Long-time TV newsman, and Journalism Pioneer Samuel Ferenji dies

Long-time TV newsman, and Journalism Pioneer Samuel Ferenji dies

The renowned Ethiopian journalist, anchor, editor, and chief of Ethiopian Radio and Television under Emperor Haile Selassie, Samuel Ferenji has died in Toronto Canada on November 29 after a long illness. He was 80. “Our father has been in bed the last 14 years, and we believe he is in a better place,” said his son, Tibebe Samuel.
Born in Wellega province, on April 5, 1937 to his father Ferenji Bonto, and mother, Woizero Abebech Gemeda, Samuel began attending the Dembi Dolo Elementary school at the age of 5. After the family had moved to settle in Addis Ababa, Samuel was educated at the Addis Ababa Medhanialem School, known then as (Balabat (Nobility school), and later at Teferi Mekonen School. His hard work and insightful mind led him to apply for college where he studied agronomy at the Jimma Agricultural College. He loved to read, write and to keep abreast of current issues in the media. He started radio journalism in 1958, working as a program producer for Radio Ethiopia for six years. This was the early days of the broadcasting and when the government decided to introduce television in agreement with the British firm Thompson International Ltd, Samuel was sent to United Kingdom to take short-term training. Upon his return to Ethiopia duly informed of directing, preparing scripts, and editing, Samuel worked with the project to launch the Ethiopian Television service, as it was then called, that began broadcasting in 1964. He became the first news caster and producer, both in Amharic and English, along with the female journalist Ellene Mocria and one of the first Ethiopian managing editors and heads in charge of overseeing production of television. He had interviewed people from all walks of life, including high-ranking officials. The highest post he assumed was director general of the Ethiopian television. He also had a great passion for music and stage acting. He acted in Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin’s play “Atsim Beyegetsu”, the role of Mengistu Neway, head of the Imperial bodyguard, one the engineers of the failed coup d’ètat against Emperor Haile Selassie in 1960.

In the early period of the military regime, Samuel left Ethiopia and settled in Germany, where he lived for nine years. He moved to Italy and in Rome, he helped look after Ethiopian refugees and he was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article that focused on the plight of refugees in Italy. He was later honoured with Italian citizenship. In addition, he worked as a translator and interpreter for Amharic, Oromiffa, and German languages. He later moved to Canada where he lived for several years. There he worked with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Documentary about the 1960’s music until the time of his illness.
Samuel participated in relief effort for the devastating famine in the early 70’s and he was among personalities who campaigned for the return of the Aksum Obelisk by mobilising considerable pressure in Canada.
Ato Samuel is survived by his eight children, seven grandchildren, and other family members.

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