Youth culture is a way for the young generations to express and live their lives.
It’s what I have repeatedly heard from my uncles and aunts about how they conducted themselves, with and in defiance to the existing norms. They shared the stories of what they wore and how they talked with a sense of such raw nostalgia I almost feel as if I was there wearing those clothes and talking politics and swinging to the music.
Music is a big part of any youth culture. In the 60s artists popularized Tizita Ethiopian ballad as the sound of a generation; a ballad of an era. It’s the music that was a soundtrack of a generation. Music is such an important aspect of the lives lived by the generations before us, including the famous Ethiopian Student Movement where certain music became an anthem and a driving force of the movement. It was through their music the Student Movement found motivation and told the stories of what their movement meant and their conviction entailed.
Turning on my TV and listening to the Ethiopian music and I get a sense of clear identity that can’t help but emerge from the thick smoke of pretense. But the pretense has become a prominent factor in our generation’s dynamic; it’s almost as if we have taken it up as a culture. I say we, because I am one of you. I am a member of this generation that is at a brink of either putting our knowledge to good use to empower the youth to uplift our country or have the bubble of our pretense burst and drown us all in it. So this is my small attempt to stop myself from drowning in our own self inflicted delusions. Delusions of identity and a conditioning, that relates more to an American youth rather than our Ethiopian counterparts.
My friend said the other day “Thank God for the Nigerians!” And when discussing why, he continued to tell me about how he thought it was such an amazing phenomenon the Nigerian youth and pop culture was. He marveled at their music, their unapologetic way of expression and sense of self. His statement couldn’t have been more accurate. And it made me wonder when the Ethiopian youth will be unapologetic Ethiopian? When will we be able to celebrate our never colonized country by freeing our over cluttered Western frame of reference and mind?
*If you would like to listen to the audio presentation: Is there an Ethiopian Youth Culture? (Audio)
Written By Hanna Haile