By Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam
Author’s Note: In this commentary, I try to explain to my readers why on the eve of PM Abiy Ahmed’s stellar first year anniversary there is so much political white noise in Ethiopia. There is a campaign of Infowars (psychological warfare) underway on the people of Ethiopia and the administration of PM Abiy Ahmed. It is a campaign aimed at creating fear, alarm and anxiety in the population and rob popular confidence in the leadership of PM Abiy. I shall argue that the Infowars campaigns of fear and smear must be fought with the truth and facts. I also give reasons and explain why I am a strong supporter of PM Abiy, the young leader of Ethiopia who is described by the international community as the “African Leader to Watch in 2019”.
Clucking for rain on April 2
The first anniversary of the appointment of H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed to the prime ministership will take place on April 2.
The Chicken Littles in Ethiopia are in full hysteria mode.
They are running around like a chicken with the head cut off clucking, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling on Ethiopia! Let’s tell the people the sky is falling on Ethiopia.”
The Chicken Littles are waging a psychological war.
It is a war of psychological attrition in which the Chicken Littles are trying to wear down public confidence in PM Abiy and his administration by spreading with lies, fake news, disinformation, gossip and rumor.
It is a psychological war aimed at manipulating minds, crushing hearts, fraying nerves and breaking down the spirit of the people.
It is a psychological war designed to create uncertainty in the outcome of our peaceful revolution.
They are using harum-scarum tricks to create anxiety, alarm, dread and panic and convince the public the last year under the leadership of PM Abiy was straight outta hell.
Now, the Chicken Littles think they can rain on PM Abiy parade on April 2.
But the facts speak for themselves.
The past 12 months have been the best Ethiopia has had in living memory.
No political prisoners. (PM Abiy scoured the Horn of Africa and the Middle East looking for Ethiopian refugee prisoners and got thousands of them released!!)
No journalists in jail.
No restrictions on freedom of speech, religion and assembly.
No state of emergency.
No war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Just peace, brotherhood and sisterhood.
Free and fair elections under international standards scheduled.
Peace with all of Ethiopia’s neighbors.
One-half of all ministerial posts manned by women.
All opposition parties are free to operate.
Diaspora Ethiopians once described as “extremists” and “terrorists” are embraced with open arms.
PM Abiy Ahmed nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by world class organizations and world leaders, the only Ethiopian leader in history to be so honored.
Accolades from the international media. The Financial Times recently wrote Abiy Ahmed, “has overseen the swiftest political liberalisation in Ethiopia’s more than 2,000-year history.”
I could go on and on!
But the Chicken Littles in Ethiopia want to paint a picture of strife, conflict and war on the first anniversary of PM Abiy’s administration.
Cluck! Cluck! “The country is on the precipice of civil war. We need to arm ourselves.”
Cluck! Cluck! “They are coming to commit genocide on us.”
Cluck! Cluck! “The country is going to hell in handbasket because PM Abiy is not ‘taking action’.”
Cluck! Cluck! “Addis Ababa belongs to us and no one else.”
Cluck! Cluck! “We will create a parallel government for Addis Ababa.”
Cluck! Cluck! “We have been had. The change was a trick. One ethnic group has replaced another in power!”
Cluck! Cluck! “The sky is falling on Ethiopia! We are here to stop it!” Cluck! Cluck!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
The Chicken Littles think they can cluck rain on PM Abiy’s magnificent 1-year parade.
They think they can blacken his stellar achievements by clucking doom and gloom.
They think they can diminish his historic, triumphant and monumental anniversary in their inforwars campaign spreading fake news, disinformation and misinformation.
They think they can undermine his towering achievements by waging a campaign of fear and smear; by spreading despair and pessimism; by preaching sorrow and woe, and by singing their mournful songs of selfishness, self-pity and self-indulgence.
But that’s alright!
PM Abiy does not mind all the Chicken Littles clucking to rain on his parade.
He knows there is no rainbow without rain.
He knows at the end of the rainbow there will always be, until the end of time, green, yellow and red.
PM Abiy will never let the sun set on the green, yellow and red of the rainbow nation of Ethiopia!
