Tilahun: What an End of an Era – By Fekade Shewakena

April 21st, 2009 Print Print Email Email

It is Monday morning after Ethiopian Easter Sunday. I was driving to work in a juicy Washington spring weather. (more…)

It is Monday morning after Ethiopian Easter Sunday. I was driving to work in a juicy Washington spring weather. It was raining heavily and I was in a crowded traffic when the ring tone of my cellular phone, a Tedi Afro’s song that I have set up to use until he gets out of prison, was playing off the hook. One call was from my daughter. “Hi Fekadye it is a sad day in Ethiopia today, have you heard that Tilahun Gesesse passed away? It is sad. I know you will cry but cry not too much ok” and she hung up. Then a friend and then another confirmed the sad new to me. It was a surreal feeling. Alone, in a far away land on a highway; not an ideal place to hear stunning news of the death of a man that I love, admire and consider my country’s treasure and icon. These are some of the times where you hate “sidet”, a time you hate to live away from the people you want to be in the middle of, and share pain and grief together.

Tilahun has many times made me uncontrollably emotional while listening to his songs and watch him sing. I never imagined he would lead me to uncontrollable tears at the news of his passing away too. I parked on a shoulder and cried profusely. It was a good time and place to cry. Everyone was rushing to work and no one was looking, but who the damn cares even if anybody looks at you.

They are passerby and I was crying for something larger than whatever a ferenji passerby may be thinking I was crying about. I felt like I was crying not for Tilahun alone but for an entire era that he takes away with him. From where I was, I saw my country coiling in sadness, so sad as if she doesn’t have enough of sadness already. I even imagined that the mountains of Ethiopia that echoed Tilahun’s songs through the flutes of sheep and goat herders were silent in sadness.

Five full decades of failure to replace one super star, I often joked, is a sign of the slow sociocultural dynamism in Ethiopia. I am probably wrong on this one. Tilahun was simply unsurpassable.

There was everything from Tilahun’s beautiful voices for all times and generations of Ethiopians. His gift straddles the generations of my daughter, me and my father and probably beyond. There was also everything for every humanly feeling in those voices. Just tell me what you need and I will pick a song for you from Tilahun. Whether you are sad, you are in love, happy, or raved up by patriotism, there was something for you in the voices of Tilahun. He was, after all, the soundtrack of all our lives for so many years. It is hard to stop travelling in memory lane back in our lives and remember songs like “engudaye neshi”, “Yegeter Temir nesh” and who would forget that 1974 song “waay Waay silu” about the famine victims which he sang along with a river of tears flooding his face. That was something that tells you that Tilahun not only had a wonderful voice but also a wonderful heart too.

As a member of the generation raised by his songs I have tons of memories of Tilahun. I have not yet had grasped the fact that he died. I know he is mortal, but I looked like a little foolish to think that he will never die. But then again, I may probably am half right. Tilahun may never die. He is going to be physically absent no doubt. But he will continue to live in our households. I have the treasures he left in my library.

There is some lesson for all of us in the life of this great legend. Any one of us making significant contributions to positively affect the lives of our people and country and still die physically can continue to live as Tilahun definitely will. People who do something greater than themselves live forever. Work for our people, fight for their freedom and change their lives. You will live long after you died. That is the moral of Tilahun’s life and story. I am still crying but some half of me tells me the right thing to do now is to celebrate Tilahun’s wonderful life and gift to all of us.

Goodbye Tilahun! Thank you for the wonderful gift you left us behind! It has been such a long time of hard work. Now take a break from singing and rest in peace! Goodbye my dear! Goodbye!!

FekadeShewakena@yahoo.com

  1. thedy
    | #1

    thx for ur nice words ,,,,i fell like u but i have not put the word like u ,,,share ur felling ,,,,thx

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    if i have i word that explain how wonderful you was for the people of Ethiopian . i would have used it to prize you, since i don’t have any thing or word that feet you, let me say tanks as many time as infinitive …………………………………………….

  3. tiyobi
    | #3

    i am deeply sad and can’t stop crying
    tilahun death is due to lack of emergency aid he was not given oxygen at the right time at the right place .
    what a shock
    how long are we keeping like that people dying with insufficient treatment
    god help us
    what can i say my heart goes on to your friend and family

  4. robel
    | #4

    fekade you said everything. He was and is great man. I love his works the most. I don’t say he is dead. he is alive with his work.

    My Condolence for his family and all of us.

  5. Anonymous
    | #5

    He will forever live in our hearts!

  6. | #6

    ትላሁን አፋሩን ያቅልላት

  7. | #7

    condolence for ethiopian.death of tilahun is very sadness for all ethiopian and oromian.

  8. LondonEthio
    | #8

    Fekadeshewakena, here I am another member of the generation raised by his songs. Just like you said when I heard his passing here in London at my home while reading bbc news and I cried and cried then , all I wanted was just to go to my country, I just felt like hopping on a plane and just go. (oh this Sidet is so tough when it comes to losing people we love). Tilahun is simply our Ethiopian Music Heritage. I remember during the 80s one of our high school mate imitating Tilahun’s songs and how the whole class loved singing his songs. What a memory! I wish I could put my words in writing the way you did Fekade but thank you for putting it so nicely. Rest in peace Tilahun Gesesse

  9. ነጋሲ
    | #9

    ለጥላሁን ቤተሰብና ለመላው የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ጥናቱን ይስጠን ከማለት ሌላ ምን ይባላል:: ትዝ ከሚለኝ ህጻናት እያለን “አውሮፕላን መጣ እየገሰገሰ : በዘፈን አንደኛ ጥላሁን ገሰሰ” እያንልን ስንዘፍን እና ዘፈኖቹ ሁሌ ከአ እምሮዬ አይጠፉም:: ፈቃደም ሳላመሰግን አላልፍም ለተዋጣለት ጽሑፍህ::

    ጥላሁንን መንግስተ ሰማያት ያዋርስልን::

  10. Ephrem
    | #10

    አላምንም, ክልብ ያሳዝናል ለመላውዕ እኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ መጥናናትን እመኝለሁ

  11. Ethiopian
    | #11

    Brothers and Sisters,
    As long as his songs ring out of our homes, our cars and our lips, as they will, he will always be with us. Let’s celebrate his life by playing and singing his songs.

  12. Colorado Man
    | #12

    Thank you Fekade, yes Tilahun is Great son of Ethiopia who raised us all through his songs. You are also am amazing man who I always appreciate for the fight you are putting for democracy and human right in Ethiopia.

  13. Ethiopia
    | #13

    በታም ያሳዝናል ለመላው Ethiopia, i am really sad when I hard about Tilahun. However, he was a great Ethiopia singer.

  14. አረፈ በለው
    | #14

    ምንኛ ቢታመን በሕዝቡ በሀገር
    ቋሚ ቤቱን ሰራ በኢትዮጵያ ምድር ?
    “ስትሄድ ስከተላት” ከእኔ ፍቅር ይዟት
    ቆሜ አልሰርሁላትም አፈር ልሁንላት
    ስቃይ መከራዬን አንቺ ዘንድ ያድርገው
    እንኳንስ ደስታዬን የሰውነቴን ሰው
    በእናት ሀገር ምድር በሚያውቀኝ በማውቀው
    ከአድማስ ወዲያ ማዶ ከሀገር ባሻገር
    የአለም ማረፊያዬ ከእናት ሀገር ምድር
    “ጭር ባለው ሌሊት ብቻዬን ሳጣጥር
    መሸነፌን ሳውቀው ሞቴ ነበር በሀገር”
    “እኔ በበኩሌ እወድሽ ነበረ
    ልሙትብሽ ያልኩት ይሄው ተከብረ”
    “እየተሰማኝ የልቤ ቁሳስል
    ሀሳቤ መሙላቱ አልተሰማሁ ሳሥል
    “የህይወቴ ሕይወት አንቺ በመሆንሽ
    ውዲቷ ሀገሬ እኔ የምወድሽ
    ሞቷል አትበይኝ ይሄው አረፍኩልሽ
    “የሆዴን አውጥቼ ልንገርሽ
    ብዙ ተሰቃየሁ ስለማልኖርብሽ”
    “እኔ ከአንቺ ሌላ ፍቅር የለብኝም
    እንዲህ መውደድሽን አልደበቅሽልኝም
    “ዋይ ዋይ ሲሉ የርሀብን ጉንፋን ሲስሉ
    ድሮ ብቻ አደለም ለካ ዛሬም አሉ” ?
    “እይዋት ስትናፍቀኝ አጠገቤ እያለች
    እንዲህ ያለው መውደድ ለወሬም አይመች”
    “ከመሞት አልድንም አትጠራጠሪ
    እናት ኢትዮጵያዬ ለዘላለም ኑሪ ::

    ኑሮው…

    ካናዳ አሜሪካ መጥቶ መመለሱን ሰምቼ ነበር
    እንደምን አሰኘው? እንደምን ተጓዘ የማይመልስ ሐገር ?
    ቢልኩትም ታዛሽ ቢጠሩት ደራሽ ነው
    እንደምን ተከፋ እንደምን ሰለቸው
    ሳንጠይቀው ሀደ ሳንሰናበተው
    የሀገሩን አደራ ለማን ነው የሰጠው ?

    ቤተሰቡ…

    እግዝሐብሄር ያጥናችሁ ይቅለለው አፈሩ
    የጌታ ቃሉ ነው ሐዘን አታክርሩ
    በሕይወት ያላችሁ በርቱ ተፋቀሩ
    በጀልባ በታንኳ እንዳትሳፈሩ
    ዘር አልባው ሞት እንደሁ ቅርብ ነው ሀገሩ
    ዋ ! ምድር መለኪያ የሌለሽ
    ክፉንም ደጉንም በአንድ ክንድ የለካሽ !

