28+ Famous Ethiopian People | Artists, Athletes & Models

Famous Ethiopian People

March 11, 2022

Ethiopia is a country with a population of over 100 million people and is located in the horn of Africa. The country has been considered for decades a beacon of hope for African anti-colonialism and accommodates the African Union headquarters in its capital, Addis Ababa. Besides Amazing culture and tradition, Ethiopia also has worldwide influential and famous individuals. This article will be about 28 Famous Ethiopian People including Artists, athletes, Models, and humanitarians. Let’s start with Famous Ethiopian Athletes.

Famous Ethiopian Athletes

Abebe Bikila

Abebe Bikila was born on 7 August 1932. He is very uniquely known for winning the 1960 Olympic game in Rome with a gold medal and setting a world record at the same time. He was a proud Ethiopian marathon runner who had bested his record four years later in the Olympics of Tokyo by far the very first to win two Olympics marathons. Unlike his success, Abebe came from a very different place. Being the son of a shepherd and starting to run at the age of 24 weren’t the best backgrounds for him to be a world champion.

Abebe Bikila - Famous Ethiopian Athlete

His first marathon victory was running in cobblestone with no shoe at all at 2hrs, 15 minutes, and 16.2 seconds, and later improving his timing to 2 hours, 12 minutes, and 1.2 seconds. After four years, he also entered the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, but after 10 miles of the race, he was forced to leave the track because of his broken leg. An automobile accident in 1969 left him a person with paraplegia.

Read more on Abebe Bikila’s biography. 

Haile Gebreselassie

He is an Ethiopian retired long-distance runner, marathoner, national hero, and successful businessman. Haile, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is considered one of the greatest runners in the history of athletics. He was an exceptional athlete running at the highest level for about two decades. He broke 27 World Records, ranging from the 1500m to the marathon.

Haile’s outstanding personality and career achievement have induced many people to take him as an idol. Haile was also listed as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans on the New African magazine in 2011. Haile also possesses a tremendous entrepreneurial spirit involved in a multi-business sector. What is more, He also participates in many social and charity activities with a mission to improve the lives of many ordinary Ethiopians.

Read more on Haile Gebreselassie Biography.

Derartu Tulu

Derartu is an Ethiopian former long-distance athlete, born on 21 March 1972 in Bekoji, Arsi, Ethiopia. She was both a truck cross country runner and a road runner up to the marathon distance. She is currently serving as the president of the Ethiopian athletics federation. Derartu is a 5ft 1in (1.56m) tall and 97lb (44kg) weighted athlete.

Read more on Derartu Tulu’s biography.

Dibaba Family

Most family siblings are well known for not keeping pace together, unlike these five siblings, who strengthen the family bond for quite some time. Let’s meet the Derartu family, well-known as the fastest family in the world.

Dibaba Family - Famous Ethiopian Athlete

The Dibaba sisters Tirunesh, Genzebe, Anna, and Melat are from Ethiopia. These siblings aren’t just picture-perfect figures but concurrent world champions with 4 Olympic gold medals, two silver, three bronze, and 15 world championships. The Dibaba sisters are a well-known brand by the whole world for their athletic and enthusiastic personality; The sisters often mention the name of their cousin, Derartu Tulu, as an inspiration for their success. Derartu is a woman of bravery and courage who can be the first black woman to win the Olympic gold medal in 1992.

Tirunesh Dibaba

Tirunesh is a three-time Olympic gold medal winner and the 5000m world record holder. She got married to athlete Sileshi Sihine in 2008.

Read more on Tirunesh Dibaba’s Biography.

Ejegayehu Dibaba

Ejegayehu Dibaba - Famous Ethiopian Athlete

The 40year old Ejegayehu is the oldest sister with a silver medal in the 10,000m Athens Olympic 2004 and bronze medal in both 5000m and 10,000m of the world championship in 2005.

Read more on Ejegayehu Dibaba’s biography.

Genzebe Dibaba

Genzebe Dibaba - Famous Ethiopian Athlete

She is the younger sister next to Tirunesh and Ejegayehu. Unlike her youth, Genzebe is also a successful athlete who won the IAAF’s athlete of the year award in 2015. She also broke three world indoor records in 2014. Thus these had granted her the award by the Laureus world as the ” sportswomen of the year”.

Read more on Genzebe Dibaba’s Biography.  

