LITERATURE

TsegayeGabre-Medhin (17 August 1936—25 February 2006) was Poet Laureate of Ethiopia, as well as a poet, playwright, essayist, and art director. Born in Boda, near Ambo, Ethiopia, While still at elementary school he wrote a play called "King Dionysus and the Two Brothers" and saw it staged in the presence, among others, of Emperor Haile Selassie. Tsegaye later attended the prestigious British Council-supported General Wingate school – named after British officer Orde Wingate. He subsequently attended the Commercial school in Addis Ababa, where he won a scholarship toBlackstone School of Law in Chicago in 1959. In 1960 he travelled to Europe to study experimental drama at the Royal Court Theatre in London and the Comédie-Française in Paris. Upon returning to Ethiopia, he devoted himself to managing and developing the Ethiopian National Theater – which institution staged an impressive memorial for its former director. During this time Tsegaye travelled widely; he attended the UNESCO-organised First World Black Festival in Dakar, Senegal, and the Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algiers.

In 1966, at the age of only 29, he was awarded his country's highest literary honour: the Haile Selassie I Prize for Amharic Literature – which earned him the title of Laureate, by which he has ever since been known. Following the Ethiopian revolution of 1974, Tsegaye was appointed for a short time as vice-minister of Culture and Sports, and was active in setting up Addis Ababa University's department of Theatre Arts. In 1984 he wrote an extended, and very poetical, essay "Footprints in Time", which appeared with photographs by the Italian photographer Alberto Tessore, as a "coffee table" book. It traced Ethiopian history from the prehistoric time of Lucy, the first-known hominid that had recently been found in the Afar Desert in eastern Ethiopia. One of Tsegaye's passionate interests throughout this time was in the struggle to regain Ethiopia's looted treasures. A close friend of Chief SegunOlusola, the Nigerian Ambassador in Addis Ababa, who was a fellow poet, Tsegaye was present when the ambassador agreed to throw his diplomatic pressure behind the national demand for the return of the Aksum obelisk, which had been taken on Mussolini's personal orders in 1937. The chief's support marked a turning point in the Aksum Obelisk Return movement. Tsegaye was no less insistent that Britain should return the manuscripts, crosses, tents and other loot taken from Emperor Tewodros's mountain citadel. Much of this loot is currently in the British Museum, the British Library, and the Royal Library in Windsor Castle. Tsegaye always believed in the unity of the Ethiopian people and felt that this by far transcended purely political matters of the day. In later years he concerned himself increasingly with questions of peace, human rights and the dignity of humanity. He was elected to the United Poets Laureate International, and received many international awards – the last of them from Norway. Although unable to return to his native land, which lacked the dialysis facilities on which his life literally depended, Tsegaye remained in close contact with the Ethiopian diaspora. Tsegaye died in Manhattan, where he had moved in 1998 to receive treatment for kidney disease. He was buried in Addis Ababa in the national cathedral where the body of Emperor Haile Selassie lies.//

BaaluGirma

On Thursday, February 14, 1984, Ethiopia lost one of its most acclaimed journalists and influential novelists. BaaluGirma was born on September 22, 1939, in the province of Illiubabor, Ethiopia. His father was an Indian businessman, and his mother a local woman born to a wealthy family. Baalu's excellent grades earned him a scholarship at GeneralWingateSecondarySchool and he joined inn 1951, and it was there that he found his calling in journalism and creative writing. He often thanked his English teacher, Miss Marshall, for inspiring him and teaching him the technique of writing short sentences. Despite these challenges, Baalu earned a full scholarship and obtained a master's degree in Political Science and Journalism from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. Late in 1963, Baalu returned to Ethiopia and began his career in the Ministry of Information as Editor-in- Chief of Ye'Zareyitu Ethiopia. In 1965, he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Addis Reporter. In 1968 Baalu became Editor-in-Chief of the Ethiopian Herald. From 1970 to 1974, Baalu served as Editor-in-Chief of Addis Zemen. In 1974, Baalu left Addis Zemen and became Deputy General Manager of the Ethiopian News Agency. Within a year, he was promoted to the General Manager position and remained in that post until 1977. At the end of 1977, Baalu became the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information.