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The Case of the Socialist Witchdoctor

By Hiwot Tadesse
December 27,2014

Hiwot Tadesse translated “The Case of the Socialist Witchdoctor” into Amharic as “Yesocialistu Tenkuay guday” “የሶሻሊስቱ ጠንቋይ ጉዳይ”.

The writer of this entry invited Hiwot Tadesse to write introduction about the book she translated into Amharic. The book is going to be launched in a matter of hours at Wabi Shebele Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Read Hiwot’s introduction about “The Case of the Socialist Witchdoctor” below.

Book cover - The case of the Socialist Withcdoctor  Translated by Hiwot Tadesse
Book cover – The case of the Socialist Withcdoctor
Translated by Hiwot Tadesse

Hama Tuma’s The Case of the Socialist Witchdoctor was first published in 1993. The author, an Ethiopian, is hailed as one of Ethiopia’s greatest satirists. The book is a novel depicting the repressive military regime putting innocent people in the dock for all sorts of absurd crimes against the Revolution. By carving out characters such as a judge who is an ex-military officer with no more than primary school education, a prosecutor with no formal legal education and a military officer as a defense lawyer who argue against and for innocent but very clever defendants, Hama creates a farcical situation in which he puts the regime itself on trial.

The second part of the book is packed with stories that take place outside of the courtroom in bars, brothels, guerilla hideouts and the rural areas of Ethiopia. Even here we see the lives of Ethiopians, whether civilians or soldiers, the educated elite or the uneducated farmers, revolutionaries or aging patriots, are filled with violence, mistrust, vengeance, superstition, killings, racism, even slavery and such traits that make up what it means to be an Ethiopian, though have to be swallowed with a grain of salt by any Ethiopian.

Through sparks of contradiction and satire, the book shows us that the Ethiopian copes with all of the above, in addition to the wars, the famines, the various internal and international upheavals that shaped the 20th century Ethiopia and for that matter Africa, with a culture of humor. The author is known for his works such as African Absurdities Volume I: Politically Incorrect Articles, Volume II: Give me a dog’s life any day, Volume III: Democratic Cannibalism, Of spades and Ethiopians & Eating an American (collection of poems in English), The Criminal walk and other stories, and of course, The Case of The Socialist witchdoctor. His works in Amharic include Qine Wet Awuqe, Habeshigna 1&2 and Qedada Chereqa. His works has been translated to French, Italian and Hebrew, and now, The Case of the Socialist Witchdoctor and Other Stories is translated into Amharic by Hiwot Tadesse as “የሶሻሊስቱ ጠንቋይ ጉዳይ” and is published in Addis Ababa. A launching and reviewing program has been scheduled for December 27, 2014. To order the book, “የሶሻሊስቱ ጠንቋይ ጉዳይ”

The translator could be reached at



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