Kenenisa Bekele

Kenenisa is a well-known and energetic male athlete born on 13 June 1982 close to Bekoji, Ethiopia. The 39-year-old is 165m (5ft 5in) tall and 56 (123lb) weighted powerhouse; he is one of the most famous Ethiopian long-distance athletes and a world record winner in both 5000m and 10000meters. At the summer Olympics 2008, he won both the 5000 and 10000m with a gold medal and later the gold medal for the 10000m and silver medal for 5000m. Besides being long-distance, Kenenisa is also a high potential truck runner. In the world championship, he won four gold medals for the 2003 Paris 10000m, 2005 Helsinki 10000m, 2007 Osaka 10000m, and 2009 Berlin 10000m. The 5000m victories he had achieved are also as marvelous as the 10000m.

Read more on Kenenisa Bekele’s biography.

Almaz Ayana

Almaz Ayana is a lovable female Ethiopian long-distance runner well known for her 3000, 5000, and 10,000m events. She was born on 21 November 1991. She broke her first 10000m world record gold medal at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Later, after a year in 2017, she won her second gold medal in London’s 10000m world championship (Wikipedia, Almaz Ayana). Almaz Ayana is five ft. 5in (1.66m) tall and 104lb (47kg) weighted potential athlete.

Almaz Ayana

Read more on Almaz Ayana’s biography.

Sileshi Sihine

Sileshi Sihine

Last but not least, we will encounter one of Ethiopia’s retired long-distance athletes. Sileshi was also a long-distance athlete. He was born on 29 January 1983 in Sheno, Ethiopia. Sileshi won his only gold medal at the Abuja 2003 in 10000m. Later in the years, he won several silver medals in 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, 2005 Helsinki, 2005 Osaka, and 2006 Fukuoka. He also won two bronze medals from the 2003 Paris 10000m 2004 Brussels.

Influential Ethiopian Artists

Famous Ethiopian Musicians

Tilahun Gesesse

The spotlight of the Ethiopian music industry, Tialhun, is one of the leading male singers ever seen in the 20th century. On 27 September 1940, he was born to his mother Gete Gurmu and Gessesse Negusse. His elementary years had been with his grandmother attending the School of Ras Gobena in Weliso.

When many artists from Hager Fikir Theater came to his school to perform for the students, he faced his intimate affection with music. He then decided to travel to Addis to pursue his passion. Tilahun traveled 15km on foot, but he was caught and forced to return to his grandmother’s house. He didn’t only stay one night with his grandfather’s house, begin his journey again, and make it to Addis. Tilahun took his first job at Hager Fikir Theater and became one of the golden list musicians in the country within a short time.

Tilahun Gessesse - The most Famous Ethiopian musician

He wasn’t just a great artist but also an outstanding humanitarian who had raised money for aid during the famine of the 1970s and 1980s.

Tilahun released several successful albums, received a doctorate from the University of Addis Ababa, a lifetime achievement award from the Ethiopian fine art and mass media prize trust, and numerous awards from a different institution. He died at the age of 68. Although he passed, he is still one of the most prominent artists in Ethiopian history. (Wikipedia, Tilahun Gessesse).

Read more about Tilahun Gessesse’s Biography here.

Aster Awoke

Aster is one of the most precious patriot artists born in 1959 in a small town near Lake Tara. She grew up in Addis Ababa. Ever since she was 13 years old, she was determined to be an artist. As a teenager, she continued to perform in public. Aster developed herself through a self-thought journey. She performed in clubs, hotels, theaters and played many local bands. She was encouraged by Ali Tango, who financed and released her five cassettes and two songs. In 1982 Aster migrated to the US.

Aster Awoke - Famous Ethiopian musician

After her arrival to California, US, she thought of giving up on music and focusing on her education. Still, she lost her sense of living at such times then was forced to get back to singing by herself, until this day Aster had released 20 albums and had been able to appear as a guest in CNN, BBC News, new york times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, NBC, CBC, London’s Channel 4, big world café’ and many more. Her first record was Ethiopian groove, the golden seventies, Paris, 1994, Buda musique (contain three of her very first recordings). Aster had completed her 7th album, a combination of songs that has been over the past 25 years.

Read more on Aster Awoke’s biography here.

Mahmoud Ahmed

The slow and calm singer Mahmoud Ahmed was born on 8 May 1941 in Merkato, Ethiopia was just a little unqualified student when he changed his path to being a shoeshine boy. Mahmoud never had a relative who was following a career as an artist, but he tasted the glimpse of beautiful music in frequent radio programs.

