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Introducing Yohanna E.

Posted: 12 Jun 2019, 08:45
by Zmeselo


“No One Can Be A Better You!”

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Written by Asmait Futsumbrhan ... etter-you-

Articles - Q & A

For me, creating an expression through music is an absence of fear.
artist Yohanna E.

Carrying on a dream to put her mark in the music industry, this young Eritrean artist has a story to share. Since her young age, she has always known her passion for music and chose her journey from the beginning to deeply fall in to music. Yohanna Efrem, better known by her stage name Yohanna E, has worked diligently to be recognized as an artist whose works inspire others to lead a life with purpose and value their identity. Growing up in Seattle, USA, Yohanna E. grew close to her Eritrean heritage through the strong ties her parents have to their country.

Today, we have invited Yohanna to share her musical journey, the challenges and breakthroughs she has experienced over the years.

Q. Who is Yohanna E.?

A. I was born in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in Seattle. I have been into music since I was a kid, but it has been almost ten years since I made it my full time profession. I have been making music videos, travelling around and preforming. With a mind to make my parents proud, I stopped doing my music and decided to get my bachelor’s In Communication and Public Affairs. I felt like that was the least I could do for my parents and their dreams for me. At present, I am focusing on art as a song writer, rapper and singer. I have been travelling and performing working on music videos and focusing on my goals and vision to make music in the culture I grew up in, the community, its traditions, food and fashion.

Q. Yohanna E’s Vision

A. My ultimate goal is to be connected. As a child whose parents migrated and I talk about respecting parents, where they came from and their values. Understanding their perspectives and what they had to go through, I have always respected that. For me as an artist, I purposely write from those perspectives so that the younger generation could connect. I like to put the parts, sticking them into your roots, where you come from and knowing your identity and not just living life without a purpose. Most of my music is about showcasing the value in life.

Q. What E. Represents

A. Yohana means celebration and the E in my name stands for my journey with so many elements. It represents Epic, Emotion, Evolution, Excellence, Education, Entertainer and Eritrean.

Q. Music Expedition….Building Her Way

A. It just kind of happened. I have always been pulled by music since I was young. I would dance, I would rap and sing and go to the library and print out lyrics and learned them just for fun. Growing up, many great musicians have inspired me. Mariah Cary is my number one. I love her vulnerability and the way she sings is just smooth. I would also listen to brandy, 2pak, TLC, Janet Jackson and others. These artists have played a great role as my inspiration. Music for me, creating an expression, is an absence of fear. I am not fearful when I am writing a song; it is just me and my mic. It’s like a diary; every song is a page for my diary. That is how I view my music personally.

Q. Defies……Getting a Better Understanding of the Music Industry!

A. What kept me going was the love I had for music. What were difficult were those around you -- do they just want you to pay for the studio time? Do they care about your vision? Do they want to change you? I have met many ANRs and managers in the industry over the years who wanted to control my vision. It has been difficult, honestly speaking. One of the biggest challenges was the topics I decided to talk about in my music. I was continually discouraged by the truth I wanted to talk about. Not everybody has to be expletive all the time; I actually had something to say and people didn’t get that. They were not sure if it was the right material that would sell. But I wanted to come up with something meaningful, something that would inspire people to live life with a purpose and respect for themselves and family.

Another thing was not having those close to you believe in you. Having them doubt you. Some confessed it years later when they saw to what I have grown into. But at the beginning they thought it was just a joke. But I would say the most challenging thing is to not having the time to be fully committed to have a successful relationship. As an artist you are going to have to be called last minute to the studio, or travel, so you don’t have time to be with that person. However, all these obstacles I had to face in the music world have helped me to decide who to bring around me and my artistry. My artistry is something special and vulnerable to me, something that I love. I am very careful with whom I speak about my visions and my goals. I am very careful as to who I bring to my home. These days it is easier for me because I come with a concrete brand that I have built by myself.

