There is Date, there is Expiry Date

November 13, 2008 at 11:14 am 6 comments

After publishing the Legesse Wegi post herebelow, I went to Abesha Bunna Bet to see what my friend Dr. Ethiopia has been upto. There, I came across an article entitled Marrying-Off a (four) year old Ethiopian Girl. I found this article interesting. Because only the other day (*cough* last Sunday), I was watching ETV’s “Yelijoch Gize” and have came across a drama that somewhat confused me.

It’s not just the pretentiousness of the drama that bothered me (it’s based on, atleast, two Grimm fairy tales). But the lesson it was trying to teach. This girl, Adera, is brought to the city by her aunt. Who, as we know, is a mean spirited wretch who makes her do all the house work and look after her own kids.

Somewhere else, the king is looking for a “playmate” to his son. After turning the kingdom upside down, he decides to send for an old man known for his wisdom. “Abba Musa..” says his Highness in a volcanic voice, (the scene takes place in a park where Waiters & Waitresses can be seen running with dishes behind the trees) “Go get my son a playmate! A girl who would grow up with him and become his fiancée!”.

“Abba Mussa” bows in obedience and goes out with his “masinQo”. He is then observed walking around villages looking for kids. That he gathered around him and start playing the following song:

Amta Qolo yilegnal
Zilzil siga yilegnal
Kelijoch gaar chewata
Yamregnal .. yamregnal..

The kids, on their turn, sing back:

Amta Qolo yalewal
Zilzil siga yilewal
KeAbba Mussa chewata,
Yamrenal.. yamrenal

“Once upon a time in Neverland” says I “there was a King-of-Pop called Michael Jackson who liked playing with kids too – at night, in the bedroom, on the bed. Just lose it (HA-HA-HA-HA-HA)


When Abba Mussa is done singing, he takes the little girls apart and tells them to count a handful of “teff”. “If you got the correct answer” he tells them “there is a prize you can never imagine”. When they take it home and come back with numbers, he looks disappointed. Sings his song again and bids the children farewell. Adera, ofcourse, told him teff could not be counted .. good prevailed over evil and they all lived happily ever after.

Now, I know “choosing a fiancée” for your child is an old Ethiopian tradition that need not be blotted out of history books. This is, after all, a drama from the good old days when Janhoy and EteGe were believed to have been “Anointed Ones”. But is that what The ETV/ERTA Children’s Program people want to tell those kids whose parents can’t afford to have MBC3 installed?! The answer is NO.

Two songs made in the last five years have been shocking the hell out of me every time I heard them. The first is “Lijinetwa” by Nati, aka “Teamiregnaw Nati who, upon renouncing this title and claiming to be a mere mortal, got in a bitter battle with that DeFaar ‘Yesefer Lij’ of mine Samson Mamo”. “Genna Yitsan lij nat”, Nati or the character he’s playing in his song, tells us, that her youth makes him feels sorry for her. But does it stop him from drooling over her? Nope!.

The second song is Aster Aweke’s “Murit” from her latest album, “FiQir”. This actually has got a line that goes:

Lemin tilalachu “Lije gena nech gena”
DoRom Tibelalech, atintwa saytena.

Where do I begin?!

Aster Aweke, then. I’ve been her fan for as long as I can remember. Even when Tilahun Gessesse’s songs felt more like a punishment than entertainment in his post-“Min Taregiwalesh” career, I sought Aster diligently. She’s got a voice that was bigger than her person, I felt, that was truly magical. But I’ve never had much respect for neither the way she behaved on stage, nor on interviews nor the lyrics she wrote. “DoRom tibelalech atintwa saytena”, however, is pushing it, even for Aster Aweke! What next? “Tinish lij wedje nefs yalaweQechi.. alGa lai sinweta gelaye tadesse?!

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, if these people are actually from the 21st century?!

Entry filed under: Latest Posts.

Of heroes & traitors – The ballad of Legesse Wegi Courage, child, courage!

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dr.Ethiopia  |  November 14, 2008 at 5:00 am

    How loud can one say: “Are You Guys Insane?”

    Abesheet i don’t want my comment to end up being a post within a post, but what a complacent and loser a nation we are, really. We are a hell fire on earth, man.

  • 2. Mazzi  |  November 14, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Sadly, we are a nation that keeps half of its population in bondage. It is so entrenched in our culture and has been for generations to a point where we don’t even stop and notice!

