Letter to gashe Tsegaye (Poem, Amharic PDF)

Published in: on June 24, 2007 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  


                         HAMA TUMA

 Vladimir Poutine is not a humorous man. You look at him and there stands a non nonsense tyrant, jaws firmly set, menacing and piercing gaze intact, and an experienced judoka alert for one false move on anyone’s part. The Chechens can confirm that. If this had not been the case I for one would have taken his recent declaration as funny–Poutine said that Germany’s former leader, Schroeder, called him a “pure democrat” but he, Poutine, has found no solace in this (Of course, I am a pure democrat, Poutine affirms) because “I am the only pure democrat and have no one to talk to”.  We all know tyrants are delusional but this one does top it all. The loneliness of pure tyrants calling themselves lonely democrats is a troubling notion. 

The local tyrant who rules with an iron fist over an impoverished country of 77 million has also his own particular traumas and paranoia. He claims he is misunderstood by his people who imagine they are oppressed when they are actually liberated, who think they are poor and destitute when the economy gallops at a 10% annual growth rate, who fear the country will fall apart just because the regime is practicing ethnic politics and encouraging secession. Meles Zenawi is the name and tyranny is his game. A comedian without the face for it, he laments like Poutine that he has really no one to talk to and that he yearns for a real and strong opposition. Both Poutine and Meles are of course delusional. Both have jailed almost all their political rivals and dissidents. Both have unleashed their armies and political police to repress all opposition.  This is the reality that they have failed to understand. We have no one to talk to, they claim, after slicing off all tongues that dared to speak freely. We can argue that they may or they do believe that they are pure democrats lonely out there in a political Sahara where no caravan ever passes. Lonely indeed. The right word for it maybe delusional. A state of mind that does lead to hallucinations.  The malady affects also self declared democrats like Bush and the outgoing (what a relief!) Tony Blair. The latter is just a puppet but the Bush fellow does declare that Iraq and Afghanistan are enjoying democracy and the war will be won soon. Mission accomplished even if delayed? 

When Meles first sent his army into Somalia he argued quite seriously that he was not invading but just “crossing the border” (maybe a Club Med for the army?). His regime has more than 30,000 political prisoners but he not only refuses to see the zeros but claims that there is not even one political prisoner in Ethiopia. The Ogadenis, to cite only one example, can, like the Chechens, argue that they are being repressed badly but he refuses to acknowledge this situation at all. He is scared of his own people, paranoiac to boot but claims the majority love him. He slaughtered more than 200 peaceful demonstrators in Addis Ababa and holds a festive celebration for his daughter right after it. The victims are cursed as provocateurs; they stood in the way of the bullets of the sharpshooters. What do you expect but death if you intercept a bullet going its own way, please?  His wife, the mother of corruption, sheds tears trying to make people believe that she could not even afford the school fees of her daughter. 76 million Ethiopians earning less than a dollar a day were expected to sympathize and, perhaps, launch a “voluntary” collection for her. At face value, all this can read as comedy but it is a tragic situation as it deals with a serious mental malady. 

Tyrants can feel lonely despite their hallucinations and denial of the reality. In their special world where cold winds blow laced with blood they cannot really be kind to themselves as psychologists may advice someone with a trauma or persecution mania. The walls are far apart but they feel compressed, about to be crushed. Meles Zenawi is fortifying his palace and the defence ministry with blockades and electric wire. He has jailed the elected representatives of the people and is pressurizing them to sign (their prison and impeding sentencing to long terms being glaring cases of duress) a paper demanding a pardon for faults/errors that the people know they never committed. Yet, the tyrant wants to believe that the whole process is kosher and that this piece of forced signature is valid and will exonerate him from his crime. Having abnormal thoughts which are sometimes known to be irrational by the victim himself suggest some form of compulsive disorder. In the tyrant’s topsy- turvy world, the crazed ideas that pop unto his mind are considered real. Forcing prisoners to sign confessions and ask for pardon is continuing in perpetuity, from the Middle Ages to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin’s time to Abu Ghraib, to Kerchiele and Kaliti, to the present. Meles admired Stalin and loved Enver Hohxa of Albania and during the guerrilla days burnt dissident’s back with red hot scythes /  yegale machid/. Once a torturer always a sadist. or in other terms as the Teaching of Buddha puts it in Evil Desires and Worldly Passions: if people become accustomed to lying, they will unconsciously commit wrong deeds. Before they can act evil they must lie, and once they begin to lie they will act evilly with unconcern. And we all know Meles Zenawi lies even in his dreams! 

We have no one to talk to; we yearn for a strong opposition, cry the tyrants. This stems from their feeling of abandonment, of persecution, of not being loved. This is caused by their realization (though not necessarily admission) of their evil acts. Dem ykajazal, say Ethiopians. The blood you spill will be your nightmare. The tyrants swing their scythe to cut off any fresh flower or green grass and then wail that the area has become barren and dusty. Both in Russia and Ethiopia, the prisons and gulags are full. Many dissidents have fled abroad. No one talks to Poutine or Meles because no one is foolish enough to. During the former regime, the military dictator imagined himself an expert on all and sundry. He strutted and fumed and imagined he was privy to the counsel of the Gods and the Big Powers. Like all tyrants and would be dictators his ego weighed tons and crushed any grey matter he may have had. He thus ordered expert agronomists to farm grains where no grain would ever grow and no one dared to say the “Emperor is naked” to his face. Disaster was what followed in all fields. This feeling of loneliness or we have no one to talk to is the reverse side of the inflated ego, the lack of self confidence. Meles and Poutine may say they are pure democrats but deep down even in their own bellies they hear the loud roar of derisive laughter. Experts put it as follows:

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is characterized by “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy,” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, or DSM-IV. Such individuals overestimate their abilities and inflate their accomplishments, often appearing boastful. They often underestimate or devalue the abilities and accomplishments of others. Believing they are superior or unique, they may feel they can only be understood by other “special” or high-status people. They usually feel entitled to special treatment and are confused or furious when they’re treated just like everybody else.

Because they consider their work and their needs to be so important and are usually insensitive to the needs of others, those with NPD often end up exploiting the people around them. They often come across as cold, haughty, arrogant, snobbish or patronizing, and they’re often envious of others or believe others are envious of them.

Because narcissistic individuals usually require excessive admiration, you can probably guess that in reality their self-esteem is usually very fragile. The inflated ego can be seen as an attempt to overcome a fragile, wounded self — one reason they may feel hollow or empty inside. The inflated ego is easily punctured by criticism or by not having needs met. The resulting exposure of the wounded self often brings pain, rage or disdain. Sometimes, though, the individual may react by socially withdrawing or expressing humility in an effort to cover up the grandiosity.”

Somewhere in there I am sure we can situate Poutine who boasts he is the only pure democrat and Meles who says he yearns for a real opposition lest he becomes corrupted by power. Comedy? You wish!

Published in: on June 24, 2007 at 9:13 pm  Leave a Comment