Our guest today is Elham Mohammed, a young vocalist and a second year law student here at Asmara law school. She is also a senior member of ‘WARI’ children’s band and one of the leading members of ‘BOBA’ cultural group. Elham is an inspiring young woman who toils to show the youth of her generation the harmony of art and education. Our conversation with Elham follows
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
Ok. My full name is Elham Mohammed Jabir, I was born in Asmara in 1996, so I have just turned 20. I learned my elementary and junior levels at ‘Freselam’ Elementary and Junior School here in Asmara and then I was transferred to ‘St. Marry’ Secondary School. I then joined the college of Arts and Social Sciences at Adi Kieh for my freshman year and now I am a second year Law student at the University of Asmara.
Please tell us about your singing hobby.
Well, I started singing when I was just a child, because I was always inspired by Eritrean singers especially Helen Meles. I always looked up to her as a singer and her voice always impressed me. but my inclination towards singing became a reality when I was in 6th grade. Because ,English is the mainstream teaching language starting from sixth grade and my interest in singing started with some English songs. The first song I repeated was a then big hit called, ‘am not a girl not yet a woman’, by ‘Britney Spears’. As teenagers, back in the days, we were fond of Hollywood celebrities and we mostly repeated their songs. At times. I used to sing Eritrean songs, yet couldn’t stop being a teenager who shares a common interest with my generation.
People always encouraged me and so I joined ‘WARI’ children’s band and began to do my training for two hours, three days a week, at a regular basis. It was very wearing and it affected me a great deal because I had to excel in both my singing and academically. Apparently, the continuous training we did and improvisation of our programmes paid off well in our performance.
Tell us about the experience you gained in both ‘WARI’ and ‘BOBA’ and its influence as a singer and student.
As a matter of fact, I have gained a lot from both, especially from ‘WARI’ because I basically grew-up with the band as a singer; besides I only joined ‘BOBA’ about two years ago when I came back from sawa. Accordingly, I believe I have a long way to go with them. About my experience with ‘WARI’, I find it beyond comparison because we were and are still a family. It is not only a school but also a home, and I wouldn’t pass without mentioning Mr. Efrem Fekadu, who was not only my mentor, but also a father that I consider equal to my biological father. With ‘WARI’, we learned manners, ethics, social and cultural values, we grew up as a family, helping each other in our studying. Efrem has always been partaker in every walk of our lives and helped us become who we are at this time. On top of that, I would also like to thank the people whom have been a huge inspiration to me and nurtured me to achieve what I once thought was unreachable.
How did you learn that you could sing?
I remember that when I was a child, my elder sister, Merkebna, used to record my voice whenever I sang, without me knowing.
I also came to realize the attention people hearing me sing used to give me and the attentiveness of their facial expressions encouraged me to take singing in line with my academy. Fortunately, the door to boost my talent opened when I joined the school musical group at Freselam Elementary and Junior School.
My then teacher told me that I had a great voice. Latter, I came across my mentor, Mr. Efrem, where he asked me to join his cultural troupe ‘WARI’ and I sang Celine Dion’s song ‘Because you loved me’ and they simply loved it. From then on, I came to actualize that I really do have a gift, and I have been working in making it bigger to this day.
You mostly sing in English, please tell us why.
I don’t know, but I guess it is simply because I sang my first song in English. Besides, I always wanted to take our way of singing here in Eritrea to a whole new level and I thought the only way I could do that was by first learning the techniques in English singing. In a nut shell, my ethnicity being Tigre, one of the nine ethnic groups of Eritrea, I have a dream to sing in Tigre someday.
How do you maintain harmony between your education and singing?
Everyone around me find it surprisingly hard that it hasn’t affected me in handling two distinct activities in my life without difficulty; for me it is just part of my life , my daily routine. i do my trainings with WARI, then go to school and have to do my studies at a daily basis. I personally believe that any extracurricular programs, household obligations in our case, such as washing dishes and doing laundries, cannot affect our academic performance if we allocate our time appropriately.
Tell us about your experience with ‘BOBA’?
I only have two years’ experience with ‘BOBA’. The first time I joined them was a three days training, and I was very much impressed with their musical synchronization and the way they play foreign music with our cultural instruments. Accordingly, I thought I have a long way to go with ‘BOBA’ and that there is more to gain from it. Hopefully, we will prepare something for our audience in the near future. I am a very ambitious person when it comes to singing and I always look forward towards reaching the highest level in my singing career.
How do you feel studying Law?
Being a law student is amazing, not easy but very interesting. It requires lots of studying and discussion forums just like every other university student. Being my choice of study however, I always toil to excel and elevate my academic standing to its highest level.
You sang your own song at last year’s festival of Higher Educational Institutions, was it ?
A colleague of mine wrote it and I was given a one day rehearsal time and came the next day and performed it; it went very well. It was a tribute to the youth that said, “I try because I can do it, I try because I can make a difference”, that was the theme of its content and it was aimed to inspire youth in every way. I remember, that year, our college became a second time champion of the festival.
Any closing remarks?
I just want to say that there is nothing called ‘impossible’ and that we can achieve anything in this world if we just set our minds to it. Working hard and practicing always pay off well but most of all never stop dreaming
Thank you Elham for your time, and we wish you all the best.