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Art and life

  • Interview with Samuel Yirga

    Question:Tell us about your home, where do you live (no stalkers allowed) and places you have lived. If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be?

    Samuel: "I was born in Addis Ababa at 6kilo area. I have lived my whole life there. I have traveled to many countries and people think that I lived outside Ethiopia for some time specially in the UK, London because I traveled more to UK. However, because I couldn't really leave my country and my dream to change the music industry made me stay here in Ethiopia. But nowadays this energy is going away so if I leave for another country, I might choose one that I know very well. So far I love New Zealand the most and would love to live there".


    Question: Tell us the first piece of music which inspired you or you simply remember....and what do you most like about being a musician? Back to music and people if you could spend an hour with any artist (dead or alive) who would that be and what would you talk about?

    Samuel: "Ye Harer Shererit' is the first song I simply remember because that's the first Ethiopian song I played on the piano. It's a very old folk song.
    As for artists to hang out with It would be Herbie Hancock because lots of my interests in music resemble his. He loves experimenting on new sounds and music styles using cultural elements. He's not limited to one type of music but different styles. That's me in general. As a musician, I love to explore different things. So if I sat with him, the first thing I would talk to him would be about the piano. How he sees piano and what he feels about the instrument. Then we would discuss about culture and value. And his challenges as an experimental musician and his advice as an idol.


    Question: What's your favorite venue/place to hang out and why?

    Samuel: "I love coffee and cafes. So most of the places I love are cafes with good coffee. Mostly to Kaldis & Mamokacha and of Course Taitu hotel. As a country of coffee, we've got many good places for coffee. I'm not a club or bar person unless to watch a live band. The other important thing is that I don't want to be excluded from the society therefore I walk in different parts of Addis and sit in cafes not to be a stranger and not to feel strange. It's very difficult for someone to get established and be away from the real society. When you want to be in the crowd one day, you feel like you traveled to a place that you weren't supposed to be if you don't actually go to such places. Therefore, you should make it normal by going to such places. One way or fame can't delete that we're human".


    Question: Who are you currently listening to and how did you find them. We are sure you were given some advice at a younger age so what would you say to anyone wanting to work in the music business?

    Samuel: "Currently I'm listening to some artists like Incognito, Corinne Bailey Rae, Chick Corea, Irie Révoltés (Germany)
    Music in general needs passion, courage, honesty and patience. The music industry as a business is very profitable at the same time very challenging. It also needs honesty to really be successful otherwise failure would be the result. In order to run business that's related to music, someone should also know some kind of music and the Value of Art. That is the professional way and I believe it makes the person very successful. In Art, you should also take a Risk. Risk in creating new sound, experimenting on different elements, to create unusual types of music will never make you wrong but unique. Therefore, you don't have to worry if you're wrong by creating a new thing. Other than creating new music, you should also create an identity for yourself otherwise your value in music won't be special.


    Question: Anything you want to add or promote? What can we expect from you next?

    Samuel: "My next projects are two music albums. First, a pop vocal album of mine. Playing piano is what my fans know but singing has been my passion too. I'm working on my singing and it's just for the local market especially for the younger generation. I believe there must be various types of music productions in Ethiopia other than traditional music and the usual pop music. This is to add more options and entertain the young but it might work for others too.
    Secondly an album for the international Market which is a continuity of “Guzo”. It has very interesting elements and I believe it can be successful like my debut album “Guzo”.

    Other than that, I would love to produce new, young and talented Ethiopians for local and international market. I see big potential but I know there's less opportunity here. However, I want the standard of the production for both the local and international market to be high. Therefore I don't know the challenge of recording here in Ethiopia. However, I'll try to do my best in solving the problem".



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  • The Lalibela Churches

    The town and churches are named after an early thirteenth century king called Lalibela, which means the bees recognize his sovereignty for he was supposedly surrounded by them and at his birth. lalibela was part of a dynasty which traced its origins back to the kings of Israel. One day the king was given a vision of Jerusalem and inspired to build a New Jerusalem as his capital. This was quite possibly in response to news of the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in eleven eighty seven. King lalibela immediately set about making plans to build his new Jerusalem. He was determined that the town of Roha would become a city worthy of the name Jerusalem to stand the test of time. he began by renaming aspects of the town's to reflect biblical names the river which ran through became the river Jordan and crossed this new Jerusalem sprang a total of thirteen churches. According to legend these buildings sprang up remarkably quickly with men working on them during the day. And night shift work by angels who naturally work twice as fast.

