Friday, 22 April 2011

Photo Friday: Why writing is important

As I mentioned before, I spent the past two months in Harar, Ethiopia, a fascinating medieval walled city. Before going to Harar I spent three days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. I’ve visited the city before but there were some things I hadn’t seen, like the Red Terror memorial. This is a museum dedicated the victims of the Derg regime, a Marxist government that assassinated the Emperor Haile Selassie and ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991. This regime killed 500,000 people in its first year in power. Nobody knows the total number of victims.

Sadly, many countries have similar museums and this one has the typical displays you’d expect—walls covered with ghostly photos of victims, displays of torture methods, official documents—yet I left the museum inspired. Why? Because of this one display pictured here. It's a mimeograph machine used by a dissident. He was a scientist at an agricultural research center on the outskirts of Addis Ababa and he used this machine to print pamphlets protesting the government. He would have been executed if he had been caught so he used to bury the mimeograph in a field when he wasn't using it. After the regime was toppled he left it buried until he finally dug it up years later and donated it to the museum.

This is real writing. Writing what you believe when you risk being put up against a wall and shot. I'd like to think I'd have the courage to do this, but thankfully I don't think I'll ever be tested in this manner.

1 comment:

Sioux said...

I agree. To be so passionate and determined and have such principals, that you would go to those lengths to write...

THAT is the mark of a true writer!

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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