Let’s Just Clone Teddy!!
(Emebet Sabela age 27)
When you’re standing in front of a life dedicated to truth and higher purpose, you will know it. There’s no mistaking the voice of truth or the life standing for it. In a place of commonness, it stands out so clear and shining as though that life is the only one with color and the others mere reflections.
On Saturday, I had the privilege of standing in front of one such life. And the electric energy and glow of that experience still lives with me. In a package of $50 were included songs that had rocked the music industry of Ethiopia and which have, forever, changed its course. But if anyone in that huge DC Armory stadium thought that was the only thing included in the whole 50 bucks they were not paying attention. Teddy Afro didn’t just sing on Saturday, running from left to right on that big stage like a harmonious runner would, he lived out his call to a higher purpose; to the hundreds of people in that room, he preached the gospel of faith, hope, and love. He didn’t only sing.
What more can a singer, jailed for his understanding, judged for his opinion, envied for his charisma do for the cause he unabashedly believes in and the country whose favors he hasn’t forgotten? What more can one do but live out their responsibility through the gift they’ve been given the best way they know how?
I have always attributed our nature as a cause for the lack of leaders in Ethiopia. As Habesha’s we are people who are difficult to lead; so full of pride even when we’re losing, always regarding one race superior over another, people in whose dictionary the word compromise doesn’t even exist; we’re people with impermeable hearts and will. To say ‘to be a leader for such a people, is difficult’ is a huge understatement.
But for the young singer crazed about the love for his nation, this has proved to be easy. For some people in that room lit by the fire coming from Teddy’s music, he stands the only sensible leader into the ‘promised’ land. He is yet another example that one doesn’t necessarily have to hold an office to be a leader.
What did Mahatma Gandhi of India have when he first started his movement? He was a common person with no office to summon his people by. Mandela was not elected president, Jesus Christ was born in a stable and befriended the non-elites, the Prophet Mohammed only had his message when he started out … a leader is who ever can direct people into a bright future. Whoever can sow the seeds of hope for the desperate, instill the message of faith when others can’t see what good is yet to come, preach and live the life of love – that’s a leader. Leaders don’t have guns and Klashenkofs – they don’t need one when they have truth by their side.
With his urge to look to East, to the land promised us if we can only love, Teddy has whispered hope into our hearts. To the young generation who seems to turn a deaf ear to the cause of Ethiopia until only when Teddy speaks, he has painted the vision of a greater, a better people and nation. And to the divided among us, he has advocated the message of oneness.
In a culture that has almost become oblivious to us, he has paid due respect for the heroes and great personalities that came before him; names like King Haileselassie, Bob Marley, Haile Gebresellassie, Nelson Mandela were all honored with Teddy’s songs. Teddy celebrated the life of the great Tilahun Gessesse, whom he dubbed his professional father saying ‘‘When a hero dies, there’s no need for tears but for a celebration of praise”.
I am not a celebrity – fanatic; but I can tell when a leader is born. I can sense the presence of a hero as I’m sure most people standing in front of one on Saturday could.
But all said and done, and in all honesty, it’s difficult for me to see Teddy’s Ethiopia for I have long given up on it; failing to see that vision, and being unable to contribute to it, I left vowing to never look back. What’s even scarier is that Teddy’s Ethiopia comes with a price tag – Love!
For most of us immersed in the habit of considering love as a feeling, the idea of sacrificing our needs for some other might prove to be a mountain too high to climb. We have been so used to receiving that the idea of giving might not seem such a pleasant change even though we need to find the way that leads to love.
But one thing that has changed in me after the concert is the fact that I’m willing to be led by the likes of Teddy into the Ethiopia I am struggling to see – than by anyone holding an office today! I am ready to consider the likes of Teddy as my leaders and might one day look back.
Standing there in the glow of his music, I heard myself say, if each of us could carry out our responsibilities, and in the stages of our lives, run as Teddy does with faith, hope, and love, and live out our higher purposes, maybe we can! And just maybe, we might live to witness the words “Yes we can!” echoing from North to South, and East to West of a nation we have once given up on.
I am proud to have come from the land Teddy Afro did; and as a person who has given up on that land, this happens to me very rarely.
But let’s not despair - a last hope remains; if we can’t find a way to love one another soon enough, let’s just clone Teddy!!