Yilala Denebo

Our house was built on a hill top. Sitting under the two big rocks a few meters from the front door, we could see the small valley of which most was our land. My cousin and I used to spend a lot of time here dreaming about the future. Where we would build the dam to capture the runoff from the heavy August rain; how we would terrace the slope to prevent erosion; where we would build the school, the clinic........ what to plant , where to sell it and for how much. We did not consider the time spent under those two rocks as a waste but a preliminary study of the future. Besides, we had to have some secluded place away from the eyes of our parents to smoke our Nayala.

It was one such beautiful morning tailor-made for day dreaming. We smoked, planted, irrigated, harvested, sold and became rich. We did everything that one can do sitting under a rock. And then as if we were tired of our own dreams, we became quite. The air became still and real silence descended upon Minjar.

It is very hard to explain what a noise free atmosphere would feel like to city folks. One really will have to be in a place like Minjar where the sky is free of airplanes the ground free of any modern equipments - save my uncle's flower mill ten miles away. I don't want to say it was frightening, only because we were used to that kind of silence.

Suddenly we heard some faint sound coming from the other end of the valley. We fixed our ears in the direction of the sound and momentarily stopped breathing. If some one had been observing us, we would probably have resembled antelopes frightened by an approaching danger. The sound grew louder and louder. People were singing and dancing. We could even see the dust stumped by their feet rising through the air. At first we thought it was a wedding; but as they came closer we realized it was a funeral procession; a 'musho' called 'Yilala Denebo' .

I never knew what those words mean; I never really cared to; for I always wanted 'Yilala Denebo' to mean the embodiment of the soul of a Minjare not some trivial phrase. It is like what Langston Hughes must have felt when he wrote 'My People'.

Beautiful,also, is the sun.

Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

The sound and the mourners exited the small valley in the same manner they entered it. And we were back to the blue silent sky of Minjar.

The following poem called ... what else but 'Yilala Denebo' was written that night. The tune is very similar to 'Ihm new! logaw shibo'; If possible, sing the first part and after a small pause at the end of the 'musho' read the rest of the poem. The poems are written in SERA .

Thank you........

Amha Asfaw (AESAMHA@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu)

ylala denebo

ylala hoy, yemanew dimotfor;

ylala hoy! ylala denebo;

ylala hoy, tasro yemifokr;

ylala hoy! ylala denebo;

ylala hoy, hulum new ymiyawqew;

ylala hoy! ylala denebo;

ylala hoy, yeziya yejegna new;

ylala hoy! ylala denebo.

Indya new yemnjar geberE siyaleqs,

yewedajun resa sixeN,

wegenun wedafer simels;

begeberE Igru siCefr,

Irem Irem sil merEtu;

kereqet lemiyayu,

kereqet lemimeleketu;

ymeslacew yhonal,

des blot yemizefn;

yhE geberE hzb sikefaw,

yhE geberE hzb siyazn.


amha asfaw

mnjar - wrgEca 1973 GC