    በጣም ለሚወዱት አፍቃሪያቸው
    ለአቶ ብዙአየሁ አባተ አየለ(ዎታዋ ካናዳ)
    እንዲሁም ለልጃቸው ለአቶ ምንያህል ጥላሁን
    እግዝሐብሔር ያጥናችሁ(ከሞንትሪያል ካናዳ)
    መያዚያ 13,2001 April 21,2009
    ነፍስ ይማር ******************

  15. Tsehai
    | #15

    I take off my hat to the honorable Dr.Telahune Gessese.I grew up listening to his lovely songs.Many years ago I went to a wedding with my Mom and dad.My father asked me if I enjoyed the singer.I said it is better to listen to Telahune crying than listening to this vocalist.my dad couldn’t believe what I said and I was only 13 then my Dad told Telahune what I said.I was his fan all my life.I used to cry and laugh by listening to his songs.We lost the champion,the king of music of our time.Since he loved his country he died on his mother land.I got a phone call from my sister, from Rome to tell me that Telahune passed away.She was on tears the whole time we talked.He was her passenger flew together from DC to Rome.God Bless your soul Dr.Telahune.

  16. Raza
    | #16

    ፈቃደ – እናመሰግናለን :: ሁሌም እንደማደርገው
    ፅሁፍህን በአንድ ትንፋሽ ወጣሁት ::
    ለሁላችንም መፅናናት !!

    ራዛ

  17. ኣቤ
    | #17

    ጥላሁንን አስመልክቶ ይህን ጽሑፍ አገኘሁና ላክሁላችሁ:: አቶ ፈቃደ የጻፈውም በጣም ጥሩ ነው::
    http://ethiopianchurch.org/

  18. Maji
    | #18

    ዛሬ ላይ ሲያስብ የነገን ኑሮ
    የህይወት ቀናኢ አጥምዶት ኖሮ
    በምን ይጠርጥር በጥበብ ሰክሮ::
    ለሃገር ሃሳቢ ለፍጥረታት ሁሉ
    ለርህራሄ ገደብ አላበጀህ አሉ
    ብናጣህ ጨነቀን ጠፍቶብናል ውሉ::
    ለፍቅር ለደስታ ለሃዘን መከራ
    የስሜታችን እስትንፋስ የአንደበታችን ካራ
    የባህላችን መሰረት የጥበቡን ጣራ
    ምነው ባልከፋ ዕለት በሰኞ ተጠራ::
    ከኪነ ጥበባት አምባ ደምቀህ ብናይ
    ሞትም ቀንቶብን አሸለበህ ወይ?
    ደግ አይበረክት አዕላፍ ብንሳሳ
    ጥላሁን ቢለየን እኛም አንረሳ
    ህያው ጥበቦቹ በትውልድ ተወርሳ
    ዘላለማዊ ናት ትኖራለች እርሷ::
    አፈር ይቅለልህ ሁከት አይረብሽህ
    የዝንተ_ዓለም ዕረፍት ገነት ትመችህ::

  19. Bye Bye Ethiopia
    | #19

    Tilahun you will be missed by all. Your voice has faded as will my nation’s. No one will replace you ever. May you rest in peace.

  20. yikerbelen
    | #20

    It is reaaly very sad toloss such an Ionic artis like Dr Tilahun gessese. It is agreat loos for ethiopia , even for the wolrd. Dr Tilahun has played asignificant role for the developement of the art of music in the world level So he passed away is the great loss of the world’s musical art. May God resthis soulin peace .amen

  21. Anonymous
    | #21

    ባጣም ነው ያሚያዝነው!!! የሙዚካ ንጉሥ ሞተ!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. neima
    | #22

    hallo Tilahun’s family,i don’t know what i say abt death of Tilahun

  23. ኢማን
    | #23

    ታ ም ይዛዚናል

  24. ልቤሮ
    | #24

    ጥላሁን ከልባችን ማንም አይጠፋም::

  25. ልቤሮ
    | #25

    His deeds are of a kind person. Hope God to be with his soul

    http://ethiog.com

  26. Moges
    | #26

    Hi Fekade ! Thank you for sharing us what you felt when you were told, the death of Dr Tilahun Gessese. To be honest you are luckier than me, because you had someone around you who might have been on the same boat with you and who could advise you not to cry too much or something like that. Whereas, me i had no body around me, when i learnt Tilahun’s death, i cried for two days, i didn’t go to Uni….to put it shortly i was deaply sad and touched. Eventhough, i knew there was nothing too much i could do by crying, i honestly asked my lord Jisus Christ and his mum Virgin Marry to resr his soul in peace.

  27. Moges
    | #27

    By the way i live in Australia, Tassie

  28. Moges
    | #28

    Moges :Hi Fekade ! Thank you for sharing us what you felt when you were told, the death of Dr Tilahun Gessese. To be honest you are luckier than me, because you had someone around you who might have been on the same boat with you and who could advise you not to cry too much or something like that. Whereas, me i had no body around me, when i learnt Tilahun’s death, i cried for two days, i didn’t go to Uni….to put it shortly i was deaply sad and touched. Eventhough, i knew there was nothing too much i could do by crying, i honestly asked my lord Jisus Christ and his mum Virgin Marry to rest his soul in peace, because i strongly believe that Dr Tilahun Gessese is the icon of Ethiopian music and the voice of the voicelesses, remember guys a song called “Way way sil Yer habin gunfan sislu”. i miss u Tilish. May God be with you

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