Filed under: Eritrea
Tiberih Tesfahuney (also seen Tebereh Tesfahunegn) was born in Asmara, Eritrea in 1947. At age 11 she saw Bezunesh Bekele and Tilahun Gessesse in concert, and decided to become a musician. In 1963, she joined the Association of the Asmara Theatre, which included in its membership Ato Atowebrhan Seghid and Tewelde Redda. Her brother – Eyasu Tesfahuney – is also a successful musician.
Tesfahuney scored her biggest hit in the mid-1960s with “Tegezana Abi Hedmo” – or “Our Lovely House” (is infested with bedbugs and fleas) – which was a criticism of Ethiopia‘s occupation and was subsequently banned. This lead to her fleeing to Sweden in 1970, but that lasted only for a few years.
In 1975, Tiberih Tesfahuney returned to Eritrea and joined the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. Two years later during a battle in Adi Hawesh, a piece of shrapnel from a RPG left her deaf in her left ear. The EPLF sent her to Sudan to recover from the injury. In 1985, the EPLF office in Sudan eventually decided to send her to Germany to get treatment for her hearing. She stayed there until 1994, when she returned to Eritrea once again. Upon her return, she opened a bar called Ab Hedmo – after her favorite song – in the town of Asseb.
Tiberih Tesfahuney published her autobiography – Two Lives: A True Story – in 1999. It was originally written in Tigrigna, the majority of it has been translated into English – which you can find HERE. Tesfahuney passed away on March 1st, 2007. She was buried at Martyr’s Cemetery in Asmara.
Assress Tessema was one of the founders of the Association of the Asmara Theatre. He and his group recorded two other singles for the Philips label – “Temeharu” / “Sewit Lemlem” (PH 7-139) with Tiberih Tesfahuney and “Harestay” / “Meaza” (PH 7-180) without.
Catalog number PH 7-140 on Philips Records Ethiopia, released 1972.