1 abesha’s confession!

June 12, 2008 at 6:40 am 12 comments

I’ve talked about how I am not given to tears upon hearing songs. This is one of those few times in which a song made me cry.

But first, a confession!

It won’t come as a News to you I’m sure, the fact that I am not your typical Ethiopian, if you have been around this blog for the last few months. If it does, you would just have to get over it. I am an atypical Ethiopian who used to think she hates her country or country men (or both, don’t really know the difference, seeing I’m unable to sing “Ethiopia Hagere” and say ‘sew kifu’ with the same breath). There have been too many angers, resentments, etceteras, stuff my fellow-church goers at Winners International (Plc.?) used to call “gAs! niTsuh ayer yasfeligenal”.

Until, that is, my husband-to-become flew to Addis 3 years ago and we took residence at the Crown Hotel (was nearer to the countryside than any hotel in Addis; close to my office; nobody can see you! ;)).

After a long day of being stared at everywhere we go, escaping various attempts at ripping us off from drivers of every four wheel we went into, and dinning in a bar where two guys appeared to want to pick up, or take away, the sister (the kind of guys who would have tried to pass through me under normal circs. That’s the thing I notice about us Ethios. When we are seen with somebody cute/stud-like/hunky, or “tsegure liwit” – God knows how that translates as “cute” -we start glowing in the eyes of those who needed a microscope to pick us out), we decided to head back to our hotel and see what was on the menu. “They have music there,” one of the waiters suggested “at the Traditional hall!. Foreigners like it”.

“Why not?”, said I, made less than enthusiastic by the chilling weather & icy looks of the day but welcoming the diversion

“Why not?”, said my H-2-B excitedly

A hop, skip, and a puddle jump underneath a borrowed-umbrella later we found the restaurant; fully lighted and filled with the noisy preparation of a traditional band on the stage. Being younger & shyer than the two groups of white people who seemed to have claimed ownership of the place for the evening, we sat at the back. Ordering “tej beBirile”, we let our eyes wonder over to the various traditional paintings on the wall, lending our ear to what the loud spinster-type American lady was expertly speaking about (a comparison between Thai food and what was on the table, If I remember correctly).

That’s when the dancers came out! Apparently, three was the crowd needed. Young men in their mid 20’s; with their stuffed animal “giDaay” on their shoulder & Abonesh Ashagre’s “Gash WolaLoKo Haya” behind. Gracefully acrobatic in their colorful clothes, one of them shaking a spear playfully at me, and smiling. “I don’t know what touched me”, is how I’d put it in Amharic, if asked, and had to then translate it into bad english. It maybe the lonely feeling in a sea of strangers. The conciliatory “yager lij” smile or the tej! I simply couldn’t stop crying. It was as if i was having a crying fit; with the mind going blank, and the senses unable to defend themselves against the emotional assault I didn’t even know existed in me. As though some spell has been removed and I can see things clearly, for the first time. A clarity ephiphanic in quality, and more powerful than jumping water bodies from a broken dam.

The tears that were washing my face upset the Waiters so much that I had to be given bundles of napkins by their kindly supervisor wearing white, just as God intended! Ofcourse her sympathetic look and muttered “ayzosh” would have made things worse, hadn’t my H-2-B pressed my hand uncomfortably and whispered how the rude lady we heard praising Thai food earlier was giving me a look that plainly said “What’s her problem?!”.

That was a moment in my career as an Ethiopian that makes me go “Hmm… odd!!” every time I thought of it. Couldn’t make any sense of it then. There I was, I mean to say, solidly built in the abesha soil, almost as immovable as the “arbegnoch hawilt” infront of “Wannaw posta bet”. Never planning to leave my country and even demanding my sweetheart move here if he wants a future with the sister (which he did after a year). Having never put a foot on foreign soils and eating my mother’s “Enjera” and drinking some strange woman’s “tej”. “I guess”, I have said to myself while tossing and turning over the question of what my problem was that night, “Ethiopians will be Ethiopians”. Which, somehow, was a comfort to know!

Torn from my husband for more than a year and waiting for the U.S. Citizenship & Immigrations Services to process my visa, I view it as something else now. As a blast from the future – a preview of impending tears for all things I’d be missing when I kiss the family goodbye, and leave the country I’ve lived in/loved & hated/cried over and cried for all my life. Still, I’m training myself in the art of “eskista” (when noone is watching). So my tear could pass unnoticed when somebody abesha drags me to the stage to dance for “Min alegn agere”. There may not always be a lady in white handing one half a “laskit” napkins to cry into, you understand, and the darling who would press the hands whispering “Are you ok?” may not always have the time.

