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Abraham Afewerki

Abraham Afewerki

USA / Miami

Biography

Early life

Abraham Afewerki was born in 1966 in Asmara, Eritrea. During the Eritrean War of Independence, Afewerki and his family fled the fighting and lived as refugees in Sudan. He was interested in music from an early age, taking up the harmonica. Afewerki joined the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) at the age of 12, as a member of a cultural troupe which toured areas controlled by the EPLF. He began writing his own songs and music regarding the war, performing them from 1979 onwards.[1]

Abraham moved to Italy, where he learnt to play the krar and continued to write songs in the theme of Eritrean nationalism. After several years, he moved to the United States where he studied for a bachelor’s degree with honours.[1]

Music career

Abraham’s first release, Wegahta (Sunrise), was released in 1991. During the following 15 years, Abraham released two more albums which further propelled his popularity among Eritreans. His songs were popular because his lyrics expressed strong and poetic images of Eritrea’s culture. His song “Abzelena Alina” (“Wherever We Are”) became greatly popular in Eritrea; his socially conscious words and evocative lyrics talked of the bravery of the nation.[1]

In his final release, entitled Semai (“Sky” in Tigrinya), Abraham collaborates with several Eritrean musicians, the result of which was an exquisite sound. Abraham continued to blend his music with jazz, R&B, and Reggae rhythms at the same time maintaining his music’s originality and authenticity. One song from the album, “Semay Iyu Deretey” (“The Sky Is My Limit”), has become one of the popular songs in Eritrea.[2]

Death

In 2006, Abraham drowned while swimming in the Red Sea near Massawa. He had returned to Eritrea to produce a film musical.[2] Abraham continues to be held in high regard by his fellow Eritrean artists, his work garnered appreciation and admiration from his peers. His musical influence also crossed borders to Eritrea’s neighbouring countries where his music is reproduced by other musicians singing in a different language other than his native Tigrinya.[2]

Discography

He released the following albums in Eritrea:

  • 1991: Wegahta (Sunrise)
  • 1994: Tesfa’iya snqey (Hope is my supply/kit)
  • 1988: MsTir fQri (Secret of Love)
  • 2000: Hadera (Promise)
  • 2006: Semai (Sky)
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