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Month summary: Emperor Thewodros committed suicide, fascist Italy's second attempt to colonize Ethiopia came to an abrupt end, the legendary musician Tilahun Gesesse and Professor Aklilu Lemma died, Saint Yared was born, Emperor Haileselassie visited Jamaica.


02 APRIL 1930:
Empress Zewditu who ruled Ethiopia from 1916 to 1930 died on this day in 1930 at the age of 53. She was the first woman head of state in Africa. Empress Zewditu was the eldest daughter of Emperor Minilik. The Empress was succeeded by Emperor Haileselassie.

05 APRIL 1997:

Professor Aklilu Lemma died at the age of 63. He was the Ethiopian scientist who discovered a remedy for the Bilharzia disease from the fruit of a local plant called Endod. Bilharzia is a life-threatening parasitic disease caused by a worm that lives in a host snail. Humans can become infected when they come in contact with water in ponds and rivers where the snail lives. It occurs most often in tropical regions and is among the worst killer diseases in developing countries.

In 1966, he established the Institute of Pathobiology in Addis Ababa University and for the next 10 years he directed a team to carry out systematic research on Endod. He was joined in this work in 1974 by a fellow Ethiopian scientist – Dr. Legesse Wolde Yohannes. The discovery offered no less than a cheap, locally-controllable means of eradicating a disease that is the second greatest plague, after malaria,  in the African continent as well as the rest of the developing world.

Both Professor Aklilu Lemma and Dr. Legesse Wolde Yohannes founded the Endod Foundation in 1992 to serve as an umbrella for all Endod-related work. The foundation is an Ethiopian scientific research association and has its headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Professor Aklilu Lemma and his research associate Dr. Legesse Wolde Yohannis were awarded the Swedish Right Livelihood Award in November 1989 in Sweden for their research and pioneering discoveries. Other honours of Dr. Aklilu include various fellowships from the Ethiopian government, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University in the United States.  He was also a recipient of Emperor Haileselsassie's Gold Medal for achievements in scientific research in Ethiopia. Scientist Aklilu Lemma was once quoted as saying: "we found a poor man's medicine for a poor man's disease."

06 APRIL 1941:

Fascist Italy's attempts to colonize Ethiopia came to an abrupt end on this day.  Four years before the start of the Second World War, Italy invaded Ethiopia on 3 October 1935 under the orders of the then Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini.  

The Italians took control of the capital Addis Ababa  on 5 May 1936 and Emperor Haileselassie left Ethiopia for Switzerland to ask for international help to oust Italy from Ethiopia at the League of Nations in Geneva.  Ethiopian Patriots liberated Addis Ababa on 6 April 1941 and this victory officially ended Italian occupation. Emperor Haileselassie returned to Addis Ababa on 5 May 1941. 

In 1996, Italy admitted to have killed 275,000 Ethiopians during its unsuccessful attempt to colonize Ethiopia. It was Italy 's second humiliating defeat by Ethiopia. The first invasion of Ethiopia by the Italians was in 1895 and they were defeated at Adwa the following year.

13 APRIL 1868:
Emperor Thewodros committed suicide.  The British sent their well-equipped army to Ethiopia to bring down the Emperor following a diplomatic standoff between the two countries. Aided by rebellious nobles along the way, the British force attacked Thewodros' forces at Magdela on 10 April 1868.

The courageous Emperor, who regarded capture by a foreign army as bringing shame on himself and his beloved country, committed suicide on 13 April 1868 at the top of Makdela Hill in Southern Wello. The Emperor's heroic story has gone down in history as the single most inspiring act of bravery for most Ethiopians to date. In doing so, Emperor Thewodros left Ethiopians with a legacy of not accepting defeat by any foreign army and Ethiopia remains undefeated by any colonial power to date.

19 APRIL 2009:

Legendary Ethiopian musician Tilahun Gesesse, regarded as the king of modern Ethiopian music, died on this day. The day was Ethiopian Easter Sunday and Tilahun and his wife, Roman Bezu, had arrived in Addis Ababa from a trip to the United States only the day before to spend the Ethiopian Easter holidays with family and friends.

It was reported that Tilahun returned to Ethiopia to celebrate Easter as well as to continue working on an album which he had planned to be his final.

He was a singer like no other with tremendously charismatic appearance, holding his rightful place in Ethiopia as the country's one and only king of pop for almost half-a-century. From love, family and friendship to liberty, unity and justice, there isn’t an aspect of life that Tilahun didn’t sing about.

He was farewelled in an unprecedented state funeral ceremony in Addis Ababa on 23 April 2009. State funerals are automatically granted to heads of the Ethiopian state, but no other Ethiopian in the country’s modern history was given a final send-off in such a dignified manner. Tilahun proved that he could be even larger in death than in life as his state funeral was the first such event witnessed in modern Ethiopia attended by tens of thousands of genuine mourners.


21 APRIL 1966:
Holyday for followers of the Rastafarian faith after the late Emperor of Ethiopia Haileselassie visited Jamaica in 1966. Rastafarians worship the late Emperor.

25 APRIL 505 A.D:
Saint Yared was born on this day.  He was the creator of hymn, a type of religious song specifically written for the purpose of praise and prayer in the ancient Ethiopian language of Geez.  He was the first to introduce poetry and the first to write musical notes and to use musical instruments to supplement his hymns. His musical compositions are a testament to his talent as an unparalleled composer, writer and poet.

29 APRIL 1876:
Empress Zewditu who ruled Ethiopia from 1916 to 1930 was born on this day.



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