Inform, Inspire, Embolden. Reconcile!

Go Love a Bum: When Art and Artist Mislead

You are a survivor
A child of promise
You are protected like the iris of the eye
Time flies, you are at the age of engagement and marriage
During the planting season before the rains fall
My heart led me, and I came to visit you
I stand on your threshold and say how are you
Please reply that you are fine, before my knees tire
For your sake, I have lived as a homeless
For your sake, I have braved the jungle
You are a light in darkness and a star of the dawn,
Today shall pass and tomorrow shall arrive
The discomfort too shall pass, the mountains shall become plains
Every night has its dawn
An imposing presence that no one dares
So those behind the mountains will not molest you
So the adolescents would not touch you
Tell them that you have bulked up
Tell them that you have strengthened your arms
These are the lyrics from Aklilu Tefeno’s “Hilleley”

He asks the country to lie to him, by replying she is doing well. And then asks it to lie to itself by asking her to tell those behind the mountains (emba kolele) and adolescents (gonnable) that she has bulked up so they would not dare touch her. But the country knows, he knows, we all know that those behind the mountain are still in our land and those “adolescents” are molesting the country. And we also know that the country has not bulked up, it has withered away from starvation.

Although he lends his voice to it, Haile Mariam Haile Silase (Lingo) wrote the lyrics of “Hilley” This is the same guy who saved Ambassador Zemede’s face when the later used the podium and megaphone to kiss up to the EPLF military leaders who attended the Bologna festival in 1991 when he said: “These are the people who gave us the independence” When Haile Mariam took the microphone he corrected: “These are the people who led the battles that gave us our independence”. Now from afar, he wrote the lyrics for Aklilu and is asking the country, the “Hillel” to lie to him, that she is fine before his knees tire as he is standing on the threshold.  He does not seem to know or he left it to the listeners to discern, but in Tigrinya the phrase, (ድርዂኺት ሒዘ): holding on the threshold has a cultural meaning of the evil eye (budda/tebbib). If someone hesitates and stands on the threshold, people would often quip, “come-on in, why are you standing in the threshold like tebib/budda.

Also “hillel” in Tigrinya means (ጭልግዕ or አጸቢቑ ዘይበሰለ ሸዊት), so how is it possible then for immature (ጭልግዕ or አጸቢቑ ዘይበሰለ ሸዊት) to bulk up and strengthen its arms? The lyrics fail both in cultural linguistics connotations and truth.

And then, there is this kid. He is well dressed, fed, groomed, and privileged. He goes to Sawa and tells the kidnapped teenage girls that there is no problem (tsegem yelon habtey), that there no hardship that one cannot get used it. Notice: it is not, there is no hardship that one cannot triumph over. Rather stay put and you will get used to it, he tells them. And the kidnapped girls swoon.

In every aspect he is privileged, even his name is of privilege, Temsghen Yared, his parents gave thanks to Yared, the descending. The overwhelming number of those who were swooning to his crooning, those he was preaching to, would have their second name as Worede instead of Yared, because many of them would not be so privileged to read the Bible to get acquitted with the name of the grandson of Adam, Jared: The Descending.

But Aklilu Foto and Temesgehn and Lingo are disciples of artists and writers before them: those who wrote the “Judgement of Mount Arrey (Frdi Gobo Arrey) and McHadara from Badme to Sahel (Wedi Hadera Kab Badme nSahel), two pieces of Tigrinya literature written during the armed struggle. Both laden with lies and misinformation of the armed struggle itself, its players and its heroes and its cowardice. So the singers and writer in question stood on the shoulders of the two writers, whereas the first two sharpened their pens, the two singers cleared their throats to lie to us through our language and our music and our beat and our predicament that we are intimately familiar with.

But it gets worse. As if the Eritrean women have not endured enough abuse and manipulation and suffering, a woman artist, through her art tells Eritrean women to love the bum and the dangerous kind instead of the accomplished, the learned.

Generous and a frivolous spender
His sweet words are portentous
A manipulator who charms you to a consent
The bum is a cool lover
Is she nuts to fall for a useless bum?
While the learned and wealthy beg her
They wonder
But, they know not that the bum is cool
And an expert in love and loving
They gossip behind my back
Is she out of her mind?
Superior to geography professor
The bum shows me the word of love
Better than the scientist, the bum teaches me about living and nonliving things
Superior to a legal scholar, the bum teaches me the laws of romance
Better than a phycology scholar, the bum reads my mind
There is no one like the bum
He does not need a written word to feel my emotions
You cannot do better than the bum
The bum likes to huddle for a binge drinking
He celebrates everyone’s holiday
Love is his faith, king, government
Sometimes the bum ignores me and then makes up
He then insults me and gives me advice
At times he makes me cry then makes me happy
He makes me angry and then cajoles me artfully
And sometimes he makes me jealous and then makes up with me
It is the ignoring, the insulting, the cheating and the dangerous kind
That spices it up for me
And drives me crazy.
These are the words of the Eritrean Singer, Saba Andemariam.

Writers sometimes suffer from what they call “writer’s block” and it is conceivable that those who write the lyrics for these singers do as well. If you are one, do not despair! I can help you with writing better lyrics for your stars as I just have bestowed upon myself the inaugural title of “ራ.ሃ.ቛ” (ራእሲ ሃገራዊ ቛንቋ).

Why not? The strong man of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki has just bestowed upon Bereket Mengsiteab a new award, “ራ.ሃ.ባ” (ራእሲ ሃገራዊ ባህሊ), the Dean of National Culture.

