Friday, June 03, 2005
Concert cancelled due to death threats
Freemuse -- It was death threats against the Ethiopian pop star and reggae artist Tewodros Kasahun, also known as "Teddy Afro", which caused the Swedish festival Selam to cancel his concert in Stockholm, reports the Swedish music magazine Lira.
Teddy Afro sings of peace, co-existance, love and non-violence. However, when he performed in the Swedish town Göteborg in beginning of November 2005, his concert caused an angry demonstration against him, and in the following days, the organisers who had arranged a concert in the capital, Stockholm, were forced to cancel it because they received a threat that Teddy Afro would be killed if he were to enter the stage of that concert hall.
At the time of the incident, Ethiopia was disturbed by demonstrations and violence in several cities in Ethiopia, leaving 40 people killed by police bullets, and 200 people wounded. One of Teddy Afro's songs had been used by the opposition party in its propaganda, and this was the reason for the death threats against him.
Teddy Afro is called "a modern day Bob Marley". He is probably the most famous recording artist in Ethiopia today. Because of his lyrics which are perceived as "anti-government", Teddy's music (according to the blogger Shesbitter) has been banned from Ethiopian radio. Nevertheless, local bars and restaurants keep playing his music.
"I am a musician, not a politician," Teddy Afro said to journalist Anna-Karin Florén from Lira magazine. "My aim is to spread hope and inspiration. It has never been my intention to choose side politically."
On the internet, another version of this news story was published. According to Cyberethiopia.com, Teddy Afro cancelled all his concerts in the Scandinavian countries saying "he can not sing while innocent civilians are being killed in his country," and that he for this reason had reimboursed all the expenses to the promoters and organisers.
BBC News -- With the appearance of Teddy Afro, excitement reached fever pitch in Meskel Square on May 25, 2005 to raise money for the millions that need food aid.
Meskel Square, the main square in the capital Addis Ababa, was full of flag-waving fans who had come to see the more than 20 acts in this five-hour music extravaganza.
The opening of the concert was marred when the crowd surged forward, and police beat people back.
Some small rocks were thrown, and a few people were running from the trouble with their heads bleeding.
But as the music continued the concert-goers started to enjoy themselves.
Dressed in tiger stripes, Rene Daniel Tadesse performed traditional Ethiopian music from the Kefa region of the country.
Coming off the stage sweating, he said that he wanted to play his music to support the people suffering from the drought.
He was followed by Kookoo, an Ethiopian female vocalist now based in the United States, who came back to Addis Ababa especially for the concert.
She described the event as "very important".
"We have to start from here with ourselves," she said.
And that was the theme of the concert, which has been compared to the Live Aid concerts in Europe and the US in 1985.
The fundraising effort, called "A Birr for a Compatriot", was about motivating Ethiopians into giving money to their drought-afflicted countrymen.
Before the event, organiser Selome Tadesse said that during the recent border war with Eritrea, Ethiopians had been ready to make sacrifices; now they should make sacrifices to fight poverty.
The concert audience certainly seemed to take on board this message. They had all paid one birr (about 12 US cents) to come in, and were cheering every singer who talked about the need to end hunger.
The event reached fever pitch with the appearance of one of Ethiopia's biggest stars, Teddy Afro.
Up to that point most of the singers had performed one song and then got off the stage, but Teddy Afro wowed the crowd for 20 minutes with his rap, reggae and traditional Ethiopian ballads.
At the same time at the Sheraton hotel, a five-minute drive from Meskel Square, there was a more sedate affair.
Some of Ethiopia's top businesspeople came together in the hotel's grand ballroom to pledge money.
Telephone operators at the back took calls from people watching the event live on television.
Initially, the organisers talked of raising about 14m birr (about $1.6m). By late Sunday night they had got about nine million, although more pledges were still coming in.
Whatever the final amount, it will be a tiny fraction of approximately $700m needed for food relief this year.
