Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe

Ato Atowebrhan Seghid
June 24, 2008, 8:41 pm
Filed under: Eritrea

Bekutaki Wolel

Ato Atowebrhan Seghid (also known as Ato Abirha Segid, Atoberhan Segid, Ateweberhan Seghid) was from Eritrea

Eritrea, officially the State of Eritrea, is a country situated in northern East Africa. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The east and northeast of the country have an extensive coastline on the Red Sea, directly across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Modern Eritrean popular music can be traced back to the late 1960s, when the Mahber Theatre Asmara began to produce stars like Yemane Ghebremichael (also known as Yemane Baria), Osman Abdurehim, Tewolde Redda, Tiberih Tesfahuney, Tsehaytu Beraki and Yonus Ibrahim. Thier music was influenced by American psychedelic rock and Motown soul music. In the 1970s, Eritrean popular music grew more similar to Ethiopian music, in its Jazz-based style.

Since then, some musicians, like kraar-player Dawit Sium have helped to incorporate Eritrean roots elements in popular music with imported styles of music from Europe, North America, and elsewhere in Africa, as well as the Caribbean.

In 2003, the Government of Eritrea banned Amharic language music. Amharic (Ethiopian) music used to be imported much like west African or western music, but none was ever produced in Eritrea. Although some can understand Amharic, no one born and raised in Eritrea speaks Amharic as their mother toungue.

I was unable to find any information about Ato Atowebrhan Seghid, nor the label Dejene, with the exception that they released a single by Alèmayehu Eshété.

Catalog number DJ-0011 on Dejene. Pressed in Greece. No release date given.



I want this.

Comment by Upendra Samaranayake

Atewebrhan Segid.
Hwyet Vol 1, # 1, 1992 had an article on him. It’s worth reading by
those interested about this popular artist. We will try to sketch
what we read from there.

Atewebrhan was born in 1917 in Asmara. Atewebrhan had a school education
of grade 4 under the Italian system. Under that system, grade 4 was the
highest level Eritreans could go. Thus, relatively speaking, he was
higly educated. Besides singing he had also served with BMA’s police force
in Eritrea. He had left Eritrea for Ethiopia to work with his aunt
and it was there that he begun his singing career. It was while in Addis
that he sang one of his songs of nostalgia:

SaEri agudo werqi mido
ata nAdnas meAs ina nKedo?

It was also while he was in Ethiopia that he sang his famous song [1st

Adeye Adi jeganu
beAl men’yom zTelemu?

Adeye Adeye: Adey iertriya
nay qedem lmada srAt diomokrasiya
amlaK albiswa nay qedamot niya

We wrote 1st version because members of the Unionist Party had
tricked [under the influnce of alcohol] Atewebrhan into singing the
above song where he had replaced the words Eritrea with Ethiopia.
This was the song the Dergists loved to echo in their radios, while the
1st version is a collector’s item for every true-blooded Eritrean.
Atewebrhan was angry by what happened right away and sang the
following song

Haqi nabey aloKi kdelyeki Truth where are you? I am searching
ngiegaKa baElKa lewTo Correct your own mistakes yourself
Haqi Hizka nfQri ChebTo seek love after having the truth
nbSayka lbu ayteHbTo don’t injure the heart of your neighbor

Haqi Haqi klte fidela Truth[Haqi] the two lettered word
kab fQri kedet motet temenTila Is dead separated from love
sefera s’ina kem kelbi selila It has lost its place and is wondering
like a lost dog

kHdet atyu Haqi kab zSla’ As betrayal sets in and the truth is hated
fQri adam gudu entezQlaE If the “love” of people could be exposed
kemey gierka engiera kblaE How in the world we live in prosperity

Atewebrhan had a song for every time. He had a song about time
“gizie” where he lamented unemployment, he had sang about the Island of
NaKura that was a notorious prison of the Italian era. He had
mocked, using song, Eritrean chief executive who was an Ethiopian
stooge. He also warned about the eroding power of the Eritrean
parliament of the federation days. But his most famous song was the one he
sang in 1968-69, as divisions were surfacing in the ELF.

aslamay kistanay wedi qola-dega
nmKri Sela’i aythabo waga
aythabo waga keytKon Edaga

Atewebrhan was with those who started all three (,
ma.m.ha.l, and ma.t.’a) Eritrean theatre associations. He was the
one who electrified the the Kirar.

Atewebrhan died in 1984 and was buried at Adi QonSi. Surely he was a
singer that fought the Unionists very hard, and later the Ethiopian
regime under Haile Slassie. Those of who have access might
like to watch Alamin’s account of a story of Atewebrhan in Addis
Abeba about “gamey freweyni” vs. “Adey Adi Jeganu” in the Bologna
videos of 1987.

He was a singer he used his songs as a battering ram on the
Ethiopian colonial wall and he sure did a lot of damage.

Comment by Upendra Samaranayake

Very interesting the story of Atewebrhan Segid.
What are the “Bologna videos of 1987”?

Comment by massimo

the first page seems well estabilished story where as the second version is totally distorted it needs further investigation and archive assistance for when it talks about Helen Meles,Wodi Tukul,Elsa Kidane being in mahber theatre Asmara by then i mean in the 60’s it is just falsifying the true story of the Legends like Ateweberhan Seghid it really annoys me when i couldn’t see the smooth finishing of the story. i can’t call it an advice: please refer to Red Sea printing press, Mr.chekol,he might have something to say about it.with my litle knowledge about the Eritrean musical history, i am willing to say something here and there in the future.Good luck.Robel.

Comment by robel n.hagos

i had been waitng for the Legend Atoweberhan Seghid’s article to be amended and be written correctly. whereas, the stipulation is still standing as if it is right.once again please take off the names of those struggle-,born vocalists from the sixties, their age doesn’t match either.we have a rich tradition in Eritrea, we don’t stick a history or a credit to some one who is not the owner of it. Aboy Atoweberhan Seghid was a ‘wake up call’ for Eritrean Independence and sovereignity by then, to make aware the ‘Mahber Andinets’, that ‘one day’ was coming to hold them accountable for their ‘betraylas’ which it happened true practically in 1992! while the Struggle-born singers were our ‘hopes and condelencers’ during the unbelievable period of struggle for independence. so please, in other words two different histories are messed by one incompletely assessed matter what i wish if Aboy Ateweberhan Seghid’s musical honour be in place.i comment, if the article could wisely be divided into two versions depending on the political advancements and historical values.

Robel Negash Hagos

Comment by robel negash hagos

No body but nobody is proud as I am of the Matea singers. I love them all. only by playing their songs I start flowing to another world and that’s the hidden part of me. I seriously do Love them

Comment by Miriam Habtai

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