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A Project to Document History of Armenian-Ethiopians


OC.Net Guru
Jun 26, 2011
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A timely and wonderful endeavor I am very excited about this ! ;D

I am documenting the Armenian legacy in Ethiopia, namely the large role the community played in the development of Ethiopian modern music and craftsmanship throughout the last century. The documentary will include interviews of Ethio-Armenians around the world, as well as in Addis Ababa. I have also gained access to some legendary Ethio-Jazz musicians, including elders such as singer Alèmayèhu Eshèté (lovingly called the Elvis Presley of Ethiopia) as well as some of the new generation of jazz artists who have benefitted from the musical foundation laid by Nerses Nalbandian, like Samuel Yirga. With the steady diminishing population of Armenians in different countries, including Armenia, I truly believe that the documentation of the Armenian legacy in Ethiopia is timely and relevant.

New York (TADIAS) – In the early 1900s, when Armenians were faced with genocide orchestrated by the Ottoman empire, scores of families escaped and some arrived and settled in Ethiopia. Armenians make up one of the oldest immigrant communities in Ethiopia. Vahe Tilbian, a 4th generation Ethiopian-Armenian, told TADIAS magazine that “historically Armenians worked as goldsmiths, carpenters, builders, teachers, embroiders, silk makers, and carpet makers.” His great grandfather Tavit Aslanian was a carpet maker in Empress Zewditu’s palace, his paternal grandfather was a tailor in Addis and his maternal family members were cobblers.

Armenians have likewise contributed heavily to Ethiopian modern music. Kevork Nalbandian was an Armenian who composed the first national anthem for Ethiopia as well as served as the musical director of Arba Lijoch. His nephew Nerses Nalbandian was involved in the founding of the famed Yared Music School as well as led the Municipality Orchestra.