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The marathon continues

The marathon continues

Ethiopian youth mourn the death of rapper Ermias “Nipsey Hustle” Ashegdom at a candlelight vigil held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Saturday night.

On the last day, and last Sunday of the month of March, Ermias Davidson Ashegdom Aka Nipsey Hustle was shot dead in front of his clothing store “The Marathon”leaving his fans around the world saddened and despaired. Leaving his wife and two children behind, 33-year-old rapper Nispey Hustle was known for his efforts to raise awareness on issues like gang violence and dedicated his life to this mission.

Born of an American mother and an Eritrean father, Ermias’s prominence extends beyond the American borders, touching the lives of millions of Ethiopians and Eritreans around the globe. “I initially became a fan because of his Eritrean heritage,” admits Ambaye Michael Tesfaye, young Ethiopian business owner, “but, I simply grew to admire and respect him greatly once I learned more about who he was as a person.”

Making the headlines on every major news outlets,a candlelight vigil was immediately organized the followingday of his shooting, with a flyer rapidly circulating on social networks. Organized in the same lot where his life was taken away the day before, the vigil ended in a stampede after a fight broke out, leaving a dozen of Nipsey’s fans injured. In the same spirit of remembrance, memorial services in his honor were held throughout the globe, predominantly organized by Eritreans or Ethiopians.

In Addis Ababa, his tribute was paid in the dark parking lot of Village Café, where hundreds of young Ethiopian and Eritrean fans gathered to commemorate the life and death of the Eritrean American artist on Saturday, April 8, 2019. In a proceeding of speeches and poems written by his most devoted fans, Ambaye says, “we just wanted him and his family to understand that we, here in Addis Ababa, are praying for them in these terrible times.”

Robel Tekel, art instructor at Ethiopian arts and crafts, performed a live painting of Nipsey Hustle and was then auctioned off for 17 thousand birrs. Along with some donations from fans, the funds raised went to Yenat Fana Charity, at Berhane Zare School, in order to secure 3000 lunches, all donated on behalf of Ermias. Fana is a social, private institution based in Addis, devoted to the comprehensive protection of children. According to the owner of Village Café, Brook Solomon, it was important to “send our brother off in the respectful manner he deserves”. For Brook, Nipsey Hustle taught him to believe in himself while remaining humble and hard-working.

With his tracks resonating throughout most of the night, a table was set up in front of the venue with flowers and candles, as well as framed images of the late rapper. A slide show of his photographs was also projected on two big screens behind his memorial table. “You can tell that he has touched the lives of many” explains a young fan attending the vigil. He further adds “I didnot think that many people would come out for him.”

Nipsey Hustle has touched the lives of many young Americans, and by being “Eritrean” he has pulled the American dream closer to Africans, along with the success story that comes with it, and made it seem more attainable for millions of young immigrants living in the US, but for Africans on the continent as well. Nipsey has always been proud of his Eritrean roots, and as recently as last year, he sat down with President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea and when asked what it meant for him to be Eritrean, Ermias answered “more than anything.”

Nispey Hustle was known for his commitment to spreading positivity within his L.A neighborhood but around the world as well through his music. Surprisingly, Nipsey was planning to meet with LAPD officials the following day of his shooting, feeding the conspiracy theories that his murder was not related to gang violence. Alongside Jay-Z’s team of Roc Nation, both rappers were dedicated to easing gang violence with Commissioner Steve Soboroff as well as Chief Michael Moore.

Nispey Hustle was not the only Eritrean and/or Ethiopian out there making music. Young rapper Aminé, born and raised in Portland, Oregon is half Ethiopian and half Eritrean. In a tweet Aminéposted the next day of Nipsey’s death, he said, “Nipseyinspired this little Habesha boy every day.” According to Ebony Magazine, Tiffany Haddish, a comedian, born of an Eritrean father expressed her condolences to her compatriot. His death has shaken the music industry.

Police have since identified and arrested the suspect of Ermias’s murder, 29-year-old Eric Holder, and charged him with two counts of murder and attempted murder according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He has since pleaded not guilty, yet, if convicted, Holder would face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Chris Darden, his defense lawyer, who was famous for being the prosecutor in O.J Simpson’s murder trial declined to comment.

Ed’s Note: The writer is on an internship program with The Reporter. He can be reached via his email address [email protected].   

Contributed by Amanuel Neguede