My first meeting with Teddy Love took place at a glitzy hotel in Addis Ababa.
I was tired, just back from the north of Ethiopia, where I had been reporting on Eritreans living in a refugee camp close to the border. I wanted to tell the story of Eritrean refugees in the city too, and Teddy was an interesting case: a refugee trying to make a living through his music. I had been in communication with Teddy by phone, but I wasn’t sure what to expect or if he would even turn up.
Teddy waltzed into the lobby like a rock star, with a huge smile and masses of self-confidence. He launched into the conversation, ruminating at great length on love, understanding, bridges, suffering, freedom, passion, family and a better world. Maybe this is what it would have been like to interview Lionel Richie in 1985 after the release of ‘We are the World’? But I’m a sceptical journalist, and after two hours I thought: ‘Who is this guy? He can’t be real.’
But after some digging, I discovered that he is real.
Tedros Atakliti AKA Teddy Love is an artist and a refugee. He faces a daily struggle to feed his small children, but that hasn’t weakened his passion for music as a vehicle for change. In Teddy’s world view music can transcend borders and unite people. And it seems to me that in these times of increased hate and hostility, it is worth listening to those who are fighting alone, those like Teddy who see against the odds, a better future for us all.
First published and commissioned by the Overseas Development Institute
Banner photo by Gabriel Pecot ©