Tewodros Fekadu is an extraordinary human being and has had an astonishing life to boot. Lucky for us he has written a memoir in order to share his amazing story. Tewodros’ memoir is titled ‘No One’s Son’ and is a touching true story of a defiant African boy and his bold quest for freedom.
Colour Box Studio are excited to announce that Tewodros Fekadu will be visiting the studio for a book reading and presentation on the 6th of August as part of the event PRESENT PRESENT PRESENT. In the lead up to this appearance we spoke to Tewodros Fekadu about his book, how it came about and other projects he has on the go.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I was born in Eritrea in 1971 to an Ethiopian mother and Eritrean father. I survived my childhood years on the streets of Ethiopia, in orphanages and at times at relatives houses. As an adult I spent more than three years in a Japanese detention centre and now live in Australia with my wife. I founded the African Communities Association Gold Coast Inc. The aim of the association is to share African traditions and heritage through performance, education and training programs, and festivals.
My memoir, No One’s Son, was published in the United Sates in 2012 and I regularly present my work to organisations, companies, literature festivals and universities. I also have my own business, Moonface Entertainment, working on films and documentaries related to East Africa. I return to Africa annually to shoot footage for his projects.
I have also established a group here in Australia called Tesfa Oz (“Tesfa” means “hope” in Amharic and “Oz” brings in the Australian connection) which raises funds for projects and medical equipment in Ethiopia.
Describe your writing style.
I write in a very personal way, that’s passionate and with a lot of heart (and occasionally tormented).
How did you come to it?
Strangely enough, as a child in the orphanages I used to keep detailed notes on what was happening to me and how I felt at the time. I even used to tell my aunt (when she was mistreating me) that I would write about her one day when I grew up! I think the pen was the only power that I had at the time. The pen helped me to get through the toughest times because I believed that one day I could tell what was happening to me, one day people will know.
Then in Japan, I started compiling my notes for my memoir while in the detention centre. One time, I was taken for interrogation and fearful of what I had written about life in detention, I quickly flushed the notes down the toilet so I had to start all over again!
When I arrived in Australia in 2003 I began formulating my notes into a book and then spent a number of years travelling backwards and forwards to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt and Japan to interview family and friends to fill in the gaps and also make sure my story was as accurate as could be. No One’s Son was published in Australia in 2009 so in all (from notes to book!) it took almost 10 years!
Tell us about your past projects and what has been your most treasured piece of work?
This is my first book in English and as is my own personal story I think will probably be on of my treasured pieces of work when I am an old man one day looking back over my life.
Where did you grow up and has it influenced your style?
I grew up on the horn of Africa and this has without doubt influenced my style. My memoir includes many proverbs and sayings from my homeland.
What is your current project?
Currently I am working on film projects. I am doing a documentary on a gentleman called Hapte Selassie known as the Father of Tourism in Ethiopia. He was the first tourism minister of Ethiopia back during Emperor Haile Selassies reign and spent several years detained under the Dergue Regime when Mengistu Haile Mariam deposed the Emperor. He is in his 80s now and such an inspiration. I feel somewhat connected to him given some of his experiences and admire his resilience, strength and genuine desire to make a difference.
Who or what was your inspiration?
The inspiration for No One’s Son came from within. As mentioned earlier, I have always had this desire to share my story in the hope of inspiring others.
Where do you feel most creative?
I think I feel the most creative when I am back in Africa. My wife always says being in Africa is like an assault on your senses and in some ways she is right. From the moment you arrive there, it is sensory overload; the smells, the sights, the colours, the sounds, and the language is so rich and vibrant. Some may find it overwhelming but having grown there, I can take it all in and little seeds of ideas begin to grow.
What will you be working on next?
I am actually heading to Ethiopia in September to release the tourism documentary I mentioned earlier. I will also be arranging the purchase of much needed medical equipment for some hospitals and health clinics with funds that I have raised here in Australia.
What can visitors to expect to see from you at ‘Present Present Present’ on the 6th of August?
Where can we see more of your work?
You can keep track of what I am up to via my facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tewodros-Fekadu/154709086819
Tewodros Fekadus memoir ‘No One’s Son’ is available at the Colour Box Studio Pop Up Book Shop until 31 August. Tewodros will be doing a book reading on 6 August from 6pm at Colour Box Studio as part of the “PRESENT PRESENT PRESENT” event.