Posts tagged ‘Ethiopian Music’


I may have mentioned how I am not a very musical person. Giving, or receiving. In my defense, these were the worst of times and the worst of times for my country. Our choice of entertainment lied in either “gidel teGadel” or “Eshet Qorto laake leAbiyotawiw meri”. Hibret Ti’ryit didn’t have much of a “ti’riyit” to it until “Hizb lehizb” materialized and we get to watch the rest of the world’s reaction to what was ours; over and over again. The rest remained the same. The news was bad. The movies were bad. Even the books, with rare short-story exceptions such as “Shilingen” and “YeEmet Taye Engurguro”, were Maxim Gorky [“Enat”] type.

The one thing we had; the one man that made our weekends bearable, was Hailu Tsegaye. Who, with Jemanesh Solomon, Kurabachew Deneke, Getahun Girmamo and a couple of other fabulous radio-actors brought to us dramas of the supreme category on “Qidamen Landafta” and “Ehudin Kegna Gar”. He wrote/co-wrote and acted in those dramas, and they were all good – indiscriminately.

So, yeah, I grew up preferring “Qededa” – wore, tewnet, tireka – to singing and dancing. I wasn’t a fan of music even after I started going to the Protestant Christian Church in “Shiro Meda”; a church that was accused by non-Protestants of drawing people from all walks of life through its magnificent use of gospel songs. I sang along. I “mashebsheb”ed along. I clapped the hand, worked the trouser muscle and did everything expected of a “Merry” and “[of a] cheerful mind” person – “des yalewu yizemir” yilalina metsihafu. Deep down, though, I was fidgeting with my internal watch, nudging them to get on with it and get to the “sibket” part. And if you, like me, were a student of the human behavior, there would be no such thing as a “bad” sibket! Even when you suspect “Wondim” or Pastor Ekele may have heard a neighbor the day he thought he “got” the “call”, you will get to learn something. It’s either good, or entertaining – nothing in between.

Then I came to America. (more…)

March 6, 2013 at 10:10 pm 5 comments

K’naan: A pirate, a guitar

Dressing the part

I was hoping somebody would bring this subject up and I’ll be allowed to give my distinguished opinion about it ;). Nobody did, so i decided to do the dirty work myself – with, ofcourse, some help from For, as the Home Depot commercial would tell you, doing it on your own doesn’t mean doing it alone.

For those of you who don’t know who the guy on your right is, his name is K’naan Warsame. He is a Somali-Canadian poet/musician/rapper born in the district of Wardhiigleey (“The River of Blood”) and brought up in “the meanest streets in the universe”, or ‘the risky zone’ as he calls it, “full of pistols and russian revolvers”.

His mission:
Seeing to it that the “average Somalis”, the “most forgotten people in the world”, have a voice other than all the voices that talk about them & drawn their’s. Voices of “violent warlords, or pirates hijacking ships off the coast”. He’s made it, the above mentioned website reports, L.A. Times’ “an artist to watch” list after:

His first album, 2006’s The Dusty Foot Philosopher, was a hit with critics here and abroad. His latest, Troubadour, features Mos Def and Damian Marley .. The Guardian called him “powerfully low-key, theatrical [and] witty.”

And what was it about him I was hoping a reader would bring up & i comment?!
In a word copyright. In two words, copyright violations. This up and coming Somali rapper has been accused by Ethiopians of violating international copy right laws; in the form of copying/stealing/taking without permission or acknowledgement some beats that are rightfully ours. The beats he allegedly copied/stole/took with neither permission nor acknowledgement are “the original composers and singers of Ethiopia namely Tilahun and Alemayhu eshte”. A special attention has been brought, both by and Jimma times, to this song.

I, being one of those who give more attention to the ‘giTim’ instead of a rhythm of a song ( although my Introduction to Poetry teacher at AAU, one Wondwossen Adane, another genius on his own right, repeatedly said a song won’t be a song without the beat), am no more bothered by it than I would by anyone around my age “kilil” winning the celebrity status. And he’s an awesome geTami, this ‘weriha’, of an experience most of us went through back home and continue to [go through] abroad, as this poem here amply proves. [Did i just add myself to the list of “most of us abroad”?! You’d think i’ve been “affer meGfatting” for 30 years, instead of 3 months; well.. the first 6 months are supposed to be the hardest :cool:].

More importantly, I believe in giving credit where credit is due. For it’s no secret to us how if there is something the Somalis are good at, it’s piracy. It’s not bringing their issues to the table and thrashing it out, it’s not having ambitions that are realistic by nature (Barre’s outrageous day dreamings and Aweys’ blabberings come to mind), it isn’t even going without “chaat” for a couple of days. It’s piracy. Taking what doesn’t belong to them and making profit out of it. [And ..oh yeah.. renting a room in groups that has a landline telephone; making long distance calls to their various relatives in the UK and Canada, talk for hours on end and disappearing when the bill shows up. They are good at that stuff!] Not to mention how “counterfeiting” is “tirsachewin neQlewu yaDeGubet muya”. But a friend of mine has been pretty chocked up about it, to the point of asking me to do a post on it [which I, loyal to my loyalty to the “Dusty foot philosopher”, refused], then giving VOA’s Amharic Service a call and alerting them of the theft. Then alerting me of the call. [I know, it’s pretty confusing :)]. “Well..”, I said to self last night (while pacing the room with a sleeplessness that bordered with insanity), “he’s been a ‘lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ these past few months, giving me pointers on what to do and when — to make the American transition easier. He’s also been my source for any mischievous act Meles or his government has committed lately :). Lemme google the songs and give the post a try”.

Here are my findings. I’ll start with 15 Minutes away, which just became one of my favorite songs of all times. [Tiny Western Union office on “Global Hintsa”, biresash Qegne yirsagn!!]. America, ABC’s and I come prepared.

You tube and The Official K’NAAN Website has a lot more.

June 16, 2009 at 11:04 am 6 comments

DTBaS, the sequel

We have talked about the row between Zemari Muluken Melese and Artist Bizuayehu Demissie under the post Daddy’s too big a shoe.

First, an explanation:
The expression “walking in daddy’s shoes” shows a younger person’s desire, attempt or tendency to walk the way his/her father walked. “Be in his shadows”, so to say. Live his life. Behave his behaviors. Earn his rewards. It usually is a futile attempt at being bigger than self. For daddy would always be older, wouldn’t he?! Unless your mother is a cougar, married her toy-boy boyfriend who just happens to be younger than you yet expects you to see him as a “fatherly figure”, call him “dad” even, and you were the extremely obliging type. That is the way i understood the daddy shoe idiom/syndrome/whathaveyou, and that’s why i chose it for a title. [Feel free to disagree, but beMereja].

Bizuayehu Demissie is young, talented and (more importantly) ambitious. He sees himself as capable of singing. Singing, of all things, Muluken Melese’s songs the way the Idol did once. He believes he can get enough market for it too. Muluken, as we learned from his interview with VOA Amharic Service, does not think so.

And why am i bringing it up now?! Because I think it’s about time we voted on it and moved on. [And because Mazzi, God bless her heart, sent me Bizuayehu’s re-makes for a “Medeberia”. And because zSHARE has been so kind as to allow me upload it].

If you, therefore, haven’t already come across them, herebelow are a total of 12 (10 of Bizuayehu’s, two by Anteneh AbatuManew) remakes of Muluken Meles’s oldies goodies [or goldies] that made me view his songs with a new eye. The titles are self-explanatory so i would not dwell on them. But I’d dwell on one thing. The video I found on Daveox Space when googling for photos of the young Artist. It reads:

Let us respect the copyrights of our Ethiopian artists, recording artists and poets. Let us always buy the original products of their works, instead of asking for copies or duplicating and distributing them for free, for our artists need money to keep up with their creative works. By buying their original products, we are contributing and supporting them indirectly morally and financially to come up with more exciting ideas. So let us get conscious.

If you can’t see the irony in that, I don’t think you’d be able to see irony if it sits on your lap and calls you “mama” (“dadda” or whatever name ironies call their family members by when sitting on their lap).

Yene Qonjo, Yene Alem, Yebirhan Kokeb, Tizita, Tizez BeGelaye, Misikir Eyaye, BeGilts BaDebaBai, Endet Lichalew, Embwa Zebider, Che Belew, BerG’t Agegnesh woy and last, but not least, (oh maybe a little) Anteneh’s Kemekem & Emb’wa Bey Lamitu.


May 22, 2009 at 10:10 pm 3 comments

1 abesha’s confession!

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). (more…)

June 12, 2008 at 6:40 am 12 comments

My Ethiopian-Idol (4 now)

There are few people who fascinate me. And those the mere mention of whose name brings warmth to the sister’s soul are even fewer. Artist Abraham Wolde is one of those few. He’s a cute, talented playwright & actor (remember “Gizo brazer”?) who more than once, infact three times, wrote & directed songs that brought tears to my eyes. And I don’t get teary over songs all that often (except, maybe, once! Will tell you all about it in another post).

Infact, my interest in a “zefen” stops the minute I memorized all the lines in it. That’s where me and my fav “zefen” draw the line. If you forced me to listen to it one more time, I may complain of a head or stomach ache. And, yes, I’m one of those [dare I say, few?] shamless Ethiopians who do not feel the need to apologize for changing their minds about stuff. I take change as good news because change shows growth and maturity, not “telewawachinet” or “beAlama alemetsinat” as we are brought up to believe. Dish it, is how i see it, if you don’t think it works any more! Why waste your loyalty over things that never needed your loyalty in the first place? And, except in matters where the question of “honor” and the subject of right & wrong were concerned, that’s how I been operating!.

Needless to “meGoreR”, therefore, I don’t go through the type of hell I see people go through to hide the fact that they have matured out of their previous tastes. Because I’m well aware I do not have a little Scribe tugging at my sleeve and jotting down every opinion I aired, and a city full of people (who probably hired the Scribe) ready to take my ass to court when what I’m saying now and what I believed in the past don’t go hand in hand. That neither I, nor my words, matter to that extent and if some took us to, those some better find themselves somebody more deserving of their devotion & under whose feet they won’t look ridiculous when observed sitting!

So … yeah.. if you heard me say I loved this song today and I hate it tomorrow, ask me why! Don’t make haste to judge me or attempt to “maSaFer” me because you’d find me irredeemably unrepentant. “Get a life, dude!” is my silent reply, even if my “kesaShoch” aren’t always men, to those who try to shame me for changing my mind. As if there is one person, one type of cloth, one skin color or look, one food & one [political/religious/social] conviction I should meSaLem & swear to stand-by till Kingdome comes!

Where was I?! (before letting my “miRet” carry me into hostile territories, as I always do :))?! Oh yes! Abraham Wolde and his “BalaGeru”s!! – Which I loved! Have been loving & would probably continue to love for some time to come. Maybe I just have a weakness for “balaGers”, cute song & playwrights & their songs, or his songs are like that exquisite 2nd album of Gigi’s (her “Semna WorQ” I hated & said as much to the embarassed protestation of my all-time-Gigi-Fan friends). Which, in turn, reminds me of that thing they say about Shakespeare, Opera and wine (the “wine” part I added because, although respectful to it’s legendary quality, i’m not a huge fan of it’s taste). If you love it, they say, you’ll love it forever! If you don’t love it, they add, you’ll atleast learn to respect it! Mostly because u don’t really understand it, says I, or are intimidated into liking & approving it by mass-opinion or people you think are superior to you. (more…)

June 2, 2008 at 8:52 am 5 comments


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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