This book is a collection of Amharic poems. Amharic, as the national language of Ethiopia, is a rich language that is widely used in this East African nation of seventy-one million people. Amharic’s complex writing system makes it a unique African language that has its own alphabet. The poems included in this collection are pieces I composed over the years on various issues. Many of them reflect my sentiments on some of the internal challenges that Ethiopia is facing in today’s evolving global setting. Many are expressions of my dissent against a regime that has chosen to compromise the territorial integrity of Ethiopia and the unity of her multi-ethnic people since gaining control of government power in 1991. Several pieces, thus, depict my personal feelings on the continuous suffering of the Ethiopian people. Since poetry, in any language, is a profound literary tool that articulates the trials and triumphs of a given era, it is my sincere hope that the sentiments that I express through my verses will add to the voices of fellow Ethiopians of my generation. As an eyewitness who traveled through drought- and famine-stricken rural regions of Ethiopia in 2000, 2001, and 2003, I have come to realize how current government policies are worsening, instead of alleviating, poverty. The challenge within, therefore, is the dominant theme of this book which I titled Fetena. The word fetena, in Amharic, means an exam, a test, a challenge, a trial; it is a title I borrowed from a piece that is included in this collection.

Tewodros Abebe
Howard University
Washington, D.C.
July 2005


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