Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Film-Maker Returns to Ethiopia

Yosef Haimanot

Photo Courtesy: BBC NEWS
Yosef Haimanot was 13 when he fled to the UK from Ethiopia

A film producer who fled to Britain from war-torn Ethiopia when he was 13 is to return to the country to make a documentary about his experiences.

Yosef Haimanot, 30, was living as a street child after becoming separated from his family during the conflict.

He stowed away on a cargo vessel bound for Newcastle and grew up in the UK's north east. He studied film in Newport and is now a producer based in Cardiff.

His film about returning to Ethiopia for the first time in 17 years.

Mr Haimanot plans six hour-long programmes retracing his steps from the age of 10, when he left home, to the age of 13 when he climbed up the anchor chain of a Greek cargo ship in Djibouti harbour.

During those three years, he survived the famine which made headline news about the world, sparking the 1985 Live Aid concert in the UK and in Philadelphia.

With three friends he trekked across harsh rocky ground to the port city state of Djibouti, almost dying of thirst.

While in Djibouti, he was almost killed while escaping being drafted into the Ethiopian army. Others were rounded up.

In 1988 he and a friend stowed away on the Greek ship but were discovered and locked up until the vessel arrived in Newcastle.

There they were handed over to immigration officers and the pair were put in the care of the social services.

Mr Haimanot went to school for three years but did not finish his education because his English was not good enough.

When his English improved, he went back to college to study performing arts and went on to attend International Film School Wales at the University of Wales, Newport, where he took the MA film course.

BBC News

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