Dhaba Wayessa
Dhaba Wayessa
Name:
Dhaba Wayessa

Phone:

****
Address:
USA
Books:

1. Godaannisa 1983

2. Gurraacha Abbayyaa 1997

3. Dukkanaan Duuba

4. Jennaan

5. Imimmaan

6. Fuula Dhokate

7. Faana Miillaa

 

 

Bio

About the Author of the book

Dhaba was born on September 22, 1966 in a remote rural village called “Jaggaa Lootuu” of the Eebantu district, western Oromia regional state. While he was a student in middle and high school Dhaba had developed passion for literature and art of various forms. However, writing and publishing literature and arts had not existed in his local people whose artistic expression was mainly oral poetry and traditional songs at that time. As he studied novels only available in the Amharic language, he was inspired and began to daydream his own fictional stories and poems. But, the chance to attain his dream was almost none since his Amharic language was not good enough for writing fiction. Afan Oromo, his native language, had not been accepted for formal education and published literature in Ethiopia during that time and for over a century before that. Despite those challenges, Dhaba was persevered and managed to write some short plays and poems during his last secondary school years just for the local consumption. After he graduated from high school and moved to Bahir Dar Teachers’s college for further education, he suffered embarrassment as some of his instructors and the privileged Amharic-speaking students mocked at his poor facility with their language. However, his determination to gain knowledge and skills in fiction writing prompted him to read and study few literary guidebooks available at the college’s library. Later, his literary proficiency in Amharic had improved incrementally.

He was able to publish a short story entitled “Megnexisaawii Simmeet” and a poem called “Immaammaa” in Bahir-Dar College’s yearbooks. He also published few more short stories in various school-related magazines in Wallagga during the following years. Nevertheless, he grew up being bewildered by his own inner question of how the Oromo people, the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia – numbering over 35 million people – had been kept under extreme suppression and tyranny by successive Ethiopian regimes for over a century. He used to be disheartened by the non-existence of any written Oromo literature to look at as an example.
After he graduated from Bahir Dar College and was employed as a high school teacher in the Amuruu district of Wallagga province from 1988 to 1991, Dhaba was determined to continue his writing in Afaan Oromoo, and wrote several short stories, radio plays, folklores and commentary articles for the only Oromo entertainment program of the National Radio of Ethiopia at that time.

Then, at the downfall of Derg, the dictatorial communist government of Ethiopia, and the formation of the Transitional Government in 1991, Dhaba got an opportunity to write a full￾length stage play in his mother-tongue, Afan Oromo. The successful staging of his first drama, “Dukkanaan Duuba” (Beyond the Darkness), in 1991 at Ethiopian National Theater was the first production ever of a modern stage play in Afan Oromo. His works instantly received huge acclaim from the large Oromo audience and the media. To mention few: The Ethiopian Herald, the only and well known English Newspaper in Ethiopia at that moment, commented about the play, “Dukkanaan Duuba” (on February 19, 1992), calling it, “the first of its kind to be written and staged in the Oromo language. It has become successful in its artistic mastery and thematic value by demonstrating the social and political intricacies of the past Ethiopian governments.” The national newspaper, Addis Zemen, reviewed the play (on February 7, 1984 Eth. C. and said “It is a breakthrough and a foundation stone for the renaissance of the Oromo art and culture.”
Consequently, Dhaba was handpicked by the Curriculum Department of the Ministry of Education for the first-ever preparation Oromo-language textbooks for elementary classes. Along with five other members of the language team, he accomplished the assignment of writing of six student texts and six teacher’s guides. He also went on to write and produce four more stage plays and publish two novels. His bestselling first novel, “Godannisa” (The Scar), was also one of the first two modern novels in Oromo literature.

In addition, Dhaba organized young artists and became the founder /director of the Gada Theater and Cultural Club, an organization established in 1992 in Addis Ababa for the purpose of reviving Oromo art and culture. By facilitating short-term trainings on drama for predominantly amateur members, GTCC (Gada Theater and Cultural Club) had produced many stage plays and musical shows in Afan Oromo. Dhaba successfully led the club for three years until he immigrated to United States in 1995. Dhaba also worked as chairperson of Ichima Publications, an Oromo-Amharic language magazine, which was shut down in 1994. The same year, he was honored with Oromo Studies Association Award in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the Oromo literary arts and culture’” on its conference held in Toronto, Canada.
As one might imagine, Dhaba’s achievement of literary success had not been an easy ride. He has had to pay immense sacrifices for it along the way. For instance, well back in the days of Mengistu Haile-Mariam’s communist regime, Dhaba’s radio plays, commentaries and short stories which were regularly run on the Afan Oromo program had provoked the anger of dictator officials in the government. One of the Derg’s senior officials attempted to run over Dhaba just at the entrance of Addis Ababa University. Dhaba survived, but retains some permanent injury from the attack. In his later journey, he also had experienced discrimination, harassment, imprisonment and other more challenges.

Dhaba earned an MFA degree in film from Howard University in 2004. He also studied as an undergraduate in the Radio, TV, and Film department at Howard University from 1997 to 1999 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors. The Fallen Beats, the short film he wrote, directed and produced in 2001, while he was in graduate school at Howard, won three awards including the Black Filmmakers‟ Hall of Fame Award and Paul Robeson “Creative Excellence”Award for the “Best Short Film”. VOA Television broadcast this short film along with his other short film, At the Edge of the Day in February 2002.

As it was mentioned above, his feature-length screenplay, Hibboo (Riddle), won the prestigious “Paul Robeson Honorable Mention Award for Scriptwriting – Feature” in 2005. And, most recently, on May 3, 2018, Dhaba received superior achievement award from the Oromia Culture and Tourism Bureau and the Ethiopian Cultural Center for his distinguished artistic/literary works and outstanding contributions to the development of Oromo literature and art. Dhaba has been an international broadcaster and a VOA-Afan Oromo Managing for over 23 years.

 

Oromia Writes Association

May 2022

Finfine, Oromia, Ethiopia

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