60. Etheopia
Written & performed by Lord Lebby
Music by The Jamaican Calypsonians
10’’ single (Kalypso, Jamaica 1955)



Some say they want to leave Jamaica
And go back to Africa
Some talk about Etheopia
And others Liberia

But no matter where
I do not care
For I know I must be there
To get my share
Of all the riches
And delicious dishes
Of Etheopia

So you can tell me about Etheopia
For that’s the place where I want to go
I keep dreaming about Etheopia
Where the milk and the honey flow

It is a land
Of liberty
With fun and wine
Awaiting me
It is a wonder
My heart keeps fonder
For Etheopia

Oh what a glorious morning
When we land on Liberia’s shore
Our sorrows will all be over
And there we will weep no more



Lord Lebby (Noel Williams) was born in 1930 in St. Mary, Jamaica. […] Noel sang with calypso groups all over the island from early childhood to put himself through school. In the 1950s, Lebby recorded at least 15 tracks for both Ken Khouri and Stanley Motta. First was a series of 78 RPM singles on the Kalypso label. From 1955, the A and B side of a famous Lord Lebby single: ‘Dr. Kinsey Report’ backed with ‘Etheopia.’ ‘Dr. Kinsey Report’ celebrates the social scientist that caused a sensation with the publication of ‘Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male’ in 1948 and ‘Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female’ in 1953. It is a good example of two of mento’s lyrical traditions: songs that comment on the news of the day and songs that have ribald content. ‘Etheopia’, in contrast, deals with far more serious subject matter. It is considered the earliest recorded (mid-1950s) back-to-Africa song; a theme that became so prevalent decades later in reggae.

- Lord Lebby, by Michael Garnice


From the period prior to the American Revolutionary War, slaves in North America equated Ethiopia with the ancient empires that flourished in the upper parts of the Nile Valley and – largely through Biblical references and sermons – perceived this territory as central to the salvation of the black race. Black converts to Christianity in colonial America (and thereafter the Caribbean) cherished references to Ethiopia in the Bible for a number of reasons. These references depicted Blacks in a dignified and human light and held forth the promise of freedom. Such passages also suggested that African peoples had a proud and deep cultural heritage that pre-dated European civilisation.’

- Dread History, by Dr. Jake Homiak, Director of the National Anthropological Archives, National Museum of Natural History


Africa in general, has suffered from artificial borders drawn by former imperial and colonial rulers, akin to what is usually attributed to Imperial Britain as the ‘divide and conquer’ policy, but practiced by almost all power brokers throughout history, ancient and modern. A combination of Italy drawing the maps in this region and later, Cold War support for dictators, has been part of the historical contributory factors, amongst others, that have led to troubles today.

Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie was supported for decades by the United States for geopolitical and Cold War reasons. The Soviet Union had supported Somalia in their claim that parts of Ethiopia and Kenya were part of Somalia. There was actually a reversal of support by the two superpowers in the 1970s as well. For the US’s unrestricted use of a military base, Selassie was given ‘aid’ (i.e. military aid). This unfortunately was used against Eritrean secessionists and Ethiopian guerrillas in brutal wars.

Italy, the former colonial ruler of Eritrea, left in 1952. Ethiopia annexed it in 1962. (Not too unlike the case between Indonesia and East Timor.) 30 years of war and conflict continued as Eritrea attempted to gain independence, joined by Ethiopian guerrilla forces that were also fighting against the harsh dictatorship. In an April 1993 internationally monitored referendum, 98.5% of the registered voters voted, and 99.8% of these voted for independence, although the borders were not defined clearly.

For a while, the two nations seemed to get on fairly well. However, relations further deteriorated into war a couple of years after Eritrea introduced its own currency in 1997. War again resulted over what the BBC mention as a minor border dispute in May 1998, and over differences on ethnicity and economic progress approaches. The May 1998 – June 2000 war alone resulted in 100,000 deaths and millions of dollars diverted from much needed development into military activities and weapons procurements.

However, the major reason for the recent conflict is the fact that Ethiopia no longer has a border along the Red Sea and therefore relies on going through other countries such as Eritrea in order to ship and trade goods along that line. (Ethiopian propaganda has then meant it says to its people that one of the things it wants to do is ensure a more amenable government is in place – of course, one that agrees with Ethiopian interests.)

During the middle of 1999, both Ethiopia and Eritrea had accepted a peace plan brokered by the Organization for African Unity (OAU) in principle. However, they disagreed on implementation issues and blamed each other for various things, from who started the conflict, to who was not committing to the peace process, thereby making peace harder to come by.

Since then the situation escalated and both Ethiopia and Eritrea have been accused of gross human rights violations. For example, Amnesty International points out that in Ethiopia, a large number of Eritreans are being detained just due to their Eritrean origins and that use of child soldiers on the front lines continues.

While the conflict raged on, in both Ethiopia and Eritrea severe drought threatened a famine as bad as the one in 1984. There have been many criticisms of the Ethiopian government’s continual spending on war while thousands die of starvation. Less reported though, is the fact that Eritreans have also faced similar problems. In the Horn of Africa, some places have gone without enough rain for up to 2 or 3 years, affecting over 8 million people.

At the end of May 2000, Ethiopia claimed to have ended the war with Eritrea. They claimed a victory, while Eritrea claimed a tactical withdrawal. Both sides are meeting again to see if peace can be brokered. According to the previous link, from the BBC, 750,000 Eritrean refugees are thought to have fled their homes.

However, clashes continued. For now, in the middle of December 2000, a peace deal has been agreed to, which people hope will bring more stability to the region.’

- Conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, by Anup Shah, 5 July 1999



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