Media Expertise Profile

RomanWerq Kassahun (1914-1964 E.C.)

Expertise profile/ MIRH /14 MAR 2022

RomanWerq was born in Addis Ababa. She joined Radio Ethiopia in 1939 E.C. (1946) not only as of the first female broadcaster but also as the first female journalist in the country. Roman Werq Kassahun mainly prepared programs on women’s issues. She also did newscasting. Other than radio, she contributed articles to Menen Magazine as well as newspapers like Addis Zemen, again on women’s issues.

Roman Werq was also a writer. She authored three books. The first one, Tidar Bezedé [“The Art of Marriage”] was published in 1950. It was followed by a dramatic work entitled Mahitote Tibeb [“The Lamp of Wisdom”]. It centered on the life of Princess Tsehai, the late daughter of Emperor Haile Selassie. It was first said to have been performed on stage at Empress Menen Girls’ School before being adapted into a book. RomanWerq’s third book was entitled Yehiywet Guadegna [“A Life Partner”]. (The English translations of the above titles are attributed to the author of this book, and are actually different from those given by others. ) She has also left about ten unpublished works, mainly centered around women and their role in marriage as well as on home economics.

Despite the nature of her books, Roman Werq spent most of her adult life without a life partner, following a divorce in 1939 E.C., ironically the year she joined radio. She was also active in several civic organizations, including the Women’s Charity Organization and YWCA. Roman Werq has won two major awards for her accomplishments as s journalist and writer. The government awarded her a gold medal in honor of her lifetime achievements. And in 1956 E.C. the Ethiopian Writers’ Association awarded her a silver medal in recognition of her valuable publications, thus being the first woman in the country to receive such an award. She died at the age of 50 on Tirr 23,1964/ February 1,1972.35

Source:  Dr. Mesert chekol, 2013, The Quest for Press Freedom: One Hundred Years of History of the Media in Ethiopia, book, page 129

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