Granted, Bereket has an immortal voice, but that is, as Apostle Paul would say by grace, for free, gratis, not by merit. Bereket is the artist who used his voice to sing for the anti-liberty crowd: “No need for freedom of expression or question or comment, no matter how small, let us hold on to our guns tight…”, he crooned to the delight of dictator Isaias Afwerki. While he lived the high life, he preached the Warsay, “what is the use of life and living…”

Some fans point to his older songs like Meley. In it, Bereket asks a passerby stranger to pass his regards to Meley. I miss you a lot Meley, come to me. Meley is behind the mountains. I sent my regards with the wild wind. Bereket is quick to point out that this was a political song, a coded message for the youth to join the armed struggle, to inspire them.

And in “Libey”, he does what a friend and writer calls, geography lesson, where Bereket roams from Asmara to Keren to Sawa and Togoruba and back to Massawa to colorfully describe the beauty, the scent of his love, presumably, Eritrea. I can go on and on about his shallow lyrics and divisive songs and “please take my gun from me…” before he left the armed struggle to escape death, to live life, decades before he changed his mind about the precious nature of life.

So Isaias Afwerki’s accolade to Bereket is for loyalty and not for elevating the national culture. Bereket, accepted in deference to the president he told Voice of America, but like the mortal dictator and the Pushkin Monument, the title of “ራ.ሃ.ባ” will be here today and gone tomorrow. It is transient.

Also, Bereket was conferred the doctorate degree, I think, the anti-liberty crowd in the USA were flattered by Bereke’s late 1980s song, “ሰመን ኣመሪካ ብዙሓት ምሁራት አርትራውያን አለውዋ”:  North America has many Educated Eritreans, he sang when he was impressed by their fluency in their English.

It has been said that Eritrea is a country without a government and opposition and lacks intellectuals with integrity, now we can say that what Eritrea lacks, it makes up in the abundance of “wattot”, the pseudo-artists from times immemorial, who canonize and flatter men of means to get their daily bread instead of doing an honest day’s work. And that is why our grandfathers would ask about your pedigree to discern if you have a “watta” lineage before they give you the hand of their daughters, daughters that Saba is manipulating to fall in love with the loser kind in her song, “I am in love with the bum”.

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  • Thomas

    Hi Horizon,
    AU is asking Sudan and Eritrea to resolve their ongoing dispute peacefully and also offered to help if needed. So, it is now Eritrea and Sudan conflict. The Eritrean dictator now is left with absolute NO neighbor friends, but all enemies or turning against… I wish all of our neighbors create alliances in tackling this good for nothing dictator.

  • Nitricc

    “ሕጉስ ዲኻ?”
    “ባዶነት ይስመዓኒ። ተለቪዥን እንተወሊዕካ ውግእን ወረ ውግእን ኢኻ ትርኢ። ኢንተርነት እንተኸፊትካ ብዛዕባ ሽግርን ጸበባን ኢኻ ተንብብ። ስደት መግትኢ ተሳኢንዎ። ህጻናት ዝሓዘላ ኣዴታት ዓደን ራሕሪሐንይስደዳ ኣለዋ። እተን ስልጡናት’የን ምዕቡላት’የን ተባሂለ ዝግለጻ ሃገራት፡ ኣብ ካልኦት ዘውርድኦ ዘለዋ በደልን ሸርሕን ካልኦት ዘውርድኦ ዘለዋ በደልን ሸርሕን ዘይምስምዑ ይሓይሽ። ከምዚ ዝኣመሰለ ዜና ብእዝንን በፍንጫን ክኣቱ እናወዓለ፡ ሕጉስ ክትከውን ዝከኣል ኣይኮነን።”

  • Beyan

    All righty then! Let us move the silent auction to its rightful space, onward I go to: “Dear friends and readers of Awate.com” comment section. See you there. I am thoroughly excited here: Silent auction the awate style.

    Beyan

  • Nitricc

    Hi All; I have never guessed what about to read next. I am starting to think if this Agazi BS have any roots.

    “ኣሉላ ዝብል ስም’ውን ኣብ ትግርኛ ትርጉም ኣይትረኽበሉን ኢኻ። ኣብ ሳሆን ኦሮሞን ግና ትርጉም ኣለዎ። ሃጸይ ዮሃንስ ንራእሲ ኣሉላ “ዓዲ ኣዴኻ ኣመሓድር” ኢሉ’ዩ ናብ ኤርትራ ሰዲድዎ።”
    “ኣሉላ ካብ ሓማሴን ዝውለድ ምዃኑ ነዚ ወለዶ እንታይ ትርጉም ይህቦ?”
    ” ምንም ትርጉም ክህልዎ ኣይክእልን እዩ። ራእሲ ኣሉላ በዲኡ ኤርትራዊ ስለዝኾነ፡ ኤርትራዊ ብኣሉላ ይኾርዕ እዩ ወይ ክኾርዕ ኣለዎ ማለት ኣይኮነን። ታሪኽ ንስለ ታሪኻውነቱ ኢልካ ስለትዛረበሉ ጥራሕ’ዩ ክግለጽ ተደልዩ። ራእሲ ኣሉላ ንመንን ንምንታይ ዕላማን ተቓሊሱ እዩ እቲ ዘገድስ። ኣሉላ ኣብ ኤርትራ ኣብ ዝጸንሓለን ዓሰርተ ዓመታት፡ ግፍዒ ዝፈጸመ ክፉእ ሰብ ምንባሩ እዩ ዝፍለጥ። ተጋሩ ንኣሉላ ከም ናቶም ገይሮም ብምርኣዮም ተቓውሞ ክህሉ ዝኽእል ኮይኑ ኣይስመዓንን።”

    • Haile S.

