There is no better way to feel culturally superior than to go to a country, turn on the TV, and watch their music videos.
The guesthouse I’m at in Addis Ababa has two channels. One of them is usually featuring videos. The videos often show a wide range of folks from ultra-modern slick-haired BluBlocker-wearing studs to happy-go lucky, frolicking farm folk. They are either stepping off their motorcycle or herding goats when spontaneously bust into dance.
My first reaction is to make fun of this. My next is to think about MC Hammer, Kriss Kross, and the chicken dance.
Last night I went to the Ethiopian Cultural Restaurant for dinner. While I ate some great food, six dancers performed traditional dances from all over Ethiopia. It was amazing. They were popping, they were funny, they were all energy all the time. I’ve watched a season or two of So You Think You Can Dance so I know a thing or two about dancing. Saying they were “bunk” might be going to far, but “nasty” might be appropriate.
I was sitting there wishing I was a good dancer and I could do a guest appearance on stage. (Note: I wish I had some redeemable skill – musical, dance, magic – to impress folks from other cultures, but my greatest skill seems to be self-deprecation; that’s how much I suck.)
In the afternoon I made a video making fun of the Ethiopian videos, and at night I was wishing I could dance like that.
I’ll leave you with this: If an Ethiopian comes to America, turns on the TV, they aren’t going to see any music videos. We don’t air them anymore. And for that we should be made fun of.
Back to Kenya tomorrow to visit Nuru’s project in Kuria on Sunday.
Note: I tried to post videos to go with this, but I’m on dial-up. Come on Ethiopia!