Ethiopian Artist Hamelemal Abate reunites with her long lost family friend in Eritrea
Hamelmal Abate has been my favorite Ethiopian female artist for a long time. But my respect for the Harar-born Oromo diva went a notch or two higher when at the height of the Weyane-TPLF war on Eritrea, she was one of the few courageous artists to stand up and say no to the senseless war in 2000. This is what she told a Los Angeles Times reporter in Addis Ababa at that time:
«To aid the hungry, a number of Ethiopia’s best-known musicians held a benefit concert Sunday … Hamelmal Abate, 34, a popular singer who returned from her home in Alexandria, Va., to take part in the benefit, complained that Ethiopian television gave the event scant publicity, and that the preferred venue, the Addis Ababa stadium, was being used for a soccer match.
The warble-voiced emigre was the only Ethiopian interviewed by an American journalist to speak out against the fighting, even in general terms.
“Personally, I don’t support war,” Abate said. “I feel sorry even when animals die. We [Ethiopians and Eritreans] are like brothers, and my heart goes out to people who have died.”»
That took great courage on the part of Hamelmal to go against the war hysteria that the evil TPLF minority junta managed to whip up and manipulate public opinion at that time. I remember at that time how even Ethiopian academicians and members of the intelligentsia were unashamedly and openly cheering for the TPLF’s war of aggression against Eritrea, saying how “Eritrea needed to be put in its place,” how “Shaebbiya’s [EPLF’s] Nakfa syndrome of military invincibility needed to be broken,” how “the Eritrean military needed to be destroyed once and for all,” etc.,
There were few voices of sanity in Ethiopia at that time who could see through the Weyane’s war agenda. Artist Hamelmal Abate was one such lone voice of sanity who has earned my undying respect and admiration.
Not only that, but Hamelmal also did another heroic deed during those dark years of war. At the height of the war, the TPLF minority regime started an ethnic-cleansing program of close to 100 thousand Eritreans and Ethiopians of ethnic Eritrean origin (some of them who had never seen Eritrea), confiscating their assets and deporting them to Eritrea through dangerous war zones. One such victim of the TPLF’s ethnic cleansing was a family friend and neighbor of Hamelmal Abate. While the entire family was deported, their daughter, Aster, who was friends with Hamelmal’s younger sister, was by chance left behind as she was at work at that time. For over three years, Hamelmal protected and shielded that Eritrean fugitive youngster, Aster, until Aster safely made it out of Ethiopia. Hamelmal kept in touch with the family in Eritrea for the past two decades. During her recents musical peace tour to Eritrea, Hamelmal made time to reconnect with those old family friends in Asmara. Watch their very touching reunion which was covered by Eri-TV:
I was very happy to hear that the famous Ethiopian singer, Hamelma Abate, was included in the Ethiopian artists’ group to tour Eritrean cities of Keren, Massawa and Asmara to promote the peace between the two neighboring countries. Hamelmal ought to be honored as a true artist ambassador for peace.
By Elias Amare