By Dagem Teferra
When it comes to reflective music that analyses society and advocates for positive change, there aren’t many that do it as well as Kassmasse. His trailblazing genre of Hip-Hop is almost always accompanied by historical reminders and nods to the vast culture in Ethiopia. In his song, Sewasew, he chooses to skip the history lesson and get up close and personal with the biggest social/political issue affecting the country- ethnic division.
Ethiopia is currently facing unrest due to ethnic based conflicts all around. The country is made up of more than 80 different ethnic groups and so these misunderstandings threaten to deteriorate the nation from all sides. In the chorus of his song, Sewasew, he mentions that he hopes for a world where he can live peacefully in a harmonious country. He wishes his country’s people freedom, love, and health. The music video is shot in the southern region of Ethiopia in a territory that belongs to a small ethnic group. He is seen assimilating himself with the people of a small village by wearing their cultural clothes and putting on face paint like them. As the song continues he emphasizes the need to communicate respectfully with each other and accept our differences without compromising our unity.
This song is a call to action for Ethiopians immersed in ethnic conflict. Kassemasse gives us a gentle reminder that the main characteristic of being Ethiopian is our hospitality. Just like the villagers happily welcomed him into their circle he hopes that the rest of the country can do the same for each other. Compared to other songs that are made on this ongoing issue, Sewasew gives listeners a feeling of hope instead of regret and guilt. His approach to a hot topic in the country is strategic as it is aimed at being informative without being too critical of the powers that be.