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The Danger of Narcissist Political Behavior and the Politics of Ethno-Centrism  

November 9, 2019
Tegenaw Goshu

 The very origin of the concept of narcissism (excessive self-aggrandizement) or the mentality of “I am the most admired and important person of all” is the Greek myth of a young person called Narcissus who fell in love with the reflection of his own image in a pool of water. Although there is a serious abnormality with this kind of mentality and behavior, it should not be headache to others as long as it remains a personal behavior that does not have a disturbing impact on others.

Jawar Mohammed (C), a member of the Oromo ethnic group who has been a public critic of Abiy, addresses supporters that had gathered outside his home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa after he accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him October 24, 2019. – A day after supporters of the high-profile opposition activist took to the streets, burning tyres and blocking roads following rumours of Jawar’s mistreatment by state forces where at least four people were killed and dozens injured in protests in Ethiopia against Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, hospital and police sources said Thursday. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

The problem arises when it comes to the question of how this narcissist or excessive self-aggrandizing mentality and behavior unfolds itself in a social and political environment that involves various actors and what kind of role it plays. As it is obsessed with unconditional or unquestionable or uncritical self-importance and admiration, it undermines the very importance of others in the process of finding the right way of doing things and making the right decision for the common good.  It does not give room for effective and efficient team work. It rather surrounds itself with submissive and opportunist subordinates. This is a very serious challenge we are facing these days in our country both at reginal and national (country-wide) level.

On the other aspect of the story, our politics of ethno-centrism and parochialism has created its own damaging attraction for those politicians or groupings with their own narcissist political behaviors and ambitions.  As the politics of ethno-centrism and parochialism has no room for independent and rational way of thinking and acting, it does create a favorable environment for narcissist political behavior and ambition that does not entertain critically or rationally challenging support and admiration, but quite the opposite.  This is the most worrisome political reality where we are now.

The TPLF-led ethno-centric and parochial politics was self-evidently and officially (constitutionally) anti-Ethiopian national identity and interest. All its theoretical and rhetorical propaganda was designed and made operational accordingly. Its leaders’ narcissist (excessively self-aggrandizing) political and socio-economic agenda and strategy was intrinsically intertwined with this deadly ill-guided way of doing politics. It goes without saying that there was no confusion about this ill-founded and deadly ill-guided political mindset and action for the last quarter of century.  Those politicians did try from the very beginning of their control the Arat Kilo palace to pretend that they were not there to advance and fulfil their ethnic-based narcissist political agenda or ambition, but to make democratic Ethiopia a reality. But they did not take much time to obviously reveal the true nature and purpose of their political agenda by instituting dictatorship that was instrumental to get their ethnic-based narcissist political ambition unbeatably fulfilled.

The delusion and confusion was on the side of all opposition political and other relevant actors who miserably failed to make concerted efforts and force those evil-guided politicians of TPLF/EPRDF either to come to a meaningful and consequential negotiation table or face the demise of their political power.

Now, we are unfortunately facing a very confusing, delusional and above all dangerous way of doing politics that is quite contrary to peoples’ expectation and hope. Unless we want to fool ourselves, the leaders of the so called democratic reform whom we welcomed with a regrettably emotion-driven acclamation and admiration have terribly failed once again as their former mentors did fail. Their words and deeds have miserably fallen apart within a couple of months of the honeymoon of “democratic reform”.

Not only “team lemma and Abiy” but also leaders of political opposition and intellectuals were badly tested and failed from the very beginning of the glimmer of hope for change. They failed because of their self-disgraced political perception and analysis that was totally dependent on a well-articulated and manipulative rhetoric by very few politicians of EPRDF’s reform, the Prime Minister being the champion. It is difficult to comprehend how we failed to this extent after bitter political experiences of almost have a century and particularly a much more horrifying ethno-centric and parochial politics of a quarter of a century.

One and half year ago  those EPRDF politicians who joined peoples’ uprising to end the mutually destructive ethno-centric and parochial politics changed both the rhetoric and the tone of the political propaganda from anti-Ethiopian national identity and interest to pro-Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet . They went to the extent of declaring that the very essence of Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet is an intrinsically internalized identity of the people that no one can make it fall apart.  This has created a very exciting political and moral atmosphere within the minds and hearts of the people who have gone through a painfully destructive political system of ethno-centrism and parochialism for a quarter of a century.

