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Groovin’ and Jammin’ With Teddy “Ethiopiawinet” Kassahun in L.A.

by Prof. Alemayehu G Mariam

Teddy and Al 6

Who’s is the hardest working man in show business?

Back in my day, it was James Brown. Down in Augusta, GA where I went to college. “In my hometown where I used to stay, The name of the place is Augusta, GA.“ sang it J.B.

We all did the  Boogaloo with J.B.

Who is the hardest working man in show business today?

I say, it’s none other than Teddy “Afro” Kassahun.

Back in my day, “We (be) jammin’ / I hope you like jammin’ too…” That is to the freedom songs of Bob Marley.

Or when we were chillin’, we be grooving to King Floyd, “Groove me baby…”

Today, I am just groovin’ and jammin’ to Teddy’s “Ethiopia”. “Groove me, Ethiopia…”

Teddy Afro to me is Teddy Ethiopiawinet. I wrote all about it in May 2017.

Teddy lives by a single maxim: Ethiopiawinet.

For him, Ethiopiawinet means, “Love conquers all. One Ethiopia. God makes all things possible.”

For me, Ethiopiawinet means love of the humanity of the Ethiopian Beloved Community.

Ethiopiawinet is the Ethiopian version of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Beloved Community”.

Dr. King imagined a Beloved Community where racism, discrimination, inequality will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.

Ethiopiawinet to me and Teddy means a Beloved Ethiopian Community where ethnic division, sectarianism, linguistic differences, class inequality and gender subordination is replaced by an all  inclusive spirit of Ethiopian sisterhood and brotherhood.

When Teddy says “Love conquers all. One Ethiopia. God makes all things possible.”, he is simply practicing Dr. King’s philosophy of “Agape”. (Listen to Dr. King’s definition of Agape HERE.)

Back in my day, we sang it: “One Love! One Heart!/ Let’s get together and feel all right. Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right/ Let’s get together and feel all right.” That was what Bob Marley taught us.

Today, Teddy is teaching us to sing, “One Love! One Heart! One Ethiopia/ Let’s get together and feel all right. Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right/ Let’s get together and feel all right.”

Oh, yeah! I am feelin’ alright. We are on the right track. The love track, that is.

Shakespeare in the opening lines of “Twelfth Night” wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on; /Give me excess of it…”

That was what Teddy gave us in L.A. last Saturday. Excess of music and love.

It was a full house at Club Soho in downtown L.A. Young Ethiopians were raising the roof.

Back in my day, we’re like, “Throw our hands in the air. And wave ’em like we just don’t care.”

The young Ethiopians were throwing their hand up in the air jamming to Teddy’s music like they just don’t care. They were diggin’ Teddy’s songs.

They sang it with Teddy. “Ethiopia! Hagere! Anch aydelesh kibre”.

That is our new anthem, our national song. Our spiritual mantra. “Ethiopia! Hagere! Banch aydel wey kibre”. (Ethiopia, my homeland. You are my honor.)

I joined in at the top of my lungs. “Ethiopia! Hagere! Banch aydel wey kibre”.

I can’t carry a tune. It is a good thing nobody could hear me singin’ because the club would have been empty in a New York minute.

Teddy belted out one hit after another. The young crowd just loved it. They were hopping and jumping. Some were doing small group traditional eskista dance. Others were just moving and groovin’.

I was just diggin’ Teddy’s music, like we used to say back in my day.

Everybody knows I am Teddy’s No. 1 fan. For years, I have challenged anyone who says otherwise to arm wrestle me. No takers yet. That means I am still Teddy’s No. 1 fan.

The first time I saw Teddy perform was in 2011 in L.A. during his “Love Conquers All” concert tour at the Proud Bird. That show was something else. This is how I described my feelings at the time: “It is really great to be young; but for those who are not, the next best thing is to be at a Teddy Afro concert and jam late into the night with a ballroom full of irrepressible and euphoric young Ethiopian Angelinos.” I still feel the same way.

I am a couple years older, in a manner of speaking, since then but time has done nothing to Teddy except make him better, stronger, and a true master craft.

Back in 2011, I wrote Teddy is hopelessly in love with Ethiopia. In 2018, his situation has worsened. He is completely under Her spell and has made sure everyone, including myself, falls under Her spell too. Teddy cast the Ethiopiawinet spell on all of us.

