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The Weeknd performs at the Super Bowl LV Halftime Show.

The Weeknd Donates $1 Million In Food Aid to Ethiopia

"My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered," the artist writes.

The Weeknd is making a $1 million donation to Ethiopia through the United Nations World Food Programme, money which will pay for 2 million meals.

The artist, real name Abel Tesfaye, who was born to Ethiopian parents in Canada cites his concern about the ongoing conflict and crisis in Tigray as his reason for the donation.

"My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction," The Weeknd wrote in an Instagram post. "I will be donating $1 million to provide 2 million meals through the United Nations World Food Program and encourage those who can to please give as well."

Tesfaye is also encouraging those who can to join him in donating through this WFP link.


"Save lives by giving food today," the World Food Program donation website writes. "The outbreak of conflict in Tigray last November coincided with the peak harvest period, leading to lost employment and incomes, disrupted markets, a rise in food prices, and limited access to cash and fuel. The U.N. World Food Programme is aiming to support 1.4 million of these vulnerable people before it's too late."

For some background on the conflict, the BBC reports that "fighting between the Ethiopian army and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) began in November and has left millions of people homeless.The fighting started when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent forces to the Tigray region, after accusing the TPLF of attacking a government military base. The TPLF had been the ruling party in the area, but fell out with Mr Abiy over his efforts to increase the central government's power."

More than two million people have been displaced from their homes to get away from the fighting, according to Tigray's interim administration, the BBC adds. It has left more than four million people in need of aid.

You can add your donation here if you are able.



Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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