The World Loves Teddy Afro. His Government Doesn't.
By Paul Schemm, Washington Post
September 18, 2017
Editor's Note - When a government is opposed to anything that promotes love and unity while feverishly sowing the seeds of hate and division among the Ethiopian people, there is no need for further evidence to prove right our long standing dictum: "TPLF cannot be reformed; like apartheid, it should be dismantled."
Teddy’s celebration of historic Amhara rulers is dramatically different from the nationalism of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which is dominated by a political party from the Tigrayan people. The government promotes Ethiopia’s ethnic diversity and uses “unity through diversity” as its slogan. Teddy’s songs — and his criticism of rising ethnic division in Ethiopia — seem like challenges to its vision of the country.
The government is also particularly sensitive at the moment. The ruling party has carefully crafted a narrative of progress and development for the country, created partly in response to the bitterness that followed Ethiopia’s 2005 elections. It was the country’s first free and fair vote, and the results were heavily disputed. Hundreds died in the ensuing unrest, and — whether intentionally or not — a then-newly released song from Teddy became part of the soundtrack of the protests.
Now the government’s narrative is starting to fray. The country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromos, recently spent a year and a half protesting their alleged marginalization, saying that government development plans seemed to leave Oromo areas behind. Hundreds of people died at the hands of security forces during protests, and the situation only calmed down after a 10-month state of emergency was called in October 2016. The Amhara region also saw anti-government protests in the same period, during which some people attacked Tigrayans as “usurpers.”
Teddy “is instigating a quarrel during a very sensitive time for them,” said Seyyoum Teshome, an independent political analyst who has had run-ins of his own with the government.
Ethiopia’s government has been repeatedly criticized — albeit in fairly muted terms — by the United States and other countries for suppressing dissent. The Parliament is entirely under the control of the ruling party, and some of the most prominent opposition leaders, especially Oromos, are in prison. And while Teddy has insisted he has nothing to do with politics, it appears the government isn’t willing to take any chances on his music.
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