A Washint Melody! 58 Comments

A Podcast for a Fallen Comrade

ethiopian woman in highland

I have often referenced memory in correlation with our senses. When we think memory, we don’t necessarily think about the sensory stimuli that inputs the data to our brains.

However, everything is sensed; we live by our senses. From the little I know, the sensory system is so complicated that no one really knows everything.

There are two types of memories, short and long term; short term memory is limited to 8 bits of memory and long term memory has infinite levels.

When I think of senses I think of the five and in which I receive them, my hands feel, my eyes see, and my tongue tastes; & etc but the reality is that everything is in the brain, they call it the sensory reception. There is a nerve pathway from the source of reception to the brain. Ie., I am to assume that all our senses are located in our brain; ya love is in the brain.

All this but I just wanted to say that the traditionally obscure senses, like the sense of smell, and hearing have a stronger memory; well at least for me. The scientists claim everything is associated with memory, and that is how we know what it is. Others claim it’s a trigger effect to a certain memory.

A certain sound arouses a certain memory

I love the Washint, because it reminds me the green mountainous pastured grounds of south western Ethiopia. I must have been around 8 or 9 years old and we were driving somewhere in mentioned vicinity when we had to stop by to use the public restroom of the ‘Ethiopian miniways;’ mother earth.

I saw him just whistling away at the endless land. He would be the one that Gigi, got introduced to some decade later. He is her ‘agerE lij, esu balE washintu.

The zema of the Washint, I have always associated with the highlands of Ethiopia, it’s a deep mystical soothing sound. It gives me the sensation of calmness; it reminds me of Ethiopia’s Arbegnoch. Now that I think about it, I think I must somehow have associated it as the background music of those old documentary videos I saw on ETV.

Bale Washintu

gigi.jpgI first heard Bale Washintu some half a decade earlier or so on a 2-3 hour road trip between two cites in the south eastern coast of the US. You see a few weeks earlier half a decade ago, I met her.

We were both out of town and we had just a few hours to get to know each other as I had to go back to my own city. Well, she kept in touch and weeks later she invited to show me around her town; the point being that she we would get to know each other. It was one long weekend in the middle of winter.

She must have been left in my short term memory because I don’t remember her now. She made me firfir and drove me around; and drove me from one city to another and then back to the one city.

She inserted the CD album amorously titled just GIGI, and she put song number five on and started singing. Again and again and again and again; then she started to teach me the words, and then she tried to explain what this song meant to her. I loved the song the zema and I fell madly in love with Gigi’s music.

From what I remember, and forgive the bluntness, the girls passion for music was one of the fewest assets that I found attractive; the supposed connection the weekend was a miss for me and the girl; and a hit for me and Gigi.

We lost touch after the weekend. Years passed and then I heard that due to a tragic accident the girl passed away. I was like where do I know that name from. It took almost a few weeks before I realized that it was her. She had passed away!

I don’t know but I was in shock because I knew her ‘somewhat.’ I admired her passion, and her affection; that was all I remembered, I didn’t mourn her.

Months later that song came in rotation in my car, and I remembered her. I thought about her and how sad I am for her and her family. No matter where I am, no matter what I am doing if I hear it, I remember the girl.

Therefore I dedicate Gigi’s Bale Washintu for the girl; a podcast for a fallen comrade!

I Eventually had the opportunity to meet Gigi and I told her that I loved her, since I truly did and still do. It felt weird I told her that because although I love art and what it brings to my life I never associated that love to the artist.

58 Responses to “A Washint Melody!”


  1. 1 Meskerem

    I really love that song too, it is an amazing song. Thanks for sharing Nolawi

  2. 2 Sky

    That is very touchy story Nol.
    I love Gigi too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. 3 kiki

    Nice post Noles. Smell and sounds are indeed strong memory triggers. I love the washint as well. It always makes me homesick when I hear it. It is amazing how in this journey we call life we meet ordinary people that touch our lives even if it is in a small way. I think that is what makes life worth living. May she rest in peace.

  4. 4 celebratelife

    Very touching. That shows life is short and you should enjoy the moment while the moment is at hand. How sad she passed away but beautiful that she left a lasting memory with you.

    Music tends to always bring up a moment or a feeling of the past. It could be when you heard sad news a certain melody was playing on the radio or when you saw someone special that song was in someone’s car loud enough for you to hear it. So it’s true our senses carry us thru memory lane.

    I read the title Washint melody and thought of my cell cause that’s the ringer I have. It’s so nice whenever my phone goes off someone is bound to get homesick including moi.

    Nice post.

  5. 5 YekeyDama

    I Love that song! Hulu Negeru, zemaw, kinberu, lyricsu esub newe…refreshing. Thanks Nol, may the fallen comrade rest in peace and Melakoche esub kelase (that is befitting to her life and legacy) yasemuwat.

  6. 6 dawitk

    Nice story Nolawi-

    Our senses always provides us with information about the world around us…but to often we don’t allow ourself to receive that information. I think We’re often to focused on one or two of our senses that we miss the full picture of what is really happening inside and outside our bodies.

