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Profile: Tribute to Ethiopian journalists we lost in the month of August

By Etenesh Abera @EteneshAb &

Bileh Jelan @Bilejelan

Addis Abeba, September 23/2020 – The month of August 2020 has left behind a dark shade to the Ethiopian journalists community and to the media family as we lost four Ethiopian journalists: Mohammed Tola of Al Jazeera; Getachew Tedela of Deutsche Welle Amharic; Fikru Weldu of Dimtsi Woyane; and Adenew Tsegaye, writer and poet better known by his pen name Adonis. Tributes have been given to these professionals at separate instances and places of their rest by family members and workmates and admirers of the men.

The following is Addis Standard’s tribute in memories of the colleagues we lost.

Mohammed Tola

Mohammed Tola (Picture: Social Media)

“He saw journalism as a means to serve humanity. He strongly argued against propaganda journalism and stressed that a journalist should always be a voice of the voiceless. He didn’t believe in propaganda media and fought against all temptations to slide into it,” said Nurddin Abda, a writer and a former colleague of Mohammed Tola.

On August 20, 2020 the journalism in Ethiopia lost one of its most influential members on the international scene, Mohammed Tola. Mohammed, who rose to prominence after his coverage of the disputed 2005 general elections in Ethiopia for Al Jazeera Arabic, was considered by many the first Arabic voice to bring Ethiopia to the Arabic speaking population in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Mohammed was born in the city of Taif (85 kilometers southeast of the Holy City of Mecca), Saudi Arabia in 1978. He soon moved back to his family’s hometown of Agarfa, Bale Zone, in the Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia at the age of 5 where he spent his childhood studying the Holy Quran. His family then moved to the capital Addis Abeba where he subsequently joined Al-Ansar Primary School. At age 15 he joined the Islamic Institute in Djibouti to finish his secondary education. He was offered a full ride scholarship to the University of Qatar upon his graduation. He used this opportunity to study and explore his passion for Media. He finished his B.A. in Mass Communication and went to work for Dr. Jassim Sultan, a prominent Qatari author but left shortly to join the offices of Al-Jazeera Arabic.

In his capacity as a reporter, he reported on the 2005 Ethiopian General Elections, the 2011 Ethio-Muslims protests and the 2012 US Election that saw the re-election of Barack Obama for a 2nd term. In his capacity as an editor that specialized in the Horn of Africa affairs, he edited and worked on reports that involved sensitive issues of the region. In 2011, he founded Ethiopian-Arabic, an online platform that offered Arabic speaking Ethiopian journos, the platform to write about current issues.

Not long after his coverage of the 2012 US Election, Mohammed left Al-Jazeera and joined Middle Eastern Broadcasting Network (MBN), a US government owned network that operates both Arabic language platforms of Al-Hurra TV and Sawa Radio. “We called him the golden voice,” said Abdulshakur Abdulsamad, a close friend of Mohammed, he continues, “He was a Pan-African Humanist, he practiced journalism for its core values and we shall never see his likes for a long time.”

In a statement released by Ethiopian-Arabic, “Mohammed went to Almighty after a long battle with illness; he fought bravely until his last moments. He introduced Ethiopia to the Arabic speaking population in all its might. He stood by the values of speaking only the truth, coming to the aid of those who were wronged and being a voice of the voiceless.” Mohammed is survived by two daughters and his wife.

Getachew Tedela

Getachew Tedela (Picture: Deutsche Welle)

On August, 18 2020, at age of 73 the Ethiopian journalism scene lost Getachew Tedela a radio journalist for Deutsche Welle Amharic. Born in Addis Ababa 1943, to father Tedela HaileGiorgis and mother Akelile Neged, he was the fifth child from the eleven children. Getachew finished his primary and secondary schools in Leciye GebreMariam by graduating with excellence. And later on he then went to France to pursue his college education.

First, in 1963, Getachew served as translator for the Ethiopia Peace Corps in Democratic Republic of Congo during its civil war. Getachew while in France pursued studies in leather technology courses, a passion that proved useful later in his life, Getachew advocated and participated in modern farming until the 1974 revolution took place and lost everything he had.

Getachew who undertook different journalism courses both in France and German, worked for the European Union News room after he undertook training in Brussels. He also worked for Radio France International, Radio Netherlands, Channel Africa, BBC/French, VOA/French and Radio Canada International among others. However he was most recognized as a correspondent for Deutsche Welle becoming a familiar voice for 28 years featuring on the Amharic and French Service until he left the field due to severe health problems. Getachew is survived by his only child and wife.  

Fikru Weldu

Fikru Weldu (Picture: at the consent of family)

On August 23, 2020 at the age of 33, the Ethiopian journalism lost journalist Fikru Weldu. He was born in Woldia, North Wollo zone in 1987. Fikru studied Journalism and Communication at Mekelle University and began his journey as a journalist on “Weyin” Newspaper, he then made his career joining Tigray Television for some time and later joined Fana Broadcasting Corporate. At the end of his final years he was working for  Demtsi Weyane. Following the assassination of Hachalu Hundessa, the Addis Ababa office of Demsti Weyne was closed, subsequently he left for Mekelle. Fikru was receiving treatment for Leukemia at both Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle and Tikur Anbesa Referral Hospital in Addis Ababa; he was survived by his only son and wife.

Adenew Tsegaye

Adenew was shy. On the closing event of “Gemena” Television drama held in Sheraton Addis, the master of Ceremony calling his name repeatedly but he was media shy to come out and finally his wife takes the prize on his behalf. Author and poet Adenew Tsegaye in his pen name Adonis [also his son’s name], has never appeared on any media platforms. He was author of two television series with a power of creating a pathway for Ethiopia TV series. Professionally an Architect, Adenew was also translator and children’s songwriter albeit unpublished. He translated the Diary of the young girl by Anne Frank to the popular Amharic version “Ye Anna Mastawesha”, the book by Adolfe Heckaman. His elder brother Author Hailu Tsegaye, in his testimony for ETV said “Adenew was a very good self-taught guitar player. He also taught himself his exceptional writing skills.

Adenew passed away at Minillik II hospital while getting treatment for Pneumonia. He was married and father to two children. In honor of his living intent for privacy of photo-op, Addis Standard is reserved to publish his picture. 

Addis Standard wishes their family, loved ones, the media community and their admirers to have comfort, courage and strength in the days ahead. AS

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