2nd February 2018

Artist: Tewolde Redda
Title: Misaki Fikri Aleni
Language: Tigrigna (?)

I love this song! From research, I learned that Tewolde Redda was a hugely important and much-loved pioneering guitarist from Eritrea. As often happens, the use of amplification made a huge difference in his music. Not just with the guitar, but also in his use of traditional instruments such as the kirar.  What is a kirar (or krar)? Wikipedia tells us it is a five- or six-stringed bowl-shaped lyre from Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Also, it is tuned to a pentatonic scale.

Tewolde Redda was exiled to the Netherlands due to the regime change in 1974 in Ethiopia, when Haile Selassie was overthrown by the military Derg. As a supporter of the ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front), Tewolde Redda’s life had become increasingly dangerous under this new regime. He had to flee his home country in 1979. So, sadly, while he still lives in Rotterdam, he no longer plays music, so we have very few of his fabulous songs to listen to.

Ben Richmond wrote a very informative article on the Afropop Worldwide website that reviews the Tewolde Redda compilation album called ‘Eritrea’s Guitar Pioneer Singles 1970-73’. So we must cherish this release, as it is more important than ‘just’ music. His music encapsulates a time, and all the political / artistic / social things that were happening when he was making that music. So, you *can* just enjoy this song on its own musical merits, but sometimes digging a bit deeper enhances one’s enjoyment…

Thanks also to the Irish Times for further information about Tewolde Redda 🙂

DJ Esperanto

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