Dhimbibba- Story lines
There are 3 settings in this serial drama. They are Genda Oda, Shengene, and Bulechala. The central character is Ababulo, who is the husband of Kume and father of Abdi and Obse. He lives at his home in Genda Oda. Magartu is the widow of one of Ababulo’s brothers. Fraa’ol is her son and Meti, her daughter. Teacher Feiyissa is an admirer and lover of Magartu. The scenes involving Magartu, Fraa’ol and Feiyissa take place at Shengene.
Shengene also provides the setting for a nightclub owned by Diribe, Ababulo’s mistress. At Bulechala, the story unfolds to reveal characters like Qanani, widow of Major Gemechis, who was one of Ababulo’s brothers. Qanani is the mother of Hawani, who has a maid called Ebisse.
The story begins when Ababulo wakes up from sleep at his home at Genda Oda. He has dreamt bad dreams during the night, which did not augur well for him, and he tells one dream to Kume, his wife. The dream is accompanied with the howling of hyenas, and the number of times the hyenas howled causes concern to Ababulo. When Kume tells Ababulo that the hyenas howled seven times, which is considered an unlucky number, he becomes angry and insults her, using proverbs that seem to indicate the inferiority of women.
During the arguing, Abdi, Ababulo’s son, comes from outside and announces that guests have arrived. The guests, who are elders, came supposedly to ask Ababulo for loans. In order to be successful, they begin to flatter him by saying that he belongs to a very respectable family and had descended from the well-known family of Degaga Tumsa.
In point of fact, the elders did not come to Ababulo’s house for loans but to ask on behalf of Gemechu, son of Wakene, permission to marry Obse. Ababulo pretends to be angry and suggests through his reaction that the proposal was an affront to his social status. He points out that a man of his class, who is a descendant of Degaga Tumsa, should not give his daughter’s hand in marriage to a person whom he considers to be of low birth.
One of the elders intervenes by stating that times have changed for the worse, with deadly diseases threatening young people. He points out that the young man and the young woman love each other and are of equal age. He tells Ababulo that it was not a good thing to keep two lovers apart and that it would be advisable for him to agree to the marriage proposal. Instead of responding positively, Ababulo asks the elders who have taken the lead in the love affair with the aim of proving to the elders that the behavior of his daughter was impeccable.
The Second Scene of Act One begins in Shengene town while Magartu, the widow of Ababulo’s late brother, Bedassa, and her son Fra’ol discuss how poverty results from lack of family planning with a customer who bought salt, pepper and sugar from Magartu’s shop. He asks for a “festal” – a plastic bag – to carry the items he bought. Meanwhile, Magartu’s admirer, Teacher Feiyssa, bursts out laughing. The reason why he laughed is that the word “festal” is considered as slang for “condom” by some people and that, according to him, it is shameful even to mention the word in public.
At this point, the customer states that there was nothing to be ashamed about if one used the word “condom” freely and he utters the word without inhibition. He explains that condoms are useful for the prevention of sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS and for family planning. Having conveyed the message and indirectly commenting about the beauty of Magartu, the customer leaves the scene. Magartu and Teacher Feiyissa are amazed by the way the customer was so open about using the word “condom” and they begin to change the subject towards their relationship. The teacher tells Magartu that she had gone to the extreme in mourning the death of her husband and that, as it was almost a year now since Bedassa died, she should feel free and relaxed. He ventures to make advances towards her, but unfortunately, her son, Fra’ol, suddenly appears on the scene.
The setting of Act One, Scene Three is at Bulechala town. Early in the morning, Hawani, daughter of Qanani, is preparing herself to go on a trip to Shengene to visit her uncle’s children including Fra’ol. Qanani is a widow of Major Gemechis, the brother of Ababulo. She tells her daughter to take her breakfast before she sets out for the journey. To this end, they try to wake up Ebisse, the maid, to prepare food for Hawani, but Ebisse is late in doing so. Qanani then gives Ebisse a slap on the face. Angry with what she saw, Hawani asks her mother why she acted like that and then advises her not to look down upon the housemaid. Hawani further states that Qanani has rights like any other human being and that she should be treated with respect. Finally, she tells her mother that greatness comes from work and not from lineage or birth.
Ebisse does everything possible to prepare the items that Hawani needs for her trip. However, Qanani does not stop pestering her. Again and again, she tells her that the time is late and that she should hurry up. In the process, Ebisse falls on the ground.
In Act Two, Scene One, the story begins in a small nightclub in Shengene, which is owned by Ababulo’s Mistress, Diribe. She sprinkles water at the threshold of her house, pronouncing words of prayers of one sort or another. She prays for an increment of her income, for Abubulo to love her more than ever and to prefer her to other mistresses, and for the destruction of ill-wishers and those who envy her, if there are any. As if her prayers were answered, customers one by one begin to enter her club with singers. The main singer begins to sing songs in praise of Diribe and the greatness of Ababulo.
