15-10 interview: masego soundsystem supports yawente childrens center in shashamane, Ethiopia
SHASHAMANE - Masego Soundsystem supports the Yawenta Childrens Center in Shashamane. The center was founded by the local Rastafari community. The Rotterdam based Masego Soundsystem will be organising some fundraiser sessions starting with inviting Jah Massive from Sweden the 3rd of November @ de Worm in Rotterdam. Also some new faces joined the crew so time for an update!
It’s been two years since we last spoke.
How has it been going for you guys ?
Matthijs: things have been going really well. We can only be grateful. The bookings and shows we have been allowed to do and the wonderful artists we’ve been fortunate enough to work with. We’re all continuously baffled and surprised by it all. It is a big blessing.
Anything particularly memorable ?
Erik Jan: well, what has been pretty amazing to see is that we are starting to see a lot of faces again and again at different shows. People keep coming back. And something that’s not necessarily a major highlight, but definitely something I will always remember was ‘A Festival Downtown’ with Young Warrior and Gussie P. When we arrived it was already raining and cold, just awful autumn weather, and despite that there was this lovely group of people that just kept waiting in the wet until we set up a tent for them. Some moments later the vibrations of the audience blew us away.
Thierry : we even said something like; well, better prepare boys, this is going to be one awful day. Before we left. But it turned into one great session. That sort of pessimism can’t really stay on when you get a reception like that.
Matthijs: that support we’ve been getting from our audience has been what stood out the most for us for the past 2 years. I mean, at Eendrachtsfestival 2017 all our gear burned out, twice, and still there were lots of people that stuck around for 3 to 4 hours just waiting for us to fix it. No complaining, just supporting us and cheering us on. Because they saw us working on it and had complete faith in our being able to fix it. That moment when the sound finally did go on, that applause I will never forget. I can still hear the ringing in my ears from that one.
Thomas: what was also a major highlight was Reggae Geel. We were playing in The Yard and normally that’s an area where people tend to stay for only a little while. Just to have a quick look. But we really got people to stick around. I mean, I’m not sure if that’s actually really true but that is how I always experienced the yard.
Carlos: to me that was definitely an incredible experience. I have been going to Geel as a visitor for ages and to get to experience it as an artist this time has been amazing. Not to mention our bredrin Angel Ites joined us the full weekend. That’s one of those chanters we really love to work with.
Erik Jan: we went in to it none too sure what to expect. But then seeing that people kept coming back and that the audience just kept growing throughout the weekend, especially the later into the night it got, that really put a big smile on our faces. Magical moments really!
Thomas: what I also really liked was the diversity it turned out to have, with Jah Shakespeare doing a show over our system and the reasoning Askala Selassie was doing. You could really see that the yard was getting way deeper, content wise, than usual. Fantastic really that there is room for that on such a festival.
Thierry: a lot of sessions are amazing but I think we all can’t deny that that one really stood out above the rest for all of us.
We see there is a new face among you as well, Carlos, who is he?
Carlos: well, Carlos is really just a guy who loves soundsystem and music. We can get all deep about it or make a real long speech about it, but essentially I am just a guy who really likes singing and who is here to do that. I just want to share some honest vibes on a soundsystem and thanks to these guys I can.
Matthijs: we really kind of just ran in to him through Facebook where we saw a video he posted. So we invited him to come play with us at our workshop. That turned out really well so we decided to try it live which eventually turned into him being a full-fledged member of the crew.
We read something on the internet about Yawenta, what is that exactly? Could you tell us something about it?
Matthijs: Yawenta is a children’s center in Shashamane, Ethiophia. It was set up by the Rasta community there about 10 years ago and is still being run by them. In that children’s home 130 street kids or children who have been neglected by their parents or are orphans, 70% of which have HIV, are being cared for.
Ok, well that’s what it is, but…
Matthijs: well yeah, when I was in Ethiopia I joined a tour of the center and it just really touched me to see all that beautiful work. What I saw there was a highly professional team that really seemed to live for that project. I saw what a momentous effort it must be to work there, both emotionally and practically. So I was really impressed. I had the feeling this was something that I wanted to put some effort into as well and then it hit me that I actually can do something. Maybe even with Masego. That’s when the idea came to me to financially support them. I suggested as such to the crew and they fully backed me on this immediately. After all it is about and for the most vulnerable on the planet and we just thought we could actually mean something to this and them. In the end it came down to not just talking about doing the right thing, but actually doing the right thing. We felt the spirit to practice what we preach.
So what is it that you are gonna do exactly?
Thierry: well 25% of all our profits are going there already and we’ll be throwing a fundraiser soon. Our upcoming session on november 3rd is gonna be dedicated to Yawenta.
Erik Jan: we’ll be doing several fundraisers in due time, but november 3rd will be the first. Several artists that we like working with will be helping us with it and together we’ll be raising money for these kids. We’ll be doing this together with Jah massive from Sweden, Lyrical Benjie, Rootsman sax, Majestic bee and possibly more. The money we receive from ticket sales will be going directly to the children’s home. Also there will a donation box and probably some other stuff we’ll be organizing around it.
Matthijs: something else I would like to add is that what Yawenta does is offer medical support. Something that is very important. These children need to get their medication at set times daily, because if they don’t, it’s pretty much pointless. The regularity they get from this foundation is life saving. The children also get education, they develop skills about hygiene, cooking healthy food and that sort of stuff. They also help with creating networks and finding family members that can continue this work when Yawenta becomes more a background presence in the lives of these children. All in all it’s mainly that they create this familial sense of warmth for these children to live in for a while.
What else can we expect from you in the future?
Erik Jan: well, what we still do is the sessions at WORM. We’re very grateful for this collaboration. WORM is supporting Masego soundsystem continuously. So the audience can of course still continue to expect great international acts and artists, and we are going to continue to try to be innovative and bring something new every time.
Thomas: we’ve also done a few radio shows this year, which we have really enjoyed doing and we really want to do some more of that. We’re even working on doing our own radio sessions over the internet.
Carlos: and off course lots of new tunes to spread the message of Rastafari.
Thierry: we hope lots of people will join our fundraiser session!
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