Q. Musical Works

A. Even though I still work on songs with message in them, I have learned how to page a product. My music goes universal. I have afro beat, hip-hop, rap, etc. in which I talk about love, my upbringing and my identity. So, in the past people in the music industry didn’t want topics where you talk about your parents and your love for them. But these days, they all love what I come up with since I know how to package it. I have released four singles. The last one is called love on me, and it is a mix of afro beats of Tigrigna and English. I am actually going to shoot a video in Massawa and Asmara for it. I am also collaborating with famous Eritrean artists and making new songs. I am glad to say that I feel very special to be given the platform to perform at the 20th June Martyrs Day. I understand that this day carries a deep meaning for all the Eritreans around the world, and it gives me great pleasure to be part of it. I am an Eritrean first and then an artist. I am here to see if I can be part of a project and assist in any way I can and share my time and my talent. I think it is important to know where you come from.

Q. Message from Yohanna E. to all ladies with a dream!

A. Find your truth, find your passion and inspiration and stick to it. The whole international wave that tells you that you can’t do it, well, you can do anything that you put your mind and heart to. What I am and what I do and how I grew up is all me, and no one can be a better me. I just want everyone to compete and if you can be the best you, you can win it all. That is the dream.

Re: Introducing Yohanna E.

Posted: 12 Jun 2019, 08:53
by Zmeselo
Underwater Cultural Heritage in Eritrea

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Written by Isaias Tesfazghi ... in-eritrea

About Eritrea - History & Culture

Eritrea’s maritime environment is rich both in marine biodiversity and underwater cultural heritages. Due to its strategic location, the Red Sea has been an important trade route between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. One of the ancient trade centers in the Red Sea was the port-city of Adulis, located 56 kms to southeast of Massawa.

The ancient city of Adulis had trade links with parts of the Mediterranean (Rome and Greece), Indian Ocean (India), and the Far East (China). Then,following the decline of Adulis in the 7th C.AD, the Dahlak Islands became an influential trade center. Along with the introduction of Islam a civilization started to flourish in the Dahlak. There are traces of the civilization such as the necropolis in Dahlak Kebir, 365 cisterns and wells and other structures awaiting thorough research. The archipelago consists of various ancient as well as modern terrestrial and underwater cultural heritages.

In 1997, research was done on the ancient wreck of Black Assarca by the concerted efforts of the Eritrean Diving and Training Center (EDTC), Ministry of Marine Resources, and Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA). Some documentation of modern shipwrecks has also been made by EDTC.

In addition, with the collaboration of some institutions, the Northern Red Sea Museum has initiated inventory of an underwater cultural heritage (UCH) in parts of the Dahlak Islands and Massawa. Based on the inventory and some historical accounts, we are now able to understand the nature of UCH in Eritrea which includes ancient wrecks, modern cargo and war-ships, fishing boats, airplanes, floating dry docks, T-55 tanks, cars, bombs (detonated and undetonated), and different armaments. For now, let’s look at some known wreck sites of the Eritrean maritime.

The Black Assarca Island, where a wreck dated to the 5th – 7th C.AD is found, is located to the south west of the Dahlak Island. In 1995, a cargo of different types of amphora has been found underwater. In 1997, an underwater archaeological excavation and artifact recovery was made by Ralph K. Pedersen (INA), EDTC, and the Ministry of Marine Resources. During the course of the excavation examples of conical and lentoid/globular amphorae were found, as were two small non-descript iron pieces, one glass shard, and one lead steelyard counterweight.

In ancient times amphora was used for the transport and storage of various products, both liquid and dry, but mostly for wine and oil. It was functional from the Neolithic up to the 16C.AD. It was produced in various parts of the world, in different periods of time, and with several production techniques. Findings of amphora in archaeological sites are very helpful to understand the source and period as well as the nature of ancient trade networks. In the case of Eritrea, amphora shards are abundantly found in the archaeological sites of Adulis, Qohaito, Metera and other places. These findings are similar to the types of amphora pots and shards recovered from the wreck of Black Assarca.

The Second World War was another reason for the existence of various shipwrecks in Eritrea. During that period, many ships had been sunken in the Eritrean maritime environment. In 1940 Italy entered the War and to prevent its military hardware from falling into the hands of the British, in April 1941, many cargo and war-ships had been scuttled in the Massawa channel and the Dahlak Islands.

The estimated number of the Italian and German ships bombed and scuttled around Massawa, the Dahlak Islands, and Assab is believed to be more than 36. The British did retrieve, maintaine, and then return some ships to service. One of the well documented shipwrecks is the Nazario Sauro. The 130m long Nazario Sauro is found in the Dahlak Islands in a minimum depth to wreck 5m (to mast top) and maximum depth to sea bed 40m. The wreck is a beautiful dive site not only due to her size but also the beautiful marine life there. These are now part of our underwater cultural heritage.

On May 07-12, 2019, a joint expedition was made to the Dahlak Islands by the Northern Red Sea Museum, Eritrean Diving and Training Center, and the Ministry of Marine Resources. The objective of the expedition was to conduct a preliminary survey and inventory of underwater cultural heritage in parts of the archipelago. During the period of the expedition another cargo ship known as Prometio was discovered. The ship’s mast is found in 18m depth and the bottom at 37.1m. It is oriented in the East-West direction with a length of approximately 120m and 12m average width. Since no traces of bombing were found, it might have been scuttled during the war.

During the Derg regime’s rule of Eritrea, a naval base (a naval station and communications station) had been established in the Nakura. When the Derg regime lost control of Massawa, Dahlak Archipelago and the northern Eritrean coast in 1990, it had scuttled ships, T-55 Tanks, a dry dock, BM 21 armored vehicles and different armaments in the Nakura channel. The ex-Navy ships of Nebelbal and Ras Dejen are still visible on the surface and the others are located underwater in the channel.

One of the Northern Red Sea Museum’s objectives is locating cultural heritage sites within the region. Therefore, the Museum, along with other stakeholders, is planning to carry out a survey and document both on land and underwater cultural heritages. The main significance of research and conservation of the UCH is to understand the maritime history and ancient trade networks. The wrecks have also become a haven for various marine life, making them important parts of the tourism industry worldwide.

Re: Introducing Yohanna E.

Posted: 12 Jun 2019, 09:08
by Zmeselo
The Story of Keren – Its Origin, Development, and Eritrean Contributions

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Written by Abrahaley Habte ... tributions

To an Eritrean, Keren is home to different ethnic groups, living harmoniously. To an expatriate, if he or she has some clue about recent world history, and especially about the Second World War, Keren may bring to his or her mind the fierce battle between the British and the Italians in 1941.

He or she may recall that the British didn’t do it for us. He may reflect that Keren was the fight of two elephants. He or she may recall that the British promised Eritrean askaris in the Italian army, who deserted the Italian army in droves, freedom. He may also recall that the British failed to keep their promise and that we had to do it for ourselves.

On May 8, 2019 Eritrea Profile had a story about Keren, in which it reported that the Anseba Zone Culture and Sports Branch was working hard to get ancient and historical buildings in the city into the UNESCO World Heritage List, to which Asmara has gone into some time ago. In ‘Initiative to Put Keren’s Ancient Building in World Heritage List’, Eritrea Profile reported that the city has ancient buildings from the Turkish Empire and the Italian Colonial Era. As Mr. Siraj Haj, the Director General of the Anseba Branch of the Culture and Sports Commission has noted Keren’s history goes hundreds of years, long before the coming of the Europeans to East Africa.

Keren’s beginnings are obscure. Little is known about its early history, and how and by whom it was established. It is not clear, too, when it was established. Mebrahtu Abraham, an Eritrean historian, explains that Keren in Bilen, one of the Eritrean languages spoken in Keren, means stony or rocky and the same word means mountain in Tigrigna, another language spoken in that part of Eritrea and the highlands. Despite the absence of information about its early history, it seems clear that the inhabitants of the city and its surrounding contributed to its blossoming as a regional town in the early to mid-19th century.

