The Home [away from] Home project is explained on the YBCA website:
The brain child of Ethiopian American singer Meklit Hadero, Eritrean American filmmaker Sephora Woldu, and Ethiopian American musician Ellias Fullmore, Home [away from] Home explores the often transitive and evolving nature of “home” as experienced by Ethiopian and Eritrean communities in the Bay Area. The mission of the project is to serve as a metaphor for African immigrants in the diaspora trying to build a home in America while maintaining and sharing their cultural identity in the U.S.The exhibit evokes home quite literally. The centerpiece of the art project and weekend festival will be a model of an Ethiopian mud and grass hut called a ጎጆ ቤት (gojo bayt), or family hut.
|Children in front of a gojo bayt in Ethiopia. I took this photo on January 31, 2009.|
|A model of a gojo bayt (work-in-progress) in Oakland's Eastshore Park, with Our Lady of Lourdes Church in background.|
|Organizers of the event building the gojo bayt and explaining the mission of the project to onlookers.|
|Jon's mother emigrated from Eritrea when she was sixteen. He understands Tigrinya but is not fluent.|
But Jon and everyone we talked to, including founder Meklit Hadero, whom Suzanne and Anemo had seen perform in Sonoma, seemed proud that this was an open and integrated event, welcoming Ethiopians, Eritreans, and any curious non-habesha residents of Oakland and beyond. The three of us certainly felt welcomed, and we look forward to coming to the culminating festival on Sunday, when Meklit will perform as part of the hip hop group Copperwire.
|Meklit performing in Sonoma last October in a benefit concert for The Nile Project.|
|A clever way to express bicultural habesha identity.|
I know this tangent is now far-fetched and without any serious analytical merit, but I couldn't help being surprised that the only word I could find starting with ዘ and ፀ somehow indicates the Book of Exodus, a story all about finding home away from home. (The first word, ኦሪት, refers generally to the five books of Moses.) The only other new year I know of that falls in September is the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sunset on September 24 this year. Just to show the semitic language connection, the Hebrew word ראש (rosh, meaning head, as in head of the year) is similar to the Amharic word ራስ (ras), which also means head. All mildly interesting trivia to keep in mind as we head into this season of Ethiopian and Jewish New Year celebrations!
|My Jewish and Ethiopian family under the gojo bayt doorway.|