All sorts of personalities are crawling out of the woodwork following the prospect of change in Ethiopian politics. As the struggle of Ethiopians for civil and political rights intensifies, three distinct groups of individuals are rearing their ugly heads.
Group 1: The Haile Group—so named after Haile G/Selassie.
This group perceives the prospect of change in Ethiopia as an ominous cloud that hangs over the regime it supports. To this group, change poses a threat to the existing state of affairs and is, therefore, a situation that needs to be nipped in the bud. Members of this group go to great lengths to assume the role of savior of the establishment, and fall all over each other to do their part in bailing bail out a regime that appears to be on the verge of collapse.
This group comprises individuals who enjoy a certain level of fame and fortune in their own right. They tend to be individuals who gained prominence largely through their own efforts and, ironically enough, do not necessarily need a linkage with the regime to continue to be successful in their chosen line of work and beyond. Every indication is that they are not part of the inner circle of the ruling elite, but act as if they were. Whether or not they are direct beneficiaries of the prevailing system is debatable.
These are individuals who are house-hold names, who generally earned the respect and admiration of the Ethiopian people on their own merits and have everything to lose by holding hands with an establishment that does not have the welfare of the people at heart. And yet, the glaring paradox is that these individuals are at the beck and call of a ruthless regime and rush to its rescue whenever called on.
Another defining feature of the Haile group is that its members are not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer outside their natural or acquired skill-set as Haile himself has demonstrated time and time again. As an example, consider Haile’s proposal to throw Ethiopia back into the dark ages of illiteracy by proposing to censure/regulate the internet just so his beloved guardians (the regime) can breathe a sigh of relief. So complete is Haile’s desire to ingratiate himself with his guardians that he is willing to drag Ethiopians young and old down to his own level of literacy, which is just a whisker away from illiteracy.
Every time Haile thinks he has something worthwhile to say, he ends up putting his foot in his mouth. Other examples of Haile’s cringe-worthy moments were when he, in his infinite wisdom, shared his take on the dispensable nature democracy in poor nations, or when he publicly tried to berate the youth in Ethiopia by asserting that their non-violent movement was a bizarre phenomenon never, EVER seen before on the face of the earth.
In a perfect world, members of this group would feel sufficiently self-actualized as world-renowned athletes, as artists, as comedians, as film stars, as businessmen, as religious leaders. Instead, they go spouting platitudes all over creation in an effort to appear intellectual as Haile did on countless occasions. Regrettably, Haile and his cohorts are not exactly at their best when they drape the mantle of intellectualism, because intellectualism presupposes the ability to exercise one’s intellect and generally means a bit more, just a wee bit more, than mispronouncing a few English words.
Another theme central to the Haile Group is that its members tend to overreach. They believe that their standing in society gives them the right to lecture a public that, unbeknownst to them, has reached a level of enlightenment where it could run rings around them. Members of the Haile group are oblivious to the perceptiveness of Ethiopians and so believe that their words carry the day, when in reality, the reaction of Ethiopians to the pronouncements these individuals make on behalf of the regime is to shrug it all off as inconsequential.
Members of the Haile-group fail to see that they themselves are victims of the regime FIRST before they are its defenders. They are victims because they are duped into going out on a limb to parrot official talking points that their minders give them. As they continue to publicly humiliate themselves, the very public they seek to outwit continues to see right through them. It is, therefore, a matter of time before their standing in society erodes completely and they are rendered altogether irrelevant.
Group 2: The Fisseha Group—so named after Fisseha Eshetu, Ph.D.
The Fisseha group is made up of individuals who seem to suffer from a sense of entitlement complex. These are individuals who hold the groundless belief that they are the answer to the collective prayers of Ethiopians and that, therefore, things should always revolve around them. They believe that they constitute the best and the brightest in Ethiopian society. Therefore, they go all-out to claim what they are convinced is their rightful place—front and center.
A case in point is the unabashed, ill-advised imprudence we recently saw in Fisseha’s attempt to anoint himself the preeminent leader of the Ethiopian Diaspora. In a thinly veiled, self-serving move meant to gain him favor with the new political administration in Ethiopia, he quickly conceived a half-baked idea to put together a delegation to lead the ENTIRE Ethiopian Diaspora down a “righteous path.” From his perspective, a “righteous path” may just be the path that would lead a chosen few to the inner sanctums of Arat Kilo.
Individuals in the Fisseha group tend to be shrewdly calculating in devising their actions, and the underlying motivation for those actions is generally self-interest. As clever as they may be, however, they are naïve enough to think that they can concoct a scheme in which an unsuspecting diaspora serves as a cover while they jockey for position to achieve some personal gain. In that regard, just like their counterparts in the Haile group, they too have a low opinion of Ethiopians.
The Fisseha group has its share of intellectuals who, for one reason or another, have fallen by the way-side in the Ethiopian political sphere. Their aspirations to be recognized as leaders in a variety of capacities are still intact, but over the years, their efforts to get there have largely failed. Consequently, they find themselves lurking quietly behind the scene waiting to mischievously sneak in under the guise of some harebrained scheme that may look harmless enough on the surface but does not pass the smell test.
Unlike the Haile group, there is no love lost between the Fisseha group and the Ethiopian regime and there are no known ties between them; neither is the Fisseha group given to easy manipulation by the powers that be as it is a well-informed group. However, because individuals who belong in this category typically have no core beliefs, depending on prevailing circumstances, they are capable of making a complete U-turn at the drop of a hat whenever they sniff out an opportunity. In this regard, they present a unique challenge in that one doesn’t know where they stand on any given issue. Unlike the Haile group, whose position is always known, the Fisseha folks have it in them to throw you under the bus where their interest is at stake, just when you thought you could trust them.
Group 3: The Lidetu Group—so named after Lidetu Ayalew
The folks of the Lidetu group share certain character traits with persons in the Fisseha group in that much of their personal conduct is marked by delusions of grandeur, and their actions are inspired by narcissism often at the expense of the collective good. As is often the case with individuals who suffer from delusions, members of the Lidetu group have an exaggerated sense of self-worth as for instance evidenced by Lidetu’s continued insistence that he is still relevant in the eyes of the Ethiopian people.
The Lidetu group has similarities with the Haile group as well as both groups are willing and eager to do the bidding of the regime. Another similarity between the two groups is that both are summoned by the regime when the going gets tough.
If there are differences between them, they are: While Haile comes out to defend a faltering regime with excessive zeal that borders on submissiveness, Lidetu tends to weave a lengthy yarn of deceptive gobbledygook to make it seem that he is still the loyal opposition even as he sings the praises of the regime in the same breath; while the Haile group wears its support of the regime as a badge of honor, the Lidetu folks do it stealthily in a feeble attempt to lend credence to their claim that they constitute an opposition; while Haile may not exactly be in the pay of the regime, the jury is still out on Lidetu.
In any case, the two groups employ a different method of delivery, but the end result is the same! Both go out of their way to throw a lifeline to a regime struggling to stay afloat, and both try to appease and ultimately disarm a public that no longer pays attention to them.
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