It’s like Diana Ross sang it, “If there’s a cure for this [Ethiopiawinet]/ I don’t want it/ I don’t want it/ If there’s a remedy/ I’ll run from it/ From it / I’ve got the sweetest hangover/I don’t wanna get over…/

Yeah, I don’t want a cure for this Ethiopiawinet love hangover!

Teddy paid a big price for his love of Ethiopia. He “lov’d Ethiopia not wisely but too well”, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare.

In May 2017, Teddy transformed the musical landscape with his “Ethiopia” album.

It is a mesmerizing piece of work. The album is a work of genius. The lyrics are spiritually inspirational. The melody fills the soul.

Teddy’s poetic eloquence, polished diction, passionate patriotism and love oozing from every track is simply transcendental.

Teddy laughs when I tell him I listen to his music every day. At home. In my car. On my cell phone.  After all, does it not behoove his No. 1 fan to do so?

But I must speak the truth.

As hard as I looked in the crowd at the Soho, I did not see a single Hippo (older generation) in the sea of Ethiopian Cheetahs (younger generation).

That was a bummer, as we used to say back in my day.

What a pity. What a shame there was no Ethiopian in the crowd over the age of 35. (Oh, yes. I looked for them everywhere.)

I am not saying  I felt uncomfortable among reveling Cheetahs. I have long declared myself a “Chee-Hippo”.

wrote about it back in 2014. “A Chee-Hippo is a Hippo (member of the older generation) who thinks, behaves and acts like a Cheetah.  A Chee-Hippo is also a Cheetah who understands the limitations of Hippos yet is willing to work with them in common cause for a common purpose.” That be me!

But I just don’t get it. I see members of my Hippo generation listening to Teddy’s music in their homes, care, on their cell phones and other media. But they don’t show up to show some love to my brother Teddy? What up with that?!

As far as I am concerned, Teddy’s music speaks to young and old, boys and girls, Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora. His uplifting music knows no ethnicity, nationality, religion, language or region.

For crying out loud, Teddy was #1 on the World Billboard Chart in May 2017. Everybody loves Teddy.

But why are we older generation Ethiopians not showing up at his concerts and showing him love?

Are we having a generation gap problem?

So, I checked around with some of my Hippo folks.

They say, “It’s for young people. We don’t have the energy to stand on the floor and raise the roof. They don’t have seats and tables. He needs to have a concert for the older generation.”

I found out that it was not a generation gap issue at all. It was a simple issue of logistics. Hippos like me like to sit down and enjoy the music. Do a little eskista dance and just hang loose. Many of us just can’t throw our hands in the air like we just don’t care. Father Time has pulled his timeless trick on our bodies.

Maybe we can get Teddy to do an event for the older generation. We know how to jam and groove too! Old school, that is.

If we can’t go to Teddy, then Teddy needs to come to us. That does not mean we can’t attend Teddy concerts. He is having a tour and this weekend will have a concert in the Washington, D.C. area.

Let’s show up, and show some some love to Teddy and sing with him, “Ethiopia Hagere, Banch aiden wey kibre”.

When it comes to age, I am with “Ol Blue Eyes”, chairman of the board Frank Sinatra: “It can happen to you if you’re young at heart/ For it’s hard, you will find/ To be narrow of mind if you’re young at heart”.

If you are young at heart, it is hard not to open our heart and let in the sunshine of “One love. One Ethiopia.” If we broaden our minds, we can find space for everyone in the Ethiopiawinet tent.

I want to publicly thank Teddy for all he has done to spread his message of love, understanding, tolerance, civility and unity in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora. He kept the flame of Ethiopiawinet alive when the hard winds of tyranny were blowing across the land. That little flame of Ethiopiawinet Teddy kept in his heart is today warming the hearts of millions at home and abroad.

For years, I have been preaching Ethiopia’s resurrection (tinasae) will be handed down from above to the younger generation.

In my January 17, 2017 commentary, “Dare to Dream With Me About the New Ethiopia in 2017”, I challenged all Ethiopians to rise up, lock arms and march together as ONE people to meet their destiny.

In January 2017, my dream was to see ONE Ethiopia at Peace and a nation united by its history and the suffering of its people.

In January 2017, my dream was to see brotherhood and sisterhood in Ethiopia and Ethiopians finding their unity in their humanity instead of their ethnicity.

In January 2017, I dreamt of the day when Truth shall rise from the ashes of lies and lead all Ethiopians on the path of reconciliation in Ethiopia.

