The Golden Voice of Teddy Afro: Tyranny Silences Honesty and Courage – By Teodros Kiros (Ph.D)

April 23rd, 2008 Print Print Email Email

The handsome man refuses to sing for the rich and famous, and makes a heroic effort to entertain the overburdened, the poor, and the alienated at the Addis stadium, when Ethiopia was celebrating its Millennium. (more…)

The handsome man refuses to sing for the rich and famous, and makes a heroic effort to entertain the overburdened, the poor, and the alienated at the Addis stadium, when Ethiopia was celebrating its Millennium.

His roaring voice that combines Musical orature, tone, and meaning resonated with millions of Ethiopians particularly the restless youth, as he told them to return home by any means necessary and fight for their Ethiopianity and Andenet. Through a series of songs, he stamped his foot on power, and reminded the Ethiopian youth that the love of country cannot be negotiated, that sovereignty is not for sail, and that we must live what we preach, and preach how we must live.

In the hands of the young man with the golden voice, and the sparkling teeth, modern Ethiopian music takes off from where Tilanhun Gessese left it; once again the poor, the overburdened and the alienated Ethiopians become the subject matter of contemporary Ethiopian music. In the hands of Teddy, Ethiopian music retains its classicality in its meaningful contmporainiety. Indeed Teddy himself has paid tribute to Tillahun Gessese, whom he considers is the father of Ethiopian music, its classical voice. .

I too had written celebrating Tilahun that,

“He is Ethiopian music at the height of its perfection, and the depth of its living wisdom. With him music is philosophy and philosophy itself attains the musicality that the ancients have yearned. In his hands music becomes a therapy for those whose hearts have been broken by love, for all those who know the dangers of love and still dare to taste its bitter/ sweet pills.

To them he came to sing this night on a wheel chair reserved for all those geniuses that God has chosen for one of his hidden missions toward the last part of their living lives.

The king of music was chosen for a mission and he carried it with a biting courage and embodied it on an extraordinary intelligence of the human heart.

Medium height, chiseled nose, a long face and an arresting complexion, the doctor /artist sat on and sung to eternity.

Love, death, sorrow, purpose, silence, solitude, and the joy that kills were the themes of his heartbreaking songs. He grabbed the microphone so close to his soul and projected that voice, which efuses to die in the air, until the listener is driven to tears and the heart is threatened with the possibility of death. His music is fated to bring the audience to the brink of joy, the joy that could kill, and the fulfillment that makes you move towards God.

His music is spiritual and carnal, therapeutic and transcdental, which takes you behind the veil of appearance to the depth of the hidden reality. (

These words modified appropriately apply to Teddy Afro, the handsome Ethiopian with the golden voice. The very words I used a year ago describe what Teddy means to me, and I long to hear his voice again, as I move toward death nourished by a music that brings me to tears, and by music that rejuvenates my Ethiopianity and Africanity.

Teddy even goes further, as he manages to synthesize Tilahun’s classicality with the brilliant rebelliousness of Bob Marley, and in this lays the danger that Teddy’s music poses for the tyrannical regime that has silenced the voice with meaning and purpose in Kality prison. Teddy’s music is haunted by the presence of Bob Marley, the thinker/singer, and the singer /thinker. Teddy is not just another singer. He is the voice of the overburdened, the abused, the neglected Ethiopians by the millions, who are already dead because their condition had long been ignored. All his songs tell us that we must not forget to return home and fight, safeguarding the dignity and the existential right of all Ethiopians to live as human beings.

I live the legality of his situation to the Transcendent and the lawyers. For me what Ethiopia is missing is another Tilahun Gessese and another Ethiopian Bob Marley, fighting for the poor, and standing for justice.

Once again, the regime is using the media and blocking the world from, the right to know that Teddy Afro, the voice of youth, meaning, courage and love of country is confined to prison, and I call on Ethiopians all over the world to see to it that dissent should not be silenced, and certainly not the voice of the artist, the voice that teaches us through an imitable power of a transcendental gift that very few persons possess, and Teddy Afro is one of them.

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