Audio

On Ethiopian Instrumentation

Discover the various traditional African music instruments of the Horn of Africa's Ethiopia including the kerero, krar, washint, masenqo and begena.


Ethiopian instruments have been used for centuries to accentuate different aspects of the mental, physical, and spiritual realms. While some instruments conjure religious interpretations, others find sanctuary in recreation. Find out what makes this Horn of Africa vibe so unique, and experience the sounds and ceremonies of Ethiopia’s most revered instruments below.

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Kebero

The Kebero, a cylindrical dual sided wooden drum, beats in a spiritual context with metaphorical meaning. Played in Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church ceremonies as a means of celebration, the Kebero is said to represent various aspects of Jesus.

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Krar

A Krar is a five or six stringed instrument classified in the Lyre family. This instrument has been used in Ethiopia for centuries, often associated with love songs.

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Masenqo

Horse hair, rawhide and wood. These three things predominately make the beautiful one stringed lute that is the Masenqo. Tuned with the protruding wooden peg at the top, this instrument is played with a bow much like a cello or violin. Its simple construction lends for smooth harmony with the powerful Amharic voice.

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Begena

Used in conjunction with meditation and prayer, the Begena is a sacred instrument, used mostly in the confines of ones personal space. Although occasionally used in certain festivities, the strong tones of this ten stringed lyre are usually heard in solitude, mostly being played alongside no other instrument other than the voice.

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Washint

The Washint is a wooden, bamboo, or cane made flute whose construction greatly depends upon its player. The placement of finger-wholes vary from performer to performer, leaving its sound and style malleable. The pitch of the instrument depends upon its size, some yielding lower tones while others resonate at higher, more trebled frequencies. Washint players are said to perform with multiple flutes, using each one to complement the pitch of a particular song.

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#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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