    Possibly the largest monolithic church in the world, its style is believed to have been inspired by Saint Mary of Zion church in the nearby city of Axum. And it currently serves as the home of one of Ethiopia’s most precious religious and historical alum Lalibela cross, bet medhanialem forms part of a complex along with bet Mariam; Mary’s church and bet golgota the church of golgota. Mary’s church is possibly the oldest of all the structures in Lalibela within the church is beautifully designed covered in ornate geometric designs incredibly vibrant colors. The church of golgota is set to contain the tomb of king learned a lot in cells, along with the Selassie chapel, supposed father of the world. Next we take a look at the western groups and bet deal Georgis, church of Saint George. This cross shaped building has been called the eighth wonder of the world. It is the best preserved and probably the last to be built at the Lalibela churches. carved from solid red volcanic rocks is the striking structure sunk into the hillside once again craftsmanship is of the highest standard with beautiful details such as hair or a window, and of course within the church of saint George there are in fact images.

    Finally we look to the eastern group and bet Emmanuel, the church of God is with us. The architecture of this church distinctive carved from one rock. It shares many features with other buildings in this part of Africa. Nearby is best Merkorios, partially collapsed in the earthquake possibly a former prison and ironically supposed to represent paradise. Next, bet Aba Libanos, house of the Holy Father carved from sub surface rock face can still be seen above. And finally, bet Gabriel Rufael church of Gabriel and Rufael.this church was possibly form of oil pallets and is linked to a holy bakery. All these magnificent buildings raise the question how did king Lalibela constructed them in the forty year reign? One can see why such a feat is said to have been helped along by angels, however might be another explanation as to how the town of Lalibela Taylor gained its fabulous churches. It has been noted that the architectural style represented here at the monastery of Debredamo is replicated in at least two of the churches in Lalibela. This style has its origins in the sixth century is said to have inspired work at Lalibela and be completed after the king's death.

    However recent research throws out this hypothesis and suggests instead that the churches of the Merkorios, Gabriel and Rufael was built up to five hundred years earlier by the Axumite kingdom.  in the last days of Axum's power IT has been suggested that the eastern buildings at Lalibela were constructed as fortifications and palace structures for officials. These structures inspired by a broader architectural heritage may well have inspired the work at Lalibela to begin and explain how the king can be said to complete them himself. There is also the suggestion by local historian bet Aba Libanos was built after the king's reign. The king's widowed queen is credited with building Aba Libanos as a memorial in the wake of her husband's death. This theory stretches the time line further and enable some buildings have been built before.  Debate and research continues but whatever the case may be one thing is certain; the churches at Lalibela were not constructed by Templar knights or aliens for that matter. What they were and are however are remarkable feats of engineering and architecture, they are home to stunning works about more than six hundred years old, and thus rightly or focus of national pride pageantry.

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  • Tactical error of Tigrigna’s Music industry

    Abel Guesh


     It is allegedly told that a society is defined by the institution, sociologically known as ‘social institutions’ that revolves within the society. Among the important institution, the entertainment industry is the most powerful one. It is through, art and literary works that one society is shaped. It is through those things where the philosophy of one society is discovered. It is in fact through those literary works where happiness can be twisted; internal feeling can be fashioned and after all the relationship between art and the people can be maintained. But it is only where the art industry is tactically correct with the expected roles of it.

    In the music industry of Tigrigna the central point of the problem I think is of tactical. There are how-to-do tactics in every field of study including in sciences’ that needs applied approach like music. Hence, the principal tactic in producing music shall be exploring the imperative culture, myth, dignity etc of the people. Having this perspective the result of a sharp look at the modern music of Tigrigna would give one fact. That’s the hindering factor for those Clichy music videos is of tactical.

    This tactic based quandary of many of the contemporary music can be seen from different points of view. We can take the language most of them are using. Many scholars of the field told that the main problem of Tigrigna’s music goes to the language usage. It would have been easy to correct, if this problem would be because of lack of knowledge. Rather it is due to the wrong sentimental dimension at mind, which believes using that language in whatever verse is a quality. This can let anyone to conclude that the problem is tactical.

