Thursday, February 23, 2012

Art and the Artist: Sibhat Gebre-Egziabher

Back in 2010, a friend asked if I would like to contribute a question for his upcoming interview with  Gash Sibhat Gebre-Egziabher. I had tons of questions in mind. But he said 'a question'; so, as gullible as this may sound, I sent in a marriage proposal. Despite knowing he was happily married at the time and was three times older, I figured I would take my chance so that way I can have him around to answer my endless questions. What girl would pass such opportunity, right? 

Rightfully so, he delicately declined my proposal. But he promised that we will make it happen in the next life.  I wasn't disappointed at all. That was my only but most treasured interaction with the legendary author behind some of the great literary works in Ethiopia. Ever since I learnt about his passing early this week,  watching back at that interview has been my comfort. 

The sheer honesty behind his work is unlike anything we have ever experienced in Ethiopian literature. If you ask any Ethiopian (including those who have never read any of his books) to name an author/ poet who tells it like it, I guarantee you the first name (probably the only) they would tell you is Sibhat Gebre-Egziabher. 

Gash Sibhat said what was on his mind and wrote as if he was writing just for himself.  No topic was off-limit . His stories were colored with graphic description and blatant truth. His unapologetic and unrestricted approach to the art garnered him respect and huge fan base. His passing definitely left a huge void in Ethiopian art and literature world. 

Rest in peace, Gash Sibhat and Thank you for staying true to yourself. 

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