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Ethiopian poet Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin dead

  |   March 9, 2006 at 4:30 PM
NEW YORK, March 9 (UPI) -- Ethiopian playwright and poet laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, who wrote the anthem of the African Union, has died in New York at age 69.

His family announced he died Feb. 25 in the city he has called home since 1998, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Tsegaye wrote more than 30 plays -- his first at age 13 -- and translated many other works, including those by Shakespeare, Brecht and Moliere, into Amharic, which is Ethiopia's official language, the Times said.

He also published countless poems and was an expert in the history of his native land.

He graduated from Chicago's Blackstone School of Law in 1959 and went to Europe less than a year later to study theater.

He returned to Ethiopia and was artistic director of the Ethiopian National Theater from 1961-71 he founded the department of theater at Addis Ababa University. He was arrested and held without charges after a military junta in the 1980s and saw many of his works banned.

Tsegaye left Ethiopia for New York in 1998 to receive treatment for kidney disease.

He is survived by his wife, three daughters and three sons.

He has been buried in the same national cathedral in Addis Ababa as the final Ethiopian monarch, Emperor Haile Selassie.

© 2006 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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