Literary camps should consider Diaspora


In this piece, we put a puzzle over authors and publishers whether they give the benefit of hindsight for Ethiopian children living abroad.
How many have ever been published so far targeting Ethiopian Diaspora. Indeed, the recent filmmakers are so much in fixation with luxury life style of the Ethiopian Diaspora as also they depicted them in some of the scene in their production. Perhaps, that is a different case. Here, we don’t mean it to discuss the forms and contents of Art products that depicted ‘Ethiopian Diaspora’ at any scale or length. When we turn to literary works, we found the study of Taye Assefa & Shiferaw Bekele’ entitled ‘The Study of Amharic Literature: An Overview” which appeared on the journal of Ethiopian Studies (November 2000)–Araya, TibebeSelassie, and Ageazi. Those mentioned productions were the notable cases to showcase an Ethiopian protagonists in the Diaspora. Interestingly, the characters demonstrate of humble origin that return back to serve his country after the Ethiopian immigrant attended western universities. Imperatively, those authors were conscious of Ethiopian expatriates just half a decade before the time when the Diaspora conundrum got the public attention. One can observe the authors of early days shuttle their protagonists between home & abroad. Perhaps, the trend is not yet withheld in the recent literary works.
However, the focus of this piece rather disentangles specifically as we ought to understand the sentiment of despair among ‘Ethiopian Descendants’ born and raised elsewhere due to alienation. As a Diaspora, the state rhetoric sympathizes with inducing Ethiopian descendants to the language, culture and history of their home country. Despite, one can’t naively problematize such trend just as it is practiced. Albeit, it is fair enough to see significance of either disseminating the home products in the local language or else in the translated local works in the language of the hosting state, towards targeting the readership of Ethiopian Diaspora. For instance, an Ethiopian born and raised in Germany may trace his culture in a very strange Poly-ethnic environment. How he may constantly looking homage to increasing membership to the fellow Ethiopians in any moment.
One may remember the publication of Alex Haley’s ‘Roots: Saga of An America Family’ where the protagonist – Haley in the final chapter were courageous to trace his ancestral identity after two hundreds years has passed and seven generation were tribulation of due to African Slavery. Finally, this Pulitzer prize winner book narrated the Arkansas born black –Haley found the Kunta Kinte in a small Gambia village called Juffre. Interestingly, later it was reproduced also in serial TV drama viewed by 130,000,000. To its credit, Alex Haley’s ‘Roots’ was praised for its contribution in producing collective memory among the ever marginalized Afro- America community. There is an Ethiopian saying ‘Yemaywekut hager Aynafikim’ (to say ‘ there is no room for nostalgic memory for unknown land’). Exactly someone can’t imagine nostalgia for his forefathers land. Retrospectively, someone can put himself in deep sorrow, if we help his tracer and re-invigoration of identity, through re-imagining him the story of his forefathers land.
Cultural tourism can’t came in a simplistic way for African descendants. Indeed they have to be triggered to trace their national origin unless they are engulfed within the nation. Once, Kamari Clarke (an Afro-Canadian Professor in Anthropology at University of Pennsylvania) argued that maintaining an immigrant identity remains unimaginable without a deliberate exercise of reproducing the identity. Indeed, today there are so many operations such as starting immigrant community school elsewhere, housing African Studies and Ethiopian Studies in the universities of hosting state. The assumption behind is to re-trench the identity of expatriates born elsewhere in the today’s ever interconnected and ever globalized state.
Had we ever been nationalist enough, literary works, which show the nobility of Ethiopian identity, ought to be read by Ethiopian Diaspora. Authors and publishers, just to alleviate the possible identity crisis of Ethiopian, shall target especially Ethiopian descendants who are born in a foreign land.
Perhaps, Once again let us check our authors whether they are conscious of Ethiopian born to elsewhere while their authorship. Are the Publishers are meticulous to over-reach the Diaspora? Who will be their savior for their identity crisis and alienation in alien land? I briskly conclude authors and publishers are precisely one of the redeemers of Ethiopian children suffering from identity crisis. Good week!

This article is contributed by HOHE Award. HOHE Award is organized by Northeast Events to promote a culture of creative writing and reading in Ethiopia. Besides the main annual literary award, there are different events and trainings that run throughout the year with the main aim of promoting creative writing and reading among the general population and children in particular.

By Eyob Asfaw