Wake up world. Read this book.

Justice Magazine, 2020

This page has a book description, more about Lucy, book review, synopses, and book publication details.

1. Book Description

Our book is for general readers over 16. To read a definition of ‘memoir’, tap or click here.

Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir is the inspiring story of a country and a life. Did you know that Ethiopia is mother to all her people? Under her sun and moon, women walk tall. Many are warriors. Young Mesfin learns their stories from his mother and grandmother. Another symbolic mother is Lucy. She was an early hominid from the Rift Valley. For 3.2-million-years, the fossil of her skeleton endured.

In 1974, the communist revolution had destroyed life under Emperor Haile Selassie I. Teenage Mesfin’s survival under the communist Derg is miraculous. His underage conscription leads to Airborne service at the front. How does his spirit remain intact? What is it about Ethiopian culture that gives her people their strength? 

What do you know about Ethiopian water technology building and agricultural use of water? Mesfin studies ancient Abyssinian construction techniques dating from the time of Saba (Sheba) – more than 3,000 years ago. He qualifies as both a construction and civil engineer. Specialising in water development, he works all over Ethiopia. Then fresh disaster comes. Youth must choose: stay or flee?

2. About Lucy

Who Was Lucy?

Lucy is the nickname for the fossil of an early hominoid, who lived in Ethiopia. In Ethiopian Amharic, she is Dinknesh. This is a name for girls. It means, ‘you are marvellous and unique’.

Ethiopia’s people are survivors like the 3.2-million-year-old skeleton of the early hominid. Read more about Lucy.

3. Synopses


In May 1991, the communist party governs Ethiopia. It orders young engineer Mesfin to stop work at a nuclear-missile factory. Foreign-backed rebels rampage towards Addis Ababa. Born during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I, Mesfin’s early education & home life are inspiring. 1974 brings revolution and terror to Ethiopians. Conscripted in his teens, he trains for the Airborne special force. Earning 2 engineering degrees, he then serves his family and country. From a family of decorated war veterans and patriots, Mesfin strives to be his best. His people are survivors like Lucy, the hominid fossil from Ethiopia’s Rift Valley. After 3.2-million-years, her skeleton is intact. What will the new rulers do to this heritage and Ethiopian workers? Does youth stay or leave?


Here is a spoiler synopsis. It tells what happens.

Spoiler Synopsis

Derg Fails

Ethiopian engineer Mesfin has endured 17 years under the communist Derg. In May 1991, the party orders him to stop work at a nuclear missile factory. Foreign-backed rebels rampage towards Addis Ababa.

Early Life

Mesfin is born during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I. Click here, to read our post about him. He comes from a family of decorated war veterans. His father commands Border Security. Between 1935 and 1941, his mother fought against Mussolini’s fascists. While playing chess with generals, Mesfin learns about Ethiopia’s role in pan-Africanism.

In Addis Ababa, Mesfin attends Emperor Haile Selassie I’s Jubilee in Palace School, plays in the palace grounds, falls asleep with a lion, and stows away on trains. He learns of Ethiopia’s resistance to invaders – she has not been colonised. View statistics here. Her people are survivors like the 3.2-million-year-old skeleton of the early hominid Lucy. To read about her, click here.

Mesfin learns traditional Ethiopian skills. His role models include women: Mama Teliqwa, his patriot grandmother, and Engineer Queen Saba (Sheba) of antiquity.


He trains for the Airborne special force.

In 1973, Mesfin and a friend discover famine survivors outside Addis Ababa. Their fathers get them to the city, but revolution follows. The communists shoot Mesfin’s father, imprison his mother and murder the emperor. The children face hunger, Derg raids and Red Terror death squads. Imprisoned dozens of times, Mesfin is tortured repeatedly. View a documentary about the Derg & its Red Terror – WARNING: this is disturbing. Click or tap here.

Mesfin completes his first degree, in construction engineering. Then at 16, he is conscripted and trains for Airborne special force. To view a documentary about it, click or tap here. At the Eritrean war front he survives missions impossible. Saved by a general, Mesfin returns to study. He gains a second engineering degree in water development. This is in Egypt as a United Nations Development Programme scholarship recipient. Mesfin then works as a construction and water-development engineer in Ethiopia.


Mesfin and his wife move south, hosted by Konso farmers, who are brilliant with animals and technology.

Until the last, the Derg continues to conscript youth though millions have died in the Eritrean War of Independence. To read about it, click here. The young soldiers then flee the rebel government. Mesfin and his wife move south. Konso farmers host them. They are brilliant with animals and technology. Elders invite Mesfin to stay on, but his wife wants to leave. The couple departs for Kenya.

4. Book Publication Details

  • Title: Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir
  • Authors: Mesfin Tadesse & Ianet Bastyan
  • Edition: 2nd
  • Publisher: Yerada Lij Australia
  • Place: Wilson, Western Australia
  • Date: 2021
  • Distributor: IngramSpark, self-publishing service
  • Physical Description: 23 cm. ; xi, 286 pages ; 13 black and white portraits
  • Price: 22.99 AUD (paperback) ; 11.99 AUD (eBook)
  • ISBN: 9780648828723 (2nd edition paperback, 2021)
  • ISBN: 9780648828716 (2nd edition eBook, 2021)
  • ISBN: 9780648828709 (1st edition paperback, 2020 – out of print)
  • Series: Saba and Lucy’s People ; 1
  • Photos:
  • Muger Cement Factory Workers © Selfie by Mesfin Tadesse, 1989?
  • Lion of Judah at Addis Ababa University Museum © Mesfin Tadesse, 2020
  • Tigalachin Halwelt Monument, Addis Ababa © Mesfin Tadesse, 198

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