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Professor Donald Levine,

Professor Donald Levine

Professor Donald Levine was a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and was an expert on Ethiopia. His relationship with Ethiopia began in the late 1950s when he embarked on a postdoctoral work of study in the country.


One of the few things he did when he first arrived in Ethiopia was study Amharic and live in the countryside for a year to practice the language speaking with the locals.


Because there were no English books on Amharic grammar at that time except for the one written in Italian, Professor Levine had to teach himself Italian first in order to lean Amharic grammar from the book. And in order for him to be able to practice speaking functional Amharic, he lived in Menz, Gojam and Gondar – in northern Ethiopia - for a year and became proficient.


In this interview conducted with us in 2007 on the eve of Ethiopian New Millennium, Professor Levine said “for me the most important and enduring aspect of the country is the people of Ethiopia - I love the Ethiopian people. Everywhere I go in Ethiopia I just find a wonderful quality of humanity that I don’t find elsewhere. And that’s what appeals to me.” He also told us what he believed to be the best possible way to celebrate the New Millennium in Amharic. The interview was conducted both in English and Amharic with Befekir Kebede.


Professor Donald Levine died on 5 April 2015 at the age of 83. Here is our 2007 interview:


Name Play Length
Prof Donald Levine - 2007 interview

16:43 min