Let’s start with the strictly musical. It’d be tempting to say that Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga orchestrated this impromptu congregation on the streets of Addis Ababa, and in a sense he did- he certainly brought the piano and the speakers and the video crew. But where it went from there was just as much a function of the enthusiastic participation of the crowd that gathered around him. While the city continues to bustle on with indifference around them, there is a sense of magic in the look on the passing people’s faces as they stop and engage with Yirga’s solo performance.
And then there’s the dancer Melaku Belay. How can we describe him? One Afropop staffer compared him to a walking meter of ambient electrical activity, translating the vibes on the street into ecstatic dance moves. Another said he was something like a walking earthquake. But really, the man requires no explanation. Simply watch him as he dances his way across the city, body-movin the world around him back at his fellow citizens. Isn’t that the job of art anyway, to act as a mirror to society? If that’s what this fellow’s up to, then there’s a lot of joy flowing through that capital city.
Both of these videos were produced by Christopher Pencakowski, and directed by Henrique Goldman, of Mango Films – www.mangofilms.co.uk Also, while you’re at it, you may want to browse the other videos available on Random Acts. They’re not all strictly musical by any means, but the site definitely has more than its fair share of compelling content. Watch out for more from Mango Films and Random Acts on Afropop down the line.