Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ethiopian Idol

Good luck walking the streets of Addis the morning after one gets the boot from this show.

...The show even has it own Simon Cowell, the bad-guy judge on the British and US versions. The catchphrase of musician Feleke Hailu -"alta fakedem" or "you didn't make it" in Amharic - may seem positively meek compared to Cowell's acerbic reviews. But saxophonist Feleke, 46, has caused a sensation in this tradition-bound culture.

"Most of the time I tell [contestants] to go back to their old jobs, forget about a career in singing," he said. "Or I tell them they sing like donkeys. Sometimes they get angry. The girls burst into tears, and a few weeks ago one singer threw a stick at me after I told him he had failed to get through to the next round."

"The problem is in our culture it is not common to tell the truth or criticise. People cannot take criticism."

Ethiopia's Pop Idol hits the right note (Guardian, UK) January 7, 2006