“Now is the time to share our experiences and pass on the cultural heritage to the younger generation” Musician Ahmed Ahmedin (Derona)
Meet Ahmed Ahmedin, best known as Derona, a musician who has dedicated over 30 years of his life to music. Getting the opportunity of inspiring Eritreans to struggle for the ultimate goal of freeing their country and people through his music is something Derona considers one of the best things to have happened after he joined the armed struggle.
One of the few Afar singers, he became a member of the national cultural troupe, Sibrit, following Eritrea’s independence and has performed at many events over the years.
We invited the renowned singer for a short chat about his experience.
- Thank you for your time. Let’s get acquainted, please.
Thanks for having me, it’s a pleasure. I grew up in a rural area, a place called Mengebo near Iraffaile. We used to play drums with friends at night time. I think that is one of the reasons I was so attracted to music from the start. My father was also a singer. I remember him singing and playing the drums when I was young. That’s another reason for me to fall in love with music. However, I didn’t think about getting into music until 1982, the time I decided to join the armed struggle just like my fellow Eritreans. Right after finishing up our military training, my superiors started to see that I had the talent for music and motivated me to start singing and join the cultural troupe.
- Would you please tell our readers how you got your nickname?
I had a brother who went to the field for the armed struggle before me. He used to be a good Afar cultural dancer and often caused dust with his feet as he danced holding a sword. And people gave him the nickname, which roughly translates into ‘mist of dust’ in Tigrigna. The first time I got to the field, they noticed that I looked like someone they knew and when they knew he was my brother I just took over his nickname.
- As part of the cultural troupe, can you please share your memories?
Even though I barley had the musical knowledge, my superiors believed that my hobby would be enough. When I became a member of the music group, I used to sing both in Afar and Saho languages. I was mostly around Western Eritrea in places such as Foro. The cultural troupe was one of the strongest weapons of the EPLF. Through the musical group, we were able to inspire young Eritreans to have clear vision of freeing the country and people. Not only that, we were also able to motivate the freedom fighters who were already there through our music. Most of all, music was one way for all the Eritrean freedom fighters to forget the pain of losing friends and families at battlefields. So, I believe that what we did with the cultural troupe was far more significant than anyone of us were thinking we were doing.
- What was your journey like after Eritrea’s independence?
Well, I was assigned to be a member of Sibrit national cultural troupe, which was formed after independence. The cultural group entertains diversity, which I think is its beauty. Although there aren’t many Afar singers, I have been with the group ever since. Over the years I have travelled and preformed within the country and abroad.
All my songs are almost about the country. When after Eritrea’s independence the second war began, it was time to do motivational songs. So, my songs are about the love of the country and the people.
- Anything at last, Derona?
Even though there are many talented musicians from every part of the country, we lack in numbers musicians who actually get the ground to make a difference in the music industry of the country. So, hopefully, we would be able to share our experiences with the younger generation. Nonetheless, if that is going to happen, it has to be now. Now is the time to come together and share experiences with one another. Our cultural heritage is a valuable thing that we have to preserve and pass on to the next generation. The younger peers should have the vision to preserve our culture and work to make it known across the globe.