Ethiopia – Asnakech Worku, an Ethiopian pioneer whose romantic roles in theater and music raised the eyes of the conservative society in the ’50s, died at her home in Addis on Wednesday. She was 76.
Asnaketch rose to fame with the birth and growth of a modern society during the times of Emperor Haile-Selassie who was overthrown and replaced by a military dictatorship in 1974.
The role of artists greatly diminished during the communist military dictatorship, eventhough the songs of legendary singers like Asnakech and Tilahun Gessesse proved timeless, and remained popular.
As a tribute to the emperor, earings with the portrait of emperor Haile-Selassie used to dangle on the ears of Asnaketch even later in old age.
Her songs have been played for decades, over the radio and TV, and she was the darling of all as her songs kept on soothing and healing broken hearts of romance.
Her beauty was also the focus of attention, with some going to as far as comparing her with stars in the West, notably America.
She was so beautiful like the gorgeous women we used to see in Hollywood movies, and no wonder that some of her fans used to call her “Elizabeth Taylor,” an old friend of hers once said.
Asnaketch was so pretty I personally know when men of power, wealth and influence used to vie for her hand, the late Tilhaun Gessesse was often heard as saying.
Known for her tizita (blues) songs, Asnakech used to consider the National Theater as her home.
The funeral will be held at St. Trinity Cathedral in Addis today.