Posts Tagged ‘ethiopia’
Katie Ingram at MacLean’s reports on how The Weeknd is funding a course at the University of Toronto aimed at reviving the ancient Ethiopian language of Ge’ez.
Along with Greek, Hebrew and Arabic, Ethiopia’s Ge’ez is considered one of the world’s oldest Semitic languages—but you’ve probably never heard of it.
Michael Gervers, a professor in the department of historical and cultural studies at the University of Toronto, believes it’s important to resurrect it. “The entire history of Ethiopia is in this language,” he says. “Everything written up until 1850 was written in Ge’ez, so we have 2,000 years of textual material that people don’t have access to.” It was replaced by Amharic as Ethiopia’s official language.
In 2015, Gervers started a fund to create an Ethiopian studies program at U of T, setting a goal of $200,000 and donating $50,000 of his own money. The dean’s office matched that donation; and this year, so did Abel Tesfaye—the Toronto-born, Grammy-winning R&B singer professionally known as The Weeknd, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia in the 1980s.
Tesfaye promoted the cause to his more than four million Twitter followers. “Sharing our brilliant and ancient history of Ethiopia. Proud to support the studies in our homie town through @UofT and @bikilaaward,” he wrote.
The Globe and Mail‘s Ellen Brait reports.
Grammy-winning artist The Weeknd has donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to help start an Ethiopian Studies program.
The artist, who was born under the name Abel Tesfaye, is a Scarborough native whose parents emigrated from Ethiopia. The Bikila Awards organization, which works to “foster academic, professional and business excellence and promote volunteerism among persons of Ethiopian origin,” reached out to Tesfaye for funding and he immediately responded. Previously, in 2014, the Bikila Awards organization had awarded Tesfaye with its Professional Excellence Award.
On Saturday, the Weeknd tweeted “sharing our brilliant and ancient history of Ethiopia. proud to support the studies in our homie town through @UofT and @bikilaaward”
The money will go toward a larger fundraising campaign which started last year when University of Toronto history and cultural studies professor Michael Gervers pledged a donation of $50,000 of his own money if the amount was matched by the school and the Ethiopian community. The campaign has raised $170,000 thus far.
Proceeds will go towards a course, to be offered later this year, in the ancient Ethiopic language Ge’ez. The school and Bikila hope to follow this with a full program in the future.