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Jebena Presents Grafted Skin

A few days ago a loyal friend of sent us a link to a song that was recently released. An unusual piece of music by Amanuel Yohannes. It’s a song without any interruptions of brass instruments.

A few days later, Amanuel Hidrat posted the song on the discussion forum. Immediately, Semere Tesfai transcribed the song in its Tigrinya form and made it easy to be translated into English.

The Tigrinya lyrics contain traditional farm terms that are not widely used in daily life outside the Eritrean countryside. And, certainly, the English translation doesn’t do justice to the real meanings of the words. We do not claim perfect translation, but it reflects the general message of the lyrics of the song. Enjoy the song.

Grafted Skin,

Skinned calf, its hide is its sign,
Tying the legs of a cow with the hide of its calf

Someone! Tell her to hide the birth milk, its colostrum
Before its progenies perish for lack of a savior

No caring and compassionate protector
And moo, a faint voice
The milking pots are so many
And it thinks the unburied calf is still alive
Graft hide. Graft hide, graft hide

It didn’t even start to walk,
It didn’t taste its mother’s colostrum milk
They transformed the innocent calf into stuffed hide
And as if grief is not enough, it became a play-thing

Denied serenity even in death
When a hen can recognize its chicks!
But the beef cow nurses a monster not of her own
Living the usual life of injustice, renewed at every dawn
It sacrificed its calf and is fostering another, not of her own

Graft hide.

They buried its bones, not leaving a trace
They stuffed its hide with straws of many kinds
They made it appear as if alive so the mother won’t miss it
They milked the cow dry, now they’ve started to suck its blood.

(The following is the original Tigrinya lyrics)


ተምሳለት ናይ ዓረም: ምልክት ግርህነት – ብቆርበት ውላዳ: እግራ ዝተሓልከት
ንገርዋ ‘ባ ‘ታ: ልግዐኣ ክትሓብእ – ዘርኣ ከይጸንት: ሰኢና ዝረድእ

ዝረድኣ ሰኢና: ሓላዪ ደንጋጺ – እንባሕ-እንባሕ ትብል: ብዝሞተ ድምጺ
ጓጉድ ድሕሪ ጓጉድ: ተተቐያየረ – ዘሎ ‘ንድዩ ዝመስላ: ስለ ዘይተቐብረ
ዓረም … ዓረም … ዓረም … ዓረም …

ብርኪ ከይተኸለ: ልግዐ ከይቀመሰ – ዓረም ሰሪሖሞ: ገለ ከይኣበሰ
ሕሰሙ ከይኣኽሎ: ኮይኑ መጻወቲ – ንቡር ተሓሪሙ: ምስ ሞተ ዕርፍቲ

ደርሆኳ ተለሊ: ውላዳ ጨቓዊት – ሓምራ ግን ትዕንግል: ዘይናታ ኣራዊት
ውሁብ ኮይኑ ናብራ: ወግሐ-ጸብሐ ወጽዓ – ትዃዕ ከተዐንግል: ውላዳ ሰዊኣ
ዓረም … ዓረም … ዓረም … ዓረም …

የዕጽምቱ ደፊኖም: ከይርከቦ ኣሰር – ቆርበቱ መሊኦም: ሓሰር ወዲ-ሓሰር
የለን ንኸይትብል: ከም ህያው ገረሞ – ጸባኣ ወዲኦም: ደማ ጀሚሮሞ
ዓረም … ዓረም … ዓረም … ዓረም …



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  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear all,
    but were you also able to remember the poem regarding the above subject ( Grafted Skin ) written 3 years back in same page by me ? I got it from my file and here it is. in here different lesson.

    እቲ ገጣማይ:-
    …………እታ ምራኽ ዝሞታ ላም መእንቲ ክትሕለበሎም:-
    …………ቆርበት ምራኻ ብጥንቃቔ ቀሊጦም:-
    …………ጨው መሊኦም ይቅረቡላ ነይሮም :-
    …………ዝብል ዛንታ ኣብ ኤርትራ እነሀልኩም:-

    …………’ታ ላም ምስ ለበመት – ሓንቲ መዓልቲ ድንገት
    …………ክትዕ ጀመረት ምስ ነብሳ ሞገተት:-
    …………እዋይ ኣነ ተታሊለ :
    …………ነዚ ቆርበት ምራኸይ እዩ ኢለ:
    …………ጨው ክልሕስ ተሓሊበ:-
    …………ደቂ ኣዳም ጻባ ኣጽጊበ:-

    …………ሻቡ እቲ ጓሳ;:-

    …………ንስኺ ግዳ እንስሳ ዘቤት;-
    …………ህዝብና ‘ኳ ህግደፍ ምስ መረሐት:-
    …………ነዛ ሃገር እናበልቶም ከደት ከደት
    …………ብዘይ ህልውናና ነይሰረረት;-
    …………ከስተብህል ኣይከኣለን ንዓመታት
    …………ደቁ እናጠፍኡ ኣብ መሪር ስደት:-

    …………እሉ መለሰላ

    ክስምዕ ዝጸነሐ ደጋፊ ህግደፍ:-
    …………እንቀዓ እንቀዓ ተንፈሰ መልሓሱ ኣብለሐ:-
    …………ስማዕ ኣንታ ወያኔ ኩር ኩር ኣመሪካ
    …………ይኣኽለካ ሓዞ ኣፍካ :-
    …………ዳግማይ ከይሰምዓካ
    …………ከትርፈካ እየ ቀንጢጠ ቆርበትካ::

    ሻቡ ገጣሚ:-
    …………ንሕና ቶም ንገጥም ንጽሕፍ ደፊርና:-
    …………መዓስ ‘ሞ ዋዛ ስራሕና ከይወዳእና:-
    …………እኹል ዋጋ ህግደፍ ከይኽፈልና:-
    …………ብከንቱ ብደናቁር ንሰባበር ኮይና::

    …………ንህግደፍ ታቃሊሱ ግርም ዝቀጥቀጠ:-
    …………ንሱ ‘ውን ተሰብረ ብዙሕ ተሓንጠጠ:-
    …………ትረፍ መረፍ ውቅቱ እዩ ቃላቱ ዘዕበጠ:-
    …………ኣረጋጊጹ ዝኸይድ ስርዓት ከም ዝለወጠ::

    በለ ንብሎኩም

  • T..T.

    Hi Semere Tesfai and all,

    Well explained and nicely presented the literal translation of Arem (ዓረም). However, most of the non-farmers do clearly understand the metaphorical translation of Arem in the song. The word Arem in the song contains analogy providing comparison between the good governance and the evil governance in Eritrea.

    Those in the opposition camp understand the cruelty of using Arem as represented in the character of the dictator and his criminal generals. The pictorial allegory of the article, as shown above, gives a good translation based on the non-farmers’ perception, where Eritrea with its people is trampled under the Isayasists’ boot. On the other hand, those with bloody hands may not see the sufferings of the Eritrean victims in the usage of the word Arem and, as well, may not condemn the boot that is trampling the humanity and dignity of those innocent Eritreans under the boot.

    • T..T.

      Dear all,

      Please read, “The pictorial allegory of the next article” instead of what is stated in the second sentence of the second paragraph of my response above.

  • AMAN

    Greetings ,
    Dear Awates .
    What amazes me is that the sheer hypocrisy and arrogance
    some slaves and servants of the old regimes of Ethiopia – the
    shewa peasants & their misguided intellectuals , the dergue
    Militias and their confused intellectual allies and the Tigray
    peasants and their ignorant intellectual allies ; display against
    Eritrea , Ethiopia and the struggle of the two people.
    They just try to take a front seat and act as tax collector agents
    in the struggle of the people while they remain half hearted to
    defend and protect these old regimes from the revolutionary
    flame of the people.
    Do you know how many misguided intellectuals placed themselves
    in the service of these anti people juntas and regimes of HSI, WPE
    & WOYANE in Ethiopia against the revolution of the people ?
    The EPRP’s , the MEISONS , the WOYANES and their allies are
    some few of the many who betrayed Ethiopia and the people for the
    services and recruitments under the regimes.
    And the worst yet by any measure is the fall of the Tplf under these
    bankrupted camp after all those 17 years of struggle. The case of the
    WOYANE Tplf / Eprdf regime in Ethiopian politics can only be described
    by the saying in our language as :
    ” Zey – Halfela CHirrus……..Meskerem Ti E’wur ! ”
    Nothing Else !
    WOYANE / Tplf has bankrupted itself by falling into the wrong path or
    road that the SHI and WPE administrations have travelled for years
    in Ethiopia which only was a recipe for its destruction and ultimate
    dismantlement as a state and post WWII NATION ( as we had / have
    known it so far ) as it has time and again been proved right from its
    collapse more than once. Tplf /WOYANE has only added petrol to it
    and immensely contributed to it by going to war against the Eritrean
    and Ethiopian peoples.

  • Tewelde gebremariam

    The background of the poem is what a farmer does to the dead calf in order to fool the mother-cow into providing him with milk. He carefully removes
    the skin of the dead calf, staring from its rear end pushes or pulls ( with help of a knife wen necessary ) the skin all the way to the front. Once the skin is pulled all the way , the farmer refills it up with straw. When it is all done, the straw-calf is made to stand on its four feet and the cow unable to differentiate accepts it as her baby-calf and yields its milk to the farmer.

    The poet is using the above figuratively. The cow, our country, Eritrea. The farmer, the impostor isaias afewerk. The straw-calf, our people, the living dead.

    The poet is lamenting , and in so doing, stirring up our emotion to stand up and overthrow the impostor isaias afewerk ,who has subjugated us, and in our name, exploiting our country’s natural resources for his own hidden agenda with impunity.

    The poem is magnificent. Unfortunately, we are too busy bickering against each other on sectarian ground to carryout its message. Some of us preoccupied with life after death; some of us with securing our properties and safeguarding our privileges to see the remnants of our families back home; some have lost the big picture and are swearing— if not my way to the highway etc. Unless we healed ourselves of these diseases, know our real enemies and friends, and resolved to deal with our common primary problem now and the sectarian issue later, our demise as a nation will be a foregone conclusion.

    And remember, even if we overthrow the impostor isaias afewerk with the help of the UN, our agony won’t be over unless at the same time we dissociate ourselves from woyane. Equally important is the complete closure of ELF-EPLF and flags War. We must put all these regressive and vindictive themes behind us. We must grow up and act like grown ups and politically mature people.

  • AMAN

    Greetings Awates,
    Shocking and Disturbing report :
    Intelligence piece found and relayed to us from our Oromo
    allies and some Asmara based Ethiopian Opposition movements
    reveals that the TPLF wished to have an Eritrean “OPDO” or like
    movement that would eventually work for the subjugation of Eritrea
    under the tplf / eprdf administered Ethiopia in exchange for some
    ministerial posts at its administration. And surprisingly enough some
    Eritreans are implicated and found to be working for this end to accept
    secondary position under woyane/Tplf administration like some of the
    OPDO officials who Tplf created them against the OLF to subjugate
    Oromia and the Oromo people under its administration.

  • Yohannes Zerai

    Dear Awatistas,

    I do not claim to have any literary skills; and the level of my dexterity with the Tigrigna language is limited to writing a decent letter and perhaps a short article — all using the words, grammar, sentence structure, etc. my conscientious teachers taught me when I was an elementary-school child!

    “How long ago was t…h…a…t ?” you may ask.

    My answer would be: “Well, never mind! I am sure you can figure that out for yourselves – if the question inexplicably happens to be worth pondering for ‘even one second’ of your thinking time!!

    On with the story, though! – which my comment seems to be developing into without my intentions! Anyways, later in life, but not too long after my “Middle School” years (as we used to call the intermediate-level education of the times), I developed the ability to appreciate, enjoy and admire the tremendous talents exhibited in the wonderful newspaper articles, books, etc. which I read through the years that followed, and which I still do albeit to a lesser extent. So, when I listened to the song of Amanuel Yohannes and read its lyrics, I could not help being overwhelmed by the message it conveyed.

    Scrutiny and analysis of the finer details and delicate aspects (word suitability, their precise meanings, the structure, etc.) of the lyrics should be left to those who have a knack for literary works such as Kokhob Selam, T.T. and others. I am sure their comments and interpretations of the poem will benefit the rest of the readership by unraveling the deeper meanings of its verses. But even in its original form, it did do in me what (I believe) it was meant to do in its readers/listeners: Its powerful and penetrating message shook my sensibilities and made me feel even more profoundly the ugliness of the oppression and injustice our people continue to endure!

    I really do not regret NOT having those skills and talents that enabled the poem’s author to put it together, and some forumers to critique it. I am already overjoyed just at having been blessed with the ability to marvel at the beauty produced by the skills and talents I never had! Most of all, I draw satisfaction from the knowledge that the collective literary skills and talents of the gentlemen I mentioned above as well as those of thousands of other brothers and sisters belong to ME TOO! they belong to the rest of US TOO!

  • Abi

    Hi all
    Can somebody volunteer and tell me how a cow gave birth to several pigs ? What is next? A camel give birth to an elephant?
    Why is everything exaggerated? Ok! Ok! I got it. It was an artificial insemination gone terribly wrong. Blame it on the vet.

    • Solomon Haile


      Think George Orwell Or The Pig TOR if you must.

      Silence of the day is fitting to everyone else who can empathise with any other have man.

      Once s pig always a pig. Caputo!


  • AMAN

    Greetings Awates.
    Is PFDJ or ERITREA the Arem ?
    The poem is so Ambiguous.
    For me it looks like the PFDJ & the TPLF
    are or have become the AREM…..or ARENA !
    Any suggestions ?

    • Abrehet Yosief

      Selam Aman,
      The artist uses Arem alternatively to represent the cow and the calf. The cow who is fooled into giving its milk. The calf who even after death is exploited.

  • said

    in 1842, Charles Dickens reported, “I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment [solitary confinement], prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers; and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow creature.” While not technically in solitary confinement, too many of us are solitary enough. Seeing nothing but ourselves, photographing mostly ourselves, we rage at others for not admiring us.

    • T..T.

      Hi said and all,

      The tyrant, Isayas, knows that the torture and agony of the Eritrean people is excessive.

      The tyrant used to fear his victims only. Now he fears the world community, too. What the silent majority doesn’t know is that its silence is empowering the tyrant.

      The tyrant has been in the business of bending history and the truth. He is now complaining as if he is the victim. Alem Goitom of Meskerem-Dot-Net nowadays sounds like an eye witness that Isayas is the victim of gross injustices for standing against foreign dangers (the USA and Ethiopia), while he is downplaying the Eritrean justices seekers fight to end the Isayasists organized conspiracy to oppress the Eritrean people for ever.

  • Abrehet Yosief

    Dear Awate,
    Indeed an amazing song. It correctly describes our situation. By showing us a mirage of what we want to see, they continue to milk us of everything we hold dear. For the mirage of “hidri suw’atna” we gave up our freedom; for the mirage of “sovereignty” our youth gave up their life. For the mirage of a vacation home, the opportunity to be buried in our homeland and attend the funeral of our loved ones, we give up our hard earned money. For the mirage of “tetsawerinet, jegn’net, qoratsnet …” we deny the plight our people. They scare us with images of Libya to continue to silence us. Now the good old cow, who trusted her owner, gets tricked into continuing to provide milk long after the demise of her calf. Nature does not allow it to stop its milk, untie its shackles and fight back. What is our excuse? May God have mercy on us.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam Abrehet,

      I can’t agree more. Well said. For the list of ‘mirages’ you stated eloquently, indeed we lost everything. Nothing we are left with from the values we inherited; and our youth after giving every sweat and blood (as represented by ‘Arem’ in this a telling song), are forced to leave our country, which they found it out, the only way out to freedom and emancipation from the serfdom they were entangled with.

      Amanuel Hidrat

  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear awate,

    Something cultural, wonderful and best chosen words and strong massage poem with sensitive heart touching lyrics. that should be discussed. Sure I will come with my points here. But I think here one world should be correct, ክርሕነት to ግርህነት –ተምሳለት ናይ ዓረም: ምልክት ክርሕነት should be changed to ተምሳለት ናይ ዓረም: ምልክት ክርሕነት ግርህነት :

    and I think here ብዝመተ should be replaced by ብዝሞተ: