Ethiopian musician Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro) has been denied a permit for his New Year’s Eve concert.
The concert, which was to take place on 10 September at the Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall, was expected to draw more than 10 000 people. The artist was reportedly to receive $76 980 (1.8 million birr) from organisers of the event Joy Events and Promotion PLC, which sent an application for the concert at the start of July.
According to the Mayor’s Office, the decision was taken to give space to a different music event said to be affiliated to the ruling party. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemarim Desalegn is set to attend this replacement concert.
The cancellation is third time unlucky for Teddy Afro who was denied a permit for same event in 2015 and again last year. An interview with the artist on state television was abruptly cancelled earlier this year, after which the interviewer resigned. The streak of cancellations has been attributed to some of his politically vocal songs.
These songs, mostly from his third album Yasteseryal, were released in 2005, same year that saw a wave of anti-government protests quashed violently by security forces during election period. Yasteseryal accused the government of failing to deliver on its promise of change, making it an anthem for anti-government protesters.
Nevertheless, the event’s organisers are yet to give up. They have announced that Teddy Afro’s concert has been postponed. The new date for the concert is yet to be announced.
Who is Teddy Afro?
Teddy Afro is a huge figure in Ethiopia.
He enjoys an almost cult-like following and his latest album – his fifth – has elevated him to legendary status.
The album is like a history lesson, with references to Emperor Tewodros II, seen as the father of modern-day Ethiopia, and it also calls for unity among Ethiopians.
Teddy is no stranger to controversy though.
In 2008, he was jailed for a hit-and-run accident. He has always maintained that the case against him was politically motivated.
He raised the ire of the authorities in 2005 when he released an album that was seen as critical of the authorities in the wake of disputed elections, but Teddy has tried to distance himself from politics.
He still enjoys a massive following among Ethiopians who adore and revere him.
Months after his album was released, his music is still being blasted out on public transport, in bars, local shops and homes.