1. Book Cover

2nd edition cover

People in the Shewa Alps believed the tiny Dinknesh to be their ancestral mother. To Ethiopians, Dinknesh (Lucy) was a symbolic mother. Hers was a story of miraculous survival. So was ours.

Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir by Mesfin Tadesse

2. Book Description

“This is a gripping story, well-told.”—Sheger FM Radio 102.1. Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir is the inspiring story of a country and a life.

Would you like a taste of what it’s like to live in Ethiopia? Mesfin’s inspirational memoir gives this. He had the last of traditional Ethiopian education. In 1967, primary school children were literate in more than one language. At 5, Mesfin played chess with generals. He cultivated silk spiders with his grandmother. She was Mama Teliqwa the patriot.

Did you know that Ethiopia is mother to all her people? Under her sun — and moon — women walk tall. Mesfin’s mother and grandmother were patriot warriors. From 1936 to 1941, they fought and triumphed over fascist invaders. Ethiopia survived. Another symbolic mother is Lucy. She was an early hominid from the Rift Valley. For 3.2-million-years, the fossil of her skeleton survived.

What do you know about Ethiopian water technology and construction engineering? Queen Saba was the Engineer Queen from Lake Tana. Her tunnels, mines, roofs and mosaics have survived for more than 3,000 years. Mesfin studied ancient building techniques in Addis Ababa. He also became a civil engineer specialising in water development. This saved lives later on.

In 1974, the communist revolution destroyed life under Emperor Haile Selassie I. He was pan-African, helping other African nations. Millions paid for that. Ethiopians still suffer for freedom. 

Teenage Mesfin’s survival under the Derg was miraculous. Military conscription led to Airborne service at the front in Eritrea. How did his spirit remain intact? What is it about Ethiopian culture that gives her people their strength? 

The fall of the Derg in 1991 brought further disaster. Youth fled. This Ethiopia book shows how people become refugees.

Non-fiction narrative: suitable for adults and general readers over 16.

To read extracts, click here.

3. Authors

Mesfin Tadesse was born in Ethiopia during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I. In Addis Ababa, he thrived at Jubilee In Palace School. His mother was a nurse. Mama Teliqwa the patriot was his grandmother. His father was a colonel and military teacher. All were decorated war heroes.

During the communist revolution, the Derg murdered Mesfin’s father. The teenager supported the hungry family, surviving persecution. He accelerated through school. At the age when kids in the West start rock bands, he graduated from Building College. Military conscription followed. Mesfin trained for the elite Airborne force and fought in wars.

He won a United Nations Development Programme scholarship to study in Egypt. Mesfin qualified as a water development civil engineer. He worked in construction and water technology engineering in Ethiopia.

With the fall of the communist Derg, Mesfin and his wife fled chaos. He worked for UNHCR and UNICEF, supplying water to Africa’s refugees. Mesfin then emigrated to New Zealand and Australia. In Australia, he is a registered master builder.

Ianet Bastyan is an Australian-born teacher & librarian. Ethiopia’s Rift Valley was the cradle of civilisation. There, archaeologists unearthed the 3.2-million-year-old fossil of Lucy. Yet libraries stocked few Ethiopian books. 

Mesfin told her about Queen Saba. Ianet said, ‘What is it like to live in Ethiopia?’ In 2016, they visited, then wrote his inspirational memoir.

Her grandfathers were soldiers and farmers. They shared insights about war. Resourceful people, like Ethiopians, they faced the 1930s Depression – nothing compared to survival under the Derg. 

Photos by Ianet & Mesfin.

For more, click here.

4. Reader Feedback

These messages came from readers in Ethiopia and England.

The best telling of a true story. We are completely challenged by your book. That is why we are jumping straight to another topic from outside your book. Sorry to do that, but we need to tell you this because it is urgent.

Today, Ethiopia has developed effective medicine that cures infection and illness from the coronavirus. As you know, the world is close to having half a million people dead from COVID-19. Still, powerful individuals, leaders and nations are against the disbursement of effective medicine already developed in Ethiopia. Ethiopia made the medicine much earlier on, near the start of the fight against coronavirus. However, Ethiopia is up against the World Health Organization, and rich and powerful countries.

Even when their own people are dying from coronavirus, they don’t care that it is still unavailable around the world. Above all, the rich countries don’t want this medicine to be available throughout the rest of Africa. They especially do not want it found in Ethiopia. Injustice continues against Ethiopia and Africa. Thank you to Ianet and Mesfin.

Your book is real. The photos are real. The history in it injects the brain. When I finished reading it, I felt that I was a full human being. When I was on the last page, I felt angry because only one page was left in my hand. Thank you. The world deserves it.

Ianet’s comment:

Ethiopia started testing early. To view a report, click here. During the 2nd week of September 2020, it began to export its COVID-19 test device. To read about it, click here.

5. Current Projects

2nd revised edition of Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir

  • Where? International
  • How? Print on Demand & eBook
  • When? July 2021 release
  • Same story? Yes
  • What is different? Chapter 1, short sections, & professionally designed cover. We added a bibliography.
  • Publisher? Yerada Lij Australia – Mesfine & Ianet are self-publishing the book.
  • Blog: Each month we write a post about Ethiopia, her gifts to the world – and what the world does to her. To read our posts, click here.


Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir – Saba & Lucy’s People books ; 1

Under the Pump: Supplying Water to Africa’s Refugees – Saba & Lucy’s People books ; 2

What Next?

Under the Pump: Supplying Water to Africa’s Refugees by Mesfin Tadesse with Ianet Bastyan.

We are writing this now. It is the sequel to Lucy’s People. The setting is Kenyan refugee camps between 1991 and 1994. Under the Pump is Mesfine’s memoir of supplying water to hundreds of thousands of refugees.

In the future, we will translate our books into Amharic.


Yerada Lij Australia

ABN: 16583696260


Location: Wilson, Western Australia 6107

Featured image: Pelicans Over Lake Tana © Mesfin Tadesse, 2020

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