    Thanks to extreme poverty, lack of education, ignorance, insanely patriarchal culture, and mass complacency … female circumcision, kidnapping (Telefa) for forced marriages, rape, child marriages, early pregnancies and delivery related complications are every day realities for millions of Ethiopian women. 😦 😦

    Insanity does not even begin to describe what is done to young girls in the name of tradition. I am simply heart broken and speechless about this matter. We sure can’t expect to get ahead while leaving half our population behind.

    Those of us lucky enough to have been spared from such misery have to speak up on behalf of the powerless as awareness is the first step to fighting these deeply disturbing traditions. So thanks Dr. Ethiopia and Abesheet for writing about this topic on your respective blogs.

    I feel hopeless and helpless sometimes………..

  • 3. Dr.Ethiopia  |  November 14, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    @Mazzi – We lack information. What I mean by that? We are a nation where our leaders are pretenders. You can’t educate a natio of 80 million, education i nits formal sense where they go through from grade to grade.

    What we need, in my opinion, is information. The ability to inform our rural and culturally backward half. We have to put the word out via radio and so forth. Just inform. Radio is king as they say. Spread the word. Let’s give them the Gospel on things that are heineous.

    Even though, i support any edication ideas and incentives, we also need to emphasize. Hope to explain and touch on it in my next post.

    Feeling hopeless and helpless??? The heavy lifting and the magnitude of our problems is criplling whe one decides to entertain the idea on how to tckle these issues. But a graet leader can deliver that, things should have gone swimmingly long ago, but i guess that’s what happens when we have leaders that are not by th epeople, for the people and of the people.

    I can’t emphasize leadership enough.

  • 4. carlos  |  November 17, 2008 at 11:30 am

    I find the first son in Youtube, but not de Aster Awake`s one. Do you know if this videolip exist? I like very much Aster Awake. So, why you are so criticcal whth her person. I don`t know nothing about she, only her music. but I sense that her behavior was during the Milenium fest so diferent of Tedy`s, for example.
    Has something to do with your criticism that?

  • 5. abesheet  |  November 18, 2008 at 7:57 am

    I don’t think Murit has got a video clip, not many of Aster’s songs do. But i doubt you’d understand the meaning of those lines (even if you saw the video) anyway.

    Aster is ok on stage. She’s bouncy and flirtious, just the way everybody likes it. On her interviews though, she is what my aunts used to call “Gaadem”. She’s rude, vengful and sometimes down right stupid. We all have issues. Aster is bound to have lots of them, being a celebrity, single and (until of late) not exactly photogenic. But don’t bring it to the table, that’s all i’m saying!. By the way, except for Teddy Afro, who actually has a brain most of our Ethiopian celebrities (Tilahun Gessesse and Mohammud Amhed among them) aren’t very bright. Not too difficult to figure out why. They came into forture and fame when all you needed was a good voice (and in Tilahun’s case, gorgeous looks) so they simply didn’t see the use for brains or manners (again, in Tilahun and Aster’s case). That’s the reality with many of our celebrities, intellectuals and politicans by the way. The good news, things are changing. Ethiopians are discovering there is more to being a singer (or an artist) than a good voice, and there should be more to celebrity than just money.

  • 6. Mazzi  |  November 18, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Aster is indeed bouncy and flirtatious on stage. In one of her live concerts in DC once upon a midnight many many moons ago, though I noticed many people in the audience actually liked her bouncy and flirtatious nature, I thought other wise. It was so unbecoming of her. ‘Qillil & Qillqill aderegat.’ Some even lamented that she must have been ‘on’ something. Either way, I was so not impressed and left my craving to ever see her live again at the door.

    I love her voice and many of her songs, but not that crazy about her persona. It is sooooo true that it takes more than a great voice, pretty/handsome face, and fortune to be a great artist! It is wonderful to know Ethiopian entertainment consumers are beginning to realize that and demanding all round quality from their artists before granting them due respect.

    Though she sings many traditional songs and lyrics with her own twists, I often wonder who writes some of her original lyrics for her. I should pay attention from her album covers. I wish Ethiopian artists make the effort to be mindful of the lyrics they sing about, instead of regurgitating sometimes thoughtless traditional lyrics without caring whose toes they are stepping on! One of her lyrics you mentioned in your post is a perfect example. I always say artists should take full responsibility for the product they put out there!

    That said, I love many of her slow and soulful songs …. some I find soooo ‘moodam’ they almost put me in a trance! I wonder how Aster would be performing in small intimate settings like jazz clubs, dinner theaters, and cabarets with just the right atmospheres, where she gets the opportunity to sing and perform her songs, especially the slow ones.

    Now, I would gladly pay for that!

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