A Travel Account of Irregular Migrants Travelling from Ethiopia to South Africa


On the night of April 24th,2017, 3,000 guests gathered to witness the launching of a book written by Yordanos A. Seifu entitled “Mengedegna” (Amharic for “The Traveler”) at the National Theater Hall. The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) proudly supported the event, particularly given that the author was one of the most remarkable graduates of FES’s own 5th Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP). The book is a migrant’s testimony, examining the sensitive issue of migration; something which is close to every Ethiopian’s heart.

There were eight renowned speakers; mostly from the arts professions, with some representatives from academia, as the book was neither purely academic nor fiction. A few of the esteemed guests present included; Dr. Getachew Tedla, poet Nebiy Mekonnen, poet Ephrem Seyum, artist Alemayehu Tadesse and writer Behailu G/ Medhin. Among the notables, Dr. Getachew, who himself has authored two books on migration, spoke of his own personal account of migration to South Africa. He described the Apartheid System then in place and gave examples of how it still exists in humorous incidents he had encountered.

The book is a blend of a travel account and ethnographic research on migration. Even though the writer carried out research in Germany, Norway, South Africa and Ethiopia for this book, the main area of the study was on Ethiopian migrants traveling to South Africa. Yordanos is a graduate of the University of Oldenburg, Germany and holds an MSc. in demography from Addis Ababa University.

The book was consistently praised throughout the night by all those who read it as one the few existing books which accurately depict migration, with all its various and conflicting facets of identity, risk, hope and racism. Congratulations to Yordanos for daring to skillfully uncover the deep issues that accompany Ethiopian migrants who travel abroad in search of a better life!