Ethiopian bloggers defend charged pop star

Ethiopian bloggers rushed to the defence of their country's top pop singer Teddy Afro, after he appeared in court charged with the hit-and-run killing of a youth in capital Addis Ababa.

Many writers were convinced Afro was being framed by Ethiopian authorities who, they said, resented the singer's huge popularity and veiled anti-government lyrics.

Afro was first questioned by police in November 2006 after a homeless 18-year-old was killed by a car in the centre of Addis Ababa. Officers reportedly claimed Afro's BMW had been spotted at the scene by a taxi driver.

His fans were taken by surprise when Afro was arrested, charged and remanded in custody last week, two years after the original incident. The mainstream media described how fans staged protests outside the court room where a judge decided to postpone a bail hearing.

Teddy Afro – real name Tewodros Kassahun – is hugely popular among Ethiopians in and outside the country. His hit song Yasteseryal (hear a clip on his official site – which many say criticises a line of Ethiopian leaders including current prime minister Meles Zenawi – was reportedly banned on state controlled radio.

Merkato published an entry by Golto Aila titled Ethiopia – “My Solidarity Forum” for Teddy Afro – An Ethiopian Hero & a Prisoner of Conscience which stated:

This advocate of justice for our people; this voice for the voiceless; this champion of the oppressed; this ultimate entertainer could have lived in luxury abroad and enjoyed life as most of us do, but knowing the risk to his own life, he returned home to continue the mission he has set for himself! Today he sits in the notorious Kaliti Prison, precisely because of what he does for his down-trodden compatriots! The humiliation he has suffered so far and will continue to suffer hence will be the most poignant symbol of our peoples’ suffering for the last two decades!

Debteraw Blog mentioned Afro in a list of “political prisoners” in the entry Tensae Le-Ethiopia.

Addis Tibeb wrote in Teddy Afro arrested:

Many fans believe that Teddy is set up for the charge by the government that is supposed to resent Teddy’s public acceptance in his political reprimands by some of his songs

Arefe of Addis Journal stopped short of describing his own opinion of the case, but described the scenes outside the court in Court adjourns Teddy's hearing:

hundreds of cheering and chanting fans had greeted Teddy's arrival. Wearing a T-shirt and sunglasses, Teddy waved as he slowly made his way into the courthouse. As he left the court, the ‘free him’ shout became more intense and police surrounded and arrested some of them. A journalist for Hamrawai magazine and another newspaper reporter were among the arrested. It's unclear why police arrested them. It was said they are all detained in the police station in front of the court…
Teddy's arrest weeks ago has generated much interest and anxiety in the city and his songs have enjoyed sudden popularity in the bars, taxis and public places.

freeteddyafro left a message on esai the forum run by The Ethiopian Students Association International:

It is hard to know if Teddy's (imprisonment) is motivated by politics or it is a following judicial process. Teddy is the symbol of Ethiopian new and future generation. He is a bridge for the past, present and future. He is an idol for young generation. Let us bring Teddy to daylight before he disappears forever.

esai commenter Ethiopia said he was convinced Afro was innocent and feared for his chances of a fair trial:

I DONT believe Teddy IS BOTH INHUMAN to leave a dead street kid laying on the ground AND DUMB enough to stay in the country for two years.

Samuel Gebru sounded a lone voice of caution, calling on people not to politicise Afro's case in Ethiopia: Teddy Afro's imprisonment:

Some Ethiopians abroad have tried to capitalize his imprisonment, pending a bail hearing, as the Government's bid to silence the iconic singer…there's a long way ahead before the verdict, so whatever is said abroad is mere speculation. Nevertheless, the politicization of his arrest is not only false but unhealthy in our developing political climate in Ethiopia.


  • Admasu

    You know, the campaign against Teddy was orchestrated a day before they jailed him.
    There were some mercenary and paid agents groups of media in the electronics and the press who tried to defame him in the name of copy right.
    If we accept the make- believe story of hit and run car accident that is orchestrated by the kangaroo court, there was not a car hit and run incident that denies coming out in bail except Teddy.
    It is deliberately orchestrated by the regime because of Teddy’s popularity that emanates from his timeless song.
    In Ethiopia in order to be popluar, some one must be belonged to the ruling ethnic groups otherwise you are not allowed to be popular if you do not belong to the ruling ethnic groups.

