What is the Weeknd Doing on Ethiopiaid’s Blog?!

Posted by Jennifer Naidoo on Wednesday 22nd February 2017

What is the Weeknd Doing on Ethiopiaid’s Blog!?

It’s Black History Month and Ethiopia has had a pivotal impact on across the continent, but its influence is much more far-reaching that that. In Canada, a walk through the downtown core of ourmajor cities in this country, you’re bound to stumble upon some of the hottest spots for Ethiopian food. Habesha in Ottawa and Lalibela in Toronto are just a couple. If running is your thing, you can be sure to find a special event happening at least once per year (including The Great Ethiopian Run we’ll be going to this November)!

Now, what does this have to do with the Weeknd?

The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) is our very own Ethiopian-Canadian talent house. Last year, the Weeknd made a significant contribution for Ethiopia in Canada. He donated $50,000 to help launch an Ethiopian Studies program at the University of Toronto. His contribution will allow Ge’ez, an ancient Ethiopian Language, to be taught for the first time in Canada.[1]

“Ethiopian studies is a great way to enrich our curriculum in African studies because it is one of the great civilizational cultures of Africa and the world,” said Professor Tim Harrison, chair of the department of Near and Middle Eastern civilizations.[2]

The Weeknd’s donation was in response to UofT professor, Michael Gervers’ challenge to the Ethiopian Canadian community to match his own $50,000 contribution. The Weeknd rose to this challenge and his donation helped the University raise a total of $200,000 in endowment funds to start the curriculum.

“Practically everyone in the world under the age of 30 knows about The Weeknd,” Gervers said. “That single donation has raised the visibility of the whole project enormously.”[2]

Ge’ez launched last month and will run biannually, for now, until the demand grows.

Here is what Ge’ez looks like (from the Toronto Star)[3]

Professor Holmstedt said his class will be working towards reading biblical texts in Ge'ez first. He said that while it disappeared as a spoken language about a thousand years ago, Ge'ez remained in use by the church after that.[3]

Here's an example of John 1:1, written in English and then written and read out loud in Ge'ez.

 In the beginning was the word,

and the word was with God,

and the word was God.

(The Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 1)

[1] Radio Canada International (2017, February 10). The Weeknd’s gift to U of T brings Ethiopian language to life. Retrieved from http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2017/02/11/the-weeknds-gift-to-u-of-t-brings-ethiopian-language-to-life/

[2] University of Toronto News (2016, August). The Weeknd backs U of T's bid to launch Ethiopian studies. Retrieved from https://www.utoronto.ca/news/weeknd-backs-u-t-s-bid-launch-north-america-s-first-ethiopian-studies-program

[3] Dolski, M. (2017, January 13). U of T begins teaching ancient Ethiopic language. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/01/13/u-of-t-begins-teaching-ancient-ethiopian-language.html

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