EPRDF, Tesfaye Habisso and the 99.6 percent plagiarism By Abebe Gellaw

June 8th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

It is extremely unlikely for identical twins, let alone an Ethiopian ‘diplomat’ and a British born South African scholar who have never met in their entire lives, to write a 15-page long academic paper in exactly the same way, using the same language, words, sentences, paragraphs, data, titles…commas and full-stops. It may be a miracle but the impossible has happened.

A couple of days ago, someone sent out an email that suggested that Mr. Tesfaye Habisso, former high-ranking official and Ethiopian Ambassador to Uganda and South Africa under the Meles regime, may have committed plagiarism.

As a journalist, I decided to investigate the veracity of the allegation and get to the bottom of this bizarre incidence. Despite the fact that Mr. Habisso is widely known as one of the most dubious apologists of the tyrannical regime in Ethiopia, he always tried to hide behind intellectual sophistry. In the past few years, he has graced pro-tyranny websites such as Aigaforum, Tigray Online and Ethiopia First. Whatever the case may be, before claiming that anyone has committed such a despicable act of intellectual piracy, facts must be established. The first task is to compare the two papers word by word, sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph. They are almost identical! There isn’t a shadow of doubt that Dr. Colin Darcch is the author of the scholarly paper entitled, “The Ethiopian Student Movement in the Struggle against Imperialism, 1960-1974.”
After thoroughly investigating the case, I contacted both authors who incidentally happened to write an identical academic paper on the Ethiopian student movement.

The first author, Dr. Colin Darch, was born and educated in England. According to his Linkedin profile, he got a Bachelor of Arts degree in English studies at Oxford University in 1965. In 1994 he went to the United States where he obtained the Associate of the Library Association (ALA) from Northwestern Polytechnic School of Librarianship. He received his Ph.D. from University of Bradford, England, in Social and Economic Analysis. Currently a senior information specialist at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he is a naturalized citizen; he describes himself as: “South African academic librarian, lecturer and researcher with extensive experience in African countries and in Brazil.” In addition to his mother tongue, English, he speaks Portuguese and Russian. He is interested in copyright, intellectual property and the sociology of information access rights in the South. He has written extensively on a variety of issues and authored a few books including A Soviet View of Africa.

I emailed Dr. Darch a brief note and the online links of both academic papers. I wanted to know whether the paper in question was authored by him or Ambassador Habisso. He replied quickly, in less than two hours. He wrote:

Dear Ato Abebe,

How fascinating. I am the only author of the paper. I worked in Ethiopia, at the then Haile Sellassie I University, as Associate University Librarian, from 1970 to 1974, and experienced the events on campus during that period. I then moved to the University of Dar es Salaam and wrote the paper in question for the East African Social Sciences conference, which in those years rotated around Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam. Somewhere I still have the original mimeo copy of the paper, which was hard to scan and full of typographical mistakes. Ato Tesfaye – who is completely unknown to me – is therefore guilty of plagiarism [emphasis mine]. Incidentally, I wonder if Ato Tesfaye knows Russian – I mention several Russian sources specifically, and am the author of the book A Soviet View of Africa, which is a study of Tsarist and Soviet writings on the Horn of Africa. I should be interested to hear what Ato Tesfaye has to say for himself.

Please keep in touch, and thanks for the heads-up.


Colin Darch

Written in 1976, Dr. Colin Darch’s paper, “The Ethiopian Student Movement in the Struggle against Imperialism, 1960-1974” was based on his personal observation and the research he conducted. Dr. Darch presented his paper at the 12th Annual Social Science Conference of the East African Universities held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in December 1976. A book lover and writer, Dr. Darch re-edited and republished his paper in 2002 on his website, www.colindarch.info, which he uses as a repository for his writings. The paper is still accessible online at this url: http://www.colindarch.info/docs/19761222_Ethiopian_student_movement.pdf .
At the other end of the authorship scale perches Ambassador Habisso, who published his academic paper, “The Ethiopian Student Movement and the Struggle Against [sic] Feudal Monarchy and Imperialism, 1960-1974’” in 2009 on one of TPLF-sponsored websites, EPRDF-Supporters Forum, www.eprdf-sf.org. The forum is led by one of the loudest cheerleaders and apologists of the TPLF regime, a certain Mekonnen Kassa.

