Ababa Tesfaye was a TV host, an author of several children’s book, and an all-round performer. He was a singer and played several traditional instruments. He was also an actor, in the 1940s and 50s. He worked at the City Hall Theater House and the National Theater. As an actor, he left his mark as one of the renowned cross-gender actors, playing women’s role on stage. He was also a dancer and a chirographer.
Ababa Tesfaye is most recognized for his iconic children’s TV show ‘Yelejoch Gize’ (loosely translated, children’s time) and his famous catch phrase ‘Lijoch Yezare Abebawoch, Ynege Frewoch’ (loosely translated children todays flowers tomorrow’s seeds)
Ababa Tesfaye Sahelu was born in 1924, in Oromia Region, Bale Town, in a village called Kedu from his mother Yewenzwerk Belete and his father Ejersa Bedane. He lost both of his paremts during the Ethio-Italian war.
He moved to Addis Ababa to pursue his education at the age of 14.
Ababa Tesfaye started his television career at the Ethiopian national television station EBC, formerly known as ETV. He was the first to pitch the idea for the station to have programs suited for children. His proposal was accepted by the then management of the channel. When the station was launched in 1965, Ababa Tesfaye’s children’s show titled Yelejoch Gize (loosely translated, children’s time) was one of the few original shows for the station. He was the producer, director and presenter of the show.
Ababa Tesfaye leaves a strong mark on the entertainment industry for children’ serving the station for 41 years. He is considered as a pioneer for taking the Ethiopian rich tradition of tales, folklores and allusions, and used it to teach children ethics, moral and integrity.
Ababa Tesfaye joined the National Theater Stage, in the late 1950s and the 60s. He appeared in nearly 70 theaters, and enged as a director and writer for many. He enjoyed especially playing challenging roles, including acting as women, when it was difficult to find women actors to play the roles.
In the 1970s and 80s, he published several of his children’s stories. His first children’s book is ‘Lijoch ye Zare Abebwoch Yenege Frewoch’ published in 1972. He then published his second book ‘K’eabatoch Lelejoch’ (From Fathers to children’ published in 1986.
Honor & Award
- Unity University granted an Honorary Doctorate Degree
- Yebego Sew Shelamat
- He received Gold Medals and Golden Watch Award three times from Emperor Hailesellasie.
- He also received a life time achievement award by Ethiopian Mass Media Prize Trust in 2002
- Yebego Sew Shelemat (loosely translated the Good Person Award).
On Monday, July 31, 2017, Ababa Tesfaye passed away at the age of 96. His funeral was held on August 2, 2017 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church in Addis Ababa.
Ababa Tesfaye Sahlu was married to his long time wife W/ro Debritu Aytaged. He is survived by his wife and their son and five grandchildren.