Inside the New York Cafe, one of the trendiest places in Addis, a tall and lean young man with the tiniest of fingers was sitting sipping orange juice with a straw. A woman in blue jeans and thong sandals was besides him. Minutes later, I watched as a person of the same age, well clad, walked through the cafe as if both of his knees hurt and joined the duo. Their warm exchange of greeting was quickly followed by a chat about Jose Mourinho and Chelsea. They then jumped to the city's hottest topic: Teddy Afro.
"I think he did it. Why should we doubt it? Don't we know his life style?" the orange sipping man said.
The woman had none of that. She interjected angrily. "What I know is what they are up to. He was framed. He denied the accusation in court and there is no way I would believe them than him. These bastards!" The grave expression showed her disgust towards the government.
The conversation heated up. The man who was arguing the story's truth was cornered by his friends and ended up warning against sentimentality. He took a deep breath. "We shouldn't confuse our political convictions with reality," he advised.
Wondering all over the city, this exchange was one I had seen in Taxis, cafes, offices and even sports bars. His love and reconciliation preaching songs had elevated Tewodros Kasahun to the status of a national hero unlike any musician before him. And he is a slick operator; acting and speaking in a way that piles up his good will. The EPRDF with their perchance for hating individuals with man-of-the-people image tried to silence and discredit the singer who is affectionately called "Teddy Afro". They tore his posters in the city. They unleashed a smear campaign on his life style. In what is now dubbed as the Sheraton Scandal, the wife of Ethiopian Ambassador to the US, Samuel Assefa, punched the hotel's ticket seller for refunding money to those who returned their New Year party tickets after Teddy cancelled his show. After the popular singer left to the US for a music tour, some former TPLF fighters accused him of defaming them and police issued an arrest warrant.
This blogger was among the many who thought Teddy made a stupid decision when he returned back home two months ago. It was clear that the EPRDF were just bidding their time to go at him...revenge, for EPRDF, is a dish sweet eaten hot or cold.
The hit-and-run story was as suspicious as it could get. Police report runs like this: Teddy hit an 18-year-old street boy near the Sheraton Addis after mid-night with his 2001 BMW M3 and run away. A taxi, which was working nearby, chased the car, flew past it and when it tried to block the road Teddy crashed it and escaped. Then he drove to the CMC area, hit a pole. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. Police came to his home and arrested him four hours after the incident was alleged to have happened.
For those who know cars and the hilly Addis Ababa, it is a surprise to learn that a Lada taxi can chase and outpace a BMW being driven by a drunk driver. That nothing serious happened to the crashed taxi and its driver is a point worth pondering over. Miracles do happen, huh? Journalists at Fortune and Reporter could not even identify the taxi driver. After three accidents, two of them major, one also wonders how Teddy survived without a scratch. There must be revolutionary ferries shielding him from danger.
Teddy, of course, denied the hit-and-run story to a court although one comical newspaper tried to make us believe otherwise. According to his friends, the singer swore to God that he did not commit the alleged crime.
Whether he was framed or not, the moral of the story is clear. Except people like Louis Michel who think there is a democratic process to support in the country, not even children take the Ethiopian justice system seriously.
-The BBC got Justice Teshale Aberra's story slightly wrong. Justice Teshale was the President of Oromiya Supreme Court.
-There is a new blogger in town - another ferenj adds a voice. See www.lewit.blogspot.com
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