Of jegnoch (heroes), chatterboxes and Chicken Littles
Speaking at an event celebrating speaking on International Women’s Day on March 8, PM Abiy flatly declared Ethiopia has no heroes:
Although Ethiopia has been called the land of jegnoch (home of heroes), today she has a massive shortage of heroes (jegnoch). In Ethiopia there are no heroes. Only mob (herd) followers… Ethiopia has people who say, “Get ready. Arm yourself. Kill. These are people who inherit and repeat past mistakes… Following the mob (herd) does not a hero make. What makes a hero is standing for the truth. They cannot be called heroes (jegnoch). Real heroes are those who stand up amidst turmoil and conflict and bear the truth… To fill this hero gap (deficit) as you celebrate March 8th, we should have heroines… This task is appropriate for women because they are pillars, towers and givers… I ask you [women] with deep humility, as you continue with your work, to focus on peace and unity, love and reconciliation…
I replied to PM Abiy’s statement in my March 14 commentary and told him straight up, “Ethiopia does not have heroes because she has crybabies and villains.”
I was merely speaking truth to the whimpering crybabies and villains “who murder as they smile and smile as they murder and whose tongues outvenom all the worms of Nile”, to borrow from the Bard of Avon.
But I forgot to tell him that Ethiopia does not have heroes because she has too many Chicken Littles who run around clucking and spreading fake news, disinformation, white lies and tall tales.
These are the same Chicken Littles who are all gung-ho to rain on his first anniversary.
But the story of Ethiopia’s Chicken Littles is nothing new.
Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam reamed the behinds of the “chatterbox” Chicken Littles of Ethiopia in his 2015 Amharic book, “Adafne: Fear and Failure”, which I reflectively reviewed in my November 1, 2015 commentary.
In that book, the longtime Ethiopian human rights defender explained the peculiar disease that has permeated the mind and souls of Ethiopians in particular and Africans in general. He diagnosed the disease as “Adafne”, a socio-political virus likely acquired during colonialism or as an after-effect of colonialism.
He argued Adafne has infected the continent and made it barren, unable to produce great men and women of character, wisdom, integrity and virtue. “Adafne” has made the continent a basket of crabs. As one crab tries to climb out of the basket, the rest pull him down.
“Adafne” is Ethiopians’ sickness of the soul. He wrote,
Adafne has made Ethiopia the land of chatterboxes first by suppressing truth; second by suppressing education and knowledge; third by closing down all means by which truth is propagated; fourth by hiring silver-tongued spinners of lies and fifth by closing all avenues for the publication and dissemination of ideas and knowledge.”
Adafne is what ails the souls and minds of Ethiopia’s Chicken Littles and made them empty barrels and chatterboxes.
The story of the Chicken Little
Some of my readers may not be familiar with the fable of Chicken Little.
It is an American/European folk tale with a moral lesson about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end because an acorn dropped on his head from an oak tree. It is a common idiom used to talk about people who become hysterical, panic-stricken and neurotic having convinced themselves of an imaginary disaster imminent disaster.
The story goes that one day as Chicken Little was walking in the woods, an acorn fell from a tree and hit her little head. She was completely panic-stricken. “My, oh, my, the sky is falling. I must run and tell the lion about it.”
Along the way, Chicken Little met Henny Penny and told her the sky is falling. Henny Penny asked Chicken Little, ““How do you know it?”. Chicken Little answered, “It hit me on the head, so I know it must be so”.
As they both ran to tell the lion, they met Ducky Lucky. “The sky is falling” said Henny Penny. “We are going to the lion to tell him about it.” Ducky Lucky asked, “How do you know that?” Henny Penny replied, “It hit Chicken Little on the head.”
Ducky Lucky joined the run until they met Foxey Loxey who asked, “Where are you all going?” Ducky Lucky said, “The sky is falling and we are going to tell the lion all about it.”
Foxey Loxey asked, “Do you know where the lion lives?” None of them knew. “I do. Come with me and I can show you the way”, said Foxey Loxey and walked them right into the lion’s den. They all went in but they never, never come out again.
Such is also the story of Ethiopia’s Chicken Littles.
When one Chicken Little starts clucking about an issue, every other Chicken Little in the henhouse will erupt in a crescendo of clucking.
I wrote about it in my August 2018 commentary showing how the Chicken Littles were duping unsuspecting Ethiopians by spreading news, disinformation and conspiracy theories.
