AN AFRICAN LION IN A WHITE MAN'S SKIN
I was born in Ethiopia in 1989, at home and without the help of a doctor. It’s probably the most incredible experience I’ve ever had, if only I could recall it. My name comes from one of my ancestors, the African lion. It reminds me of that almost forgotten time.
I was raised in Darmstadt, Central Germany, in an academic, post working-class household. Darmstadt radiates academic glory and pride, lending it an aura of austere respectability. It was in Darmstadt where I met my closest friend, where I got my heart broken for the first time, and where my brothers and I built a treehouse in the woods outside our neighborhood. So there is both love and loss in Darmstadt.
These days I call Berlin home and Southern Italy my home away from home. Both places are filled with people who know how to slack with style. Yet I can also appreciate the US, where people work like frenzied bees, but, as I was lucky to learn, will still take time out to care for one another.
While I can’t say that my childhood was difficult, neither was it easy. My mind was never clouded by existential want insomuch as materially I had everything that I needed. But another sort of existential angst, of the Heideggerian variety, began to haunt me quite early. I was a loner, for the most part, preferring to be on my own, to paint over playing soccer with friends, and heavy topics over small talk.
Darmstadt’s cold rationality and my own narcissism first gave me the urge to become an artist. Some years later, after a serious bout of depression, the narcissism died off. My identity as an artist reemerged transformed into an understanding that everything that matters, everything keeping me alive, lies not just in me, but most of all in others.
I’m grateful for all the amazingly beautiful moments I’ve shared with all of the wonderful people I’ve met on my way as a struggling writer of music and words. I’m curious to see how this crazy world will develop and I want to do my best to part of positive change.
When I returned to Ethiopia in 2013 and saw the lions in the zoo of Addis Abeba, I determined to free those lions - they're my brothers, you know? Let’s begin with these lines, these words with which I reveal my subjectivity to you.
Thank you for your attention.