Fire Walkers

It’s 1974, a coup has just installed a repressive military regime in Ethiopia. A family of five undertakes to escape from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, cross the brutal Danakil Desert on foot. Beth Gebreyohannes, a young girl at the time, describes that grim, perilous journey. Betrayed by guides and robbed by bandits, lost in the desert without food or water, they are rescued finally by a trading caravan of nomadic Afar tribesmen, complete strangers who feed and guide them on to Djibouti. In this port city, other strangers house them until–more than a year after they left–they receive their visas for Canada.

This is a story at once gripping and moving, about the endurance and courage of a family escaping to freedom against all odds; a story everyone would acknowledge as a portrait of our times, when so many everywhere run to seek safe havens.

“This extraordinary memoir captures one family’s harrowing escape from a totalitarian and brutal regime in Ethiopia. Beyond the unspeakable sadness and terror is a testament to the strength of the human spirit in face of adversity, and the amazing acts of human kindness that allowed Beth to survive and tell this story. “
–ABRAHAM VERGHESE, author of Cutting for Stone

“Fire Walkers is Beth’s memoir, but it is in a way two stories: a harrowing journey across the Danakil Desert, one of the hottest places on earth, it is also an ode to Terrefe’s generation’s lost dream for Ethiopia. After a 15-month journey, the family came to Canada, settling in Lethbridge, Alta. A forceful reminder of the paths taken to reach here.”
The Globe and Mail

“Gebreyohannes’s vivid memoir describes their year-long trek across the inhospitable Danakil Desert on foot, a dangerous journey where they met both cruelty and kindness before reaching safety in Djibouti.”
–Sarah Murdoch, The Toronto Star

“Their journey not only catalogs a time and place now forever lost but is a sobering reminder that the plight of the refugee is a perennial story with only locations and details that change with time.”
World Literature Today


Publication Date: November 2016

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-927494-79-0
Page size: 5.75″ x 8.75″
264 pages

eBook ISBN: 978-1-927494-99-8

Photo of Beth Gebreyohannes

Bethlehem Terrefe Gebreyohannes was born in Addis Ababa, a direct descendent of Emperor S Menelik II and Haile Selassie. After her family’s escape and arrival in Canada in 1981, they settled first in Lethbridge, Alberta, where she finished high school. She lives in Toronto with her family.