Winnipeg Multicultural Human Rights Forum honours one of its own

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Tewodros Kassahun first Star of a Generation awardee

Levy Abad

The Winnipeg Multicultural Human Rights Forum (WMHRF), a grassroots human rights organization based in Winnipeg, successfully presented its first Star of a Generation award to internationally acclaimed  singer-songwriter Tewodros Kassahun, more popularly known as ‘Teddy Afro’ in the Ethiopian and international music scene. WMHRF conferred the award to Teddy Afro for his invaluable contribution in promoting peace, love, unity and anti-hatred through his music. He released several albums including Yasteseryal in 2005 and Tikur Sew in 2012. Teddy had his concert with the Abugida Band on July 16, 2016 at 1770 King Edward Street.

Bro. Ali Saeed, one of the founding members of WMHRF nominated Teddy Afro to the committee, which unanimously approved the nomination. A press release was made earlier where it was announced that the awarding will be held on July 13, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. at the X-Cuse Billiards and Café (551 Sargent Avenue).

About 80 people attended the ceremony at the X-Cuse Billiards and Cafe and the event ran smoothly with Johsa Manzanilla acting as host for the night.

Johsa also rendered a soulful rendition of the song “I could have said” as a tribute to Brother Teddy Afro as a peace activist. After Johsa, I also performed a song titled “Light a Candle for Peace” to pay homage to all activists who perished in the search for peace, unity and an end to hatred.

I was tasked to discuss the nature of WMHRF as a grassroots human rights organization founded by members representing eight multicultural communities (Chilean, Filipino, Ethiopian, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina, Bangladesh and Swiss) in 2013.

The group was formed to discuss and provide support to member organizations in addressing human rights issues through educational and cultural events.

It was unfortunate that some of the founding members were not around to witness a great leap in the achievement of the WMHRF.

Three founders of WMHRF were with me at the event: Simon Baer; Pablo Herrera, President of the Chilean Human Rights Council and Bro. Ali Saeed of the Ethiopian community.

We were able to have our picture taken with Bro. Teddy Afro. Without the dedication of these hardworking individuals, we would not be able to reach this stage of our organization’s development.

Since its inception, WMHRF has been involved in many events. The first forum that WMHRF organized was titled “Where are they now? A Human Rights Forum on the Disappeared,” held at the Convocation Hall of the University of Winnipeg on September 9, 2013. This was followed by the Night of the Disappeared in 2013 and 2014, Global Mining and Indigenous People`s Rights in 2015 and most recently, the Migrants Solidarity Night With Refugees held on June 25, 2016 at the Broadway Disciples United Church.

Lately, we have received communication from the Companies Office that our name has been approved as of July 6, 2016. It took a while to have the paperwork in place, but we’ve finally done it and now we can proudly say that the Winnipeg Multicultural Human Rights Forum is here to stay to serve the community.

I left the event amazed on the love shown by the Ethiopian community to its beloved son Tewodros Kassahun or Teddy Afro.  When I arrived home, I immediately searched one of his songs online titled Yesteseryal.

As a songwriter myself, I know the process involved in writing a song. An artist cannot write without an inspiration and no matter how one avoids ideology, still in the end you fall into one.

I would like quote some lyrics of Bro. Teddy Afro for all of us to relish. When I read the lyrics of the song, it made me realize that the message is also relevant to what is happening in the Philippines or in any third world country for that matter.

His message is like a light that breaks the darkness.

“…The land is fertile, and we have all
It was because there was no love
that we are punished by hunger and can’t survive
But if we stand together and work hard
It will not be long before Ethiopia becomes powerful again
Revenge is not good – Emama
It will disconnect us from God in the end
Abyssinia – Emama
Living together in love will protect us from any danger
Oh! Yasteseryal….”
(Yasteseryal (It heals) by Tewodros Kassahun)
Levy Abad is the Program Coordinator of the Winnipeg Multicultural Human Rights Forum (WMHRF).

Multicultural award

From left: Simon Baer, Pablo Herrera, Johsa Manzanilla, Teddy Afro ,Levy Abad. (Provided)

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