Optimism in Baalu’s Novels

Check out the foundation’s commentary page for a must read article by Dr. Tsegaye Wodajo.  Recurring Motifs in Baalu’s Novels” is highlighting the two ideals of Baalu’s novels:  optimism and hope. Dr. Wodajo is a Professor in the Department of English at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. His publications on postcolonial African theory and literature have appeared in several scholarly journals, including Journal of Education & Social Welfare and New Horizons.

Also, a quick reminder that the closing date of the 2009 East African Talent Contest is fast approaching. The deadline is August 1, 2009. For competition guidelines and other details, please check foundation’s Creative Writing program page (http://baalugirmafoundation.org/writing.html).

2 Responses to “Optimism in Baalu’s Novels”

  1. Konjit says:

    I read the article posted in your commentary page, and wanted to thank the writer, Dr. Tsegaye Wodajo for his short analysis of Baalus work. Reading such a concise yet very informative article helps the new generation to learn about Baalu and his everlasting work. Baalu Girma is one of the few gifted Ethiopian novelists of our time. It is such a pleasure to read about him.

  2. Mezgebu Abegaz says:

    I read Dr Tsegaye Wodajo’s “Recurring Motifs in Baalu Girma’s Novels”. After I finished my reading, I browsed my mind of any episode in Oromay that articulates hope and optimism. I don’t have to read the book from page one to end. I have read it again and again many times. Thus, what came to my mind was the very-hopeful and optimist Bealu’s major character Tsegaye G/Medhin, who was left alone at the midst of his two beloved ones-Fiyameta, who scarified herself to death for his own life, and his fiancée Roman, whom he promised to live his life with, and who threw away the engagement ring in front of his eyes, and left him alone in a funeral—grave yard!

    If I were given a chance to bring to an end this story at this very point, I would finish Tsegaye Gebre Medhin being crazy, if not make him commit suicide. It seems that I am pessimist, at least in my writings. I am a product of the society.

    I once gave my unpublished manuscript to this friend of mine who frequently says that he enjoys reading literature. He gave me back the manuscript; and I asked him for his feedback. “I read the first few pages and it is all about killing, betrayal and all about pessimism. No. I am not going to read that story anymore…”

    I was shocked! It was a prize winner story in a national competition organized by the Ministry of Culture, though unpublished. Since then, I never have got back to that manuscript again. I just checked it yesterday; it is fading.

    It was after many years that I realized that this friend of mine was raised in a different culture—he attended his middle, secondary and higher education in the West, and is from a rich family. I do not believe in generalization, thus, I wouldn’t mean all Westerns and/or rich people are optimists and all Ethiopians and/or poor people are pessimists. No.

    Borrowing Tsegaye Wodajo’s statement “most Ethiopians seem to have an extreme appreciation of tragedy.” It is very true. Pick any recently published/released book or randomly pick a song and analyze the content/theme. You will most likely find it to be about betrayal (Kihidet), tragic or pessimistic in general.

    A writer/artist is a product of a society where they belong. We are the product of Ethiopian society, a society that, in many cases, values death than life. Imagine comparing the number of people who would attend funeral versus any weddings or any other social or community gatherings. It is true that a writer is a product of society.

    Baalu is exception. Here is his hopeful and optimist Tsegaye G/M of Oromay. Isn’t it so heart breaking, when one is left alone at the midst of the most two beloved ones? But, Baalu’s Tsegaye neither doomed to failure, nor felt useless. He just hoped for a better: “…It is better to hope than being hopeless; even if we wouldn’t get it; we always wish it; … what is man without hope? We have to keep hope in our heart; even if in a place where there is no hope” page 371 Oromay.

    I want to thank Dr Tsegaye Wodajo who implied me see Bealu’s novels from a different and most important perspective: hope and optimism.

    Mezgebu Abegaz

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