15/04/2016Readying A Documentary About The Ethiopian Armenians

We are most definitely hooked on those Ethiopian grooves, so when an article appeared on Okayafrica a few days ago, we answered the call and were rewarded with a fine read, providing insight to an invaluable piece of musical history on "How Armenian Genocide Orphans Sparked A Revolution In Ethiopian Music".

A few years ago, Armenian-American director Aramazt Kalayjian launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund a documentary retracing the roots of Armenians in Ethiopia. Entitled "Tezeta" (My Memory), after a famous Ethio-Jazz tune, the film reveals the Armenian legacy in Ethiopian culture today:

"In 1924, the Prince of Ethiopia, Ras Tafari (yes, the religion was named after him), visited Jerusalem. While walking through the Armenian Quarter with his entourage, he came across a marching band of forty children. [...] Upon inquiring about the young musicians, Tafari learned they were orphans of the Armenian genocide and with permission from the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, adopted them, bringing the Arba Lijoch (Forty Children in Amharic) as they came to be known, back with him to Addis Ababa. It was to be the beginning of a musical renaissance in Ethiopia that unfolded and developed throughout the next few decades."

The Arba Lijoch became the Royal Imperial Brass Band and, under the lead of musical director Kevork Nalbandian, composed the "Marsh Teferi" (Ethiopian national anthem), while Prince Ras Tafari went on to become the Emperor of Ethiopia, King of Kings, Haile Selassie I.

Watch a 12-minute preview of the "Tezeta" below.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom