As someone named after the most famous Eritrean in the last 100 years, who also happened to be an Askari for the fascist Italian regime, the subject of soldiers being used as pawns by European colonial powers has always triggered a confusing and emotional response for me.
Through the British state curriculum and the production of mass media in the form of blockbuster films, in-depth documentaries and television mini-series, the role of the world in the World Wars has been obscured and neglected. This is a tragedy, with the horrors of WWI especially being portrayed as a pain that only Europeans endured.
For me, this is a continuation of a whitewashing of history that fails to include narratives regarding the rest of the world. From Ancient Egypt being portrayed as a white or Arab society rather than a black African one, the erasure of the Moors from European history and the contribution and conditions of soldiers in the colonies.
Without this representation, it has been and will continue to be more difficult for humans to empathise with each other. Those in the developed world also need to know the sacrifices and land grabs that fuelled these wars.
AWATE is a visionary rapper from Eritrea weaving together psychedelic melodies and sharp, witty lyrics. Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Camden where he was a Resident Artist at The Roundhouse, AWATE gained the respect of artists such as Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Lowkey and Pharoahe Monch.
With Turkish Dcypha’s infectious, funk-based production, AWATE’s critically acclaimed Shine Ancient EP and Happiness LP have been praised and featured on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6Music as well as Noisey, Spotify and The Guardian and garnered a nomination for Best Urban Act at the 2018 Unsigned Music Awards.
Having a reputation for energetic and emotive performances, supporting Black Star, Ghetts and Shabazz Palaces – 2018 saw this London griot’s first headline tour with shows in the UK, Spain and the USA.