Satire is devastating if used appropriately, Tina Fey effectively ended the political career of Sara Palin once she mocked her as the idiot she is::
by Teddy Fikre
I write this article today to explain to my people the essence and the meaning of satire. I do so for a couple of reasons, first it seems that people have formed an opinion about my writing style and have judged me to the bone as a liar and a “weshetam” for writing “fake news stories”. Moreover I write this to explain to you that satire is a weapon of speaking truth by exposing the duplicitous ways of leaders who refuse to be moved until they are shamed into acting by satirists who take to the pen to mock them for their inaction.
Satire is a weapon of the voiceless, where injustice resided throughout mankind’s history; those who understood the power of satire used their gift to gab to ridicule governments and institutions to do the right thing for and by their people. Satirists have done more to fight corruption, injustice, and immorality than all armies combined. Satirists are peaceful warriors; instead of picking up a gun or swords, satirists do nothing more than pick up their scripto to write the clarion call of freedom and liberty for those who are left muted by tyrants and dictators.
I write this as a preface to explain the reasons I wrote a satire—fake news—three weeks ago about the death of Meles Zenawi. This article more than any article that any Ethiopian media wrote or reported in the last month shook the core of the TPLF government and shook the conscience of Western governments and mass media outside of Ethiopia to pay close attention to the plight and the fright going on in Ethiopia. I don’t say this to brag but to explain to you the details that took place that in time forced Bereket Simon to take to the podium to spread lies about the health of Meles Zenawi in order to address the fundamental points I made in my satire article about the death of Meles Zenawi.
I had no idea at all that my little satire would end up giving birth to a hundred thousand tweets and would blow up Facebook with rumors of the death of Meles Zenawi. I just woke up on Monday July 30th intent on writing a biting satire about Meles Zenawi’s death knowing all along that I had no news about his health. I just grew tired of media on both sides of the Ethiopian political spectrum lying about the state of Meles, one side saying he died in press releases and the other side showing two year old pictures of Meles Zenawi disembarking off a plane looking like he was as healthy as Tirunesh. So I had enough of the lies and duplicity coming from all sides thus I decided to write a satire article titled “His Excellency Meles Zenawi Dead at the Age of 57”.
I wrote the article as soon as I woke up on Monday morning and posted it at approximately 10:00 AM. Now before I posted that article, there were all kinds of media reporting the death of Meles Zenawi, but because these publications lost credibility, western media was not paying attention to them. After I posted the article on www.browncondor.com, I immediately sent out 2,000 text messages announcing the death of Meles Zenawi directing people to the website. After that, I started posting the article on Facebook and Twitter. What happened in the next hour literally blew my mind, to this day I had no idea could flip the Habesha community on its head.
Within 30 minutes of posting my satire article, ESAT posted an announcement that Meles Zenawi had passed. I know ESAT very well and talked to them to make sure that their reporting was not based on my satire article because I did not want them to lose credibility for reporting news that I posted as a “joke”. The folks at ESAT assured me that their reporting was based on credible sources and that they have been working that story for weeks. It was mere coincidence that their report occurred on the same hour as I posted my satire article. I want those folks who read between the lines to know and understand one thing; this article is not meant to bash ESAT because I am a fan of ESAT for giving us information that counters the lies of ETV.
I write this article simply to explain to you what started a small revolution. Within two hours of posting the satire article, I all the sudden had 426 people tuned in at the same time to Brown Condor Radio which is a way of me seeing how many people are on the website at any given time. Before I posted that satire article, the most I’ve ever had at any given time was 86 people and even that was because I posted a satire article about Obama disavowing Meles when Meles came to visit Obama at Camp David. When I saw over 400 people continuously staying on Brown Condor on a minute by minute basis, I knew at that exact moment that something historical as happening.
But not even in my wildest dreams did I think that the dominoes that were about to fall could be traced back to a satire article that I wrote out of exasperation. For you see, the next day major publications throughout Africa started posting my “fake article” as news. The Kenyan Post published my article as leading news without realizing that my article was a satire. A major Ugandan newspaper did the same and almost every Ethiopian publication of note either shared my article or copied and pasted the content directly on their website without giving credit and posted it as news. To be fair, a few of them understood that what I wrote was satire and posted the article with the same intent that I had when i wrote the article.
Now let me explain to you my intent and why I wrote why I wrote. I wrote the satire to make fun of four classes of people. The first people I wanted to shame into action was the Obama administration. I voted and worked my butt off for Obama in 2008; I grew disenchanted by Obama’s neglect of Africa and his embrace of Zenawi. Thus I decided to make up fake quotes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to expose their duplicity and double-handed dealings with Meles and to pressure them to speak up for Democracy and Human Rights in Ethiopia. Second, I wanted to embarrass the Western mass media for their inaction and their shameless lack of professionalism. That very same day I broke the satire article and made world-wide news about Meles Zenawi, CNN and Washington Post were covering Tom Cruise’s divorce and other inane subjects. Thus, I wrote the story as “Johnny Walker” (as in the alcohol) and attributed it to the “New York Timez” knowing all along that people would take the article serious news once they saw “New York Timez” without understanding that I misspelled the name of the newspaper and without noticing that it was Johnny Walker that wrote this fake story.
Moreover, I wanted to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to stop lying to us and tell us the truth. This was a harder task because one cannot shame a shameless people and a sham of a government but I knew if enough people asked questions, the government would eventually have to speak up and break their silence. Lastly, I wanted to guilt the opposition for lying to us continuously by spreading disinformation by forms of press releases and in the process playing with fire that might start a civil war in Ethiopia. I know one thing; a lying government cannot be defeated by lies. How can those who advocate for democracy be trusted when they aspire to take the place of tyrants by turning to the same practices of tyrants?
These four goals were what I had in mind when I wrote the satire article. Never did I imagine that I would accomplish all of these goals with one article and in the process change the course of history with just one satire. You see, as I write this article at his exact moment, I learned today that the State Department released a statement of condolences to Meles Zenawi and in the process pleaded for the next Prime Minister to honor democracy and free speech using some of the very same language that I used in my satire article. Moreover, Berket Simon quickly rushed out to give a press conference stating that it is none of the Ethiopian Diaspora’s business with regard to the health of Meles Zenawi and stated again that Meles Zenawi was in perfect health with his duplicitous tongue—which only increased the pressure on the Ethiopian government. Moreover, I taught a lesson to media outlets in our community to read fully what they write before they post it. Publications like Kenyan Post and the rest who posted my article as news without reading the entire article now have egg on their face and they should be sued for malpractice.
Now this is the part I want you to pay close attention to. About four months ago, I wrote a glowing article about Soledad O’Brien and her life’s work. When I wrote that article, she responded back and said thank you—at that exact moment I made a connection to CNN because Soledad is an anchor at that esteemed news outlet. Thus, when I wrote a follow up satire two weeks ago stating that Meles was alive and playing golf with Tupac and again shamed the press to ask simply “Where is Meles”, the very next day she had a news segment on CNN that led with “Where is Meles” as the byline. I know one thing about journalists, they will never state on the record that it was an unknown blogger’s satire that prodded them to take action—I will let you decide if CNN’s “Where is Meles” was connected to my satire articles.
Let me delve even further. Do you think that it is mere coincidence that almost every major publication from New York Times to USA Today is now using “Meles Zenawi Dead at the Age of 57” as their lead for their articles? That is the same title that I used on my satire article three weeks ago. Actually, it gets even weirder; I wrote that Meles Zenawi died of acute justifribilasis fatilosis, which is a disease I made up on word play of Final Justice. Search on Google “justifribilasis fatilosis” and you will see tons and tons of instances where people are saying that Meles Zenawi died of that made up disease. I also stated that Meles Zenawi will be buried at Hellgeba Cemetery after a state funeral; lo and behold, there are tons of people who think that there is actually a place called “Hellgeba Cemetery”. If you have not gotten it yet, Hellgeba Cemetery means “Go to Hell Cemetery”. I know it was not the most human thing to make fun of dying man, but when people are shut from information and denied data on their country—well we turn to satire to revolt peacefully. You should read the full article so that you can see other instances of satire throughout the stoy (LINK).
What has been my reward for this article? Those that understood satire emailed me and thanked me for bringing light to the suffering of Ethiopia by shaming leaders and journalists. However, for each positive feedback I received, I got hundreds of phone calls, texts, and emails telling me that I was a liar and a traitor to my country for playing on the pain of my people. These people reacted this way because they were too lazy to read the whole article, they were more intent on starting gossip once they read the headlines instead of reading the full article to understand that the article was a satire. I ask simply to these people, is Ethiopia not worth you taking five minutes of your time to read the full article before passing on a satire article as real news to your network? Why am I the idiot or a liar when I stated in the article that it was satire as in fake news and explained to everyone in detail my intent for writing the satire which I explain again in full detail in this article.
