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Fetsum: Personal appeal to Eritrean Musicians: Part-I

Quote of the day: A generic tendency to change the situation may produce anarchic unity with anarchic vision but it is only when it blends with strategic unity that a society acquires clear focus for

Quote of the day: A generic tendency to change the situation may produce anarchic unity with anarchic vision but it is only when it blends with strategic unity that a society acquires clear focus for a global vision. We were ineffective because of having nothing in common to strategically focus on but we will succeed because we now have a grassroots based universal/strategic vision that we shall concentrate on to attract the international crowd into helping us swiftly dislodge the cancer out of post! We got to make up our mind!
First and foremost I as a strong advocate of the grassroots movement would like to express my “profound appreciation for what Eritrean Musicians and Artists have been doing since the struggle for independence to bring the plight of our people on the forefront via songs and plays”. As you know Art is one of the best means of advancing people’s struggle for freedom and justice in all oppressed societies of the world. No bullet has ever been sharper or stronger for bringing political change, needless saying no society ever succeeded to liberate itself from the yoke of oppression without its artists and musicians.
Though Art comprises different styles and messages in general, music evolves from the deep conditions or shallow layers of social order depending on the lyrics. But it must reveal the reality of its society and fearlessly confront its enemies to be classified as Revolutionary Art, remains sheer mechanical otherwise, with no significance in changing the concrete conditions of people beyond entertaining audiences for money. The value of an Artist therefore depends on the person’s concept of existence. A humble and compassionate musician dedicates the talent for the goodness of humanity and departs leaving an everlasting legacy behind. The other types, however, phase out impacting society at only the peripheral level of contact for materialistic and superficial upshot.
Imagine every Eritrean knew how to peacefully avoid conflicts, fear, poverty and ignorance! That our people were more open to feel the freedom and happiness, oppression and sadness in their environment; to positively and optimistically see all the opportunities around them by being innovative – inventing anything – and changing their communities for the better. Imagine the result of independence had been freedom instead of this disgusting dictatorship; that we had a political system that creates a beautiful ambience in our country!
How wonderful it would have been for our musicians to psychologically get away substantially focusing on happiness, romance and lust reflecting the society’s condition in that pleasant imagination!
Now checkout the ugly reality of our people where the uneducated traumatized kids run away from home, getting raped, shot, killed and organ-harvested! The desperation, the sad faces, the shuttered dreams, the hopelessness, apprehension and despair; the darkness, thirst and hunger! The filth and death in isolated cages where no one to ever see and talk with!
Wow! How can a musician ignore to address, shouting loud and crying on the stage about? How can one only sing for romance and lust when the society is biting the dust? Art would be sadly misplaced in this situation from reflecting the tangible conditions of the society to pretending everything was ok!
Art is as important as food and water in any society. To brief a bit, Afro-American music played a big role in forcing the racist society to respect human rights by law. The civil rights movement overall could not have been as effective without the progressive musicians of the time from James Brown and Marvin Gay to Betty Swan and the Temptations et al. It was exceptional artists like Poet-Singer Bob Dylan that arguably played the most influential role in the Peace and Love movement of the sixties. Progressive Music is about love, compassion, humility, forgiveness and struggle for freedom and justice wherever applicable. It is the strongest expression of human condition. John Lennon’s “Imagine”, for instance was a disappointed man’s deep expression of the unpleasant relationship between human beings in this world.
So wouldn’t have the fight for gender equality succeeded without the era’s rebellious feminist musicians such as Janis Joplin, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Aretha Franklin that “created the soundtrack of social progress for women”.
Similarly Bob Marley did his part articulating Get up Stand up not for sheer entertainment but to motivate oppressed people into never giving up the fight until peace, equality, freedom and justice prevail through secular democracy in all inclusive third world societies. And Jimmy Hendrix played one of the greatest musical roles through his MACHINEGUN single in protest of America’s barbaric atrocities of innocent people in Vietnam that motivated many international artists to follow the struggle and practically change the situation.
We can keep on discussing the mandatory relationship between music and society through countless human experiences but we won’t have enough time for, in this life. Narrowing the subject to Africa for the sake of pragmatism; it was when freedom was stolen from the Sudanese people that Mohammad Wardi transformed himself to a Revolutionary Artist, gallantly inspiring activists across the Arab World using the lyrics that reads: The morning came, there were no prisoners, the one who imprisoned people is no longer there. The dawn now has fluttering wings.” Unfortunately oppressors first attack local artists at the front line of the challenge for they know what they can do from direct experience, the reason the Eritrean regime has been specifically targeting our artists because of the threat they pose to its dictatorial system.
Wardi the optimist within pessimism “was among those who participated in the ouster of military dictator Ibrahim Abboud in October 1964, as well as Gaafar Nimeiry in 1985. He was imprisoned several times over his career, using his fame to condemn oppression and tyrany in Sudan, was exiled from President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s regime from 1989 to 2003 and his songs were banned from the country’s Universities in the 1990’s”. To him, nevertheless, the compulsory cost of freedom was worth paying in whatever form it came across!
The dehumanizing experience of Africans under apartheid, colonialism and domestic parasites has been generating exceptional revolutionary musicians through the years that echo the voice of freedom and justice louder than the ammunitions exchanged in between. From Thomas Tafirenyika Mapfumo of Zimbabwe in what was then the British colony of Rhodesia to Maria Makeba of Apartheid South Africa oppression was musically challenged by African artists that refused to accept it upon their societies at the dire expense of personal interests.
Political movements often have their protest music – a soundtrack of passion and change. But in South Africa, the music seemed to sometimes sustain the movement itself. Nelson Mandela understood this. Mandela’s lifelong fight for freedom in South Africa had a secret weapon: music. One of the masters of that music, and a man who knew Nelson Mandela, is legendary horn man Hugh Masekela. We got together to remember Mandela, and the music that propelled a people’s revolution.” says jazz legend and CBS News Cultural Correspondent Wynton Marsalis.
Unlike spiritualist Mandela who used music for freedom and equality, the devil used our musicians to the maximum advantage of his individualism and here we are today trying to reverse the unethical vandalism of the concept so our artists can serve the people instead. What the loser did not understand was that Art can reverse direction backfiring against social abusers; the proof being the emergence of young vibrant and progressive musicians such as Helen Kessete and Kiros Asfaha that will ultimately bring freedom out of his ashes within the GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT currently challenging the regime face to face.
Here is a verse for Helen Kessete or alike, to rap on under any preferred title!
Do or Die, Now or Never
The choice is yours, don’t cry forever
Keep quiet for death act up for solution
Don’t fake your love invest it with passion
{How can you imagine joy and lust?
When your society is biting the dust
Halt hesitation stand for your right
Bottom-toping your move is the only way out}
Don’t let anyone control your mind
Live it to the point don’t zigzag around
By inking your vision on the paper
Attest your character in signature
{                  }
It is about freedom of speech
That you shouldn’t flinch even an inch
Resist the dude who twisted his word
Like a malicious devil out of his mind
          {                  }
To be continued

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