Over the past months, we have been under intense pressures with flooding requests to reveal our positions regarding the relationship that exist between Coca Cola and the widely rumoured involvement of Artist Tewodros Kassahun or “Teddy Afro,” on the Ethiopian Version of the World Cup Anthem. While it came as a big surprise for us to learn how Teddy Afro’s association with Coke could leak out and became almost a public knowledge considering the fact that we have made and upheld a firm contractual commitment to maintain strict confidentiality, we have now come to understand that the disclosure of Teddy’s association with Coke by producers a local FM media entertainment program was ironically, not only confirmed but even the Coke’s TV production was praised by Mr. Misikir Mulugeta, Coca Cola Brand Manager for Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Undoubtedly, on behalf of Coca Cola, the local Brand Manager initiated to bring Teddy Afro with Coke TV Production to take part in the Ethiopian Version of World Cup Anthem. We welcomed the request in absolute good faith since the project brings our lovely motherland to the spot light of world cup spectators around the globe on its positive side and make Ethiopians presence in this major global sporting event, highly anticipated by large number of the world population, visibly felt as part of our contribution to image building efforts to our country and people. In addition to this, we were also mindful that upon its release, the Ethiopian version of the World Cup Anthem will heighten and enhance worldwide recognition and reputation of Teddy Afro’s artistic image and personality.
In response to our unwavering allegiance to our esteemed motherland and fans among humanities at home and abroad, our involvement was appropriate and justified. On his part, Teddy Afro invested his time, energy, and artistic wisdom to his level best in his bid to achieve the best possible TV production on the Ethiopian Version of the World Cup Anthem. He was perfectly aware that his participation in the Coke Studio project had among others, a daunting mission of bringing the image of Ethiopia in to global attention through world class brand and not prompted by a negligible and token advantage acquired from commercial ad to promote certain products.
It was with great honour, pride and satisfaction that we received a highly invigorating and enthusiastic news and congratulatory note from Mandala TV, the Agent of Coca-Cola Central East and West Africa Limited to provide various services for the production and launch of a music property through its Production Manager, Mr. David Sander, who disclosed that Teddy Afro’s work in the Coke studio has been superbly and successfully completed and further confirmed that “The World Cup Video has been produced and distributed to Coca Cola for release – probably in January.” Following the completion of the work, the excited TV producers were even prompted to solicit, there and then, Teddy Afro’s participation, for free, on Coke’s Album, which was immediately accepted and performed for “the new year episode” that “played out on 31st December in four countries from 8pm” last year,
Several days later, while we were eagerly waiting for the final distribution and release of the finished work on the Ethiopian Version of the World Cup Anthem, Mr. Misikir offered us to see the finished work and we were all very happy with the artist performance as much as the producers of Coke Studio.
Shortly afterwards, in a dramatic twist and out of the blue, Mr. Misikir approached and attempted to inform us in a rather timid mood that Teddy Afro’s participation and coverage in the work “does not fit his reputation” and sought our support and approval for him for the finished work non-release. The whole trail of events that led him to try to persuade us to accept his position was also accompanied by a request that he wanted “a teleconference” to be conducted and threatened us to avoid any disclosure regarding his latest position by Teddy Afro that in his opinion would be “a disaster.” Moreover, as if he was not involved from the very outset, in persuading us to take part in the Coke project and bringing us in touch with Mandala TV, Coke Agent, Mr. Misikir totally denied any association and communication with Coca Cola and distanced himself with a calculated move not to shoulder any responsibility for his disgraceful, unpatriotic and coward act that compromised national and popular concerns to dubious and narrow self-serving interest.
We have been repeatedly assured by the Production Manager of Coke Studio on the high quality of the finished work from technical point of view. Accordingly, the reason and ultimate decision for withholding the distribution and release of the Ethiopian Version of the World Cup Anthem was made without any knowledge and discussion with the Artist or his manager by a concerted decision of Mr. Misikir Mulugeta and the Agent Mandala TV.
Despite our persistent request for the distribution and release of the work, the last response that we received through the agent emphasized that “at this stage, we are not going to release the Ethiopian version of the track for the time being” that attempted to cajole and diffuse our intense outburst and deceive us to believe that they will release it sometime in the future which adds insult on injury to our beloved country, lack of respect to all self-respecting Ethiopians, millions of local and expatriate fans, and the Artist.
The several efforts made on our part to seek clarifications or answers against the erratic and abrupt actions were either left unattended or simply disregarded and replies were often given after we lost our patience.
Finally, although a teleconference was organized to discuss on the issue with a view to create some sort of understandings on the respective positions of the parties involved, we have learnt that the discussion was unprofessionally organized, without transparency to candidly seek solution and full of insincerity by focusing on getting grasp of what our intention was rather than how we can jointly tackle and avoid the unfolding dispute. The fact that the teleconference was deliberately held by sidelining our Manager, who is legally authorized to deal with the issue, is by itself a clear proof for lack of good faith.
Regrettably, therefore we are forced to disclose to all Ethiopians and foreigners alike that are fans of the artist that we have severed our association and relationship with Coca Cola and decided not to condone these cowardice and unpatriotic acts of betrayal, disgrace and indignity that has national dimension against our esteemed motherland, people and fans despite our still persisting appeal for Coca Cola’s reconsideration of its action until the opening of the world cup.
We also assure our fans that while we continue to pressure Coca Cola to distribute and release the work until the last day, we shall simultaneously take all peaceful steps as are justified under circumstances to avoid impending controversies and dispute that would harm the image and interest of all parties involved and attempt to restore the confidence and trust that our fans bestowed on us.