Ethiopians Mourn Reggae Singer, Eyob Mekonnen

By IndepthAfrica
In East Africa
Aug 22nd, 2013
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Friends, family and fans of popular reggae singer Eyob Mekonnen gathered at his home, two days after he died at a hospital in neighbouring Kenya, where he was receiving treatment following a stroke.

A social media initiative dubbed: “Let Us Pray for Eyob Mekonnen” was set up on Facebook by his fans soon after he suffered the stroke, to raise money to transfer the artist to Nairobi.

Mekonnen’s music was a unique mix of traditional Ethiopian sound and reggae and his fans praised his way with words in songs like, “Yewnetwan new” meaning “she is genuine”.

Women dressed in black and white traditional Ethiopian robes wept at his home as they prepared for the funeral which was held on Wednesday.

Many Ethiopian musicians called his death a “great loss” to the music industry.

Fans and colleagues even likened him to the late reggae icon, Bob Marley, said music producer Dagmawi Ali.

Mekonnen’s career started with the group, Zion Band, playing night clubs and doing opening acts for more established artists. The 37-year-old musician has toured Europe, USA and Canada.

But it was his first album titled, ‘Ende Kal’ in 2008 that earned him real success and gained national acclaim.

His friends say he was a “principled man with a positive attitude” and was “deeply religious”.

Mekonnen was working on completing his second album for release in January when he died. He leaves behind a widow and two children, one of whom is adopted.

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