Ethiopia: No release for singer Teddy Afro



No release for singer Teddy Afro

Singer Teddy Afro is still imprisoned after he appeared in court again on 4 July 2008. “This is a political trial, where the authorities are framing a popular singer,” writes Tsigue Shiferaw

By Tsigue Shiferaw – Freemuse’s reporter in Addis Ababa

On Friday 4 July 2008, the Ethiopian singer Teddy Afro was taken to court to what many thought would be his last hearing. A couple of days before, I met by chance his manager Addisu Gessesse, who said he hoped that Teddy would be released.

There were reasons to believe that this would happen, because evidence showed during a previous hearing that the victim of the hit and run was pronounced dead, by the morgue one day before Teddy’s own car accident. Therefore there were no reasons to keep him in prison anymore. In theory, that is.

Beside logic
The hearing on 4 July proved to be beside logic. Indeed the prosecution said that it had new forensic evidence linking the victim of the car accident with Teddy. The proof was a death certificate provided by the morgue with a change of date coinciding with the Teddy’s own car accident.

The defence said that the procedure was unfair since they were not shown the evidence prior to the court hearing that day, and that the prosecutor is bringing falsified evidence to court.

Teddy himself arrived to the court looking fairly happy, as if expecting his own release. But as he heard the prosecution coming with new evidence, he understood that nothing would happen, and put his sunglasses on at the end. “I did not kill any one and I have been jailed in lice infested jail for the last three months,” he was quoted as saying.

Only a local newspaper published the day before with Teddy Afro picture at the front said openly that there few chances for him to be acquitted and freed. Reporter Tedla Asfaw believes that judge Lieul is “preparing the ground to send Teddy for long term jail at the end of this month.”

Framing a popular singer
The case is followed closely by the media in Ethiopia, and it is now showing, despite several denials by the defence, that this is political trial, where the authorities are framing a popular singer. The heavy police presence around the Lideta tribunal is an indication that the authorities would like to intimidate people in and out of the court. They even try to prevent people to get into the court house. A police officer lied openly to me saying that journalists were not allowed, or needed a badge.

Waiting for their turn
In 2005 Teddy Afro with released his album ‘Yesterial’ during the bloody elections. The title song was banned from the airwaves, because it tackled issues on democracy amongst other things. Fearing for his life then, he even left for the US, and friends and family told him to avoid coming back.

However he followed his heart, came back and released a new album last year just before the Ethiopian millennium. It was in 2007 that he was taken to prison then released on bail, for this hit and run. Little did he know that things would get much worse. But at the same time, he should have known that there was hardly any chance that the authorities wouldn’t take revenge after being humiliated; they were just waiting for their turn.

Teddy Afro



Listen to Teddy Afro’s controversial hit song ‘Yasteseryal’ in this radio report by Banning Eyre, NPR Music:

‘Teddy Afro, the New Reggae God of Ethiopia’

Teddy Afro’s MySpace profile:


Google News – continously updated:

Search: ‘Teddy Afro’  – 12 July 2008:

‘Ethiopia: Teddy Afro abandoned by Ethiopians!!’

Ethiopian Review  – 5 July 2008:

‘Federal Police savagely attacked a female reporter’

Committee to Protect Journalists – 5 May 2008:

‘Ethiopian police detain editor, impound magazine over pop icon story’

International Freedom of Expression Exchange, IFEX – 5 May 2008:

‘Magazine issue seized, its editor and others imprisoned’

Addis Journal – 2 May 2008:

‘Teddy Afro fans to face charges’

African Path – 24 April 2008:

‘Ethiopia: Why Teddy Afro and why now?’

Addis Journal – 23 April 2008:

‘Court adjourns Teddy’s hearing’ – 20 April 2008:

‘Ethiopia – Teddy Afro – An Ethiopian Hero & a Prisoner of Conscience’

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