The note from the publisher reads: “This is a document that is written with a lot of love, care and it is based on references and facts. I suggest everyone to read it and remember how Ethiopia is freed from a feudal monarchy and imperialism. Read more and pass it over to friends.”
Mr. Habisso came to public prominence in 1991. He was one of the ethnic party leaders that joined the fanfare of the TPLF-led transitional government. A founder of the Kenbata People’s Congress, he was appointed Secretary General of the Council of Representatives of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (1991-1994).

In an interview with a blog, Hambaricho, Mr. Tesfaye Habisso said that he was born and raised in Begedamo, Kembata, which is located in Southern Ethiopia. According to his own account, he was a student at the then Haile Selassie I University from 1965 to 1969.

By the time Dr. Darch got employed at the same university in 1971, Mr. Habisso had already left college and joined civil service. One of the most important sentences Mr. Habisso redacted from Dr. Darch’s paper says: “The present writer was employed at the university between February 1971 and March 1975, and was an eyewitness to many of the events described between these dates.”

I contacted both writers separately. The only thing I wanted from Mr. Habisso was a confirmation from him that he was indeed the author of the scholarly paper in question. I emailed him the following:

Dear Mr. Habisso, I read your fascinating paper, “The Ethiopian Student Movement and the Struggle against Feudal Monarchy and Imperialism.” It is wonderfully written and very engaging. I should thank you for preserving and capturing this momentous piece of our history. Thank you so much again.

Best regards


I was certain that Mr. Habisso would not reply at all. But he proved me wrong with a quick reply.

Dear Abebe,

Great thanks for your kind remarks. We cannot, and should not, forget the immense sacrifices of the Ethiopian students of the yesteryears who selflessly and relentlessly struggled to realize a better livable Ethiopia for succeeding generations. Thanks again. Stay well.

Tesfaye Habisso

I wanted to stretch the conversation further before I posed the most difficult question. And yet, my second email was enough to indicate the pun in the content. I suggested to him that he should expand on his paper and make it a book.

Dear Mr. Tesfaye, Thank you so much for your reply. Your scholarly paper, Ethiopian Student Movement and the Struggle against Feudal Monarchy and Imperialism covers the time between 1960 to 1974. I wish you would also write the second sequel, from1974 to 1991. In fact, if you also write the third part from 1991 to date, it can definitely make a great book. What do you think?

Thank you so much again for this enlightening work.

Best regards

To my surprise, Mr. Habisso tried not to sound suspicious given the fact that he only changed the name of the real author and took ownership of Dr. Darch’s work. He replied:

That is a great idea that requires a great research endeavour but worth taking the initiative. Let me reflect upon it for a while. Thanks for the novel idea and interest. Bye

What I was certain was the fact that Mr. Habisso has indeed contributed three words, “feudal monarchy and”, to the original title. That is the most noticeable contribution he has made to the entire academic paper, not to mention his name in the byline.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Habisso has also redacted three significant sentences that could have given clues to readers as to the identity of the real author. Another conspicuous feature of Mr. Habisso’s paper is that EPRDF-Supporters Forum has delightfully embraced and endorsed the stolen intellectual property. At the bottom of every page, it reads, “Copyright 2008-2009. All rights reserved.” By doing so, EPRDF has given copyright protection to Mr. Habisso’s “work”. Moreover, the flags of the nine ethnic “federal states” have been watermarked on the pages. As weird as the whole travesty, the nine federal states seem to have put their seal of approval by waving their flags on Mr. Habisso’s “intellectual property”.
Unlike the original copy, Mr. Habisso’s paper is not 15-page long but contains 21 pages. This is not because Mr. Habisso contributed a few more sentences, paragraphs or ideas. He added almost nothing, not a single sentence. He just took ownership of the whole thing without compromising its originality. To their credit, the publishers and the new author, His Excellency Mr. Ambassador Tesfaye Habisso, reformatted the paper and changed the font size, maybe to make it appear more visible and appealing to the eye.