      Selam Nitricc,
      First please be generous, add his title, he was a Ras, his mostly known title. He had another less known, but equally honorable. Turk-Basha Alula. He is (almost) the only person to have that title in recent centuries in the history of Abyssinia. Alula is also an arabic name for a person, I think. I will leave it to those knowledgeable in arabic, SGJ, Hamid Al-Arabi et al to confirm.

      • Nitricc

        Hey Haile: I think you are missing the ” ” I have used. I am just quoting the writer. I would have never known that Ras Alula was half Eritrean. I always thought he was 100% Tigryan, I mean Tigryans take a great pride of the man and I was very surprised to find out he is half Eritrean.

        • Haile S.

          Hi Nitricc,
          I thought only the last 2 sentences were yours. ትጉሽተተይ! Thank you for the info. I will check later his biography by Erlich Haggai that I bought in Asmara.

          • Saleh Johar

            Haile,
            I don’t think you want to raise the issue and history of the four huts on the hilltop that he built? Will you 🙂 nah! Not the right time.

          • Haile S.

            Selamat SGJ,
            ትጉሽተተይ። Let’s adjourn it.

          • Hailey S.,

            Is the same E. Haggai who prognosticated the Eritrean Revolution is dead circa 79-80? TTulil kremti Nikhil.

            tSAtSE

          • Haile S.

            Selam Solomon and Nitricc,
            I think so, he did, but couldn’t find where I read that info. I also recall reading, likely in that same book(?), his allegation that it was Isayas Afeworki and a fellow Feddayin who shot Dejazmatch Zerom and his colleague in bar Langano in the early 70ies.
            Nitricc, Haggai book on Ras Alula say his mother was from a village close to Mannawe (his dad’s) both close and south to Abbi Addi in Tembien.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Hailat,

            It wasn’t Issayas and his group that killed Dejezmach Zerom and his group in a bar in the city of Asmara. It was ELF’s Fedayen in 1970 after they came back from Bahri Dar.

            This was during the Eritrean student movement of Poly technic Institute in December 1969, who refuse to continue their education, came back to Eritrea and ignited the whole Eritrean student movement (Shebero)
            the largest student movement ever seen that includes all towns and cities of Eritrea.

            Leaving aside the detail story, the Governor of Eritrea at that time Asserat Kassa passed an order to pick us from our villages and sent us back to Bahri Dar with some Eritrean elders to reconcile the conflict between us and the rest Ethiopian student. Dej. Zerom and Dej. Hadgu and Dej Tesfahannes among them. Dej Zerom and Dej Hadgu was killed two month after they came to Asmara.
            (might need some editing)

          • Haile S.

            Selam Emma,
            Thank you for the info. Anyway aI recall reading his allegation in a book/article he wrote alone or in collaboration wz someone. I remember of that day!

        • Teodros Alem

          Selam Nitricc
          Alula and yohanes r from temben(which is more close to agaw)

    • blink

      Dear Nitricc
      Alula is a power hungry who divorced his 3 children wife in order to ink Yohannes eye.
      Alula was born in Mennawe, a village in Tembien, 15 miles south of Abiy Addi, the son of Engda Eqube, a farmer of modest origins. Haggai Erlich relates a story about Alula’s childhood — “well known throughout Tigray”: a group of people carrying baskets of bread to a wedding ceremony were stopped by a group of children led by the future Ras, who demanded to know where they were going. “To the Castle of Ras Alula Wadi Qubi,” they mockingly replied. “Thereafter,” concludes Erlich, “his friends and the people of Mannawe nicknamed him Ras Alula.”

      He has no connection in Eritrea what so ever.

      Wikipedia

      • Thomas

        Hi Blink,
        I thought Alula and his army were surrounded. They were not able to leave the current Eritrea and the region of Hamasien. So, they melted and created most of the Eritreans we have now. I really think Nitricc is related to Alula and I can sense he is rebellion like that of Alula:)

        • blink

          Dear Thomas
          Your thoughts doesn’t mean any thing really, the man and his cronies can not form the whole places because the aim of this power hungry from Tembiyen was to crush Eritreans who rejected any rule from beyond Mereb. He is just a single power hungry guy , the places you mentioned has its leaders before this lunatic divorce in chief come to the place.

          • Thomas

            Hi Blink,
            Let me say something here, I have prove to back me up and I am sure you don’t have any. Don’t be so defensive as at that time there was no nation of Eritrea or Ethiopia. We are only discussing about someone whose title was Ras Alula and his group moving from one region to another region and got surrounded by people of a certain region. I am saying there are people in the current Eritrea happen to have come from Alula or his group DNA.