Leaders of the opposition camp and the very majority of intellectuals (well-educated and experienced Ethiopians) reacted to the very glimmer of change with a highly emotion-driven manner that does not reflect the very essence of intellect and intellectuality that has to understand and judge things based on what was/is going in reality, and how the very voracious and flowery rhetoric of politicians reflect the reality on the ground. The reaction to the EPRDF’S reformists that was mainly characterized and defined by the mere defeat of the hegemonic power of TPLF was terribly clumsy and doomed to failure as far as the need to bring about a fundamental change of democratic system is concerned.

The very critical question of whether politicians of EPRDF will be courageous and patriotic enough to systematically and wisely get rid of the very oppressive and criminal political system they served for a long time, to  create a political environment in which all  genuine stake holders could come together , to conduct exhaustive  and  consequential dialogue and consultation, to  find a feasible and reliable common ground,  and above all to  let a political body of  transition born and move forward accordingly was stupidly undermined or  ignored. Instead, the majority of our intellectuals as well as political opposition leaders became victims of a very disgraceful way of political thinking that has gone to the extent of creating cult of political personality surrounding the Prime Minister.

This has sent a wrong message to the Prime Minister who already has a narcissist (excessively self-aggrandizing) political behavior and ambition which he himself alluded it to the story he was told by his mother when he was at the age of innocent kids. Needless to say, the very message “you are the most important of all” has made the Prime Minister believe that he is an indispensable political figure who holds the very fate of the country in his hands.  Was/is this not terribly disgusting? Absolutely it was/is! 

As time went on, those forces of ethno-centric and parochial politics both within and outside governmental structure were allowed to aggressively launch an open campaign against the political discourse and agenda of unity within diversity (exercising democratic and human rights under the political umbrella of Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet). Sadly enough, these forces of ethno-centrism and parochialism, particularly the Oromo political elites and groupings were enabled by their comrades in arms who hold high ranking positions both at regional and federal level to go ahead with their evil-guided political behavior and agenda.

The Prime Minister’s ethno-centric political party (OPDO/ODP) was and is at the center of this dangerous political orchestration. Cynically enough, the Prime Minister keeps delivering the same flowery but practically empty words (rhetoric) even at the very moment at which innocent citizens were intimidated, harassed, beaten up and killed in a very inhumane manner. He added salt to injury when he cynically tried to reinterpret what he said before the rubberstamp parliament and how he was “misunderstood” by Jawar Mehmed. In other words, he sounded more worried about the “misunderstanding” between himself and Jawar Mehamed than about the innocent citizens who lost their precious lives in a manner of less than non-human animals as the result of what Jawar Mehamed did. Is this not painfully disturbing? Absolutely it is!

Needless to say that this was and is because the Prime Minister  naively or otherwise believes that his narcissist (excessively self-aggrandizing) political personality and ambition can successfully be satisfied a) by  delivering his highly voracious ,jargonized ,  emotion-driven  and flowery words (rhetoric) about Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet  to those who cry for the actualization of this line of argument on the one hand and  b)  by being cynically  complacent with those extreme  forces of ethno-centric and parochial politics  including members of his own party (ODP) on the other hand . Doesn’t this sound terribly disingenuous, hypocritical and scandalous? There is no any other way to describe it!

This clearly shows how narcissist (excessively self-aggrandizing) political mentality and behavior of our politicians in power is dangerous in a political system of ethno-centrism and parochialism that was constitutionally instituted a quarter of a century ago and spoilt the generation ever since.  Our politicians in power have been victims of this highly toxic political system that has severely damaged the very historical, social, cultural, moral, and psychological and even spiritual fabrics (values) of the people of Ethiopia. Is this not unbearably painful? Yes, it is unless we want to remain victims of pretense and deceiving ourselves! 

In principle and as a general truth, nobody with his/her right mind argues that these politicians of EPRDF never regret and change for the better one way or another. And it is not fair to argue that nothing positive has happened during this time of period of glimmer of change and hope.

But we cannot afford to use those steps of positive happenings as excuses of defending the unfindable that sends not only wrong but seriously damaging message. The very deceptive, irrational, uncritical political discourse will definitely make things worse to the extent of being uncontrollable to manage.

