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Zela Gayel

Zem-negede Adinet is a newly formed ‘Spoken Word Collective’ of committed performers based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is the first of its kind to have both national and international poets entertaining in English and Amharic. Members of the group have come together with the aim of creating a platform that will give members free reign to poetically express themselves using their talents, tongues, minds and hearts to communicate with audiences.

“The oral tradition is one of Africa’s oldest cultural forms. Words, whatever the language, are our tools for communication. An utterance, no matter how brief, may reveal the deepest form of self-expression unique to the speaker,” said one member of the group in an interview with this magazine. “Zem-negede Andinet means ‘coming from a place of unity’, different paths, different experiences, different backgrounds but united by the love of poetry”.

Preparations are underway for the official launch and showcase scheduled for November 2012 here in Addis Ababa. According to Billene Seyoum, Zem-negede Andinet administrator, “this is an open call for other spoken word poets to come forward and join us”.

Leading up to the launch, meetings are planned to take place twice in a month where themes for writing poetry is chosen to inspire and encourage members, in keeping with the unified manner of the group’s working.

Zem-negede Andinet, continues the oral tradition in a modern context, with its members coming from a wide variety of background and experiences.

Amongst them was the well-known poet, I-Timothy, who presents a lyrically unique Pan-African style in a contemporary context.  Timothy said, “a major part of our mission is to establish a permanent community of spoken word artists and to assist in the professional development of spoken word performers”.

Jolly Bar, located in Arat kilo, has agreed to host Zem-negede Andinet on  regular basis. Other members include Mulualem Tegegenwork, a.k.a Jahemu, who was born and raised in Addis Ababa. He is a dental surgeon by day and theater student by night. With his second published book of poems in Amharic, he said “I joined Zem-negede Andinet to bring about unity specifically with this kind of art and to encourage the creative use of words”.

To see the energy and enthusiasm coming from members of Zem- negede Andinet was an exciting experience.

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