sports commentator Demissie Damte, amicably nicknamed “DD” has of late been a
front-page personality since his failing eyesight was revealed to his fans and
the sports world.
Apparently DD was too concerned about his professional responsibilities to have
time to attend to his personal health and respond to the wakeup call of his
diabetic complications. The selfless venture has already cost him one of his
eyes. Effort is being exerted to retrieve 50pc of the power of the second eye.
and his friends have now regained some hope after the results of the medical
treatment he received in Thailand. He will have a check-up in Bangkok after
three months, but Demissie has already felt a change from near total blindness
to partial recovery, which has enabled him to see who is who and even to read
scripts with big fonts. He is now in a different and pleasing world. They say a
Christian never loses hope (nor do followers of other religions).
At a time
when sports in general and football in particular has become the order of the
day, missing seasoned reporters like DD et al. from the media is a significant
setback among sports fans, many of whom seem to have been first initiated by
Demissie and others like Fikru Kidane, Solomon Tessema, Nega Wolde Selassie,
Gorfineh Yimer, Yimberberu Mitikie, Girma Negash, Solomon G. Egziabher, Tsega
Kumelachew, and Alemu Mekonnen, but to mention a few of the electronic media
years young Demissie Damte has been in the business of reporting ever since he
was only 13 years of age. Demissie’s life is rich with anecdotes.
Tessema, the renowned journalist, had once been to Dire Dawa on duty travel.
Demissie was one of those who was on hand to receive him.
was too shy to introduce himself as he was too young to be involved in such
protocol. He helped Solomon Tessema carry luggage to Ras Hotel, whereupon
Solomon Tessema tipped him two Birr.
the day, Solomon Tessema met Demissie at the sports headquarters and asked him
why he was following him. “Was it because the tip was too small?”
was shy, while Solomon Tessema felt embarrassed when the same boy was introduced
to him as “Demissie Damte” whom he only knew by phone!
young as he was, already had a rich exposure to football, after all. The Dire
Dawa Cement Factory, Dire Dawa Textile Factory, Ethio-Djibouti Railway Company
and other organizations had highly structured and organised football teams
capable of producing players who were playing for the national team.
of reporting was reminiscent of the style Solomon Tessema had adopted. He soon
made a name for himself and become a public figure to be reckoned with in the
sporting world. Replacing Nega Wolde Selassie, the sports newsman who had
allegedly defected to Eritrea, did not come as a surprise.
became one of the young sports journalists working in Radio Ethiopia on an equal
footing with Solomon Tessema. Demissie learned a lot from Yidnekachew Tessema
and other personalities and soon proved to be a full-fledged reporter and online
commentator. Live transmission is a duty that demands optimum ocular power,
which Demissie was endowed with, until recently.
is known for a series of acclamations, not to mention financial and other
awards. He has been to Athens, Atlanta and Beijing on missions to report on
Olympic events, in general, and the Ethiopian fate, in particular.
was so mesmerised by the achievements of our athletes that he got up from his
seat and ran wild, overwhelmed by his emotions, and joined the celebrating
athletes. Demissie more often than not loses his self-restraint while reporting
live particularly when the national football team approaches the penalty box or
when a striker makes a useful cross from a flank, not to mention when they score
a goal. He yells and screams at the top of his lungs, expressing his excitement
and catching his listeners by surprise with his epitome of joy and thrill.
times, an anticlimax culminates in a shaky voice of great disappointment and
regret. One of Demissie’s sentimental commentaries that proved to be legendary
took place during the final match of the 15th East and Central African Cup final
match between Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. The Ethiopian side was one goal down until
almost the final whistle. Many fans had already started leaving the stadium out
As if by
a miracle, Mulualem Regasaa crossed the ball from the right flank, which was
headed home by Gebre Medhin and deflected by a Zimbabwe defender to make the
equaliser! Penalty kicks were given to determine the winner. The suspense was
breathtakingly intense. Ethiopia’s fate of losing or winning fell on the foot of
coincidence or historical irony, Dagnachew was also a striker from Dire Dawa
from where Demissie had come. The whole nation waited in suspense standing on
its toes. Demissie was broadcasting every movement sensationally.
(nickname for Dagnachew) is about to kick and end it,” he yelled as if it was a
matter of life and death.
not control his personal emotions, as a journalist should do professionally.
Demissie was deeply involved.
Dagnachew scored the winning goal, Demissie yelled “Dagnu, Dagnu, Dagnu
gelagelen…!” Meaning “Dagnu relieve us…!”
gasping for air. That legendary sound bite has been heard time and again, ever
has been a dedicated reporter who has done everything in his power to dispatch
the news to his listeners as early as possible. A case in point is the breaking
news of Derartu Tulu wining the 10,000-metre gold medal at the Barcelona
Olympics. He walked all the way from his home, located near the Germany Embassy,
up to his office in the middle of the night, oblivious of what he might
encounter, to do so.
was awarded prizes by the Arsi Zone Administration of the Oromia Regional State.
Their sports fans were excited by his exhilarating reports and commentaries.
did not pocket the 5,000 Br he received in recognition of his service.
Demissie’s favourite food is raw meat, and he invited everybody in the compound
for a lunch of raw meat at Jimma Bar.
must have lost sight of the coming danger of losing his eyesight. All said and
done, Demissie is now full of hope over recovering his eyesight, albeit in part.
I hope we use this lesson to remind us make checkups of our health conditions
before things go beyond repair.