But as Simon Mechale, head of the government's Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission, said: "What matters is not only the amount of money, but the feeling that people share with those who have been affected is very important.
"And also I believe that this will convey a message to those who have been helping us that we are doing as much as we can, however little that may be."
So Ethiopians, despite the fact that they will remain receivers of aid, are attempting to show that they are not just passively waiting for the next handout.
Teddy Afro's New Song Sparks Flood of New Marriages
Ethiopis.com -- The newly released Amharic album by Ethiopia's very popular and new-generation pop star, Tewodros Kassahun, better known as Teddy Afro, Yasteseriyal, is being credited with sparking a flood of new marriages between people of various faiths throughout Ethiopia. One of the songs in the album, entitled "Shemendefer", a song about love between a muslim and a Christian girl, is cited as the main reason muslim and Christian lovers are rushing to marry each other in the open, according experts who are following the impact of Teddy's album. The City Hall of Dire Dawa, in South Eastern Ethiopia, is reporting an unusually high number of marriage license applications being submitted within weeks of the release of Teddy's astoundingly popular album. "We are working overtime to meet the high demand and handing out marriage licenses for people marrying a partner of a different faith. The album seems to have an effect, " said Mustafa Woldeselassie, a supervisor of the Family Issues Department at the Dire Dawa city hall in an interview with Ethiopis.com. "Not only are Orthodox Christians and Muslims marrying each other, we have also seen Johova's Witnesses asking to be married to Catholics, and just the other day, this Pente guy asked for a license to marry the daughter of his Hindu Indian English teacher, Pakatima, here in Dire Dawa."
Marriage experts interviewed by Ethiopis.com unanimously agree on the huge impact Teddy's album is having in creating this new phenomenon. "Remember, Ethiopia is a country where people of different faith coexisted peacefully for thousands of years without any of the religious problems you see in other countries. We just never saw them marrying each other in large numbers as we do now after this album's release," said Kelemework Adane, a professor of family issues at Addis Ababa's Ewket Bewket College. "This is really wonderful and the artist Teddy Afro deserves a lot of credit for uniting Ethiopians in such a unique way." The album, for which the artist reportedly was paid 1 million Birr for release by the Electra Music record company and which has sold more than a million copies so far in Ethiopia and abroad, is selling out fast at music stores and is expected to be the biggest selling Ethiopian music album ever.
The rates of applications for marriage licenses in the Ethiopian cities of Addis Ababa, Jimma, Dire Dawa, Dessie, Assela, and Awassa have reportedly tripled and most of them are reportedly between Christian and Muslim partners. "I had a crush on Woldemeskel for a long time but wasn't sure if marrying him was the right thing to do," said Fatuma Seid, a resident of Dire Dawa who talked to our reporter on the steps of the Dire Dawa City Hall standing next to her new beaming husband Woldemeskel Temsegen and holding their new marriage license. " I was sitting on the fence until I heard Teddy's 'Shemendefer' song, which just tipped me over in my decision into marrying Woldiye." In Teddy Afro's 'Shemendefer' song, a Muslim Ethiopian tells a Christian Ethiopian girl how he had fallen in love with her after meeting her on her 'Kulubi Gabriel' trip to his hometown, Dire Dawa. The song explains how God is a God of all people, and how the singer, being a Muslim, was sure their love will be okay with the God they both worship in their own ways. A sample of the verses from the Amharic song says:
"Tewado Yalebet Islam Christianu
Tezenegash Ende Ethiopia Mehonu?"
