Notes From the Hyena’s Belly: An Ethiopian Boyhood
By Nega Mezlekia
Picador USA, 2001, 355 pp.
This poignant memoir is set in and around the city of Jijiga in the eastern borderlands of the Ethiopian empire during the two decades framing the overthrow of Haile Selassie in 1974. Mezlekia, the son of a minor civil servant and now a resident of Canada, recounts with wry humor his political coming of age in a world of local saints and sinners, folk beliefs, and feudal culture. His close-up look at Ethiopia's revolution vividly depicts the carnage and ideological confusion of the period that climaxed in the "Red Terror" of 1977-78. This absorbing story ranks among the best modern autobiographical writing from Africa.¶