Tadesse Ogbazghi (aka America) started his career as an actor, however, his original inclination was script writing. When he took time off from acting he dedicated his time to the creation of scripts for theatrical and drama production.
Since Tadesse Ogbazghi moved to the US for medical reasons, the public missed the star that shined from as early as 1988. Nevertheless, with involve¬ments in over 30 productions, senior actor and writer Tadesse Ogbazghi, says distance never kept him away from his fans.
As part and parcel of his strives to not let go of his artistic inclinations, Tadesse Ogbazghi is now back with his hit movie “Zeyregefet Imbaba”, filmed and published both in Eritrea and abroad. Going back to 1988
That is practically when I first got in to acting. My role in my very first stage drama was a child from America, it was a definite success as a beginner. It also introduced me to the public, as a matter of fact, the public nicked named me after the character I portrayed in the drama.
Back then there was no diversion time for the Eritrean community, however, the little I did through school activities helped me mature as a professional actor for the productions I got involved in after independence.
Soon after the days of independence some colleagues of mine and I showcased a stage drama entitled “the struggle of will”. It emphasised on how Eritreans joined hands and enthusiastically sacrificed themselves in the will of liberation. And from that moment onwards, I was no stranger to the public.
In the early days of independence artists had the tendency of working together without having to remotely think of individualism; that is because the entertainment industry of Eritrea was taking a new autonomous form, as such I think of those days as self-constructing times for Eritrean artists… at least for those of my age.
The following was just a smooth sail for my acting carrier.
You are also a writer
I was always a script writer, I didn’t know I was going to do acting. Since a young age, and then more gloriously after my acting debut, I never ceased to put my thoughts on paper. It took me some time to present my writing to the public, but eventually, I did get in to submitting my scripts to producers and saw them all the way through production.
After moving to the USA
People thought that I would disengage myself from the arts, but on the contrary, I felt more motivated to write more after I moved to the USA. Just the fact that I couldn’t be a direct participant of the local entertainment industry agitated me the most, especially in the begging, as I constantly kept missing home and my profession. Luckily the Eritrean community in the Diaspora and especially those in the States welcomed my work and so I was encouraged to pursue my passion side by side the job I had to get to pay my bills.
Living away from home is certainly not easy and is dull at the same time. All of the bills banging my head one after another added to home sickness so writing was indubitably a feat that I had to face. However, I invested most of my free time in it.
What are some of your works, subsequent to you settling in the USA?
There are multiple of them; the Eritrean community abroad is a strong one. I learned after I moved, that being away from home makes one even more pride and appreciative of his/her own identity. Hence, the diaspora organizes countless of community events, more than you probably know of, I my self was surprised at first.
And in these kinds of event, artists find, a comfort zone to showcase what we have. Personally speaking, I presented several films and stage dramas during several occasions. For instance, “Alem” (meaning world) is a stage drama we showcased in 18th of August 2012 in the Eritrea’s Festivals taking place in Washington DC. The drama revolved in the personification of Eritrea in to a mother figure, calling out for the world to stop harassing her children.
Similarly my colleagues and I are always ready to showcase the unity and strength of Eritrean people through artistic works.
The Eritrean community at home and abroad is really something else, and now that I know, I can be a witness of the Eritrean Diaspora’s unity for worse or better.
You seem grateful to the Eritrean community abroad
Indeed, I am. We are part of a people that altruistically lives for one another. The Eritrean community is what connect with your homeland. We come together when national issues are raised, we come together to celebrate holidays and are almost always looking for ways to spend time together.
Of course the nature of the life style and the hectic schedule makes is hard but we still manage to be part of each other’s lives. For instance weddings are a great excuse for us to come together! So be it social, national matters or even fund raising there is no unity that exceeds the Eritrean people is unity.
This is nothing new, it is a tradition that has been there, ever since the first generations that immigrated out of the country.
And even at work, we share ideas, use friend’s studios to record and just be at hand to each other.
His 2016 movie
My latest movie was directed by Zerisenay Tadesse, and it was filmed both in Eritrea and abroad. I had the script for some ten years, this time I simply retouched some parts and presented it to the public.
Do you find it hard to relate with the local public?
No I don’t. Whatever movie or song that comes out is published equally in the country and abroad, so it is not a challenge really. Additionally I am a big fan of Eritrean movies and artistic works, so I do keep myself updated with the latest production. I have a massive ‘off-limits’ shelve at home packed with Eritrean DVDs and CDs.
And if I am to speak on behalf of artist abroad, I can definitely say that, within all the difficulties we passionately work to keep our bond with local spectators and audience stronger than ever.
What do you think of the local media market?
The illegal exchange is killing both the artists and the production of local movies. Technology has damaged the market greatly, I wish for the public to consciously encourage artists, hence stop downloading and sharing from free sites and just buy the DVDs and CDs.
In a couple of days the Sawa Youth Festival is to commence…
Yes I heard, and I know Eritrean youth from the country and abroad all join in the festival in Sawa. It must be massive!
I joined the first round to Sawa in 1994, I remember our Sawa was much different than the Sawa I hear young people speak of today. Unlike nowadays, young boys and girls riding from and to Sawa in comfortable buses, my round mates and I went to Sawa, in big trucks and had nothing but tents sheltering us from the sun, wind and unpredictable rain.
Despite the difficulties, we wholeheartedly appreciated being, eating, sleeping and training together. We talk and laugh about the many memories we shared together up until this very day: we call those days “the prodigious good times”. Sawa reminds me of my own adolescence days and my many, many companions that I love, miss and remember every day.
I find it very emotional and touching to see that almost 29 rounds after mine, the feeling is still the same in every person that goes through Sawa.
My message, as a senior to my junior Sawa mates, is a message of appreciation and encouragement. Be brave guys, Sawa is really what Eritrean youth is made of!
Many congratulations to this festival, and, it is also my paramount wish to have endless Eritrean Youth Festivals in the future.