The Azmari in the mountain

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Maré is a singing Azmari (wandering minstrel, or praise-singer to be precise). He lives in Abergina, one of the rare villages high in the Semien Mountains of Ethiopia. He, like many of the farmers in the region, has to scrape a living from his steep and sometimes unfertile patches. He raises his five children cultivating barely in this hostile and eroded terrains. To supplement his income, he trudges along quite creeks and hollows in search appreciative audiences, carrying his masenko (single-stringed fiddle). When he finds one, he quickly delivers his ready-made lyrics using the time honoured Semina ena work (wax and gold) technique to compliment his spectators. He improvises lyrics about the beauty of this rugged and beautiful scenery and the rare animals that are found such as Abyssinian wolf and Walia Ibex, making references to mountain peaks such as Imet Gogo, Sanka Ber, Amba Ras.

Arefayné Fantahun
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