Nobody can argue the fact that the late Haddis Alemayehu was one of Ethiopia’s best writers. He is well known for his literary works that entails his masterpieces entitled “Fikir Eske Mekabir". All and sundry is on familiar terms with this novel of his. It was translated later in English as “Love unto crypt.” Without exaggeration, everybody irrespective of age, gender and the rest widely read the novel every so often. The characters in the book incorporate household names and other similar aspects.
Before this writer move straight on to the analysis of the novel, he would like to say a few things about the great famous Ethiopian novelist, Haddis Alemayehu and his works. Haddis was awarded a ‘Golden Mercury’ for his successful work. He as well had won accolades-a lifetime achievement Doctorate Degree of Honor.
Haddis Alemayehu was born in Debre Markos, in the Gojam province. Then he got enrolled in an ecclesiastic education and pursued liturgical and spiritual subjects at Gojjam's famed monasteries of Debre Elias, Debre Worq, and Dima. The novelist later moved to Addis Ababa and joined the then Swedish Mission. Sooner or later, he joined the Ras Taffari Mekonnen School for further secular studies. Unfortunately, fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia. He joined the battle. As ill luck would have it, the novelist was held captive and sent to Italy for seven years.
After the liberation, Haddis Alemayehu came back to Ethiopia and partook in different tasks he was entrusted with by the government of the time. He successfully carried out his mission. Success was always on his side. The novelist as well had served successfully as a delegate to the global Telecommunications Conference in Atlantic City. He was also director general, vice minister, Ethiopia’s representative to the UN and minister of education. He as well was ambassador to Britain and the Netherlands. After he returned to Ethiopia, he had served as minister of planning and development apart from serving in the Ethiopian Senate. Furthermore, he had served as a member of the “advisory body” at some point in the first two years of the Derg regime.
He has left an inheritance of timeless works. He had a mammoth contribution that spans over decades. He has been a great role model to Ethiopian writers. His commitment and determination will always stay behind in the hearts of all Ethiopians who are still madly in love with the novel entitled ‘Fikir Eske Mekabir.
By the same token, text books allude to this novel, which is narrated on radio programs. As the novelist was on familiarity terms with the inside out of the then citizens of Ethiopia, he mirrored the reality on the ground in a way which carries away the attention of readers in a little while.
More often than not, Haddis Alemayew is on the lips of citizens for the novel entitled Fikir Eske Mekabir. In fact, this prolific write had produced a range of articles and novels entitled Yabeshana Yewedehuala Gabicha, Teret teret Yemeseret, Fiker Eske Meqabir, Wenjelegnawu dagna, Yeelm Ezat, Tizita, Teret Teret, among others.
In honor of the greatest novelist who had taken the Ethiopian literature to a new level of success a statue is erected in Debre Markos.
Fikir Eske Mekabir (Love unto crypt)
Fikir Eske Mekabir (Love unto crypt) is a classic tragedy. It is narrated at different times on radios every so often. It is espoused by every generation. The novel is among one of the greatest works of Haddis Alemayew. The novel means a lot to many people. In black and white and in word pictures it depicts the socio-political, legal and customary system of ancient Ethiopia. Above and beyond, the novel touches up on a range of social mores revolving around matrimony, occupancy, banquets, church services, ecclesiastical schools, family feuds, class in the countryside, revenge, reconciliation, considerateness, hatred epidemics and what not. Moreover, the novel expresses injustice perpetrated in the land tenure system at some stage in the emperor regime.
Similarly, Fikir Eske Mekabir (Love unto crypt) is a true representation of the cultural beliefs, cognitive attitudes and social costumes of Ethiopian culture. Above and beyond, the novel describes traditions and beliefs which existed at one time. In the novel various church and military address markers and titles have been brought into play such as Abba, Alaqa, Ayya, Balambaras, Baldaras, Belatta, Debtera, Emahoye, Itetey, Fitawrari, Ghera Gheta, Ghirazmach, Lij, Qennyazmach, Yeneta and so forth.
Be that as it may, the three main characters Sebelewongel, Bezabith and Gudu Kassa are one face of the same coin as nobody can flex their muscles without their consent. They give priority to their bent. There is nothing that they do for the love of pleasing other people. For something they believe in, the three characters in the story, give their lives. Their psychological makeup deviates from then norm and also from the belief of the people living at the specific juncture. Unlike many, they do not want to argue black is white or white is black.
There is no stone they live unturned to materialize their objectives. The other point which makes the characters in the story one and same is their determination to boldly face different challenges with the conviction of never say die until they all depart this life. They all know very well the fact that life is not a bed of roses.
Kindred souls, they were buried under the same last resting place. The three characters are still winning the hearts and minds of the general public,
Fikir Eske Mekabir is never-ending. It resides in everybody’s minds and souls. The story is moving and educational. Readers can easily understand the ancient Ethiopia. The novel itself makes anybody the prisoner of its love. The author, the characters in the novel and the narrator, Wogayew had given color to the novel. A lot of researches revolving around the novel had been done at Addis Ababa University, department of Amharic literature also in newly established universities. Several undergraduate and postgraduates have done research on the novel for their senior essay, thesis or dissertation. Furthermore, foreigners have done research on the novel.
In the novel Sebelwongel and Bezabeh are madly in love. The former hails from the landlord family, while the latter from a pauper one. They were from different classes. Considering their background, it was not expected that they will fall in love. The author dilated on love to picturesquely express the system of the time. The author also created a character named Gudu Kassa who upfront and constantly reprove and criticize citizens that went off the track. He was a problem solver.
That plot, characterization, setting, conflict and resolutions are amazing. The novelist is really a probing writer who was on familiar terms with the A to Z of Ethiopia. The book raises different issues related to a genuine Romance. It relates about a true love that does not grow old no matter what happens and does not cost a thing. It as well reveals that love has nothing to do with wealth, power and other related aspects.
The author as well invites readers to discover, see, and examine Ethiopia through his unforgettable works. He also has expressed the dos and don’ts in plain language. In the novel Bezabieh passes away. Sebele does not want to be with anyone except him. As a result, she became a nun and at the end of the day, she went to meet her maker. Her uncle, the philosopher-like disputatious Gudu Kass as well kicked the bucket.
BY ADDISALEM MULAT
My Beloved, your empathy is infinite
It is a bag of compassion that never runs out.
At the rarest of moments when it’s empty
When I am undeserving
Your silence is louder, there is always plenty.
Forgive my life of avarice that rips your strings!
But…how can a hole make one whole Beloved?
For your leaks endlessly trickle like a stream
Soothing desolate lands into meadows
And yet miraculously, there you still are
In the headwaters!
My Beloved, how bountiful is your empathy?
It’s a bag of compassion that never runs out.
By Alem Kidane