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Sunday January 8, 2006 10:47 pm

Ethiopian Idols Causing A Sensation

Posted by Rhys Alexander Categories: Reality, American Idol,

Ethiopian IdolThe pervasive power of television never fails to amaze me. Where is the absolute last place you might expect to find a new version of American Idol? How about Ethiopia?

“Ethiopian Idols” is a far cry from the glamour and glitz of its U.S. and British inspirations.

Yellowed satin sheets and signs taped to the walls provide the backdrop for a set hastily constructed each week in a shabby hotel restaurant while waiters peer in. Performers have to contend with frequent power cuts, feedback from poor sound equipment and ringing cell phones.

But “Ethiopian Idols” has its own answer to Simon Cowell the acerbic judge on the American and British versions. Feleke Hailu disses contestants by telling them they “sing like donkeys.”

The show has fast won the highest ratings on otherwise dull state-run TV.

While “Ethiopian Idols” cannot promise the riches or fame enjoyed by American and British winners, it does offer hope in an impoverished country where most of the 77 million people cannot afford a TV set.

The show also has broken new cultural ground in the Horn of Africa nation.

Feleke’s catch phrase “alta fakedem,” or “you didn’t make it” in Amharic may seem positively meek compared to Cowell’s biting reviews. But it has caused a sensation in this tradition-bound culture.

Truly amazing.

Read More | Yahoo! TV News

Gallery: Ethiopian Idols Causing A Sensation

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