The compound of Holly Trinity Cathedaral Church is filled with mourning fans, friends and family of Dawit Nega, a 34 year old singer song writer, who tragically passed away last week. The streets of Arat kilo is full of people waiting at the gates of the compound, confused and dazed by the short life they were there to say goodbye to. The young artist’s death shocked many who found it hard to accept his passing.
“He was so young; my condolences go out to his family and friends. He really was an important voice in the industry. He will live on through his work and the love everyone has for him. May he rest in peace now, I can’t really say anything more right now,” said Kidist Berhanu, a longtime fan who attended Dawit’s funeral.
Born and raised in Mekelle, Dawit was a bright young boy that was raised in a family that strived to make ends meet. After losing his parent when he was 10, Dawit took it upon himself to survive as best he could, selling small items like gum and cigarettes in Mekelle.
Having had the love for performance, he applied to the then Great Circus of Tigray but instead ended up joining a local marching band; where he played the drums and further explored his love for music.
A devoted family man to his now widowed wife and son, Dawit was praised by his friends as an upstanding man who gave love without restraint.
The 34-year-old was at the prime of his career after gaining a massive following after his hit song “baba elen” was released in 2015. The song was viewed over eight million times on YouTube, quickly garnering fame and admiration from Tigrigna music lovers across the world. Even though Dawit never released a full album, he has singles in the double digits; and even taking his music internationally by partnering with Coke studios.
“I loved his music so much, it had an authentic feel to it, even my older relatives loved it and they usually only love the classics. It is so shocking to lose such a talent at such a young age. I don’t use social media much and my friends in Sweden told me about the news of his passing and I couldn’t believe it at all. He had such a huge impact. I consider him as one of the greats, may he rest in peace,” said Belen Teklay, admiring the reach he had outside of Ethiopia.
The singer who deeply empathized with people and families in Tigray wrote and released his final single, “Ajoki Tigray”, on April 23, 2021. He paid tribute to the people and families of Tigray who are separated due to the war in the north.
On June 10, 2022 the beloved singer was admitted to Addis Hiwot hospital after experiencing flu like illness. Official cause of death has not been fully disclosed. After being treated at home, he was admitted to hospital on Friday, and went into the ICU two days after being admitted. His life was tragically lost on Sunday, June 12, 2022, at 7:00 local time.
In his short yet impactful life, Dawit brought international attention to the traditions and music of Tigray. He made timeless music that reverberates in the minds and hearts of his adoring fans locally and across the world. Most of all, he was a son to his parents, a friend and confidant to his loved ones, a husband to his wife, a father to his son and an icon to a multitude of people that will remember him through his work.