Death of Nuho Gobana, famous singer of the Ethiopian resistance

Ethiopians mourn pioneering musician Nuho Gobana, who died at the age of 74 after a long career that saw him produce timeless classics, including many songs urging the Oromo people to find their strength and unite to demand change.

The Oromo ethnic group, despite being the largest in Ethiopia, was marginalized by successive Ethiopian rulers until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power a few years ago.

Nuho had been ill for some time – and when his fans realized the seriousness of his situation a few months ago, they bought him a house in Adama, east of the capital, Addis Ababa, where he died Tuesday evening.

During the Marxist military dictatorship of the 1980s, the musician left Ethiopia, living as a refugee in several countries, including Djibouti, Saudi Arabia and Canada.

“Back then, Nuho was making songs to empower his people. His music was easily memorable,” his longtime friend and notable musician Elemo Ali recalled of their life in Saudi Arabia.

Another of his friends, Abdo Alisho, spoke of the power of his songs: “They made you love your country. Nuho lived for his people.

He went on to influence young Oromo singers like Hachalu Hundessa, who was killed in 2020 and whose songs had become anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of Mr Abiy’s predecessor.

Nuho did not just sing in Afaan Oromoo, writing lyrics in other Ethiopian languages ​​and Arabic while abroad.

Speaking to the BBC from his hospital bed two years ago, the musician had the same message to his fans: “Keep your unit strong”.

One of his most famous songs was Tokkummaa, which means unity in Afaan Oromoo – and was also the title of a popular Hachalu hit.

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