Today’s Q&A guest is Misgun Abraha, a young engineer and author. Misgun Abraha was born in 1990 and he recently graduated from E.I.T with a degree in Civil Engineering. Adding the translation of “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps” to Eritrean bookshelves has gotten Misgun Abraha appreciation from numerous readers.
Is engineering what you always wanted to do?
Often times, parents are the ones that remember their children’s childhood dreams. In my case, my grandfather used to tell me that I wanted to be like his friend, so I ended up pursuing civil engineering. Too bad my grandfather couldn’t see me graduate; unfortunately, he passed when I was in Sawa, before I even got to college.
When I was much younger, I was convinced I was going to grow up to be a singer. However, people told me my voice was dead and so I bid farewell to singing before I even tried! On the contrary, I held onto writing tight. When I was a college student at E.I.T (Eritrean Institute of Technology), there was a weekly program hosting “prose people” so I joined. I started off with poems.
At the time, my family feared I might ease up on my studies. But I didn’t. Towards the end of college, along with Aster Anday, we took on the translation of the book Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps.
At the publishing of the book, my family showed me utmost respect and even encouraged me to go further.
Translating “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps”
I first read the book during my second year in college, mainly because of my best friend. Actually, we all read it; I mean my friends and my dorm mates, and we loved it. So I thought that it would be a nice thing to translate it and share the fine impression I had of the book with friends and family that don’t know English.
Any book that is translated must have a reason that goes beyond first impressions. There must be a benefitting factor to the society. And since, just like in many other societies, the principle of gender equality is not uniformly consistent, I wanted to bring out the ideas on gender matters pointed out in the book. I did the male parts while Aster took on the female topics.
We were both seniors in college. With senior year papers and all the other things that arise, thing were a bit hard but we remained so resolute on finishing it before school finished. We encouraged each other and saw our plan through to the end. Two years in sum.
It is a good book that has been translated into so many languages, and the thought of having it put into Tigrigna, too, was even extra amazing.
How was the response of the public?
Good; very good for a beginning. To me, presenting a work to the public is like standing nude waiting for judgment.
Now you are out with a book authored by you and only you…
Yes, Azadela. For the reason that the title is unusual, people think that it is another translation of a foreign book, but I assure you it is not. I started writing it soon after the publication of the first translation work. It is a social fiction. Misspelling
Translating or authoring?
They are two totally different things. Translating makes creativeness a hostage. There is titanic fear of not telling something correctly or missing the original connotation or social values attached to it. I match up translating to walking in the middle of two unhinged mountains. However, writing is whole different world. You are the owner and commander of creativity added to free willed imagination!
Why do you write?
It is a question I have come across a lot. People ask me why I write, and I honestly do not know. There is this urge inside of me. Therefore, I can’t find a reason why. Is it to pass a message or awareness to society? I don’t know and I don’t think so. Because the society itself is my instructor, and how can I ever possibly be an instructor to my instructor?! I simply, tell.
Engineer and author…
I feel like being mocked when people label me an author. My profession is civil engineering, while I write to satisfy an inner passion. But yet again engineering, too, is a form of art, at least as far as I am concerned.
Best writing place would be
Anywhere green! A place full of trees.
You are a village boy.
I am. Born and raised in Ala. My parents are farmers and whenever I find some time I go to help out my parents. That is actually my hobby, other than reading books.
Two well received books and only 25, more acceleration?
Through the making of these two books I gained so much understanding that I will use every time challenges come my way. More acceleration? Yes, I plan to give back to, with all my might, my wonderful society. I will be working hard to repay the society that gave me the possibility to be educated.