There is time for everything; time to sing in Asmara, and time not to sing in Asmara
By Dilwenberu Nega
Tigrai Online, updated Jan. 3, 2018
A concert in Asmara by Teddy Afro would be untimely as well as unbecoming
Teddy Afro’s declared intention to hold a concert in Asmara has gone viral on social media, causing quite a rumpus between those who expect to derive political dividends from Teddy’s presence at the nerve centre of Ethiopia’s hodgepodge political groups, and those who argue that while to oppose the ruling EPRDF is one thing, to provide an oxygen of publicity to Eritrea’s estranged president is quite another.
Opponents of Teddy’s Asmara concert – the great majority of whom happen to be Teddy’s own fans – while mindful of the tried and tested role music can play in building bridges between societies torn apart by war, nevertheless strongly oppose such an event on the ground that conditions are not conducive.
In an ideal world, a Teddy Afro concert in Asmara to entertain the fraternal people of Eritrea would have been deemed worthy of an accolade, and a cause for unfettered celebration. However, it is an open secret, is it not, that the souring of Ethio-Eritrea relations has in recent years gone from bad to worse, despite that is earnest measures by the FDRE to relax tensions like allowing Eritreans to reclaim their erstwhile properties in Ethiopia – an act of magnanimity not as yet reciprocated by the State of Eritrea. While it is true that Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalign had promised a review of Ethiopia’s policy towards Eritrea, its outcome is still pending. We also wait anxiously to witness the green shoots of reconciliation from a fresh initiative by a network of anyone who is someone in Ethiopia who are determined to bring about peace and reconciliation between the two otherwise sisterly countries.
At the time of writing, therefore, all indices point to the absence of rapprochement, which in turn suggests that a concert in Asmara would be untimely as well as unbecoming of Teddy Afro. The prevailing state of belligerency between Ethiopia and Eritrea – and nothing else - is then what makes Teddy Afro’s anticipated concert in Asmara untenable.
Forget for a moment ESAT’s unceasing sermon of portraying Isaias Aferwerki as the great redeemer of Ethiopia, and ask yourself how on earth can we, Ethiopians, expect someone who is the undisputed nemesis of Eritreans to be our redeemer? Since his mortifying defeat in 2000, Isaias Afewerki has left no stone unturned to destabilise Ethiopia. He has armed, trained and dispatched various Ethiopian ethnic groups to cause havoc, not to say turn our Motherland into a bon-fire waiting to happen. Asmara had provided shelter and resources to Al Shabab whose declared aim and goal are to dismember Ethiopia into Mini-Islamist states. It is against this irrefutable evidence that Ethiopian opposition groups based in Eritrea are advising, not to say wooing, Teddy Afro to go ahead with his Asmara concert.
Teddy’s supporters adore his music, especially his latest ETHIOPIA, precisely because the lyric is the vox populi – the opinions and beliefs of the majority. How would we then feel when we see him perform on the very spot where the sacred Ethiopian flag was publically burned to ashes by a state-sponsored mob in the heart of Asmara? Will the Ethiopian in Tedy allow him to do that? What, one would also be tempted to question, would have been the reactions of Tedy Afro’s two political idols, Jah and Tikur Sew, if they were alive and kicking today? Teddy is a responsible Ethiopian who, I am confident, will choose to err on the side of caution and expurgate from his diary a concert in Asmara for the time being. Meanwhile, my humble and fraternal advice for Teddy is to take heed from “A Time for Everything Sermon” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15). Teddy there is time for everything: time to sing in Asmara, and time not to sing in Asmara. The choice is yours and yours only!
In conclusion, do not lose sight of the fact that to most Ethiopians, Eritrea is to Ethiopia, what North Korea is to the United States, and by extension what Kim Jong-un is to America – an existential threat – so too is Isaias Afewerki becoming slowly but surely “The rocket man!” Ethiopia’s antagonistic contradictions remains not with the fraternal people of Eritrea, who sneeze When Isaias takes snuff, so to speak, but with whimsical Isaias Afewerki.