In Red Sea Citizens, Jonathan Miran gives some picture about the Keren of the 1840 to 1860s. In it, Jonathan Miran writes in the 1840s,
the Mensa produced excellent wheat and barley, and the Bilin (Bogos) cultivated corn and tobacco, which they sold at the market in Keren.
Often, the contributions of Eritreans are underestimated, even ignored, when Eritrean colonial history is told. Often, many articles on Asmara’s beginnings tend to forget the contributions of Eritreans. Such articles erase Eritreans completely out of the picture as if they were not part of the picture. It is true that due to the fact that the Italians denied Eritreans sound education, they may not have contributed in planning, designing, and other aspects, which require knowledge in modern architecture, planning, and engineering. However, this doesn’t mean that they didn’t contribute to their town’s development in other ways. It is the other ways that these articles completely ignore, and give the Italians centre stage, and make them the protagonist in the development story of our towns. It is the same with the story of Keren. But history tells us otherwise.

In Red Sea Citizens, Jonathan Miran writes that the naibs, the representatives of Turkish colonialism in Eritrea conducted forceful expeditions - often in tandem with Ottoman forces - against populations in the Hamassien, Mensa, and Bogos areas, showing the Turks didn’t have a settled administrative structure in these areas.

Many Naib families left the Hirgigo area and turned to trade between the Red Sea Coast and the White Nile, which they dominated after their influence and power waned in the Red Sea Coast. Bringing in ivory from the Nile region and wax and coffee from Metemma in the Ethiopia-Sudan border, they used Keren as a transit town, which involved it not only in the local trade but also in the long distance trade between Africa and Asia. This trade activity involved the people around in the trade activity, opening them to the influence of others. For example, to deliver these goods the Jengeren provided commercial transportation services between Keren and Massawa. Similarly, Massawa and Hirgigo traders used the Habab cameleers in the 1850s and 1860s for similar purposes. These dominated camel caravan transportation into the 20th century, and provided their services to Italian colonial authorities in Massawa.

Taking into their advantage the fertile area around the Anseba Valley, different groups (Mensa, the Bet Juk, the Bilin, and the Marya) brought their agricultural products to different places along the Massawa- Kassala route such as Meshalit region, the Shi’ib plain (Mensa), Ayn (Habab), Wasntet (Bet Juk), but it was Keren, as a regional market, that received the bulk of the goods. The Mensa were reported to produce excellent wheat and barley, and the Bilin (Bogos) cultivated corn and tobacco.

At about this time, in Keren, Barka and Bogos goods exchanged, and the town served as a meeting place of local traders. As can be expected, and as often happens, the trade activity around Keren drew the people around into its orbit, and involved them in the trade traffic. Different kinds of people got involved in the production, transportation and distribution of goods. People brought their hides, [deleted], milk, camels, cows, and agricultural products and exchanged them for cloths and manufactured goods. People closer to Massawa took their goods to the port directly. Others, much farther away, brought their goods to the market in Keren, which was taken to Massawa later on. The Habab brought camels, goats and cow hides, [deleted], animal fat, and other provisions required at Masswa. [deleted] required in Arabia was exported to that place. In the 1840s, the Bilin traded almost exclusively with Massawa, buying cloth, drapes, and rugs in exchange for oxen. Speaking of Keren of the 1850s, Giuseppe Sapeto describes it as a meeting place of traders from Gash, Shendi, and Damer, capital of ancient Meroe. The traders came to and brought cotton from Sinnar and Egypt to sell it there.

In this interaction, transportation played an important role, and Keren served as a place where traders changed their camels. The traders chose their camels according to the kind of terrain they were planning to take. Traders travelling to Barka, with its flat terrain, chose camels suitable for such kind of topography. On the other hand, merchants travelling from Keren towards Massawa, chose Habab camels, which are more suitable for the terrain.

Topography and the fertile area near the town, coupled with favorable conditions, drove the development of Keren as a market town. For example, pastoralist and agro-pastoralist societies of the region produced products for exportation, and for the growing markets in the town and Massawa. Indians preferred the Kassala-Massawa route to the Sawakin route because it was closer for eastbound shipping, which must have heightened the importance of Keren. At the same time, Massawa served as a transit town for slaves (from East Africa) to Arabia or other parts of the world. Similarly, the traders preferred the Massawa- Keren route because the high land route was less secure and caravan fees were too high in the other routes. Seeing its potential as an agricultural area and its strategic location, Werner Munzinger, acting as French consular agent at Massawa, wrote in the 1860s:
Bogos is the centre of the large province of Ainseba. Possession of it is important if only for its fertility. But it is also the only camel route from Massawa to the Sudan. Possession of it means the control over the provinces of the Barka, Marea Bedjouk (Christians) whose resources are large and are capable of increasing a hundredfold in a short time. This province, if well administered, would be the flower of the Egyptian Sudan.
At this time, as a transit town between the important Kassala- Massawa trade route, Keren played a crucial role in the trade between Africa and Asia. The route didn’t link only today’s Sudan and Eritrea but stretched further into West and Northern Africa. In a traffic that involved the trade of different goods between African merchants and their Indian and Arab counterparts, Keren as a ‘sub-station’ relayed goods originating in the Sudan and beyond, including slaves, ivory, hippopotamus teeth, gold, wax, gum, honey, tamarinds, dates, and ostrich feathers to Massawa. Giuseppe Sapeto, an Italian priest, writes about Keren as an important regional town and centre of trade activity in the area. Speaking of Muslim missionaries at the time, he writes:
... The chief town of their mission is Keren, the meeting place of the traders from Gash and Massawa, from where they monoplize both commodities and souls (consciences).
Keren’s role as a transit town began even earlier, and involving people from further afield, as distant as North and West Africa, in a trans Sahara trade network, linking Asians and Africans in business. Crossing Bornou, Bagrimi, Darfur, Kordofan, and Sinnar, the trade route that originated in Northern and West Africa stretched up to Eastern Sudan, which is then linked up to Massawa or Sawakin in the Sudan, which relay the goods to Asia. Goods originating in the Sudan and beyond, which included slaves, ivory, hippopotamus teeth, gold, wax, gum, honey, tamarinds, dates, and ostrich feathers from Sinnar and Kassala arrived in Massawa. Caravans brought ostrich feathers, ivory, and [deleted] from the Hadendoa regions in the Sudan and [deleted] and mats from the Barka region.

But goods moved in the opposite direction, originating either in India or Arabia. The goods bypassed the Central and Northern highlands of Eritrea, and used the more convenient route of Mensa, Habab, Ad Temaryam, Meshalit, Bet Juk, Bilin, and Marya, and through the lowlands of Barka, where the Beni Amer lived. The traders preferred this route because security was precarious through other routes and the caravan fees were too high. In the movement of goods from Asia to Africa, traders from Massawa came to Keren to exchange various Indian textiles for [deleted], ivory, hides, ostrich feather, and other goods that were taken back to the port for exportation. In the opposite direction, long-distance caravans from Massawa to Kassala carried mostly a variety of Indian cloths and manufactured products.

It was not only trade but religious pilgrimage also played its role. Pilgrimage to Mecca played its role in the development of Keren as a transit town, second only to Massawa in the trade that involved Eritrean lowlands. Jonathan Miran writes that the Takuriris in Eritrea and Eastern Sudan were an example of people who set off on the journey to reach Mecca on a pilgrimage but settled in East Africa. Jonathan Miran adds Kassala linked Sudanese regional markets at Shendi, Khartoum, Sinnar, Gedarf, Metemma, and Gondar, in the Ethiopian highlands. As the Kassala to Massawa trade made use of Keren, it possibly benefitted from the trade that passed to Massawa.

The Egyptians, who put Kassala under their control in 1840, took Keren in June 1872. This must have been a turning point for Keren as the rivalries between the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and the Italians resulted in slowing down of trade activities in the mid-1880s. The Egyptians turned it into a garrison town to secure the territory between Kassala and Massawa, which they took over from the Turks in 1865. The Egyptians crept into highland Eritrea and fought the Ethiopians at Gurae (in 1876) and at Gundent near Adi Quala (in 1875). In 1880, the Egyptians, aided by Degiat Bahta Hagos, mobilized 7, 000 soldiers in an attempt to block Ras Alula and the escape of his army of 12,000 men out of the Anseba Valley, which he raided and from which he took “ten thousand head of cattle”. In other words, Keren and the area around it turned into a conflict zone, with Alula raiding the area annually. Since peace and development go hand in hand, Keren must have suffered economically.

Before the occupation of Keren by the Italians in 1889, Italian and Swedish missionaries brought Catholicism and Protestantism to the area. To preach effectively, the Italian missionaries built a seminary in Keren. Similarly, the Swedish built a school in Gheleb. Keren had the first printing press in Eritrea in 1878, which was transferred to Asmara in 1899.

Keren has many historical places, two of which are the Italian and British war Cemeteries. Reading Mebrahtu Abraham’s little book, 'Keren: Its Origin and Development' and especially the part on the Second World War, one comes to the knowledge of what it means to be under colonial rule. Referring to the Italian War Cemetery in Keren, which is divided into Eritrean Askaris’ and Italian soldiers’ sections, Mebrahtu Abraham writes:
On the snow-white marbles, the names and ranks of the war dead are inscribed. In the Italian Section, almost 88% are properly documented and the names of the fallen soldiers are clearly inscribed. Whereas in the Eritrean section 99% have no names, ranks, etc. The word 'Ascaro Igneto' (Unknown Soldier) was simply inscribed on the marble.
In another section, Mebrahtu Abraham reminds us living under the Italians, the Eritreans didn’t even have the right to education. Speaking of Salvaggio Raggi, one of the first schools in Eritrea established by the Italians, he writes:
The school was well equipped and had different shops: wood work, mechanics, saddlery and printing. There was also a department for training telegraph operators and typists. Students could join any one of the shops according to their wishes and aptitudes. Nevertheless, they were to be loyal to their Italian masters and selected by the Italians themselves.
Mebrahtu Abraham states that Keren has many historic buildings – places of worship, schools, offices, some so beautiful they should be preserved for future generations. Though the historical buildings in Keren include structures from the Egyptian and other periods, buildings built during the Italian period dominate. In their attempts to build an Eastern Africa Empire, which was made evident by their invasion of Ethiopia in 1935-1936, the Italians had no intention of leaving Eritrea. For this reason, they (with significant Eritrean labour) built Eritrean cities such as Asmara and Keren in the image of their cities. Their miscalculations of the balance of power in Europe put them at loggerheads with the Allied Powers, which pushed them out of East Africa.

The buildings in Keren have stories to tell. Some of them were built immediately after the Egyptians left. One or two are even older. Many were built during the Italian Colonial period and tell of the racism of Fascist Italian policies. Still others point to the religious dimension of our past, showing the roots of our religious life, and the influences that shaped our beliefs. Other buildings tell of the interaction we had with other peoples, around and far away.

Writing about Keren and the contributions of the Eritrean people in building the city, I cannot help but recall a few words from Bertolt Brecht’s short but powerful poem 'A Worker Reads History', an insightful commentary on history and history writing.
Who built the seven gates of Thebes? The books are filled with names of kings.
writes Brecht.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
In Eritrean colonial history, written by foreigners, the names of Italian colonizers – their generals, prime ministers, and colonial governors and their achievements have filled the pages. It is proper to ask: Were there no Eritreans? Who built Eritrean cities, Eritrean factories, the Eritrean rail and ropeways, and Eritrean roads?

Re: Introducing Yohanna E.

Posted: 12 Jun 2019, 10:10
by Zmeselo

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Re: Introducing Yohanna E.

Posted: 12 Jun 2019, 10:15
by Zmeselo

Re: Introducing Yohanna E.

Posted: 12 Jun 2019, 10:20
by Zmeselo

Re: Introducing Yohanna E.

Posted: 12 Jun 2019, 11:43
by Zmeselo
Yonas Manna (@YonasManna) Tweeted:

Happy Russia Day!

Re: Introducing Yohanna E.

Posted: 12 Jun 2019, 14:49
by Zmeselo
Milena Bereket (@tekerebanelim) Tweeted:

NINE colors meshed into ONE 🇪🇷!

That's how, Eritreans showcase their country! Our #Youth4PeaceAfrica guests experienced all of that & more, during an afternoon packed with a World Heritage tour & an evening of Eritrea style entertainment! "Come back again" was our final msg!