Despite his Nobel Laureate status, Abiy Ahmed’s biography is scant. He was not a prominent politician until a few years ago when he was elevated to the OPDO chairmanship, which paved way for his premiership. His public profile is mostly anecdotal—not surprising, given he left his hometown to join OPDO at an early age, and perhaps served as a low-level member. It’s puzzling that there are few friends or colleagues to corroborate his anecdotal biography. Perhaps he was a loner who kept to himself.
Mr. Ahmed was born in a small town named Beshasha near Agaro, a bigger town in Jimma Zone, Oromia. He was born to his father Ahmed Ali and his mother Tezeta Wolde.
Purportedly, he completed his elementary education in his hometown and moved to Agaro for further education. It’s unknown whether he completed his high school before he joined the military. Just like many OPDO members, he may have gotten degrees from some obscure colleges, via extension programs or distance learning. Leadstar College of Management, from which Abiy got one of his master’s degrees, is among the obscure colleges that popped up in the last decade like a post-recession mom-and-pop hotdog stands. It was founded by wackadoodle theologians. No one knows if their degrees even meet the standards set by the Ministry of Education. And you can buy them degrees if you got money.
Public profiles show Abiy’s friend was Abadula’s chauffeur. Abadula Gemeda is the founder and the kingmaker of OPDO. The chauffeur tidbit may also explain Abiy’s obsession with locomotives. He explains concepts with car-parts analogy. He even goes for a spin on Jeep go-kart at Entoto Park. That was sort of amusing. His photo ops are amusing and self-absorbed. For some odd reason, he insists on driving dignitaries around the city.
It’s believed that Abiy Ahmed speaks Tigrigna, even though I have never heard him speaking the language.
Abiy Ahmed used to maintain a Facebook account by the name Yaada Caaluu. He deactivated the account at the time they promoted him to OPDO Chairperson, per Zelalem Kibret.
The Director of INSA delegated Abiy Ahmed to lead the agency when he left for training in London. Upon his return, he fired Abiy Ahmed for pursuing his own political interests instead of the agency’s priorities.
Abiy served as Information and Science Technology for a few years.
He was deployed to Rwanda a year after the genocide.
The phoniness and plagiarism
If you haven’t paid attention, there is nothing original about Abiy Ahmed—from mimicking a White House situation room photo to other silly photo-ops that try to mimic Haile Selassie reading a book. His philosophy is often a shallow view based on literatures he skimmed, or outright plagiarism.
In an interview in early 2018, Abiy Ahmed plagiarized British comedian Russell Brand and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. On Nov. 10, 2016, the Atlantic Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed the former Secretary of State wherein the latter said, “The world is in chaos. Fundamental upheavals are occurring in many parts of the world simultaneously, most of which are governed by disparate principles. We are therefore faced with two problems: first, how to reduce regional chaos, second, how to create a coherent world order based on agreed-upon principles that are necessary for the operation of the entire system.” Mr. Ahmed said the words of Henry Kissinger to the interviewer with no shame—as if those words were his own.
In another part of the transcripts from the Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview, Dr. Kissinger says, “… I believe in evolutionary stability. I do not believe you can ever maintain the status quo in perpetuity. The challenge, then, is to devise a system in which change can be accommodated without producing chaos.” Again, Mr. Ahmed repeated these words to the interviewer. He substituted “perpetuity” with “eternity,” as if that would make it original.
It didn’t end there. Abiy Ahmed really loves Henry Kissinger. “Every society that has ever existed in human history has at some point declined. You can be arrogant enough to believe that it cannot happen to you, but you need the humility to recognize the limitations of human foresight. That said, you must have some faith in yourself. Lack of faith in a society is an early symptom of decline.” Abiy repeated these words again. Embarrassing, you’d think.
Abiy insisted on using Kissinger’s words. “There has been a contraction, primarily as a reaction to failed efforts. My instinct is—and I hope I am right—that an American President who presents a framework combining fortitude and purpose will be supported.’ Mr. Ahmed repeated these words by replacing “American President” with “EPRDF.” You can watch the below video and judge for yourself.