      • Nitricc

        Hey Blink; this person will disagree with you.
        “””” ቅድም ቀዳድም ስም ኣቦ ራእሲ ኣሉላ፡ “እንግዳ” ኣይኮነን።እንግዳዝብልስምካበይከምዝመጸፍሉጥኣይኮነን።ልክዕስምኣቡኡ“ቁቢ” እዩ።ቁቢሳሆንኦሮሞንእዩ።ኣደኣሉላጓልሓማሴንእያ።ንዓይ’ውንክሳዕቅድሚቅሩብግዜስምኣቦኣሉላእንግዳእዩዝመስለኒነይሩ።እቲሓበሬታዩኒቨርስቲኣዲስኣበባብ961 ኣብዘሕተሞናይብላቴንጌታማህተመስላሴወልደመስቀልመጽሓፍእየረኺበዮ።””””

    • Haile WM

      Hey NItricc,

      it’s funny saying Alula was half Eritrean when indeed Eritrea didn’t exist when he was born ረፈረንደም አየድመጸን . Besides did you learn to read tigrigna these days ? congrats… you becoming more Eritrean by the day 😀

  • Abrehet Yosief

    Selam Semere,
    I would respetfully leave Saba Andemariam out of this discussion. Every generation is entitled to one cringe worthy song that they love when they were teens and would deny ever liking it after a few years.

  • Guest

    Selamat Semere
    (Dear moderator, please notify Semere about this comment)

    Context always matter.

    The proper ትግሪኛ translation of what you called “threshold” is ልዳት ።
    Even if we assume ድርዂኺት is synonym with ልዳት, it does not make sense for Tefono to sing: ድርዂኺትኪ ሒዘ. From the context of his song, Tefono is clearly referring to a body part of her (maybe her hand where you feel the pulse) or a dress part of her. Listen again to the song!

    It also seems that you are confusing ሒለል with ሸዊት. You can have ጭልግዕ ሸዊት but not ጭልግዕ ሒለል. ሒለል is where the ሸዊት is attached።

    ወድሓንካ

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam Guest,

      While I could agree on the meaning of “ሒለል” as the body part that hold “ ሸዊት መሽላ” But the translation of “threshold “ will do both “ልዳት” and “ድርዂኺት”::

      • Haile S.

        Emma and Guest,
        Guest’s comments prompted me to check the dictionary. here you go the various definitions:
        ሒለል –
        1 – ክሳድ ጉምቦ መሸላ (ካብ እግሪ እቲ ጉምቦ ክሳዕ ቀዳመይቲ ብርኪ ዘሎ)
        2 – (ተምሳ) ነዊሕ ዝኽሳዳ ጓልንስተይቲ
        3 – ኣብ ውሽጢ ናይ ሓደ ዝድጉሩ እኽሊ ወይ ዘሎ ልስሉስ ሰፍነጋዊ ኣካሊት
        4 – (ሓድሽ ትርጉም) እቲ ልስሉስን ሰፍለጋውን ውሽጣዊ ወገን ናይ ዓጽሚ፡ ግልገል ወዘት

        ልዳ”ት –
        1 – ኣብ ማዕጾ ወይ መስኮት፡ ነቲ ኣፍ በርባዕተ መ ኣዝን ደጊፉ ዚሕዝ እተጸርበ ዕንጨይቲ ወይ ተመሳሰሊ ኣገልግሎት ዘለዎ ደገፍ፣ መቓን
        2 – ኣፍ ማዕጾ፣ ድርኩኺት

        ድርኩኺት –

        1 – ጥቓ ማዕጾ ወይ ኣፍደገ ገዛ ልዳት፣ ኣፍደገ፣ ኣፈፈት
        2 – (ተምሳ) ኣብ ጥቓ፣ ኣብ ቅድሚ፣ ኣብ ኣፍደገ (ናይ ገዛ፡ ዓንዲ፡ ሓድ ፍጻመ ወይ ኩነት ወዘተ…)

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Hailat,

          I agree and thank you.

        • Selamat Hailey S.,

          Temmsa as in Segen… See KaHsay Berhe.

          tSAtSE

        • Guest

          Selamat Haile

          Thank you for checking and largely confirming my points. Your dictionary seems to be a great one 🙂 A week ago or so, I remember you wrote the title of that dictionary. Unfortunately, I forgot it. Any idea where I can get it?

          I still think the use of ድርኩኺት by Tefono is more figurative than literal. So it is likely that Semere was “barking” at the wrong shadow.

          • Haile S.

            Selam Guest,
            Here it is: ዘመናዊ መዝገበ ቓላት ትግርኛ፡ ብ ተክአ ተስፋይ፡ ቤት ማሕተም ሕድሪ 1999. I bought it at community event in 2000. I haven’t seen it being sold after that year. Try from Asmara.

          • Beyan

            Hey Guest,

            I have Tigrinya dictionary just like that of Haile’s. Here is what I am thinking – my mind is on fundraising for awate. So, I bought it for $30.00 – at the time, albeit, grudgingly in Anaheim, California, PFDJ local hub, a restaurant named MerHaba. Suddenly, this dictionary might have become collector’s item: I am willing to do virtual-silent-auction to give mine away for the right price and all the proceeds will go toward awate’s project. How is that for ingenuity?

            Beyan

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Beyan,
            I have two dictionaries in my hand. Despite I appreciate their efforts in compiling the Tigrigna-English translations, most of the vocabularies do not match at all, and that is due in part to shortness of tigrigna vocabularies. So as a beginning, we can still utilize them as references, knowing that a lot of English vocabularies do not get the exact translation meanings. Hence, when we debate on them, it is not necessarily all are correct.

