Emahoy Tsegemariam Gebru is composer of the magnificient classical piece “The Homeless Wanderer” which most Ethiopians know in being the background music of the radio narration of the famous Ethiopian novel “Yewediyanesh” Most Ethiopians do not know that the music was her composition. But its enslaving musical tone still echoes in everyone’s mind.
listen to Emahoy,s interview at the VOA
Despite the expectation of many, it was long since she has committed herself to spiritual life being a nun in one of the Ethiopian monasteries in Jerusalem. No one has heard from her for about 24 years until her telephone interview with VOA Amharic Service. After this incident we were lucky to hear her voice again on FM Addis 97.1 Addis Zema program talking on the phone with Surafel Wondimu from Jerusalem. The program was dedicated to her aiming at paying homage to her works. Serse Fire Sibhat, who is trying to introduce a culture of music criticism on newspapers, was giving professional commentary on her classical pieces. Emahoy told Surafel that she has 6 classical music already composed and that she is willing to give it, if anyone is interested to produce it. “We haven’t done anything significant to recognize this outstanding musical masterpiece of Emahoy not further than tusing it to accompany radio narrations. It is only Francis Falceto who compiled her works in Ethiopiqués volume 21,” remarked Sertse. What is disappointing, though, is Emahoy noted in her interview that she won’t be coming home due to age and the life she is in.
Emahoy Tsegemariam was called by the name Yewubdar Gebru before she became a nun. She is the first Ethiopian to learn music abroad. She learned music in Switzerland. Like her sister Sindu Gebru who is the first female author, she could be said a pioneer in introducing classical music, though her works haven’t been heard and recognized. In the interview VOA Amharic service had with Emahoy and Martha Nesibu, a famous painterauthor who had been Emahoy’s friend, Martha spoke of her memories of the young Yewubdar. “There had been huge banquet and feast everywhere following the Emperor’s return from exile to mark the victory over Italy. On one of such feasts everyone was begging Yewubdar to play on the piano. I remember how great she played compositions on the piano to the surprise of many,” recollects Martha. “Years after, when I heard that she became a nun, I was so much surprised. A spiritual engagement should be respected. However, the contrast of this fact with my first impression of the charming and artistic Yewubdar became so wide for me.” Emahoy Tsegemariam took the inspiration for making “The Homeless Wanderer” from her encounter with homeless shepherds around Debrelibanos, the first monastery she joined as a nun. “I had bad impression about people in their being rude, selfish, and evil. So I took exile in arts and nature. I had fallen in love in the glory of nature,” mused Emahoy