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The Ethiopian Media: Whipping Up Political Emotions and Drowning in Their Own Rhetoric

Yonas Biru, PhD

There are few popular Ethiopian outlets that I have not appeared on to discuss Ethiopian politics, ranging the gamut from government owned Television programs to pro-government YouTubers, and from independently run TV and YouTube anti-government outlets to international media with dedicated Ethiopian programs broadcasted in Amharic.

To name just a few from the home front: EBC, ESAT, EMS, Anchor, Andafta, Nahoo, Roha, Mengizem, የሀሳብ ገበታ, HermelaTV, Reyot, Ethio-360, Adebabay, Abebe Belew, and Ethio Voice Network (Abebe Gelaw), among others. On the international media front, I have appeared multiple times on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VOA), Deutsche Welle (DW – Germany) and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS – Australia).

Overall, internationally run outlets are professionally run. Obviously, they have their own predispositions and quirks, but by and large they are reasonably professional. On the other side of the spectrum, Ethiopian government owned media outlets and pro-government YouTubers are propaganda machines of varying degrees.

My focus in this article is on independently run anti-government media outlets. At the risk of disappointing friends, I will divide them into three groups.

In the first group, I include የሀሳብ ገበታ, Mengizem, and Andafta (ሞጋች). They are reasonably independent and less polarizing. Unfortunately, የሀሳብ ገበታ and Mengizem have limited followers in terms of viewership and sadly have limited influence. Though their target is the silent majority, they have not found the proverbial Da Vinci Code to wake it up.

Ethio-360, Abebe Belew, Roha, and Ethio Voice Network (Abebe Gelaw) are extremist pro-Amhara outlets with varying degrees. Ethio-360 is the flag-bearer for the Amhara Shene colony with the remaining three serving as bouncing platforms and dancing floors for Amhara extremism of different genre. Adebabay is part Ortho-Amhara program with some level of modesty to tame extremism.

I am not clear about the overarching strategy and guiding principles of ESAT and EMS. To me they seem to waste their time and energy to resuscitate the fallen angel out of the Abiy Administration not understanding its heritage as the bestial remnant of risen apes. The government you have is the government you deserve or so say people in the know.

Nahoo is an excellent program for general issues. My take is that its financiers at home are careful not to anger the Prime Minister whom they see as the proverbial invincible Minotaur from Greek mythology who was half human and half animal. On the other hand, Reyot (Tewodros Tsegaye) is a random walking outlet. By the time you go to a store and return it has gone from Eskinder worshiping to Eskinder Bashing and TPLF condemning to TPLF worshiping forum.

Anchor is a potentially dynamic stealth rocket. In practice it is a dud. It is an epitome of wasted energy and unrealized potential. Its problem starts with its effort to shape the political agenda rather than providing a forum for debating various political strategies to build consensus. This has led it to provide his forum to people who peddle certain views on key political issues, including on Fano.

Fano has many strong points. It also has many self-destructive shortcomings. The solution is open and bold discussion not touting fiction about its strength and stifling discussions about its weaknesses.

Let me repost what I have written in the past.

The truth is that Amhara extremists and Ethiopianists are driven by a unitarist agenda. In the meantime, they are aware that championing a unitarist agenda is an uphill battle. Consequently, the Amhara agenda has become anti-ethnic federalist without providing an alternative agenda, strategy, and roadmap. This is not only cowardly, but it is also self-destructive.

Amhara does not have an organized party pushing for a unitarist agenda. What it has is more of an off-grid and high-bandwidth network of activists who aim to dial back the time to when the Amhara played a dominant role in state politics.

The network’s ideological doctrine coalesces around Amhara nationalism at its nucleus from whence a unitary mindset radiates outward and expresses itself as a national identity. The network has neither a written manifesto nor an organizational platform. But it has a network of intellectuals of known quantity.

You have heard Shaleka Wolde-ማነው ስሙ who said “ኢትዮጵያ የሚያስፈልጋት አማራ አማራ የሚሸት መንግስት ነው.” You have also heard Eskender Gebre-ማን ይሉታል who often talks about “አባቶቻችን.” አባቶቻችን are long dead and we are living in a completely different world. We cannot rely on አለቃ ገብረሃና’s wisdom in the 21st century. We cannot go forward in a reverse gear.

