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High Time for Teddy Afro to Apologize, Be Pardoned and Move Forward Afresh

By Seifeselassie Gebre
Tigrai Online, updated Jan. 16, 2018

Teddy Afro Ethiopian pop star singing in Addis Ababa

It is undeniable fact that Teddy Afro’s music has aroused ill-feelings and created scars among the great peoples of Oromia and Tigray for the last many years with his certain highly politicized songs. Though, he mentions the name “Ethiopia” countless times in many of his songs, deep down it is obvious to any free and sane person that they are sectarian and divisive as he has always been selectively picking the history and hero’s of one ethnic people and ignoring and excluding those of others. We have to call a spade is a spade. This has been the real and bare fact of the past performances of Teddy Afro and no amount of justification and sugar-coating could change this fact. I can just mention few examples to refresh the memories of my dear readers. We all recall the release of two controversial, highly-politicized and offensive songs in the past that were directed against the prides of the great peoples of Tigray and Oromo that clearly caused immense bad feelings among these two peoples and the resulting boycotting of his songs and concerts in these two regions. Furthermore, his divisive actions of selectively picking and praising few great Ethiopian Emperors while deliberately and repeatedly ignoring and excluding others particularly the great Ethiopian Emperor Yohannes IV and Ethiopia’s world-famous military hero, General Alula Aba Nega from all his songs, lyrics and performances have also created bad feelings among the great Tigray people. Selectively ignoring and excluding great former leaders is inappropriate and unacceptable by the entire Ethiopian people. Teddy may have a problem with EPRDF and TPLF. That is OK as it is his constitutional right. However, if he claims to be a true and genuine Ethiopian, he can not have a problem with the heroic Ethiopian Emperor, Yohannes IV who lived and ruled Ethiopia long before the creations of TPLF and EPRDF. It is worth mentioning here that beside Teddy Afro, there are many famous and talented Ethiopian musicians who are well known for their fantastic art works. However, non are controversial and have any problem with any ethnic group except Teddy Afro. Does that, then, qualify him to be a genuine Ethiopian let alone a champion of Ethiopian identity and unity? A big question. I wish to underline the fact that his previous records regarding his music and lyrics are mentioned here should not be construed as an expression of grudges or hatred towards our dear brother Teddy Afro but rather to bring to his attention the incalculable hard feelings his musical lyrics evoked. It is also due to the fact that the prerequisites and basis for genuine reconciliations are always truth and transparency to be followed by pardon and forgiveness.

As a way out of this unfortunate situation, I earnestly wish to propose to Teddy Afro if he could be wise and matured enough to apologize to the great peoples of Oromia and Tigray for the offences and bad feelings he caused upon them for the sake of ETHIOPIA which he claims to love and care much. I wish to underline that I am not asking him to apologize to individuals or even to the incumbent Government but to the great peoples of these two regions. After all people are above everything else. They are above individual righteous, personal fame and ego. Apologizing is not a sign of smallness and weakness but rather a sign of wisdom and greatness. Even the ruling party EPRDF has recently apologized to the people of Ethiopia with unparalleled courage and boldness. The incumbent Government and the ruling EPRDF are currently all in deep renewals and I believe there is nothing wrong and shame if Teddy Afro do the same. If Teddy Afro agrees to this proposal and extends his apology, I also wish to very respectfully propose to the great peoples of Oromia and Tigray to immediately pardon him without retaining grudges and saying “let bygones be bygones”. In this way, he would be whole-heartedly accepted and embraced by the entire ethnic peoples of Ethiopia. He can close his past unfortunate relationships with these two great people, close the sad chapter and start afresh to build the new and united Ethiopia together with all the beautiful ethnic peoples of our beloved Country. If it were not for his misguided alienating lyrics, he would still have adoring and loyal fans across this Country. He would also be a true champion and “force of unity” for our currently troubled and fractured Ethiopian identity (as he has always been aspiring to be) so that the lofty ideals of “Ethiopiawinet” will rise and blossom once again over and above the other petty regional ethnic identities. He could also plan to hold his next music festivals in Mekele and Adama soon after.

Teddy Afro has the power and potential to galvanize and influence millions of music loving Ethiopian youth across various ethnic lines through his moving lyrical and musical compositions in a way no other force can. As a result, he can either choose to be a “Force for Good” or a force for instigating a myth that one ethnic group is superior to another. Therefore, Teddy Afro needs to revisit his past hits known for their subtle ethno-centric laced lyrics and rectify his misguided messages if he truly wishes to become a genuine national “Force for Good” and not a poster child for regional narrow nationalism camouflaged and disguised as a symbol of the great ideals of “Ethiopiawinet”. I genuinely wish to advise him that he choose a different course through his music, one that appeals to all inhabitants of this great nation. Furthermore, I hope that when Teddy says Ethiopia , he means the whole of Ethiopia and not a nostalgic reference to a bygone era. I also hope that when he talks about Ethiopia, he is primarily talking about the Ethiopian peoples and not only about the land. In today’s Ethiopia, all policies and practices are basically centered around people. Teddy should realize that he can perfectly praise any individual or ethnic group without offending others. He should embrace the concept of a “win-win” scenario rather than a “zero-sum” game. We can say with absolute confidence that this is the first time in our nation’s history that we have achieved a whole (aka Ethiopia) that is greater than the sum of its parts (ethnic groups).

Finally, it is not only Teddy Afro that should go through DEEP RENEWAL but we all, as Ethiopians, should revisit our way of thinking and acting. Accordingly, let’s all:

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  1. bury divisions, hatred, grudges, suspicion, mistrust and bad feelings against each other for good;
  2. focus on and glorify our countless similarities that by far exceeds and outweighs our petty differences;
  3. intensify our bitter and long fights against poverty and backwardness and let’s make Ethiopian Renaissance a reality;
  4. herald the dawn of new era by tirelessly working for peace, equality and unity in order to build the new democratic, united, strong and prosperous Ethiopia in a not so distance future.

May God bless Ethiopia.

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