Mahmoud Ahmed - Famous Ethiopian musician

After being a shoeshine boy for quite some time, he got a job as a handyman in the Arizona club. This was probably the shifting point for his career as an artist. One day the leading singer couldn’t make it for a performance, so He was asked if he could replace his place just for the day, even though he had continued to be a team member until 1974. And then Mahmoud realized his first single in 1971 immediately got the affection of music lovers. In the 1980s, the Ethiopian Diasporas recognized him. Mahmoud Ahmed is boldly known for his “Eskesta” stage performance and his ability to awaken the audience’s heart. After the released disc from the Belgian label crammed called “Mela Mela,” he gained a wider western audience.    

Read more on Mahmoud Ahmed’s biography Here.

Teddy Afro

Teddy Afro is an Ethiopian pop musician originally known as Tewodros Kassahun Germamo. He was born in Addis Ababa on 16 July 1976.

Teddy introduced himself widely to the public with his first album Abugida in 2001. Teddy’s song mainly spread forceful and motivating lines about political problems. In 2007 teddy was involved in an accident that led to a homeless guy’s death and was imprisoned for two years. Before and after his imprisonment Teddy Afro always had a tense relationship with the former government. Due to that, four of his songs in the album, including “Yasteseriya”, were forbidden from a media outlet.

Teddy Afro - Famous Ethiopian musician

After his imprisonment, Teddy Afro performed his fourth LP, “Tikur sew,” a song about the almighty Adwa war, the Ethiopian victory over the Italian invaders.

Teddy reached international recognition in his 5th album ‘Ethiopia,” which conquered the top of the Billboard world album chart in May 2017 with more than 600,000 units sold. The 45-year old put an incurable mark on Ethiopia’s social, political, and intellectual constituents. He is a fearless, truth seeker and a courageous revolutionary artist.

Read more about Teddy Afro’s Biography.

Ejigayehu Shibabaw

The Ethiopian musician Ejigayehu Shibabaw is, without any exclamation, the music industry itself. Gigi is a multi-talented artist born in Ethiopia’s regional state named “chagni” located in the northwestern part of Ethiopia. As she mentioned in many of her reviews, Gigi discovered her astonishing talent from the family religion Orthodox Tewadeho and the church itself at a very young age.

Ejigayehu Shibabaw - Famous Ethiopian musician

Gigi released her first album in 2001 named after her stage name “Gigi” her music often combines the traditional Ethiopian rhythm and some other American and western genres. She subsequently released her second album in 2003 of Zion roots. Even though Gigi isn’t active in the music industry, her former works have made a timeless mark in music lovers’ hearts in Ethiopia. She virally still admires her music and her brilliant lyric.

Read more on Gigi’s biography.

Ali Birra

Ali Mohammed was born on 29 September 1950 in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, known as Ali Birra. Ail is uniquely known for his viral fans both in Oromia and other regions of Ethiopia. Ali isn’t just a great artist and a fantastic composer and poet but also a heartfelt individual who is affectionate by the people of Ethiopia (Wikipedia, Ali Birra).  

Ali Birra - Famous Ethiopian Afan oromo musician

Read more on Ali Birra’s biography.

Hachalu Hundessa

Hachalu Hndessaa Boonsaa was born on 29 June 1986 in ambo, Ethiopia. Besides his brilliant singing and songwriting career Hacchalu was an influential civil rights activist who played a significant role in the 2014-2016 Oromo protest. Hacchalu was married to Fantu Demise and had two children (Wikipedia, Hachalu Hundessa).

Hachalu Hundessa - Famous Ethiopian Afan oromo musician

Read more on Hachalu Hundessa’s Biography.

Famous Ethiopian Painters and Authors

Lemma Guya

Lamma Guya Gamadaa was born in 1928 in ada’a, Oromia, Ethiopia. Lemma is one of the prior painting artists who provided thousands of original works to art lovers using goat’s skin for painting portraits. Lemma died on 26 October 2020 at the age of 92 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He had been married to Mrs. Aster Bekele in the 1960s and had three sons, two daughters, and eight grandchildren. Lemma’s five children are currently following in their father’s footsteps (Wikipedia, Lemma Guya).

Lemma Guya - Famous Ethiopian Painter

Read more on Lemma Guya’s biography.