These Chicken Littles don’t bother to gather evidence, assess its relevance, critically evaluate it and come to logical conclusions.
They are driven by and are at the mercy of their raw emotion.
They substitute anger, alarm, frustration, grief, fear and anxiety for hard facts.
Of course, they are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.
One hallmark of Ethiopia’s Chicken Littles is that they have no mind of their own. Just like a flock of perturbed chickens cluck to a crescendo in a henhouse with the slightest gust of wind, Ethiopia’s flock of Chicken Littles will work themselves into a frenzy on the slightest rumor on social and conventional media with deafening results.
The tragic thing is that those who watch the Chicken Littles from the sidelines jump into a frenzy believing the sky is indeed falling.
Little do these bystanders know that these Chicken Littles are clucking because they are terrified of their own shadows and spend their days fighting with imaginary monsters and running away from imaginary disasters.
Facebook, the virtual henhouse of Ethiopia’s Chicken Littles
Facebook, YouTube and other online media have become virtual henhouses for many of Ethiopia’s Chicken Littles.
Facebook has become the command center for the faceless infowarrior Chicken Littles who spread fake news and disinformation and mindlessly preach their gospel of hate.
Leading the pack of Infowarriors are the TPLF Chicken Littles.
The bosses of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF; LF stands for Lie Factory) have unleashed a mutant army of Chicken Littles on Facebook hoping they will save them from the one thing they dread most: Accountability for their crimes against humanity and corruption they committed over the past 27 years.
Over the past year, the TPLF Chicken Littles have done everything they can to bring about instability and strife in Ethiopia.
They have fomented ethnic conflicts throughout the country.
They have been crying wolf about an imaginary genocide that is going to be committed on them to fire up their base and solidify support.
They bellyache about being singled out for ethnic persecution and what have you.
The object of the TPLF troll army on Facebook is to post inflammatory and hateful rubbish and rile up all of the other bird-brained Chicken Littles into an orgy of clucking recriminations and insults.
The TPLF Stooge Chicken Littles are the most pitiful of all.
These Chicken Littles come into two styles: unwitting TPLF dupes and paid agent provocateurs (inciting agents) from other ethnic groups who babble the hateful gospel of the TPLF.
The TPLF often recruits the dupe Chicken Littles from different ethnic groups to do their dirty work. More often, they engage in provocative activity by assuming diverse ethnic names and identities to create the misimpression that the hateful views expressed are not those of the TPLF.
The empty barrel Chicken Littles
The empty barrel Chicken Littles like to talk. They run the gossip mills and cluelessly blather and chatter about things. They feed on sensationalism and hype. They remind me of lyrics from an old James Brown song. They are “like a dull knife/Just ain’t cutting. They talk loud but say nothing”.
Were I to invoke the Bard of Avon, I would say theirs is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
The Dinosaur Chicken Littles
These are the Chicken Littles whose time is long past and should remain in pasture.
But they want to remain relevant so they use intrigue and deception to capture the spotlight.
They point fingers at those who are trying to improve the country and criticize them unaware that three fingers are pointing at them.
Talking heads Chicken Littles
The talking head Chicken Littles like to play pundit.
They are always talking about the negative and how they have predicted bad things would happen.
They make mountains out of molehills.
They think they are savvy political analysts by babbling the same old crap day after day.
The problem of herd mentality and groupthink among Ethiopians
Why are the Chicken Littles able to cause so much alarm and anxiety among the population?
It is because herd mentality and groupthink are a common phenomenon among many Ethiopians.
I am not sure if it is a cultural thing but I see and hear so many Ethiopians blindly following the flock and reacting to situations on the basis of emotion instead of logical and rational thinking.
I am amazed how so many Ethiopians just follow the crowd and are afraid to ask probing questions about the gossip and disinformation they are fed every day.
Groupthink is the flip side of the herd mentality problem.
Many Ethiopians hold an opinion in a group believing the group is right.
They agree on an opinion without much questioning, critical reasoning or scrutiny of the evidence.
Chicken Littles thrive where there is an intellectual deficit of critical thinking and in the absence of an intellectual culture that does not value hard evidence and skepticism.
In such an environment, Chicken Littles become supreme opinion leaders.
How to fight the clucking Chicken Littles in the infowars
There is a sure surefire way of fighting and winning the inforwars against the Chicken Littles of Ethiopia.
