In accordance with its Bylaw, the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America (EHSNA) has successfully carried out its annual election. The election marks the fourth Executive Committee (EC) conducted since its inception. The elected individuals and their respective positions are as follows: Continue reading →
Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America (EHSNA) is gathering message from the public about The Victory of the Battle of Adwa. The message could be audio, video or written and it should be no more than 5 minutes long. Send your message to adwa@EHSNA.org Or leave a voice mail 202-596-1964. Continue reading →
Washington, DC – One-hundred and eighteen years ago, a well-organized army under the command and leadership of Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taytu, decimated the Italian force that was seeking to colonize one of Africa’s most ancient nations – Ethiopia. As a leader beyond his time, Emperor Menelik II was able to organize and structure an army within a short period of time to confront the Italians at Adwa. With his swift victory over the Italians, Minilik II solidified Ethiopia’s independence by putting Ethiopia among the very few states in the world that have never been colonized. Continue reading →
It has been a 100 years since the death of Emperor Menelik II, who is highly considered as a prudent leader since he hadn’t trapped with the other African leaders to give the imperial powers to powerful European nations instead he was determined, mobilized every Ethiopians to fight and defeat the Italian foreign aggressor at the 1896 Battle of Adwa followed by a disputed treaty knows as Wechale. In addition, he was widely known for introducing the country to modernization.
The Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America (“EHSNA”) hereby demands an immediate stop to the cruel, callous, and unjustified killing, raping, and beatings of Ethiopian immigrants by the government Saudi Arabian Security forces and Police backed youth Vigilantes.
Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia enjoyed a peaceful and fraternal relationship in the past dating back in earlier centuries. As history attest, the Prophet Mohammed had sent his followers to Ethiopia and when they were persecuted in mecca Saudi Arabia in the 7th century. He described Ethiopia as a land of justice and her kind of righteous. Hence that was called the first Hijra in the history of Islam.
Further, today there large farms and fertile lands were given to the Saudi investors far below the market price. Yet, in the past few weeks, the Saudi Security forces and youth backed by the government have been engaged in shameful act of violence against Ethiopians. The Security forces and the vigilante youth have brutally executed Ethiopians on the street, raped and abducted young women, and severely beaten defenseless hundreds using many types of weapons.
As many Ethiopians around the world are following this grave act of gross act of Human Rights violations with shock and dismay, we at the EHSNA call upon all human rights organization, the United Nations, and the U.S. government to intervene in stopping the brutal killings without any delay. We also call upon the Kingdome of the Saudi Arabian government authorities to launch an investigation on this issue. The Kingdome should issue an order to stop further killings, rape, and beatings by both the security forces and the Police back youth SHABAB. EHSNA shall explore all avenues and ways to bring these crimes against Humanity to the forefront of the International community’s attention. The unspeakable harsh measures and acts that have taken place in last few days in Saudi shall not be acceptable, should not be allowed to continue, and will no longer be tolerated.
EHSNA Board and its supporters are disturbed, seriously troubled, and are working with all concerned to bring justice to our citizens. What is more shocking and outrageous is Saudi security forces engage in such act of extrajudicial killings, rape, and beatings without any recourse. We will not stand silently at this time and age when our citizens are beaten to death on the street, young girls and women raped indiscriminately, and thousands beaten and arrested. We shall work with other in brining justice for the innocent, poor, defenseless Ethiopians slaughtered in the streets of Saud Arabia.
We would like to stress our call to stop the violence. We would like to renew and join all Ethiopians in our call upon the Saudi government to bring to justice those responsible for act of savagery. The action taken against Ethiopians by the Saudi citizens and Security forces is unjustifiable by reason, religion, or International law. EHSNA is following all development and news concerning this matter. EHSNA shall assist and join hands with others in an effort to obtain justice for Ethiopian Immigrants who are subjected to indescribable suffering by Saud Arabian Security forces and Police backed youth.
For more information please visit our main website (www.ehsna.org) or call us @ 202-596-1964.
Members of the Young Ethio Jazz Band (Photo: Noam Eshel)
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that kids hate their parents’ music, or at least do their best to ignore it. Garage bands don’t borrow CDs from their parents so they can practice disco covers.
Okay, maybe, but only in some kind of ironic hipster way.
Well there’s nothing ironic about the music being played in this suburban garage near Oakland, California. The Young Ethio Jazz Band are teenagers who rock out with their parents’ music.
The band played its first gig in San Francisco last winter. Now it is slated to open for another act at Yoshi’s, a famous jazz club in San Francisco, and then it plays in the Ethiopian Heritage Festival at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
All of the kids are second generation Ethiopians between 11 and 16-years-old. Before they started playing together a year and a half ago, most of them had the stereotypical reaction to their parents’ music.
“In the very beginning I was really confused about the music,” says Yohanas Abanew, who plays keyboard in the band. “I just said ‘well this doesn’t really sound like music that I would really want to play.’”
Then he started practicing an Ethio-jazz song in his high school band. “It really woke me up,” he says, “this is my culture, and I really need to learn this music.”
