The Aesthetic Dimension in Tecola W. Hagos. By Teodros Kiros

October 9th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Tecola Hagos is a prominent Ethiopian intellectual with an enviable synthetic mind. He has written several substantial articles on our website and has an exceptional gift for unique book reviews—set apart for their depth and width as well as his rare generosity of spirit and analytic acuity.

His books are at home with ancient Greek philosophy, show a mastery of world history, and he is on the top of his field in Law. His writing is splendidly rich with the knowledge of Ethiopian history, which is communicated through his fluent mastery of English and many other languages. Tecola is, simply speaking, an iconic figure and a national treasure to his beloved Ethiopia.

Tecola is not only a conceptual intellectual of considerable praise; he is also a gifted visual artist. The aesthetic dimension looms large in Tecola’s ongoing love of the arts, including poetry and, most visibly, his brilliant painting.

The Ethiopian (Oil on Canvas, 8’x5’, 1970), produced in 1969-70, is an extraordinary contribution to Ethiopian visual culture. The work is visually striking and conceptually challenging. Framed in lush colors generously dispersed on the surface of the canvas, a fierce, proud, handsome Ethiopian male is shown carrying a gun, with his back facing the glorious rocks of Lalibela, the stelae of the historic Axum, and the gigantic castle of Facildas of the Facilidas of the 17th century.

The Ethiopian presents a hero conscious of his importance in the founding of Ethiopian history. He stands tall, his elegant legs resting on Ethiopian soil, proudly exhibiting his Ethiopianity to the cruel world, which once attempted to colonize his motherland. He is fiercely positioned like Achilles, the Athenian hero before him, to die for his country and preserve Ethiopia’s territory.

The Ethiopian is a masterful, visual documentation of Ethiopian history cast in a Beautiful composite of carefully chosen colors—the portrait of a classical Ethiopian personality. Tecola has given us is a national treasure that we must cherish and hang in our living rooms as a symbol of our rich history.

As Tecola put it: “The Ethiopian must, above all, remind us that our Ethiopian history of art is made poorer by the adoption and imitation of so called “modern art” by most of our young artists without first having built solid foundation with the depiction and narration of our history” (Tecola W. Hagos, October 2003, p, 2).

Like The Ethiopian, Tecola himself is an embodiment of a fierce, courageous and highly intelligent mind. He is pride to us all. Tecola himself is that Ethiopian who rejects mediocrity and advocates excellence, hard work and truth.

The Ethiopian, Grandfather (1974), The Allegory of the Artist (1971), and Self Portrait with Sun Glasses (1970) all share common aesthetic motives. They are profoundly and originally Ethiopian, meaningful, and communicative of core Ethiopian values. Their themes are transformative of the human spirit, pleasurable, and deeply autonomous. These historic paintings are organized by what Tecola calls “Basic Principles”, which he demands from great art (Tecola, p. 9, 2003).

I share Tecola’s grief when he movingly writes in a forthcoming book:

“I have several good reasons for being critical of the Editors of Callaloo: Special Issue: Ethiopia, Literature, Art and Culture. I am very critical of the project and its execution by Dagmawi Woubshet and his co-editors as a lowly manipulative schematic process of group interest, and also for casting Ethiopia and Ethiopians as if lost and searching for an identity. I cannot fathom how anyone can presume to write a comprehensive exposé on the arts and culture of Ethiopia without ever interviewing Master Artist Afework Tekle [Fig. 8: Total Liberation of Africa] who is renowned for his masterful works around the world, or Prof Getatchew Haile, the great scholar on Ethiopia’s literature from ancient through the medieval period to our own era, and a MacArthur Genius Award winner at that, and the many other gifted Ethiopian artists and writers living in Addis Ababa or elsewhere in the World.”

Teodros Kiros
Professor of Philosophy and English (Liberal Arts)
Berklee College of Music

  1. sosi
    | #1

    what is the point here Kiros?

