The previous week’s Saturday had a tempestuous morning under weather that was not ideal. Yet I had to get a move on. It was because I vowed to return to the good old days of frequenting Addis Abeba’s city centres on weekends. Just the thought was exhilarating. Getting warm against the cold, breakfast with coffee, a newspaper or two and then to the National Theatre or Ambassador Theatre, or Addis Abeba Stadium to watch a football game.

I was heading to watch “The Modernist” on that particular Saturday at the National Theatre. A film by Rasselas Lakew that pieces together film shots and interviews taken since the 1950s with a young architect, Henri Chomette, who gave the National Theatre its finishing architectural touch, and Maurice Calka, the sculptor of the nearby Lion of Judah monument.

The structure was a point of no return to Chomette’s and Calka’s flying professional careers. The black and white film depicted more than half a century ago espoused an ethos of combining fine artists and craftsmen, leaving an original stamp of themes and characters with unique visuals and details unimaginable today.


As the ticket queue swivels in my mind with all the stage shows I attended at the historic theatre, the loving tribute of Aristophanes’ ”O Menander, O Life, which of you imitated the other,” came to my mind. It was about the Greek poet Menander.

”Is there any good reason an educated man may have for going to the theatre, apart from seeing Menander?” he questioned.


Sad but true, from the man who wrote more than a hundred plays, only a few survived. The comedies were a substitute for the void left by the suspension of democratic institutions and the shrinking of democratic practices in his time. It sums up the tremendous potential of a stage and the sheer bliss up for grabs to theatregoers.


After the show, as I was obsessed with the sophistication that a playwright may inject into one's work, I arrived at Ako Coffee on Churchill Avenue, telling myself, “I cannot wait for the shining tasty coffee in a glass cup.” While walking, I pondered the famous clerihew by Nicholas Bentley and his comments on filmmakers who do not often mind the anachronisms they stray from throughout their epics.

It was prochronism’s turn next, a type of anachronism, such as assigning aeroplanes to the American Civil War. Then, I continued to promnesia, a little-known but useful word from the Greek, meaning roughly “memory of the future.” It was apparently coined by a psychologist in 1903 and defined as “the paradoxical sensation of recollecting a scene which is only now occurring for the first time; the sense of the déjà vu.”

Science fiction is usually cited as the literary genre where promnesia is most profound. But it would be hard to find a better example than Morgan Robertson’s novella, “Futility,” published in 1898. Published 14 years before the Titanic sank, it told of a great “unsinkable” luxury liner named the Titan that sank on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg. It was uncanny.


Suddenly, sitting in the restaurant, I was awakened from my reverie. An agitated bull had broken loose and was terrorising the area. I was in goring distance had I not taken cover inside the glassy inside of the café. It made a turn in the direction of the headquarters of the Ethiopian Post Office as it was chased by its handlers. Fortunately, my vow to continue to relax within the battle to exist, on weekends, around the city centres is still intact, reading plays such as Menander’s and venturing to National Theatre to watch the latest show.



PUBLISHED ON Aug 06,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1162]




Tadesse Tsegaye (seetadnow@gmail.com), a polyglot with experience in multicultural-cum-institutional settings in resources management.





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