On June 25, 2009 I happened to be preparing to leave Ethiopia when my cousin burst through the doors announcing the death of the much-beloved icon. Automatically I didn’t want to believe it, assuming it was hearsay until I stepped outside.
Everywhere in Addis the spirit of Michael Jackson was in the air. People lined the streets in a daze, and taxi-cabs, shops and cafés all over the capital played his songs. That’s when the reality hit. The impact of his passing had stretched not only to Ethiopia but across the globe. And now one year later, it is still hard to believe that our Michael is gone.
Like many fans the news hit home, creeping up unexpectedly. Not only was a legend gone but Michael was someone that I looked up to and emulated. Although the media tried to tarnish his image, he forever will be the Michael I grew up listening to and adored. I will never forget hearing ‘Black and White’ for the first time and then seeing the video. Although I was near Macaulay Culkin’s age at the time, it forever changed the way in which I saw the world. Perhaps the most important lesson that Michael taught me was to give to others who were less fortunate.
A notable philanthropist, Michael dedicated his life to making the world a better place. In 1992 he founded the Heal the World Foundation which sent millions of dollars around the globe to help children who were affected by war, poverty, and disease. He also donated and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for beneficial causes, supporting over 39 charities.
Michael had so much life to live and was planning a comeback tour that would set the record straight. But less than three weeks before the first concert, he passed leaving his family and fans holding on, not quite ready to say goodbye.
One year later I am still shell-shocked and while there will be footage of the day’s events on television, I will be paying tribute to Michael in my own way.