For example: in this article, where he rebranded the good old mediation, ja[a]rsummaa, as solving violent extremism through social capital, it appears he based his whole dissertation on this. The article talked about local rituals in Jimma—not really breakthroughs. It was basically a report. Although, I would like to credit him for diving into “debo,” I cannot forgive him for misspelling “jaarsummaa”. I liked debo when I was a kid because that was where I fine-tuned my farsoo drinking skills. I endorse his high praise for coffee. He stitched other analyses or research works together. There is nothing wrong with that; researching the researchers is also research. I think they call it meta-analysis. That’s not entirely the point. The guy goes of a shallow understanding of the things he reads or sees.
While he made valid points in the article about involving the community in combating terrorism, he took the opposite approach after coming to power. More on that later.
I apologize to the readers for not reading “Medemer,” but I don’t regret my decision. From the reviews of the book, it reads like a self-help, and minimizes our individualism to almost nothing. He even went to the length of comparing the genetic makeups of humans and monkeys to show that we are all the same. Just the thought of it makes me want to throw up.
You probably already know Abiy Ahmed’s infatuation with the African Slave Entrepreneur—Menelik and the 50 pounds Rastafarian’s God—Haile Selassie is driving his ambitions.
He restored imagery of the monarchs in the Palace, which shows he takes pride in them even though they were some of the most savages, who devised the failed nation-state named Ethiopia. He revived Menelik’s likeness. Oromo people blame Menelik for the most heinous acts against the Oromo People—he mutilated hands and breasts of Arsi Oromo. Of course, just like there are Holocaust deniers, there are deniers of these events, but you will find ample evidences if you rummage through old European newspapers. Abiy Ahmed is among the deniers.
Abiy Ahmed surrounded himself with unitarists like Daniel Kibret who harbor unparalleled disdain for any culture or language except Amhara. This fella preached hate against Oromo people from a church podium. But Abiy Ahmed has no issue with that. In fact, Mr. Kibret is one of those long serving advisors even though Abiy shuffles his staff frequently.
Abiy Ahmed argued in the above article that social capital is one of the effective tools in combating violent extremism. After taking power, he basically rejected that argument through Medemer. Medemer argues our differences are so minimal that we should all ignore our self-interest for the greater good. That greater good for him is to be the King as his mother prophesied. I’m sure some of you noticed he never mentions his father. He always mentions his mother as his inspiration. Oh, and that French lady who wanted to marry him, but he declined. He thinks that is significant because a white lady chose him, perhaps? He couldn’t believe it. Some of us cringe when we hear that story. But he keeps telling that story. Why doesn’t he introduce her to us if she is alive?
Abiy’s other inspiring figure is Isaias Afwerki. Lately, he is even imitating him with wardrobe choice. They both wear a short-sleeved khaki shirt with matching pants.
Abiy Ahmed implemented democratic reforms in Ethiopia: FALSE.
Anyone who says the above statement to you deserves the one-finger salute. They either think declaring war on your people and indefinitely postponing election is a democratic reform, or they just think you are stupid. Contrary to his argument in that article for The Horn of Africa Bulletin, where he argued community involvement in combating violent terrorism, he bombed towns and bridges in Tigray and left them in the dark—all to install his own loyalists. If the Tigrayans wanted to TPLF, they should have gotten TPLF to rule them. It has nothing to do with the past actions of TPLF. If it were about the past actions, Abiy himself should be in jail.
There are competing reports about who is a victim of the genocide in Tigray. Regardless of who were the targets, it happened on Abiy Ahmed’s watch. The irony is that this guy should have known about genocide since he was deployed to Rwanda as a peacekeeper.
What part of jailing critics is a democratic reform? Don’t answer that. It was a rhetorical question.
Abiy Ahmed is Oromo: MISLEADING.
