At noon I went to the TK Building for a meeting that was arranged by Pastor-Z.
Mr. Ahnma almost had his camera confiscated at the entrance even though he showed his photographer’s authorization issued by the government.
We were taken into a room on the 7th floor for interrogation, after that, finally, we were able to enter the restaurant on the rooftop with our camera.
This restaurant commands a panoramic view of the city Addis Ababa and the airpot, but we were forbidden to take pictures.
There seemed to be a high level of security as more than 100 people have been killed in ethnic conflicts. Also, Ethiopia is surrounded by Muslim countries ,and there is always danger along its borders. Anyway, it is said that 26,000 people were arrested in one month.
Pastor-Z addressed the reason for HEAVENESE’ existence.
As soon as Pastor-Z, who was a bit late, was seated, I posed a number of questions. His answers gave me the answer to everything. I would not have been able to stand confidently on the stage in Ethiopia unless I had talked with him.
“There are three things that Ethiopians take pride in.”
His explanation was like this.
Ethiopians basically have strong pride in three areas.
First of all there is religious pride. Pride that says it is the oldest Christian country in the world.
Next is political pride.
Ethiopia was the only African country that never became a European colony.
Finally, there is strong pride in its place in human history.
Ethiopia sees itself as the birthplace of humanity.
Ethiopia is also divided into three groups: Orthodox, Protestant, and Muslim.
Ethiopians belong to one of these three groups.
There is a very small number of people who follow their indigenous religion or atheism. If they don’t belong to one of the three main groups, people cannot be part of their community.
These three groups live in peace superficially, but underneath the surface there is division among them at a deep level.
This division has been created through the following of traditions.
Ethiopian Orthodox’s pride in that it sees Ethiopia as the oldest Christian state in the world has found itself bound in traditionalism. The Bible is not read; instead, traditions are held in high esteem and are religiously followed.
While I was listening to this, I noticed their similarity to Shinto in Japan in that rather than sticking to the meaning and the essence of each ceremony, their emphasis was on protecting the tradition.
“HEAVENESE, you are an envoy sent by God since you don’t belong to any of these main groups.”
The Protestant movement came about when a group of people including Pastor-Z’s father started reading the Bible and praying in 1963. This movement caught fire and spread across the country.
Through this movement, Protestants were getting out of traditionalism and as a natural consequence, it resulted in being at odds with Orthodox Ethiopians.
Another main Ethiopian religion is Islam, so there is a separation with Christianity.
The government has to separate itself from these three groups, so it is becoming more secular and has to maintain a stance that does not belong to anything. That’s why any remarks or comments at government organized events that can cause controversy are unlawful
We had no problem on this matter because this is the same as in Japan.
I asked Pastor-Z like this.
“Aren’t there any people who don’t belong to any of those three religions but sincerely believe in Christ?”
He then gazed at me intently and said, “That’s why God sent you here!"
He continued to speak.
"Since the Ethiopians belong to one of the groups, if they say something, it will cause hostility among people. But Japanese do not belong to any group, so you are free to say anything.
I heard that you are going to visit a holy place, Lalibela, which will be a historical visit. No one can speak to Orthodox Ethiopians who are caught up in traditionalism. That's the kind of place you are going to. However, being allowed to playing in such a place, I’m sure that God has sent HEAVENESE for His purpose which is beyond our understanding, so do not be afraid of speaking what is on your heart. I want you to do it with confidence. Because you are Japanese, you can get the message across!”
uncertainty was dissolved, and my mind was settled!!
In hearing his words, power came from within.
Three years ago, our music and message were enthusiastically accepted even in the religious “hotspot” of Jerusalem.
I had come to the point where I believed that this Ethiopian tour be alright.
In this religious state, the expression "God sent" carries weight.
“Now I know why God sent us to this very complicated country. God wants us to deliver a message that only we can because we are Japanese.”
At that moment I was convinced that our Ethiopian tour would be a success.