            Regards

            Regards

          • Beyan

            merHaba Aman,

            The good old EPLF (the orange colored) dictionary is one I use the most since it has Arabic and English to help me in the deciphering process. This Tigriniya to Tigrinya (ዘመናዊ መዝገበ ቓላት ትግርኛ፡ ብ ተክአ ተስፋይ) I have is a whopping over 1000 pages long; I only began using it in recent months when it became clear that Tigrinya language was becoming an inevitable part of social media; whereby, if I was going to have younger generation read the pieces I write, translating it I thought was one effective way of going about it. Needless to say, it is monumentally time consuming. But, I see what you mean though in that there has to be a better way of systematically making it user friendly and as you aptly put it, the inconsistency of meanings given in various dictionaries were made glaringly clear when Haile S. came to the rescue to clear the air.

            Cheers,
            Beyan

          • Haile S.

            Selamat Beyan,
            This is an ingenious idea. This dictionary is, I would dare say, the most comprehensive tigrigna-tigrigna dictionary. If any other dictionary come after it, won’t be as comprehensive, but I suspect thematic and more concise or by volumes. I see people running for the bid!
            Great idea again!

  • Thomas

    Hi iSem,

    Bereket and Tefeno have long ended up becoming from the few musicians who are the pfdj Women entertainment (WE) group. For me, Bereket became irrelevant (a soldout soul to the DIA group) when he lounched his album/single song that says “Bzey hiton n ri’eyton”, the raugh interpretation in English would be “do what you can do without asking and providing your views”. It is clear that his song message implies No question of democracy (calls people to surrender to Issays regime or anti democracy/authoritarian group).

    I also heard when Bereket was with the ELF, he had some song that is advertizes about the goodness of democracy and that democracy is what ELF is for.

    Bereket and Tefeno fall in the category that Amma has aptly summarized “Generally, musicians are opportunistist, they always go with the flow and the politics of the day. It can not be exceptional with the Eritrean singers.”

    I don’t know much about the two (Temesgen and Saba), but Lingo is in the langa-langa group:)

  • Professor Bryan,

    If you ain’t never been to the hood, don’t come to the hood.

    And as for generalisation, let’s make the word dgushtetey, 2018@“ Word Son! Word!

    tSAtSE

  • Selamat iSEM,

    Dinggg Donnnngggg chimes the door bell… Euraang?

    Beautiful pen you have.

    tSAtSE

  • Idris Ali

    Dear Semere Andom

    I fully agree and appreciate with your approach and conclutions about The celebrating and reward of D IA for Artist Berekhet Mengstaab not because he didn`t deserve it , but because it`s a mere political manouver from D IA in portrying himself as patron of art and Artists ,while many artists ,jornalists and politicians are prishing in the dungons of D IA. Everything is policitized in the eritrean context.Now what is required from artists and the Eritrean elit is to stand beside our people in it`s struggle against the dictatorship . We are not in the position of entertaining music for itself.What we have in Eritrea under the DIA is an ugly kind of Maccarthism ,which was clearly forwarded in the manfesto of DIA “Nehnan Alamana”. Promotin of one cultur ,tradition and values has been the ultmate job of DIA. If there are people who can not see this ugly picture and defend for the regime ,then this reflects thier hypocray and loss of integrity. How can one explain the incommunicado detention of Artist like Idris Mohammed Ali for years and an auther like Idris Abaare exept for squeezing the Eritrean diversty.What we are living in now is”Hade nugus hade kowanka hade bahli..ect “. But this is a day dream. Eritreans from all their walks and talks are capable to establish a democratic and inclusive Eritrea that brings together all the stakholders .

    Tank you agian or your intelgent critic notes.

    Idris Ali

  • Haile S.

    Dear Semere Andom,
    I sniff a certain admiration on your part talking of these artists. Otherwise you wouldn’t have translated those two songs to these beautiful prose-poems. I agree with you, BereKet’s vocal cords are immortal, by grace, I would add by endeavor as well. There were people with very fine fingers, by grace. Some used them agains humanity, others cultivated them to prepare ‘the last Supper’. Lately BereKet has gone too controvertial. His Cobra, the music a trigger for the nerves and muscles would entitle him to ኣቦ ጓይላ, the lyric on the other hand unnecessarity totally propogandist.
    BTW, it would have been great if you wrote the title of the songs in tigrigna. On the bum, I went for the body part and searched on youtube in tigrigna. Well it was a success, but not the one you translated. I am not sure linking it here as it is an explicit language. Just do what I did and you see.
    Beyan thank you for saving my day by giving the link to the right bum!

    • Beyan

      Selam Haile S.,

      Since the topic at hand is about artists and their integrity, their lyrics, and/or lack thereof it, here is a timely interview that I found it gripping to listen to. An interview of Abrar that will be very difficult to postpone as I tend to when it is over 15 minutes. This is a gem, a class on its own. Weini is just a wonderful interviewer who knows how to bring out the best out of her interviewees.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRXG0F-l0Wk

      • Haile S.

        Selam Beyan,
        Just finished listening. Truly a Gem. A man with feet firmly on the ground.
        Thanks a lot

        • Beyan

          merHaba Haile S.,

          Following “A man with feet firmly on the ground, one could add: A man with head firmly over the shoulders! Truly a man of character.

