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The Song That Emancipates Eritrean Women

Traditionally; most of the Tigriniya love songs hanker on the themes of interference by others, on one lover’s succumbing to the village gossip, “my love, do not believe the gossip, it is motivated by jealousy “. And many are lamentations about parents who refused to bless the courtship because of lack of societal stature and prestige. Even the legendary Tekle Tesfazghi, who sang of free choice, who dared anyone to prevent him from the one he loves, “kemdlayey”, I am free! laces his song with a heavy dose of the conspiracies of others hell bent to spread their lies, of those who try to separate lovers, “we should not be apart, regardless of what people say….”
And some of the love songs, even by the likes of the great Tsehaytu Beraki do not make sense.  In “Who started Love First”, Tsehaytu tells us that love started with Adam and Eve, when God created the world. For all we know, Adam and Eve’s was an arranged marriage. Adam could not find a wife from all the animals he named so God arranged Eve for him. Eve poisoned Adam with a tree of knowledge because of jealousy. Eve got jealous of the all knowing God.
Solomie Meharay in “Chocolate, Chocolate”, sings of her chocolate love, but we are in the dark whether she is referring to color or taste or both when she describes her love, who she wants to hide from the evil eyes of others as chocolate. Never mind that most Eritreans have never seen or tasted chocolate. She also asks him not to tell her his name because she wants to choose him one herself.  If I was the journalist interviewing Solomie, I would ask her, if she was afraid of finding out that name of this handsome man would be “Tesfamraim, or Andetsion and that she intends to give him a sexy name befitting his looks; like Yoel or Henos? And before she answers, I would interrupt and say, by the way, “mama entay gerra timewut”?,
My throne, the beauty of my love
My Gift my shining star
Because you are my chosen one
I gave you my whole being
You are my limbs and sight
Your love is my command
Ask me to be like a horse
So we can gallop side by side to enjoy
I will be a boat the queen of the sea
Live by my side with pride
Ride my love’s tide
Fear not!  Throw your anchor
And blaze your inner most feeling with me
You hold an honorable place in my heart
 You own a scarce meadow in my heart
You are the custodian and grazer
Every word I utter refers to you
Day and Night
My feelings lecture on you
Before the snatchers and eagle predators
Since my heart has crowned you
I dare you to do the right thing
Enter Feven Tsegay!
Feven Tsegay turned gold in 2016. But I am not referring to her new hairdo, I am not alluding to her golden complexion, rather I am talking about her latest song, “Tsururay”, my medal of Honor. Both the lyrics and music were written by Tekle Fanus, AKA: Maereba. In it, Feven Tsegay, the singer who gave us the stinker, “Habiby Dewileley”, My love Please call me, now bestows upon us a delight. She sings of what she will do for the love of her life, encourages him to be bold, to have faith, “teaamen tirayyy”, not “nikid tray” like Solomie, and not to be tense, to throw his anchor and to stand still beside her. Like the ancient Greek rhetoricians who invented apt hand-gestures for every rhetorical device, Feven employs appropriate gestures and body languages for almost every crucial love scene in the song. She had a move when she was galloping like a horse alongside her love, she had an appropriate body language when she was daring him to take their romance to the next level. With eyes escorting her chest as she jostled it forward, she says: “… libey sheyimuka kollo etti zgiber hji gberro”: since my heart has crowned you, do what you get to do. In “My Love Please Call Me”, she got almost everything wrong; the linguistic was wrong, the semantics was wrong. And she got the facts wrong, when she said, romance is more pleasurable on the phone than in person. And in a duet she performed with Temesghen Yared, where he tells her that he is not the right one for her and dares her to divorce him, she begs him and reaffirms her commitment to her covenant and fidelity despite his imperfections. In “Tsururay”, she expressed her love. The lady is in charge. She is the author of the “by-laws” of their intimacy and romance, like a woman should be.  She redeems herself by giving us a delight as a pay back of the two stinkers.
In “Tsururay”, the word “Zerraay” has a whole new meaning.
In the highlands of Eritrea, “Zerraay” is a menial job, usually held by drifters and refugees and they are abused lots, considered unsophisticated and shabby. Feven’s “zerraay” is both the protector of her dry season meadow and also the grazer in it, and he is also the crown king of her heart. Her “Zeraay” just needs to have faith, be confident, throw his anchor, surf on the waves of her love as it surges. A fool will decline this job description even if it is called “Zerraay”.
 My only beef is that lyrics and song would have been perfect, if it avoided the cliché of “shilla allo qolliba allo”, I presume it was chosen for its catchy and memorable Asmarino appeal, but a cliché always degrades an art. The memorable line in this piece of art is, “…. ab libey zelo hzzaati haggay, nssikha zerraay, baal’khaa seaaray”. Pure unadulterated gold!
Almost all the girls named Feven are my age group and younger, but I could not find the meaning of Feven, maybe it is a corruption of heaven, but now that Feven Tsegay graced us with a song that I think will be a classic, contributing to the emancipation of Eritrean woman, I suggest that she changes her name. I recommend the name “Wolete-Harent”
Way to go Maereba! Weldone Wolete-Harnet! Few more of this, please
An other Tigrinya singer, an Ethiopian, Eden Ghebressilasie, in the song “Swanwano”, sings of her love:  he is an eloquent shepherded, who she spotted when he was herding animals from distance, her heart skipped when she approached him. His conversation is deliciously flavoured and she cannot have enough of him. With unbridled confidence she brags that she is a material for “hemma” (the first spouse), and with assured self, she tells him that she is a magnet to the eyes of men and shares her dreams of him becoming the love of her life. And above all, she confides on him that she is not beholden to the traditional ornaments that dangle from the ears and neck, that she is satisfied by his love, “aydelin eye kutisha gobagub ab ezney zlegib, baakka eye zaggib”
Just like Feven’s “Zerraay” has been elevated, his rights have been protected to enjoy the fruits of his toils, like her surging love, the women of Eritrea and Ethiopia are rising and they will own the rest of the century, to assume the pinnacle, to write their own history, to annul those written by the self serving men. I hear it in the voices of Feven and Eden, I witness it in the tenacity of the survivors of PFDJ, I read it in an awate article, “The Secret of The Night”