Dr. Darch clearly stated right below the title when and where the academic paper was presented. Mr. Habisso thought that this sentence was totally unnecessary as he did not make an effort to travel all the way to Tanzania in 1979 to present and discuss his paper with other intellectuals from East Africa Universities. The smart diplomat got a tech-savvy shortcut, finished the hack job in a few minutes and sent his paper electronically to his masters at Aigaforum and EPRDF. Mr. Habisso performed his magic from the comfort of his armchair.

In the first paragraph, Dr. Darch wrote:

“Until 1974 radical commentators did not generally regard Ethiopia as an important arena in the struggle against repression, backwardness and neo-colonialism. For one thing, the old regime was very successful at projecting a progressive image abroad. The Emperor’s self-assumed role as heroic resister against Fascism, supporter of liberation movements, patron of the OAU and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and benevolent ruler of his people was shown to have been an anomaly only by the popular revolt of 1974. The attempted cover-up of the famine in Wollo Province at a time when the old regime was prepared to spend millions of Ethiopian dollars on the showcase celebrations of the OAU’s tenth anniversary revealed the bankruptcy of the Ethiopian political system to the world, and contributed to the overthrow of the imperial Ethiopian government in a step-by-step army coup that lasted from February to September. The degeneracy of the Ethiopian land-owning and capitalist class was so advanced that the Provisional Military Administrative Council (the Dergue) was able to edge Haile Sellassie from his throne with startling ease, and with virtually no organized opposition. Much of the credit for the anti-monarchic and anti-feudal popular mood that made this coup possible must go to the Ethiopian student movement, which had been in the vanguard of the struggle for a progressive Ethiopia for fifteen years.”
There is no need of repeating what the second scholar, H.E Mr. Tesfaye Habisso, has written in his academic paper simply because it is the same thing from start to finish. Let us, however, examine a very interesting bibliographic note Mr. Habisso wrote:

“Most of the economic data in this study have been drwan [sic] from Assefa Bequele and Eshetu Chole (A profile of the Ethiopian economy [Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1969]), which paints a bleak picture of the situation in the early 1960s. Data on education have also been taken from the Ministry of Information pamphlet Ethiopia today: education (Addis Ababa, 1973). It is fair to assume that the Ministry’s enrolment figures were exaggerated for propaganda purposes, but they were still so low that comment is superfluous.

“I have in addition used several documents issued by the former Haile Sellassie I University, including A forward look: a special report from the president (Addis Ababa, 1969); Office of the Registrar, Student data 1963/4-1973/4 (Addis Ababa, s.d.); The President’s Report (Addis Ababa, annual); and a series of circulars, memoranda and resolutions issued by the university authorities, by various faculty bodies, and by USUAA from 1969 to 1974. My descriptions of events from 1971 to 1974 are also based on personal observation and on conversations with eye-witnesses.”
That is exactly what Dr. Darch also penned in his paper. That means the two authors were doing the same thing at Haile Sellassie I University in the 1970s despite the fact that Mr. Habisso left the university in 1969. Here is what Dr. Darch’s paper says: “Most of the economic data in this study have been drwan from Assefa Bequele and Eshetu Chole (A profile of the Ethiopian economy [Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, 1969]), which paints a bleak picture of the situation in the early 1960s….” Everything is the same including the spelling mistake. Both of them have spelt drawn as “drwan.” Bekele is not also spelt in the usual Ethiopian way. It is a truly amazing coincidence!

After examining the two papers, I have concluded that H.E. Mr. Tesfaye Habisso did not properly read Dr. Darch’s paper, let alone taking part in the researching and writing process, which is obviously a daunting task. What Mr. Habisso did was recklessly and willfully copied the whole write-up, just like a photocopy machine, and then changed the byline from “Colin Darch” to “Tesfaye Habisso”. He should have done a much smarter job than stealing an honest account of the Ethiopian student movement by a foreign scholar.

When Hambaricho blog pressed Mr. Habisso to give an honest answer on the dubious death of his Kembata People’s Congress, he was very incensed. “What I mentioned to you regarding the KPC is what I know and only what I know, no politicking, no diplomatic niceties. If you have any other more reliable source of information, then, you stick to it but never question my integrity and honesty, please. OK?”

