Obituary: In memory of Tesfaye Gebreab, an unforgettable name in Amharic literature

The late Tesfaye Gebreab

By Etenesh Abera @EteneshAb 

Addis Abeba, December 31, 2021- Born in Bishoftu town, some 45 km from the capital Addis Abeba from Eritrean parents, renowned author Tesfaye Gebreab one of the controversial authors produced more than 11 original books and two collections of short fiction alongside fellow authors and journalists.  

Tesfaye, married and a father of three died last week in Nairobi at the age of 53.  According to his brother, he left Ethiopia and moved permanently to Eritrea after years of exile in Kenya, South Africa, and the Netherlands.    

Despite his controversial literary works, some scholars argue his writing is technically advanced and used the Amharic language properly in his writing styles. While some of his critics debunk his creativity and writing style due to its contents, many argue that Tesfaye showed the reality of oppressed societies in his artworks. 

Tesfaye defended his famous book ‘Ye Burka Zimita’  or Silence of Burka which many accuse him of being funded by the TPLF to write in order to fuel conflict between Amharas and Oromos. “In Amharic literature, it’s not common to see protagonists with Afaan Oromo names. Names like Chala and Chaltu are portrayed by housemaids and guards. So I understand where the hate originates from,” he said in an interview. “They accuse me of having affiliations with the TPLF,  and others accuse me of being Shabiya [Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, EPLF] due to my parents’ Eritrean background,” Tesfaye said.

Tesfaye served as the director of Ethiopia’s ministry of information. He was also the editor in chief of a local magazine. He authored numerous articles and made it possible for countless fellow authors and journalists to publish their works. He wrote all of his books in Amharic while a few of them were translated to Tigrinya and Afaan Oromo.

Tesfaye was laid to rest at Asmara Haz Haz Cemetery on Thursday, December 30,2021. AS 

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