Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I went to go see "Teza" with my good friend Miss Anne on Sunday.

Anne was raised in a one-room home not too far from here about the
same time that my mother was teething on her silver spoon. She is
doubtless the most gracious and gentle person that I have had the
priviledge to know. I love to share new, special pieces of music or art
with her and here her perceptions.

"Teza" is a low-budget, award-winning movie written and directed by
Haile Gerima. The movie has won awards from Vancouver to Venice.
an arduous project, it took the team 14 years to complete.

"Teza" means "dew" in amarinnia, the official Ethiopian language.
The movie depicts a young man who leaves his village for schooling in Cologne.
He returns to Addis Ababa to work as a medical researcher at the University,
during the regime of Mengistu and the Derg. His best friend is violently
murdered. He is exiled to East Germany. There, a band of white "skin-heads"
beat, lame, and almost kill him. Finally he returns to his village, there to ponder
the meaning of life and to teach reading and arithmetic to young children.

As a young adult Anberber is full of hope, vitality and energy. He
wants to find cures and bring hope against the dreadful diseases which
scourge his people. But he finds frequent dangerous conflicts with
the communist regime in Addis Abeba and its supporters.

The whole story depicts many different incidents of people inflicting
harm and suffering to other people. Anberber's dad had been among
an army wiped out by an invading army's gas attack. A couple of boys from
the village are forcefully captured and conscripted to war; one is returned later,
mortally wounded. A young mother, overwhelmed with the craziness
of her world, suddenly kills her own young baby. Anberber's friend
fathers and then deserts a boy in Germany, who grows up to become
enraged at his treatment as a half-breed. And deeds beget other deeds.
This is a long, long movie and it is not easy to watch. While we are all
busy with the challenges and trials we face as adults, somehow, the morning
dew has all vanished.

As a young man, I was often praised for the intelligence I showed
and exhorted to do what I can for the world and for mankind. I
was trained in aspects of world history and culture and personally
exposed to many, many diverse views. My peers all shared the same
hopes and enthusiasms. Now, as I enter old age, I perceive a culture
that is rotten and mistaken almost to its very heart. I and many of my
companions heartily doubt its ability to survive the onslaught of several
inevitable cataclysms, among them the reduction of cheap, readily-available
energy, the overpopulation on the planet, the reduction of food supplies, and the failure of people to foresee and address the problems.

I married a young Ethiopian girl, awed with her charm, intelligence,
perseverance and wit, thinking that I could perhaps do a little good.
She stubbornly clings to her philosophy that blind hope is far better
than the pessimism of wisdom and experience. And more and more,
she is teaching me to abandon plans and preparation. Perhaps
this very moment is the only one that I have ....

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