Ok! But H.E Mr. Ambassador Tesfaye Habisso should now stand up to defend his scholarly thesis, which he boldly and shamelessly posted on the World Wide Web as his own. What is at stake is his integrity and honesty.

When the TPLF declared 99.6 percent election victory last year, Mr. Habisso came out to endorse the election result in its entirety despite the fact that honest foreign observers rejected it as a tyrannical farce. Despite all that, Mr. Habisso wrote: “The victory was comprehensive and decisive resulting in the largest electoral margin in Ethiopia’s election history since its transition to a democratic political system in 1991.”

Mr. Habisso’s 99.6 percent plagiarism is certainly as fraudulent as EPRDF’s 99.6 election victory. As the old African adage goes – the witness of a rat is another rat.
Related links
Tesfaye Habisso, The Ethiopian Student Movement and the Struggle Against the Feudal Monarchy and Imperialism, 1960-1974.


or a republished copy on Addis Voice


Dr. Colin Darch, The Ethiopian Student Movement in the Struggle against Imperialism, 1960-1974


Hambaricho, Interview with Ambassador Tesfaye Habisso


Colin Darch, Linkedin profile


  1. Dany
    | #1

    Real good job!I am surprised the man who boasts so much of his ‘works ‘did not even care to read the paper he plagiarised.Had he read it , I am sure he should have spotted the spelling errors and correct them .Big shame on you !

  2. maffi
    | #2

    Thanks Abe, can’t wait to see which rat will come to defend his “scholarly work”. besak!

  3. Selamu
    | #3

    Wiy Kilet, Will he commit suicide after this. My God, how would he disgrace himself at this age.

  4. Gash Polisu
    | #4


    you have done a wonderful job here. this guy is a thief like his mentor Meles Zenawi.

    This is not the first time that the bad ambassador has plunged himself to such moral abyss by stealing the works of others and showcasing them as if they were the fruits of his own mental labour. These days the world is replete with a cornucopia of information and one can achieve his goal by simply gleaning pieces and hinestly attributing them to their intellectual producers. What is worse with Mr Tesfaye’s case of barefaced plagiarism is that not only he does not use the stolen stuff for academic purposes, but rather he uses it to defend and prop up one of the most brutal ethno-fascist regimes on the African continent.

    Now that Abebe has ignited the tortch, I will add another shameless incident of plagiarism by Tesfaye Habisso. Read and compare word for word, paragraph for paragraph, from the start to the the list of sources at the end and you will understand that these TPLFites are not only the most greedy robbers and exploiters economically but also the most shameless plagiarists on earth.

    http://www.wardheernews.com/Articles_10/July/25_The_Fallacy_and_Failure_of_Neo-Liberalism.pdf ["by Tesfaye habisso"]

    http://www.bidstrup.com/economics.htm [by the real author Scott Bidstrup]

  5. tomas
    | #5

    It just goes to show you that a bad person is a bad person. What would stop him from cheating on his wife if he is willing to plagiarize and to betray his people? Plagiarism is the highest crime in academia just as treason is to ones country. This man has committed both. Tesfaye Habisso shamefully chose to copy another person’s scholarly work on Ethiopia( ማፈሪያ! and claimed it as his own.

  6. Oda Tulu
    | #6

    Tesfaye brought disgrace and shame on himself,immediate family, relatives and freinds. He should commit suicide or show open remorse for his atrocious act

    I thank Abebe Gellaw for his superb ingenuity in investgative journalism.

  7. Anonymous
    | #7

    Dear Abebe

    Great work! As usual your writing is well organized with facts and good investigation juranilst work. I enjoy your writings and you’re the voice for the voicless majority ethiopian who are suffering under the minority tribal Meles/TPLF aparthied system! keep up the good work! By the way I wasn’t surprise the stealing of some one’s intelectual work by one of the Weyane sale out agents because todays ethiopia all higher positon is filled by TPLF Tigrean minority merceneries & their sale out messanger from ohter ethnics who has no any educatiion or qualification so at least copy&paste & modifing the title is a major accomplishemnt for these tribal iliterate mercenaries!

