20 August 2018

Ethiopia: Life Devoted to Dog-Eared Books Vending

Tesfaye Adale was born in Wello province to his mother Hawa Mustefa and to his father Adale Beyan. He is the last child of the family. When he was seven and twelve years of age, his parents all of a sudden went to meet their maker. He did not have many childhood memories. But he had committed to memory the time that he had spent as shepherd in his birthplace.

Subsequently, he came to Addis Ababa with his brother. From that time on wards, he did not go to his birthplace more than once. Life was not that easy for him. He had passed though many twists and turns at that point in time. Afterward, he set in motion living under the same roof with his brother. Owing to his brother's hand-to-mouth life coupled his wife's continuous nagging, he made up his mind to be a newsboy to get money.

He still remembers a person named Zewidu Asfaw Gebrehiwot given that he had made him to start school. At that specific point, the person was a director of a school named Harar . He often loved helping the needy who did not have somebody that they could call their own. He loved living for others. After Tesfaye attended school up to grade four, something he did not expect came to happen.

As Tesfaye was spending his time with ill-mannered friends, he kept on getting off the track over and over again and thus he just got fired from home. In due course, he came back home and embarked on living under the same roof with his benefactor.

As ill luck would have it, Zewidu departed this life all of a sudden. At that time, Tesfaye was transferred to grade six. Suddenly, everything turned its face upside down on Tesfaye. Zewdu's family did not allow him to go to school seeing that different people told them fabricated stories pertaining to Tesfaye. At the end of the day, he was made to leave the house once and for all.

Currently, Tesfaye is bookseller. He makes a living putting on the market books. He was also in the habit of putting up for sale newspapers. As a matter of fact, he has distanced himself from putting on the market newspapers. For decades books have been his bread and butter.

In fits and starts, there is nothing which makes him distance himself from putting up for sale different books. His life is fully associated to books. He always pulls out all the stops with the purpose of pleasing his customers. Without exaggeration, in the absence of books, he feels like a fish out of water. He is a voracious reader. There is no stone he left unturned intermittently with the purpose of making his customers happy by providing them with quite a lot of books.

First and foremost, Tesfaye got himself involved as a newsboy putting up for sale newspapers in the length and breadth of the capital. During the regime of Emperor Haile Selassie, a ten-cent coin had a great value. To the surprise of everyone, running a newspaper business with a capital of two Ethiopian Birr could enable newsboys to get adequate amount of profit with no trouble.

At the time when Tesfaye was a newsboy, he was in the habit of heading to Berhanena Selam Printing Enterprise at the cock crow with the aim of buying newspapers for sale. There were a wide variety of newspapers such as Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Economist, and other related newspapers were the choice of most readers.

The bookseller, Tesfaye said, "At that juncture if we put up for sale ten Police ena Erimijaw newspapers, we could earn adequate amount of money for our daily bread."

Tesfaye had experienced a lot of coincidences in his life. A case in point, once upon a time, the book vendor was selling newspapers on the street for passersby. He was around the St. Estifanos church. Cars from the whole extend of the capital were driving at high speed. As chance would have it, a certain car stopped right in front of him. When Tesfaye saw the man in the car, he could not believe his eyes. The man was attired with a military uniform. He was a charismatic person. He was the son of Emperor Haile Selassie. In next to no time, the emperor's son took three books and gave him six birr warning him not to smoke. The price of each book was thirty cents. He turned out to be very happy.

Later that day, when the booksellers' friend learnt this news, they grew to be infinitely happy and troubled him to invite them within the shortest time possible. Tesfaye invited all his friends until he ran out of money. In fact, he was left with some amount of money. But the bookseller did not break the promise he gave to the emperor's son either by drinking alcohol or smoking.

As ill luck would have it, something he did not expect came to pass. One of the newspaper disturbers refused to sell newspapers for Tesfaye. He did not know what he had to do. Though Tesfaye told the distributor the fact that he was one of his customers, the distributor gave him the cold shoulder.

He did not know what he had to do. He thought that he would give up selling newspapers. At that point in time, there was a bookseller who bought books from Addis Ababa and sold them in Asmara. He was in the habit of selling spy books. Books by Author Mammo Wudneh were lucrative ones. He was making a lot of money in this regard.

Eventually, when bookseller Tesfaye took council with his friend pertaining to the problem binding his hand and foot, his friend said, "I am an old man but I sell books crossing borders and thus I irregularly make a lot of profit. You can give up selling newspapers and get yourself fully engaged in putting on the market books. I will be on your side. I will as well introduce you to a book distributor."

As Tesfaye had no other option, the two got to know each other. Then, he got himself ready to partake in the book business. The good thing was, there were a huge number of readers at that time. As Tesfaye had no other option, he took five books from the distributor and embarked on selling them spreading them on the street. The instant he showed up with the books, he sold them out in no time at all.

Subsequently, in fear and trembling, he headed to the distributor for more books. Hence, he got some additional books for sale. In this fashion, he distanced himself from newspaper business and got himself fully involved in book business.

At that point in time, there were quite a lot of books from Russia. Bit by bit, the number of translators kept on growing time and again. All of a sudden, the book business gradually went down. It was going downhill over and over again. Foreign books were flooding in the left, right and center of the country.

There were discussion clubs in different parts of the country. The attention of people towards foreign books went on deteriorating repeatedly.

At that point, the daily Addis Zemen and Yezareyitu newspapers were getting out of the market. There was only Serto Ader newspaper. As time passed by, he gradually began selling the Western Books. Whatever happened in life, he did give up hope easily. He was waiting a better day to come selling his books. Slowly but surely, the attention of people towards the works of Ethiopian authors kept on growing. Little by little, Tesfaye set in motion selling books. As Tesfay is a bookworm, he loves reading more than anything under the sun. People from all walks of life were his customers.

At some point, the renowned Yidnekachew Tesema showed up to his bookstore and told the bookseller to bring a certain book. He told him that he would pay him a good amount of money if he found the book. In due course, he told him his whereabouts and left the area in a jiffy.

Be that as it may, someday a young man came to Tesfaye's bookstore carrying a wide variety of books and told him that he would sell the books for fifty Birr. After negotiating a deal, he bought the books for twenty five Birr.

Tesafay realized that the book was the one that Yidnekachew was hunting for. In reality, he was not doing this for the love of making profit but to be praised by Yidnekachew. Almost immediately, when he headed to Bole on the lookout for Yidnekachew around Bole, Tesfaye found Yidnekachew reading a book in his car.

Relating about the incident Tesfaye said, "The instant Yidnekachew have a look at the book, he could not believe his eyes. He let me in to his car. He was simply smiling. But he did not utter a word. When he was leafing through the page, he got petrified. He did not know what he had to say. He was simply showing me stamped seals in the book pages. Later he told me that the book was stolen from him. After wistfully sitting for a while, he gave me a hundred Birr note.

(source: the daily Addis Zemen)


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