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For The Habesha Community, Nipsey Hussle’s Murder Is ‘Incomprehensibly Awful’

By Victoria M. Walker

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While millions of fans mourn Eritrean-American rapper Nipsey Hussle’s untimely passing, Habeshas in the U.S. and around the globe are honoring one of their own.

Friends and fans around the world have mourned his death but for Eritrean Americans, the loss is particularly painful. Nipsey was proud of his Habesha heritage and made note of it in several interviews. Nipsey’s Eritrean heritage comes from his father’s side. In 2004, he visited the country for the first time and said the experience “filled in a blank spot for me, as far as understanding myself.”

Nipsey, born Ermias Asghedom, was a Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist from Los Angeles. On March 30, while taking photos with fans outside of his store, The Marathon Clothing Company, Nipsey was gunned down in broad daylight. Police are searching for 29-year-old Eric Holder, who was identified as a suspect in the slaying.

His father, Nipsey said in a 2018 interview, fled war in Eritrea and settled in the United States. In an interview with Complex in 2010, he explained that his father tried to keep him connected to his culture. He visited the country again in 2018 and sat down with Billion Temesghen, an Eritrean writer, for an interview.

“More than anything I am proud of being Eritrean,” Nipsey told Temesghen. “The history of our country, our struggle and the underdog story, the resilience of the people and our integrity is something that I feel pride in being attached to.”

Nipsey was loved and revered across the globe. During a trip in 2018 with his brother and father, he visited local textile factories in Asmara, met with children and explored business opportunities.


People across the diaspora reacted to the news.

“Extremely saddened,” Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane G. Meskel said on Twitter.

Charge d’Affaires for Eritrea Natalie Brown, who met Nipsey during the 2018 visit, said she was saddened by his death.

“All I know is we think a lot alike probably because we from the same place South Central LA and Eritrea,” Tiffany Haddish wrote on Instagram. Haddish, like Nipsey, is Eritrean-American.

“Grew up on maps that ain’t acknowledge us, to seeing someone that genuinely personified us,” tweeted Master Tesfatsion, an Eritrean-American writer for Bleacher Report.

“This is so incomprehensibly awful oh my god,” said Hannah Giorgis, a staff writer for the Atlantic who is Ethiopian-American.

“He is a legend. Compassionate compatriot. We miss him,” Temesghen wrote.

Eritrea, a tiny nation in the Horn of Africa, is home to over four million people. According to the 2017 census, over 38,000 people living in the U.S. were born in Eritrea.

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Victoria M. Walker

Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.

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