          • ibrahim Mohammed

            Selam Dear Beyan,
            Thanks a lot for sharing.
            True legend, he uses his artistic talent to convey peace, love and unity and he is also a very humble man. For me his best song beside Hedmona is
            the least known song which goes like this…GOYE YE WELKA AB KESD ZAY MAHAZ . I hope one day awate team could carry out an interview with Abrar`

          • Beyan

            MerHaba Ibrahim,

            Artists with integrity and class all-on-their own are few and far between in our midst. I see another artist who seems to have his heart in the right place, which is none other than Kiros Asfaha. If the fundraising goes well and the AT’s plan is to add optics both audio and visual medium, thus, I certainly would hope there would be art, literature, and culture corner where contemporary artists aforementioned are invited to share their artistic creativities. Making that kind of transformation is long over due. The demographic of Eritreans in diaspora has gone through tectonic shift. Today’s audiences are technology savvy and they seem to rely on audio and visual media than on the written word. So, creating a combo of sorts will go a long way in informing, emboldening, and inspiring our young generation to reach to the moon, to the star and to the sky. I long to see where this website becomes a one stop virtual space where majority of Eritreans will come to learn, to be intellectually challenged, and comedically or otherwise, entertained.

            BN

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Beyan,

            For Abrar and Kiros, more than their musics (songs), I respect and honor them for their unflinching principles. They have stood their ground for justice all the way and never swayed by the politics of the day that says “the winners takes all” which was being celebrated by most Eritreans, specially the highlanders. They are rare personalities from the class of artists in the Eritrean political landscape. God bless them and history will remember them as such.

            Regards

      • Dear Professor,

        The recognition of a disc jockey’s mix, say Hagerey Hagere and Barya’s Hagere zbele. Awesome interview and Show.

        tSAtSE

  • blink

    Dear Hope
    You see such people has been wildly and cruelly pushing to draw their imagination of Eritrea while praising Eritreans born enemies to the red carpet yet they failed. This guy loves Canadian national Anthem than Eritrea , I think it was Oqubagabir who sang a song to such people, the song goes like this , Neber Mukan kihasim, or the another point mark song to such people was I think sang by Aklilu but I heard it was originally by Oqubagabir , and it goes like … Zizeregom Fah bitin zeetewelom Tegadalay …. it’s really a song sang to such people. Any way Meley by bereket is a Golden song and it was legendary at its time. Now why are such like semere who lived his whole life in Canada try to sharp their pen in order to dismiss the Golden Era of Eritreans? No reason .
    https://youtu.be/wUTUBiKwHfc

    And pls enjoy this one . Anta Neber mukan kihasim. This song is like a knife to some and can go deep to their skin .

    https://youtu.be/MtlzFpiw540

  • MS

    Ahlen Beyan
    Well articulated, Prof. Beyan. I must say I always find Semere’s beautiful prose enjoyable. He is a heck of a writer. But when it comes to language and arts he seems to be among the purists. This is consistent with his criticism of “fashionable” names of Tigrigna children and the use of some words in Tigrigna prose, etc.

    • Hope

      Mahmuday:
      Stand STILL and FIRM on your Principle as U R right and correct from your perspective considering the political aspect of this Article and Prof Beyan is also right from Art point of view of the article.
      Those Artists in question cannot be Apolotical strictly speaking based on their background and based on their situation.
      You gave a reasonable example /analogy of Abrar Osman.
      The Author is quite known for his ” notorious” attitude towards the EPLF and we are only reacting negatively to that attitude.
      Beyond that,who would question Wedi Andom’s Intellect and Genius?
      We respect that aspect and his opinion but we also have the right to opinionated on his political attitude/opinion on those Artists!
      No body is perfect and we appreciate them for their major contribution eventhough we have to ” criticize ” them constructively ,not demonized them as if they were the Enablers of the System.

      • Beyan

        Selam MS, Hope, & tSAtSE

        I do see some room for ትጉሽተተይ based on what you insinuated might’ve been erroneous generalization at best, that’s what I have surmised in your note. My ትጉሽተተይ, however, is not for generalizing as there certainly are enough patterns that would merit it. Nevertheless, the seemingly offensive or on your face stance I took as I tried to see the Ewala song in its hybrid – acculturated – form; one that Westernized Eritrean would conceivably appropriate the word to produce a challenge on the patriarchal norms of our society vis-à-vis the educated elite when juxtaposed against the uneducated Ewala with street smarts that the artist posed in binary form.

        The agency and the empowerment that one would feel in such liberating stance as to decide whom a woman should feel enamored towards has a loaded sociopolitical and sociocultural commentary contained within it. Such agency, in fact, not only would empower an Eritrean woman but it would simultaneously disempower an Eritrean man – if not make him feel a bit emasculated for the prowess of his brain-power is now being compromised in favor of someone that he sees as a downtrodden. Now, there is smack of elitism here – one that has social-class tinge to it – in insinuating any Ewala can only be a “bum”. I took a different tack in that the Ewala being referenced in the song is akin to the parlance of African Americans use of a “thug”. And the latter can be blue collar, hard-hat kind of a guy, who earns a living but is just a player when it comes to the way he relates to women. That’s all.

        Cheers,
        Beyan

        • Professor Beyann,

          As gender roles is the category, the ageism rebuttal vis-a-vis the older man eloping with…, has a natural glow. The river is not to be pushed. Pulled on the other hand is the concern awaiting response.

