By: Wedi Batuta
This a play by Wedi Batuta. So far seven parts (Act 1 – 7) have been published, this is Act 8.
Character’s Name Sobriquet Party/Affiliation
Yemane Baliho Wedi-Baliho Selfi-Swa
Mohamed Birhan Imam Wedi-Zemzem Selfi-Alamel
Abdela A Zerom Wed-Inharish Selfi-Gebil
Amanuel ReDae Wedi-Tiebe Selfi-L’fnti
Tirhas Kindya Trishi (Gual ‘Gbitan) Demit Eritrea
Mohammed I Abdella Wed-Sudan Hizb Aljemahir
Zewdi Andemariam Gual Bashay ??????????
Najib A Khasay Hargets Selfi-Abaeke
Dr. Basilios Angesom Gnogno Selfi-BuN
Osmano Ibrahimo YaAsina Selfi-Shahi
Melake Gebrekidan Dem-Draru Selfi-Ts’ray
Dr. Semira OuraFura Hakim Snni Selfi-Halib
Scene: Enda Gual Bashay (አንዳ ጓል ባሻይ) and the Street nearby.
( Characters sitting on their chairs in the verandah/patio of Enda Gual Bashay (አንዳ ጓል ባሻይ) — the Daughter of Bashay’s Joint– facing the main street of Misyam. Engaged in a full-on no holds barred debate, in which a scintillating conversation ping-ponged along thusly
Two donkeys approaching each other from the opposite side of the street.
Wedi-Baliho: Look at those two donkeys. They are pecking each other’s nape (back of a neck)
YaAsina: Yeah, you are right Wedi-Baliho. Donkeys habitually peck the nape of another donkey at any and all encounters. Since I was a kid, I am always taken aback by this phenomenon.
T’rishi Gual ‘Gbtan: There is nothing stupefying about it, YaAsina. Sure, it is quite a miraculous sight, but that is God’s work. You know how God’s work miraculously reveal itself. We see it here and I think the donkeys are exchanging greetings. Sort of saying hiya, you know, hi.
Wedi-Tiebe: That may well be so, Trishi, according to one’s beliefs. Scientifically speaking, however, it is merely instinct at work. Kind of recognizing or acknowledging your own species.
Wedi-Zemzem: This is indeed an eye-popping sight. It really is. Do all donkeys do this pecking thing or does one espy it in Eritrean donkeys only?
Hakim-Snni: Well, it stands to reason that all donkeys to act and behave similarly. One can and should expect that unless…….
Dem-Draru: Wey Gud. Entay Ekhum Ketzarbuna Hiji. B’ZaBa Seb Gedifkum si B’zaba Ensisa T’zarebu Alekhum. S’rah Z’saane Felasi Qobiou Qedidu Y’sefi Z’behal Nezi Kemzi Natatkum Guday Eyu ( ወይ ጉድ አንታይ ኢኹም ከተዛርቡና ሕጂ ። ብዛዕባ ሰብ ገዲፍኩም ሲ ብዛዕባ እንስሳ ትዛረቡ ኣለኹም። ስራሕ ዝስኣነ ፈላሲ ቆብዑ ቀዲዱ ይሰፈ ዝተባህለስ ነዚ ከምዚ ናታትኩም ጉዳይዝሕብር አዩ ።) — Oh, my goodness. What are you going to say now. Instead of talking about humans, you have opted to talk about animals? The saying that an idle monk tearing his hat just to end up sewing it back again appositely captures the futility of what you guys are talking about—.
Wed-Inharish: Hold on for a second here, Dem-Draru. Please, don’t spoil it for all of us. What we are witnessing here right in front of us is quite compelling, if not utterly enthralling. Instead of telling us the reasons why donkeys exhibit such a behavior, you are here trying to drum it out by belittling it. Just answer the query at hand or just……
Hargets: Or, just shut up and put a sock in it. Just for once, be very quiet and LISTEN, may be and that is a BIG may be, you may learn a thing or two.
