By Endalk, Global Voices
Ethiopian pop singer Tewodros Kassahun, better known as Teddy Afro, was all set to be the subject of a highly-promoted interview with Ethiopian state broadcaster EBC, before authorities suddenly pulled the plug.
Teddy Afro’s interview was scheduled to broadcast on Sunday, May 14, with the artist expected to discuss the success of his latest album,’Ethiopia’, which is currently sitting at the top of Billboard’s “World Music Chart”. But Getu Temesegen, a veteran government journalist confirmed on his Facebook page on May 12 that the interview would not be aired.
Ethiopian authorities are regular culprits of political censorship, targeting journalists and artists alike. Teddy’s songs are often critical of the Ethiopian state.
Before Temeegesen’s Facebook post, the state broadcaster had quietly removed a short video containing a promotional excerpt from the interview with Teddy Afro from its Facebook page.
Just hours later, Dawit Kebede, another pro-government journalist wrote on Twitter that the interview is back on, but the broadcaster has refused to confirm or deny that statement.
‘Ethiopia’ stormed to number one on Billboard’s World Music albums chart following record-breaking sales both internationally and domestically. Since Teddy released the title song on his YouTube Channel on April 16, the song has racked up over three million views.
‘Ethiopia’ is Teddy’s fifth album. All his previous albums were bestsellers in Ethiopia but his Billboard achievement is unprecedented for any artist from the country.
Following the success of his album, Teddy Afro gave interviews to different international media including Associated Press (the story was published in several major newspapers) and Voice Of America’s Amharic service. He is also scheduled to appear on BBC Africa.
It was perhaps this surge in international interest that put Ethiopian state television under pressure to interview Teddy, despite state-affiliated media broadly ignoring his achievement up until that point.
However, as fans waited in curiosity for the broadcast, the censorship machine did what it does best, and spoiled the party.