Nipsey Hu$$le’s Ge’ez Rite ተዝካር
repost from my medium post (April 2019)
ተዝካር (tezkar) comes from the root word ዝክር (zkr). This is a Semitic cognate, and so do not be surprised to find this concept and its myriad facets in Ge’ez, Tigriña, Amharic, Aramaic, Arabic, Hebrew etc. Tezkar means to commemorate, memorialize, remember, think about etc. Ge’ez Rite Orthodox Christians practice tezkar by raising the names of the ‘dead’ (those who have fallen asleep with the Lord Jesus) during worship services, speaking about their life according to the holy scriptures, and feeding those who gathered. This is done right when they fall asleep, at the 40 days mark, 80 days, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 7 years, and I’m sure I’m missing a few markers.
There was a terse hubbub and brouhaha over who gets to ‘claim’ Nipsey Hussle (Érmiyas) in the aftermath of his murder and in the midst of everyone’s heightened feelings. I mostly stayed out of this, but I gave one reminder that the arbitrary borders established by goons with guns do not hold ultimate authority in interpreting identity for their denizens. Instead, there are multiple layers of analysis. One layer of analysis is the beautiful Ge’ez Rite Orthodox Christianity that is in Eritrea and in Ethiopia. ደብረ : ታቦር : መድኃኔዓለም (debre tabor medhané’alem, mount tabor, savior of the world) Eritrean Orthodox Church on Manchester / Western in South Central Los Angeles hosted Érmiyas’ tezkar. His father Daweet sat in the front row on Sunday April 7, 2019.
Roughly twenty to thirty people in attendance. The clergy begin raising Érmiyas’ name in the sanctuary in a non-eucharistic liturgy called ጸሎተ ፍትሃት (tselote fithat, the prayer of release). We chant, መሐራ : እግዚኦ : ወተሠሃላ : ለነፍሰ : ገብርከ : እኁነ : ኤርምያስ… መናኅየ : ወመናዘዝ : ለሰብኦሙ : ፈኑ… ሃሌሉያ : ሃሌሉያ : ሃሌሉያ : እግዚኦ : አዕርፍ : ነፍሰ : ገብርከ : እኁነ : ኤርምያስ ::
“have mercy, o lord, and forgive the soul (life-breath) of your bondservant, our brother érmiyas… send your comforting and reassuring spirit to his people(s)… hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, o lord, give rest to the soul (life-breath) of your bondservant, our brother érmiyas.”
The normal eucharistic liturgy begins. The lead priest raises Érmiyas’ name up periodically; along with others who have recently fallen asleep.
The eucharistic liturgy comes to a close. The prayer of release is repeated. This time, the house is more than full. Easily, over a hundred indoors, and countless outside in the parking lot or in the reception hall.
There is a Tigriña sermon from the head priest Qesees (Fr.) Tekle’haymanot Kifle’igzee [left]. There is an English homily from Qesees Tomas Uwal.
Hymns are sung in Tigriña & in Ge’ez.
“don’t cast us away, and don’t despise us, o god of peace, help us”
“o god and savior, receive your bondservant into the kingdom of heaven”*
12 noon and beyond
Those who want to eat, and grab tea and coffee do so in the reception hall. More and more people come. An open mic event of sorts takes place as those who want to speak up regarding Érmiyas’ impact on their life and how they can continue the marathon. His music is briefly played in the parking lot. White and blue balloons are released into the heavens after a terse moment of silence. People chop it up and network in his name for several hours.
*creature was written, bondservant sung