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Asnaqètch Wèrqu made her name as one of Ethiopia’s first screen actresses in the 1950s. Then for 30 years she won people’s lasting respect and affection for her “poignant laments” and “sarcastic ditties.” Her krar, an ancient, folkloric Ethiopan lyre, ( the companion of the lonely and loveless), has a thin, brittle sound—somewhere between an old, dull-toned banjo and a Japanese koto—and her clear voice flutters…

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