Still, this post isn’t a shout out to neither TeddyAfro’s “EyAnebu Eskista”, nor Abonesh Ashagre’s “Bahlen Bahlen”, both of whom I love and the later of which reminded me of the above mentioned event last night. It’s a shout out to all those who worked hard to help Ethiopian music evolve (including Dawit Melese, who usually made the sister wonder if mics should be given to all those that asked). For evolve it has!! It’s the only thing about Ethiopia I can confidently speak of… as evolving! You will do so too if you take the trouble to go through all of FM 97 stations one evening. It has evolved in an unimaginable way & with a vengence! Gigi is, ofcourse, the forerunner. She tore down the “teB gidgida” and come out as fresh yet familiar as a Difo Dabo right out of the oven. Elias Melka, a genius in his own right, help make her descendents stomachable enough. TeddyAfro brought a personality and a perspective, with an edge, to the songs. Zeritu sang it right out of the court (beDemtswa! She ain’t exactly the poet, that Zeritu ;)). All of them deserve mighty praises.

Police Orchestra

Dare we hope the film industry would follow suit?. That something good might actually come out of all these greasy efforts at making something worthwhile? And that all the crap we are seeing nowadays, however frustrating and pathetic, maybe a “Wazema: YeAbiyot Mebacha”?! That quantity shall proceed quality?

Or is that the typical response from a nation of believers and survivors? 😉

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Achebe’s “The king is naked” Our government, Oy!

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Totit  |  June 12, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    So from the greeting message I gather u, you, and yourself is the other Tota?

  • 2. Tsegaye  |  June 13, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Abesheet,
    You are one of those people I admire for having the ability to fully express how she feels in words. You have the passion to share. I believe in the power of words. They can clarify (even beautifully complicate) an otherwise dull life> You have the drive, and I really hope to see you write a book one day. You make me think, and inspire me to pay attention to life. Thank you.

    Once again very good post. Let me see if I can relate. Music-wise I am one of those people who leans towards the past. I’ve been criticized for this, people saying I need to catch up to the present.

    Listening to Efrem’s songs remind me of those days as me and my friends walk back from kokebe tsibah in the afternoons.

    Tsehaye reminds me of looking our best to impress the girls on Saturday afternoons, cafes, and plain zuret in piasa.

    Hamelmal reminds me of sergoch, rare trips to ghion, and the zembaba zafoch on bole road.

    Netsanet is the forbidden world of adults I wished I could be part of back then. I wished I could make her fall in love with me.

    Aregahegn is all those soldiers I wanted to be like. Airbornes with their beret and ranger uniforms. Also those who went and never came back from war.

    Aster is home away from home.

    I’ve been struggling with a lot of questions last so many years, and you know about some of the confusion. But these memories tied with these songs have given me basis I hold faithfully to reflect what Ethiopia is to me-all those I was with.

  • 3. abesheet  |  June 13, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Not here, totee. At another website for abeshas! They been planning to visit last night, or so i hoped, and I put that special greeting up. Which I will tear down the minute I knew what is going on from my inbox at that other website. You are the tota here and can have as many bannanas as you want. Minus the “litach” ofcourse ;).

    Abbye,
    You know me too well to know I don’t mind opinions being different to mine. I actually welcome them. It makes the post appear more controversial and interesting than it actually is ;). And the BlogStats counter would take notes ;). (And all the people shall say “Amen!!”).

    That doesn’t mean, ofcourse I agree with everything you said. Especially the Alemneh Wasse thing. C’mon girl. “Our man” coming from Americans of a fellow american is completely different from Alemneh Wasse claiming an African american presidential election candidate as “our man”. No way, no how! For a starter, Alemneh Wasse isn’t African-american and Obama ain’t Ethiopia’s “kegn ej” in the White House. And won’t be, however dark his skin and wherever his roots are buried. Or is it only me who can see that?! Still, he’s shown got guts and I believe he deserves a shot at being President, to atleast fix America’s foreign policy. If, that is, he can ;). Can we agree on that atleast?

  • 4. Afroman  |  June 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Here here – arif- but I disagree on teddy

  • 5. abyssinia  |  June 13, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    I agree to disagree, abesheet and thank you for allowing me to do so.

