May 17th, 2019, saw the release of an album that’s been almost a lifetime in the making, and that’s been recorded and produced, in its entirety, here in the Mother Land, Ethiopia. The name of the album is Touch Of Tsion and it comes from an artist who has a number of titles himself. Locally, he’s known as the Bado Igir (barefoot), or Lion Paw Rasta. Internationally, he’s known as Ras Kawintseb, the Man From Moblissa who repatriated to Ethiopia over twenty-three years ago, following his life long dream to return to this ancient Land of Promise.
Ras Kawintseb, who’s been involved with Rastafari.Travel for quite some time and who is a multi-talented musician himself, has been involved in the coaching of a number of Ethiopia’s younger and next-generation musicians. Although he lives in Shashamane, you’ll find him almost every weekend travelling to Addis Ababa to teach guitar, deliver lectures or perform. 17th May, 2019, stood as a rare and unique opportunity to catch Kawintseb live with his entire band, Aetiophrika, plus support from the beautiful Ethio-Threes (as I’ve dubbed them for this article), and further support from international roots ambassador Uwe Banton, out of Germany. The launch party was organised by Rastafari.Travel, in conjunction with Villa Verde, and it’s no over-statement to say that the night was a righteous celebration of uplifting music and harmonious vibration, with roots enthusiasts, fans and reggae lovers from all over the capital, country, and globe, in attendance.
Twenty-three years ago, when Ras Kawintseb first stepped foot in Ethiopia, he removed his shoes at the airport. This may sound unorthodox to some, but be not mistaken - this still remains a gesture of great faith and thanksgiving, and thus earned Kawintseb his local moniker, Bado Igir. A few years back, Kawintseb released a single of the same name, along with a music video, gaining him a great deal of exposure, and popularity, throughout the country. Now, in 2019, his physical masterpiece hits the streets. To celebrate, we sat down with Kawintseb at his home in Shashamane and asked about the idea, or vision, behind Touch Of Tsion.
KAWINTSEB: Tsion, or Zion, as it’s sometimes translated, is a reference, directly, to what Ethiopia represents, as that country - the source of the nile - that, through its organised religions, has kept all the covenants that you can read of in the scripture. That’s why they’ve got the history of the ancient Mosaic and Judaic coming through to Christian, coming through to Muslim, and now coming through to Rastafari.
KAWINTSEB: [Ethiopia] is the cradle and the igniter of those faiths and concepts for the whole world, so that is Tsion. Tsion is where we are gathering around the Throne of David, literally.
KAWINTSEB: [The idea of the album] is to give a Touch of Tsion, through music and lyric, and the evoking of a little bit of what’s touched us all. That’s the mission and the message of the album, overall. In some parts, it’s a journey. I Told Them - this looks back on the journey a little. In some ways, it’s a declaration. It’s a revelation. The Lion of Judah hath prevailed - Weep Not!
KAWINTSEB: Reggae is prophetic, showing you what’s been going on, why it’s going on, and what’s coming, so Tsion is involved in that scenario. The knowledge of the birth-place, Ejarsa Goro, is involved in that scenario; the knowledge of the ones who, against all the odds, were waking up a great mass of the people, like Marcus The Forerunner; the knowledge of the why the term Exodus still has a meaning.
Ejarsa Goro, Marcus The Forerunner, Weep Not! & I Told Them are all titles of tracks from the album.
KAWINTSEB: These are some of the themes I've taken up with my own touch, musically, [in order] to give some fruit to those whom it will be taken of, meaning to say that the music is going to percolate right through. The music has its own way of passing itself through; not everything can be explained in words.
KAWINTSEB: I’d like to encourage everyone to get familiar with this album. If you can’t buy it, find a way to hear it.
KAWINTSEB: It’s significant that this part of the works is in Shashamane, where there’s a lot of creative, artistic and fruitical works going on. First, you need the works, but then you also need the dissemination and promotion of the works to the struggling humanity. His Majesty is the driver in my chariot, so that’s a living reality. That’s the powerhouse of our presence and the Ethiopian present.
KAWINTSEB: They would like to keep that as the dark side of the moon, but what’s in the darkness must come out to light, so that’s where we are. We’re in the light and we have to keep shining that light, whatever. That’s the new harmony in reggae music, universally. Touch base with Tsion.
Touching base with Tsion is something that can certainly be done, metaphysically, at least, through this stunning, prophetic new album. I encourage all lovers of reggae music, all lovers of music in general, all those fanatic about Ethiopia and all those fanatic about life, to seek this album out. It’s one that’s been years in the making, the whole piece having been recorded and produced here in Ethiopia, and the album stands firm as a beautiful collection of confident, soulful, grounded, grateful, unrelenting roots/rock/reggae, as you’ve never heard the genre before.
KAWINTSEB: We give a next aspect on world affairs, on what’s going on for humanity as a whole, and the root of the humanity, and the essence. I’m talking about humanity - not the elite at the top who have everything, but for the real human race. Africa is the centre of that affair. The African people's regaining of a sense of liberty and consciousness, and taking up of our own affairs in InI own hands - that's essential to the salvation of the human race.
One of the highlights of our unique and exclusive tours of Shashamane is the opportunity to visit Ras Kawintseb, a long time co-operator with Rastafari.Travel, at his home in Shashamane, learn of his repatriation experience, reason, ask questions and take part in a once-in-a-lifetime musical jam session. Trust us when we say this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss! For more information, click here.
Physical copies of Touch Of Tsion can be attained from Zion Heights, Rastafari.Travel, Jamrock Records, or from the CD-vendors in Addis Ababa, and digitally it can be found on Amazon and iTunes. Rastafari.Travel, who were responsible for organising the album launch alongside Villa Verde, can be found here. Ras Kawintseb can be found on Facebook and Instagram.