Haacaaluu’s December show did just this. As soon as he occupied the stage, the scene immediately felt magical. His opening greetings – “ashamaa, ashamaa, ashamaa” – electrified an audience who understood his use of the traditional Gerarsa repertoire and its unconscious grammar. As he strode lion-like around the platform, he evoked a rare outpouring of exuberance in his adoring audience. And speaking at a moment in which the Oromo protests had been building momentum for over two years – and, unbeknownst to the crowd, just months before one of their own would become chair of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition – Haacaaluu repeatedly asked the audience Jirtuu (“are we here?”), driving everyone justifiably nuts.