So, the gist of the matte is not simply whether this or that politician has good intention and nicety of words (rhetoric) about changing for the better or not. It is rather the very matte of:  a) Having a genuinely flexible means of doing things that must not compromise the very principle and goal (destiny) of peoples’ interests of making their dream of living in a democratic system of government a reality b) Internalizing the very devotion and determination to fight for the new (the better/best) political life and against the old (the highly toxic) political mentality, behavior and system  c) Being as bold as or as transparent as possible and get ready to shoulder the burden of responsibility and accountability that may go to the extent of paying sacrifice whenever and wherever necessary d) Not allowing the evil-guided and destructive individuals and groupings (forces) of ethno-centric and parochial politics to behave and act in a manner of lawlessness or anarchism that goes to the extent of taking the lives of innocent citizens in a very horrifying manner .There is no any other evidence (testimony) for the horrifying failure of  the talk but not walk by the Premiership of Dr.Abiy Ahemd   than the very   absence of rule of law and justice . It is essentially necessary to clearly and straight-forwardly  tell and advise him that  preaching peace and shedding crocodile tears every time these evil-minded individuals and groupings instigate a highly emotion-driven youth to commit crime against humanity on their own compatriots is a total political idiocy and it has to be dealt with  a timely and an appropriate manner   e) Producing and delivering a comprehensive, feasible and reliable roadmap instead of wasting the precious time and meager resources of the country for going around and making highly dramatized and misleading political rhetoric and conducting monotonous and unproductive  meetings and conferences f) Advising the Prime Minister to try hard to  control his narcissist political mentality and behavior that makes the country look like running out of other officials and  citizens who are willing and capable of dealing  with the challenges the innocent people are  facing.  g) Advising the Prime Minister and his comrades clearly and straight-forwardly that the very narcissist political idea of “I am a democratic leader of a democratic transition; you guys just follow me” is not only wrong but a very idiotic way of doing politics as far as the very political reality of the country is concerned.


It is an ABC of politics that it is not an easy task for a politician who came from ethnic –based political back ground and practical experience and hold the highest office of the executive branch of government with the blessing of the ethno-centric and parochial political party of his own (ODP/EPRDF) to change what terribly went wrong to what is right. Any person with his/her right (rational mind) does not criticize and blame Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for not bringing about an unrealistically dramatic change or do miracle type of demand. Not at all! But it is equally not only wrong but stupidity for any person with his/her right mind not to question the honesty and credibility of the Prime Minister’s political agenda, direction and destination. In principle and in a real sense honesty,   the very argument about the need to give political leaders time and chance in their efforts to make a difference sounds fine. But when it comes to our Political leaders     who  keep delivering all kinds of jargonized and dramatized preaching and rhetoric while innocent citizens are suffering from all kinds politically motivated crimes ranging from forced displacement, psychological and physical harm, and being  killed  in a manner of less than on-human animals is not simply  wrong, but absolutely nonsensical!

Despite the vicious cycle of devastation because of the political system of ethnic identity that is badly manipulated and exploited by individuals and groupings both within the ruling party and outside, the Prime Minister (the head the executive branch of government) keeps dancing a very ugly twist dance between and among the various forces in search of a balance which may favor his narcissist political ambition.



The very characteristics of narcissist politicians is doing politics not on the basis of dealing with the reality on the ground for the sake of finding an effective and sustainable solution, but on the very basis of which political  force (group) and situation would be suitable for the fulfillment of their political power of self-aggrandizement. This behavior becomes more dangerous in a political environment (system) that is defined and characterized by the very rampant politics of ethno-centrism and parochialism. This is because this kind of political environment does not need to deal with issues rationally, thoughtfully, wisely, tolerantly, and with a real sense of common purpose that paves the way for the realization of a political system of freedom, justice, equality and shared prosperity.

It goes without saying that the Prime Minister is a very typical example of this very ugly if not dangerous political behavior and personality. It was clear from the very begging of his premiership during which he literally performed a one- man show politics as if the country was/is running out of well-educated, rational, critical, disciplined, principled, and action-oriented citizens. As he was welcomed with indescribable admiration to the extent of being called Ethiopian Moses of the 21st century, he convinced himself that his narcissist (excessive self-aggrandizing) political ambition was wonderfully working and it would continue to do so.

It was very few rational and critical Ethiopians who seriously expressed their genuine concern about the very dangerous consequence of leaving the very sensitive and complex challenges of both domestic and foreign affairs of the country to a Prime Minister who was/is badly obsessed with narcissist political ambition.  The majority of well-educated and experienced Ethiopians either remained silent or behaved wrongly to the extent of creating a Messiah-like personality cult surrounding the Prime Minister. Was/is this not terribly disgraceful and disgusting! Absolutely it was/is!