The Shaleka and Esku political machinery pushes a passive-aggressive strategy to take the Ethiopian political center stage, using grievance politics both as the power cylinder and transmission belt of its political machinery.

You can jump up and down until your face turns purplish ቢጫ. The reason why extremist forces do not want to talk about Fano’s political agenda, strategy and endgame is because they know their agenda will be rejected by the people of Ethiopia, including moderate forces in the Amhara tribal land. That is why they say Fano Has Manifesto but will not share it (Geletaw Zeleke) or insist that Fano does not need political manifesto (ሻለቃ ዳዊት). Even worse promise Fano has a manifesto and present አሮጌ የስኩዋር መጠቅለያ ወረቀት (Engineer Yilkal).

Our media outlets need to change their modus operandi. Make themselves a forum where varying political views are debated, and consensuses are built. There is no pint in presenting misguided souls parroting fiction with compassion. Masters of whipping up political emotions have no transformative value. Ultimately, they drown in their own rhetoric and take the people with them to the bottom. I call this the ኩሩሩ-ization of political discourse and the dumbing down of the nation’s elite.

In the worst case the consequence is the clowning of the entire political system where clowns will destroy the nation.

8 thoughts on “The Ethiopian Media: Whipping Up Political Emotions and Drowning in Their Own Rhetoric”

  1. Your contribution would have been so constructive if you could learn to let go of this lunatic reference to a non-existent Amhara Shene. Just because you have part Oromo descent does not mean you have to insist on creating a false equivalence.
    The Amhara political landscape lacks anything similar to the Nazi-like Shene. In fact, had Amhara had any Shene like group, the Shene would have long been dumped into the trash bin of history. It is this lack of speaking to Shene in the language it understands most, that has allowed the continuation of the Amhara genocide. Had the same thing that is happening to Amhara happened to Tigrayans or Somalis, they would have mounted a Shene like response to Shene and stopped it in its tracks. If you are ashamed of the tactics and deeds of the Shene, because you are also Oromo, it does not mean you need to go around and invent other Shene where they do not exist.

  2. Yonas Biru’s persistent false narrative is remarkable. He tirelessly advocates for Fano to develop a political roadmap and manifesto. Neither Abiy Ahmed nor the TPLF came to power in Ethiopia with a political manifesto. Yonas is eager to see a political manifesto so that he can continue voicing his criticism as usual. Fano is not interested in engaging in back-and-forth arguments. They do not have time for this kind of debate. Ethiopian history clearly shows that political programs were not the path to power. It is how committed, generous, and respectful you are to the people that gives you power. Fano will definitely win. Fano’s goal is not to write a political program for people who are lazy and do not want to fight. Fano is not interested in writing a political program for Oromos, Sidamas, Somalis, Afars, and other nationalities. They have to fight for themselves. Fano can only promise something to these nationalities – that it will not impose its will on others by force. Help Fano, join the fight, and make a difference. By the way, Yonas, have you ever contributed money to Fano? We want to hear about it!!! Yonas also criticizes pro-Fano and pro-Amhara media for not giving him a platform or for exposing his lies. He is merely antagonistic towards pro-Amhara media like Addis Voice and Ethio 360 for being unyielding to Abiy Ahmed, them being the ignition fuels for the Amhara revolution. Abebe Belew from Addis Voice asked him to join and help the Amhara movement long ago before Fano came to this stage. Yet Yonas Biru backed down, saying he is not in the business of confining himself to such a movement. Yonas is an attention seeker. He wants to be a crucial figure in demand to write the political roadmap of Fano. Unfortunately for him, no one has given him due consideration. Because of this, he chooses to criticize everyone who looks unfriendly to him.

  3. አይ ዮናስ ብሩ!
    ከዚህ ሁሉ ሜዲያና ሰው ሁሉ ትክክለኛው አንተ ብቻ ነህ፡፡ አንተ ክምትለው ዉጭ ያለው ሁሉ “Drowning in Their Own Rhetoric” ነው፡፡
    ዝንጀሮ የሯሷ መላጣ አይታያትም ይባል ነበር፡፡ የአንተስ ከዚያም የባሰ ነው!

