Lib Yaleh - “If You Have Heart”

A song for maternal and child health in Ethiopia

presented by

Executive Producer Michael Frishkopf

Professor of Music

Director, Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology

If You Have Heart

by Thomas Gobena

Performed by Zeritu Kebede

and Tadele Gemechu

If you have heart, a song in support of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, was funded by Global Affairs Canada development (ex-CIDA), through a Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry grant in collaboration with St. Paul's hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This song addresses a fundamental problem in Ethiopian society: though staffed health centres are available throughout the country, too many Ethiopian women don’t use them to give birth. As a result, maternal and infant mortality rates are tragically high, particularly in rural areas. One of the main causes is thought to be husbands’ traditional thinking, that woman should give birth at home.

If you have heart, a song in support of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, was funded by Global Affairs Canada, through a Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry grant in collaboration with St. Paul's hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

This song addresses a fundamental problem in Ethiopian society: though staffed health centres are available throughout the country, too many Ethiopian women don’t give birth in them. As a result, maternal and infant mortality rates are tragically high, particularly in rural areas.

Music for Global Human Development

m4ghd.org

  • Why use music, song to catalyze human development?
  • All development projects fail unless there is uptake of development messaging
  • Cultural barriers often preclude uptake, whether explicit (taboos) or implicit (habits)
  • So does a social fabric too frayed by poverty or displacement to reinforce messaging
  • Global health inequity results from weak social fabric
  • Thus transformations in knowledge, attitude, and practice alongside social cohesion - a strengthened social fabric - are crucial
  • Socio-cultural change can be induced by messaging that combines the emotional and the intellectual
  • Music combines thought and feeling, by deploying lyrics, sound, and celebrities
  • Music overcomes illiteracy
  • Music is memorable and repeatable by ordinary people
  • Music galvanizes a common sense of purpose and social cohesion nucleating social solidarity around a key health issue
  • Use of local music culture--music stars, styles, instruments, languages--- is important in order to encourage local engagement, and acceptance, and ensure sustainability

The song was produced by Thomas Gobena and features two Ethiopian singer-stars singing in two languages: Zeritu Kebede (Amharic) and Tadele Gemechu (Oromo), to broaden the message across genders and ethnic groups.

Producer and composer Thomas "Tommy T" Gobena (b. 1971) is bassist with the gypsy punk group, Gogol Bordello.

He was born in Addis Ababa, moving to Washington D.C. in 1987, at the age of 16, and joined Gogol Bordello in 2006.

Thomas Gobena

  • Zeritu Kebede (Amharic: ዘሪቱ ከበደ), also known as Zeritu, (born February 19, 1984) is an Ethiopian singer, songwriter, social activist, actress, film producer and screenwriter.

  • Zeritu has demonstrated strong commitment to social activism and progress in her music, raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, ecological issues, and promoting breastfeeding.

Zeritu Kebede

Tadele Gemechu is a leading Oromifa singer in Ethiopia.

His love songs mix traditional and modern to bridge generations. He has toured across the world collaborating with fellow artists.

What kind of song to create? We discussed this question at length. A song is a vehicle; it carries a charge. What should it say? What kind of charge? Thought or feeling? Should we pack it with information? Or emotion? Who should it address?

Through conversations we realized that the song must address not only women, but the entire family, and especially husbands, whose decisions frequently determine where a woman delivers.

We decided that after an initial informational panel the music video would be a tragic love song, the song of a man who does not send his wife to a clinic, and therefore loses both wife and child. As he and the community suffer in grief, the audience weeps with him in empathy. Thus knowledge is transmitted together with a powerful emotional charge.

We believe that this potent combination of knowledge and emotion will shift attitudes, and thereby alter behavior. Follow up research will test this hypothesis….

The video opens with a panel of facts, to which the song provides an emotional response:

"Tragically, in Ethiopia over 1 in every 250 pregnancies results in the death of the mother, and 1 in 30 the death of a newborn baby.

An Ethiopian woman’s lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy is 1 in 48. Every year about 13,000 women die during pregnancy, almost half of them on the actual day they deliver.

The Ethiopian government has ensured that there is a health centre within reach of every community, staffed with skilled birth attendants. At health centres, women receive proper care and medicine throughout pregnancy, and maternal deaths are rare. Statistics show that women who give birth at health centres, and their babies, are far less likely to die of complications.

But due to lack of knowledge and awareness, expectant mothers don’t always go to these facilities for care, nor are they brought by their families.

These senseless deaths can be prevented …

If you have heart.”

Lib Yaleh - If You Have Heart

by Thomas Gobena

Performed by Zeritu Kebede

and Tadele Gemechu

Release coming soon... early in 2019!

What kind of song? What should it say? Who should it address?

We discussed this issue. A song is a vehicle; it carries a charge. Thought or feeling? Should we pack it with information? Or emotion?

We realized that the song must address not only women, but the entire family, and especially husbands

We decided that after an initial informational panel the video would become simply a love song. A tragic love song, the song of a man who has lost his wife and child. He sings in grief, and the audience weeps with him, and remembers.

We will now show the penultimate draft of this song. One small problem is the speed of the initial titles, so I’ll read them.

"Tragically, in Ethiopia over 1 in every 250 pregnancies results in the death of the mother, and 1 in 30 the death of a newborn baby.

An Ethiopian woman’s lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy is 1 in 48. Every year about 13,000 women die during pregnancy, almost half of them on the actual day they deliver.

The Ethiopian government has ensured that there is a health centre within reach of every community, staffed with skilled birth attendants. At health centres, women receive proper care and medicine throughout pregnancy, and maternal deaths are rare. Statistics show that women who give birth at health centres, and their babies, are far less likely to die of complications.

But due to lack of knowledge and awareness, expectant mothers don’t always go to these facilities for care, nor are they brought by their families.

These senseless deaths can be prevented …

If you have heart.”

Singing for Maternal and Neonatal Health distributable - Google Slides