Some things about Tedy Afro


Teddy Afro Rocks Out Millennium in Jimma




When it became obvious for Jimma, located 347km southwest of Addis Abeba, to host one of the biggest music concerts taking place in the country on September 12, 2007, in honour of the new Millennium, many residents of the town went cheering late into the night of New Year’s Eve.

Ethiopian celebrity singer, Tewodros Kassahun a.k.a Tedi Afro was in the company of other local singers such as Getachew Hailemariam, an Oromiffa singer and Tigist Woyiso, popularly known for her song Kochegn. Comedians Dereje Haile and Tilahun Elfineh as well as members of Circus Jimma entertained their audience in Jimma.

For people like Thomas Jenbere and his four companions who had to travel from Addis Abeba to attend this concert was altogether a special occasion. The occasion has more or less of similar specialty for Mahadi Ummar, an old man who resides in Jimma.


Thomas, 26, was born and brought up in Addis Abeba, Addis Ketema District. He makes a living selling consumer goods in Mesalemia. However, he scheduled his journey to the regional town as soon as the announcement of Tedi’s concert.    

Although, Thomas’ family did not relish is absence for the holiday, he and his four friends were determined not to miss the event.

“My friends and I are passionate fans of Tedi’s art of music; it takes devotion to make the journey when the opportunity to cheer on Tedi at the place of my residence did not happen,” Thomas told Fortune.


Though the plan was to deploy 60 buses that would be transporting enthusiastic partygoers to the concert, only five buses materialised. Tewodros Teshome, owner and general manager of Tedi Studio Plc, told Fortune that the occasion went beyond his expectation though he could not get the number of people he desired.

The success of the Jimma concert has been visibly observed by Fortune to be a source of positive excitement not only for the organiser but also the residents of Jimma, particularly for the elder Mahadi of the five pals who came from Addis Abeba.

“Paying 50 Br, I came here to look for my grandson who has gone missing since the early part of the day whom I came looking for in downtown Jimma and I happened to seize the opportunity of this concert,” Mahadi, who could not hide his impression of the concert, told Fortune.

For Mahadi, who has been living in Jimma for the past 40 years, the music concert he is so touched by was not seen before in that town.


It took place in the heart of the town where various sporting activities are normally held. The performers kept the audience cheering from 2:00pm to 10:00pm.

The programme commenced with circus performances, music and comical entertainment that continued until 6:00pm. For the next four hours until when the concert came to an end, Tedi entertained his audience with 23 songs almost non-stop with only four minutes’ break to the amusement of the spectators.

His effort through singing and entertaining the audience, to create the spirit of reconciliation among the families of Beshasha township, 80km away from Jimma whose beloved ones lost their lives in religiously triggered sectarian violence last year, commanded him the respect and admiration of many in the town.

The audience’s admiration toward Tedi’s aspiration for reconciliation and coexistence among the residents of Beshasha, won the heart and mind of the city administrators.

“Sadly, last year in Beshasha Town, a number of people were victimised by religious conflict initiated by some radical religious groups of individuals who took the wrong course in the name of faith,” Kefyalew Ayanna, deputy mayor of Jimma, told Fortune.

“Since the incident took place, the campaign to create the spirit of reconciliation among and between our people on our part has been underway. It is this belief that Tedi’s musical art works would bring people together that led us to decide for Tedi’s concert to take shape in Jimma,” the Deputy Mayor praised Tedi’s effort.

However, the 13-member cabinet had disagreements whether Tedi should be allowed to rock the city with his, what they consider are, sensational songs or not. Part of the cabinet was of the belief that the singer would wreck the celebration with his politicised songs while the others argued that his songs of religious tolerance would help people forget the scars of the recent past in their minds. However, the mayor had the final say in favour of the latter.


“Given the fact that Tedi is not without controversy, by allowing the concert to take place, the city cabinet has calculated some degree of political risk, in fact, somewhere else it would not have happened. Fortunately, we made the decision that now made us feel proud,” Kefyalew described the positive outcome of the event.

Of Tedi’s album released in 2005, ‘Yasteserial’, the particular hit ‘Shehmandefer’ played at the concert has brought the faiths of Muslims and Christians in Beshasha together. Tedi’s latest songs released before two weeks such as “Gize Lekulu” and “Abebayehoy” preached love and reconciliation among people.

Both the organiser of the concert and the city administrator told Fortune that they rated the concert a success.

The city officials disclosed that a team of 13 members of the committee took the oath of office at the City Hall in Jimma a month ago, would make good use of the latest development to rehabilitate the town afresh.

More than a century and half old town, Jimma was established in 1838 (EC) during the reign of King Aba Jufar Aba Megal (Aba Jafer I). Three major influences can be sited for the founding of the town. Jimma was born out of part of the effort to expand the Hermata open market that was visited by more than 30,000 traders every day. The other place in Jimma that was the central to its progress was the palace of King Jiran, which was the centre of political influence in the southwest of the country. The third village, Mendir that part of which forms present day Jimma, was a rest point on a trade route.


However, the present day geographic make-up of Jimma came into being after the Italian invasion of Ethiopia during which time the colonial force of Italy was expanding its territorial colonial grip in the Eastern African region and divided the region into six parts. The colonial force of Italy based its operation from such places like Gondar, Harrar, Asmara, Mogadishu, Addis Abeba and Jimma.


It was since that time when Jimma started to benefit from the services of electricity and telephone. During the Italian aggression, the city administration building, the general hospital, army camps, business premises and residential houses were built.

According to documented source available at the city administration, when Jimma was under the Italian colonial grip, the population of the town peaked at 75,000, out of which 5,000 were Italian nationals.

Presently, with 160,000 population size, Jimma Zone has been structured under 13 districts and 264 kebeles. Although, Jimma was once an industrial town, owing to the fact that it is a home of the coffee plant, it continued to be popular.

An average production of 6,800tn of coffee comes from Jimma Zone alone. Given its commercial strategic position, more than eight million people are connected through Jimma from the nearby towns. Almost all of the production of coffee from the southern region passes through Jimma on its way to the central market.

Even in the face of all these vital commercial activities going on that centred Jimma, the town has not progressed or became urbanised in a modern sense. Most of the road infrastructure in Jimma were last repaired or built some 15 years ago. This is not to mention the shortage of residential houses in the town as well as the commercial buildings in use for business activities that visibly lack periodic renovation over the years.

Ironically, many from big cities like Addis Abeba would visit Jimma and occasionally end up staying there. Getachew, Oromifa singer, found himself living in Jimma after having abandoned his birth place of Dembidollo some 17 years ago. 


According to Getachew’s description of Jimma in the days that he first visited as an amateur member of the orchestra under the national military service, he said the town was cleaner than what it is today.

“Back then, roads and buildings used to be renovated often,” Getachew recalled. “From the way things look right now, the good part of this town is slowly disappearing, as this is the time both for the people on the and government to give the attention this town deserves to recover its past glory,” Getachew expressed concern, adding that since construction of roads is vital the highways of Jimma-Addis Abeba must attract immediate attention.

Six years ago, two companies, J&P and Dragados from Spain and Greece respectively were contracted to construct the Jimma-Addis Abeba highway under the watch of the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA). However, these companies have only completed the portion of this highway stretching from Addis Abeba to Gibe River. Apart from minor road construction activities seen along the way here or there, the highway has not been completed.

“The unfinished part of this road project has made the journey from Addis Abeba to Jimma very tiresome and the condition of the highway poses a saftey risk,” Haji Shifa Ummar, a Jimma-based businessman, told Fortune.

“The construction of the Addis Abeba-Jimma highway started in 1999 and within the following three years the project should have been completed. However, due to the problem with its original design and the surface under which spring water was discovered, the construction was delayed,” Samson Wondimu, ERA’s public relations officer, told Fortune. “Nevertheless, the 600 million Br road project budget will be competed before the end of this year,” he added.    

According to Kefyalew, although concern with regard to the delay of the construction of this highway has been raised repeatedly to ERA, the Authority has nothing more to answer other than having said that the construction of Addis-Jimma road would resume soon, however, nothing has transpired to address the issue on the part of the Authority.


The town of Jimma during the 2007/08 fiscal year has a 21.8 million Br budget, of which only two million Birr is allotted to capital projects.

“This budget is far from being sufficient to address the piling problems with which the town is experiencing. However, every effort will be made to collect revenue efficiently,” Kefyalew assured his commitment.





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