By Henok Tibebu
Walking around the streets of Addis and observing so many socioeconomic activities, the busy traffic movement and varieties of people doing what they do in various moods and feelings, is a big opportunity for people whose natural call is to reinterpret life with creative works of art. The city is a great inspiration for poets, novelists, fine painting artists, singers, comedians, film makers etc.
And these days, many international artists have been frequently throwing music concerts and different shows in Addis. Damien Marley, Protoje, Luchiano, Wizkid, Davido, Scales etc were few of the international artists who were here recently to throw their concerts to Addis Abebians.
I also see foreigners making the city their permanent residence. Some of them even pick an initiative to support the public and share their wisdoms with the youth. I Timothy Green is an African American poet who made a permanent residence here as part of the Rastafarian community.
For him, Ethiopia is the promise land for his community. “I’ve always wanted to come and live in Africa since I was a child. And I’ve always been attracted to Ethiopian culture, even when I was back in Los Angles. So, I felt like it is inevitable to live in Ethiopia,” he says. “
“In 1984, a brother took me to an Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angles for the first time. Ever since, I’ve been eating Ethiopian food and understanding gursha (an Ethiopian tradition of feeding one another with hands)” he recalls.
Speaking of his life in poetry, he says he was first inspired by African American poets with a group called ‘the last poets in 1960s’. “I didn’t have interest in poetry till I heard [of] them. When I heard them, I realized where poetry could go and what people can do with it. I have always loved putting words together.”
He remembers that people used to tell him that he cannot make money being a poet. But what really matters is that choosing a profession with something he/she can do and she/he can enjoy. Everything that he sees and feels works its way in his poetry.
When he was in the US his themes of poetry were about leaving America and repatriation to Africa. “Now I’m older. So, I talk about getting older, I write about love and most importantly living in Africa. My themes are mostly based on my state of mind at the time.”
Speaking of his experience in Ethiopia, Timothy says he has been living here for ten years. “Being here for ten years, I feel like this is my home. The hospitality is what Ethiopians are mostly well known for. I have also seen and extra ordinary remarkable development in the country.”
He also said the education system must be on terms with the development. One should not lag behind the other. “Development is moving forward very fast. And the education must go together with more innovative way.”
He has been involved in many activities of entertainment including poetry. Currently he initiates and hosts an open mic event which encourages young people to express themselves and their talent through different creative works of art.
Open mic events are well known in Addis Ababa for creating exposures for amateur artists to make way to popularity. But there are many youths who never get such opportunities because the events are only limited around universities and cinemas. Most of them used to be held on monthly basis.
The youth needs to get exposures to exercise their talents through open mic events which are organized frequently, even every day.
The youth having mixture of Amharic and English poetries participate in his open mic events which he organizes in collaboration with young Ethiopian poets.
“We share different things from the culture we grew up with. For instance, I try to share the real images of African Americans. And people are inspired and they perform their own poetry in Amharic. It’s a beautiful language. The response from the audience is good”
According to Timothy, there are many young talented poets here. “I tell the youth that they have good voice and talent. I also tell them that they have to write and express themselves with their own voice. They don’t have to sound like African Americans. I tell them to tell their own stories. They have to talk about Addis. That is so important for young artists, according to him.
He also shared the following peom with our readers, enjoy it.
TRIPLE ‘A’ (or A.A.A.)
Alert, Awake & Afire
I am Alert, Awake & Afire
My whole being
Is always triple ‘A’
Come what may
The three A’s are the reason I stay
Alert, Awake & Afire
Now, let’s take it higher
First I am alert
’cause the world needs more lerts!
Light Enhanced Radiant Transcendent
Living Example of Rastafari Teaching,
Lions Ever Reaching Truth
To share with the youth
I am A wake.
A funeral celebration for the death of Babylon,
It won’t be long…
In the wake of these facts we’re never wrong
In the flood of prophecy fulfilling in its wake
Is the possibility of finally being free!
And, freedom burns
A fire from within
I am afire with the flame
A flame kindled in the heart
And it consumes
And love blooms
At an astonishing rate
I am Alert, Awake and Afire
And my one desire
Is the hope
That everyone will add fuel to
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