When the Diaspora is Lit (Part 2)

“All jokes aside, to the outsider looking in the Habesha* community is huge but for the average DMV Ethiopian/Eritrean person you are only one cousin away from knowing everyone.”

According to a Migration Policy Institute report on the Ethiopian Diaspora, there are about 251,000+ Ethiopians living in the United States and roughly 35,000 call the DMV home.

Let that sink in. 35,000!

What 35,000 basically means, PEOPLE, is if you work or live in the DMV area you are bound to: know an Ethiopian, have been mistaken for an Ethiopian, and/or have had Doro Wot with that off-white spongy bread we call injera at some point in your life – it’s inevitable.

Now what those numbers, also, translate into for the members of the community is: a strong network, a loyal audience/fan base, and a diaspora that will go hard for you at the drop of a dime. So it makes sense why so many Ethiopians/Eritreans immigrate and permanently reside in the DC metropolitan area – it is damn near the Horn of Africa itself.

Keeping those stats in mind lets get back to the purpose of this article because I bet you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Ras Nebyu’s video shoot from this past weekend…let’s first start with the built in family factor/strong network.

Cue Future’s “I don’t give a f— if they were real sisters…cousins.” *

When interviewing Ras Nebyu’s manager, Beteley Solomon, on his personal involvement with the project and why he supported the emerging artist he said: “Not gonna lie that’s my cousin…I heard his main song “Washington Slizzards” which was like the first hit and I heard “Futuristic Black Man” and “Capital of Hate” and I was like yo he can spit.

He also expounded on how he helped expose the artist to different audiences: ” [Beteley] I was president of a couple orgs at College Park and I started bringing him out to a couple of shows and people liked him and from there I was like why not get involved you know what I’m saying? That’s family.”

That same familial loyalty carried over when I spoke with Loh, the creative director of the “No Love” video, who happens to also be the little cousin of Nebyu and Beteley.

“I helped with the production, writing, and casting/incorporating Gergish into the video and I’m shocked they gave me this opportunity…like they trusted me with this and I am really appreciative of them.”

Not only did she get creative freedom with the project but the guys encouraged her to explore her own music further and to gain some exposure. (Another solid example of how the diaspora supports its’ own.)

As the shoot was winding down, I also had the chance to speak with Ras Nebyu’s manager Jerms Logic and one of Washington Slizzards’ starters and artist Adonay G. These two really highlighted how the diaspora and culture has influenced Nebyu’s music and how our generation is really making a wave in the arts.

Click below to hear Jerms input:

One could argue that this isn’t really the diaspora coming together but rather family taking care of its own but at the end of the day the numbers don’t lie – Nebyu is gaining momentum and it is not just his family supporting him but his extended “cousins” in the diaspora looking out.

One time for Ethiopia/Eritrea – elelelelelelele.

*Habesha: See wiki definition

*Future reference: (Why this phrase is so relevant to our community: the word “cousin” is so diluted in the Habesha diaspora that sometimes you may or may not be related but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter because you are a member of a tight knit network and you might as well embrace it.)

Stay Down Blaze Up,

Astu Mengesha

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