“I bought tomato and finished my money…” Azmari program

A performer known as an Azmari plays and sings traditional string instruments in the Ethiopian Highlands. It has a similar aesthetic to West African griots as well as medieval European minstrels or bards. Azmari, who can be either male or female, can sing and play the krar (a drum) or the masenqo (a one-stringed fiddle) impromptu (lyre). The Amharic term “azmari” denotes a person who is committed to God (to sing or singer). All musicians are called Azmari since there is no word in Amhara for someone who plays an instrument. The Azmaris are thought to have existed for considerably longer than the middle of the fifteenth century, when they were first mentioned. They were well-known social pundits who produced powerful works of praise or criticism. Azmaris believed that no one in a position of authority was immune to his fury, not even Emperors. Every time a major scandal broke, Azmaris was the first to break the story. Ethiopian feudalism saw a flourishing of feminine Azmaris. They were musicians and poets, much like their male counterparts. The wives or girlfriends of male Azmaris who have gradually mastered the repertoire of their male counterparts are frequently female Azmaris. Between 1841 and 1843, an English explorer named Major William Cornwallis Harris wrote songs that reflected the political climate and attitudes toward Sahle Selassie’s opponents. (azmari).

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