Satta Massagana

Means  “give thanks” in Amharic.

An Ethiopian graduate student lived with us in  the early 70’s.  She was very sweet and fun to be around. I was about 9 or 10  at the time. Maybe that is why I have always had a crush on Ethiopia. Ethiopia, did you hear me just now?  I still love you, girl. The wife understands – it’s OK.  Let’s be friends.

I love Ethiopian food. I love how they serve coffee with incense.  I love how they wear white robes in their Orthodox Church services.

This gets complicated very quickly.  You see, I also love Ethiopia because she was one of the first nations to receive the Gospel. Then there is the whole Biblical tie-in with Rastafari. It’s impossible to immerse yourself  in Roots music without eventually idealizing Ethiopia as Zion. Even if you’re a white boy. I know that is patriarchal of me – I’m so sorry, ladies.  I know it’s not fair to put Ethiopia on that pedestal (she’s just a woman, right?).
Actually, if you read the end of Kazantzakis’ fantastic novel The Last Temptation of Christ, Lucifer appears to Jesus on the cross as a beautiful Ethiopian cherub/seraph (they changed it in Scorsese’s film). It  just gets more and more complicated – sort of like a woman. Architecturally, artistically, gastronomically, theologically, rhythmically, I am fascinated by Ethiopia. Did you know that Ethiopia is the first nation mentioned by name in Genesis? I think God likes Ethiopia too (remember Moses’ wife…).
He even favored her BEFORE the flood. That’s antediluvian love, people.

Of course it’s not because their women are so lovely to behold, no.
But that is a bonus…

Today I want you to hear Satta Massagana by the Abyssinians, first recorded in 1969.

I could write pages on this stuff: Kazantzakis’ novel (all Christians need to read it!) which few of those who railed against the 1988 film even knew had been written in 1953), the glories of Abyssinia/Ethiopia/Kush, the antediluvian world, Roots Rock Reggae…but now you need to hear the music. It’s all about

“…a land far, far away / where there is no night / there is only day –
Look into the Book of Life and you will see
That  He /  He rules us all…”

(And this too is poetry).

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