The Weeknd Supports Ethiopian Studies in Canada

Canadian-Ethiopian R’n’B singer donates $50,000 to the University of Toronto to establish the Ethiopian Studies program

September 01st, 2016
Marta Chadalska, CD News

The Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, has often highlighted his African roots. Born in Canada from Ethiopian parents, he has often actively supported the local African community. Caring for his heritage, he responded for a request of the University of Toronto and donated $50,000 to found an academic program entirely dedicated to Ethiopian culture.

The first part of the program is starting in fall 2016. It will be reality not only thanks to the contribution of the artist, but also to a donation of $50,000 from Dr. Michael Gervers, Professor of History at the University of Toronto and through a matching donation of $50,000 from the University itself.  

It will be mostly focused on language studies. Participants will have a possibility to study, among others, Ge’ez- the oldest language spoken in Ethiopia- by taking part in this program. Regarding its high costs, this one-time action aims to spread the idea of the program, which is to promote Ethiopian culture and encourage Canadian students to discover the heritage of one of the oldest countries in the world. If the interest is high and the fundraising action succeeds, the program will be extended to eventually become permanent.

The aim of the Ethiopian Studies initiative is to raise awareness of the richness of African cultures.  Ethiopia is one of few African countries that have never been colonized, therefore it developed a strong local culture, which throughout the centuries.

According to university’s alumni supporting the program, it is important to remind people that Africa is not just a country but a whole continent with a whole variety of languages, religions and customs. Promoting them could be helpful to develop the dialogue with African communities scattered all over the world.

The donation is one of many cultural-educational initiatives supported by Weeknd. The R’n’B artist has a long history of cooperation with the Bikila Award organization, which rewarded him in 2014 for his professional excellence. Moreover, he recently donated $25,000 to Black Lives Matter.


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