  8. Anonymous
    | #8

    Thanks Abbie!

    I was feeling uncomfortable by the volume of this guy’s writing. If, like me, you have seen his performances immediately after Melles assumed power, it would be verrrrrrrrrrry difficult to take this man as a serious intellectual.

    የቅሌ መአት ይሏል ይሄ ነው

  9. ቶውፊቅ
    | #9

    ይህ ሌባ ሰው ከዚህ ቀደም በአንድ ድርጅት ሥር (ኢጭ አት) መሪው የነበረውን ወዳጁን አቶ አሰፋ ጫቦ የተባሉን አሳልፎ ለደርግ እስር ቤት የሰጠ ሰው ነበረ:: ሁለቱም ለደርግ መሪዎች ቅርብ ነበሩ:: በኋል ግን ተስፋዬ ከዳተኛ ሁኖ አሰፋን አሳሰረው:: በዛም ሳይበቃ ለአዲሶቹ ወያኔዎች ደግሞ እጁን ሰጥቶ የነ መለስ ዜናዊ ብላክሜይል ሰለባ ሆነ::
    ይህ ቅሌታም ተደብቆ የሚኖር መስሎት ኑርዋል! ዕውነትና ውሐ እያደር መጥራቱ የማይቀር ነው:: ለ

  10. Bekumsa
    | #10

    First I thought, wait a minute is this really true and I looked up what Gash Polisu posted above. I am saddened by what I saw, word to word, His excellency Tesfaye Habiso copied Scott Bidstrap. This shame but may be not surprising because if we really look into the genius Meles’s thesis, we may discover its source. What to believe about Ethiopia, Ethiopian scholars and politicians really?

  11. Dany
    | #11

    What a shameless act !
    I appeal to the Academic Community to put much pressure on Addis Ababa University to disqualify the degree granted to this person whose thesis solely based on plagiarised works.
    I hope also ‘Aiga forum’ is no that cheap enough to post his wrtings any longer.

  12. Alem
    | #12

    What do you mean by “Meles’s thesis”?

  13. kaitama
    | #13

    Inquiry injection is what is needed to be done.Tesfaye Habisso not only he is now what Meles Zinawi made him to be,he is also a terrible intellectual property thief.the adage don’t lie,and it says this- work and eat.Period.

    You see,Ethiopians,thieves are made not born.Did Tesfaye Habisso choose to be a thief in his mother’s woumb? No,not at all;none of us did either. Rather,what we think is who we are,as what we eat is who we are.

    Tesfaye Habisso,now a disgraced Zinawi’s Lolai has been a habitual lier a sick man with brain cramp.Tesfaye Habisso is nothing but Zinawi.

  14. Haileyesus
    | #14

    Ato Tesfaye Habiso must come out and appologise in public and offer explanation. Whate ever his political standing may be, it is a despicable act to present some one’s work as ones own. It is theft and criminal act.

  15. Yohannes Tumebo
    | #15

    Ato Tesfaye Habisso is known to be one of the most notorious opportunists serving the fascist and racist regime of Meles Zenawi. This same guy was a communist cadre under the derg and used to enjoy good life then. The Derge was not racist and Tesfaye had not faced the derogatory words and backbitings his TPLF racist paymasters haul on him and others from South Ethiopia. He has no qualm to sell his soul for benefits and is well experienced with changing his colours like Chameleons do to adjsut themselves to their surroundings. As such, he offered his services to the TPLF fascists and racists who covertly or overtly express their contempt for Ethiopians from the south. His TPLF masters treat him with all their contempt they show to the southerners whom they describe as `not reliable or trustable`. His diplomatic assignments were limited to the roles of a simple messenger who works under the direct control and command of the TPLF cadres assigned in Embassies abroad. His writings posted on the TPLF websites and bashing Ethiopians especially the Amharas are all meant to reaffirm his servitude to his TPLF paymasters.

  16. ያእቆብ
    | #16

    Thank you, Ato Abebe Gellaw. It is a great job!!! Shame on Tesfaye Habisso! Ato Tesfaye Habisso is a simple commodity that anyone with money can buy and sell. He sold himself to tplf as a loyal slave by bashing Amharas and blaming them for every ill of the country. His intellectual crime was partly due to his desperate attempt to remain relevant to his master. Shame..shame..shame on Tesfaye Habisso!

  17. Bekumsa
    | #17

    @Alem, I meant about I guess a PhD thesis of PM Meles, which is basically guiding the government policies in Ethiopia. I have read it and I thought the thesis is more of a rhetoric than a careful conceptual analysis about the failure of neo-liberalism and the need for developmental states especially in Africa. The PM on his thesis blasted neo-liberal policy prescriptions by rhetoric instead of factual arguments thus I wondered if the ideas are all his? Just wondering. But I did not assert just wonder.

  18. Selamu
    | #18

    Gud Fella, Tesfay , what are you thinking? Another Kilet discovered by Gashe Polisu

    http://www.wardheernews.com/Articles_10/July/25_The_Fallacy_and_Failure_of_Neo-Liberalism.pdf ["by Tesfaye habisso"]

    http://www.bidstrup.com/economics.htm [by the real author Scott Bidstrup]

  19. Oda Tulu
    | #19

    Thank you Gash Polisu for giving us more information on tthe crime of plagiarism committed by Tesfaye Habisso. His crime is catching up with Tesfaye – an opportunist servant of tyrant Meles Zenawi

  20. anon
    | #20

    Abebe Gelaw, and Gash Polisu need to be commended for revealing his fact. Since the arrival of weyane crime syndicate in Addis, the country’s moral fabric has been ripped apart. When it became the norm for a country to be run by tugs and bandits, the result is moral chaos and social dis order. When the leader is becomes notorious thief, and liar there is little to expect from loyalist who chose to be foot soldiers of their master. In this, Tesfay Habisso is no exception.

  21. Anonymous
    | #21

    Thanks Bekumsa.

  22. Yared
    | #22

    Guys please read in ethiomedia.com another stealing was reported by the same TPLF/MELEs ethnic parthied thug. This time Mr Tesfaye stoled a Gahanayan intelectual work & presented in the Tplf site! I feel sorry for this guy because he is under pressure from his Ethnic Mafia boss at least he has to pretend as intelectual other wise he will be kicked out. Any ways at least he is the man! who can copy & paste some one works among the Weyane iliterate over night purchased master digree owners. So as the amharic proverb put it “Gem legem aberehe azgem” for the TPLF/MELES group they don’t know the difference because their main diriving force is ethnic hatered not intelect & compassion!

  23. Oda Tulu
    | #23

    It is nauseating to read another shameful act of plagiarism of Tesfaye Habisso posted on ethiomedia.com

  24. Hailemicheal
    | #24

    Had tesefye not been stolen someone’s writings.it would have been a master piece.this man,atleast,be given credit for his selection skill.this shamefull ,opportunist woyane tail.

  25. Sheger
    | #25

    Abbayee simila alewu mela mela
    Abbayee mola alu, mchess endamelu. Bilen yemanawuk sewoch Ayidelen mchess.

    anddandu wolowye demo, Gojamin Dabo yewosedewu ale. Dabo biwosidegn aliferdibetim engee. Gojamim hone Gonger Gorebatoch nen gid yelehim. Sewu mchess yehan yahel ketewawoke. At least Gorebate mehon alebete.
    Kenakatewom Kehulu Gorebet gar Gorenet linhon enichilalen.

  26. Sheger
    | #26

    Kenate gar atagorabitugn engee. Yenaten yekiray bet mekoferun siyakom yet botta demo hedo endekoffergne woy esu
    yakal woy eney enegirewalu. Negeru kegebagn. Migebabet hado yigibagnee.

    Kofareenet kehone amelu may be Egiypt hado yikoffir. Tikim liagegnibat yichilal.

  27. Sheger
    | #27

    Eziga ehitay neh eziga wondimay
    Bettam segichalehu
    Enkuan aniten kerto
    Enan ferichalehu.

  28. Sheger
    | #28

    I was just joking or kind of jockeying about a lot of it Abbay. Hope I didn’t offend you or any other readers.

  29. Sheger
    | #29

    But I am not saying I didn’t mean some of it.

Comments are closed.