Aida is an Ethiopian slave in Egypt. But she is the daughter of Amonasro, the King of Ethiopia, so she is also the Ethiopian princess.
It is so easy, too easy to decide that a slave must have black skin. When we are thinking of slavery we are too often just thinking about the Black slaves in the US, mostly we choose to think only of the slavery in Southern USA. It is important to know about it and we should know more and care deeper about the hideousness of slavery and understand that although slavery was in the end becoming illegal because the racism that were underneath it was never truly tackled a slavery by another name was allowed. How could the Slave that became the Help be free to choose an occupation, to be able to talk back to Whites without fear, to be paid a livable salary when laws made people of the "wrong" color less and with a protection that was not there.
Slave and slave-owner. It is an black and white issue. Slavery is always wrong. But it is old. Much older than USA, older than the modern Europe, too. It was not always about the color of your skin. But is was always a way to get rich and powerful. Slave trade was and is lucrative. Yes, it is not over yet.
To accept slavery is to accept that we can all loose our worth as humans. It is to say that kidnappings should be legal, and that the kidnapper should be able to do what ever he/she wants without anyone stopping it. However kind the slave-owner is or however humanely the slave-owner treats the slave, slavery of any kind should not and must not be accepted anytime anywhere.
Aida, the Ethiopian princess, was kidnapped by some Egyptian soldiers. They thought of it as a normal part of being a soldier: you win the battles, you take men, women and children to be slaves in your home country. But it was not just an Egyptian thing, or African thing to do this. These kind of kidnappings where people became slavery could happen everywhere. Although it was then thought as natural or normal to do this we should never think that made it RIGHT.
Anyway Black/White. Is there any real need to paint the Ethiopians black, so African, while making the Egyptians so white, so European? Aida is not Otello, Radames is not Desdemona. In Verdi's Otello he is called the Moor, and it is refered to his blackness and Desdemona is pure and golden, racism is a part of the whole story. In Aida we have Celeste Aida, forma divina (heavenly Aida, divine body) so she can be of any color. The conflict in Aida is not so much that she is a slave and he is the leader of Egyptian army. No, it is she is Ethiopian and he is Egyptian, she loves her country but Radames, the enemy.
Why don't we see that Ethiopia and Egypt are like Norway and Sweden, brother countries almost as alike as twins, yet rivals. From the time that White Men went to Egypt to steel artifacts, archeology, get rich, and from the time Whites saw the pyramides Egyptians have been seen as honorary Europeans. Ethiopia they also that Pharaohs and pyramides, in fact Egypt was part of Ethiopia. But that is history that is ignored.
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