Will Abiy Ahmed’s Faustian Bargain bring an end to Ethiopia?

 
The Ethiopian tragedy precipitated by Abiy Ahmed is analogous to the story of Dr. Faustus who made a deal with the devil for power.

The Faustian bargain struck by Abiy Ahmed has cost the destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives, the economy, and the political unity of Ethiopia. The last of which is likely gone forever.  Famine, displacement, isolation, economic disaster, hostility with neighboring countries, and almost comprehensive strife between many factions and ethnicities is the reality of Abiy Ahmed’s leadership of Ethiopia. The human tragedy of Dr. Faustus told in the Elizabethan play by Christopher Marlowe seems to have become reality in Abiy Ahmed.

As a young man Abiy Ahmed joined the Ethiopian Army and eventually became an intelligence officer. This field fascinated him as he was a protégé of the Tigrayan leader, Getachew Assefa. Eventually Abiy would help form the INSA(Information Network Security Agency), the national intelligence service that was at first quite secretive about its existence. 

Intelligence officers play key roles in military functioning but often do not end up as leading commanders because they develop false senses of security about the value of their knowledge which is often prejudiced by wanting to prove previously held beliefs about a potential adversary. Developing command capability in the military requires experiences much more than being an intelligence officer alone.

As a member of the Ethiopian Parliament Abiy Ahmed developed a reputation of being an intelligent and devote protector of the rights of the Oromo people who he was thought to represent with zeal. The Addis Ababa housing authority was giving housing to Amhara,  who worked for the capital city, houses in the Oromo region. This was seen as a part of the expansion of the mostly Amhara city which had been built by the Amharic emperor to colonize the Oromo region a century before into the Oromo Regional State. Abiy Ahmed championed that housing in the Oromo region should go to Oromos.

There is no denying that Abiy Ahmed had great talents as orator and potential to be a great leader perhaps. His talk of medemer where he would build a unity of Ethiopia’s many different Ethnic groups into a blended national unity appealed to many Ethiopians. At that time he denied rumors that his mother was unlike his Oromo father an Amhara. 

After being thrust forward to the rank of Prime Minister by his confidant Lemma Megersa (leader of the Oromos) and Jawar Mohammed (leader of Qeero movement) he seemed destined for greatness, being a part of the most numerous ethnic group making up more than 30% of the Ethiopian population.

Yet somehow this gift of power and prestige was not enough. Like the tragedy of Dr. Faustus in the famous play by Christopher Marlowe at some point following his being named Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed decided he needed more power. The promotors of Amhara dominance and expansionism who had been somewhat silent for years on the domestic political front but active in the diaspora  began to whisper in Abiy Ahmed’s ear. They became the “Mephastophilis” who promised greater power and immortality if Abiy Ahmed just let go of reasonable logic and would trust the power of evil.

A joint alliance of “religious leaders” promised that God would allow Abiy Ahmed to break all rules of Christian morality in the name of creating a “Christian” Ethiopian state under Amharic dominance. It did not matter that no where in Scripture is such a thing promised. What these leaders were saying was the equivalent of saying during Jesus walk in the desert, described in Matthew 4:1-11,  when he was tempted by the Devil to accept him over God to rule the world Jesus should have accepted the Devil.  That this was necessary because Ethiopia was in another Zemene Mesafint, a time of many princes but no king, which would doom Ethiopia. 

Abiy Ahmed has forgotten his Oromo heritage while many of his own ethnic group rebel in growing numbers against him. He has imprisoned Jawar Mohammed and severely sanctioned Lemma Megersa. In fact almost anyone who was a previous mentor has become an enemy.

At this moment the war in Ethiopia rages on in destruction. The Tigray and their allies are advancing but they have offered to negotiate but tragically Abiy Ahmed and his collaborators under the Mephastophilian influence refuse logic.  Will Abiy Ahmed be like Dr. Faustus who in the end of the play realizes his sin and need for repentance or he will see Ethiopia to it’s end?

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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