About Me


In a span of forty years I wrote five books: The Story of the White Man, The Prince of Africa in English. Three more in Ethiopian language ( An African Mother’s story,  Fike-Kidus –an epic tale and  history of the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1936 – and  my Great Odyssey), all completed.

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear before we move further. English is a second language to me, therefore, here and there, you will see me struggling with words, even syntax. I am keenly aware that a proof reader could have corrected them, but I didn’t want the flavor of the narrative to lose its punch. For that reason, I have left some of the errors untouched. In fact, in the early seventies my broken English and my accent were a laughing stock. I wanted you to see them in their pristine state, without embellishment. Some of the things I said then were unmentionable, even incomprehensible. I had reprimanded myself quite often, after a word I had spoken sounded alien to me, that I should stop talking in English altogether. I mean stop talking! Remain speechless! For infinity!

“How do you expect people to understand you when you call an acquaintance named Daug as Dog” I would yell at myself.

So half of my journey – say the whole decade of the 1970s, was lost by trying to understand the difference between Doug and Dog, how it was pronounced, but even after a decade of laborious effort, I still called Doug “Dog!”  I sometimes had trouble even to enunciate my own name correctly.

People kept saying “what did you say?”

“My name is Dan-El”


“My name is Dan-El.”

“Oh, Daniel!?”

“Yes, yes Daniel,” I would say with curse words drooling in my throat.

Come think of, the whole of the 70s, was gone rapidly in the blink of an eye while I was struggling to tell people who I was. Mean time, I missed out on the Bee Gees.  Regan’s salvo against Jimmy Carter meant nothing to me. I blindly admired Regan. In San Francisco, where I lived, the Mayor and the City Supervisor were shot and killed and I didn’t know the political nuances in their demise. When I go back to Africa to tell my people about the Americans, and suppose they ask me to sing like the Bee Gees, what’s I supposed to do? If they asked me about Regan, what should I say?

“Why did the mayor die?” They would ask and what will be my answer?

I’m sure they want to know about Michael Jackson, and then later about Madonna.

And there I was calling myself a lion griot missing out on the basic and vital elements of the stories that were important to my people back home.

I am a rabbit Griot; that’s what I am!

In regards to my name, the way we Ethiopians pronounced Daniel was exactly how the Good Lord had pronounced it some ten million years ago when He first created Daniel.

It was beautiful. It was unadorned. It was hollow.

We never had any problem for ten million years! Never, never, never!

Then the Americans came (and I had no idea where they came from!) and twisted it and mangled it and called me “Da-n-yel”. There was a time when I had turned around to see if they were actually calling someone else. The way I pronounced my name, however, sounded to me mellifluous, and it was useless to spend any more time responding to them. At one point, I had truly concluded that the Americans didn’t speak English.

Still, I persisted on with my journey, unaffected and undeterred, the name still clinging.

Between 1990 and 2000, for a whole decade, I changed it to Dan.

In 2001, I aborted that name and went back to Good Old Daniel. I think I was a masochist desiring more torture and agony. I smirked at people in a condescending way for their faux pas.

“Oh, these Americans! What do they know?” I would say to myself condescendingly.

And so I proceeded with my journey…

I started this journey from the highlands of Ethiopia blindly, with no preconceived destination, at the age of twenty-five, at the height of the Vietnam War, not ever expecting that my great name, the great Daniel would impede my plans. Imagine spending a whole decade changing your name just to fit in. In a way, I was daring, hopelessly romantic, foolish at times (“stupid” is the word), and trusting in God too much for my journey to succeed. I wanted God to make that name the greatest name in the universe, so I wouldn’t feel enormously self conscious.

I had set out to discover the world – a world terribly inhospitable to a black man, and violently mired with wars and conflicts, even without the presence of the “Black Man.” Sometimes, it felt as if I had started all those wars by being black.

By the way, as a Griot the war stories were moving. The Yom Kippur War (1973), where I was stranded and waiting to die was horrendous. It was equivalent to my story when I was accosted by penis hunting tribe in the middle of nowhere in Africa!

Have patience: You will come to that part of my story soon.

And so, yes, I am a Griot. I can Griot for the whole day and the whole night! I have enough stories to Griot for a lifetime. Following the footsteps of my grandmother, who was a superior African storyteller and a notorious Griot, I had picked up some of her stupendous talents. I remember when my grandmother told a story about a flower that suddenly grew in her backyard lopsided and turned into a giant horse.

Truly, there was no flower. And no horse.

She was that good to make you think there was a flower and a horse and a manure.

I also follow the footsteps of all my African Griots in bringing these stories to you.

In my books –The Story of the White Man, The Prince of Africa and My Great Odyssey

to America, I have tried to emulate these talents of my ancestors and hope that I had achieved a modicum success.

Now about my gratitude to Americans…


The Lion Griot

In the ancient Mali and Senegal, the village griot was considered a master storyteller when he reached the age of forty and is thereafter named the Lion Griot. In the old Nubian culture the master storyteller had to have an elephant trunk as a trophy for his great talent at the age of forty-five. In the Good Old Man-Jah culture where I came from, you are anointed as a Lion Griot at thirty-five. On June 1st, 2016, I will be seventy-two, too old for elephant trunk trophy or for any lavish accolade, but lucky enough to have traveled extensively to gather my griot stories from around the world.

I have lived in Israel during the raging Yom Kippur War when Moshe Dayan and Golda Meier went at each other’s throat, one aggressively asking the military to penetrate beyond the Sinai and to push into Cairo, while the other calmly exercising caution. It was a time when the Shuttle Diplomacy was in full swing (with Kissinger running to Egypt to meet Anwar Sadat, then going back to the USA to meet Nixon, then returning to Jerusalem to consult with Golda Meier) while I was buried in an underground tunnel, trembling, frightened, and cursing the day when I chose to be a Lion Griot.

Then, by amazing serendipity, I got out of the underground tunnel and went to London, then to Toronto, then to Kingston (Jamaica), finally ended up smoking weed with Bob Marley and a bunch of other Rastafarians, getting high. In the later years I had the opportunity to travel to Madrid, Lisbon, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Cairo, Athens, Warsaw and Haiti, among others.

Every place I went, I entertained my listeners with my story of wars, tribal conflicts and religious fights. Everybody thought I was an amazing griot, most courageous and fascinating black man who had seen it all. Of course, I didn’t mention the part where I was actually holed up in an underground tunnel in Israel during the Yom Kippur war, scared like a chicken.

It has been over forty years since these incidents took place and I am still here.

And as an old griot, lucky enough to have traveled this far I bring the Story of the White Man, a story never been told in its entirety. I also bring, actually, the Story of Mother Africa.

But first, check out my gratitude to Americans. I salute the people of America who gave asylum to  millions of immigrants from around the world who escaped the endless persecution, war, hostility, poverty and religious conflict in their homelands. I share my sentiment about this great land from my own personal perspective. I have selected, out of hundreds, only seven magnificent stories of my own to applaud the people of America.

Thank you.