Till Death Do Us Part

April 6 , 2019 . By Tsion Fisseha

Social media was recently flooded with the untimely death of Nipsey Hussle, aka Ermias Asghedom, an Eritrean American rapper who was shot and killed in Los Angeles last Sunday. The internet was filled with expressions of sorrow about the passing of this brilliant artist who was cut short from a highly successful career.

Exactly a day after his death, his Wikipedia page read, “This article is being heavily edited because its subject has recently died.”

A lot can be said about life and death, the beauty of it, the thin line between the two states, the fear but also the exhilaration of the phenomenon. Death is inevitable, and unless one considers the unproven possibility of immortality, it is something that will eventually happen to all living things.

But how a person is able to create so much curiosity about themselves they have been unable to garner while alive is incredible. The episode with Nipsey Hussle is but one example that goes to prove the infatuation the living have with the dead.

Among the various things that occur after the passing of a person, the one that is most fascinating is the appreciation and desire to know more about the deceased.

In Ethiopia, this is expressed through a long eulogy read on the day of the funeral. People who are attending the funeral hear about the person that has crossed over. It is usually accolades heaped on accolades, and how it would be impossible to fill the void that has been left.

Google search engines are filled with names of celebrities that have died and social media is infested with condolence, even from people who had no prior knowledge of the person that is no longer alive.

But events, no matter how devastating, are a knowledge platform for anyone who is willing to learn. And this particular incident can be used to understand that while the desire to keep the memories of the dead alive is not wrong by itself, people should be well aware of the fact that the living should be praised for what they have to offer.

The young boys and girls who show potential, the striving poet and the artist who is trying to get a break should be given the admiration while still roaming this earth. This should also be manifested throughout one’s lifetime interaction with friends, family, co-workers acquaintances and even strangers.

Not all of us are a Vincent Van Gogh, a great artist who died in 1890 and was only able to sell one of his paintings during his lifetime. Take Emily Dickinson, a great poet, or Galileo Galilee, the father of modern physics, all of whom had talents that were never cherished in their own lifetimes. These artists became an icons long after they were dead and gone.

The 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi, put it beautifully in one of his poems by explaining the need to love and give and care for one another when one is alive and breathing as opposed to shading tears onto the tombstones of the dead.

This goes on to show that we should not take for granted the people, animals and plants on this earth. We should not wait for death beds and last minutes to express the love and generosity, dwelling on the seemingly important yet petty ideals of life.

If anything, we should be aware that the only thing that is under our control is the moment. Everything after death is out of our reach.


PUBLISHED ON Apr 06,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 988]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at tsion.f.terefe@gmail.com.

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