    እረ እባክህ ተወን ተወን እጅ እጅ ብቻ ሳይሆን እግር እግርም አልከን፡፡

  4. Pareidolia… comes to my mind,
    Great article.
    We have been justifiably too radicalized in our own opinions. We, as a multiethnic and multihistory, collections have traversed so far from TRUSTING eachother and the ideas of civility, critical thinking, civil discourses and intelligent conversations that usually require trust, integrity, tolerance, admitting to blindspots and limitations, and inquiring clarifications to ambiguous or controversial points. In short, most of us are radicalized in our own justifiable prejudices and opinions. We sadly see this trend even among the so called intellectuals/ elites who are supposed to be reasonable/ logical and the lights of the society.
    Overall, our collective executive function is highly calcified with debris of funky historicity that bore the complex mesh of factors that led to our boringly predetermined personal views on issues.
    Thus, we settled in to hearing only what we want to hear- PAREIDOLIA- selective listening, and thriving in an echochamber of shared extremist opinion makers and platforms that further multiply and consolidates our funky views, even if it is faulty! .
    Hence the need for platforms of the likes of OMN, Radio Woyane, Ethio 360 and others that cater or accomodate only the ones who propound the political agenda of that media outlet and its predictable audience. Hence the loop, or vicious circle
    Sadly, we need to crush so HARD to the bottom of bottoms for us to awaken and realize our collective self-harm, ignorance and lack of civilty and maybe only then shall we rectify our phantom collective ignorance

  5. As always,
    you try yourself to be an intelectual, with high infleunce in ethiopia political spectrum.
    You are simply Anti amhar, anti ethiopia, self loved person.
    Nothing more , nothing less.
    The Amhara has the right to fiht for his existens. swallow it.
    Your struggle against the AMhara ppl and the ethiopians will end to ZERO.

    Speak by ye hasab gebeta, with Bekele Gerba and Hizkel Gabisa.

  6. ዶ/ር ዮናስ፦
    በድርሰቶችህ ላይ የምታቀርባቸው ሃሳቦች ቢደጋገሙም፣ ጥረትህን አልጠላውም። ግን ይኸን አማራ ሸኔ የሚለውን ፈጠራ ብትተወው ጥሩ ነው። የፋኖ ደጋፊዎች እንደ ሸኔ የአራዊት ጠባይ ቢያሳዩ፣ አንተም ዛሬ በሕይወት አትኖርም ነበር። አንተና መሰሎችህ የተለያዩ ጽሑፎች የምታካፍሉን በደረደርሀቸው መገናኛ ብዙሃን የአማራ ሸኔ የሚባል ባለመኖሩ ነው። አንዴ ያስያዙህን እየደጋገምህ በአንድ ጉዳይ ላይ ተቸክለህ መኖር ደግሞ የዶክቶር ወረቀትህን መና ያደርገዋል። የአርሶ አደር ልጅ ከሆንህና ባሕሉን ከወረሰህ፣ የአገሬ ባላገር እኮ የዛሬ 2000 ዓመት አካባቢ ያገኘውን የእርሻ መሣሪያ አለመቀየሩ፣ በከፊል ያንተ ዓይነት ተማርን ባዮች ተቸክሎ በመኖር ስለሚያምኑ ነው። ባለፉት 50 ዓመታት ግብርና ሚኒስቴርን የመሩት ባብዛኛው ወንበር ማሞቅ እንደ ሙያ በወሰዱ “ሊቃውንት” ነው። እንዳንተ ተቸካዮች ናቸው ማለት ነው !
    መገናኛ ብዙሃንን ለሶስት ከፍለህ፣ የተለያየ የፖለቲካ ትኩረት እንዳላቸውምም ነግረኸን፣ ትንሽ ወረድ ብለህ ደግሞ ለተለያየ ፖለቲካ አስተያየት ውይይትና ስምምነት መገንቢያ መድረክ አይደሉም ትላለህ ። ቅራኔ አይታይህም? እንዲሁም በተለያዩ ጽሑፎችህ ፋኖ የፖለቲካ ፕሮግርም የለውም ስትለን ነበር። በዚህ ጽሁፍህ ግን ” The reason why extremist forces do not want to talk about Fano’s political agenda, strategy and endgame is because they know their agenda will be rejected …” . ፋኖ የፖለቲካ ፕሮግራም እንዳለው ማመንህ ዕድገት ነው፣ ምንም ጥናት ሳታደርግ ግን ሕዝብ ይቀበለው አይቀበለው ለመጠንቆል የያዝኸው ወረቀት፣ እውነት ዶክቶሬት ከሆነ፣ አይፈቅድልህም። ሌላው የጅምላ አስተያየትህ ” Amhara does not have an organized party …. What it has is … activists …who aim to dial back the time to when the Amhara played a dominant role in state politics.” አማራ የተደራጀ ፓርቲ የለውም ስትል መረጃ አለህ ? ጃንሆይ የማን የልጅ ልጅ እንደነበሩ ታውቃለህ ? ሚኒስትሮቻቸውና ጀነራሎችስ ከየት ከየት እንደተወለዱ ሰምተሃል? ይህ አባባልህ በኦነግና በወያኔ የሚዘወተር ማደናቆሪያ ነው። የሌሎችን እንተወውና እስቲ አንተ ሕገ መንግሥቱን በማሻሻል፣ የበሰበሰውን የትምሕርት ሥርዓት በማቃናት፣ ለረሃብ የዳረገንን ግብርና በማዘመን፣ ከፈረንጅ ገልብጠህ ሳይሆን እንደ ጥሩ አበሻ፣ ለትውልድ ግንባታ የሚጠቅም ድርሰት አቅርብልንና እንወያይ ?

