Dutch media reports uproar over Teddy Afro, Bedele beer

(Daniel Berhane)

The social media controversy regarding artist Tedros Kassahun, better known as Teddy Afro, and his remarks about the last century Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II has been covered by Dutch media in the weekend.

It is to be recalled that the Amharic monthly Enqu magazine distributed to its email subscribers a soft copy of its last month issue where the artist was quoted as saying: “For me, Menelik’s unification campaign was a Holy War”. Though, the editors subsequently told to their email subscribers that it was a ‘technical’ error and distributed a different modified version. (See: On Teddy Afro and his “holy war” remark)

It was amidst this controversy that Bedele Beer, which is recently acquired by the Dutch company Heineken, announced its sponsorship of the artist’s music tour covering a couple of cities.

Here is the news by telegraph.nl, which has been cited by other Dutch news outlets.
(Google translation with some editings to make it comprehensible)

Heineken chokes pop singer
(Bart Mos en Richard van de Crommer)

Heineken has been sponsoring “Teddy Afro”, a popular but controversial Ethiopian singer, stir  up a hornet’s nest.
The support that the brewery recently announced for the tour of the African pop artist has unleashed a spontaneous beer boycott action among the Oromo, the largest population group in the country.

Just before Christmas, Heineken’s local brand Bedele announced that it will sponsor the national tour of pop star Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro) in 2014 during a live broadcast press conference.

However, Teddy Afro in many parts of Ethiopia very controversial, because he dedicated his latest CD to Emperor Menelik II, who massacred millions of Oromos in the early last century. Emperor Menelik for this reason is also called the “Ethiopian Hitler”.
Shortly after the announcement of Heineken was in Ethiopia started an action on social media, where 18,000 of the forty million Oromos were in favor of a boycott of Bedele beer within a day.

The boycott is extremely painful for Heineken. Ethiopia is one of its focus countries in Africa. Drinking beer in Ethiopia is rapidly gaining popularity. Beer consumption in the East African country has doubled in the past five years. An Oromo Action Group asked Heineken to stop the sponsorship.

A Heineken spokesman announced “regrettable that the sponsorship of the tour led to some controversy on social media. However, we currently see no reason to change our plans”.
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Daniel Berhane

Daniel Berhane