Meanwhile, Ababulo enters the house and, looking askance at the other customers, shows a grimace that reflects his displeasure at their presence. Diribe, who knows where her bread is buttered, forces the rest of her customers to move out of the nightclub as quickly as possible by urging them to gulp their drinks, and refusing to serve them any more. The customers express their disappointment with the conduct of Diribe, but go out accordingly.
Left to themselves, Ababulo and Diribe exchange intimate conversation, with Ababulo telling his mistress not to flirt with any other person except himself. While the two lovers were preparing to go to bed, Ababulo’s son, Abdi, suddenly enters the house and, upon seeing his father with another woman, bursts out laughing at both of them.
The Second Scene of the Second Act focuses on the subject of marriage proposed by the elders. The subject is discussed by Ababulo and his wife, Kume. It creates conflict because Ababulo forces his daughter to be tied by a rope and to answer charges that she had failed to live up to standards by giving her heart to a poor man. Kume, however, stands alongside her daughter, saying that, since opportunity knocks but once, it was good that the daughter had taken the decision to be involved in a love affair of her choice and to get married in the way she deems necessary. This is something that Ababulo can not stand, and so he bitterly insults his wife.
Over and over again, Ababulo compares the blood lineage difference between him and Wakene and blames his daughter lowering herself to the status of a son of a handicraft man. He says that even God would not forgive her for the wrong she did to his family. Then Ababulo asks Obse how long she had had a friendship with her lover, Wakene. She confesses that she never had a very close relationship with him and that the courtship was only at a preliminary level. This further excites the curiosity of Ababulo, and he begins to think how he would be able to know whether or not Obse’s virginity has disappeared. The only choice he had is to corner his wife into letting him know as soon as possible the state of his daughter’s virginity.
Act Two, Scene Three begins to unfold at Shengene town in the company of children, among whom is found Fra’ol and Abdi. Fra’ol starts to sing the English song he learned at school and gains the appreciation of the other children. By contrast, they focus on Abdi’s lack of education of any kind whatsoever and they blame his father for not sending him to school, stressing that education is beneficial to all people. Meanwhile, Hawani comes from Bulechala and greets her relatives. She was surprised to find Abdi, who had come from Genda Oda, and kisses him on the cheeks. Fra’el pleases Hawani by saying that he would brew coffee for her, but Abdi mocks him by saying doing so is the business of women and not of men. Hawani then tells Abdi that business is business and is not categorized as belonging either to men or women.
Every child in the house is pleased with Hawani’s arrival. They show her their exercise books and the lessons they learned at school. More pleased than before, Hawani asks the children what they would like to be when they grow up. The children express their preferences by stating that they would like to become doctors, pilots, nurses, journalists, etc. She suddenly turns to Abdi and asks him the same question that she asked the other children. Abdi becomes ashamed and fails to give an answer. The children laugh at his embarrassment, and Hawani feels uneasy for creating the bizarre situation.
Thus the story in the first two acts develops gradually. It becomes more complex with each act and branches out to depict other related stories, compelling the characters to come out in their true colors. Ababulo, one of the main characters, is clearly placed in the negative category. His evil acts grow steadily and reach a point of no return. In particular, his negative attitude towards HIV/AIDS and the fact that he turned a deaf ear to all warnings and counseling lead him to suffer from the disease and finally to die from it.
On the other hand, one of the positive characters in the drama, Hawani, distinguishes herself through her hard work in school. She is rewarded for her actions and appreciated for her good deeds. Finally, she accomplishes her objective by graduating with very high distinction. She lives happily ever after by marrying Dr. Wario, in what became the wedding of the year. Dr. Wario followed the progress of her education through the telephone calls and personal letters, so that she would follow the right road to success.
There are innocent victims in the drama. The story indicates to us that Ebisse is one of these kinds of characters. They are swept by the rush of events and are confronted with an unexpected danger. In the case of Obse, we observe that she strives to marry a man of her own age. However, because of the pressure exerted on her by her father, she marries Kittila Chancho, her father’s friend. Kittila who has become HIV positive, passes it on to his young wife. She also becomes a victim of the epidemic, giving a lesson to many young people in the countryside who are of the same age as she.
Ababulo’s mistress, Diribe, becomes poor simultaneously with Ababulo’s economic decline. But she improves her prospect when she enrolls to become a member of a rural credit association, with the help of Teacher Feiyissa. Above and beyond sustaining herself economically, she begins to give assistance to children who have lost their parents from HIV/AIDS. She leads a happier life by opening a small restaurant.
Teacher Feiyissa and Magartu get more and more involved in their love affair. They get married after undergoing blood tests for HIV/AIDS, based on the advice they received from Hawani. They thus lead a happier and richer life than before.
The main objective of the drama, together with the style and method used, is educational. It also has the purpose of entertaining its listeners. Most of the characters in the drama, therefore, are rewarded with a happy or positive ending. Only the incorrigible are led to lasting damnation. Such an interaction between positive and negative characters with neutral ones in the middle is a methodology that has worked in many countries to arrest HIV/AIDS and promote the use of family planning.