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Mother of piano dies at the age of 99

Emahoy Tsigie-Mariam Gebru
The late Emahoy Tsigie-Mariam Gebru (Photo : SM)

By Hailegebriel Endeshaw
Staff reporter

ADDIS ABABA – (BORKENA) – Emahoy Tsigie-Mariam Gebru was born to her father Gebru Desta and mother Kasaye Yelemtu in 12 December 1923 in Addis Ababa. Before she was addressed by her Christian name, Tsigie-Mariam, she was called Yewubdar Gebru.

Emahoy Tsigie-Mariam got the chance to be sent to a boarding school in Switzerland, where she studied violin. Back home from Switzerland in 1933, she had to serve as a civil servant and singer.

During the invasion of Italy, she along with her family was taken prisoner of war and sent to a prison camp on the Italian Island of Asinara and later transferred to Mercogliano, near Naples. After the war, Emhahoy Tsigie-Mariam studied under the Polish Violinist, Alexander Kontorowicz in Egypt Cairo. Kontorowicz and Emahoy Tsigie-Mariam returned to Ethiopia where Kontorowicz was appointed as musical director of the band of the Imperial BodyGuard. Emahoy Tsigie-Mariam was employed as an administrative assistant. Her first record was released in 1967.

Emahoy Tsege-Mariam established her residence starting from 1992 in Jerusalem. Her father Gebru Desta was the first Mayor of Addis Ababa. Gebru Desta, also known as Kentiba (mayor) Gebru and Aleka (chief) Gberu, was an intellectual and former mayor of Gondar and Addis Ababa towns. As an educated Ethiopian, Gebru served in various positions ranging from diplomat and interpreter. 

Emahoy Tsigie-Mariam died at the age of 99 in Jerusalem.


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  1. I just searched her music online and found it on YouTube. I can dig it. In Fact I will look for it online and buy her cd. It will be a part of my jazz/easy listening genre collection that includes Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon and other jazz giants like them.


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