​Politics through entertainment

By GIRMA FEYISSA
(Addis Fortune) Music is entertainment on the main. However, it is also a powerful medium through which different messages can be conveyed. In the Ethiopian tradition, we also have musical works (songs) with double-edged puns accompanied by Masinko, a traditional Ethiopian single-stringed bowed lute. 

Masinko is skillfully operated by five fingers in a measured length alternating while the other hand keeps on moving the little bow back and forth, straight or at a slanted angle, to adjust the sound to fit the singer’s (male) melody or the chorus repeated by a lady who dances to the tune accordingly. 

Yes, music entertains, and it is food for the soul. Soloists the likes of Alemayehu Fanta, Getamesay Abebe, and their counterparts were well-known entertainers. They had been playing to cheer up the nobility including the heads of state and the Royal family. 

Songs and musical puns, particularly those nationalistic ones, can inspire and mobilise people to defend their nation from foreign aggressors, which was often evident in our history. Such songs are also promoters of and means for instilling a love of nation in the hearts of citizens. 
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​Singer Teddy Afro’s New Album Holds Fast to His Vision of a Diverse, Yet United Ethiopia

(Global Voices Online) Ethiopian singer Tewodros Kassahun’s most anticipated and highly promoted studio album was released to great fanfare at the beginning of May 2017.

More popularly known as Teddy Afro, his latest album — his fifth — comprises 15 songs of tribute and love that touch on issues of solidarity, reconciliation and the hope of living collectively in a diverse country. The album also includes a song with lyrics in a coded language, which is being interpreted by some as a rebuke to his detractors.

 Ethiopian singer Teddy Afro, who delivered opening remarks at a U.S. Embassy-sponsored workshop for students on the occasion of World Environment Day 2015. Photo by U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa; CC BY-ND 2.0

Ever since he caught the public’s attention with his debut album in early 2001, Teddy Afro has been a household name in Ethiopia. He is a melodic singer and prolific songwriter. “Ethiopia”, a single that appeared on his new album, racked up millions of views on YouTube as soon as it was released. His album attracted sales of up to 6 million Ethiopian Birr — a feat that no other Ethiopian singer has ever managed to accomplish — which is telling commentary on his popularity.

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​Teddy Afro’s Musical Monarchy

This article is published in Addis Fortune on April 22, 2012 by the paper’s op-ed writer Getachew T. Alemu. With the raised temperature of controversy and hype over Teddy Afros upcoming album “Ethiopia” we hoped it would invite further reflections and discussions and have republished it. 

Here comes a new album by Tewodros Kassahun, a.k.a. Teddy Afro, titled Tikur Sew. It has filled the air of this fair nation through virtually all available broadcasting machines. It is heard everywhere.

As an advocate of competitive playing fields in all spheres of life, from politics to the arts, the situation makes me feel like I am living in a musical monarchy embodied by a pitiful leader.

Whatever comes out of Teddy Afro is accepted in this society that we live in. Criticising him is becoming impossible. He is being treated as a sweat leader with no restraint.

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