Ten-year-old Asalif and his mother have been displaced from their farmland on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the construction of a condominium. To fight back against those casting him out, Asalif taps into a fantasy of becoming his hero: the lion (“anbessa” in Amharic). Asalif uses his imagination to battle forces beyond his control. He must find the strength that resides in him in order to deal with the tides of change that are usurping a community, a country, and his own identity.
Through an intimate coming-of-age story, Anbessa captures one boy taking on modernization on his own terms, revealing a unique and magical perspective on the myth of “progress”.