India gets a peek into Ethiopia’s rich culture

October 28th, 2011 - 2:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) An Ethiopian dance troupe brought the diversity of performing arts from the ancient East African nation to India.

The National Theater Band presented the various dance forms of Ethiopia, which included the performing traditions of Sidamo, Gumuz, Afar, Gamo, Gambela, Konso, Gurage, Somali, Oromo, Tgrie, Amhara, Yem, Gofa and Harari people, a statement by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Embassy of the Ethiopia said.

The band performed in the capital Oct 19 and in Hyderabad Oct 22.

“Ethiopian dances are not divided according to the functions, but according to their uniqueness and individuality,” the statement said.

There are over 150 unique dance movements across Ethiopia and its regions. For example, a dance form named Eskista means “dancing shoulders”. It is often practiced in the northern parts of the country.

In the country’s southern part, some nationalities use dances of the hip and the leg.

The dances are accompanied by string instruments like the masenqo (also known as masinko), a one-string bowed lute; the krar (also known as kirar), a six-string lyre and the begena, a large 10-string lyre. The washint, a bamboo flute, is common to the highlands.

Ethiopia, located in the Horn of Africa, is officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. It is the second most populous nation in Africa with over 82 million people.

But the culture of Ethiopia is often misconstrued by outsiders by wrong use of ethnic terms to denote ethnic groups, Ethiopian envoy Gennet Zewide told IANS.

Citing an instance, she said “…a recent showcase of Ethiopian traditional dance and music sparked a controversy when the term ‘galla’ was used to describe a section of the Ethiopian ethnic community”.

“The term ‘galla’ is derogatory; it is equivalent to savage in modern-day Ethiopia. The term was abolished 20 years ago after Ethiopia became a democracy,” Zewide told IANS.

The term ‘galla’ was used to describe several smaller tribes by the ruling elite, which ended with the fall of the monarchy. The envoy said “all the tribes of Ethiopia are now officially recognised”.

She said “one had to be careful to interpret cultures and the ethnicity of Ethiopia because sentiments associated with it were delicate”.

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