More than 80 people have been killed in two days of unrest in Ethiopia following the killing of prominent singer Hachalu Hundessa. The year-old had emerged as a powerful political voice of the Oromo ethnic group, and had made many enemies during his musical career. Two suspects were arrested after he was shot dead while driving in the capital, Addis Ababa on Monday evening. However, police have not yet revealed a motive for the killing and no charges have been brought against the suspects. Hachalu's funeral has taken place in his hometown of Ambo. A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu rose to become one of Ethiopia's biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom - topics that he easily blended into his lyrics. Hachalu's father, who used to work in the electricity department in the city of Ambo, aspired for his son to become a doctor, but he showed little interest in medicine. However, from an infant, Hachalu showed a passion for music and singing, with the encouragement of his mother, while he looked after cows on the family's farmland on the outskirts of Ambo in the Oromia region, the heartland of Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, the Oromo.
Jailed for five years
Isin irraa turree mitii? Eeyye; ni turre. Haaluma tokko tokkotu nuu mijatuu dhabee jennaan banne; amma immoo yeroo dhiyotti akka deebinu isinitti himna. Share waliif godhaa; nu bira dhaabbadhaa!! Kabajamtoota fi jaalattoota aartii oromoo hundaaf. Maaloo hidha kana waliif share godhuun ispoonsara nuuf ta'aa!!
A man brimming with empathy
Anyone who steps into the public sphere in Ethiopia is also a potential political leader. In this atmosphere, an outspoken musician runs a high risk of falling foul of the authorities. One such story unfolded last week — the inexplicable, and still unresolved, murder in Addis Ababa of Hachalu Hundessa , the year-old singer from the southern region of Oromia. The country is still stunned. Addis Ababa has erupted in protests that have left scores dead and dozens arrested. With the arrests of Oromo leaders, protests have spread as far as Minneapolis and London, cities with Oromo diasporas. Politically motivated killings are certainly nothing new for Ethiopia, but this particular murder has touched the biggest nerve in decades, in part because Hachalu Hundessa was perceived to be a man of the people. The murder is consistent with an ongoing story of musicians as political dissidents in a tinderbox regime. As perhaps the most beloved Oromo musician, he was a pre-eminent cultural figure for a third of the population — some 35 million people.