Bezawit’s College Days – Ch 2

14 01 2015

By Yelibenwork Ayele

Five hours of bus ride and Bezawit was entering Addis Ababa with her mother on a Thursday afternoon after the Meskel festival.

Tewabech had told Tigist on the phone to get off the bus at Kaliti opposite the CRDA and take a taxi to Saris Abo and then another taxi to Meghenagna by the ring road. After that she could board one more taxi to CMC. Tigist had been to Addis Ababa quite a few times. However, she was not so sure about finding her way around the city without the help of certain landmarks one of which was the Mexico Square. So she did not bother with the CRDA on the Read the rest of this entry »


Bezawit’s College Days – Ch 1

9 01 2015

By Yelibenwork Ayele

Chapter 1

Bezawit Girma knew it would not rain before six. That was why she and her friends went to the lake in

Front cover of Bezawit's College Days

Front cover of Bezawit’s College Days

the afternoon. She liked Awassa so much that she never dreamed of living anywhere else. She liked the landscape, the perfect plain spreading from horizon to horizon. When she met strangers, she never passed up the chance to point out the geometrical perfection of the town’s master plan. She spoke with pride about the cool breeze from Lake Awassa, which fanned the whole town during summer. It made the rift valley heat less harsh than it would have been otherwise.

Beza was in a pair of jeans trousers and a big white T-shirt which fluttered like a flag in the cool refreshing wind. She wore her medium-length hair in a ponytail. She was enjoying a boat ride with her friends on Lake Awassa. They were sailing to the hippo park near the Tikur Wuha Bridge. They had all scored above 3.0 in the grade 12 school leaving certificate exam. Not many weeks from now, they would go to different colleges. So, before they separated, they wanted to treasure happy memories of the precious few days ahead.

“When are we going to college?” Meaza said as the boat floated away from the shore.

“You have to know where you are going before you ask when,” Dawit said looking back at the girls. He was standing at the bow and had stretched his hands sideways like the couple in Titanic. He was the one who planned the boat ride. He wanted it for Bezawit and himself only but Bezawit had insisted the other girls too should come. If he and Bezawit were by themselves, they would fly together at the bow like Rose and Jack.

“I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to study in Awassa University,” Bezawit said.

“I want to go to Sidist Kilo,” Dawit said.

“Why does everybody want to go to Siddst Kilo?” Mieraf said.

“We like it in the big city. The Addissaba Univeristy is big enough to accommodate all of us plus some more students from around Africa,” Dawit said still flying at the bow. For the girls sitting at the stern, the boat appeared to be propelled with the power of Dawit’s wings.

“As for me,” Hilina said taking off her glasses, “it doesn’t matter where I go as long as it is a college. Even Anchoqorer will do.”

They savoured every minute of the ride. They leaned over the side to touch the warm water and splashed it on one another. They laughed with pleasure as the boat swayed on the mild waves. They screamed when a hippo saw them and swam toward the boat. To their terror and thrill, the boatsman killed the engine and rowed with the wooden oars manoeuvring the boat round the hippo. Then he drove the bow straight at the hippo whereupon the monster ducked and disappeared below the surface.

The moment they stepped off the boat, they saw many people poring over large sheets of paper. Beza’s excitement quickly wore off and was replaced by both curiosity and anxiety about where she was going to college. Men and women, young and old had divided the large sheets of the Addis Zemen among themselves and were reading out loud from long lists of names. Some of them danced and shouted as they found their own names or those of their children.

For the first time in years, Beza worried that she might have to leave her beloved town. She also felt uneasy about spending months away from the family and from Dawit.


At home near the stadium, Bezawit laid down a copy of Addis Zemen on the coffee table in the living room. She sat back on the old sofa and said nothing.

“What’s the matter, Beza?”Ato Girma, her father, asked. He leaned forward to pick up the paper. “Are you not happy?”

“I am going to Addisaba,” Beza said with no trace of enthusiasm in her voice.

“That’s great, Beza. I’m happy for you. You’re going to the most advanced city in Ethiopia.” Ato Girma leafed through the pages of the paper. “You know that none of us ever studied there.”

“I know that, Aba. But going to Addisaba means giving you and Ema more burden.”

“That’s common to all parents,” Girma said with a dismissive gesture. “We can handle it.”

“I am going to the Commerce College which provides neither lodgings nor food. Besides, I’ve heard that the allowance is too little.”

“If we can’t send you enough money, then we will start praying and fasting just to – ”

“Praying and fasting?” Father and daughter turned to Woizero Tigist. Beza’s mother was just coming from work. “The last fasting season is just over. Or, do you mean to make a monastery of this house?”

Beza got to her feet and was going to speak but her father beat her to the draw. “Good news, Tigist. Beza is going to Addisaba,” Girma said the last word more loudly than the others.

Tigist dropped her bag on the floor and hugged her daughter. “Congratulations Beza,” she said leaning back to see Beza’s face. “In that case, I am joining your father in prayer and fasting for your success.”

“Ema, but I am going to the Commerce College –”

“Then, you are studying business. You are going to work in a bank! Isn’t that great?”

