Mebrahten Gebremariam Belay

I was born and raised in a tiny village of Eastern Tigrai in northern Ethiopia. I enjoyed the adventures of being a shepherd and  I faced stern challenges therein during my childhood. The folktales, riddles and various local sports we shared back then in the free grazing areas are still fresh in my memory. Of course, I also remember the horrifying day that my friend and I got surrounded by an angry herd of monkeys. Sure, the almost common temptations of thunder and flooding, during the much awaited rainy season, too are unforgettable. Equally unforgettable is the fact that I was a lazy shepherd.  

Yet, I was the luckiest child, among my 11 siblings, to be sent to school which in itself was the first of its kind to my community. The good thing is that I was not lazy in school: from elementary grade levels to HEIs. The fact that I completed my Journalism & Communication degree with Gold Medal from Mekelle University in July 2008 stands as a proof thereof.  

Back during my teenage and earlier, I enjoyed applause from my schoolmates for the poems and other literary works I wrote and read for my school community. This was consistent throughout the four schools I had to visit until my eighth grade, because of the then poor access to elementary school. Later in high school, I began contributing my poems and short stories snfcommentaries to local news papers and a radio station. These attempts and passion in literature inspired me to join the then new Journalism school.    

In effect, I joined Wollega University as a journalism educator and worked there for four years until I got transferred to Mekelle University.  I became the Head of the Department of Journalism and Communication at Mekelle University. During my tenure, my colleagues and I, among many other things, introduced unprecedented media productions on the basis of the ‘Teaching Hospital Model’ as a way out for the then theory-driven journalism education. These efforts swiftly got recognitions and received awards from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa and the then Ministry of Government Communication Affairs. It also gradually improved the quality of our graduates.  On top of my roles as a journalism educator, I was passionate about becoming a practising journalist. I joined SBS Radio of Australia as a Correspondent based in Mekelle where I worked for over three and covered news and current affairs as well as feature programs (ranging from politics to cultural documentaries). This was a truly empowering experience for me and, indirectly, for my students as well.   

After three years, nonetheless, I decided to engage in media and communication consultancy projects, which I still do as a part time job. So far, I produced documentaries, yearbooks, magazines, and the like corporal publications for private, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Besides, I do give on the job training for working journalists and communicators. I also offer translation services and so far I have translated a number of documents and manuals, for various local and international organizations, in the three languages I speak: Tigrinya (mother tongue), Amharic (native) and English.  

I am also actively involved in various community services rendered via a number of civic organizations and associations. I am a Founding and Executive Board Member of Tigrai Journalists Association, Founder & Board Member of Mekelle University’s Community Radio (Momona FM 96.4), Coordinator of Media and Communication Sector Reform Committee (a volunteer Think-tank that researches and suggests policy ideas), and of course so much more.