Centenary of Aleka Tekle Gebrehana

June 9, 2015
By Mesfin Zegeye

We are pleased to announce that preparations are well underway to celebrate Aleka Tekle Gebrehana’s Centenary through a series of events under the title ‘Zikre Tekle’.  The event is organized by the parish council of Dabre Tabor Iyyesus and Mekane Birhan Holy Trinity Church.

Objectives of the event

  • Celebrating Gebrehana’s Centenary,

  • Promoting the significance of Tekle Akuakuam Misikir Gubae Bet (school) to the chant traditions, history and culture of the Ethiopian Church through presentations of various studies ,
  • Identifying the causes for the decline of the school (Gubae Bet) and discussing solutions with relevant stakeholders and,
  • Publishing a book which raises awareness about the distinct features of the Tekle Akuakuam traditions so as to create conducive learning and teaching environment  

What does the celebration include?

 ‘Zikre Tekle’ centenary celebration will be held from May to September 2015.
The program includes:

  • Presentations of research papers, documentaries and exhibition,
  • Panel discussion,
  • Visit to Nabega Giyorgis and Rema Medhanealem church which is the birth place of Aleka Tekle Gebrehana, founder of the Tekle School, 
  • Procession to Debre Tabor Iyyesus Tekle Akuakuam Gubae Bet (school)  and,
  • Sermons, spiritual chants performed in Tekle Zimame tradition, Ge’ez poetry recital, etc
 Stakeholders of the event

  • Tekle Akuakuam scholars,
  • Academia on Ethiopian history, heritage, culture, religion, etc 
  • The local culture and tourism office,
  • The local public as well as others interested in the history and tradition of Tekle Akuakuam

Achievements of Tekle Akuakuam School

Since its establishment, Tekle Akuakuam (school) has gone through many ups and downs while achieving some of its goals along the way:

  • When the master of this art, Aleka Tekle, became old, he entrusted his disciples with the responsibility of preserving and passing the knowledge to the next generation. In line with that, Tekle School (Gubae Bet) has been producing scholars and certifying them for chant services in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church; people who graduated from the school are taking part in church services in different parts of the country.
  • The school administration recently obtained land from Debre Tabor Iyesus Church to provide additional space for its students.
  • The school administration has also built a lounge for teachers.

The current condition of the school

Tekle Akuakuam is currently in a state of decline. One individual who knows the situation closely says, “There are problems in church schools (Gubae Bet) everywhere; but the situation of Tekle Akuakuam School is deteriorating by the day.”   

Causes for the decline of the school      

The Tekle Akuakuam tradition is not studied among Orthodox Christians in all localities of the Ethiopian church. Moreover, there is less demand in churches for people qualified in this chant tradition.

  • Students at the school in Debre Tabor do not get their basic needs such as food, lodging, clothing, water and electricity among others. This discourages the students and leads to high number of dropouts while putting off others who want to join the school. 
  • Due to lack of sense of belongingness, the local public do not make enough effort to preserve the tradition as their heritage.  
  • Lack of attention on the part of stakeholders to preserve the heritage better has also contributed to the worse situation the school finds itself in.  

The main purpose of the centenary celebration is to bring these problems to light and discuss them with relevant bodies so as to come up with lasting remedies.

Source: The Amharic version sent to us from Dabre Tabor branch of Mahibere Kidusan