    Which reminds me reading about this Restaurant in Paris about a year or so ago where you eat in complete darkness allowing you to bring and trust in your other senses and also show you what happens when you can’t see.

    The name of the restaurant is
    “Dans le Noir”
    http://www.danslenoir.com/london/faq.php

  7. 7 meron

    wow…nolawi.

  8. 8 S

    Wow. that was beautiful. so blue.

    To me, the washint is our blues. it’s such a sad sound but at the same time it’s soothing.

  9. 9 Kebebush

    [quote comment="60279"]Nice story Nolawi-

    Our senses always provides us with information about the world around us…but to often we don’t allow ourself to receive that information. I think We’re often to focused on one or two of our senses that we miss the full picture of what is really happening inside and outside our bodies.

    Which reminds me reading about this Restaurant in Paris about a year or so ago where you eat in complete darkness allowing you to bring and trust in your other senses and also show you what happens when you can’t see.

    The name of the restaurant is
    “Dans le Noir”
    http://www.danslenoir.com/london/faq.php/quote

    DawitK……..interesting restaurant.

  10. 10 Billi

    People who are special to us never really pass away because they are alive in our hearts and minds. I too love the washint. One note takes you back home. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. 11 ELIM-rx

    I love the song as well. It stirs feelings within me that are indescribable. I remember my parents. And only he who feels it, truly knows it.

    VIVA GIGI!

  12. 12 Mamit

    Wow, this song and the one she sang Agew language are my favorite songs of Gigi. Yes, it takes me back to Ethiopia…the rural side “Gether” where my grand parents lived. It reminds me of the mountain and the stream where the little girls fetch water from. That where truly “Life” exists.

    Nolawi, have you heard of Habtemicael Demise and Anmut Kende’s CD. They both have a full CD of washint tunes. I know you will love it. You can find the CDs at any Ethiopian shops. Good luck

  13. 13 yohanes

    Nolawi, thank you for sharing your story. It’s true that music has a transcending power to spark Nostalgia and take you back in time. Music is powerful enough to help you through difficult journey’s, set moods, and effect our emotions. I enjoy Gigi song’s because they are deep and powerful…. believe it or not I heard her CD for the first time 2 years ago and quickly became a fan. Her younger sister Sophia Shibabaw’s “Sema Belaw” CD demonstrate the same style. This one is continuously getting play time in my vehicle. The sensuality of GiGi’s soprano voice creates such an emotional connection also accompanied with the traditional instruments…my favorite being the traditional flute…ohh I can’t say enough the girls definitely found her calling. I can hardly take it out of my disk player. Like sister like sister.

  14. 14 Bole Bolale

    This is A great story, very touching.

  15. 15 anon

    Thanks. Nolawi.

    Please post more Oldies, old stories, old poems and any old stuff. Bring back the old culture before we forget our roots or trade it for ‘who-knows-what.’

  16. 16 yonas

    wow, a great blog post nol … touching and personal.

    yohanes, thanks for the sophia shibabaw recommendation.

  17. 17 Mamitu

    It is a little off topic but has anyone here heard Kenna Zemedkune’ss music? I wanted to know if it was any good before I go off and buy me a CD.

  18. 18 Nolawi

    You are welcome everyone….. and gigi is great isn’t she?

    mamitu? i have no idea… and gk thanks for the link!!!

  19. 19 Mamit

    Nolawi,

    Have you found the Washint CDs by Hailemichael and Anemut? Nahom records sells 2 of Anemut’s cds . Here is the link…
    http://www.nahomrecord.com/CD-3.htm

  20. 20 Tchereka

    Dear Nolawi,
    I have a hot article, and I want to know
    how I can post it on your website? Can You explain how I can do it?I need a quick reply!!!
    Bye!

  21. 21 Nolawi

    email bernos….

  22. 22 Ephrem

    Someone please save my soul before I become PENTE. I am so in love with Sofia…GiGi’s lil sis.

    Btw speaking of Washint, who could forget the background sound of “Fikir Eske Mekabir” narration.

    But anyways Gigi is pretty good but Sofi ROCKS!

  23. 23 dawitk

    Tchereka
    in case you don’t know the bernos email, it is info@bernos.org

  24. 24 Tchereka

    Thanks DawitK,
    I’ll send my article on Sunday.
    Bye,

  25. 25 Nolawi

    [quote comment="60711"]Someone please save my soul before I become PENTE. I am so in love with Sofia…GiGi’s lil sis.

    Btw speaking of Washint, who could forget the background sound of “Fikir Eske Mekabir” narration.

    But anyways Gigi is pretty good but Sofi ROCKS![/quote]
    gigi is the orginal… much better than this sofi chick…

  26. 26 meron

    [quote comment="60711"]Someone please save my soul before I become PENTE. I am so in love with Sofia…GiGi’s lil sis.

    Btw speaking of Washint, who could forget the background sound of “Fikir Eske Mekabir” narration.

    But anyways Gigi is pretty good but Sofi ROCKS![/quote]

    wow!!!!! i believe your soul will be saved if you become PENTE!!!

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