Afework Nigussie is a musician and singer from Gondar in northern Ethiopia. He has a background in Azmari, the music of the wandering minstrels. The Azmari are the voices of freedom of expression in Ethiopia, improvising constantly, commenting on politics, religion and everyday life. Their style is very specific, both provocative and humorous. Nigusse has also trained at the National Theatre in Addis Ababa and, more recently, collaborated with The Ex.
Nigussie’s music celebrates the rich tradition of both secular and religious music in Ethiopia, which has resulted in a wide range of zefen (folk song). Zefen include songs to accompany iskista (dancing), fukara to celebrate the heroic deeds of warriors and musho and lekso to express sorrow at funerals. Singing forms the accompaniment of farming and comes to the fore at every pivotal moment of life. He also plays a range of traditional stringed, woodwind and percussive instruments. Many people are familiar with the Ethiopian music of the golden seventies; Nigussie’s music both harks back to this era and innovates the ancient Azmari tradition.