Ethiopia: Persuasion by Manipulating
By Rundassa Asheetee Hundee, December 26, 2019
After I forwarded writing titled “New deal between Doctors Mararaa/Abiy on one side, and Jawar on the other,” I noticed a heated argument going on between those who defend me and the ones that spewed insult and hateful words. What needs to be clear here is that I am neither the author of the text or a member of the OLF.
If I am asked what my opinion be regarding the disputed paper posted on my Facebook, all I could say is that it is to difficult to make a distinction between what is true and what is false at this time where so many rumors and speculations are manufactured and distributed on daily bases.
Nevertheless, I can take a good guess about what step an authoritarian Abiy Ahmed can do to create a rift between the OLF, OFC and, Gen. Kamal Galchu…Jawar etc.
We know that Abiy Ahmed wants to resurrect old Ethiopia, and he wants to achieve this goal through coercive and manipulative means instead of persuasion. As such, he has already successfully manipulated man into believing that he is an Oromo when facts show that he is not. It is a fact that 80% of OPDO members are either full Amharas or half Oromo and the Oromo people are about to be forced into accepting the Minilik era Ethiopia.
When this is the ongoing reality our lives of today, those of us who accept democratic principles must try to reach our goals through persuasion. That means, instead of being afraid of the information disseminated, we must learn how to analyze the disseminated information and convince each other based on the weight of our arguments to support or oppose whichever organization, candidates, policies, or project we support. When there is sufficient support on one side or the other of an argument, then that side should carry the day.
I simply posted the information I received from someone and posted it on my facebook to inform my audience on what is going on so that as informed citizens, each reader can envision or see the idea behind the writer’s fear, hope or sinister objective.
As an informed, and intelligent citizen, my readers should weigh issues and then make wise decisions within the given realities of Oromia and empire Ethiopia. Instead of dedicating oneself to such theory, however, some readers reflect their fear only to make us victims of the propaganda machinery set out for us by the intelligence services of empire Ethiopia.
But we must not be afraid of information and try to hide it. Instead, we must learn how to wisely look into the political machinery such as newspapers, magazines, books, e-mails, facebook, telegram, twitter, including other press services and analyze every information that comes our way and turn it to our advantage. If the enemy or someone out-there authors false information and release it, we must carefully scrutinize it and fight the manipulators.
Who can be considered as a manipulator in our case here?
The story posted can be written for multiple reasons
1. To persuade us that Dr. Mararaa is going to help Abiy Ahmed stay in power
2. To legitimize EPP
3. To create rift inside OFC
4. To create a rift between OFC and the OLF
Now, knowing that this could be the strategy behind the article, could shouting at each other be a solution?
Well, let me leave you with the following thoughts in case that can help you understand what I am trying to say.
The merchant who tries to sell you a product by extolling its virtues and offering it to you at a fair price is engaged in legitimate persuasion. The merchant who exaggerates the quality of his product fails to disclose dangerous weaknesses or misleads as to price is manipulating.
Translating this to our reality, I can simply say that whoever authored this paper is trying to boost his side by dividing the groups he is afraid of. This person operates in the manipulative political tradition of empire Ethiopia clearly understanding that we all are going to jump in his trap and start smearing each other with bad name-calling and get divided.
Groups like this use manipulation because they are afraid to take their case to the people, argue for their policies, answer the question of an intelligent electorate and win the election. Groups like this play with half-truths or disseminate false information via media outlets. They are unwilling to communicate with people.
The OLF, OFC and other genuine Oromo political and social organizations must learn how to face up to social criticism, answer questions honestly and win the hearts and the minds of the people. While all of them deserve respect for being honest and courageous, they must train their supporters not to attack their critics or threaten anyone.
There is nothing essentially wrong with allowing attempts to convince us to buy soap or to vote for candidates, to engage in wars, to clean streets, to legalize afaan Oromo, etc.
The heart and soul of a democratic system are that each idea should be tested by people but that can’t be done either by hiding information or by insulting those who think freely.
The people of empire Ethiopia are poor because their government’s decisions have been made not in an honest way. People are not allowed to present their opinions or important information has been withheld. Manipulation became part of each person’s behavior. As such, each person prefers to muddying the water and distort the truth because they are afraid of debating on issues honestly. They don’t think that hiding information is equal to manipulation.
It should be noted here that most of us are motivated in large measure by emotion and prejudice, but that fact makes it even more critical for us to have every opportunity to introduce some rationality into our thinking.
This, then, is our real dilemma, to acquire reasonably accurate information on current affairs so that our decisions will be intelligent ones.
There is no easy answer to the dilemma because most of us are at the end of the information flow. We don’t sit at the apex of the decision-making process. We are not privy to the actions and thoughts of those who influence our economic and political lives. We are mostly dependent upon what we are told in the mass media or on what is passed on by other individuals who may claim access to the inner circles.
It should be noted here that the manipulation discussed earlier enters the information stream at two major points: (1) the actual source of the information, and (2) the media.
The role of a free press, in theory, is to check on the manipulations at the source and provide the “correct” version of events and ideas. But it must be admitted that we all do not always perform that role. Incompetence, focusing on the sensational in order to attract interest and individual bias have all interfered on occasion with the adequate performance of information.
The real tragedy of all this is that we are greatly dependent upon trust. Trust in government, trust in the educational system, and trust in the press.
In this, we all have performed poorly enough to create a widening gap between us. Hence, it is essential that as liberty-loving people, we stop being afraid of information or manipulation. Changes will not likely take place until we stop being afraid of information and learn by questioning things properly.
Thus far, we are afraid of God, afraid of the truth, afraid of information, afraid of challenging one another. All we know is to insult each other.