Yonathan Wolday had a similar revelation. He’s a tall, lanky 16-year-old who plays trumpet. Wolday is wearing a gray sweatshirt with a picture of a diamond and the letters “DMND.” A pair of white ear phones hang out from his collar and onto his chest.
His parents are from Ethiopia, and the songs they listen to are in Amharic, the official language in Ethiopia. Wolday doesn’t understand it well, and that initially turned him off from the music. He didn’t really start listening to the songs until he began playing in the band.
Even now, it’s hard to believe that he’s channeling the music of his parents’ generation. Whenever the band stops practicing, you can hear simple rap bass lines pulsating out from his dangling ear buds.
Vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke gave birth to Ethio-jazz in the early 70s. He was the first African student to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he fused Western jazz with Latin rhythms and traditional Ethiopian scales.
If you watched the movie “Broken Flowers” you may have one of his songs stuck in your head. The score features several Astatke compositions, including this one, Yekeramo Sew.
Mulatu Astatke and Ethio-jazz have had a bit of a resurgence in the US since “Broken Flowers” came out in 2005. Still, it’s hard to find sheet music and transcribed parts for many Ethio-jazz songs.
So, instead of relying on charts, the Young Ethio Jazz Band is learning the music the old fashion way — by ear. Their accuracy is astonishing. At moments they sound almost identical to Astatke’s recordings.
Sirak Tegbaru brought the band together. He invited the kids to practice in his garage after after hearing them play at a nearby church. Even he is impressed with how well the kids have internalized the music.
“These kids really just want to play it the way it’s been played,” Tegbaru says. Sometimes he has to encourage them to branch out—play some different scales, improvise their own solos over the chord changes. Make the kids break the rules.
Tegbaru left Ethiopia in 1979 when he was 16. He loved playing music, but his parents said it wasn’t practical. They pressured him to study medicine, and sent him abroad to Prague. Tegbaru still plays music, but he doesn’t have anything to do with medicine. He sells State Farm insurance during the week. On the weekend, he leads the band.
“I feel like I am reborn again through these kids,” he says. The kids they glow when they play this song. They smile on their face. They’re happy and moving around. That means they really have that feeling. They’re playing from the bottom of the heart. And that’s, that’s music.”
The band has until July 26th to practice for the Ethiopian Heritage Festival at Georgetown University. It’s their biggest gig yet.
I ask the kids if they’re nervous. At first they say no. Then Tegbaru reminds them that as many as 10,000 people could attend the festival.
Semon Yacob who plays keyboard says in very matter-of-fact voice, “you can’t imagine how excited I am.”
Yonathan Estfanos, who plays trumpet, describes The Young Ethio Jazz Band’s sound as, “Unique and mellow and lively. And nothing like anything people have ever heard of, especially people of this generation.” Like many of the band members, Estfanos says the band has allowed him to preserve his cultural heritage. “I feel like I’m going back to my culture; you know? I feel like I’m going back to my roots,” he said.
In January of this year, The Young Ethio Jazz Band made their debut public performance at Rasela’s Jazz Club in the Fillmore District of San Francisco. They covered a number of Ethiopian Jazz numbers with each member taking a solo part in many. They are coming to perform in Washington, D.C. to reach out the youth and to be a role models of the Ethiopian Heritage for Ethiopian Americans.
EHSNA Members Support The Young Ethio Jazz Band
EHSNA is sponsoring the Third Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival to be held in D.C. on the grounds of Georgetown University. Because the festival attracts thousands every year, The Young Ethio Jazz Band will have an excellent venue to pour out their musical skills, their love of their heritage, and a whole lot of soul. Flying eight young men and their instruments across a continent takes some money and EHSNA members banded together to raise funds to get the talented youngsters to the East Coast and care for them while there.
The Father of Ethio Jazz
The Young Ethio Jazz Band plays Ethio-jazz, a style that blends American jazz and Latin rhythms with traditional Ethiopian sounds. Led by musicians such as Mulatu Astatke, known as the Father of Ethiopian Jazz, Ethio-jazz flowered during the 60s and early 70s. Astatke’s music has been played on many NPR stations and provided the soundtrack for the 2005 film “Broken Flowers” starring Bill Murray. His sounds are the inspiration for the group.
The Roots of The Young Ethio Jazz Band
The young men of The Young Ethio Jazz Band came together under the tutelage of Sirak Tegbaru. He and the young musicians are members of Oakland’s Medhani Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The band members are trained and aspiring jazz musicians, but were new to Ethio Jazz. Most of this Ethiopian music hasn’t been written; their leader, Tegbaru, studied each song carefully, learning the keyboard, horn, bass, and drum parts to teach them. Months later, using modern instruments yet learning by ear, the youngsters were ready for their performance at Rasela’s last January. Due to that performance, they are receiving some critical acclaim. Prior to that they had been performing at community events or at venues in their respective schools.
Third Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival
The Young Ethio Jazz Band will be one of the many highlights of the Third Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival to be held on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. from Friday, July 26 to Sunday, July 28. The band will play intermittently throughout the weekend. The Festival celebrates the Ethiopian experience with many exhibits, performances, activities, and culinary excitement throughout the weekend. For more information on the Festival or when you can catch a performance of The Young Ethio Jazz Band please visit www.ehsna.org