Thus we arrive at the crux of this article. My satire did something more than expose liars, lethargic journalists, and duplicitous leaders—my article exposed the malfeasance of our people and the lazy nature of too many Habeshas. I found out through this whole endeavor that the least of our problem is TPLF or dictators in Menelik Palace. Our problem is ourselves because we are too quick to judge and insult without reading and comprehending fully. We jump at headlines and in an instant think we are experts, we follow Doctors who don’t heal and Professors who don’t teach and attack young people who don’t have titles in their names or the credibility of age. In our community, liars are celebrated and truth tellers are hated. Now I know why some of the most popular websites lead with fake stories that are not credible and why our leaders are dictators to the core. Now I understand what Joseph de Maistre meant when he stated “every nation gets the government it deserves”.
Because of our reflexive penchant to insult and to refuse to read before judging, we will end up getting dictators who oppress us. We the people must change before we demand our government to change. We cannot demand freedom of speech unless we afford others the right to speak their minds without threats of calling them “banda” or “Woyane” unless they agree 100% with everything we say. We cannot insist that we are afforded the dignity of human rights unless we are willing to afford all Ethiopians human rights without regard to the faith they practice, the language they speak, and yes even whom they choose to love. A human rights champion cannot at once speak of human rights while demanding that every gay person gets stoned to death.
I personally believe that homosexuality is a sin, but so is having sex before marriage. So should I be stoned or having sex with copious women before marriage in accordance to the activists who demand the imprisonment of gay people. Free speech, democracy, and human rights, these should be more than motto of professional protesters—unless you accept these tenants for all people then you are no better than Meles Zenawi.
I write this knowing that I will most likely lose more readers. But my quest in this world is not attention for the sake of attention, my goal is to gain attention for the causes that I believe need attention. Thus my aspiration is to have readers that understand critical thinking and can read and a four page article in full. I am more than happy to sacrifice 100 readers in order to gain one that understands the essence of my mission. I want at the end of the day for my people to stop falling for salacious news and instead search for news that will feed your mind and your soul. If all I wanted was an influx of readers, I would have named this website www.browncondom.com instead of www.browncondor.com
I am giving you a head’s up. Every Monday, I will write satire articles meant to provoke thought and to garner attention to the issues that impact our community. Please read the article in full, I promise you satire is hilarious and it will give you a moment of desta even though the premise of the article is downright depressing. Satire is devastating if used appropriately, Tina Fey effectively ended the political career of Sara Palin once she mocked her as the idiot she is. This is what I am attempting to do with my satires, so when you see news posted on Mondays going forward that look outrageous, don’t email me to say I am a lying idiot. Instead, read the full article and then share it on your Facebook wall, email it, and Tweet about i and take part in the satires by “playing the same prank” I pull on people. Be a satirist, you can do so by sharing my articles if you don’t have the talent to write satire.
Whatever you choose to do, I want you to understand that at times I will write satire articles and when I do, I will tell you about it in the article. Other than the occasional satire I write, everything that I write here has been thoroughly researched and I make all attempts to be truthful—in the event that I make mistake, I will come back and tell you where I made a mistake. Thus there is a difference between what I do, which is tell the truth and at times mix in satire, and what Ethiopian Terminal Vision (ETV) does, which is nothing more than propaganda at its finest. Propaganda is a lie told as a truth, satire is a lie made to mock liars who sell lies as a news.
I guess what I am saying is empower me so that I can empower us—the essence of Hebret. Don’t just read my articles once, if you are quick to post articles written by ferenjis, why can’t you do the same of the articles that you read here? Why beg for the attention of Westerners to listen to us when you can give your own son of Ethiopia the ability to speak for us. I am not going to be a Doctor or a Professor in my lifetime; I am just Teddy an organizer who is speaking truth as I see it. We have tried to liberate Ethiopia using the usual suspects of Professors and Doctors for two generations. Isn’t it time we try something else? So when you see me writing fake stories in the future, just know that these articles are satires and what I am doing is trying that something else. Now you know why I write “fake news”, you can continue to insult me as a liar or you can embrace me as a satirist and join in my effort to bring attention to our country by means that have not been tried before.
“Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.” ~ Molly Ivins
[click to see Brown Condor satire]
[watch Ethiopian Terminal Vision propaganda]
I will be honest, I was conflicted as hell with whether or not I should post this as an example to create and post the satire clip. But I decided in the end to post it because I cannot abide Ethiopian Terminal Vision taking selective shots of Ethiopia and making it seem like the whole country is mourning. I apologize to God for mocking a funeral, but ordinary people do radical things when they are denied freedoms. I pray for Meles Zenawi and his family, but I will not let ETV hijack a tragic moment for all Ethiopians to perpetuate a legacy of Meles Zenawi as though he was the “greatest leader in the history of Africa. Rest in Peace Meles Zenaw, God heal your hearts to his family, and may God sooth the pain of the suffering that Meels Zenawi induced on his people. Amen!