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Senamirmir Projects: Aleka Desta Tekle Wold


ow many people do recognize the name Aleka Desta Tekle Wold? How many people do know him intimately? How many people do know his work or his contribution to Ethiopian languages? These questions are not targeted only to the ordinary people who have less chance of knowing him, but also to those learned ones who have ample opportunity, but for one reason or another he remains "unknown" to them. The unfortunate truth is the answers to these and similar questions may not be a pleasing one; not much has been said or written about his life and his work. It seems when we use his work, we put a stone wall between his work and the man himself shielding ourselves and when we are done, we remove the wall, put the work and the man together and lock them behind a bookshelf. No remorse or guilt. Great men like him have come and gone leaving their ageless work, by will, with out putting a name or a face on their work. Partly, it is because of them today we walk upright with thick pride in spite of a devastating natural crisis and human misery.

Born from a humble family and schooled at church-monastery, Aleka DTW lived a modest life and died with humility. His achievement defies any logic, his work confronts the contemporary one sided view that suggests everything by the "West", his single mindedness challenges the learned ones whose hopes hinged by some kind of institution or state which rendered them incapacitated, his quality of work shines in the face of several contemporary print works that leave much desire to be wanted. This great man was an institution by himself; born as one, raised as one, learned as one, worked as one, and died as one. He was the exception in his time!

leka DTW signifies a paradox; in one hand, we pride ourselves by what we are, by our history, languages, writing system, and script; on the other hand, it wouldn't be an understatement to say that we know little or none about the many great men who were behind those knowledge, inventions, and creativities. A paradox that is going to elude us for sometimes to come. It isn't an atomic problem by itself, but a sign of all sort of profound problems lay in front of us.

Seeking to know and asking questions is not only an academic exercise; it is one way of looking at ourselves inwardly and examine our past with open mind and accept the consequences. Should we choose otherwise, then someone else will do it for us and certainly we will not be very happy.

Annually, the number of books published by Ethiopians is painfully very small. There are different views why that is. It is a troublesome proposal to ponder, let alone to suggest that there are only very few Ethiopian authors based on the dismal number of books published annually. There must be numerous works out there covered with dust and rusting under the tables that are vying for attention. Maybe one can take comfort and inspiration from Aleka DTW life and people like him.

his piece features a series of interviews with guests who are directly or indirectly related to him or his work. Senamirmir is proud to present you first Ato Girma Getahun, a historian, a linguist, and a writer who published his book in 2003 under the title "Advanced Amharic Lexicon: A supplement to Concise Amharic-English Dictionary". Senamirmir is indebted to his kindness and unreserved cooperation. If you would like to get in touch with him, please write him using this email address. His book publisher is Lit Verlag.

-abass alamnehe
Senamirmir Project

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