Meklit Hadero - singer from Ethiopia

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Meklit Hadero – singer from Ethiopia

Meklit Hadero, the singer, musician and cultural activist talks to Graeme Green.

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Your family left Addis Ababa because of the violent revolution in 1974. How did that affect you?

After this big political problem, my parents talked about some things, but not about other things. I left when I was two years old. When I visited Ethiopia for the first time as an adult, when I was 21, I saw that so many of my ideas of Ethiopia were from the stories of my parents. Then I understood that Ethiopia is much more than that. There was so much more about the country and culture that I didn’t know.

Where is your home now?

I have three places I think of as home: Addis Ababa, Brooklyn in New York(where I grew up) and the Bay Area in San Francisco. I don’t think I could ever have one place as home.

What makes you happy?

Music. I playing music and lose myself to the song and the other musicians.

Can music help change things?

Yes. I think of myself as a singer, musician and cultural activist. Art and culture can get people to ask questions about life and the future.

What does The Nile Project want to do?

I started it in 2011 with Mina Girgis, an Egyptian ethnomusicologist. The project started to bring together the music of the people around the Nile. We learned that groups fight about water. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt recently signed an agreement about who will manage the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam and that’s progress. But before, it was quite tense. We saw that a music project to bring together musicians from the Nile region could have more good effects than just music. We’ve played in five of the Nile countries, and we just toured North America.

Water could be more important than oil in the future, couldn’t it?

Yes, we depend on it. People are nervous about not having enough water. It’s also about identity – who are the ‘we’ we share our water with? Music is great for identity problems.

You’ve also helped fight for gender equality in Africa. Why do you think it’s so important?

I was part of UN Women’s theme song, ‘One Woman’, and I started their campaign for gender equality in Africa with a concert in Addis Ababa. We wanted the Nile Project to have an equal number of women –singers, composers and songwriters. It’s very easy, especially for the West, to see African women as victims. But there’s a new generation of women who can be leaders in their communities.

What’s your biggest fear?

In some ways, fear is about boundaries. When I think of fear, it is like showing us a boundary something you have to pay attention to. So fear isn’t always a bad thing.

Meklit’s new album, We Are Alive, is out now on Six Degrees – meklitmusic.com For more on The Nile Project, see new.nileproject.org Graeme Green is a journalist and photographer: @greengraeme

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/columns/finally/2015/10/01/meklit-hadero/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed). [Category: Ethiopia]]