Ethiopian poet laid to rest in Addis Ababa

Published Mar 7, 2006


Addis Ababa - Ethiopia's Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebremedhin Khewessa, who died of kidney complications in a New York hospital on February 25, was laid to rest on Monday at the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Addis Ababa.

The remains of Tsegaye, who died aged 69, had been flown home on Sunday. Family members and friends were among hundreds of mourners who attended his memorial services at the cathedral.

Tsegaye was the author of five plays and half a dozen collections of poetry as well as 30 translations/adaptation of plays by leading European and Russian poets and playwrights.

He won the coveted Haile Selassie I Prize for Amharic (language) Literature in the early 1970s, receiving his award personally from the late emperor.

Tsegaye served as director of the National Theatre during the last five years of the emperor's reign, and was later appointed first Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture by the Military/Marxist regime that eventually overthrew the monarch.

He was later jailed by the regime after leading a pro-free speech demonstration in 1975.

In 1976, he was honoured by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union, for composing the lyrics for Proud To Be African, the body's anthem.

Tsegaye's five leading plays have been translated into English, French and Russian.

Scores of wreaths were laid at his tomb, including one sent by Ethiopian President Girma Woldegeorgis, who did not attend the memorial and burial services. - Sapa-dpa

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