Africa: Ethiopia’s famous singer, Hachalu Hundessa buried amid ethnic unrest


The death of Hachalu Hundessa, one of Ethiopia’s famous singers has sparked civil unrest in the east African nation leading to death and arrest of many in the country.

According to, the news of his death has spread from the Oromia region where he was seen as a hero.

Troops have been deployed in the capital, Addis Ababa, where armed gangs were roaming to target ethnic Oromos.

At least 81 people have been killed in protests in Oromia since Hachalu was shot dead on Monday night.

The motive for his killing remains unclear, but the 34-year-old had said he had received death threats.

His songs focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group, and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister in 2018.

In Addis Ababa, eight people were killed in violence that included multiple bomb blasts, says BBC Ethiopia reporter Kalkidan Yibeltal.
Our reporter says ethnic and religious tensions have intensified in the aftermath of the killing.

What happened at the funeral?
“Hachalu is not dead. He will remain in my heart and the hearts of millions of Oromo people forever,” the Reuters news agency quotes his widow Santu Demisew Diro as saying at the funeral.

The ceremony took place at a stadium in Hachalu’s home town of Ambo, west of the capital, and was broadcast live on Oromo Broadcasting Network television.

“I request a monument erected in his memory in Addis where his blood was spilt,” Ms Santu said.

Our reporter says the stadium was not full as many residents in Ambo stayed at home amidst heavy security after days of violence.

There are reports that mourners had tried to delay the funeral until the release of influential Oromo politician Jawar Mohammed.
Who has been arrested?

Dozens of people have been detained, including Mr Jawar, who was arrested after protesters tried to block Hachalu’s body from leaving the capital on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the media mogul, who has led calls for more rights for the Oromo who feel they been politically marginalised by previous governments, appeared in court in Addis Ababa. His case was adjourned for two weeks.

He supported reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, himself an Oromo, when he came to power in April 2018 but has since become an ardent critic.

More arrests have been made in the capital, including that of prominent journalist and activist Eskinder Nega.

What has the prime minister said?
On Wednesday, Mr Abiy warned that those behind Hachalu’s death wanted to derail his reform programme.

“This week, a very heinous crime was committed on artist Hachalu Hundessa. Those who planned the crime are those who are not happy with the current change in the country.

“We have two choices as a people. To fall into the trap being set up by detractors or to deviate from their trap and stay on the course of reforms. Choosing the first is to willingly aid them in our demise,” the prime minister said.


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