Political experts were debating whether Teddy's Shemendefer song will eventually create a new political force in the country in the near future. . "We may not see a big impact right away, but you can rest assured that the children that will be born out of parents of different religion because of this song will be very influential voters that politicians will have to contend with," said Tadesse Birru, a journalist covering Ethiopian entertainers and their influence on politics. "With this song, Teddy Afro may have done what politicians haven't been able to do for centuries, which is break the religious taboo among Ethiopians when it came to the issue of marriage." The artist, Teddy Afro, is not without his critics though. Kes Gebremeskel Woldeselassie, a very popular preacher at St. Ourael Church in Addis Ababa, condemned the song and its contents. "We love and respect our Muslim brothers and sisters but the song takes it a bit too far. It is not a good idea to mix religions in marriage and Teddy needs some Tsebel, real fast, " he said through a translator. Overall, the album is clearly having a positive impact. One political expert in Dire Dawa, who is Christian by faith, was asked by our reporter how the song had impacted him and he promptly said, "I am heading straight to my long time girl friend Zehara's house right now so that we can get our marriage license this afternoon. Eskemeche Tedebiken enenoralen??? Teddiye Abo Egezer yestih! Efuoyyyyyyyyy!!"
“Shemendefer”, is the English translation of the lyrics to one of the masterpieces of artist Tedros Kassahun (a.k.a. Teddy Afro) recent album. Among Teddy Afro’s powerful compositions, advocating the core messages of love and solidarity, “Shemendefer” is perhaps the most influential, given its global import in the current era in which we live. This is a love song about a Muslim man’s ode to a young Christian woman.
Not only does the song’s extremely judicious message concern all of humanity today, but it also very effectively recasts Ethiopia as the beacon of hope and peace it has represented for many throughout history. As such, its translation into English is intended to broadcast the song’s powerful message to the much wider audience warranted by its sheer genius and timeliness.
The African Tribune deciphers one of the Teddy's songs:
by Teddy Afro; Translation by HFGK, 2006
Azaan, the mosque’s chanting is heralding daybreak;
I am heading for the station, the early train to take.
By chance, she came to Harar – a rare guest from Shegerr;
And back to a distant land, she took my heart with her.
And yet – do you forget?
The age-old haven Our Ethiopia has been;
Where Muslims and Christians have long lived in love, as kin.
My house is ample for us both.
Boundless love will be our oath.
You firm in your faith, and I in mine;
We’ll share my humble home, unconfined.
The Creator crafted you with such beauty untold;
Not without fear of Allah, to slay beholders cold.
Can you not understand when one loves you so?
Your answer to my love, neither yes nor no.
Oh yours is a beauty - a love, extraordinary,
Oh mercy, Heavens, Oh, hear me…!
Shemendefer - Take me to My Love, to Shegerr,
Make haste on the rails, Oh train!
As no longer can I bear this pain.
My home is Harar, my birthplace Qulubi; 
It was there you came to worship, there I happened to be.
And as sure as on that day you entered my heart;
If I live in faith each day, praying not to depart;
From the Saha Sitta and His Sacred Ten decrees;
My love for you, should not The Lord displease.
In Shegerr, Addis A’ba, your own home town, indeed;
Does Raguel Church not face Anwar Masjid?
Though parted by a mere mortal fence;
In concert to the skies their prayers rise, and hence;
Both the church’s Qidassie and the mosque’s Azaan,
The Creator hears them – in symphony – as one.
In Allah’s name I can still swear;
And you by Saint Qulubi’s prayer.
Come into my home, do come inside.
And leave your cord of faith firmly tied.
Oh, can you not see that I love you so
Your answer remains, neither yes nor no.
Oh yours is a beauty- a love, extraordinary,
Oh mercy, Heavens, Oh, hear me…!
Shemendefer - Take me to My Love, to Shegerr,
Make haste on the rails, Oh train!
As no longer, can I bear this pain.
 An appellation derived from the French term “chemin de fer” for ‘railway’; colloquially used in Ethiopia in reference to the railway station and/or its immediate environs.
 Harar - a town in eastern Ethiopia (Hararghe region) home to 999 mosques, and considered the fourth most holy city in Islam after Mecca, Medina & Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
 Shegerr – an alias for Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.
 Qulubi - a town in Hararghe region - seat of the famed St. Gabriel Cathedral - an important Ethiopian Orthodox Christian pilgrimage destination.
Posted by FRIENDS of ETHIOPIA:: at 2:02 AM