote poems and plays on the paper bags their food came in. Agit-prop came into its own under the Marxist regime, as did Tsegaye's own brand of declamatory nationalism. In he helped to establish the theatre arts department at Addis Ababa University where he is remembered as being very strict and aloof. In the s he also wrote historical plays about Ethiopian kings, one of which, Tewodros, was performed at the Arts Theatre in London in There are persistent reports that the actors were beaten while on tour.

Despite this, "I like to go out and communicate with the common folk of Ethiopia," Tsegaye wrote in It is from them that I learn about my country and people. And generally their comments are accompanied by tears; their stories are mostly melancholy; their memories are bitter and tragic. It is that which I reflect in my writings. That is why my plays dwell on tragedy. In he moved to New York to undergo dialysis, virtually unavailable in Ethiopia, and to be near his children.

He remained active, promoting Ethiopian culture, until the end. In the African Union took one of his poems as its anthem. Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin, poet and dramatist, born August 17 ; died February 25 The poet and dramatist Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin, who has died aged 69, was considered Ethiopia's poet laureate. He was one of the most important literary figures that country has produced in the last hundred years, and certainly the best known, both within and outside it; his s decision to write about the common man, rather than religion and royalty, marked the beginning of modern Ethiopian theatre.

He wrote in English and was a translator of Shakespeare, but his real gift and achievement was to harness the considerable lyrical powers of his own, Ethiopian, languages. Topics Books. Ethiopia Africa obituaries. Reuse this content. Most popular.

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Celebrating Ethiopian author Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin with 5 of his greatest quotes

Search Submit. Even though he wrote in English, he is best known for his use of his own Ethiopian languages. His Amharic plays focus mainly on contemporary Ethiopia, particularly the plight of young people in urban settings and the need to respect traditional morality, as in Crown of Thorns Oda Oak Oracle , which is said to be his best-known verse play written in English , is based on Ethiopian history and focuses on religious conflict.

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Ethiopia's Poet Laureate: Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin

This was often achieved under trying circumstances. His career spanned three regimes: Emperor Haile Selassie I's feudal rule, Mengistu Hailemariam's Marxist dictatorship under which he was briefly imprisoned , and the putative democracy of Meles Zenawi. All three banned his plays; he once estimated that of 49 works, 36 had at one time or another been censored. Tsegaye was born in Boda, a village some km from the capital, to an Oromo father, who was away fighting the Italians, and an Amhara mother. The two groups speak languages from entirely different linguistic groups, Cushitic and Semitic respectively; the latter has an alphabet of some letters. As many Ethiopian boys do, he also learned Ge'ez, the ancient language of the church, an Ethiopian equivalent to Latin; he also helped the family by caring for cattle. He was more unusual in beginning to write plays when at the local elementary school.

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