Meles Zenawi and the miseducation of Ethopian youth – By Teodros Kiros (PhD)

October 6th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

“Fortunately, I do not make decisions for her. But if I were to make that decision, I would tell her to stay clear from this kind of life, if she possibly can. (more…)

“Fortunately, I do not make decisions for her. But if I were to make that decision, I would tell her to stay clear from this kind of life, if she possibly can. But in the end, if there is enough fire in her to make it possible to live such a life – because I do not think you can live it without adequate fire inside – and if she has that fire, then welcome to the club. “But if she does not have that fire, this should be the last thing she should think of. And my advice to every kid in Ethiopia is “if you have the fire – go for it, if you do not – stay as far away from it as you possibly can for your own health.” so said Ethiopia’s prime minister, Ato Meles Zenawi.

Sadly, this is the classic case of miseducating Ethiopian youth. I truly wish that Meles had controlled his mouth and thought carefully about words. He is no philosopher, not even a deliberative mind; if he were, he would think first and then speak. Characteristically, he shoots from his mouth, and he leaves it at


In this short piece I would like to examine the truth status of his unthought out statements.

Consider the first statement,

‘ I do not make decisions for her”.

He might not, perhaps, because, she does not let him. Unlike all the political prisoners whom he has jailed, she has a choice. She could walk out of the palace because

(a) She can, if she wants to and

(b) He cannot imprison her if she walks out. The prisoners whom he has jailed have no options. They cannot choose for themselves, if they dare, as some of them did, they would be told that they have violated the myopic constitution-and put in prison.

He dares us when he says,

“ I would tell her to stay clear from this kind of life”

Which kind of life, he does not say. Clearly he is speaking about the life of public accountability, when the leader makes mistakes. He does not believe in the right of the citizen to use public reason and criticize leaders, when they fail to lead properly. The right to use public reason is the core of Living Democracy, a right for which the citizen is jailed in Meles Zenawi’s Ethiopia.

What he has is not fire, or what he might have meant, passion. Passion or fire is a democratic virtue when it is appropriately used at the right time and for the right reason. That passion he does not have. His passion is tyranny, the squashing of dissent and the murder of public reason, the reasoning power of the Ethiopian citizen.

What his daughter needs is not tyrannical fire, but democratic fire, the fire that empowers the citizen to think, to dissent, and to participate in the decision making process.

I truly hope that his vacuous statements do not destroy the Ethiopian youth, whom he is miseducating.

In direct contrast to him, I say to the youth of Ethiopia, use passion in concert with reason. Public offices are not the spaces which you must occupy to silence others, but to allow others to question you, to teach you, to challenge you, so that you can grow and mature along with the citizen who must reason and hold you accountable for the decisions that you make.

Political life, contrary to Meles, is a public good provided that the leader becomes philosophical and philosophy itself becomes an attractive vocation for those who think, for all those who think before speaking.

Perhaps, his daughter whom I congratulate, would teach her father, by one day occupying a public office, and become the voice of Living Democracy.

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