Our first performance in Ethiopia was held at a public school, "Brahanzale Elementary School".
Both in the US and in Israel we performed at local schools during our tours.
We want children to like Japan. This is an important aspect of our civilian diplomacy for the future.
JICA is one of the most well-known international cooperation organizations in Japan and has been carrying out various projects all over the world. Their educational support to developing countries by dispatching volunteer workers is highly acclaimed.
At Prahanzale Elementary School in Addis Ababa, Mrs. Ito, an female volunteer was working hard there.
In this country, most children can receive an education from primary school to high school.
Even in the small town of Lalibela which was located at a high elevation, also has a school system which is functioning well.
This reflects the will of the former Ethiopian Emperor, as I had written before, and Japan was also behind this.
Power is failing！
Before anything else, our biggest concern was about the power even before our departure.
Twice in the past, our staff had visited Ethiopia for a meeting and told us about sudden power loss which can occur anywhere.
Whether at a hotel or cafe, wherever you are, there can be a sudden blackout. Our staff member who stayed at her acquaintance's house in Ethiopia often encountered blackouts, some lasting for two days.
This country has an issue of power shortage due to its rapid development especially in Addis Ababa.
The largest dam in Africa is being built now, so people are expecting that this will improve the situation. The descendants of the last Emperor are also hoping for the better.
Public places are equipped with generators, so they switch on automatically when the electricity fails.
Even so, it takes at least a minute to get the power back on.
Songs that have a backing track were a great concern if the power went out. We had to decide what to do. Would we start over or not do it again or keep going with acoustic instruments without vocals? We went over various possible situations.
When we started our rehearsal, just as expected, the electricity went off and the base guitar could not be heard.
Other musical instruments stopped, and the base was back on. If we played all together at once, there was no sound.
This was caused by an unstable power source.
The event was held outdoors in the playground, which had a limited power source, and there was no generator at this school.
Under these circumstances, our sound specialist could not do anything about it.
The moment of our first performance in Ethiopia finally arrived.
It was 2 in the afternoon under a scorching sun.
The children had been waiting with great anticipation for our performance since the morning.
There were greetings from the principal, JICA worker Mrs. Ito, and JICA Ethiopia's official greeting from Mr. Osamu. Both of them are highly appreciated by the children.
Two Vice Presidents and Mrs. Ito, a member of JICA (right)
Sure enough, right after the performance began, the piano’s sound was gone.
Our staff checked it at once but couldn’t do anything about it, so we I gave up on the piano.
As this show was part of their regular school day, we kept our performance short.
Intro Shakuhachi / Koto
Tsugaru Shamisen (Tsugaru Shunkara Section)
Tanko drum duo
PARANK CONT (comedy routine)
Japanese traditional dance
You are good.
What made us happy was our comedy routine was well received. It cracked them up!
Believe it or not, a well-known Japanese folk song “Shoujyouji no Tanuki Bayashi (Chorus of the Raccoons) was super popular and used often for a comedy show in Ethiopia.
While we were singing it, they were able to sing along and knew that it was a Japanese song.
They are selected dancers who remembered our choreography
Having sent them a video in advance, the dancers who were the school’s representatives had practiced the dance for our song “You are Good“ and memorized the routine.
We had them come up on the stage for the last song.
Everyone dressed up in Japanese festive clothes called Happi, danced energetically (HEAVENESE’ dance routine is called “Yosakoi no Kaze" and was choreographed by HIDETOMO).
Everything went well without any problems.
I was sold on the children's innocent looks.
Children who love Japan not because of economical gain, but their love for Japanese culture will be a bridge of friendship in the future.
Through this event of edutainment filled with hope and laughter, we were certain that we were able to impress Japan on their little hearts. We cannot expect an immediate tangible result from it, but I’m sure that this will help lay the foundation for a big bridge for the future.