While Nuhamin Daniel et al. were in Gondar, they interviewed Mr. Zelalem Fisseha, founder and owner of a well-known local music outlet, the Fasil Music Shop.
Interviewer: Nuhamin Daniel
Translation: Betsy Redi
Ato Zelalem Fisseha: I came into this line of work in 1974 EC [1981 AD]. I worked in this profession from then until 2002 EC [2009 AD]. I used to be a student before I started working in music. After that, I started working as a gold and silversmith, which was my father’s profession. My brother and I opened a gold and silversmith shop in which I worked from 1967 EC up to 1969 EC [1976 AD].
Around July of 1969 EC, owing to the instability of our country at the time, I got shot and wounded. I believe it was on suspicion that I might be EHAPA [Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party]. After that I couldn’t work with gold or silver, so in 1970 EC, I went into another line of work. I was gradually drawn into music and in “Tir” [month 5] of 1974 EC [January 1982 AD], I finally got out a license to bring music cassettes from Addis and sell them. As time went by, my interest in the work increased. Then I began recording and issuing music under the name of my business, and did good business with it for a long time.
In 2002 EC [2009 AD], I got into trouble with the law. Selling music copies [pirate music] is not a new thing in Ethiopia, and for one thing, Fasil Music Shop was one of the first members of Mega publishing enterprise. I have put a lot of effort into the music shop. I have struggled a lot for it. However, the one who struggles is not the one who gains, so you have to move along with society. There is no one that comes close to me in my work, even in Addis Ababa. The music that comes out of Fasil Music Shop in Gondar is equal to music that comes out of any distinguished publisher in Addis Ababa. I had all the necessary equipment and I took good care of it. However, since there is a way of thinking that goes “I will not sit and watch while another is eating [gaining]” they managed to come together and defeat me. As a result, I have been forced to quit the work that I love so much.
I was born in Gondar. My father is from Axum, this is my mother’s country. I was born here. My father came from Axum and had a lot of children here, I was one of them. I went to school here, I studied the alphabet at Tsadiqu Yohannes School. I finished school at Kedamawi Haileselassie School. After that I did not want further education so I decided to go to work.
Continue reading Zelalem Fisseha’s interview on Sheba Sound