  7. Hi Borru,

    How come the famous Zehabesha media escaped your groupings? Is that because it publishes your mumbo jumbo humpty dumpty “analysis” without questioning its truthfulness and honesty? Is it also because it enables you to engage in name calling, libel and blackmail of media outlets and prominent individuals without any consequences including legal consequences ? You spared Zehabesha from your rant simply because it’s the only media left to provide you with a forum to say whatever you want. The others have shut you out and I feel that Zehabesha should do the same. In passing, I should add that you spared Zehabesha from your rant so that they keep publishing your rant. I find this an attempt to corrupt Zehabesha which it should expose publicly by shutting you out like others did. Corrupt in this small matter cannot be ethical and moral in bigger issues. As a result, whatever you say about others is not trustworthy.

    Zehabesha, do what’s right.

  8. ዮናስ ያስተላለፍከው መልእክት ለአንድነታችንና ለኢትዮጵያ አንድነት የሚጠቅም ቢሆን እናከብርህ ነበር ኦነግና ኦሮሙማ አውቺዝ ላይ ከተደረገው ባልተናነሰ በቅርቡ እንኳን ለህብረተሰቡ ስጋት ያልሆኑትን ከምድር ተለይተው በመንፈሳዊ እሳቤ የሚኖሩትን አባቶች ከጀርባ ያረደ ድርጅትን ይዘህ የፋኖ ጉዳይ እንዲህ ያንገበገበህ ከኦነግ በላይ በላይ ኦነግ የሆንክ ክፉ ጨካኝ ሰው ነህ፡፡ አብይ የምትጠቅመው ቢሆን የቀጀላ መርዳሳን ወይም የአንዱን ጨካኝ ኦነግ ቦታ ይሰጥህ ነበር፡፡ በነገራችን ላይ በመረጥከው የትምህርት ዘርፍ ዶክተር ተብለህ ይሆናል ያ ማለት በእውቀት ላይ ሙሉ ስልጣን አለኝ ሁሉን አውቃለሁ የምትለው አያስኬድህም፡፡ ዛሬ የሚያስፈልገን ማንበብ፤ጥሩ ግንዛቤና ሃገርን መውድድ ነው አንተ ደግሞ በተለያየ ጊዜ ጽሁፍህን እንዳነበብኩት እንደ ታማኝ በየነ አትርሱኝ አይነት አካሄድ እንጅ ጽሁፍህ በአስተማሪነቱ ምንም ኖት የያዝንበት የለም፡፡ በወለጋ በአሩሲ በተለያየ የኦሮሚያ ግዛት የደረሰው ልብህ ሳይደርስ አማራ አትግደሉኝ ልኑርበት ላለው ስጋት ሁኖህ እዚህና እዚያ ትረግጣለህ፡፡ የምትጠራበት መጠሪያ ዱፍትርናህ አስከትሎት የመጣ ብዙ ነገር ስላለ የቲክ ቶክ አይነት ታብሎይድ ጽሁፍ ይዘህ ወደዚህ ባትመጣ መልካም ነው፡፡ በል እኔንም አማራ ነው ብለህ ለራስህ ነግረኸው ተጽናና፡፡

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