Maher Shalal Hash Baz
The Spoil Speedeth; the Prey Hastenth.
In memory of
The late NASA Scientist
Half way in the darkness of the night, a mighty angel sent from The Celestial Author, flung open my door and woke me. I was lying upon myself. The angel plucked a single feather out of his golden wings, shaped it into a pen, and handed it to me. Then he told me to scribe the words, Maher Shalala Hash Baz “The Spoil Speedeth; the Prey Hasteth.”
I dipped the feather in my own sweat and begun scribing while at the same time; I summoned the characters who will be speaking his words that I was listening right now. The few characters I created developed a strong likeness - in flesh and in soul - with the characters I knew from my generation and the characters created by the hands and breathe of the celestial Author. It is a sure fact that, the characters created by God were made out of mud; while the characters I created, using the knowledge I learned from my creator, were adopted from real people. The characters of my imagination captured images of me and my kind inherited a flesh from human flesh, a desire from the human desire, and a dream from the human dream; and manifested with a perfect human nature, at the same time keeping their true natures unperturbed.
Nevertheless, there lies a difference between the characters I brought to existence and the characters made by the Celestial Author. The One Who authored us, eventually ended the lives of the characters he created. Unlike him, I neither kill nor save my creatures; they were destined to die of their own accord or they shall be saved likewise, for I am not superior to them. That was why they had gone wild with joy, when I told them that, I will not be responsible for their demise nor for their salvation.”
I said, “In my hand, I hold, not a sword but a pen. None of you shall be held guilty for your ill fate... your damnation! Save yourselves! We are all our own patients, and our own doctors. I am a character myself, created by the hands of the Celestial Author. I am my own patient, my own nurse and my own doctor. We all are characters made in His hands. True I am your god, yes indeed! However, I will not be crucified for your sins. I have no knowledge about you more than you know thy selves.... One more thing that sets me apart from the Celestial Author is that: I have no hell to burn you in, or a heaven to reward you with eternal life. Hell and heaven are both within you. There exists no sin, nor a holy being, a damned or a good character on the face of the earth. When any force that stands against you, looks upon you as “the damned” then, you in turn call that opponent with the same name. For, all are good characters in their own eyes. Thus, I shall not dishonor or favor any one of you over the rest. I have no part in your life except to author you. That is why I shall not judge you.”
What I said made a big impression on them. They were delighted and became one with the characters that the Celestial Author created. Then I was engaged in writing this book with both sets of characters and their lives. Then when I was done with my writing, the angel who awakened me came and sealed my lips with a blazing hot sword, so that I dare not speak about the rest of their story. He told me in the ancient Ge’ez tongue, “keep the prophetic words of the book, for the time has come.”, and went back flapping his wings to where he came from. He was saying He pinned back the feather he gave me into his golden wing, as if he were afraid that the celestial Author would be angry with him and say , “Where in the damned world have you lost it !?”
Praise for Dertogada
After flipping through the pages, mincing words, and understanding concepts of the narrative, I said to myself that the Ethiopian novel, which has thus far been snoring in deep sleep, has finally been awakened. By now there is no question that Dertogada, artfully and creatively written by the young and intelligent Yismake Worku, has surpassed the limits of Ethiopian novel works. What has rather become a source of worry for me is not the author or the other side but readers. They might shower me with an avalanche of insults for probably underrated comments on this most enjoyable and special book.
But aye! I still shouldn't keep silent on Dertogada. Any sane reader will no doubt bop up and down, praise the writer for his prolific story and look up on to the renaissance of Ethiopian novel. Needless to say, Dertogada is a special gift bestowed upon the present and future generation.
One might expect me to list at least some of the salient features, which push Dertogada be yond the limits of the average Ethiopian novel. To begin with, the basic tenet of the story is different. The ideas expressed, narrated and widely reflected in the book has thus far not been touched by other Ethiopian writers. On the other hand, the actors are vibrant and hard to crease out of memory even with the passage of time, be it Miraje, Abba Jenberu, sipharah, Meroda, Gera...
There is no wonder that the book is replete with sayings that are worth copying and putting in quotation marks for future use. We can even find these sayings from some of the evil characters in the book. Illuminating, isn't it?
Yismake has also been successful in drawing out brisk, intelligent and real-like characters. His line of conspiracy in the book glued the bits and pieces of story. He sometimes lets readers unravel the secrets themselves.
