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Terrifying Ethiopian Children Song (Part 1)

Our grandparents sang them to our parents, who sang them to us. And we sing them to our children. But probably none of us knew the true meanings of the songs we were singing. These sweet children’s rhymes have their origins in gruesome events from the past. The past that we want to leave behind.

This short video aims to address the problematic nature of a common Ethiopian nursery rhyme and hand clapping game, “Ete Mete”. Some of the lines seem to graphic and inappropriate for children to chant. Furthermore, it perpetuates the normalization of the adultification of young girls.

Here is the lyrics translated:

Ete mete, lemon scent, What did that man say to you last night?

Nothing, nothing he said nothing, he said he would leave his marriage and take me

He won’t leave his marriage and take you

He is aiming to get you with a weapon

Above my house, a crow is soaring, a crow is soaring

It said I wasn’t there so it flew away

Let it make me fly with wings, with wings

Let it make drink elephant bile

Elephant bile is bitter, it’s bitter

His great heart is like a hill, is like a hill

While I was coming back from the hill

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