That dream is becoming a reality today before my eyes. It is all because of young people like Teddy who preached and practiced Ethiopiawinet.

Thanks Teddy for all the uplifting songs when we were in the pits.

Thanks for preserving our long history in the words of your lyrics.

Thanks for restoring our pride in our Ethiopiawinet!

“…Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions…”

Jah Yasteseryal!

Peace out!

Ethiopiawinet today

Ethiopiawinet tomorrow

Ethiopiawinet forever!


  1. For us Eritreans, the idea of “Ethiopiawinet” was that the policy of expansionism and ethnic chauvinism in the name of patriotism. For historical record land occupation in name of pseudo-nationalism and pseudo-territorial integrity has led to the 30 years of the Eritrean armed struggle against Ethiopian rulers NOT against the Ethiopian people. The Eritrean people has paid in blood, sweat and tears, life and limbs to fight against the idea of expansionism and ethnic chauvinism to reach where we are a free Eritrea and its people. Those who don’t learn from past mistakes tend to repeat it.

    It is time now for the two peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia to live in peace and social harmony as good neighbors with stable regional political systems, democracy and justice and rule of law. Long live the current Ethio-Eritrean solidarity and strategic military alliance against the wound beast Woyane to dismantle and defeat its evil presence in the Horn of Africa.

  2. Really Abraham,… “The Eritrean people has paid in blood, sweat and tears, life and limbs to fight… to reach where we are a free Eritrea and its people.”

    Did you say “A free Eritrea and its people”?.
    First of all, this was never about Eritrea, and strangely you seem to appreciate the solidarity between our people working for peace and social harmony, but your fear overshadowed your hope. If we learn from past mistakes, we have to work together to bring about democracy and good governance.

    Secondly,it really doesn’t matter who is in the palace as long as we have a system of governance that respect the Rule of Law and guarantees the natural right and equality of its citizen. A Mussolini is a Mussolini whether he is an Eritrean or Italian. So if are genuine about your concern for your people, you should be more concerned about what is going on right now in your “free Eritrea”.
    Being so insensitive to current state of things while you feel so strongly about a past that you termed “expansionism & ethnic chauvinism” will only confirm you are a hippo not a cheetah. “A free Eritrea”??. Yes, it is a free Eritrea for Esayas and his cronies. Just because you are now separated it doesn’t mean you are free my hippo. I don’t speak for all the Eritrean people, but common sense would tell you, no way “The Eritrean people has paid in blood, sweat and tears, life and limbs…” for THIS ERITREA of Esayas Afeworki. I would have appreciated it if you were better of today, than 27 years ago unless you are the beneficiary of the current regime in Eritrea.

    BTW, Long Live Ethiopiawinet, and if you like you can also say Long Live Eritrawinet. There is no contradiction, and you should not be picking-up fight when it is uncalled for Abraham. Not necessary to be “a rebel without cause’ unless yous still don’t want to retire.

  3. Dear Abraham
    We Ethiopians are not interested in Eretria. I have a number of Eritrean friends moron and who think little like you. I have been surprised, out of stupid motive and jealous, they are even more concerned about the situations in Ethiopia and find many of them happy, when they get news of some unrest in Ethiopia and get sad when they hear a positive progress in our beloved country. I was surprised that they are the ones who first tell me bad news if ever come across. It shows, these idiot Isias ‘Buchelas’ are our chronic enemies. I 100% agree with A. shimelis, my country men and brother that mind your own business. Forget about Ethiopia. If there is any ideas to build harmony and social cohesion, I am confident that Ethiopians from all sides are always open. You stupid chronic cancers of Isias Afwerki ‘Buchelas’ mind your business. Ethiopians are more united today than ever and will make stonger and great nation as often.

  4. “In January 2017, my dream was to see brotherhood and sisterhood in Ethiopia and Ethiopians finding their unity in their humanity instead of their ethnicity.”

    God created languages, people of colour white, black, Asians, etc.
    Equality and respect for ethnicity is what creates unity. Why you live in a free world and you are bothered by potential democratic freedom of the people in a country you escaped from.
    You mean Lencho Letta is wrong because he believes in truly democratic (not the existing EPRDF version) ethnic federalism.

    Grossly shameful that a significant majority of diaspora Ethiopian political groups think backward and write and preach violence while they live in the West.

    God Bless Ethiopia.

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