Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Guilt, betrayal and redemption in “Yebet Lij”

Yebet Lij , “Home Girl” uses irony to chronicle the  turbulent romance of an ex-prostitute turned fiancée to a wealthy man and who after she gets dumped becomes involved with a working class mechanicIt features the alluring Mahlet Assefa best known for her role in the soap drama “Sewe Le sewe” and DJ Y.B. as the aspiring mechanic.
The film starts with the ex-prostitute who has dreams of becoming self-sufficient by learning to use a computer and open an Internet café has her dreams shattered by her “sugar daddy” who was her customer during her days as a prostitute and plans to keep her only as an ignorant sex toy to fulfill his nightly pleasures.
The aspiring mechanic who together with his two flamboyant  work colleagues, one who frequents prostitutes every day and a “wannabe  rapper” meet the ex-prostitute while she was trying to service her “sugar daddy’s” car in their garage.
The ex-prostitute who ends up  alone after her only female friend goes to the United States with her foreign hubby, gradually comes to know the three mechanics intimately and falls for the “nice,” one.
However things take a worse for the ex-prostitute when after a night arguing with her “sugar daddy” during which he repeatedly insults, slaps and eventually throws her out, tries to find shelter at the mechanic’s tiny home.
She lives with him until she can find a place of her own and works on finishing her computer education while she has an awkward but enjoyable time with the mechanic and two of his colleagues.
However, her past overshadows her relationship with him that  subsequently turns into a “love relationship” and  eventually becomes a burden for her as the polite mechanic asks her about her past life and she struggles to tell him the truth.
One day however disaster strikes when his two colleagues come to visit his home and overhear her talking to her friend about how difficult it has become for her to discuss her past with him. 
His friends, shocked at her past nag her to tell him the truth while at the same time berating her for not telling him about her past, but they eventually agree that she should tell him which she does painfully, shattering his dream of finding a nice, well mannered girl as his fiancée, and in an outburst says an insulting thing to her.
With her dreams shattered and feeling guilty for misleading him, she takes refuge in a church together with one of his two work colleagues who likes to take out prostitutes and is now anxious about his HIV status.
The ex-prostitute is eventually tracked by her former “sugar daddy’ in an institution where she works as a secretary. He gets  into an argument with her before introducing his new good mannered “home girl” that he plans to marry who incidentally is a mutual friend and former prostitute, although the “sugar daddy,” is unaware of all this. 
The ex-prostitute finally reconciles with her mechanic to restart their love relationship, while his playboy colleague is declared HIV negative and the second work colleague, an aspiring rapper who has not done well professionally celebrates his friends’ good ending.  Yebet Lij “Home Girl” eloquently deals with the ever rising tensions of a conservative society trying to be decent and well mannered at the surface and the secret seedy and decadent life concealed barely underneath it.
As such it is a powerful commentary on the moral hypocrisy of a society that turns the other way in cases of outright promiscuity and immorality while itself is secretly immersed in it.