Prolific Author Mamo Woudneh dies at 81

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Mamo Wudneh, Ethiopia’s most prolific author and veteran journalist, has died at his home in the Ethiopian capital. He was 81.

A household name who produced 60 books, Mamo was known largely for his translated works of espionage, specially the feats of the Israeli spying agency, Mossad. Altogether he had translated 13 books from the world of espionage. The rest were either related to history or fiction.

But he was also among the foremost Ethiopian journalists in the country. Beginning from the 1950s to the mid-’70s when the Derg came to power, Mamo had worked in various capacities such as a USIS film worker, editor of Polisna Ermijaw, and later in the Eritrean capital of Asmara as chief editor of all publications under the Information Ministry. Back in Addis, he worked on the then popular Yekatit magazine, whose chief editor was veteran journalist Maregu Bezabih.

A towering figure among his contemporaries, Mamo was born in the small town of Amdework, Dahna woreda, Wag District of Wollo in 1931. During the Italian invasion, Mamo once told the national TV how as a child survived the carpet-bombing of his village by Italian war planes that killed his mom and other members of his family.

Mamo began his elementary school in Dessie, capital of Wollo. He later moved to Addis, where he worked as a teacher at Tenagne Work School before he joined the United States Information Service (USIS) as a worker in film production. But his skills in writing and literature took him to the Information Ministry, where he spent over 20 years before he began to produce books one after the other. Eli Ben-Hanan’s Our Man in Damascus from the world of espionage as well as Alula from Ethiopian history were two of the books that made Mamo Wudneh among the most respected literary figures of the country.

Mamo, who was a recipient of several literary prizes, lived much of his life in Addis Ababa with his wife of 50 years. He is survived by two daughters and three sons. His funeral will be held at 3:00 PM local time on Saturday at Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa.