10 September 2007

Monday's mp3: Happy Birthday Ethiopia!

Ethiopia: mystical land of Rastafari roots, the origins of humans, and -- this Wednesday at midnight -- a party of epic proportions kicking off the nation's third millennium.

Yes, Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations on the planet. Its borders have varied, most recently with the independence of Eritrea. But the fact remains that it's been around a long, long time.

In ancient times it remained centred around Aksum, an imperial capital located in the northern part of the modern state, about 100 miles (160 kilometres) from the Red Sea coast. The present territory was consolidated during the 19th and 20th centuries as European powers encroached into Ethiopia's historical domain. Ethiopia became prominent in modern world affairs first in 1896, when it defeated colonial Italy in the Battle of Adwa, and again in 1935–36, when it was invaded and occupied by fascist Italy. Liberation during World War II by the Allied powers set the stage for Ethiopia to play a more prominent role in world affairs. Ethiopia was
among the first independent nations to sign the Charter of the United Nations, and it gave moral and material support to the decolonization of Africa and to the growth of Pan-African cooperation. These efforts culminated in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, both of which have their headquarters in Addis Ababa. (brittanica.com)

Ethiopia is also one of my favorite countries to dispel illusions about Africa. When confronted by someone ignorant of the continent's rich musical and cultural traditions, or simply the fact that there are cities and not just thatch huts, I love to dig out something from the wonderful Ethiopiques series. Way back in the 1960s, musicians in Addis Ababa were doing crazy, funky, experimental, electric things just like their counterparts in Europe and the USA. And thanks largely to Amha Eshete and his Amha Records label, we've got a great record of that work. Buda Musique is consistently releasing this great material, and is presently on volume 22. Play this for your friends who are ignorant about Africa...it'll blow their minds.

The lyrics for this song say "Your house is at the foot of the hill / I can't touch you, you are so far / you live so far at the foot of the hill / I don't have the strength to go to you."

[mp3] Tèshomé Meteku: Gara Ser Nèw Bétesh
from Ethiopiques 1 - Golden Years of Ethiopian Music 1969-1975

The Black Eyed Peas will be performing at the official shindig, but don't expect to see many ordinary Ethiopians there, as the ticket price of $170 is twice the average monthly wage.

Completely unrelated to Ethiopia is this question from SoundRoots reader Chantel:

A friend of mine tipped me on this artist/band called Mottasi. I have been searching for more info of them,but with no result. You are my last hope. The artist/band name is Mottasi and the only song i could find on itunes is Sol. they also have a site called mottasi.com Any information is welcome.

Anyone know anything about Mottasi? The website isn't much help.
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Malcolm said...

Just to say I love what you're doing even if I'm one of the silent majority who cruise by Soundroots without leaving a trace most of the time..

SpinTheGlobe said...

Thanks, Malc -- I know there are a lot of you silent types out there, and that's okay. And it's wonderful to hear an encouraging word (or question or rebuttal) from you now and then.

So those of you who have been enjoying SoundRoots, follow Malc's example and leave a comment sometime. It helps keep the love flowing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this informative posting.

My favorite Ethiopian site is the Ethiopian Portal website. Check it out: