Critics in Ethiopia accused the government of plotting to divide Oromo protestors against other Ethiopians by promoting the controversial Teddy Afro concert. “”It is not a coincidence that the regime is letting Teddy loose to brainwash the youth during this vital period of Oromo popular uprising,” said a Medrek opposition politician based in Addis Ababa, on condition of anonymity.
Medrek is the largest opposition party in Ethiopia, mostly dominated by the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). The Medrek politician said the EPRDF government is using divisive tactics to stifle the widespread Oromo protests. The recent Teddy Afro concerts were held in Addis Ababa city. Many urban Ethiopians do not support the ethnocentric ideology of Oromo protestors because most city dwellers are born from mixed multiethnic ancestry.
For several years, the Ethiopian government rejected and cancelled Teddy Afro’s concerts many times due to the singer’s lyrics praising past leaders and emperors. Teddy Afro (real name Tewodros Kasahune), often glorifies Emperor Haileselassie, and his recent popular song “Tikur sew” glorifies the powerful Emperor Menelik who created the modern multiethnic nation. In a surprising move, however, Teddy Afro has recently received the green light to perform at various venues.
The Ethiopian population is split in half on ethnic politics and history. Somalis & Oromos, who are over 35% of the country, view Emperor Menelik negatively; but Amharas & Gurages (over 25%) and the urban/mixed Ethiopians (10-15%) view Menelik positively as a national hero.
Analysts believe this major division of public opinion over historical leaders is exploited by the current government, to divide and rule the nation.
Since being released from prison, Teddy Afro has been harassed and attacked by both EPRDF government and Oromo politicians because of his songs. Teddy Afro previously defended himself by saying that his lyrics honor not only Emperor Menilik but also Oromo generals and Tigray warriors who defended and built modern Ethiopia.