Ethiopia/Sweden: concert cancelled due to death threat

5 December 2005

Death threats against the Ethiopian pop star and reggae artist Tewodros Kassahun, also known as “Teddy Afro”, caused the Swedish festival Selam to cancel his concert in Stockholm, reports the Swedish music magazine Lira.

On the internet, however, another version of this news story was published. According to, Teddy Afro cancelled all his concerts in the Scandinavian countries saying “he can not sing while innocent civilians are being killed in his country,” and that he for this reason had reimbursed all the expenses to the promoters and organisers.

Teddy Afro is known as the musician who brought Amharic music to the new generation in Ethiopia (which would otherwise rather listen to American rap and Jennifer Lopez). He sings of peace, co-existence, love and non-violence but when he performed in the Swedish town Goteborg in beginning of November 2005, his concert caused an angry demonstration against him, and in the following days, the organisers who had arranged a concert in the capital, Stockholm, were forced to cancel it because they received a threat that Teddy Afro would be killed if he were to enter the stage of that concert hall.

At the time of the incident, Ethiopia was disturbed by demonstrations and violence in several cities in Ethiopia, leaving 40 people killed by police bullets, and 200 people wounded. One of Teddy Afro’s songs had been used by the opposition party in its propaganda, and this was the reason for the death threats against him.

Teddy Afro is called “a modern day Bob Marley”. He is often referred to as the most famous and popular recording artist in Ethiopia today. Because of his lyrics which are perceived as “anti-government”, attempting to highlight the injustices perpetrated by his own government, Teddy Afro’s music has been banned from Ethiopian airwaves.

For instance, his recent album, ‘Yasteseryal’ (which translates to “it heals” in reference to the divine), is banned on FM Addis, and a music video of Teddy Afro is banned on Woyane Media. Nevertheless, local bars and restaurants keep playing his music.




Lira – no 5 – November 2005:

Addis Tribune – 27 May 2005: 
‘Teddy Afro: from Abugida to Yasstesseriyal’
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