Teddy Afro's Ethiopia song from his latest Album got millions of views in few months time. A detailed analysis of Teddy Afo and his latest "Ethiopia" Album is given below:
Nowadays, music industry is greatly supporting the economy of countries and is being considered one of the preferable investments that have reliable return on investments due to the increasing demand of people for entertainments. Especially on developed countries, well organized concerts that attract many attendees or concert participants from the different corners of the world have been conducted. Concert organizers, musicians, hotel owners, tour guides, recreational area owners, etc. are the main beneficiaries from such events. Such events also have the possibility of triggering the overall economy of countries besides to benefiting the direct beneficiaries.
In Ethiopia where there are more than eighty ethnic groups with mostly unique living styles, languages, cultures and traditions, music is one big component of their lives irrespective of their living standards. People in all walks of life, whether they live in the urban areas or rural areas, listen to music though the length of time allotted and the types of electronic equipment used for such purpose may differ. The natural variety in the language and musical rhythm of the different ethnic groups in the country has created an ever-increasing music listening demand for the people and has given the option for the Ethiopians to choose their seasonal favorite music which will soon be conquered by another new music from the another ethnic group. In such a way, Ethiopians listen to new refreshing songs from the different singers in the different ethnic group languages which have contributed to the rich potential of the Ethiopian music and entertainment industry though it has not been fully exploited yet.
However, the singers and the professionals working on the entertainment industry are not getting the benefits they deserve. The big headache in the industry is the loose copyright controlling mechanism of the country. There are different formal associations that promote tight copyright controlling mechanism and make legally liable for copyright violators, but there are no good and binding policies to protect copyrights in the country. The government usually takes some light measures when a copyright is violated but it has not been able to minimize the copyright fraud and infringement in the entertainment industry to the required level. Hence, the government should provide a long lasting copyright and fraud control mechanisms in order to boost the music industry (and entertainment industry in general) so that artists get the deserved benefits from their works.
In the previous sections, I have briefly described the variety of Ethiopian music and its bottlenecks. But, the goal of this article is neither to explain about the bottlenecks in the entertainment industry nor to give details about the music of various Ethiopian ethnic groups. Its main focus is on a popular Ethiopian musician of the current era – Tewodros Kasahun.
Tewodros Kassahun, commonly known by the public as Teddy Afro, is one of the icons in the Ethiopian music history. Born on July 14, 1976 and a married father of two, Teddy Afro is known for his all rounded brilliance in writing his songs and singing them with his own new styles. He owns the capacity to convey his messages to the public so easily and has the potential to release a single song overnight. His songs are inspirational, influential, thought-provoking and many times able to create social and/or political controversy. That’s why he has been the subject of hot debates and discussions among many Ethiopians in the social media and beyond.
Up to now, Teddy Afro has released five albums known by the names Abugida (2001), Tarik Tesera (2004), Yasteseryal (2005), Tikur Sew (2012) and Ethiopia (2017). All his albums have won him unparalleled credits and appreciations from Ethiopians living both in the country and abroad. Furthermore, these albums have been the best selling albums in their respective times. Especially, the fifth album named “Ethiopia” which has been recently released has become the first Ethiopian music to stand first in the Billboard World Albums list. Many of Teddy Afro’s songs focus on love, unity, Ethiopian nationalism & patriotism showing love for the homeland, tributes to the previous rulers of Ethiopia, and tolerance.
The Ethiopian music icon has been able to get the attention of many Ethiopians especially among the majority of the youth. He is gaining more and more fans from time to time for various reasons. One of the main reasons is the outstanding brilliance of the singer on selecting the content of his songs. People by default need something different from the customary practices and according to many people, his songs have the potential of creating debates among people because of their scope of understandings and interpretation differences on their messages. The second reason is his creativity and talent in presenting his songs in a way people could listen to them for years without feeling much boredom. His songs pass the test of time. They are as meaningful as today even after 10, 15 or 20 years later. And the third reason is his good personality and for being socially responsible in some nationwide fundraising and supports for the poor and disabled people.
As much as Teddy Afro’s deserved popularity in the Ethiopian entertainment industry, he has also been facing an opposition from other Ethiopians. Teddy Afro has been in jail for about two years in connection with a suspected hit and run incident. However, many of his supporters and fans claim that he was detained for his “17 Merfe” song that criticized the current ruling party in his “Yasteserial” album released in 2005 though the government rejects this claim saying that he was arrested because he killed a homeless person in a car accident and ran away. To remind our readers, Teddy Afro criticized and condemned the ruling party in his 2005 Album for not bringing any change when it hold power by armed struggle. In fact, Teddy Afro usually claims that Ethiopia under the previous governments of Haileselassie, Emperor Menelik II, and Emperor Tewodros was far better than the current one that motivated him to release a song for each of those emperors in his Albums. Starting from that time, Teddy Afro has no smooth relationship with the government causing some of his politically motivated songs to be banned from being broadcast on government affiliated media. This tendency of him praising the last emperors has put him in constant collision with the government and many other people. In fact, political actors in Ethiopia, who have significant number of followers referred to as ethno-centrists in a previous article Unionists and Ethno-centrists: Big Political actors in Ethiopia, firmly oppose Teddy Afro’s love to the previous emperors. The ethno-centrists accuse him of adding a salt to their injury by praising the emperors because they were oppressive and cruel to their people. As a result, he has been under a constant attack by them for a long time and now.
One thing is very clear though; his critics and supports agree that he’s a gifted artist. Teddy Afro has become an influential artist both in the entertainment and political environment of the country. Whether one loves or hates him, it’s very difficult to avoid his music. His political stand may not please the government (and individuals & groups that have similar political ideology to the government), but he has become an iconic figure and his contributions to the music industry will remain imprinted on the minds of a lot of Ethiopians forever.