    My point thou, Alemneh dosen’t have to hold dual citizenship to refer Obama someone like “us”. I mean anyone who has an African background is “yegna sew”, at least that’s how I look at it. And that’s how my African school/class mates treated me back in college or other colored students. Call it a “black thing” or connection.

    Any who…we don’t know what the future holds for Obama, if he is going to be “Kegn ej” for Ethiopia once he is in the white house. The truth is I ain’t worried if he is going to live up to his promises or not…I want him NOT only to have a shot at being a president but be one. You know why coz I don’t think he or another black person will have a chance in the next 12 or 20 yrs.

    Anyways, your crown hotel incident was kinda funny coz I remember being in that same place back in 2004. Well, I didn’t cry hysterically but I remember feeling emotional for whatever reason. I’m glad I didn’t have “tej” that night, it could’ve been me crying my eyes out. 🙂

  • 6. KNIGHT  |  June 14, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    ….okay, first of i thought “Teji” or however you spell it was only for those old people from the neighborhood who don’t talk to you out on the street, but still are not a bit reluctant to come to your house whenever there is a wedding or whatnot… Anyways, i don’t know if i can say i can relate to the first half of the story, but i can say i understand what your going through and what you will be going through once you make it to, what do they call it, the promise land…haha Puh-leez… i myself have never been so much of an Ethio music fan except for the Christian songs… but now days listening to one of those songs who use to be too cheesy for my test, appear rather intriguing… leaving your Hometown, with family and friends behind is tough. period. but you will find comfort in the fact that you are going to do something important in your life so that you can go back and serve the people and country we feel so strongly about… so, hang in there Absheet i know its gonna be a big move but you will adjust and settle down in no time… i promise…. and as far as missing the faces of your people. trust me, you can dig up a 300 feet hole down the ground to move into, and you would still run into an Habesha person there… so i wouldn’t worry too much about missing ” yehageren sew”….

    God Bless!

  • 7. abesheet  |  June 16, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Thank you, both Abby & Knighty, for taking the time to explain your points of view. (Afroman, shold probably say a bit more regarding his TeddyAfro comment so we can discuss).

    I see what you mean, Abby. Never saw it that way, maybe because that wasn’t the way Alemneh Wasse was referring it to: he was more like, “alefelin! Obama temerete!”. Or so I felt. And if I misunderstood him, whose fault is that now ;)?

    Lol Knight, i know exactly what you mean about “democratic america”. My husband gets literally sick when he thinks of it. Infact, when he heard on the news Bush might be prosecuted for war crimes a few weeks ago, he gave me a call there and then to “maBser” it to me. You gotta be either a minority or developing country, i guess, to know how unfair, undemocratic and unjust “the great US&A can be”. More so with the Republicans, as we learned at our expence. So.. I wish Obama luck.

    Stay in touch!

  • 8. ONELUV  |  June 16, 2008 at 9:03 am

    ah ya, planing to leave the country does that to ya….it has been years since i came to the states, but i still cry (sometimes silentely, and other times not so silently)when i hear songs that speak deep enough to me about my dear mama ethio. the funny thing is, i don’t cry that often (not that there is anything wrong with that) but it just takes a whole lot to make me cry, in fact, i can count the times i cried in one hand , gin YeHager neger sinesa, it is a different story for me. It doesn’t take much until I get all emotional and sentimental and shit. Funny thing is, one would think as time goes by it gets easier aydel? for me it is the complete opposite. Anywho, good luck with USCIS, and your process. bring lots of musiqa! 🙂

  • 9. ABIE  |  June 17, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Best wishes with your Visa. As an atypical (fill in one of 3 races here) I can totally relate to you. You will do very well in the US minus the weird stares. 🙂

  • 10. abesheet  |  June 24, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Here is what VOA’s “Music time in Africa” has to say about Ethiopian Music.

    Ethiopia’s revolutionary sixties

  • 11. christian  |  August 22, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Oi people
    I truely love the layout of abesheet.wordpress.com. Looks good, keep it up!
    anyways..
    Im a very “strong” christian and I guess I have a few questions on my mind..
    I’ve been thinking a lot about dating.. but im not sure where to begin.
    My cousins have been telling me christian dating is the way to go.. so I’ve done a little studying on minnesota christian singles and found some stuff on google
    Would be great to hear your input.

  • 12. christian  |  August 25, 2008 at 5:11 am

    I would like to say that i love your blog abesheet.wordpress.com a lot
    now.. back on topic lol
    I cant say that fully agree with what you typed up… care to clear things up for me?

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