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Ethiopiques film preview w/ Fendika & Melaku Belay

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Red Bay Coffee

3098 East 10th Street

Oakland, CA 94601

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MATATU18 continues on Sunday, October 7 with one of our bucket list experiences - traveling all the way from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's FENDIKA featuring dancer Melaku Belay paired with a preview screening of the new feature film ETHIOPIQUES, Revolt of the Soul.

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FENDIKA & Melaku Belay

Fendika, a troupe of the most accomplished azmari musicians and dancers from Addis Ababa, draws from the well of Ethiopia’s bardic tradition while adding creative movements and sounds that revitalize their ancient artistic forms. Fendika features seven performers – two dancers, two singers, and instruments including kebero drums, masenko (a one-stringed bowed fiddle), and krar (a five- or six-stringed lyre). Founded in 2009 by Melaku Belay, Ethiopia’s leading dancer and a respected cultural ambassador, the ensemble is based at Melaku’s renowned music club Fendika Azmari Bet in the Kazanchis neighborhood of Addis Ababa. In Ethiopian culture, an azmari bet is a traditional music house where people are entertained, informed, and sometimes playfully insulted by the azmari who commentate on current events commentators while they dance, sing, and play.

Melaku is a virtuoso interpreter of eskista, a traditional Ethiopian trance dance of athletic shoulder movements that presage hip hop movements of breaking and popping. Melaku grew up as a street kid, learning many regional dances of Ethiopia through participation in religious festivals such as Timqat, folk ceremonies, and everyday activities in Addis Ababa and the countryside where music and dance are a vital part of cultural and spiritual expression. Melaku has traveled throughout Ethiopia to learn the dance traditions of the country’s 80 tribal groups. The musicians and dancers of Fendika present a cultural journey starting in the highlands of Tigray, Wollo, Gonder, and Gojam, also including dances from the Somali and Afar regions and southern Ethiopian dance forms from the Gurage, Wolaita, and Konso traditions.

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ETHIOPIQUES, Revolt of the Soul

Local musical traditions meet Western rock n' roll and soul, and fantastic music is the result in 1960s Ethiopia, where music was otherwise forbidden.

James Brown is shouting and screaming from the loudspeakers. People have gathered in front of the record store in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, and they are completely transfixed. When the day is over, all the records have been sold. In the 1960s, a visionary Ethiopian imported records from all over the world, and was the first person to produce Ethiopian music, even though it was forbidden by the government. The groovy, beat-driven and almost hypnotising soul-jazz music made its way into the listeners' ears and hypnotised them. The film shows how people danced in the streets until the day when a coup threw the country into civil war, and musicians were forced to escape from Ethiopia together with their music. This could have been the end of Ethiopian music history, but as fate would have it, a record fell into the hands of a French music enthusiast, who gave the genre a bustling afterlife with the critically acclaimed 32-record album series 'Ethiopiques'.

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MATATU is a platform for conversation, experience, and expression that helps ordinary people share their journeys. Together, we hope to enhance empathy and understanding of the global human condition. We are a fiscally sponsored project of Intersection for the Arts. Learn more about us at www.matatu.co

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Red Bay Coffee

3098 East 10th Street

Oakland, CA 94601

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