    As far as music of Tigrigna concerned, some other also raised the issue of video clip production. If one singer produced a cultural video clip many other are surly to run with the same way. Let alone copying a directing style and setting even once  accepted gesture of any other singer is also copied by the new comer. And I don’t think this is due to the lack of information and knowledge; it rather is considering this copy and paste mechanism as a tactic for a foolish acceptance.

    Let me add one more point and recap. Tigrigna music by its very nature needs to be bolded with dance. The dance has its own art also. The presentation and performance of dance of Tigrigna by itself is half quality of one music video. The legend Tigrigna singers of Tigray like Doctor Kiros Alemayehu and Tegadalay Eyasu Berhe are well known not only by the philosophies of their lyrics, melodic vocals they have had and other qualities; but also most importantly by the dance they supported to. Nowadays it is very difficult to get a singer who dances as what Kiros and Eyasu did. And again, the same with the aforementioned argument, this is neither due to lack information nor knowledge many of Tigrigna singers are busy of pretending dancing Tigrigna by reconsidering other rhythms of the west. It is a tricked belief of believing as if all from the west is good.  

    Hence the hindering factor of the music industry of Tigrigna seems like considering the external things as determinant factors of the quality of the literary works.


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  • Creation Myths of Ethiopia

    By Ayele Bekerie, Ph.D

    In northeast Africa, in the land of the source of the Blue Nile, a series of recent paleontological discoveries seem to establish Ethiopia as a key center of human origin. A series of significant evidence have been gathered to locate this ancient country as the center of human beginning.

                    For instance, an ancestral human-like female figure named Dinqnesh (also known as Lucy) was unearthed 3.18 million years ago from the afar region of Ethiopia in 1074. Furthermore an immediate ancestor to all modern humans named Idaltu, which is about 160,000 years old, was reported from the same region in 2003. If humanity begins in Ethiopia, then it is quite logical for cultural inventions and expressions, including creation myths to emerge there too. In fact, some observers have characterized Ethiopia as the mother of genesis.

                    Human beings have perhaps the longest existence in Ethiopia and this can be attested by the presence remarkably diverse population, both culturally and physically. Ethiopia is a land of at least 87 ethnic or linguistic groups. These groups have affirmed their distinct identities not only by their specific languages, but also by composing m myriad of myths about their origins.

                    Creation myths or the origin of the Ethiopians known through oral and written traditions do not, of course include these paleontological facts. The myths were constructed at a much later historical dates.  Their formula begins with the creator of sky and earth, water and fire. The creation to “igzabiher”, the sole creator of earth and sky. Some of the major non-Christian traditions, on the other hand, identify “waqqa, tasa and zar” as their supreme deities residing in the sky and who are responsible for the creation of water.

                    Creation myths may have gone through three major phases in Ethiopia. The first phase is when the myths are invented and propagated from generations to generations exclusively through oral traditions. In the second phase, myths are reconstructed and disseminated through visual media, such as writing systems. In the last phase, revealed religion in conjunction with scripts, effectively disseminated myths rooted in the bible.

                    An examination of the myths reveals that written myths tend to be a visual representation of myths collected and re-synthesized from oral myths. In other words, the anteriority and indestructibility of oral myths can be confirmed by the fact that the Christian and written mythologies have borrowed some elements from the former.

                    Creation, in the oral tradition phase, was almost always perceived in association with the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, water, trees, or other animate or inanimate objects. For instance, the Oromos believe that they were created from the waters of lake “Hor Wilabo” in southern Ethiopia. As a result the sanctified the lake where it is absolutely forbidden for either people or animals to drink from it. All Oromos pay homage to the lake by sacrificing oxen, heifers, sheep, and goats to it.

                    The supreme importance of water can also be seen among the creation of myths of the “kamabatas”, who reside in the southwestern region of Ethiopia. They identify the river’s spirit as “Chanzula”. Among the “Dindiga” of Ethiopia the river and lake spirits incarnate into fish, which, therefore, becomes sacred.

                    In both the oral and written traditions, rituals are the primary vehicles through which the knowledge of creation is passed on from one generation to another. For instance, totemic practices are symbolic expressions of ancestral links, and they are practiced at least once a year, by ceremoniously invoking the sacred plants and animals. Ancestral presence is assured honoring animals, such as lions (Gondar, Tigre, and shoa, Northern Ethiopia). Crocodiles (Yamma and Zala, southern Ethiopia), and spider (Wolaita, southern Ethiopia).

