Arts + Culture

Wayna's Ethiopian Guide To D.C.

'The Expats' Ethiopian-American soulstress Wayna delivers her Ethiopian guide to DC.

It's been a minute since we've rolled out a fresh City Guideyou know, where we enlist our favorite artists to share the best spots in their hometowns. For this series installment we tapped Ethiopian/DC-based songstress Wayna, fresh off the release of The Expats LP. Her latest full length is a celebration of the contradictions that result from being raised with multiple cultures, an exploration of her diasporic upbringing through a concoction of Ethiopian musical heritage and the influence of idols like Ms. Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley. Below, the newly crowned first lady of freak soul discusses the best spots for Ethiopian food, live music, and more in her homebase of Washington, D.C. Listen to The Expats and read on for Wayna's Habesha guide to D.C.

Best Music Venue:

Wayna: My favorite overall music venue in the city is still the 9:30 Club, because the sound is great, it's not too massive, and you can always get a great

view of the stage. But for Ethopian music in particular, Saturday nights at Jolleys in VA and Sunday nights at Babylon in VA is the place to be for most Abeshas.

Best night/event for Ethiopian culture:

Wayna: By far, the best spot for an Ethiopian cultural show is Dukem Restaurant on Wednesday night. There is a traditional Ethiopian band there that sings and plays massinko (violin) and kerar (guitar). The lead singer, Setegn Setenaw did a feature on my new album and literally blew the roof off the studio in two takes. Cats were shaking his hand after like "I don't know what you just did, but thank you!" Definitely, a must see.

Best spot for Ethiopian food:

Wayna: I personally love Dama Restaurant in Pentagon City for their "special shiro" and the Kitfo, which is the best in town. They also have the most amazing bakery next door that sells vegan pastries during fasting season that will blow your mind. They did my wedding cake years ago, and I've been a faithful customer ever since.

Best record shop:

Wayna: Crooked Beats has the best organized vinyl collection in DC I've found, and their world music section is growing. But if you don't mind digging, I've found more than a few gold mines for under $5 at a used bookstore in the basement of the Wheaton Public Library on Georgia Ave, called "Friends of the Library." Props to DJ Roddy Rod for giving me that tip years ago.

Best spot to have a picnic:

Wayna: The drum circle on Sunday afternoons at Malcolm X Park is still one of the best free shows in town and the most energetic. When I had a regular 9 to 5 years ago at the Clinton White House, it was my secret for starting the work week with a bang and reminding myself not to get too caught up in the beltway mindset.

Best coffee in town:

Wayna: Sidamo Coffee on H St NE is incredible and so is Sankofa Cafe on Georgia Ave, where you could also very likely bump into owner and legendary filmmaker Haile Gerima (Sankofa, Teza) and/or find an obscure book or a movie by or about Africans in the adjacent book store. Their 4-espresso-shot "dirty chai" is pretty pretty Larry David good!

Best Ethiopian drink in town:

Wayna: Coffee probably is the best Ethiopian drink, but you can get a nice bottle of 'Tej' Ethiopian honey wine at Addis Ababa Restaurant on Fenton St. in Silver Spring, MD.

Catch up on City Guides from Alec Lomami [Kinshasa], Christian Tiger School [Cape Town], Bombino [U.S. Touring], Blitz the Ambassador [NYC], Just A Band [Nairobi], and Vanessa Mdee [Dar es Salaam]. Wayna's 'The Expats' is out now via Y2 Music.

Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#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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