  2. aha!
    | #2

    Yayit Miskirua Dinbit. He is euphoric of the Derg regime aestehically diferent from the rest of us. He is a prvious advisor of TPLF/eprdf regime, now settling settling perhaps (Tigrai-haren)/OPDM/fdd/fdre, a mirror image of TPLF/eprdf party as a lesser of two choices, outside of those with national agenda, and lately dangling with Constitutional Monarchy concept to resurect a regime as a face saving notion to TPLF/eprdf regime, as if TPLF/eprdf did not overtaken the Emperor’s without consideration EPRP and the Derg were also involved in the overthrow of Emperor Haile selasie’s regime, with due regards to his intelctual capacity to have written books, all I say is I do not buy into his intelectual presentations to resolve the humanitarian, economic and political crises brought about autocratic, ethnocratic ruleethnic dictatorship with undelying totalirianism of the TPLF/eprdf regime and parties mirror imaging the current regime. All I know he is admantley opposed to Kaeup leadership and also to the Derg leadership, eventhough that regime must have received respect for tryining to maintain the unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia against the liberation movements, now governing the country without due regard to those Ethiopians from the center aligned with the national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopoa and Ethiopians. “Synthetic mind” alright if somehow aligning oneself with the negative forces of disintegraation, perhaps a negative integral calculus, a mathematical formula only available to TPLF/eprdf regime and its mirror images. You yourself are in the same camp calling for participatory democracy, where is no do democracy to participate in and no capitalism available in a totalarian regime and State Capitalism by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises.

  3. Alem
    | #3

    I think Kiros is plugging for a friend and inadvertently let his imagination take control. He does this for a select group of friends. And that could be his one weakness.

  4. Abebe
    | #4

    Teodros, Good points about TWH. I agree with many of the good things you mentioned. Some people keep accusing him of saying some unnecessary and disagreable things in the past, but that is the past. I believe he admitted to those mistakes himself and we should now move on. Tecola has time and again shown he stands for nothing less than a proud, respected and honorable Ethiopia among the nations of the world.

  5. Dawi
    | #5

    Prof. Tecola has “synthetic mind” alright; his extreme stands sometimes amaze me. From suggesting to close and route ECA, AU and other organizations from Addis for bringing what he considers “decadence” to our culture to his recent call of bringing back the Monarchy (that I didn’t read) who actually started the “decadence” to begin with as far as I am concerned. :)

    The amount of writing and scholarly work he produces puts him among the top of the few Ethiopia has to offer.

    I share Teodros’s view that “Tecola himself is that Ethiopian who rejects mediocrity and advocates excellence, hard work and truth.”

    Whether we agree with some of his views or not his hard work is an example to all of us.

  6. Dawi
    | #6

    Prof. Tecola has always been consistent on Eritrea being part of Ethiopia. His blog still shows Ethiopian Map that include the Red Sea lateral.

    Did you see the other Professor who just joined Tecola’s league on that same subject posted this wk-end on You Tube?

    “Dr. Bereket Habtesilassie wants to see Eritrea and Ethiopia united before his death?

  7. Abera
    | #7

    Both Tecola and Teodros are idiots who haven’t done a single thing for the betterment of Ethiopia. Werey bicha. Leboch

  8. Atakilti
    | #8

    Dear editors!!! I don’t see my previous comment. What happened?

  9. Zerayakob Yared
    | #9


    That born to be the ሞፎ, አንዴም ዓደይ-ዓደይ, ሌላ ጊዜም ልገንጠል-ልገንጠል; was he not the chairman of that ንድፈ ቅዋም (‘ህገ መንግስት’) of Eri-Inf…, which was scored to the basket by ወዲ ወርቂ ማህፀን!? Reason of the way to the basket: this ቅዋም was against the mother of ወዲ ወርቂ ማህፀን, for because she is an ETHIOPIAN. And now this ሞፎ, always መፈክሩ: የሚበላ አላችሁን!? wants to be an ETHIOPIAN, even he himself!? አዬ አንተ ሞፎ ሁሌም ቀባጣሪ, በሄድክበት ያጥፋህና ብቻ በፍጥነት ሳጥናኤል ይታረቅህ!

    We accept only the ተላ እቑቢቶች ደቂ ምድረ ፅዮን! BASTA! We don’t need those ተምሎጭላጮች ራቢጣዎች ሁሌም መፈክራቸው የሚበላ አላችሁን; no..!no..!no.. !

  10. Lucy in America
    | #10

    IT is clear Tecola hagos was on the wrong direction, he was the advisor of that evile human being, Tecola was with devile meles naziwa when the ethiopia’s children are being divided by the tegere’s gujiles simple to apply didvided and rule foreign minded policy and even he was with meles when the innocent Amharas’ farmers [ Tecola's mother relatives] were being killed in different parts of ethiopia because they rejected tegere’s divide and rule policy and stand by ethioipia’s unity
    Un forgetable prof asrate was packed in black lion’s medical school, Tecola was with meles and he involved in that idiotice action against that proud ethiopian.
    That is not enough Tecola has written so many trash articles against atse menelik. The world knows very well who was atse menelik, but because atse menelik did not have a tegere’s blood root, Tecola has used all offensive words against that Africa’s black lion who defeated the white power . WE know also what did atse yohanse against ethiopia by associating him self with britian, but at the end of the day atse yohanse gave his percious life for his country and ppl. we gave him high respect and credite for his saccrifies.
    Inspite of the fact that Tecoal has done so many crimes against our ppl and this anncient nation by associating him self with the terrorists group, I apperciate him for his taking distance from that maafias group and stand by his country and his ppl who gave a golden opportunity for free education.
    I apperciate also his last article about the necessity of bringing the monarcy as a symbole of the unity of the ppl and the country. I do agree with this idea , but the ethiopia’s ppl must vote on that issue, and the curreny the so called crown families should be out of game. They are so trashes and most of them have already worked with anti ethiopia’s elements like TPLF.