“The college does not –” Beza had started speaking but her mother was not listening anymore.

“Debritu!” Tigist shouted the name of the maidservant. She shouted again looking at a door that communicated with the hallway which led to the kitchen. Momentarily, a young maid servant in a plain dress came in from the hallway and stood at attention. “What’re you cooking for dinner?”

“Carrots and potatoes with cabbage and another dish of –”

“Forget the other dish. Go to the butcher’s now and buy two kilos of meat and six bottles of Coca-Cola.” Tigist opened her bag, took out a hundred birr note and gave it to Debritu. “When you are back, just leave the meat on the kitchen table. I am going to cook tonight in honour of Bezawit Girma.” She looked at her daughter and smiled with pride.

Debritu took the note and disappeared through the hallway.

“Where’s Miki?” Tigist asked Beza.

“He left with Weinshet when I came in a half hour ago,” Beza said.

“Where did they go? Why is she tagging along with him?”

“Don’t worry,” said Girma. “He is not hanging out with his college buddies. I know where they are going and they’re coming back in no time.”

Tigist was going to the bedroom when the phone rang. Every time the phone rang that night, it was one of the family’s friends or relatives congratulating Beza and her parents. Some of them, like Tewabech, Girma’s sister calling from Addis Ababa, wanted to speak to Beza herself.

Presently, Weinshet stormed into the house with Miki in her wake. Weinshet was short of breath as she left a box wrapped in bright cellophane on the coffee table. She put her hands around Beza’s neck and laughed. Girma and Miki clapped their hands as Weinshet handed the box to Beza.

Tigist reappeared in pyjamas from the bedroom. “What’s going on?” she asked. She saw the box and said, “Let’s see what these crooks got for their sister.”

Beza untied the blue ribbon and removed the cellophane. And she burst out laughing as she saw six spiral note books, pens and highlighters.

That night the family feasted on injera with roasted beef. While they were all digging the dish, Tigist was mentally planning a bigger feast for the eve of Beza’s departure to Addis Ababa which was still a couple of weeks away.


Bezawit’s College Days – a new fiction series coming soon

2 01 2015

Hi Everyone,

I am writing Bezawit’s College Days, a story set in Addis Ababa.

A chapter will appear on this blog every week beginning next week.

2014 in review

30 12 2014

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 520 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mexican soap vs. Ethiopian TV series

28 08 2014

By Yelibenwork Ayele

Ethiopian TV series, like Sew LeSew, Dana, and Ghemena, have a lot in common with Mexican soap opera. Below are a few of them.



Mexican soap

• Hospital scenes: one of the heroes gets beaten or stabbed

• Police presence, lawyers, priests and church

• Goons working for bad guys and always eluding the police

• Too much emotionalism: crying women and shouting men whose tones we are advised to recognize as anger

• Predictable dialogue and even more predictable plot

• Protracted pregnancy to provide plenty of complication for the storyline

• Forced attempted to create suspense at the end of every episode

Can you add to the list?

The Late Great Planet Earth

14 07 2014

By Yelibenwork Ayele

The Late Great Planet Earth is one of the most popular and one of the most misleading books on end time prophecy.

Lindsey thinks Matt 24 is about the end of the world but that is not the case.

Lindsey thinks Matt 24 is about the end of the world but that is not the case.

It begins by assuming that Jesus prophesied about the last days of this world when he spoke at length in response to the disciples’ questions in Matthew 24.

Hal Lindsey’s inattention to the context of Matthew 24 is responsible for the errors he has sown on the pages of his bestseller. In Matt 24 Jesus had just pronounced the destruction of the temple when his disciples asked him, “Tell us, when will these things happen?”

The key to understanding the meaning of what follows throughout the whole chapter is in this question. The phrase, “these things” in the question is about the destruction of the temple. Now the temple in Jerusalem had been the center of Jewish religion and identity for God had sanctified the temple and promised to live in their midst and to put his name on the temple. It is so important for them. Yet Jesus said the temple would be no more. So they wanted to know when it would be destroyed and what events would accompany its destruction.

But Hal Lindsay in his book quotes the disciples’ question and jumps to the most unlikely conclusion that they were asking about the end of the world.

Of course there are words in their question which appear to be concerning the end of the world and the second coming. “When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?”

A careful study of the context and of a couple of Greek words in the question reveals that the disciples were not asking about the whole world nor about the end of the world. Moreover, in the way Jesus answered their question, we can see that

1. He was not speaking about the whole world about his prophecy concerned a limited geographical area in Palestine. He sai, “Those who are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains.” He never said a word about those who are in Africa, in Asia, or in Europe and what they should do.

2. He was not speaking about the distant future or what should happen in our days. Addressing those who were listening to him then and there, he said, “This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled” (verse 34)

Some have disputed that “this generation” might refer to a future generation which will live to see the great tribulation and and the final days of our world. But that cannot be true. He was not ignoring his audience and addressing a generation removed from them by thousands of years. He was telling them of events that would take place in their life time for he had also said to them in the 16 chapter, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”.

Greek words

In the question that the disciples asked, we find a couple of phrases which, in English, appear to support the author’s conclusion that the disciples were interested in the end of the world and that Jesus spoke about the same. But the fact, as revealed by a study of those two words in the original language, is far different from what Lindsey would have us believe.

1. “…the sign of your COMING”

The King James bible puts it as “the sign of thy COMING,” but the word translated as “coming” actually means presence. That is the presence of Jesus Christ by the Spirit in and among his followers after the resurrection. When Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, was persecuting the believers, Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus and and said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME?” Notice that Jesus did not say, “Why do you persecute my followers?” He was in them and inseparable from them. Therefore whatever happened to them happened to him.

2. “…the end of the WORLD”

This is the other misleading translation. Most English translations other than the King James version have revised the rendering of the Greek word “aion” in this question. The NKJV, NIV, NASB and quite a few others have put it as the “end of the AGE”. That makes more sense that the end of the WORLD because the entirety of Jesus’ speech was in answer to a question regarding the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. And surely the destruction of the temple would not be a sign of the end of the world. The destruction of the temple was the sign of an age that was associated with then temple. That means the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem marked the end of the Old Testament period or the age of the Law or an age during which the Jews or Israel had been the peculiar of God on earth.

If Hal Lindsey considered all of these Biblical facts, his “Late Great Planet Earth” would have been significantly different or would never have been written at all. Several other scriptures have been ignored or misinterpreted in the book.

Anyone interested in teachings about the end of the world might want to read this book as one of many different views regarding that event. Otherwise, weighed on the balance of the Bible’s teaching, “The Late Great Planet Earth” is found wanting.

Why I can’t enjoy watching local movies

16 06 2014

By Yelibenwork Ayele

I have always had a clear opinion about Ethiopian films and TV dramas. Generally, I don’t like them. But I like most of the American movies which I saw over the last fifteen years. Of course I have seen some American films which were as story-less (if you don’t mind the invention of that word) as most of our own films. I have been very bold and frequent in my expression of dissatisfaction with homemade movies so much so that if I ever praised one local film (and I did whenever I came across one that was praiseworthy), some friends found it hard to believe me. But I am not bent on criticizing every local effort at making a film.

Quite a few times in friendly discussions, I drew comparison between Ethiopian films and American films. Some friends think and say that such comparison is unfair considering the fact that the Americans have been making films for many years now and have improved their methods and skills many times before Ethiopians ever attempted making one of their own. In Ethiopia film making is still in its infancy; we are still beginners whereas they are veterans, they argue.

My contention has never been on experiences in the techniques of shooting films. That is obviously the area where the Americans have a head start. But I am more concerned about the stories. Usually, my discussion along these lines went well with only a few people while with most others it degenerated into not a heated debated but an unpleasant argument as some people let emotions get the better of them. And suddenly they waxed patriotic defending Ethiopian movies just because they were Ethiopian movies without any consideration of merits.

Now, such well meaning people usually are not acquainted with the criteria by which the craft of storytelling, whether through drama or a novel, is evaluated. I don’t enjoy American movies just because they are American made. And when I say that I prefer American movies to Ethiopian movies, I am not comparing them based on techniques like video frame, camera angle, special effects, sound effects and so on. My comparison is based on the story that is being told through the film and the construction of the story according to the elements of dramatic writing like dialogue, characterization, setting, plot and so on and the appropriate use of devices like suspense, flashback and so on.

Considering we are an ancient people with a history going as far back as three thousand years while America is barely three hundred years old, I think it would be unfair for the Americans if we judged their stories based on our own. Both written and oral stories had been around everywhere on earth long before the technology of filmmaking was invented. Ethiopian filmmakers have in Ethiopia an inexhaustible source of uniquely Ethiopian stories which, if written and developed, would supply the Ethiopian film industry with a vibrant variety selections that could make Hollywood mouths water.

However, instead of tapping into the wealth of stories in our country, our filmmakers are trying to borrow a bit from American and a bit from Indian films and patching up those bits to make a mockery of films that are neither Ethiopian, nor American nor Indian. Most of them are consumed with imitating also some popular scenes and storytelling techniques of American films. A good example of these types of films is one that was made over ten years ago and set in Washington DC. It has a scene in which a woman is running away from an off screen stalker in an underground parking lot. This film is remarkable for its poverty in dialogue. By poverty I am not just saying that the dialogue was dull or inane but that there was almost no dialogue. This is a common deficiency of many Ethiopian films. Other films have titles that make you wonder if you are going to see not an Ethiopian but an American film. Take for example films titled Guantanamo, FBI, Prom Night, Amanda and so on. Films like these, set in America or at home in Ethiopia, have proliferated.

My dissatisfaction is not just a matter of personal taste or the result of having been first exposed to American films and having one’s concept of a good film shaped by an American mould. It arises from having been exposed to quality works of fiction and drama both local and international. And in my opinion, what is so deplorable about our filmmakers is that they have not inclination to learning and improving. They have believed too much in the saying that a critic is a person who has failed in art. So, when one points out the weaknesses in their works, instead of taking the criticism and improving their next work, all they can think of is defensively saying, “If you know so much, why don’t you do it yourself?”

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