About Semere Andom

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  • Solomon

    Selamat Atto Semere Andom and Awate Forum:

    “Eritrean Ethiopian Women’s Emancipation” is indeed a timely contemplation of real progressive issues of empowering our native Land’s in the Horn of Africa region in particular and the African continent in general. In the times of First Women Governor elected in Japan, the USA poised to elect it’s first President and Germany’s current Woman Head of State…Mr. Semere Andom I suppose does apply his calculus expertise. I will continue.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Sem,

    Just to fill your short, Biblically “Feven” means kind, home loving, hospitable, and friendly. I don’t know whether it matches to her songs and I will leave it as is.

    Amanuel Hidrat

  • Ismail AA

    Ahlen Semere Andom,
    Good attempt as literary review endeavor; this can develop to literary critic’s role.
    But digressing to the substance, though, I am not sure whether casual lyrics and songs can be taken as prelude (indicator) of ” the women of Eritrea and Ethiopia … rising [to] … own … the century”. I think this welcome positive take on the subject should be contingent on the foundational transformation of the material and spiritual world of the two society you have in mind. Music and its aspects alone cannot on their own translate to emancipation of women, and by and large in traditional societies. It may constitute essential segment of overall development in the broadest sense of the matter. A passing instance, would be that an art of music can be a detail in an edifice of literary advancement of peoples.
    By the way, may I add that you did good job by coming up with this posting that could let members of this forum to move on from being bogged in the slue your earlier article had created by the nonsense a discredited individual named Eyob has been spewing?.

  • Nitricc

    Hey Hayat; my condolence to you my Weyane sister! I understand your ” image enhancer” job must come to the end. I am sorry; really i am. having said that; i have more bad news, the Oromo and Amara are not only figured it out your devil strategy but they are uniting to wipe you out the weyane all together. for today I am inviting you this man who is signaling your end of day. what is amazing is you are devil your self, you never show your sympathy for the dead people of Oromo and Amara. listen to him. time is up my dedebit Hayat!


  • haileTG

    Hey iSem

    What a superb article and spot on ☺

  • Tewelde gebremariam

    Hi Semere Andom,
    As you usual, you have no idea of either the subject or of the culture you are scribbling about, of which I am hundred percent sure you do not belong at all, but if you do, as I said in the past, you must have grown in the recess of the underground world, like a schizophrenic, wearing, dreaming and wishing to be other than who you are.

    But then, who would claim to have heard an Eritrean Highlander invoking his mother’s name to challenge a provoceuter, and confuse a proper name—- Mai Tekela— with its literal meaning etc. but you ,the undergrounder dweller and self-hater?

    During the liberation era, during which Semere Andom must have been collaborating with the enemy from his under ground bunker, our artists, not only in order to evade censorship of the enemy but also to unwittingly enroll it in dessimination over its radio broadcast, were expressing their patriotic songs figuratively.

    Would any genuine Eritrean then expect the enemy collaborator, underground dweller and self-hater , Semere Andom, to figure out the genius of Tsehaitu Beraki, when she said——-The Primordial Love Originated With Adamn Hiwann?

    Absolutely, not. He is too predictable and shallow to understand the beauty and patriotic zeal of the song. He is limited to what is perceptible to his sense organs, that is why he interpreted the song in its grotesque literar meaning, exposing his inept intellectual capacity.

    The Ethiopian securities apparatus was also no better than Semere Andom. It was because , like him, they took it in it’s biblical sense that they let it go. They have no idea that Tsehatu was telling them that however much they try, they will never extinguish the Eritrean love for their country, culture, tradition, heritage because it is ingrained deep in their DNA. And this was exactly what our patriotic fathers had warned the UN in the Fifties in New York as well—- If Eritreans are denied justice, the whole of East Africa will be engulfed in inferno—. Indeed!!!!!

    • iSem

      Hi TG;
      You keep harping about that no Eritrean man ivokes his mothers name or sisters. Did you know Raasi W. Solomon invoked his mother’s name, ane wedi Elleni?
      About T. Beraki ‘s love song was poltical, when the dust sette, Wedi Tukabo will tell us that he was insulting PFDJ ygermena ‘alo and other
      People like are shallowing, the language and the culture by we are the best
      TG, are you sitting down,if you are not, please, this one will drive you crazy more than the hawi Silas:, do you know that some Tigriniya speakers men call each other “sanday” to each other?
      Now provide proof that, The T. Beraki song I referred to was political.
      PS:only an idiot can be hundred 100%sure about something

      • Tewelde gebremariam

        Hi iSem,
        No, no, the idiot is he who categorically denies the knowability of anything 100%.

        By the way, would you also deny that the cost of 100kg of coffee at $5.00 a kg is $500.00? I bet you would deny.

        What about the falling down of a piece of stone you had thrown upward, would you say gravity was the cause, or attribute the event to God/Allah’s will? I bet you would say the latter, fatalistic that you seem to be.

        • iSem

          Hi Sanday Tewelde Hebremariam:
          How about W. Solomon invoking Wedi Elleni , can that be proved 100%?
          Also, a quiz for your you TG, who is all knowing about Eritrean culture and liture,
          who said and why the following to R. W Solomon:
          Wedi embeytey Elleni
          Wedi bitey gini
          kemzii zkewon meas meshilini
          Ando can your prove with 100% that I am wrong to call you sandai TG

          • Tewelde gebremariam

            Hi iSem,

            Knowledge is not food that you can chew with both sides of your mouth, or shirt that you change every day. Unless otherwise you are a consummate opportunist bent to confuse and mislead, you are morally bound to maintain your expressed position and defend it, or admit defeat.

            Recall you claimed that othing is knowable 100%. If this were true, then it necessarily follows that knowledge of anything, including what His Excellency Raasi Weldenkiel Solomon, the Bravest of the Bravests, the Hero of all Heroes, the scourge of kasa of tigrai, the collaborator of General Napier , you alleged to have said or done is impossible.

            Do you know what our wise people say when they encounter such amateurish rhetoricians as yourself—– Anafra Quokuah Zey Felts Ayhadanain—–. I intuitively know what you and your likes are trying to achieve but of course in vain. We will stand foursquare on your every move and defeat you as we have defeated your predecessors. Mark My Words!!!

  • Lamek

    Hi Semere,

    I think you should listen to Tesfazion’s ‘Yemane Barya abey allo’ but I have a feeling you wrote this article to rebut him on that very post. He has a very different take on Eritrean music than you do and all of the people who think of you as his fan or follower could not be more wrong. Anyway, if he calls Helen Melles and Elsa Kidane unintellectual and shallow vocalists, Feven Tsegay would be simply a toy, like Barbie. You are good Semere, but if you were a little more fearless, you would be unstoppable like Tesfazion, right or wrong.

    • iSem

      Hi Lamek
      Welcome back dude, where were you? No wonder Nitricc is wrecking havoc here;-)
      No, I did not listen to Tesfazion’s video re Yemane.
      I am really underwhelmed for describing me as mere “good”;-)
      But jokes aside, what was that I should have been more blunt (fearless) about in this piece, just wondering

  • Nitricc

    Semere I have no idea what you are trying to say but I am sure some idiot will come forward and will say what superb article and spot on. I guess you need some diversion from your piano of TPLF final days. This days are very emotional times for you guys. You must have time that you have no idea to do with. I wonder what your body; the Agazian thinks about your good for nothing article. Can you write about the current event of your beloved weyane? Please!

    • Semere Tesfai

      Selam Nitric

      Wow!! That is scary.

      I guess, the die is cast and we’re at a point of no return. All we’re left-with, is to witness the ugly reality of confrontation, bloodshed and human carnage.

      But still, it is not too late. In this difficult time, I beg and plea to the good people of Tigray and their elite – to stop confrontation, be good Ethiopians, sympathize with the plight of your Amara, Oromo, Somali….. compatriots and STAND BY THEM.

      Confrontation over piece of regional administrative territory and confrontation over domination of national politics, is not a fight you Tigreans can win. You are a small minority in a huge nation.

      You can accomplish a lot and gain a lot by doing the right thing – facilitating for a meaningful change while keeping Ethiopia United, Stable, Safe and Secure. You know the status quo is not sustainable.

      You had your moment to shine, its time to pass the torch. Do it; and do it with class.

      Semere Tesfai

      • Dear Semere T.,

        I doubt that TPLF/WOYANE is part of this shilela and zeraf that is reminiscent of the feudal days and the days of the liberation war. I think it is a show for local consumption. If ethnic confrontations starts, first it will be at the center at the government level before it reaches the periphery, and I am sure TPLF and EPRDF as a whole will never risk to see such a scenario.

        I have read that the Ethiopian Constitution accepts that inter-regional borders are subject to change, which shows that it was not put in place after detailed study, and I hope that some sort agreement will be reached at government level. Remember, the problem is all over Ethiopia, and it requires to be handled once for all if ethnic federalism is to survive. Moreover, worsening of democratic rights of citizens and the absence of good governance, are much more important, although the ethnic sentiment of the people is easily arroused.

        We are at a cross road, and the only solution available is compromise from all sides. That I am sure will happen. Thefore, the dice for change and not for a conflict is cast, for there shall be no winners but losers in the second case. Nobody wants to change to ashes what has been gained over the last quarter century. The stakes are great and the enemies are many. I am sure TPLF/EPRDF knows that and i hope the opposition too.

        • Semere Tesfai

          Selam Horizon

          I hope I’m wrong. And I hope you’re right. But few points here:

          1. – The cameras, the gathering of the crowd, the song and the message of the song…… not to mention the gathering of diaspora Tigreans and the tone of their message can’t be all spontaneous unorganized random phenomenon. At least, at least…. the Tigrean local government is out of contol of the central government. This has to stop, and stop now. You can disagree with me all you want, but this was how the 1998 Eri-Ethio war started.

          2. – The Amaras, the Oromos, the Somalis…….. can afford to be politically incorrect. But not the Tigreans. The difference: they are at the hem. They are government for all. Everything they do, everything they say is, the official statement of the Ethiopian government. STOP IT!!!

          3. – I know, the Tigreans are divided. But, the Ethiopian central government has the duty and obligation to control the unruly Tigrean Killil government. Muzzle their filthy mouth and tell them to mind their local business. Regional (Killil) boundaries are non of their (Tigrean local governments) business. It is the job of the central government.

          4. – If need be, send the national army to Tigray to set things straight. I believe, if this thing is going to end in a peaceful way with a positive change, the Ethiopian Army has to play a decisive role. And it doesn’t have pretty and democratic.

          Semere Tesfai

          • Dear Semere T.,

            It is possible that the regional government with its local factionaries may act beyond their jurisdiction. I do not believe that it is the decision of the central bureau of TPLF, because when you see people with military uniform and ak47s in their hands, it is more than a simple rally, especially if TPLF is behind this. Participation of the Diaspora shows their foolishness and arrogance, than anything else. About the tone of the language and what was said, I do not know.

            The Ethiopian army has no place in Tigray or any other ethnic state. The local police will handle the situation if riots or other problems occur, and I believe that TPLF is able to control the renegade party members. The army is to defend the people and the sovereignty of the country and not to solve simple local problems.

      • Thomas D

        Hi friend Semere T,

        It is good that you seem to care for the Ethiopian people. It is bad that you dislike the Eritrean people. You don’t like to talk on their behalf, but you care too much to talk on behave of the ethiopians. It is ironic, it’s all good and dandy. I hope history forgives you and your kind!!

      • Nitricc

        Hi Semere; i will give you my take but i want you to listen to this and i will respond. instead of staying cool and let the peaceful means to work in its way; the emotions are… well look for your self.

        • Semere Tesfai

          Selam Nitricc

          Sorry for the late response.

          Anyway, this is my take on the video clip and on the whole thing.

          1. – The people on the video clip are poor Tigrean farmers residing in the Wolqait-Tsegede region. They are misinformed by the cadres of the Mekele bigwigs that their revolution, their land, their culture, their language, their property, their family, and their way of life is being threatened by the EVIL AMARAS. And that is what they are reacting to.

          2. – Exactly like 1998, there is division within the Woyanes bigwigs. And the division is between:

          A. – The bigwig Woyanes in Shoa (Addis) who want to stitch a phony coalition government of Nations and Nationalities called EPRDF (which in reality is a collection of greedy sellout individuals assembled by the Woyanes from each ethnic regions) with the sole purpose – to enable them (the Woyanes) to loot Ethiopia’s resources.

          B. – The bigwig Woyanes in Mekele who want to expand Tigray by looting land from regions that border Tigray (Eritrea Wollo and Gonder). All by evicting arresting imprisoning and killing the very people who called home these lands for generations. Case in point: Before 1991, the GREAT MAJORITY residents on the whole Badme region (on both sides of today’s Ethio-Eritrean boder) were Eritreans. There were thousands of Eritrean farmers in Humera, Rawyan, Lugdi, Dansha all the way to Tkil-Dingay. In fact I had the honor to know the Eritrean guy who built the church in Dansha (married to a Wolqait lady) when I was Tegadalay. Today, thanks to Woyane, I would be shocked if there are any Eritreans left in the whole region. The Woyanes has changed – not only the demography of the region but also even the names of many of the places.

          3. – So Nitricc, what you see is the divergent politics of the Tigrean bigwigs of Meqele and Shoa – the land expansionists in Meqele and the looters of resources in Addis. We all know power is in the hands of the Woyanes, but sometimes it is hard to tell head from tail. Does order flow from Addis to Meqele or from Meqele to Addis? Who has the final say? Is there disconnect between the base and the governing elite in Addis? If it does exist such disconnect who prevails at the end bof the day? Fore example, during the 1998 Ethio-Eritrean war, it was the Meqele side of the Wing (the land expansionist wing) that had it its way.

          4. – If the Meqele wing is the most powerful of the Woyane clique, then we are inching into an ugly showdown between the Amaras and Tigreans – which the Tigreans will regret for ever.
          If the Shoa wing is the most powerful of the Woyane clique, and if they are able to tame the unruly Meqele hardliners, then there is a hope, through mediation of the West and other actors, power to be transferred to the Amara/Oromo peacefully with SOMETHING for the Tigreans.

          5. – But, no matter how you slice it, good riddance, the era of Woyane is over. They are done; well done at that. The fork is already on their back. Make no mistake – all the blood and tears of the Eritrean people, all the blood and tears of the Somalian people, all the blood and tears of the Amara people, all the blood and tears of the Oromo people, all the blood and tears of the Gambella people, all the blood and tears of the Sidama people…….. will not be forgotten and will not go unanswered. Never! Just a matter of time.

          Semere Tesfai

      • Lamek

        Semere Tesfai. Sell this drama somewhere else. The Tigrayans are not stupid people. What you are advancing here is exactly what IA has always wanted and why he ignited the badme war because he wants Tegarru to abandon their true nationality of Tigray and get swallowed among 100 million other Ethiopians, leftism and Marxism at its best. But TPLF will wisen up and navigate through this and destroy PFDJ for good so that Tigrayans and kebessa Eritreans can give your 9 biherat failed experiment a final blow. PFDJ is behind all of this but TPLF is at a total loss at the moment but once they realize what is at stake, the continuity of Tigrinya speakers as a people and nation, they will abandon supporting the worthless opposition groups and ignite kebessa nationalism and defeat IA and his Marxist and leftist strategy of annihilating us Tigrinya speakers to make his 9 biherat experiment a success but we have rejected this, that’s why everybody is fleeing because we are saying no to this made up identity called Eritreans. We are agaizians!!!

        • Elenta


          Poor you! You can’t even manage to keep one nickname.That tells a lot about you. Abyssinian,Habesha,Tegaru and now agazzians. What are you going to be next-Spartan?
          Please keep your stupidity to yourself

          • Lamek

            Hi Elenta. Okay, I will. Thanks for the advice.