Dem-Draru: Bejakha Eske G’defena. Ezi Natka Zereba Kemti Sudanawyan Z’bilwo ‘Wela Y’sherb Moya. (በጃኻ ‘ስከ ግደፈና። አዚ ናትካ ዘረባ ከምቲ ሱዳናውያን ዝብልዎ ‘ወላ ይሸርብ ሞያ’።)
– Oh, please leave us alone. As the Sudanese say, what you said ain’t worth a cup of water–.
Hargets: Oh, my God. Stop mouthing these Delphic pronouncements Dem-Draru. But, tell you what? I know what you are trying to intimate. You are attacking me for stating firmly that I will never drink that alcohol-free S’wa (ስዋ) and opted, instead, for pure water.
YaAsina: Listen, Hargets. You may do well to remember that where Dem-Draru comes from it is: HniEu Zeyfedi Wedi-Adgi Eyu. (ሕኒኡ ዝይፈዲ ወዲ ኣድጊ አዩ ።)
Wed-Sudan: So, you are saying that Dem-Draru was in such a high dudgeon that he is trying to get even with Hargets for his firm stance against the alcohol-free Swa?
Wedi-Baliho: I absolutely concur with YaAsina’s assessment.
Dem-Draru: Wedi-Baliho Ezi Aab Zezidemeqe Guayla Mitqae Meas Ekha Kitgedfo (ወዲ ባለሆ እዚ ኣብ ዘዝደመቀ ግዋይላ ምጥቃዕ መዓስ ኢኻ ክትገድፎ?) — when are you going to stop hopping into a jamming party, Wedi-Baliho?–.
Dr. Basilios(Gnogno): Please, Dem-Draru, don’t get crosswise with Wedi-Baliho. I think they are into something very interesting. I veridically remember my own experience as a tween growing up the village of Deq Seb (ደቅ ሰብ) — The Progenies of humans– in the vicinity of Zagir — . In the summer time, my father, my older brother and I used to travel and go to the coastal plains (Semhar) for farming. It was during those peregrinations that I found the pecking rituals of donkeys to be quite vexing, if not utterly irksome. We were often delayed because the donkeys won’t flinch even an inch before completing their nape pecking rituals. Ever since those days I always wondered why donkeys were given to this ritual. However, I have resigned to and accepted the notion that it is what donkeys are supposed to and meant to do. After all, a donkey is a donkey. Though I haven’t thought about it much, the sight of donkeys pecking ritual is nonetheless seared in my memories.
Wed-Inharish: You are not alone in your puzzlement and perplexity regarding the pecking rituals of donkeys. It puzzled me so much so that, I asked my father about it when I was a child. My father was all, ” you see, son, the reason why donkeys go through this ritual of nape pecking at any and all encounter is because they are asking about the delegation they sent to the United Nations (UN) and if the delegation has returned.(አቶም ንሑቡራት መንግስታት ዝላኣኽናዮም ሽማግለ ተመሊሶም ዶ ኣይተመልሱን?). You know, they were awaiting the UN to come up with a solution to the predicament/plight of the Eritrean donkeys.
Wed-Sudan: So, all the nape pecking is to inquire about the delegation that the Eritrean donkeys sent to the UN about their miserable conditions?
Hakim-Snni: Sure. Yea. Yes, indeed. The Eritrean donkeys deemed their lives to be so harrowingly agonizing that as a last resort they sent a delegation for some sort of redress.
Wedi-Tiebe: Why the Eritrean donkeys sent their delegation to the UN when they could have easily gone to the OAU ( Organization Of African Unity). Addis Ababa is much more closer than New York City.
Hakim-Snni: Sending their delegation to the OAU would have been a pure waste of time, Wedi-Tiebe. In those days, the Addis’s OAU was awash with complaints from all kinds of African domestic animals.
Trishi Gual-‘Gbitan: Hakim Snni’s is right on the money. I recall in the early part of the 70s, when I was barely a six years old child growing up in Addis Ababa, my dearest daddy was reading a book in Amharic. The picture on the book’s cover was of a donkey in a three piece suit sauntering along the street of Addis Ababa and heading towards the OAU headquarter. The title of the book was (ከማን ኣንሸ ?) — To whom am I inferior to? —.
