Chaltu as Helen: an everyday story of Oromos traumatic identity change
By Tigist Geme
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. Read more from Opride