Tribute to Biniam Getaneh: a poet, an ambassador, a hero

It is with a heavy heart that we write this obituary in memory of Biniam Getaneh, our dear and precious ambassador to Ethiopia for the African Cup of Slam Poetry (ASCP). Biniam lost his battle with brain tumour, leaving us all in deep sadness on 29 September 2023, passing away on the eve of his 37th birthday. However, in the midst of our grief, we choose to celebrate the extraordinary life of this man who was much more than an ambassador – he was a poet, a storyteller and a passionate architect.

Biniam will forever be engraved in our hearts as the main architect of the 2nd edition of the ACSP, which was successfully held in February 2022 in Addis Ababa. His vision, creativity and dedication have left an indelible mark on the legacy of ACSP. We are proud of what he left behind.

Instead of sinking into sadness, we choose to celebrate life and the positive impact Biniam had on the African slam poetry scene. His smile, which never left his face, will continue to inspire us. Biniam was much more than an organiser. He was a friend, mentor and role model to many emerging artists.

ACSP, grateful for his exceptional contribution, will pay a vibrant tribute to Biniam Getaneh during the final phase of the 3rd edition of the ASCP scheduled to take place in Bamako at the end of November and beginning of December 2023. We invite all those who were touched by his passion for poetry to join us in honouring his legacy.

On December 31, 2022, Biniam offered us a last slam, a beautiful poetic creation that testifies to his artistic depth and his commitment to authentic expression. “Let’s fix this” has become an iconic phrase for us, a reminder of Biniam’s determination and resilience in the face of challenges.

Biniam Getaneh, as well as being an exceptional poet, was also a captivating storyteller and a talented project manager in a media and communications company. He played a key role in organising Poetic Saturdays, a monthly platform dedicated to promoting amateur and aspiring artists.

His fame has spread beyond Ethiopia, as he represented Poetic Saturdays and his country at the first edition of the African Cup of Slam Poetry in November 2018 in N’Djamena, Chad. Biniam has shared his passion with the world, leaving an indelible mark on the international artistic community.

Today we say goodbye to an exceptional man, but his legacy will live on through his work, his influence and the lives he touched. You can honour Bini by cherishing your loved ones and spreading love around the world, because that’s how Biniam would have wanted us to celebrate his life.

In the meantime, let us enjoy together Biniam’s last offering of words on 31 December 2022.

“Let’s fix this’ is the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me.
Wallowing in a pool of unassertiveness under that glare of yours pinning me down, I replied…
Only words couldn’t gather themselves and dress up with what I wanted to reply, I tried
‘Speechless’… They say
‘Mute’ : said yours truly hereby
You saw my scars, one in particular
As you went in deep cutting along the stream layer by layer
Falling short of three under par
One for you
One for me
And one just in case
Just in case I heal
So, my eyes are dry, collect my blood and summon that beast I know
Tilt your head back and start to draw
Just a drop, and two and three and four
Don’t suck on me I might live
Only then I won’t be good for nothing at all
Just hold my neck and squeeze as much
Good for nothing is what I am, if you can’t quench
We both know that thirsty is what you are”

The ACSP team

The Poetic Saturdays team in Ethiopia has created a website for people to leave their memorials and tributes to Bini.

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