Friday, June 09, 2006

The rise and rise of political books; and Donald Levin's fictions

Political books are having a great time in Ethiopia's book market. In January, D/n Begashaw wrote "Yemeskalu sir kumartegnotch" which is a critique of Abune Paulo's leadership of the Orthodox Church. A very poor book by all standards "Yemeskalu sir kumartegnotch", nonethless, broke all records in the market; selling more than 15,000 copies in a month. Begshaw was one of the students of the Trinity theology college who were dismissed because they wrote a letter calling for peace and reconciliation. His predicament coupled with Abune Paulos' incredibly low popularity made the sale of the book to soar. Begashaw was detained by security forces last month and released after 10 days in prison.
"Yeledetu Bandawi Silet" was another book which has got massive reputation. Written by Markos Reta, the book is a response to"Yarem Ersha", the book written by villainous politician Lidetu Ayalew in December. After it came out February, the book has sold more than 8000 copies. The author was harassed; but escaped detention.
Gene Sharp's From Dictatorship to Democracy was translated in February. More than 5000 copies of this book, which lays down methods of civil disobedience, have been sold. There is also renewed interest to older books. Andargachew Tsgie's "Netsanetin Yamaywik Netsa Awchi" was published again in April and is heading to become the all time best selling political book.
This rise of political books is quite astonishing when one considers that they are distributed in the most precarious of circumstances. There are very few ads and no official distributors. People learn about the books mostly through word of mouth. The number of copies seems paltry by international standards; but in a country where reading serious books isn't habitual, it is significant. There is also a culture of sharing books.
This summer at least three more political books will be published. One of the books is Ethio-Zagol's own on technology and TPLF's dictatorship. The book will be exclusively sold on the internet for security reasons.
What to make of Don Levin's "Ge-ts sebat" article? In Zagol contra Levin I argued that Dr. Levin's analysis was based on misinformation. In his latest article Tigrayawinet, such misinformation gets even clearer. In one of the paragraphs he writes:
In June, the sale of machetes surged in Addis and elsewhere; Tigrayan students in campuses in Addis, Alemaya, and Awassa were armed and reportedly trained to "defend themselves."
The rumors of the surge of machetes were just that - rumors. No one has yet adduced any serious proof. It is sad that the professor peddles rumors; and bases his analysis on them. His information about the Tigrayan students in universities being armed is another fiction. TPLF tried to arm students and other Tigrains to "defend themselves." against the "impending genocide." Most of them didn't accept the front's offer. In the campuses, it was TPLF cadres who were armed; not average Tigrayan students. The fact that a few cadres acted in the name of Tigrayan students couldn't make the act itself an act of Tigryan students. It is this kind of baseless information and argument that is leading to the ethnic tensions and clashes throughout college and university campuses in the country. The professor should desist from spreading false information which have clear and present dangers.
Kinetibeb has politically incorrect jokes. Read and enjoy them.


tobian said...

"One of the books is Ethio-Zagol's own on technology and TPLF's dictatorship. "

Looking forward to that, but I hope your book doesn't have your name on it.

ethio-Zagol said...

I can't take the risk. For now Ethio-Zagol is just enough.