          tSAtSE

  • MS

    Selam Semere
    I beg to differ with your analysis. The good thing about art work is that its impact is measured by the base of its fan. I don’t know the two others but if you take the two songs you mentioned, meley (Bereket) and Hileley ((Tefeno), they are a hit. Why? Because the fans have respectfully disagreed with you. Either you should have stuck to art critiquing or to politicking. It is not a must that Tefeno or Bereket should produce songs that match everyone’s taste, or that excite everyone’s hearing nerve. The political position of both artists is known. So, why would someone expect Bereket or Tefeno singing “down down with dictator?”
    When I was a young liberator fighter, I loved the way Tilahun Gesese sang, his voice and the melodies of his songs. But I did not like some of his messages which depicted me and the struggle in which I was involved as bandit and banditry. However, I appreciated his artistic talent, and he was one of the Ethiopian singers who introduced me into Ethiopian music. I thank him for that. The thing:
    1. Bereket mengisteab’s Meley is a quintessential song that many love. What’s important is not what one re-interpret it after more than 40 years, but what that song created in the emotions of music lovers and how it affected their lives (read: 1975’s political awakening). Most people still have that impression; and the artist told us he wrote it int hat vain.
    2. Hileley: the song is among the best in terms of its melodic flow (major to minor back to major)…and that’s what makes it have that tension…songs are all about tricking the mind to climax and then bringing it to resolution…the music composition is done fairly well; the lyrics is consistent with the political position of the artist…So, where is the problem? If you were criticizing Abrar Osman for singing that type of lyrics, I would understand you.
    3. Regarding the awards accords to Bereket, he deserve them. I wish others would have gotten the same chance including the great Tewelde Redda, Ustaz Alamin Abdullatif (posthumously), and many others.
    In that spirit, I’m MS and I endorse the following GREAT songs.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKRsgYehLLo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZZyc6aslpQ

    • Saleh Johar

      Ahlan Mahmuday,
      Your comment seems to make sense, but not really. No one should expect any of the singers to sing “down, down with dictator.” That would be against their interest (mind you not their artistic interest but the political one). We all know that arts are used and exploited for political ends–and the PFDJ is a master on that. Therefore, you expect one to see the arts that are sanctioned by the PFDJ ony in its artistic value. I believe the patrons of all artists do not promote them in many ways for the artistic values of their songs, but for the propaganda support they provide to the regime. I have no respect for any artist who allows his voice or other artistic skills to be exploited by an unjust regime. And if I need a genuine artistic serving, I would find it among those who have declared their rejection of injustice by severing their ties with the regime.

      I am sure you know what Muslims call “Ulema’a al Selateen–they preach religiously wrapped messages all aiming to support the regime. The argument in their defense is that they are just preaching faith and discipline. But then you see them switch direction when the regime they support is gone. The late Werdi did that: when Numeiri was in power he had a song, “Harisna w’ Farisna.” (our protector and our hero) The day Numeri was overthrown, he added a negation to that “la Harisna W’ la Farisna” (neither our protector nor our hero). But Numeiri returned in a couple of days and put Werdi in jail. Then, Werdi reclaimed his old lyrics after he went out of jail for betraying the rebellion.
      If we take Bereket, there is no doubt he is a super singer and an established one. However, for the last few decades, he has been nothing but ab super propagandists. That doesn’t diminish his singing skills but simply describes what has become of him. Evidence? Imagine what will happen to him if he criticised the PFDJ, or even hinted at demanding freedom for the prisoners. He will be vilified ten-times as much as he was lionized–just like struggle-era heroes whose pictures are deleted from videos. Therefore, the weight value is not art, but loyalty.

      In short, there is nothing in the Eritrea of today, under the PFDJ rule, that can be taken at face value. Everything is political and strongly politicised–that is what the regime does to anything at all. Therefore, I would read Semere’s views in that context. And not as if we have enlightened leaders who sponsor the arts for its own sake. Just a thought.

      • MS

        Ahlan Saleh
        I understand your point, and if you read my comment, it does not really say anything counter to your argument. For instance: I said that we all know the political position of both artists, which means they support or are OK to co-live with PFDJ’s political agendas. Therefore, I said as far as the political content of their songs is concerned one should not expect them to sing rebellious lyrics such as “down…down with dictator.” And that quoted part of the comment seems to have made you uncomfortable with my comment, otherwise, you are not denying the artistic stature of Bereket. Let’s switch roles and ask the following: if SGJ did not have the opportunity (or curse) to live in the diaspora, would he write “Meriam was her?” If Hussein Mohammed Ali lived in Eritrea, would he sing (ሚ ረኤካ? ትም፤ ወ ሚ ሰማዕካ? ትም…)፤ or, would Tewelde Redda sing ኣቦ ኣደይ ካን’ዶ… (both linked below); the moral of the argument is that we should eliminate areas we agree would be of preposterous of us discussing. Therefore, my comment was strictly limited on their artistic works and strictly on two songs. We know people are complex and change positions. In the early seventies, Bereket sang Meley, and he was a national figure, in late seventies he sang ዋህዮ ንየው በላ…and many…many other songs that were partisan in nature; he was an ardent opponent of the EPLF, once Eritrea was liberated, he returned to his country. He told us in his interviews that he would not see himself living anywhere but in his own country. That’s his choice. He did not want to head once again to the diaspora. That was the story of Yemane Barya, Idris Mo/Ali and many other veteran artists.
        So, my reply was strictly to Semere’s mixing of emotions and strict artistic production. For instance, his treatment of “Meley” is obviously way from the conclusion many would have reached.
        Anyway, I don’t disagree with your points because I don’t see them how I would have disputed them, nor have you pointed to any part of my comment that would disagree with your points. The only point is that of “down…down with dictator), so let’s change it with three examples I gave you above: SGJ, Hussein M/Ali & Tewelde Redda. As an artist, you would agree with me that artists are just human beings with complex characters and with the possibilities that they change. Therefore, we should be careful not to condemn them based on their political stance on certain turns of history. If someone is disputing Bereket’s artistic and political positions, he/she should give due diligence in summing up the man’s journey: from a clandestine nationalist who stirred the will of Eritreans in the sixties and seventies to fight against justice to a mixed Bereket (nationalist and ELFite) of the late seventies and eighties; to Bereket the patriot who sang for the defense of Eritrea (during the Ethio-Eritrean war (U may disagree and I respect that); to the current Bereket, an Octogenerian, who sings for the continuity of the statesquo. The concept and zeal for change belong to the youth, I would not overburden a seventy, or eighty-year-old man for not fighting for justice. Maybe his understanding of justice is different than mine, in my fifties.
        And this paragraph of yours supports my thrust: ” If we take Bereket, there is no doubt he is a super singer and an established one. However, for the last few decades, he has been nothing but ab super propagandists. That doesn’t diminish his singing skills but simply describes what has become of him. Evidence? Imagine what will happen to him if he criticised the PFDJ, or even hinted at demanding freedom for the prisoners. He will be vilified ten-times as much as he was lionized–just like struggle-era heroes whose pictures are deleted from videos. Therefore, the weight value is not art, but loyalty.”
        This is something that I had discussed with Semere when he would say, paraphrased, “How could people let PFDJ steal their young, why don’t they use stones and whatever weapons they have to defend their homes?” My reply was similar. “Don’t demand something you would not do from others.”
        Sorry, I broke one of my commitment of the new year: not to write long Hateta.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLw00TOdYlY
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpKiZdlE5YM

