Is he losing it?
Things have been going rather well for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi lately, in the last two years to be exact. He’s effectively removed both internal & external threats [to his country and government] with not more than a scratch to his name. Has not only re-kindled an alliance with the greatest nation in the world but won a reputation for being one of the two or three influential African leaders. And managed, if you’d credit it, to “register remarkable developments at macro-economic level for the last five consecutive years” so that countries like Uganda are being advised by their media people to take lessons from Ethiopia on how to turn your developmental government to success. Hell, there is even a song made in his honor! A song one would have [wrongly] assumed the old Meles would die of embarrassment @ seeing 🙂 .
As a result, the prospect of Meles becoming Ethiopia’s Roosevelt seem more plausible than ever. He knows that. So he hasn’t missed an opportunity to award the various “developmental hero”-farmers from the four sides of the country, to visit a city that’s never been visited by a head of state in past regimes, and has gone so far as inviting newspaper people and ask what he can do for them.
On the last one of these interview/press releases held on Friday, one of the three hot issues of the year were raised: the imprisonment of Wrt. Birtukan Midekssa. “Many are our friends”, the Prime Minister said in response, “who voiced their concern over the young woman being sent to jail over something they felt doesn’t seem worth losing a hat over.” Some of them, those he labeled “good guys”, saw it as an embarrassment for his government, something it should have proved to be above of. Others simply felt sorry for the single mother.
The “bad guys”, on the other hand, saw it as a human-right’s violation. “Release the woman”, they demanded, “and do it now!!”. It’s at this juncture that the Prime Minister said something that made abesheet scratch her head in discontent: “Since this is the case of imposition”, continued his Premiership, “we’d say to them ‘This is our country. Thus says our law. If you like it, take it. If you don’t, beLimalimo Aquwartu’”.
It’s no secret to any of us how Ato Meles Zenawi made a fine job of turning all, except one, of Ethiopia’s 14 regions against him in the last 17 years: By saying and doing what he will without a care in the world. By needlessly antagonizing both friends and foes just so he doesn’t budge an inch. By showing himself to be a bitter individual who despised our ways, jeered at our values, and derived pleasure from seeing us wriggle and squirm. And although some of us feel these qualities, for they are qualities only the mighty and the loony can afford to exhibit, would have won him fans in a Television Host and/or Political Satirist position in a country like America (where people like to have the truth on the chin, and then laughed), they only helped him win enemies left and right in Ethiopia (a country where people like to have their truths doubly sugar-coated, thankyouverymuch, if at all!).
What’s more, he never pretended to give a damn, adding insult to injury. So he became, at best, an intelligent man who uses his intellect “for evil”, as they say. At worst – well, you’ve seen the cartoons!
To his reasonable admirers, however, P.M. Meles is and has always been an individual with a killer sense of humor (sometimes literally, other times only the funny bones). Traits, they regret to see, not many Ethiopians are capable of appreciating.
But lately, United Ethiopian Democratic Party’s (UEDP-Medhin, EDUP-Medhin, etcetera’s) Lidetu Ayalew seem to have more luck in cracking every Parliamentarian up than his Primershipness. Meles’ lines are no longer comical, funny, amusing; even when he wanted them to be. He looks serious and talks serious. As if he’s trying to respond and please. To earnestly win votes. At last becoming, it seems, what everybody would have paid to have him be Post-2005 Election: the People’s Prime Minister!
Gone are the days in which his sly remarks felt like a kick in the stomach, leaving us bruised and dissatisfied (for we knew not how to protest, and were too weak to protect ourselves from it). Remarks members of VOA’s Amharic “kifL” split in width and breadth and analyzed under the microscope. Remarks the Idiotas at ETV marveled over, and sucked the sugar out of, for weeks and weeks.
Is he, perhaps, losing touch with his cynicism, his “edge”, his ‘you-be-damned’ air that made listeners like the undersigned chuckle with delight every time he decided to turn on “the charm”?!. Has bad times taught him to start giving a damn, appreciate the way we were, or atleast pretend to?! And are we going to one day miss what Meles used to be, more importantly miss-out from it, and be forced to embrace (yet again) what he has become: The ‘Swan’ Prime Minister that started out as the ‘ugliest duckling’ known to [Ethiopia’s] history?!
Don’t like it. Don’t like it one bit!
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