Nega Tariku grew up in a suburb of Menelek, and aspired to be a director from a young age. He got involved in any and every theatre production he could in his community, as there was no video or film industry there and wrote several theatre scripts. In 1995 he got involved in the theatre in central Addis Adaba, working on several popular local plays, but again there was no film industry to speak of even in the capital city.
In 1998 he made the move to South Africa, in hope of a better life in the arts and film industry there. He formed a theatre production group called “Candlelight Productions” with other Ethiopian actors and wrote and directed many Ethiopian theatre productions for the local community. This will be his debut as a film directo