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Selam Mahmuday,

          I am not fun of musics, and I will not indulge myself and intervene in the argument of musics. There is only one of your statement that makes me to say few words.

          You have said: “I would not overburden a seventy, or eighty-year-old man for not fighting for justice.” It doesn’t matter whether he is seventy or eighty, it is a matter of principle. A man is judged on the principles he stood. Abuna Hajji Mussa is a good exemplary who showed us age doesn’t matter to stand on your principles. Generally, musicians are opportunistic, they always go with the flow and the politics of the day. It can not be exceptional with the Eritrean singers.

          Regards

          • MS

            Selam Emma
            A point well taken. I was just alluding to the difference that may exist in understanding concepts such as good governance and justice. You would agree that the degree of political acuity differs for each person depending on experience, education, personal interests….I was simply pointing to the fact that the young generation is more prone to initiating the fight for change. But you made a good point that Hajj Musa has shattered that ageist myth, at least in Eritrea.

        • Saleh Johar

          Ahlan Mahmoday,
          My point was not about their choices, though the choices we make do portray our character. Indeed, I wouldn’t be able to write anything inside Eritrea, but in my exile, I can. Hussein Mohammed Ali could not sing Mi’ Re’eka, nor will Abrar do anything of what he is doing in exile. I compare what made Hussein and Abrar leave, and what made others stay and be sponsored? That is what makes the differences in people’s choices. If I choose to divorce my liberty, I would probably be living a happy life in my country if I praise the PFDJ, call it mengistna, and equate Eritrea to the junta. I chose not to do that. I do not need any praise for my choice because it is mine. Similarly, I do not see why those who made an opposite choice should be praised for their choice. There lies my problem–because the moment we start to justify choices, we make bad and sometimes unkind comments that vilify others.

          Indeed, you mentioned your quote in a not nice way, I think you sense that. It was your belittling gesture aimed at those who made a choice to repeat that slogan for decades and sacrificing whatever is at their disposal, whether we agree with their choice or not. What doesn’t come as fair or correct is, in the same breath, we vilify those who cry for their rights (however incompetent) while we justify the choices of the propagandists. Whatever their situation, they are propagandists and should be treated as such–I think. Because we do not have x-ray view of peoples’ motives… though, yet, some crazy guys always try to justify why Isaias and his henchmen are the way they are: kunetat gediduwom. I am sure you have heard that type of justifications from those who enable the regime to run amok and trample over the rights of citizens–and the propagandists are there to amplify the justifications of the regime.

          Finally, I do not see any disagreement with your comment (or you, with mine). It’s just my attempt at explaining my view on how such issues should be treated. If Semere chose to amplify what he believes is an abhorring behavior, he has the right to do so, but he can be challenged if his comment goes beyond that. In the same token, one can also justify the employment with, or survival) under the propaganda sector of the PFDJ (which is what every supporter of the regime does, whether officially delegated or otherwise). Therefore, we should take note: that is why we are divided into two opposing camps where the separating line is no more grey–but clear black and white. I hope I make sense, Pasha.

          • MS

            Ahlan Saleh
            I got your point, and in my subsequent reply, I substituted the “down…down with dictator”with live examples in the form of SGJ, Hussein M/Ali and Abona Tewelde Reda. Since it has become a mocking mantra of PFDJ, my initial choice was a bit tasteless or berjego, as we say it in Tigrayet. I think we do concur on the overall message: that Semere, of course, has every right to portray Bereket the way he feels is appropriate, and each of us also has the right to take him whichever way we feel is fitting. Anyway, that’s the beauty of arts, people can get a slice of the work. For instance, one may love Bereket’s voice and melodies, another person may love his lyrics, yet another one also may love the composition of his music, etc., the same with books, cinema, paints, dances, etc. Thanks for the lengthy comment, and no more “down… down with dictator”.

    • MaHmuday “The Best” SaliH,

      @ a wedding songs selection by cover bands. I too endorse both songs.

      “QiltSimey attire.” “Libey keyriHQeki mHile TTiHile.”

      tSAtSE

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