I was born to two young farmers. There was no hospital, no midwives no ambulance nor a proper bed for delivery. It was a month of high rain, too cold, and in a dark remote village.
In addition to the 9 months of suffering, more than a decade of taking care of me growing up, helping me keep my cattle; sending me to school, was an additional privilege I enjoyed.
When I was a cowboy, I had to live far from home. Bearing your parents’ longing at that young age has impacted my life in irreversible ways. As a young cowboy living away from home, eating your mother’s fresh food is a mere wish you can only tell to the shooting stars.
Our main meals are Birkuta, milk, wild fruits, and meat.
We drink milk and water from the lakes, rivers, and ponds. We use to dig on the sad around the small lakes of flowing water in the river and just drink. We call these temporarily dug small ponds Shiak.
We take open baths, and its also one of those things we do for entertainment. There are different games we play among cowboys.
Our vision falls on only owning a large number of cows. Your image in the public depends on this fact. If you have a large number of cows, you have a higher status, your boys and girls can marry whoever you choose, and you occupy a higher status of nobility and recognition.
To own this number of cattle, you have to take care of your cattle. Feed them healthy food and pure water. To do so, we’ve to travel far from home in search of these optimum conditions. Once we are out of home, we may stay for several months, sometimes for some years.
There are daily flights with the wildlife, the natural disaster, and sometimes among the cowboys themselves. But life is lived to the fullest. You eat organic, tell the truth, feel human, do human, and nurture nature.
Growing up as a cowboy gave me a clear understanding of how rough life was lived in the rural remote parts of Tigrai. As every parent does, my father decided that I shouldn’t live the hard way they do. He understood, through education, I can equip myself for a better life, …. and he let me go to school, taking all the roles of farming and cattle herding by himself, along with my younger brother Gedam.
I might be getting a little long-in-the-tooth to square off in cattle herding and living in the less equipped rural remote village, but I have never stopped thinking about the countryside.
The impact the cowboy life has had on me, my culture, my lifestyle as well as my thinking behavior, cannot be understated. It’s a true underdog tale that transcends time and inspires my articles to get out there, take control of their lives and take time to entertain their nostalgia.
That happened a long time ago and has a long story. Now I’m in the middle of nowhere, living a life that has nothing to do with my roots and with people who have no idea how I came to be here with them.
The following is a documentary Dimtsi Weyane Tv produced about the Cowboys in West Tigrai.