Teddy Afro’s “Tikur Sew” – Ethnic Politics and Historical Narrative
Arts and Culture / Contested History and Memory / Ethnicity / Horn of Africa / Music and Pop Culture / Nationalism

Teddy Afro’s “Tikur Sew” – Ethnic Politics and Historical Narrative

Ethiopian popular singer Teddy Afro released his fourth and most recent studio album Tikur Sew (Black Man) in 2012. The title track was a tribute to the late nineteenth-century Emperor Menilik II and the victory of a united Ethiopian front against an aggressive Italian invasion at the world-famous Battle of Adwa in 1896. This was an event of global historical significance, which continues to feature prominently in the historical memory of many Ethiopians and Africans throughout the world. However, my sanguine interpretation of the song as an effort to remind Ethiopia of the importance of unity was not how it was received in Ethiopia. In many ways, the controversy over Tikur Sew has more to do with contemporary ethnic politics—and the role that ethnicity plays in present-day Ethiopian society—than it does with the actual content of Teddy Afro’s song or the historical event it commemorates. Continue reading

Gender / Health and Disease / Horn of Africa

Women’s Economic Empowerment and Reproductive Freedom in Africa

Many international women’s organizations continue to pour an enormous amount of energy and resources into defending abortion rights and promoting contraception. Unfortunately, many forge alliances with population control advocates who prioritize limiting births over women’s general health, while callously dismissing resistance to “family planning” as evidence of Africa’s cultural backwardness. However, the problem of unsafe abortions can only be adequately addressed by a holistic approach to sexual and reproductive health that goes beyond discretely addressing women’s rights to a safe abortion and contraception to include women’s rights to economic resources. Continue reading