Thus readers are forced to critically examine, intently look and scrutinize characters and their words so that it will help them solve the mysteries. That is real creativity! We are so lucky to have something written by a brainy young man. Dertogada best suits the thinking and attitude of many these days.
I don't even have words to appreciate the depth of scientific creation reflected by Yismake . He is so ingenious! All of the episodes, incidents and happenings in the novel are no different from what could actually take place in the real world. He invented these stories but none looked alien. Let me just say this by way of wrapping up my comments: Dertogada has no doubt succeeded in turning the resistant and unruly hearts who flocked to foreign literature back to Ethiopia.
Yoftahe Seyoum (PHD)
In this sophisticated age of space exploration, you are now presented with a prime novel, adequately capable of deserving the eyes of all readers.
Written with a flawless literature coupled with a magnanimous storytelling, it has a particular style that is unique only to the author.
I have personally read several science fiction novels and watched scientific movies, and this one competes with every single one of the best. You will know this, when reading it from a perspective, which takes into account the author and the conditions that presented him the enthusiasm and the perseverance of writing it until the end.
Chapter after chapter Dertogada takes you on a voyage overflowing with suspense. It does not stick to a single theme; rather it is a sum of many complicated stories. Action and breathtaking speed follows along, as we turn each page.
It manifests all the characteristics of a science fiction, a romantic, an underground action, and a historical novel. In this sense, the novel has shown us intricate events with such interconnectedness as we have never realized before. It is a magnificent novel, which successfully bonded the past with the future.
Aha! About this last point, here lies only one of the ideas, the book included. It is about the battle between achieving material or intellectual wealth. Moreover, it is a book about nationalism... about who will give away...what or who, for the sake of one's own advantages? And who shall fight, ‘Until the last drop of blood,’ for the sake of his/her identity? And etc... The rest is left for the reader to contemplate...
Author Sebhat G. Egzea’bher
Before everything else, I would like to thank the Great God who had shaped the universe and all life in it using only His words. a lot of great individuals contributed to this work. This book contains pieces of the good spirits and helping hands of many people of good will. I would like to thank all my friends and family especially:- my dear brother Ashenafi Nigussie, my dear sis Hanna Nigussie, my good mentors and friends Desta Kebede, Solomon Mengesha, dearest Emebet Alemayehu – who currently lives in Dublin, Daniel Taddesse, Artist Henok Melkam-zer, Assefa Adenew, Samuel Zewge, Mekonnen the great technician, Wondwossen Gemechu and Dese Melese. I really do not have the words to tell you, how much help you had been as I went through the job. I could not have achieved it without your support. Most of all, my sincere applause for the great writer of our age Yisma`ake Worku who has successfully ignited the flames of literature renaissance in Ethiopia that had been in the dark for many years – you shall remain in the hearts and souls of your country for many ages to come.
Allow me to say something about the general style and trend I followed when translating this magnificently written novel and give you a picture of my views as to the ideas and characters depicted in the book.
Yisma’ake writes with a style of his own, made of intricate web of events filled with suspense, excellent story telling - coherent, flawless, and very well chosen characters interesting enough, just to be with. Its Amharic version gave me little trouble during the translation. It was as if the promising writer who gave birth to our literary renascence, knowingly wrote it thinking ahead of time. By that I meant, he did not intend the novel to reach local readers only but as a tribute for readers all over the globe.
Finally, I want to quote some lines from a speech made a few years ago, on the exact day that Dr. Kitaw Ejigu passed away, by Dr. Abraham - a Classical Mechanics instructor at Addis Ababa University and a close friend of Dr. Kitaw Ejigu back in their college years in Bahir Dar together.
He was filled with absolute sorrow and regret when he spoke the following words during a Classical Physics session I was attending. “All around the world, chances are that there are reductionist ideas and people unappreciative and degrading towards our achievements. But, never give-in to those negative statements and abandon your country or your society, nor use someone else’s judgment as a precondition to your actions, because then you will be serving someone else who will get rid of you as soon as you tried to do good to your own people.”
My humble opinion is that, maybe Africa and all the developing nations could use some of their genius minds if they showed them just a little bit of appreciation and acceptance.
If you have anything in your mind that you would like to tell me after you read the book, please do so.
I wish you all a very enlightening reading experience.