YeAsina: There you have it, Wedi-Tiebe. As Trishi is telling us the OAU had a lot on it’s plate and the Eritrean donkeys case would have surely gotten a short shrift.
Gual Bashay: Well, don’t forget that the country where the OAU is located used to be known as the land of the mules or Mule-Land.
Dr. Basilios: Well, legend has it that the mule was an offspring of a a donkey-father, from around here, and a horse-mother,well, we don’t know where she hails from, but it is believed that the horse was WHITE.
Wedi-Baliho: So you are saying the mule is hybrid of a black donkey-mother and a white horse-mother?
Gual Bashay: You bet.
Wedi-Tiebe: Here is what I don’t get. What was the need for the Eritrean donkeys to send their representatives to the UN in the first place?
Wed-Sudan: Well, the Eritrean donkeys were searching for some sort of justice. I guess when they felt that their struggle has hit a blind alley or a cul-de-sac, they were forced to try anything that may ameliorate their wretched and pitiable conditions.
Dem-Draru: You see folks, the locus of all the problems facing Eritrea springs from this: Instead of rebelling and starting an armed struggle and a revolution, the donkeys wasted all their exigious resources begging and pleading their case in the UN. And, to add insult to injury, they belatedly started their armed struggle or revolution spontaneously without a clear-cut political program (ብጎነጽ ሰውራ ጀሚሮሞ።) If that wasn’t the case, I am sure we will not be having this conversation.
Hakim-Snni: So, Dem-Draru, you are saying that you have no quarrel with Wed-Inharish’s rendition/interpretation of the “Eritrean Donkeys nape pecking rituals”?
Wedi-Zemzem: I am really dumbstruck. For the first time, Dem-Draru’s contrarian impulse is no where to be found. I can’t believe he is concurring with Wed-Inharish’s take on the issue at hand.
Wedi-Baliho: It is indeed refreshing to note that Dem-Draru has finally learned to go along with the flow of a conversation, so to speak.
Dem-Draru: Not so fast, both you Wedi-Zemzem and Wedi-Baliho. I do have very serious reservations with Wedi-Inharish’s take. In my eyes, his rendition of the Eritrean Donkeys nape pecking rituals suffers from what is known as “The Rumplestiltskin problem” (ግድል ጋኒነ ዓንዲ).
Hakim-Snni: What Dem-Draru is alluding to as the Rumplestiltskin problem is nothing but what is commonly known as a plot hole where one notices a gap or inconsistency in a storyline. Something illogical in the plot of a story.
Wedi-Zemzem: And if you think that (ግድል ጋኒነ ዓንዲ) is the literal translation of ‘The Rumplestltskin problem’, because it is.
Hargets: What Dem-Draru has literally translated into Tigrigna is actaully what is known in Amharic literature as “Dereba Derbraba” (ደረባ ደርብራባ).
Wedi-Zemzem: Hey, Trishi, do you remember the story of Rumplestiltskin?
Trishi Gual G’bitan: Of course, I remember the story. Wasn’t he that naughty dwarf.
Dr. Basilios: Well, to characterize Rumplestlitskin as a naughty dwarf may be a little bit inaccurate. But, it could as well be a very subjective interpretation. I guess it all depends on the eye of the ‘reader’.
Hargets: I bet Trishi doesn’t remember or know the Rumplestiltskin song in Amharic.
Trishi Gual G’bitan: What is with you two, Hargts and Wedi-Zemzem. One of you always challenges my command of Amharic while the other incessantly hectors me to learn Arabic.
Wedi-Zemzem: Here is how the English version of The Rumplestiltskin song goes:
Today I brew, tomorrow I bake
And the prince child I will take
For no one knows my little game
That Rumplestiltskin is my name
Hargets: And here is the Amharic version
ልጅትዋ ኣታውቅ: ልጅትዋ ኣታውቅ — The Girl Doesn’t know; she doesn’t know
ስመ ደርባ ደርብራባ ነው — That my name is Dereba Derbraba.
