“abet” means “we are here”

Just discovered the Ethiopian girl band Yegna, who aim to address issues such as forced marriage (the Amhara region has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world), isolation and teen pregnancies to a national audience, teaching self confidence to girls and young women.

The 5-member group was formed in April, 2013 as part of the internationally funded Girl Hub scheme, which also operates in Nigeria and Rwanda. Girl Hub is a corporate initiative and the band itself is spoken of as a “brand”. The five members are: Teref Kassahun (nicknamed Melat, aged 26), Lemlem Haile Michael (Mimi, 26), Zebiba Girma (Emuye, 22), Eyerusalem Kelemework (Sara, 27) and Rahel Getu (Lemlem, 22). Watching the video for award-winning “Abet” provides a crash course in the subject positions open to young girls in Ethopia. It also shines with hope.

it’s international labor day, 2015

and I’m listening to music by 张广天, whose music simultaneously evokes revolutionary times and postmodern desires. Zhang Guangtian is considered one of the first figures of Shanghai’s 1980s rock and independent music scene. In 1990, he moved to Beijing, where he has collaborated with both theater practitioners and film makers, most notably with the National Experimental Theatre’s Meng Jinghui. In 2000, Zhang Guangtian burst into national consciousness with Che Guevera (切·格瓦拉), which he wrote and directed. However, today it is the vexed lyrics of Mao Zedong that have me feeling bittersweet about the Chinese Revolution and the aftermath of Reform. The song was written for the 110th Anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth–how resplendent he was, Zhang Guangtian nostalgically sings–and although the lyrics allude to the need for revolution the images firmly tie Mao to the Party’s purposes. And the idolization. Simultaneously compelling and disturbing, I find it difficult to turn away from the Great Helmsman (below).