28 September 2015

Ethiopia: Teddy Afro's Concert for Mesqel Cancelled

It seems that the star's loyal fans will be there whenever he decides to appear

Tewodros Kassahun's (a.k.a. Teddy Afro) fans are in for yet another disappointment with the cancellation of a postponed concert for Mesqel, the Ethiopian Christian holiday of "the Finding of the True Cross".

Fans had hoped that Ethiopia's sensational but controversial singer and song writer would perform inside Laphto Mall, after his earlier plan for a concert during the eve of Ethiopia's New Year was thwarted due to lack of a permit from the city administration.

"Though the organisers had submitted a written notice for the aborted New Year's Eve concert, the City was unable to accommodate their request on that specific date due to overlapping programmes that had overstretched our capacity," Feleke Negash, head of Cabinet Affairs Directorate of the Addis Abeba City Administration, told Fortune last week. "As such we communicated this to them that it would be better to hold the event at some other time."

Organisers had agreed to postpone the concert to Mesqel, while managers from both Ballers Lounge and AZ Entertainment had confirmed this to Fortune two weeks ago. The announcement of the postponement of the ill-fated concert to Mesqel put fans in a frenzy of inflated expectations surrounding the situation.

For the New Year's Eve concert, an estimated 6,000 fans were expected to flock to Laphto Mall to be entertained by Teddy Afro's captivating music, with its uniquely popular melodies and often nostalgic lyrics, which are at times highly divisive and politically charged.

For Yehualashet Chane, a 30-plus, fan of Teddy Afro, the cancellation of the concert was a huge disappointment.

The fans would have paid 700 Br for tickets, while VIP seats would cost 1,200 Br. Judging by some of the comments made by the fans, price was not an issue. Rather, some expressed the view that the venue might be too small to accommodate the large number of fans, given the following the singer enjoys. As Abrham Wondimu complained on social media, that venue is a "small place" to host Teddy's fans.

Another fan, Ephrem Abebe, posted on Teddy Afro's Facebook page expressing his excitement about the concert.

"I will attend the concert of my #1 favorite musician for the first time," he said.

The anticipation of the fans was widespread, and Kirubel Kinfe in excitement, posted "can't wait!" on the singer's official Facebook page.

As the date of the concert approached though, Teddy Afro apologised for the inconvenience due to cancellation. His fans took to social media to express their anger directed at city authorities and show support for their musical idol.

"It's okay," a fan named Hailu Belay posted on Facebook. "The most important thing is that you [Teddy Afro] are well."

Another fan, Surafel Teklu, turned to one of the singer's popular songs for inspiration, "It's going to be easy - Kelal Yihonal."

Following the cancellation of the New Year's Eve concert, fans found comfort in the pledge made by the singer that, "God willing, the concert will take place on Mesqel."

However, Teddy Afro's trademark "Love Shall Triumph - Fiqir Yashenifal" slogan will not be echoing across Laphto Mall this Sunday. A representative of the organisers visited the city administration last week twice, but without a letter of request, said officials in the city administration.

"We asked him to produce such letter and he has not returned," Feleke told Fortune.

The City enforces a directive for those interested in organising public gatherings and events, balancing their right to hold the event, while safeguarding security in case any brawls arise, according to Feleke.

Organisers were not responsive last week, despite repeated efforts to reach them for comment. Contrary to the level of curiosity by some of the singer's fans about whether or not a concert would take place during Mesqel, neither Teddy Afro's website, nor his social media platforms has made an announcement.

"The cancellations reflect badly on the organisers," Alazar Ahmed, a marketing and promotion expert, told Fortune.

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