Before listening to the reading of Tesfaye Gessesse’s “Shilingen”, I associated the city of Harar with “Zeyitun”, long dresses made of colorful rags and a picture of a lady in a “BaleTilet Qemis” that was Ethiopian airlines’ advertisement you saw everywhere back then.
“Shilingen”, ofcourse, gave me an insight into what the lives of many a Harari women can be (or so i thought back then, I was a young’un). So I started associating Harar with train stations, basket full of fruits and nameless stranger that make away with a single mother’s hard earned 50 cents. A decade and half later, I got the chance to visit it. I didn’t waste my time by shopping for contraband goods as would a less impressionable individual. No, I went “Shirshir” as the boys from Bole2Harlem would call it. I walked through every one of it’s doors, sat in the traditional [museum-like] houses and had my photo taken infront of Arthur Rimbaud’s paintings. A fellow traveler with an artist’s soul trapped in the body of a tour guide called Harar “a poetic city”. Perhaps! But it’s no doubt a poetry you’d have to strain the ears to hear. For harar is where silence goes to die. It’s noisy. It’s chaotic. It’s swift. Light as air and indiscriminant as death. Alas, not stopping for anyone! The madness, however, has a shade to it. Lines on top of lines of silver, gold and all the colors a rainbow is made of. Kaleidoscopic and beautiful. Like the “erbo” their women make.
The women!. So much has been written about the beautiful Harari/Adere women. So many songs have been made. Questions asked. And answered. The “mí”/water has been suggested as the secret ingredient to their attractive looks, the fruits, the abish/telba, the traditional makeup. All may have contributed. But I think it has more to do with their breeding. Most claim to be half Arab, and look it. Along with the kindness, honesty and sociability, the Hararis indeed seem what the future (80, 100 years from now) holds. So my countrymen go after them every chance they got. Just like my country women are went after by Afro-American men.
(And what a shock it was, seeing that afro-American brother who was always complaining how he’s been discriminated against by his Ethiopian brothers and sisters for taking the shape of his nose from his West-African-descent father join a: “sexy light skinned People” group on facebook. The title had a “no offense to dark skinned people” tag on it in brackets. But I, a “Qey dAmA” though I maybe, took offense none the less. I don’t know which disappointed more, a thus-far soulful brother starting calling himself “sexy light skinned” the minute he convinced a light-skinned girl to go out with him. Or the fact that, when on human’s skin, black is no longer a “timeless classic”. That It has a time limit and comes with an expiration date. Or both.)
Ok, anywho, where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking about the city of Harar and my impression of it the first time I saw it. What brought to mind all these recollections was a video I watched last night. This video was made to commomerate Harar’s 1,000 years of age along with the Ethiopian Millennium. Entitled “The Walled City of Harar”, made by Sin’e-Pics Digital Media Design and running for only 36 minutes, the video is the best travel doc I have ever seen. When I say it’s narrated by Girum Zenebe and Sebhat Gebregizabher gives a couple of interviews in it, you’d know it’s one experience you shouldn’t miss.
Now the though question! Why didn’t I upload it for you? In a word: Copyright. In two words, copyright and youtube. So how about you get somebody to buy and send it for you from back home (like i did for my husband this morning) and use this song by my favorite Harari singer Ehsan Abduselam for “meTeKejzia”.
The above post is dedicated to Dr. Ethiopia whose love for Harari girls surpasses all understanding 😉
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