There is one and only one weapon the Chicken Littles fear the most: TRUTH.
Chicken Littles believe that if a lie is told a hundred times, it will become truth.
The truth is, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
The only way to fight the Infowars of fake news, disinformation and conspiracy theories is by simply exposing lies of the Chicken Littles and telling the truth.
Let’s cut off at the Facebook and social media passes.
Let’s educate our people of good will and good faith.
Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
We must use social media to teach and to empower the people.
The Chicken Littles thrive by spreading negative messages and news. Let’s fight them by spreading positive messages of our own.
Someone once said, “In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.” When we are on Facebook, Twitter and the rest for 10 minutes or one hour, let’s make a positive impact on those who read us. Let’s not waste so much negative energy feeding the trolls.
The Chicken Littles feed on our anger, sorrow, fear and anxiety.
Let’s fight them by developing emotional intelligence, that is the ability to identify and manage our own emotions and the emotions of those around us.
Let us develop heightened awareness that we are constant targets of emotional manipulation. Let’s not be gullible and suckers.
Above all else, let’s never wrestle with the Chicken Littles.
At the risk of mixing metaphors, George Bernard Shaw said, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
The same can be said mudslinging and pissing contests in chicken manure.
The Chicken Littles who love to hate PM Abiy
There are all sorts of Chicken Littles who love to hate PM Abiy. These include Chicken Littles who
hate Ethiopiawinet and the unity of the Ethiopian people.
are criminal and corrupt thugs who are scared to death they will be held accountable for their crimes and corruption.
are hungry and thirsty for power and want other people to do the heavy lifting and dying for them to get into power.
wannabe leaders who can only mislead and lead innocent citizens to the graveyard.
expected a position and a job in PM Abiy’s administration, but did not.
seek access to manipulate PM Abiy and put him in their pocket but are unable to do so.
have a debilitating inferiority complex.
feel PM Abiy has ignored them or not given them enough attention.
wanted PM Abiy to “take action” by ordering mass arrests, mass incarcerations, mass persecutions and massacres.
jealous of the meteoric rise of a young man out of nowhere and become the toast of the town where ever he goes.
are members of the coma generation (brain dead).
festoon their names with acronyms of higher education but have not done a damn thing to help or stand up for their people.
windbags who spend their time gossiping.
don’t know what time it is. (It’s time for change.)
intimidated by PM Abiy’s prodigious intellect and forensic powers.
losers in life, in their professions and in their political ambitions.
Why I fully support PM Abiy
There are those who say that I support PM Abiy blindly.
They say I give him special treatment. I never criticize him. I only talk about the good things he has done and overlook the bad ones. Blah, blah…
I follow no one but my own conscience, the just and fair laws of the land and the moral code, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I have been blessed to spend the last 13 years of my life fighting for human rights in Ethiopia.
It’s is true I did not fight with the weapons of war.
For 13 years, I was in the trenches day and night fighting with my pen and keyboard the Prince of Darkness himself and his Army of Darkness.
I take great pride in the fact that for 13 years, without missing a week, I have indicted, prosecuted and convicted the criminal thugs of the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front and their ethnic apartheid system in the court of world public opinion.
I do not believe there is a single Ethiopian alive who can make that statement.
Truth be told, I am the only Ethiopian whose Ethiopian identity the TPLF has ever challenged in public.
For the TPLF, there is no such person as an Ethiopian. There is an Oromo, Amhara, Tigray, Gurage… living in Ethiopia, but never an Ethiopian without an ethnic tag attached to his/her name.
But I taught the TPLF a lesson they will never forget, EVER! I am PROUD ETHIOPIAN.
So, why do I support PM Abiy?
I can give a thousand and one reasons but I will give only two.
Abiy Ahmed liberated Ethiopia from ethnic apartheid!
Abiy Ahmed is working day and night to liberate Ethiopians from the mental slavery of ethnic apartheid.
That is why I support PM Abiy without reservations.
I supported PM Abiy before I even knew who he was.
I gave him my full support after I heard his speech in parliament on April 2, 2018. I knew he was the man of the hour for Ethiopia.
On April 8, six days after he became prime minister, I wrote a 6,800 word open letter to PM Abiy explaining why I supported him when virtually everyone was doubting him and calling him the equivalent of a brainwashed TPLF Manchurian candidate.
In that letter, I expressed my full confidence in his goodwill and promises to do good by all Ethiopians.
I assured him that if he keeps his side of the bargain I will always be in his corner and have his back.
Over the past year, PM Abiy has not only delivered on his promises. He has exceeded my wildest expectations by leaps and bounds.
I had the wild expectation that after over four decades, during his administration some political prisoners may be released. He busted open the prison doors and let them ALL out.
I had the wild expectation there could be a slight opening of the political space and citizens may enjoy a few individual liberties. He busted open the political space until he was criticized for opening it too much, too fast.
I had the wild expectation there Ethiopians would be accorded a modicum of due process in the judicial process that had been reduced to a monkey court system. He ended being a die-hard stickler for the rule of law.
I had the wild expectation opposition parties will be allowed some freedom to assemble, organize and engage in the democratic process.
I had the wild expectation there will be some rapprochement in the Horn of Africa. He ended the war with Eritrea, busted open the border that had been sealed for decades and made peace. He brought peace and reconciliation to the entire Horn region.
I had the wild expectation that there could be a free and fair election. Every day he offers his personal guarantee that he will “leave office in 24 hours” if he is defeated in the election in May 2020.
On a personal level, I had the wild expectation that He will make friendly overtures to Diaspora Ethiopians once vilified and persecuted as “extremists” and “terrorists” and forbidden from returning to their homeland. PM Abiy came to America and gave all Diaspora Ethiopians a gift called the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund which they can run without any government involvement or intervention.
In less than a year, PM Abiy exceeded my wildest expectations by leaps and bounds.
Why the hell should I not give PM Abiy my full and unqualified support!?
If he can deliver on every one of his numerous promises, I sure as hell can deliver on single one of mine.
Yes, I back Abiy Ahmed one thousand percent!
I support him not because he is a the perfect leader. But he has done so many things no Ethiopian leader has ever done.
But PM Abiy has yet to prove that he can walk on water!
That is why I will keep a wide open mind.
I will be glad to criticize PM Abiy if anyone 1) can prove to me by any standard of reasonableness (not whining, moaning and groaning) the things PM Abiy has done wrong in his first year in office, or 2) identify the name of one individual out of 110 million Ethiopians whose leadership skills equal or exceed PM Abiy’s.
This is a direct challenge to anyone who has the courage to take it.
The bottom line is my support of PM Abiy is principled as was my support for Meles Zenawi when he came to speak at Columbia University in September 2010.
I vigorously defended Meles Zenawi’s right to speak at Columbia University in 2010 and became a target of Diaspora vilification.
It did not matter to me what the critics had to say.
As a matter of principle, Meles had the right to speak in America, even if he had muzzled 100 million people at home.
As a matter of principle, I have publicly declared on a number of occasions that I will be the TPLF foremost supporter if they embraced Ethiopiawinet, ended their ethnic apartheid state, stopped the politics of hate and division and ceased abusing power.
I don’t support or oppose someone or something to make others happy or unhappy.
As they say, “I calls it as I sees it and let the chips fall where they may.”
I have spent the last 13 years of my life speaking my truth to power, to the powerless, the power hungry and power thirsty.
I seek nothing and will accept nothing for the work I do or have done for my motherland. It is a blessing and a special honor for me.
I support PM Abiy because he is simply the best leader we have today, and certainly in my lifetime. It is a great honor for me to defend him against the Chicken Littles, crybabies and power hungry villains.
He is a man of extraordinary intelligence, unshakeable integrity, genuine humility, limitless potentiality and disarming amity.
There is an old African saying, “The dogs will bark, but the camels will walk.”
My adaptation of that old saying is, “The Chicken Littles will cluck, but the rooster will keep on ruling the roost.”
After all, it is only natural that the little chickens cluck and the gracious rooster crows.
On a personal note, I consider all of the clucking of the Chicken Littles in Ethiopia nothing more than chicken bowel movement.
For Abiy Ahmed, the sky is not falling because for him the sky is not the limit.
P.S. The sky has indeed fallen. On the heads of all the clucking Chicken Littles! Pity. They are confused and have no idea what to do next.
I suggest they park their little fragile egos at the door and MEDEMER!