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Record Digging in Addis Ababa

More by user: AddisTunes
Created: 15th Apr 2009
Modified: 15th Apr 2009

Record Digging in Addis Ababa

Record Digging in Addis Ababa

Anyone who knows me knows that records (“shekla” in Amharic”) are very important to me.  Over the years, they have shared my living space, used up my financial resources, and have inspired my spirit in ways that are indescribable.  The art of record digging – or searching for good, old records in obscure places – is something that the uninitiated will never understand.

Over the years, wherever I have traveled – Brazil, Colombia, Morocco, Spain, UK, Ghana, Chad, and some other places I probably shouldn’t publicize – my objectives were finding good food and records!

Among us crazed record diggers, there are some countries that are ripe for finding rare vinyl.  African countries are usually at the top of the list!  And nowadays, Addis Ababa is where all eyes are focused.  The musical genius of Ethio Jazz luminaries like Mulatu Astatke, Moges Habte, Girma Beyene, the Walias Band, et. al. have record collectors salivating at the prospect of getting one of these rare gems.

I have my own methods for finding records….which I can’t reveal….otherwise I might have to do something for which I might be jailed.  Recently, I decided to test my luck by inquiring about shekla on an Ethiopian chat group.  There was a lot of curiosity as to why anyone would even want these records.

One guy asked if there was mercury in them – he was serious, by the way.  (Apparently, in Ethiopia people make this curious assumption that when others are doing well financially, they are selling mercury.  LOL)

It seems that nowadays, the secret is out – and more Ethiopians are looking for shekla to sell to foreigners.  (By the way, if you are one of those Ethiopians – feel free to e-mail me at! Ha Ha! Ha!  Actually, I’m serious.)

Anyway, I digress.  What people often fail to realize is the history and spirit that is encapsulated in those old, dusty shekla.  They reflect the dreams, passions, hope, fears, etc. of a people at a moment in time.  They inspire memories of the “good old days” and good times.

Who can listen to Tilahun Gessesse sing “Kulun Manqualesh” and not think of great times at a wedding or Telela Kebede sing “Kelemewa”  and not think of life in the countryside? 

Too often, we don’t appreciate our own music.  Somehow, I think the history of Ethiopian music will never be forgotten.

So...I'll see you back in Addis while I’m either enjoying good food…..or digging for shekla!!!!

In the meantime, enjoy some of the musical fruits of my labor here!!!!

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