The western and domestic media keep telling us Abiy Ahmed is an Oromo. This is misleading. I have no authority to revoke his Oromoness if he says he is an Oromo. He allegedly said he is an Oromo by his children. That’s an admission that he doesn’t believe he is an Oromo himself. The guy dismisses Oromo with “ayi Oromoo!” With that statement he dismissed Oromo as naïve, stupid, worthless, and revealed he felt bad for them. Abiy Ahmed hates Oromo. The guy was even afraid to travel to Wollega. Abiy is always uncomfortable at Oromo gatherings. Akka hintala manatti ulfooftee ta’a.
You don’t need to be Oromo by blood to promote Oromo causes. Exhibit A will be the Eritrean Professor Asmerom Legesse, who contributed to Oromo cause and history more than most of us. Genealogy may not even be significant in deciding who is Oromo and who is not. But if others would like to blame Abiy’s failures and fuckups on Oromo, it deserves a rebuttal and debunking. Is Abiy Ahmed really an Oromo? Let’s do some Math.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, described him as “[born] to a mother who was an Amhara Orthodox Christian and a father who was an Oromo Muslim.”
Abiy Ahmed has 4 children and married to an Amhara woman. His mother was an Amhara woman. One child was recently adopted, so we will leave him out of this mess.
Abiy Ahmed: 50% Oromo
Three (one is adopted) children: 25% each.
Numerator: Abiy (0.50) + Wife (0.00) + Child 1 (0.25) + Child 2 (0.25) + Child 3 (0.25) = 1.25
Ratio: 0.25. That’s Abiy Ahmed’s Oromoness.
You either become Oromo through genealogy or fighting for Oromo causes, or both. Abiy Ahmed meets none of them. If you disagree, you can take it up with whoever invented numbers.
The Cajoling and blackmails:
Abiy Ahmed uses techniques like cajoling and blackmailing to paralyze the opposition. In case you haven’t noticed, Abiy Ahmed is a touchy-feely kind of guy. He doesn’t respect a personal space. Even on the biggest stages, he goes for the awkward hugs and kisses that make everyone else cringe. Abiy’s behavior doesn’t appear that innocent, intent on overwhelming and confusing his counterpart and show his command on the issues regardless of how straw-manly his arguments or plans are. The old Arada school of thought might make him think if he appeared smart just for that moment and you had no time or energy to respond, he would have won the argument. People like him would not give you a turn to speak.
While I’m not sure if Abiy Ahmed is employing what he learned from his short courses from his spying days to cajole and blackmail the opposition, or just implementing some spy novel he has read, but it seems to work out well for him—with a few exceptions. He repatriated scores of diasporas (especially of the Oromo) promising democratic reforms. It may not have worked out for the repatriates. As a diaspora myself, I understand the lifestyle in the west. Most of the repatriates are oldies with an oversized ego which hindered them from earning a living. They thought the menial works available to them were beneath them, and they could not latch onto the careers they envisioned. So, when a call came from Abiy that they can all go back and contribute, they jumped on the opportunity. They have less to contribute, other than the namesake—they are the Diaspora. They came out in droves to defend Mr. Ahmed, even when it was apparent that the latter is just power hungry, and he will get it at any cost.
Some diaspora repatriates imagined a good life back home, where they will start businesses and live happily. Rather, they are stuck with worthless plots of land in the peripheries of Finfinnee. He may have promised some of them a cushy government position that may not come. It’s not exactly a Stockholm syndrome; maybe like a wounded animal that you’re trying to free from a trap. It will fight you, even if you’re trying to help. The only thing the animal knows at that moment is anger and fight. For them, it is about them. They do not see any other option for their livelihood. It’s personal for them. The thought of going back to Minnesota and stocking shelves scares them. They have nothing to go back to. Even if they have family members who would support them, they have said their goodbyes when they left.
That’s exactly how blackmail works—get your targets in an embarrassing position—threaten them constantly and make them your slaves. I don’t really wish ill on these people, but I just hope, at some point, they’d realize it’s not all about them. I hope they would think about the elderly couple displaced from the plot of land they supposedly own now. Their ownership rights to the plot are not set in stone because they did not pay a fair market value for it. They got it for free. Another group would topple Abiy’s group and they will lose it all.