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Poem

Alemu Tebeje

O, WESTERN DEMOCRACY!

I praise you,
 
who takes us to Gleneagles
in a warm coach,
so we can stage our protest
against the butcher of Ethiopia.
 
You drop us by an empty field
two miles from the hotel,
so even though the Butcher cannot hear,
we are free to hurl our slogans
into the wind:
 
“Political plurality!” we shout
 
“Human Rights!” we cry
 
The sun is low and it is rather cold.
Policemen stamp their boots.
Some crows hear what we say
and look surprised, they undertake
 
to carry messages into your conference
where every beak laps up
the sweetness of your words,
jabbing at your shortbread promises.
So in the dark I praise you,
 
for your glistening motorways
of free expression,
your empty fields and willing crows,
for the dry biscuits you feed to monsters.

ኦ! ምዕራባዊ ዴሞክራሲ!

ኦ! ምዕራባዊ ዴሞክራሲ!

አመሰገንኳችሁ፣
 
ወደ ግሊኔግልስ፣ ለመሄድ ታድለን፣
በምቹው አውቶቡስ፣ እየተንፈላሰስን፣
በአደባባይ ሊታይ፣ ግልጽ ተቃውሞ፣
የኢትዮጵያን አራጅ፣ ድምፃችን አጋልጦ።
 
ፈቃድ ሰጣችሁን ከአንድ ሰፊ ማሣ፣ ከአንድ ትልቅ ባዶ፣
ከሆቴል ከራቀ፣ ሁለት ማይል ሄዶ፣
ስለዚህ! ... ምንም ከአራጁ፣ ባይደርስ ከጆሮው፣
መፈክራችንን አየር ላይ ልንተኩስ፣ የተሰጠን መብት
                                          ዕፁብ ነው፣ ድንቅ ነው፣
 
እውነተኛ መድበለ ፓርቲ እንፈልጋለን! በማለት የጮኽነው፣
 
እኛም ሰው ነንና፣ ሰብአዊ መብት! ብለን ያለቀስነው፣
 
ጸሀይ ዘቅዝቃላች፣ ቀኑ ይብስ በርዱዋል፣
ፖሊስም በጫማው፣ ምድሩን ያዳምጣል፣
አንዳንድ ቁራዎችም፣ ስንጮህ እየሰሙ፣
ያንዣብቡ ነበር፣ እየተገረሙ፣
 
ለእናንተ ጉባኤ፣ መልዕክት ሊያደርሱ፣
እያንዳንዱ አንደበት፣ ለዲስኩር ተስሎ
የቃላችሁ ጥፍጠት፣ ቃላትን አቃጥሎ፣
ከሚጋግርበት፣ ሙልሙል ዳቦ አብስሎ።
 
ስለዚህ! ጨለማ ውስጥ ሆኜ አመሰገንኳችሁ፣
 
ለድንቅ ጎዳና፣ ድንቅ መንገዶቻችሁ፣
ሃሳብ ለማስገለፅ፣ ክቡር መብታችሁ፣
ጭር ላሉት ማሳዎች፣ በራሪ ቁራችሁ፣
የጭራቅ ስብስብ ከርስ ልትሞሉ፣ ላዘጋጃችሁት ደረቅ
                                               ብስኩታችሁ።
Alemu Tebeje

Alemu Tebeje

(Ethiopia, )
Alemu Tebeje is an exiled Ethiopian journalist, poet, lyric writer and human rights campaigner who lives in London, close to Grenfell Tower. He runs the website  Debteraw and his poem 'Greetings to the people of Europe!' was projected on public buildings in Denmark, Italy, USA and UK by Jenny Holzer in 2017.

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O, WESTERN DEMOCRACY!

I praise you,
 
who takes us to Gleneagles
in a warm coach,
so we can stage our protest
against the butcher of Ethiopia.
 
You drop us by an empty field
two miles from the hotel,
so even though the Butcher cannot hear,
we are free to hurl our slogans
into the wind:
 
“Political plurality!” we shout
 
“Human Rights!” we cry
 
The sun is low and it is rather cold.
Policemen stamp their boots.
Some crows hear what we say
and look surprised, they undertake
 
to carry messages into your conference
where every beak laps up
the sweetness of your words,
jabbing at your shortbread promises.
So in the dark I praise you,
 
for your glistening motorways
of free expression,
your empty fields and willing crows,
for the dry biscuits you feed to monsters.

O, WESTERN DEMOCRACY!

I praise you,
 
who takes us to Gleneagles
in a warm coach,
so we can stage our protest
against the butcher of Ethiopia.
 
You drop us by an empty field
two miles from the hotel,
so even though the Butcher cannot hear,
we are free to hurl our slogans
into the wind:
 
“Political plurality!” we shout
 
“Human Rights!” we cry
 
The sun is low and it is rather cold.
Policemen stamp their boots.
Some crows hear what we say
and look surprised, they undertake
 
to carry messages into your conference
where every beak laps up
the sweetness of your words,
jabbing at your shortbread promises.
So in the dark I praise you,
 
for your glistening motorways
of free expression,
your empty fields and willing crows,
for the dry biscuits you feed to monsters.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère