13. Adventure to break the mold.
“Hallelujah is not good!"
Daniel, our Ethiopian tour coordinator, said while we were talking about what we would shout during our taiko performance. This was a little before our performance started.
Daniel was on edge concerning this matter. He told us repeatedly that any comments or words related to religion could not be said at a public school or a government organized event.
So I gathered all the members and had an urgent meeting.
I explained the current situation in Ethiopia I had heard from Pastor-Z and confirmed the meaning of being Japanese.
While respecting their culture and traditions, there are things that the Japanese can do, and there are things we are expected to do because we are Japanese. In order to do so we have to break the mold with courage.
I understand the difficulties the Ethiopia government has been facing as it is at the helm of keeping a subtle balance between three religions: the Ethiopian Orthodox, Protestant and Islam. I also understand the perspective of people who belong to each group.
However, we have a purpose in what we want to convey to children who will carry the future of Ethiopia.
Just playing music for a short time is nonsense.
HEAVENESE was entrusted with a message, so we will become purposeless if we don’t speak what we were entrusted with.
The existing traditionalism, that has nothing to do with children, defines what is good and what is not good. I think that among these traditions there are many things that should not be conveyed to the next generation.
If there are traditions or customs that are uniquely Ethiopian, if anything, it should be protected. However, if traditions are created by a religious system’s distorted interpretation of the Bible, just as Martin Luther drove a wedge, someone needs to show a new step for the future.
There is no reason we must sing “Hallelujah” on the stage.
However, it is a big contradiction that "Hallelujah" is not good in the country based on the Old Testament.
If that is common sense in this country, only Japanese who are not part of the country's system can exceed that.
That is why we are here!!
If it is an antisocial movement or a denial or destruction of culture, we should absolutely not do it.
The sad reality is that the words derived from the Old Testament which Orthodox, Protestant and Islam recognize as a sacred manuscript cannot be said publicly. This should be amended and someone has to bring it to their attention.
I told the band members what Pastor-Z had said.
“That’s why God sent you.”
Because we are Japanese, we can break their mold.
This can be done without creating conflict; rather, it is a step toward reconciliation deeply rooted in harmony based on our Japanese spirit, “The most sacred virtue is to live in harmony.” There is no one else who can accomplish this but us.
If no one shows them the way, it cannot be reproduced.
We were there to show them the way. This is an important part of our civilian diplomacy.
For those reasons, I told the band members to hold their ground, not being moved by what other people said. We had already sent a video of one of our songs which has “Hallelujah” in it, so it’s nonsense to
say that “Hallelujah” was not good at that time.
In the first place, the lyrics of our song that the children were going to dance to with us has “Hallelujah”.
The children had watched the video and practiced the dance many times during their lessons. There was no complaint about it from the school.
Actually, they said that they were looking forward to it.
Nevertheless, being told that “Hallelujah” was not good was totally nonsense, and it was already accepted by the school. This was an issue for some people who were caught up in their common sense and could not see the reality and imposed their will on us.
Our performance was a great success.
It was our first performance in Ethiopia.
Holding an event at a public school was a bit rigid, yet we were well received by them including our controversial word, “Hallelujah”.
It might have been a very small step, yet we think that we succeeded in removing one of the unnecessary sources of discord.