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Yirga accentuated with the kind of ornaments and leaps characteristic of Ethiopian music. The resurgent music scene is far from the only change occurring in this frenetic city of nearly four million. Bulldozers have created canyons between the palm trees planted on busy boulevards to make way for a light rail system, set to debut in Domed Orthodox churches and tiny stalls with tin roofs and painted signs are interspersed with brand-new skyscrapers, glass-fronted malls and the spaceship-like complex that houses the headquarters of the African Union. During rush hour, visitors can spend a lot of time listening to Ethiopian pop in the Soviet-era blue Lada sedans that serve as taxis. But even though Ethio-jazz dates from the s, its reappearance in the capital is a fairly new development. For nearly two decades until , the country was ruled by a Communist military junta, the Derg, and its dictatorial leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam. There was an evening curfew in place, so the nightclubs, concert spaces and traditional music houses called azmari bets that had been vital parts of society essentially ceased to exist.
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'Strategic blunder over Abiy'
Hailu Mergia, the keyboardist leading the band, was playing his first American show since For the last two decades, he has been driving an airport taxicab in Washington. Mergia was a star of Ethiopian music in the s as a member of the Walias Band, which had worked its way to the top of the Addis Ababa club circuit. In , when Ethiopia was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship, the Walias Band came to perform in the United States, and Mr. Mergia and some of the other band members stayed, settling among the many Ethiopian immigrants in Washington. For a few years, Mr. Mergia led the Zula Band there; after it dissolved, Mr.
Having previously warned that Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed risked turning into an "illegitimate" ruler, Jawar Mohammed, 34, has now become the most high-profile opposition politician to be detained since the Nobel Peace laureate took office in April An ethno-nationalist with a Facebook following of nearly two million, Mr Jawar is accused of being linked to the murder of a policeman during the violence which erupted last week after music star Hachalu Handessa was gunned down in the capital Addis Ababa. His allies deny his involvement in the murder, saying Mr Abiy ordered his arrest to neutralise the popular opposition politician. Both Mr Abiy and Mr Jawar hail from Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, the Oromos, but have differed sharply over the future direction of Ethiopia since Mr Abiy took power in , with a promise to democratise and unite the ethnically divided nation after decades of authoritarian rule. For government supporters, Mr Jawar's arrest was vital to help quell the ethnic nationalism and violence that they accuse him of fanning to derail the prime minister's "coming together" vision, aimed at forging a new sense of national unity in the country of more than million. But for Mr Jawar's supporters, his arrest showed that the prime minister had become intolerant of the year-old's alternative vision, which revolved around the federal state giving self-rule to Oromos and other ethnic groups in regions where they constitute the majority. Born in to a Muslim father and an Orthodox Christian mother, Mr Jawar established his credentials as an Oromo nationalist in a interview with the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera television station. His comments unleashed what Keele University law lecturer Awol Alo described at the time as a "political tsunami", with people either passionately supporting him or harshly criticising him in a highly polarised debate that swept through Ethiopia and the diaspora.