Tsegaye Geberemedhin

Tsegaye Geberemedhin was born on 17 august 1936. He is an epic poet and novelist whose works had reached the hearts of many readers. Tsegay is considered one of the most novelists, along with Baalu Girma and Haddis Alemayehu. His works had awakened the commercial sales of literature and had been used as an academic thesis by students.

Tsegaye Gebre Medhin - Famous Ethiopian author

Read more on Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin’s biography.

Famous Ethiopian Actors

Girum Ermiyas

Girum Ermiyas Gebreselassie, the actor, writer, and director public figure were born on 16 March 1978, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is one of the top paid male actors in the country with a former history way more different than this.

girum ermias - famous Ethiopian Artist

As a young boy Girum was more interested in sport growing up in a neighborhood called “Teklehaymanot” and spending his high school years at Ayer Tena high School and his secondary School at Addis Ketema. Later in his years, he had gained a degree in scriptwriting, acting, and directing and an advanced diploma from Holyland art Academy. Girum is 1.85m (62.83inch) tall, and 75kg (165lbs) weighted, good-looking actor.

Read more on Girum Ermiyas’s biography.

Roman Befikadu

She is one of the most genuinely talented and beautiful actresses in Ethiopian history. Roman received substantial public admiration after her astonishing performance in the movie “bale taxiw,” Roman received significant public affection, and Yonas Berhanu Mewa directed it.

Roman Befikadu - Famous Ethiopian Actress

Read more on Roman Befikadu.

Meseret Mebrate

Meseret Mebrate is an Ethiopian actress born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in Gibi Gabriel. She grows up with her parents and three siblings with one brother and two sisters. She is widely known as “Mesi,”, especially after her public recognition brought by the movie “Gudifecha.” Before and after Gudifecha, she had performed in more than eight movies and various TV series, including Gebena, which had brought most of her success.

Meseret Mebrate - Famous Ethiopian Actress

Mahder Assefa

The 34-year-old beauty was born on 5 October 1987 in Shiro Meda, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Like most of our movie stars, Mehader had a different life back then. Her parents were only interested in achieving educational goals, making it harder for her to find encouragement from anyone. Mahder completed her bachelor’s at the University of Admas with secretarial science; meanwhile, she was able to form a dancing crow with her peers, which had led her to perform in music videos and later in the movie industry.

Mahder Assefa - Famous Ethiopian Actress

After graduation, she worked at the Bole international airport in a duty-free shop as a salesperson for about four years. She had been able to perform as a leading character in movies such as Seberat, Amalayu, Yebet lej, Triangle Trilogy, Chiefu, and FBI 2. Maheder had been able be named the best actress of the year in 2012.

Ethiopian Rappers

Rap music is the most challenging and unwelcome art in Ethiopia. Unlike any other entertainment industry, it was considered Western influence for many years. Still, these individuals showed us that music is an international language that isn’t bound by race, color, age, sex, religion, political view, and economic status. Still, the only essence of love and peace to unite humankind worldwide, the Ethiopian rap industry is just beginning, especially with them being young and energetic. We hope and expect much more significant progress from the upcoming years.

Lij Michael

Michael Taye, widely known for his stage name Lij Mic and Faf, was born on 19 February 1986 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The young artist is one of Ethiopia’s pride in the hip-hop music industry. Lij Michael graduated from the School of Ethiopia Andenet and then later completed his diploma in IT from the college of soft net.

Lij Michael - Famous Ethiopian Rapper

He is well known for being one of the originators of Ethiopian hip hop and taking it even higher. Lij Michael released his first album in 2016 named “Zaraye Yehun Nege”. It included 15 songs written and produced by the artist himself. His participation in the coke studio Africa season 4 left a promising future for the hip hop industry of both Africa and Ethiopia.


Adam amine Daniel, the Ethiopian immigrant, was born on 18 April 1994 in northeast Portland. Both of his parents were from Ethiopia, and life wasn’t any easier for a black kid in a white community. Still, amine was a charming kid who quickly got along with the neighborhood kids. His passion for music began when his mother heard American rap songs. Like any other black, immigrant, and less networked kid, his journey to becoming a rap star was always harder than he thought. Still, amine was more substantial than the problems he continued to develop his rapping, songwriting, and producing skills. After he joined the University of Portland to study marketing, he would spend most of his summertime traveling to New York for an internship to understand the music industry a bit closer.

