Check this song out before reading: http://youtu.be/85aVd7ovKnA
This is one of my favorite songs. I feel like it embodies who I am, how I was raised, the connection I feel to my culture.
Gurage is an Ethiopian tribe. It is where my Father’s side of the family is from. A majority of the kids i grew up with are actually gurage. The first words of this song are translated as: (to my best understanding , I’m pretty fluent but I’m willing to be wrong): Call her and award her, She loves her country and respects her culture, her attitude and what she does, she’s the one we choose, stand up and reward her, and give her blessings, the Ethiopian girl, she’s a gurage’s child. She was born and raised, living the life of Addis Ababa, let her come and compete….Come and play with us” : that’s what my best translation is, I think there are a few words I missed that are a lilttle above my level of vocabulary but that’s a pretty good translation I believe.
The point is that this really embodies who I was raised to be. The song talks about a woman born and raised within this gurage culture, and talks about how great she is destined to be. I believe it talks about me, and of course many of my peers.
This song describes how I feel about representing for my people and my family. I respect the values that I was taught, and I know the expectations are high. My connection to my Ethiopian culture , is not just on the surface. Its something I feel deep down inside that makes me want to work hard, do better, and respect where I am from. As much as we joke around about being abesha, and funny things that happen because of the experiences we’ve had as being the children of foreign born parents, I think the deeper meaning is that we have a certain set of core values that are unshakable. As much as the residual scent in the house of shinkort and wot (onions and Ethiopian food) may drive us crazy, I can’t live without it. And of course, being gurage, No feast is complete without kitfo and zimamojad (ground beef with butter and spice and a cottage cheese type blend with spinach mixed in (don’t knock it till you try it). As much as there are days where I’d rather not see another Ethiopian for fear of having to have a very long extended conversation with someone I really don’t know but pretend to have known for my whole life, there is something about seeing an Ethiopian face that gives me great comfort. Something about the beat to a really good Ethiopian song makes me want to jump up and break out into eskesta, and the dropping of the beat to a really good Guragena song just does something to my soul.
There are jokes about members of the Gurage tribe. They are supposedly rich and stingy with their money. It also means they come from the country side, work hard for what they earn, and use it wisely.
So the fact that I am ye gurage lij, means that I know what hard work is all about, I work hard for what I get, and once I get it I will use it wisely.