                    The introduction of monotheistic traditions since the time of the queen Sheba, approximately 3000 years ago, has brought new sense of creation. The story of genesis, for instance, is introduced with significant modifications to satisfy the local conditions. 5500 years before the Common Era, in the Ethiopian Christian tradition, has been declared as the beginning of the world.

                    With the introduction of the New Testament, the reckoning of time based on the Old Testament tradition was supplemented with a new set of time reckoning. The biblical tradition of Ethiopia recognize Adam I and Adam II (Jesus) as an eponymous ancestors as a result of the fusion of the biblical traditions with a unique Ethiopian religious experience.

                    According to kebra Negest, an authoritative Ethiopian classical work that combines local and regional oral traditions and style and substance that are derived from the old and new testaments, various apocryphal texts, Jewish and Islamic commentaries, and patristic writings, Adam was the first creation of “Igzabher”, the name the Ethiopian use for God.

                    To most scholars of ancient Ethiopia, kebra Negest is a myth of the founding of the Ethiopian nation. It is imaginative work that embodies conception of crucial formative events it the national history, perhaps comparable with the book of the dead of ancient Egyptians or the Aeneid of ancient Greece, as a keen observer notes.

                    Adam to Noah, there were ten continuous generations. During the time of Noah, three significant branches emerged: SEM, Kam and Yafet. Kam was further branched out into three irreversible ancestral lines, namely Kussa or Ethiopia, Misrai or Egypt, and Libya. Kusa, the ancient name for Ethiopia established an African nation with its own writing system and government. The present day Ethiopia is a direct descendant of the line of kusa without any disruption since the fourth century CE.

                    According to Kebra Negest, Noah died 2600 years after creation. The name Ethiopis began with the house of Kam, which was the third or fourth generation since Adam. Ethiopia has four different names: Kam (the whole continent of Africa), Kusa, and Saba, and Ethiopis. These names were derived from former kings.

                    Ethiopia ruled 2800 years before the Common Era. When the prophet Moses wrote the five books of Genesis, he wrote about Ethiopia, which was derived from king of Ethiopis. The bible identifies the source of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia and the river source is called Ghion (Genesis 2:3). 

                    Perhaps the most popular mythology of origin is the legendary story of the queen of Sheba, also known as Makeda or Azeb. In the Ethiopian tradition, the legend survived through oral traditions, including a pictorial representation of the story in 44 framed pictures. The traditional paintings are very common. The painting depicts the life of Makeda, Queen of Ethiopia, in a panel that has 4 rows and 11 columns, hence 44-framed pictures.

                    Once upon a time, according to the Tegaru tradition, Ethiopia used to be ruled by zendo or Dragon like animal called Agabos. The people used to offer Agabos king large quantities of sweet beer and milk and, reluctant to say, eldest daughters. Our heroine, Makeda was thus tied to a tree as an offering to Agabos. At the same time four saints were underneath the tree for its shade when they felt teardrops up and saw a crying girl who was urging them to flee before Agabos made a meal out of them. One of the saints, Abba Mentelios, killed the Agabos and with his cross and freed Makeda. Unfortunately some blood from the dragon spilled on one of Makeda’s heels and turned into a donkey’s hoof. When people saw the dead Zendo, they made Makeda their ruler.

                    One of the first acts as a leader was to find a cure for her deformed feet. Disguised as a men, Maked and a female official left for Jerusalem to visit the wise king Solomon who was reputed with superb medical skills and wisdoms. As soon as she arrived at King Solomon’s court her deformed foot recovered its natural form. Solomon invited his guests to a big feast at which the guests ate little. This made Solomon suspect that his guests might be women.  Two beds were made for the guests in the Solomon’s bed room, and honey was kept in bowl. Solomon caught both women eating honey, and slept with both of them. Makeda became the mother of menelik I (the founder of the solomonic dynasty) while her companion became the mother of the ancestor of the zagwe dynasty.

                    The story is modified over time and often reflects the influence of given era. The tegaru version is perhaps the most recent, for it is constructed in the context of the adoption of Ethiopian Christianity in the 4th century of the Common Era (AD914 to 1268). For instance, in other versions of the story, the father of the Queen of sheba killed Agabos and was crowned king and later succeeded by his daughter.

