High Time for Teddy Afro to Apologize, Be Pardoned and Move Forward Afresh
By Seifeselassie Gebre
Tigrai Online, updated Jan. 16, 2018
Undoubtedly, Tedros Kasahun aka Teddy Afro is one of the top musical icons in modern Ethiopian music industry. He has enormous musical potential and talent which he repeatedly shown during the last fifteen or so years. I have great admiration and respect for this unique artist, TEDDY THE MUSICIAN. However, Teddy seems to have another personality and that is “TEDDY THE POLITICIAN”. Thus, the purpose of this article is to comment on certain controversial issues surrounding Teddy’s political views and behaviors which are abundantly expressed through his numerous hits.
I am sure many of us may have heard from certain media outlets and social media that Teddy Afro will be holding a music concert next Saturday, 20 January 2018 in the beautiful city of Baherdar, the capital city of the Amhara regional state. From a purely musical stand point no one can doubt his musical genius which his adoring fans will undoubtedly enjoy every minute of. I fully support the holding of the said concert and I would like to extend my sincere wishes for a peaceful and enjoyable gathering to all his fans. I also found it timely and appropriate for the Amhara regional officials’ to give the green light to this music concert in line with the spirit of the recent decisions of EPRDF’s Executive Committee regarding citizens’ democratic rights. However, I wish to underline that it is still fresh in the minds of millions of citizens the disturbances and illegal behaviors and activities committed by hooligans and outlaws in the region last year because of the failure of the regional officials to control the situation due to their unwillingness or inability. This time around, every citizen is watching and the regional officials who authorize the concert as well as all the commercial sponsors and concert organizers have the Constitutional and legal responsibilities to prevent the repetitions of similar illegal and shameful activities as it would be in the interest of nobody except off course our historical arch-enemies, Egypt, Eritrea and their known loyal domestic agents. The regional officials including the commercial sponsors and organizers should also ensure that the planned musical concert should confine itself to entertaining Teddy’s fans but not turn into divisive and ethno-centric lyrical diatribe. They should not be used to promote evil sentiments of narrow nationalism and chauvinism. They should also not direct any attack against others and should not fan division, hate and violence. Furthermore, I hope that the concert would not be used for further polarization of the already-fractured unity of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups but rather for respecting and bringing together all beautiful ethnic peoples of our Country. I also hope that the forthcoming music concert would promote love and respect for our national identity, “TRUE ETHIOPIAWINET” THAT EMBRACES ALL ETHNIC GROUPS AND NOT AN “ETIOPIAWINWET” THAT FOCUSES ONLY ON ONE ETHNIC GROUP/ REGION but still attempts to disguise itself as Ethiopiawinet.
Having said the above, I wish to comment on certain past records of Teddy Afro’s stands and performances that need to be rectified if he truly wishes to become a genuine national unifying artist and not to continue as a regional narrow nationalist camouflaged and disguised as an advocate of the great ideals of “Ethiopiawinet”. One can not talk about Ethiopia or “Ethiopiawinet” and at the same time focus only on one region. One can not claim to be super Ethiopian while belittling, ignoring and excluding the identities, histories and hero’s of other people (unwittingly or otherwise) such as the great peoples of Tigray, Oromia, Southern Peoples, Somali, Afar, etc. from his/ her works. All these ethnic peoples are cornerstones and pillars of today’s Federalist Ethiopia and Ethiopia is simply unthinkable without them.
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:
- bury divisions, hatred, grudges, suspicion, mistrust and bad feelings against each other for good;
- focus on and glorify our countless similarities that by far exceeds and outweighs our petty differences;
- intensify our bitter and long fights against poverty and backwardness and let’s make Ethiopian Renaissance a reality;
- 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.