  11. Dawi
    | #11

    “was he not the chairman of that ንድፈ ቅዋም (‘ህገ መንግስት’) of Eri-Inf…, ”

    Exactly – he wrote the constitution of Eritrea that is sitting on the shelf.

    If you ask me I admire the man; as the matter of fact I admire anyone at 70 something willing to do self assessment. You and others may make a mockery of the 3rd or 4Th round of self assessment the man made of himself however, at the end of the day doing the right thing is what makes one live or die in peace with ones own conscious. For that Prof. Bereket deserves a respect.

  12. Dawi
    | #12

    If everything is EQUAL in Prof. Tecola Hagos’s Court, both Prof. Bereket and Meles would be convicted of Treasonous act against their own country Ethiopia. That act is the role these individuals played in dismembering Eritrea from the main land Ethiopia. Such acts would get you a Death Penalty or Life imprisonment.

    Nevertheless, we don’t know about Meles but we realize Prof. Bereket can not be judged under Ethiopian Law.

    The reason? According to the research the Prof. made, the Ethiopian Traditional law [Fetha Negest] would not permit a person over 70 years old to be judged by an earthly Court of Law. The Fetha Negest says, it is only god that can judge the elderly over 70. In other words, Bereket can walk free. There is a precedence of a similar case in Ethiopia that the convicted walked out of court free of charge.

    Having said that, the “hard choice” for Meles to make today would be either to order a “quick amendment” to the Fetha Negest with the “99.9 % EPRDF” parliament or stay in power until he gets to be 70 years old in order to walk free like the good Prof..

  13. Yared
    | #13

    Dr. Tedros,
    Why did you not mention Tecola’s uncontrollable hate toward Amhara?

  14. astra
    | #14

    it is unfortunate that a free expression of ideas is not permitted here. Why did you not post my comment?

    | #15


  16. Lucy in America
    | #16

    ASTRA, There is no need to ask Tecola why he has deep hatre to Amhara. because he is half tegere and tegeres have deep hatre to Amhara because of their own inferiority complex. they have been betraying ethiopia so many times and associated with foreign forces agaisnt ethiopia.
    Late Alone Tecola, except Dr Haile arya, ato gebeemedeh araya, ras alulla abanega, no single tegere deserves the title of ” proud ethiopian”
    they are the puntch of bandas. proud ethiopian never sell ethiopia’s virigin land for foreign thieves.

  17. Zerayakob Yared
    | #17

    ንዓመታያ ዝፅለልስ ካብለብዘመኑ የፍልጥ, ይብል ካብወለድታት እተወረሰ ምስላና:: ሓደሓደኻትኩም እንተወሓደ-እንተወሓደ ድሕሪ ሽዱሽተ አዋርሕ ካብ ሻውዓይ ፎቅ ባዕልኹም-ንባዕልኹም ገፍቲርኩም ድሕሪ ምፅዳፍ ተፈጥፊጥኩም ምህላቐ-ዓለምኩም እትጎናፀፉ መሲልኩም ትድመፁ(ትንበቡ)!! ዓወት ይሃብኩም!

  18. Meron Tessema
    | #18

    Astra, my genuine and constructive comment was not posted by this website editors as well. The so-called editors of this website and most others like them are indirectly and secretly too, serving the TPLF cadres and the Ethiopian enemies more than us: the real Ethiopian patriots who struggle to free our beloved country and our oppressed people back home. These editors are making businesses/dollars by prolonging the suffering of our people by crippling our struggle all the time. Therefore, we should fight these political prostitutes and selfish money mongers first, to pave ways to defeat our main enemies: the TPLF.

  19. Bulcha
    | #19

    Mr. Teodros, What is all this junk about. You have shamed an ordinary writer with good and faulty ideas by elevating him to someone is never is. Shame on Sir! You don’t know what you are talking about.
    Are you okay these days? I are just craving to write anything with no substance…

  20. astra
    | #20

    Can we say “ye ayit misikirwa dimbit” Just a while ago Tecola was advocating the return of the monarchy. Next he may say TPLF is great after all. He is always curying favor from one group or another.

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