Dem-Draru: Trishi, don’t pay attention to Hargets and Wedi-Zemzem. I may need your help as I am working on the Tigrigna version of the Rumplstiltskin song. I have the lyrics, but I am still working on the music of the song. I have one and I hope you will tell me what you think and it goes like this:
እታ ቀያሕ ቆልዓየ ተጋዳሊት ዓማ — The Light Skinned ELF(Amma) Fighter
ኣብ ክንዲ ካላሺን ቆልዓ ተሰኪማ — She ended up having a child instead of carrying a Kalashinkov.
( While the two donkeys started braying and heehawing and heading their separate ways, two colts ( young donkeys) approached each other from the opposite side of the street and…..)
Wed-Sudan: There they go again. Look at the colts. They are doing the same thing that the donkeys did, pecking each others nape. Did they also send a delegation to the UN??
Wed-Inharish: That may well be so, Wed-Sudan. Who knows, they could be inquiring about their forefathers delegation to the UN.
( Characters hear some music/song coming from the TV inside Gual Bash’s Joint)
ጻዕዳ ብተይ ወሊዳ ላሕሚ — My WHITE cow birthed a bull
ዓዲ ግራት ሓሊፉላ ሎሚ : ላሎየ — This day Adi Grat is much better — Ahhh..ahh
ኣታ ሓወይ ኣይትኪደኒየ አኻ —- Oh, my brother don’t you leave
ዓጋመና ወጺኣ ፋብሪካ : ላሎየ—- A factory is opening in our Agamme
And, followed by someone speaking and saying:
አንቋዕ ካብዚ ህዝቢ ፈጠርና — Oh, thanks God we were came from this people
አንቋዕ ካብ ርሑቅ አንዳ ረኣና ንቀንኣልም ኣይኮና —Thanks, we don’t envy you from afar.
አንቋዕ ናይ እንዳማትና ኣይኮንኩም። — Oh, thanks God, you are not strangers.
Wed-Inharish: What that song coming from inside Welt-Bashay’s joint all about?
Wedi-Baliho: I guess the singer is very ecstatic that his WHITE cow has given birth to a BULL.
Hakim Snni: You are saying that the color of his cow is WHITE?
Dr. Basilios: As the legend has it, the mother of the mule was a WHITE horse.
Gual Bashay: Eza TsaEda Neger Alata — There is something more to this WHITE thing.
YaAsina: And, that tirade. What is up with the person yammering like that?
Wedi-Zemzem: That person is Mr. Prime Minster telling his people how proud and privileged he feels to be from ” This People”.
Hargets: I guess Mr. Prime Minster is relieved not to have been from ” That People”. If there is ” this people”, it follows that there has to be “that people”.
Wedi-Tirbe: For the life of me, I can’t figure out for how long these Eritrean donkeys will keep doing their nape pecking rituals? Before it was with the donkeys (the first generation) and here it is now with their progenies, the colts, doing exactly the same thing. When will this end?
Wedi-Zemzem: Well, I guess they will continue to struggle until the time the feel that their grievances are fully addressed and their life becomes much more better.
Hakim-Snni: The Eritrean donkeys and their offsprings can never rest till the time that they feel that their life is dignified and they are the epitome of DIGNITY, if you know what I mean.
Dem-Draru: In my mind, you folks don’t get it at all when it comes to the issue of the Eritrean donkeys. As far as I am concerned, the plight of the Eritrean donkeys will remain WRIT LARGE till they come to realize that their one and only option is : to organize, raise their consciousness and get armed.
( It was past 4 PM and the Main Street across from Gual Bashay’s Joint has become a maelstorm of activities by a flotilla of Dickensian (In appearances and in jollity) tweens beetling around the entrance of the joint.)
Wedi-Baliho: Hey, you tweens what are you upto?
Tween 1: Well, we are kind of planning to play a game around here.
Hargts: What kind of a game do you have in mind?
Tween 2: Marbles or Ummm , I don’t know.
Tween 3: Let us all play soccer.
Tween 4: No. I am beat and the others don’t seem like they want to play soccer now.
Tween with a Green Shirt: Let us play The Crowing Crow.
Tween with a Red Cap: Yeah, I like that. The game of Crowing Crow (ክዋክ መኾክቶ).
( The tweens start their play of the crowing crow. A tween is sent to sit far away from the group. And, if the twin correctly picks the right choice or answer, s/he is rewarded by a piggyback (ሕንግሮ) on the back of the tween whose choice was correctly picked.)
Wedi-Zemzem to the Tween with a Green Shirt: Break a leg on your game of the crowing crow.
Dem-Draru to the tween with a red cap: ንዓ አስከ ቀይሕ ቆቤዐ: ብርኪ ስበር; ብርኪ ስበር። ( Come here, The Red Cap Tween. Go kneecap and break some knees)
Wedi-Zemzem: Here you go again with your literal translations. Your tween is going to end up kneecaping some of the kids, Dem-Draru. Literally, your ‘literalism’ is going to get us into a heckuva of trouble.
Dem-Draru: Do you really expect my tween to sit idle and do nothing while your tween is ‘breaking the legs’ of the other kids. Of course, he is going further and whack the knees of those who dare to break his legs.
YaAsina: I told you earlier about Dem-Draru and his prpoensity for getting even.
Hargets: But now he has outdone himself. While Wedi-Zemzem is wishing his Green-Shirted tween nothing but good luck in the game of the crowing crow, here he is Dem-Draru trying to introduce the language of violence to this innocent game/play of the tweens.
(Tween 2 has won as the selector and moves away from the other tweens who were assigning names and designations to each tween.)
The group of tweens: ክዋክ መኾክቶ —- The Crowing Crow
Tween 2:ክዋክ —- Cawn! Cawn!
The group of tween: ካብ ኮንስቱቱሽን፣ ካብ ልበረሸን፣ ካብ ካላሺን ፣ ካብ ሳንክሸን ዝሓረኻ ምረጽ።
— from Constitution; from Liberation; from Kalashinkov; from Sanction; choose your selection or pick your choice —.
Tween 2 didn’t pick the right choice and ends up carrying the other tween in his back.
The Group of Tweens: ክዋክ መኾክቶ —- The Crowing Crow
Tween 3: ክዋክ —- Cawn! Cawn!
The group of tween: ካብ 390, ካብ 1991, ካብ 1907, ካብ 2023, ዝሓረኻ ምረጽ።
Tween 3: He also couldn’t pick the right selection.
The Group of Tweens: ክዋክ መኾክሕ —- The Crowing Crow
Tween 1: ክዋክ —- Cawn! Cawn!
The Group of Tweens: Tween 1, ካብ ስሞቲ ፣ ካብ አምባሕራ ፣ ካብ ቀብር ዎኣት፣ ካብ ርአሲ-ዓዲ፣ ዝሓረኻ ምረጽ ። — From Simoti; From Embah’ra; from Qebir Woat; from Resi Adi; pick your choice –.
Tween1: አምባሕራ — Embah’ra
( Tween1 gets leisurly piggyback with smiles on his face)
The group of tweens: The Green-Shirted tween, pick your choice. ካብ ናቕፋ ፣ ካብ ግፋ ፣ ካብ ወዲ-ዓፋ፣ ካብ ሰልፊ እቲ ተስፋ (ኣል ኣመል)፣ ዝሓረኻ ምረጽ ። — From Nakfa; from round-up; from son of Afa; from The Party of Hope; choose your selection or pick your choice—.
The Green Shirted Tween: ሰልፊ ‘ቲ ተስፋ (ኣል ኣመል) — The Party Of Hope
Even if the group of tweens have already agreed the Party of Hope was the winning selection, The Tween with the Red Cap, refused to go along and an imbroglio supervenes and……
Next: ACT IX