An Ethiopian singer freed: Movement of jah people – The Economist

August 20th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

The country’s Bob Marley can return to what he does best, at a price. (more…)

The country’s Bob Marley can return to what he does best, at a price.

IT WAS a euphoric week for younger Ethiopians. The country’s great long-distance runner, Kenenisa Bekele, ran down an Eritrean rival to win gold in the world athletics championships. Even better, the country’s most popular singer, Teddy Afro, was released from prison.

Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, says there are no political prisoners in his country. Human-rights activists and diplomats say there are thousands—and a lot of Ethiopians believe Mr Afro was one of them.

Mr Afro was jailed for a hit-and-run incident in 2006, despite always insisting that he was not in the car which the prosecution said knocked down and killed a homeless man in Addis Ababa. He served 16 months of a two-year sentence, which had already been reduced on appeal from six years on grounds of shaky evidence. His supporters, though, allege that his jailing had more to do with his third album, “Yasteseryal”, released just before the country’s last election in 2005. A lusty patriot who often sings, with funk and reggae influences, in praise of Ethiopia’s deposed emperor, Haile Selassie, Mr Afro got into trouble for songs which compared Mr Meles’s lot to a brutal junta.

The decision to release him was probably pragmatic. The government knows that it will have to win over unhappy young voters—Mr Afro’s fans—if it is to win next year’s general election convincingly. Officially, the singer’s release was for good behaviour. But it was probably also conditional on his avoiding political songs in the run up to the election. Mr Afro seems to be playing along, at least so far. He told the state media that he had a “nice” time in prison.

The worry for the government is that the release of Mr Afro will now throw the spotlight back on its jailing of Birtukan Mideksa, a charismatic young opposition leader, judge and single mother. Ms Mideksa had already spent 18 months behind bars before she was jailed again earlier this year for denying that she had asked for a pardon. Her supporters say she has had to spend much of the year in solitary confinement.

  1. Mekdela
    | #1

    To the lady in the darkness
    To the woman! The Lioness!

    The brightest hope in the darkest hour
    When all seems impossible
    As the TPLF guns roar

    Lets all have courage as Birtukan
    Lady liberty
    Yes we can !

  2. Joseph
    | #2

    The Economist is playing the fine line ignoring much of the facts that charactrises Meles Zenawi’s brutal regime.

    Meles and his advisors miscalculated by arresting Teddy and re-arresting Birtukan, of coure all political prisoners. Birukna’s arrest represent unjustice, atrocity you name it etc. Whatever happens or whatever they have done to Birtukan Mideksa, she is a heroine, a symbold freedom and that is the way she goes to history books.

    It is not just about UDJ (her party) but it is about her as an individual/professional, that she is a person of integrity, principle, determination, mental strength that the regime wanted to break and her challenging a barbaric regime when she nows that she will pay a sacrifice (re see KALE). Meles will go to history books as a cruel canningly brutal vegabond, barbaric, and deceptive dictator. He goes to history books as such however his cronies cry fool when Ethiopians at large say that his atrocities far more exceed Mengistu’s.

    Folks, please we need to continue our campaign drive for Birtukan and there is this drive initiated by Mitimita girls who have been campaigning for the freedom of Bitukan!! Will comment soon ones the initiated campaign is fine-tuned. Stay tuned!!!

  3. tome
    | #3

    የቴዲ ሙዚቃ እንጃለት ዘንድሮ፣ ያሰረው ሰዉየ መለስ ነፍስ ዉጪ ግቢ እያለ ነው፣ ታዲያ መናለ ለሌላው ትምህርት እንዲሆነ አዲስ ሙዚቃ ብያሰማን ጥሩ ነው ፣የደሮ ሸመንደፈር እና የፈቅር ከሆነ የሱን ኮንሰርት ባፈንጫያ ይውጣ፣ በወያኔ ሳንሱር የተደረገ ሙዚቃ ማንም አይፈልግም፣ ጀግንነት እስከ ዳር ነዉ፣ ለነገሩ የታዲ ጀግንነት ባማራ ሰንፈና መሃለ የውጣች ለፈሪዎች የተዘጋጀ የዉሸት የጀግንነት ተስፋ ነው!!!!

  4. mateos
    | #4

    Here goes another western journalist or so that would like to fantasize with Meles aiga jungle rules! 1st- although we all know the fealthy Meles and his boss Bereket as to why they send innocent people to prison or die, Teddy’s release from prison is great news for his family, friends, peace loving people, and his talents admiration- musical skills. At the same time we can only guess as to why Meles and his boss Bereket would release Teddy at this time of the year: could it be to silence the mother of an innocent child? could it be there are more Teddy on the hit list of the weyane mafia family that are already sentenced to imprisonment or death? could it be there are more looting to be done with in Ethiopia while the Teddy’s music lovers are celebrating? COULD IT BE TO DOWN PLAY THE COMPENSATION COMMISSION VERDICT BETWEEN ETHIO-ERITREANS? What could be Meles and his intention to release Teddy’s knowing all the evilish tricks of these weyane mafia family tactics in the past 18 years.

  5. Ogina
    | #5

    Viva Amharinya speaking Oromo Ob Tedi Afro! I hope one day you learn and sing also in Afaan Oromo! I am sure you and Ad Birtukan also Amharinya speaking prominent Oromo will make the effort of Weyane cadres to devide Amhara democratic forces and Oromo freedom fighters futile!

    “The universal truth about TPLF cadres in cyber world

    As predicted by most of us, all “renowned” TPLF cadres are coming back now in to cyber world one by one after having a break and being prepared for the “election 2010″. We will definetly read in a near future a lot from the experienced cadres and of course also from the “new” ones especially articles on divisive topics like “ethnic federalism”!

    As we observed till now , different Ethiopian forums where TPLF cadres talk to each other in an attempt to devide the opposition in a camp of Amhara democratic forces. Some of the cadres act as pro concervative Amharas aka AEUP or EPRP, some like liberal Amharas aka UDJ or G-7, some like Eritreans, few of them like Oromians….etc. We do find almost no genuine Amhara (be it concervative or liberal), very few genuine Eritreans and almost no genuine Oromian in these forums. The cadres are doing the same theater also in almost all Oromo forums regarding the camp of Oromo freedom fighters. Here they act as members of different Oromo regions, parties and religions and try to quarell just to show as if Oromos are fighting on subordinate things.In general TPLF cadres do run now like a rabid dog in every forum just to sow a discord between Amharas and Oromos, between different Amhara groups and between different Oromo groups just to hinder a coordinated opposition force from these two BIG nations against their power. But just by observing the political development on the ground, fact is that, nothing will save them from the demise coming in a near future. Amharas and Oromos need to keep the following in mind and let Weyane cadres talk to each other in all forums. They need to leave the forums and make only Weyane cadres talk to each other when trying to devide Amhara parties and Oromo fronts!

    TPLF cadres’ main mission is to polarize:
    - “Nefxenya Amhara” vs “oppressed Oromo”
    - pro Duad OLF vs pro Kemal OLF
    - Phenxee vs Waaqeffata
    - Wellega vs Arsi
    - Gojjam vs Gonder
    - “stu*pid OLF leaders” vs “poor followers”
    - “idiot” Amhara opposition leaders vs their poor followers
    - “moderate” UDJ/G-7 vs “conservative” AEUP/EPRP
    - …….etc

    Read more: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=71756&p=527872#p527872

  6. yikerbelen
    | #6

    Yes , tedy is free from the smaller prison house to the lager one with conditions. He may go back to qality as W/t Birtukan any time when the east africa’s terrorists group thinks that Tedy will challenge them by preaching peace, unty, love and respect each other through his God gifted talent.

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