Thursday, September 15, 2005

newyear resolution #1 - no more white wine with coke

First, melkam B-lated addis amet lehulachihu

The picture is of a fire work display sponsored by Sheraton Addis in celebration of the newyear. Such displays accompany the feasts Sheraton Addis throws every Ethiopian and ferengi newyear. For those who can afford to fork a thousand birr, the feast includes a meal, open bar and all night dancing with a live band, which usually includes local artists and a well known western sensation. So far, saun paul, joe, shaggy and cool and the gang (I know! they are still a gang but I don’t know about the ‘cool’ part) have taken the Sheraton stage at one time or the other.

What makes this year’s newyear bash different is the controversy behind it. To begin with, Sheraton Addis is owned by Sheki Muhamed Alamoudi, a Saudi /Ethiopian billionaire and avid supporter of the EPRDF. I would like to make my self clear here, in a democratic world everyone has a right to support whom ever they want, then again it’s becoming clear as day and night that the last thing our nation is democratic. The question becomes, why would a person in Al-amoudi’s stature support a regime? I can’t say it hasn’t cost him either, the once “respected” billionaire is now just another ‘aDir bAi’ in the public mind not to mention products associated with his companies including Pepsi Cola are boycotted by most. I happen to witness a bar brawl between a waiter and an angry patron who ordered a soft drink and got a Pepsi.

The other controversy maker is the musical line up. of course, what would a controversial newyear year bash be without teddyafro, the musical highlight of 1997 and already on EPRDF’s ‘to ruin’ list. For those in power, some of tedy’s songs are known to cause nightmares involving forgiveness and unity in Ethiopia. Others on the list include, Ali Bira, who until now is known to be not so fond of the EPRDF hence lives in the US. Hamelmal Abate, also lives in the US and word has it she is a common crowd pleaser at OLF, anti-EPRDF gurrila group, fundraising concerts. Final to spice up the deal, Wycliffe came solo to represent MTV.

Teddy was the biggest lure in the box; because of him tickets were selling like it’s the last concert on the planet. Unfortunately, that didn’t last for long. a day before the concert the rumor in town was that teddy won’t be performing on new year eve. the rumor became headline the next day. Angry ticket holders stormed Sheraton Addis demanding a refund and an explanation. Nothing official came from the Sheraton besides what’s already known, teddy’s absence, but word has it that tedy was ordered not to play some of the material from his new album, especially Ja Yasteseryal for it might offend some of the crowd (I guess we know which ones) so he him self withdrew refusing to work under restrictions. Bravo teddy. I wish the rest had done the same, he’s a fellow artist after all.

This is not the first time our leaders put the artistic mind in shackles, we owe the demise of the once thriving Ethiopian music scene to the Mengistu regime. at least he was an all out dictator.

On related news, a play written by Getnet Enyew called ‘wey addis ababa’ has also been banned from the national theater.

As for my new year eve, had a jolly good night playing teddy and all the good stuff on a concrete slab of an unfinished building over looking the whole addis.

yeh.Ever had white wine with coke..?


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