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Book Review ‘The Secretary General of the UN’; a novel by Fitsum Amaha




Book Review ‘The Secretary General of the UN’; a novel by Fitsum Amaha
Simon Weldemichael
Adi Keih College of Business and Social Sciences
Feb 2019

‘The Secretary General of the UN’; a novel by Fitsum Amaha has all the necessary artistic and factual ingredients to satisfy readers. The author has made a significant contribution to the volume of publication of Eritrean library for Eritrean and global readers. It is the pioneer book written in English that reflects the Eritrea’s world outlook and its interaction with international community. The author has successfully encoded the discourse of Eritrea on the fictional characters born and lives in his book. He surveys skillfully and in a considerable detail, the dreams and aspirations of Eritrean youth in creating a peaceful national, regional and international landscape.

Fitsum Amaha is a renowned author and one of victorious Eritrean youth in the field of publication. He had previously contributed five books in local language to Eritrean readers. ‘The Secretary General of the UN’ is his first novel written in English. The book was published in 2018, subdivided into twenty nine chapters in 331 pages.

He magnificently fictionalizes the true story of Eritrea and Eritrean youth and their modest contribution they have made to correct the vices of power strategy in the world. Fitsum Amaha takes us on a thrilling journey through today’s most urgent regional task of peace building and cooperation. The peace thread running through his exhilarating book is the value which demand Eritreans to pay our precious time, life and resource for the past eighty years in the face of constant and disorienting challenge. Despite the tremendous effort and sacrifice of Eritreans for national independence and regional and global peace, international community didn’t understand and acknowledge Eritrea’s aspiration until recently. The literary content of the book is expected to fill the gap and introduce the aspirations of Eritrea to the wider reader. The book has the potential to furnish the national image of Eritrea.

In the first pages of the book, we found how women and youth in Eritrea have made their life ready to participate in a struggle for independence and peace. He mentioned a heroine Martha Mebrahtu, an Eritrean lady residing in Addis Abeba during Haileslasie regime. Marta was among the Eritrean women who had sacrificed their life to oust Ethiopian colonization and institute freedom and peace in Eritrea. She hijacked Ethiopian airplane and popularize the Eritrean revolution. She was killed in action in1972. The gallantry, commitment, discipline and selfless mentality of Martha inspired many women to join the revolution and made Eritrean revolution unique status in the participation of women.

The author has also made some commentary on intellectuals, educational system and their role in materializing peace. Intellectual arrogance is a vice because it dismisses others and the incapacity to learn from others. Intellectually arrogant persons are characterized by sitting alone in a room with books and have an inflated self-image. The characters representing young college students objected intellectual arrogance in favor of intellectual humility. The main character Delina and her colleagues were seen frustrating the pride of the college professors. Quoting Montaigne “if our soul doesn’t move with a better motion and if we don’t have a healthier judgment, then I would just be as that pupil that spends his time playing games” encourages and advices professors to be humble and to open their minds. They criticized the “Perpetual utterance of self-applause” of intellectuals in a convincing manner.

Delina, Mehenen and all the 5th year engineering students are looking ways to connect their engineering studies with peace to become engineers of peace. They all want to become the first peace engineer in Eritrea and the world. In many of the conversations and presentations with authorities from dean of college to president of Eritrea they reiterated peace and cooperation. They condemned war and competition as vices that squanders resources and imprisoned the lives of the people around the world.

Delina – one of the influential students from EIT arguing with professors of the college to include peace engineering in the college curriculum. They argue that change in education should proceed to changes in other areas. They strongly objected and declare, they didn’t have any patience to be imprisoned by the routine and suffocated theoretical lectures. They demand and dream free and open discussion in all institutions of education. The convincing criticisms forwarded by the characters have the power to impact and inspire research to be done on our educational system. An equal emphasis was given to families too. The characters have expressed in various ways that the most important strategy to bring peace and stability is not only through educating the youth but by educating our parents too.

The warsay-yikealo campaign attracted the attention of young college students in the book that rose to give unforgettable lesson to the world. They equated the warsay-yikealo with marshal plan and advised Africa to adopt the former in its struggle for liberty, prosperity and tranquility. They considered the warsay-yikealo campaign as a liberty and freedom plan introduced after the war to repair the damage and laid foundation for rehabilitation.

The author through the characters in the book explained the unfair, undemocratic and unrepresentative selection mechanisms at UN for the post of Secretary General. To be secretary general of the UN, Delina said that we could not only expect recommendation from the countries with veto rights. She objected the Secretary General to be a representative of a veto possessing big power. The exclusion of women and youth in UN also draws attention of the peace engineers. They believe that gender equality and youth empowerment as a means to transform the international system from world war to world consciousness.

The book described the story and mechanism how Delina an Eritrean college students from Eritrean Institute of technology, expressed her dream to be General Secretary of UN. Her personal courage and the assistance she received from her group including the president of Eritrea to become the first women to lead the global organization to bring peace to the world constitute the cream of the story. Delina ended the patriarchal tradition of UN and bring women to the center of decision making. The author’s diverse knowledge on the history and politics of United Nations is remarkably manifested in the novel.

The characters in their prolonged deliberation they arrived at the conclusion that Eritreans make their country so peaceful because they have powerful policy for ensuring social justice. In the novel Eritrea become the head quarter of peace and it expressed with confidence that true peace exists not in the domain of G8 and G20, but in the domain and choice of the ordinary people. While reading the book, Eritrean effort and success at bringing peace in the Red Sea basin and the Horn of Africa crosses my mind. The fictional presentation of the book and the factual demonstration of history tell us that, to bring peace military might and economic strength have little effect. We see in reality that peace conquering the troubled region through Eritrean initiative, a country with little population lacking robust economic and military strength.

‘The Secretary General of the UN’; a novel by Fitsum Amaha is a must read book by all peace loving readers. To conclude my reflection on ‘The Secretary General of the UN’ I don’t want to pick up my pen without reminding the author to correct the minor grammatical faults in the second edition. Otherwise the story perfectly fits with contemporary reality of Eritrea and I found all the historical and political reality wrapped by fiction.



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Book Review ‘The Secretary General of the UN’; a novel by Fitsum Amaha Reviewed by Admin on 4:03 AM Rating: 5

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