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Zewdi Araia: Her Success In Show Business


Zewdi Araia: Her Success In Show Business

Zewdi Araia, the most successful Eritrean actress was a very popular among young people of the metropolis in the late sixties. She was a very controversial figure in performing arts on account of our restrictive as opposed to permissive society. On the other hand, her engagement as a professional actress could be looked upon as a great leap from the vantage point of her cultural upbringing in Eritrea whose people were once depicted by former colonial masters as ነሮ ሰንሳ ሚስተሮ meaning a black person without any mystery or skill. Nevertheless, a typical Eritrean lady could be bright but unschooled, beautiful but unrefined, and talented but unidentified. As she pointed it out, even with all the desirable qualities in mind: “ la fortuna” i.e. a personal luck is indispensable in the very competitive world where the dog eats dog.


Coming to her background, she was born at a beautiful town of Dekemare to a humble family. Then she moved to Asmara after completing her primary education at a native school. Later she joined the Italian schools such as Principe and Botego, the most competitive Institutes of Industrial Art where she was one of the two female students, and the other being an Italian. Following her success in beauty pageant at the Expo festival, she went to Italy where she was introduced to a film company. Her achievement in a show business was beyond measure. As she said in her interview session with Ere-TV, her involvement in performing arts was not easy. In short, it was a byproduct of long years of experience. Obviously, her modest upbringing might not prepare her for this arduous task demanding a language fluency, familiarity with non-verbal modes and codes of communication peculiar to a highly expressive language, such as Italian. This is true as in the words of English King whose name I couldn’t remember:-


“I speak Italian to woman, Spanish to God. French to diplomat and German to horse.”

Over all, such Roman language is contrary to our highly reserved tongue shunning a body movement as the saying goes: ጥዑም ዘረባ፡ ዓጽሚ ኣጋንንቲ ይሰብር። Roughly translated: a good speech may soothe the devil. This brings us to Bernard Show’s magnum opus: “My fair Lady” that was adapted to Deaf play. Ones, a certain upper class gentleman falls in love with a beautiful young deaf lady. He struggles to teach her how to speak and pronounce like a cultured or snobbish people of his exclusive social circle before introducing her as a debutante in upcoming charity ball or cotillion. Time and again, he tries to teach her how to pronounce the following epigram smoothly:-

The rain in the Spain
It rains in the plain.

But she mispronounces as the following:-

The lain in de Tpain
It lains in de Blain.

He fails to teach her due to her profound hearing loss. The rationale behind this unsuccessful attempt is just to depict the role of pronunciation in reflecting your personality which is crucial in show business. That why I was moved to write the following poem:

Your Voice
I remember…
That my Professor said ones:
“Your voice reflects
Your personality.”
What about my sign language
Signifying my behavior?
As Shakespeare put it:
That action is stronger
Than empty word indeed.
No matter how loud
The dog barks
The horse whines
The donkey brays
In case each proudly thinks
As if its sound is the best
And the sweetest
In air-filled space
In which we are free
To sing and breathe
Either to please the world
Or to praise the Lord.

However, how Zewdi surmounted such a complex mode of communication including the myriad of Italian culture is something that we should not take for granted. For it easy to criticize instead of engaging in sensible appraisal which is hard to do so, of course….

Haile Bokure

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Zewdi Araia: Her Success In Show Business Reviewed by Admin on 7:41 AM Rating: 5

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