Legesse Djilo Kumalo was born in Aleta Wondo, Sidama Province, in 1970. At age 10, his mother left home after being divorced. Legesse’s father stopped him from attending school since he wanted him to become a skilled farmer (the area is well-known for coffee production). Life with his stepmother and his workload became more and more challenging. Hence, he fled to the remote area where his mother had moved. There, his new friends took him to the church. Legesse accepted Christ as his personal saviour and joined a Sunday school choir. When his congregation was closed by the communist regime in 1984, the cadres arrested many of his fellow singers and other Church ministers. They spared Legesse because he was still a minor. In those dark days, Legesse began to serve as a solo singer in the underground church.
Having completed high school in 1988, Legesse married Almaz Hankalo and committed himself to full-time ministry in Sidama and other southern provinces. After the fall of the atheist military regime in 1991, Legesse recorded his first cassette in the studio of the Southern Synod of Mekane Yesus Church. It was the first album ever released with gospel songs in Sidaamu afoo (Sidama language). The use of the audience’s mother tongue was very welcome; many listeners witnessed to the clear and edifying message of his songs. Legesse released the second album with Sidama gospel songs in 1992, the third in 1993, the fourth in 1994 and the fifth one in 2003.
Inspired by gospel singer Tesfaye Gabisso, Legesse also wrote Amharic hymns. In 1990 he recorded his first Amharic cassette and offered it to his then church, Ethiopian Heywet Berhan Church. Unfortunately, the cassette was not given the necessary attention and returned two years later. The recording of Legesse’s Amharic songs could finally be released with the help of gospel singer Tamirat Haile.
Legesse earned a BTh with a focus on Community Development from Evangelical Theological College (Addis Ababa) in 2007, an MA in Leadership from Vision International University (Ramona, USA) and Grace Theological College (Addis Ababa) in 2012 and an MA in Education Leadership from Evangelical Theological College in 2019 (the same day his son graduated with a BTh at the same academic institution). Legesse has been working for many years in child development projects under the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Commission, first as an Assistant Coordinator and now as the Senior Country Coordinator.
Legesse envisions to start a wholistic training centre in his home town, Aleta Wondo, focussing on discipleship and leadership development together with worship and music development programs.
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Published in 2020:
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