It is easy to stare into the abyss and get lost in despondence. Though all of us have a right to be outraged by injustice and we must do our part to eradicate malfeasance, it is imperative to pause and find the goodness of the world. I say this in light of the political and culture wars which have metastasized like a cancer and invaded our collective minds. Though we can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that we are living in utopia, it would nonetheless behoove us to find a bit of perspective and refuse to let the insanity of this world rob us of our happiness.
I write this as I watch Betty Beke practice eskista (Ethiopian dance) for a cultural show that is taking place in Central Park, New York tomorrow. Betty is a dancer who started KinetBeth in order to interconnect Ethiopian heritage with the cultures of the world. Betty is performing eskista at tomorrow’s Central Park Summer Stage Show which features the father of “Ethio-Jazz” Mulatu Astatke along side Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi and Sudanese-American singer/songwriter Alsarah with her band the Nubatones and Si Rak who is the host DJ.
Let me admit, prior to the music coming on, I found myself stewing in discontent while reading an article about that fella at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who shall be nameless in this article. All of the sudden, the guitar strum grabbed my attention as the beat started to reverberate off the walls. Betty came alive as she started shaking her shoulders side to side and doing eskista. Whatever annoyance I harbored in my heart from reading about the social upheaval that is going around our country faded into the recesses of my mind as I witnessed the pure joy and elation that Betty was exuding while dancing.
I have noticed one thing about life over the past 20 years of following politics and social issues. When I pay too much attention to the news and stop listening to the music that is omnipresent is when ennui comes knocking at the door. Music is not just what we hear on the radio or in our ear buds; music is everywhere from birds chirping to the conversations we share with one another. Focusing incessantly on the news that is intentionally produced to rile our emotions and stir dissension nourishes our hearts with antagonism. When we take in too much discontent, eventually we find ourselves in darkness.
We have choices in life, we don’t have to reside in rancor and resentment. Happiness and animosity are both decisions we make. We can seek music if we choose it; we don’t have to be mired in displeasure. Betty made the decision to seek the music of hope and the melodies of possibilities; she started a company that is dedicated to spreading the beauty and diversity of Ethiopian culture to the world. Inn the process she is intent on letting the world know that Ethiopia is not a place of just privation and destitution. A nation with a 3,000 year history that has never been colonized is being presented to the world as a basket case; Betty has the audacity and the love in her heart to believe that she can make a difference.
Watching Betty dance with such passion and dedication to her craft reminded me of my own mission. I too started the Ghion Journal to bridge cultures and to speak love to the universe. We all have astounding gifts that we possess in our hearts—some of us dance, others sing while others write. These gifts are not constrained to just arts, where some lack the voice to sing, they have the gift to listen to others. Where some lack the gift to dance, they can change the lives of others by giving an encouraging word. If all of us do our small part—if we plant a small seed of kindness right where we live—we can make a difference and finally find the change we have been waiting for.
This is what Betty is doing with KinetBeth. The way she dances with full joy in her heart (see her video below) is infectious and makes other people smile and dance along. Perhaps for one day, we can turn off the TV and rebuff the offerings of the media and say hello to beauty of life that is around us. Even in the midst of hardship and tribulation, we can find something to be thankful for. Let Betty be a reminder; even when the music stops, we can dance through it all. #Eskista #KinetBeth
“Dare, dream, dance, smile, and sing loudly! And have faith that love is an unstoppable force!” ~ Suzanne Brockmann
If you appreciate this write up and you too insist on dancing regardless of the season, share this article on social media using #Eskista #KinetBeth. Make sure to check out Betty doing eskista (dance) below and check out her website at www.kinetbeth.com. Make sure to follow Betty at @BettyQB1 and follow @KinetBeth
Check out the legendary Mulatu Astatke as he performs live.
Click the picture below to visit KinetBeth’s page on Facebook or click HERE
Check out Central Park Summer Stage show if you are in the NYC area tomorrow, this is a Ghion Journal endorsed cultural show.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.