  • Ethiopian bloggers defend charged pop star…

    Originally published on GlobalVoices By Andrew Heavens Ethiopian bloggers rushed to the defence of their country's top pop singer Teddy Afro, after he appeared in court charged with the hit-and-run killing of a youth in capital Addis Ababa. Many wr…

  • Dragan

    Update; Teddy has been denied to follow his case in bail.
    This clearly shows how the court is politically motivated and triggered at the back.
    Actually for Ethiopian who knew the very nature of TPLF ethnic partied led government, such decision from the kangaroo court is expected.
    As some one in the above mentioned, any body cannot be popular by his effort and the work that contributed for the society.inorder to be popular, the person must belong to the ruling ethnic.
    Unfortunately, Teddy belongs to the wrong and guilty ethnic by birth in the eyes of TPLF.
    That is why he is being forced to test the bitter tablet of ethno apartheid forces.
    The question is what will happen? What will be consequence?
    It is fearful to think the ethnic polarization which is too late to avert its devastating effect.
    The existing regime has a problem that is driven from ethnicity with all Ethiopian ethnic groups.
    It has the worst ethnic case with Eritrean.
    It has dangerous and time bomb ethnic case with Somalia.
    It has ethnic case with the largest ethnic groups of OREMO and Amhara.
    I could not see any out lets that save the ruling group from such catastrophic.
    It is a matter of time. It will explode. The explosion will affect the whole horn.
    During that day,the horn will be the nice cave of Osama Billaden.

  • Ayehualem

    I am very proud of the women who organized a 3 day consecutive vigil for Human rights and in protest against the lack of rule of law in Ethiopia.

    Tensae Le-Ethiopia
    International Ethiopian Women?s Organization (IEWO)

    Thank you Andrew Heaven we had been following all your input during the 2005 elections and its aftermath on your Meskel Square blog. Moreover. I remember your role in the struggle that ensued after the banning of the free press in Addis (as well as websites, bloggs etc. the world over)

  • Tiru

    Why the west leaders are behind the trouble makers of Africans leaders?
    What is really their motive to be in such a way, to be hand in glove with innocent blood suckers of ordinary African citizens?

    Some one may be said me, the faded saying OH!! it is because of terrorism.
    It is fade, because unrealistically much has been said to be on the side of the dictator is nothing but it is the threat of terrorism.
    Let me ask for those who gave such usual answer a question?
    Why terrorism is not flourished in the west world?
    Why terrorists are not able to get a shelter in the west and other democratic states?
    The question is I think leads by itself to the answer.
    Terrorists could not be able to survive in the afore mentioned countries due to democracy.
    Citizens, who are chanced to live under good governance, are guards of democratic value, since they know what democracy is in terms of living in joy and happiness, to live in peace and enjoy the right to life.
    Whereas in a country where there is no democracy, like the born example of it, namely Africa, it is a heaven for terrorists to live and do anything what are capable they to do.
    Because, there are angered people, by the enemies of democracy and the sponsors of the dictators, that becomes muscles and bullet to the ordinary people.
    Let me put it in live example. We know the present situation of Somalia.
    Somalia is occupied by the USA backed regime namely Zenawi of Ethiopia.
    Both forces have been unleashed uncountable suffering against the innocents of Somalia ordinary citizens.
    They made them homless, they made them migrant, and many Somali have passed away as a result of those forces in the name of terrorism as if the ordinary citizen becomes a shelter for the alleged terrorists by their good will.
    So it is not surprising if the whole Somalia from child to the aged become anti American states.
    The same is true in Ethiopia. The same is true everywhere who have the same fate in the afore mentioned citizens.
    By the way, what is the real definition of terrorism?
    Here is the real answer,
    A government who terrorize its own citizen,
    A government who is ruling others, based on biological relationship,
    A government who is guiding it self, under the principle of divide and rule is a terrorist.
    The westerns have not any real moral right to say the African new breed of terrorism as ally forces of terrorism, since they are terrorizing their own people.
    The other contradictory thing is the following.
    When the west leaders create an alliance with dictators, they have automatically stood against their own democratic values that they enjoyed at home.
    As the ordinary African have moral and life obligation to fight their own dictators by any means available, the western citizens and tax payers also have to say stop their leaders whenever they become an alliance with the world dictators.
    Especially, from journalists are much expected in relation to this fact.
    Thank you, Mr., Andrew.

  • […] Ethiopian bloggers defend charged pop star – Global Voices Online […]

  • […] Journal reported that singer Teddy Afro (popular for his protest songs) celebrated his 32 birthday yesterday in jail awaiting his trial. […]

  • Henoke T

    Do we have any possible things to be done so as to ….not just teedy save our country..from this ..catastrophic situation…? begging the Americans?… crying to the GB’s..and the related tail and horn….or….are there no other option……!!!..when do we really want to react…after they total eradicated us from..our own land..after they stabilized a complex of tribalism and the like after they are fully occupied with what is important and viatal…..for an enemy ..when do we need to react?…after we buried Tedy afro like profesor asrat weldeyes, after we….barterd our glory for ….some clanging Ledetu ayalew…after….when ???

  • […] of killing a homeless in hit-and-run accident and driving away without reporting the incident. His arrest last April two years after the original incident captured nationwide interest, was filled with […]

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