Amine - Famous Ethiopia Eritrean Rapper in America

Amine reached his success after the released single “Caroline” afterward. He released a studio album named “good for you” amine is well known for his joyful and optimistic songs, which helped him the entitlement as the “joyful rapper.”    

Read more about Amine Here.

Hahu Beatz

The Ethiopian rapper, songwriter, and director Hahu Beatz came from his original place in the northern region of Ethiopia, Mekelle. He is one of the youngest Ethiopian rappers who are working hard to improve the nation’s music, especially “Rap,”

Hahu Beatz - Famous Ethiopian Rapper

Hahu Beatz joined the music industry about eight years ago. Since then, he brought a tremendous amount of change for the youth generation. His private company “Fidel production” had been reaching young and talented musicians all over the country.

Ethiopian Models

Liya Kebede

Liya is an Ethiopian-born and raised model born on 1 March 1978 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When Liya got older, she attended her school years at Lycee Guebre Mariam Gari. She was noticed by a film director who led her to a French modeling agency. After completing school, she went to France, then to the US, Chicago, and new york. Liya is well known for her multi-talented career as a model, maternal health advocator, clothing designer, and actress. Liya can withstand the western pressure that made it very hard for black women to succeed in any career. She is also known for humanitarian work regarding women suffering from maternal illnesses and children. This made her and her profile way beyond a pretty face and a perfect body.

Liya Kebede - Famous Ethiopian model

She has been WHO’s ambassador for maternal, newborn, and child health since 2005, the three times vogue cover, one of the top listed wealthy supermodels in the world, the creator and owner of world brand “Lemlem”, which motivated and encouraged traditional weavers and young entrepreneurs. And also, the 2013 Liya Kebede volunteerism foundation had entitled her as “one of the glamour’s women of the year” she is an inspirational lady, especially for black women all over the world.

Read more on Liya Kebede.

Gelila Bekele

Gelila is a model, social activist, documentary filmmaker, and humanitarian born in Ethiopia on 4 September 1986. Even though Gelila was born in Ethiopia, she spent most of her time traveling from Europe to the US. Even when being a model from most people’s perspective is often about fashion and glamour, Gelila is far from such things she frequently mentions about her opposition to body shaming.

Gelila Bekele - Famous Ethiopian Model

In Africa, her humanitarian dos led her to team up with charity water to raise funding for more minor hydrated areas. Her modeling career is also booming. She had worked with some of the leading companies globally, such as Levi’s Diesel, Pinko, Nespresso, Pantene, and L’oreal. Gelila is also the author of a book called “Guzo.” 

Read more on Gelila Bekele.

Anna Geteneh

Anna is an Ethiopian model and entrepreneur born in Sweden to Ethiopian diplomatic parents. She got discovered at such an early age. Later in her former years, she worked in Paris and New York for about nine years.

Anna Geteneh - Famous Ethiopian Model

Anna is well known for being the founder of the Ethiopian children’s fund to build schools in rural areas. This had lasted until the present days in which she started “African Mosaique” in the house her father had built around “Legetafo”. The New York Times stated it as “past the garage now a coffee shop”, describing how she started African Mosaique from scratch and built its way up to being an international brand. Similarly, the Ethiopian children’s fund (ECF) began with 18 students in 1999 named “children’s village,” currently enhancing around 600 students from primary school to pre-university.

Honourable mention

Abebech Gobena

I guess it’s safe to say our dear mother Abebech Gobena is the Mother Teresa of Africa; she was born in 1935 in Shebel, Amhara, Ethiopia. Abebech started her humanitarian dos from the age of the terrible drought heading around Ethiopia in the 1980s; her first child was an orphan whose mother had died because of the drought.

Abebech Gobena

At the end of the year, Ms. Gobena had 21 children living with her and her husband. She then was forced to leave her husband and most of her belongings. After a tiring journey, she managed to register her organization as Abebech Gobena Children’s Care And Development Association, which helped her raise money and funding. Ms. Gobena was known as “emaye“, translated as a loving mother. Ms .gobena died on 4 July at 85 due to Covid 19. Yet she left an inevitable mark in everyone’s heart a true giver, the loving mother for many orphans.

Read more on Abebech Gobena.

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Written by Lidya Eskinder - Typical Ethiopian Author Team

Lidiya is a 24-year-old writer who has been writing since the age of 12. Currently, she is working on 3 books of her own including Warriors and the power of silence. She is also one of the typicalethiopian.com Author team.

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