                    In the holy bible, the queen of Sheba traveled to Jerusalem with precious gifts with the aim of testing the wisdom of King Solomon. The king gave answers to all her questions and he also impressed her with her wealth. She told him that all that she heard about him was more than true and Israel was blessed because the lord has chosen him to execute justice and righteousness. She returned to her land after giving the king 120 talents of gold and after her gave her everything she desired.

                    In the holy Qur’an, the most popular version in Yemen, Solomon was in his court among his subjects. Among his birds, he could not find his favorite bird known as hoopoe. When asked where it was, the hoopoe informed the king that it was in the kingdom of Saba. There it found a woman ruler with a magnificent throne. He invited the queen to his place and asked her to submit to Allah, instead to of worshiping the sun-god. When she entered the palace, which was paved with slabs of glass, thinking she was walking over water, the queen lifted her skirt and exposed her legs. She apologized for her indiscretion and submitted fully to Allah. It is clear that myth is significantly modified to fit into an Islamic tradition.

                    According to Kebra Negest, the only source of the love story between Makeda and King Solomon, the Ethiopian empire started with the union of Makeda and Solomn, the Ethiopian empire started with the union of Makeda and Solomon as well as  the transfer of  the ‘Ark of Covenant’ from Jerusalem to Aksum. Menelik brought the Ark and established what is referred to as the Solomnic Dynasty. He was the first king of the dynasty and the late Emperor haileselassie I was the 225th and, for now the last ruler of the dynasty. Yeshak is believed to be the compiler of the Kebra Negest in the 13thcentury of the Common Era when the Solomonic Dynasty was restored by Emperor Yukno Amlak.

                    Both Ethiopia and Yemen (South Arabia) claimed Queen of Sheba. In Yemen, she is called Bilquis. It is possible that she may have ruled both lands from Aksum, which controlled the trade routes along the red sea until the rise of Islam in the region.


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  • meaning behind the names of mekelle university campuses

    Mekelle University, a quarter-century old university is found in Mekelle, a town found in northern part of Ethiopia. This university is one of the leading higher educational institutes in the country located in different campuses named “Arid”, Business (Adihaki), “Ayder”, and “Kelamino”. These four different campuses have names for their different places and buildings. Let’s begin by Adihaki campus.

    1)      “Kenenisa” Building

    You may want to ask this question, what this building has got to do with kenenisa? The answer is as simple as this – Speed. Kenenisa building showed rapid progress starting from the day corner stone has laid till it was ready for dormitory service. Some of them said it was hard to believe. At the final point of construction Ethiopian athlete Kenenisa Bekele won the 10,000 and 5,000ntrack races; hence the name was given to the building.

    2)      Darfur Building

    This name is frequently mentioned on TV, Radio and Newspapers with war and ethnic conflicts. Although this building is not currently giving services but still it is serving as the name and for male and female dormitory. Because this dormitory holds up to 26 students in one room, it’s full of quarrels, noise, music and sometimes small and big robbing can happen here especially in male students this name deserves it.

    The Names of Arid Campus

    1)       “Ashegoda” or Lucy

    When you enter into Arid campus to the lefts side you will find a newly built teaching class and male students dormitory. This place is so windy that during night students are forced to wear clothes that gives them warm. This place is called “Ashegoda”, named after a place found when you enter Mekelle. This place has wind farm project which generates 150 megawatt electric power.

                Right after this building you will find female students dormitory area. Between those buildings there is a fence. This building is called “Hidase” (Renaissance) building, named after the burning issue of the great Ethiopian renaissance dam. At the same place you will find the old dormitory area of female students though now it’s serving as dormitory of male students which created paradox.

    2)      Africa Hood

    This place is found in different area from lucy and hidase buildings and has relatively interesting vibe. It serves as the room for graduating students. The main reason that makes it more interesting is that it’s great spot for music, art events and other events like crazy day, water day and culture day.

    3)      The “Gedam” hood

    Gedam (monastery) hood is male students’ dormitory filled with tall trees that creates fresh air. In this area you can rarely see female students; hence it’s given the name.

    4)       “ ken’an”

    This place has almost the same history with ken’an in the holy bible because this place took more time to build starting from the day the university has promised.

    5)       “Sawa”

    This dormitory building doesn’t exist anymore. In the earlier times up to 26 students used to live in one room and life in here was probably hard. Sawa is a military camp found in Eritrea; hence the name was given. 


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