Grammy award-winning R&B star and Toronto native Abel Tesfaye — alias The Weeknd — has donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto in support of establishing an Ethiopic Studies program.Good for him. The contribution also brings in a matching $50K from Professor Michael Gervers.
The Scarborough native, whose parents emigrated from Ethiopia, “immediately” answered the call from the Bikila Awards organization who said they weren’t even sure he’d respond to their request, but was surprised by his immediate generosity. (The Star could not reach Tesfaye for comment on Saturday.)
“It’s unbelievable,” Tam Gebeyehu, board member of the Bikila Award told the Star. “He grew up in Toronto as an Ethiopian-Canadian, and now he’s giving back to the community.”
So far, over $170,000 has been raised for a course on the Ge’ez, an ancient Ethiopian script and language also known as Ethiopic.
“This initiative is a rare opportunity and of historical significance in the discovery of Ethiopia’s ancient civilizations, for the preservation of our rich culture, history and traditions,” said Tessema Mulugeta, president of the Bikila Award.
Background on the new Ethiopic Studies program at the University of Toronto is here.