The very ugly consequence of this type approach to a political situation that has been made deeply and seriously complex and complicated by a very backward and anti-progress ethno-centric and parochial political system is now felt extremely painful.



It is politically stupid  enough to believe that the Prime Minister who is at the very top of the structure of his own ethno-centric and parochial party (ODP)  is not one way or another  playing a dangerously dirty political game .  As a matter of fact, it is becoming difficult to distinguish ODP from groupings of extremists such as OLF and highly toxic individuals such as Jawar Mehamed.  The way the Prime Minister treats Jawar Mehamed and the like who are making the young Oromos lose their common human senses and cause severe harm  to their own compatriots, and subsequently to their own very future is absolutely disturbing and frustrating .

It goes without saying that every time something unbearably horrifying happens because of the very mutually destructive politics of ethno-centrism and parochialism, the Prime Minister keeps preaching about the importance of peace and love, and the ugliness of war and hatred as if people are ignorant enough to know what is good or bad for the country in general and for each citizen in particular. He never mention those destructive individuals and groupings  including some members of his own government and party who in one way or another were parts  of the politically motivated devastation of last month .

The way the Prime Minister responded to an incredibly painful and inhumane killings and treatment of innocent citizens as the result of a deadly stupid person (Jawar Mehamed) who called a highly emotion-driven youth (qerro) for urgent help as if  his life was in danger is painfully outrageous .

What did the Prime Minister do?

  • The people of Ethiopia hoped that necessary steps would be taken by the Prime Minister and his government when they heard him declaring in his speech he delivered to the good for nothing parliamentarians that those who hold foreign passports and run media organizations should be alerted. It was painfully heart-breaking to hear when he dishonestly twisted his words of mouth he said publicly before the very rubber stamp and disgraceful parliament by saying that Jawar Mehamed misunderstood him. This is painfully disgraceful and disgusting! Alas, what a terribly outrageous and sickening political personality!
  • As he did it before, he was watching the very horrifying killings of innocent citizens from Moscow, Russia. He knew very well that this incredibly inhumane act of intimidation, harassment and above all taking the very lives of many innocent citizens was instigated and ignited by Jawar Mehamed who has an evil-minded political behavior or personality. There is no doubt that if  individuals and groupings who are playing unbelievably disastrous political game are not dealt with legitimate, appropriate, effective, determined and long-lasting strategy and plan of action, they     will continue to cause more chaos and mutual destruction. The Prime Minister’s narcissist and hypocritical political behavior is going from bad to worse each and every day. The more the people of Ethiopia knew his disingenuous and deceitful way of doing politics, the more cynical/crooked he becomes. It is incredibly unbelievable how the head of the executive branch of government who repeatedly had similar experiences could stay a couple days overseas watching when innocent citizens were killed in a very inhumane manner.  Absolutely ridiculous and disheartening political behavior (personality)!
  • Needless to say, the people were disappointed by his lack of sensitivity of not returning from his working visit as immediately as possible and express his condolences to the victim families and the Ethiopian people, and take necessary steps of investigation. The next expectation was that he would show his outrage about what happened and express his condolences and give brief remark about what his government is going to do as soon as he arrived back. Sadly enough, he took his time as if what happened was not unbearably shocking. After taking his time, he sent his written statement via the media his government controls to be broadcast instead of delivering it visually and verbally as a head of government who is responsible and accountable for the very security of the people. Is this not totally absurd, to say the least? Absolutely it is!
  • Ridiculously enough, he traveled from one town to another not to meet victims’ families and give them comfort and tell what he is going to do; but to meet politicians who defended and stood on Jawar Mehamed’s side as well as Aba Gedas not to discuss about innocent victims but how the Oromo politicians and groupings make a much more unifying political situation between and among themselves. It is painfully heartbreaking to hear the Prime Minister asking the Aba Gedas to approach and ask those who are disappointed (yakorefu) that includes of course Jawar Mehamed who “misunderstood” his speech he delivered to the good for nothing parliament. What a terribly syndical political personality!
  • He disingenuously tried to characterize the horrible deaths of innocent citizens as the consequence of a conflict between two sides. It is an open secret that no one provoked the killers let alone attacking them. It was the killers who received Jawar Mehamed’s message of alarm and lost their common human sense and started the senseless killing. Yes, there may be innocent citizens who were killed while instinctively or otherwise trying to defend themselves which is quite legitimate both morally and legally. If the Prime Minister is trying to convince us that this is a typical case of conflict, it would be an insult to those who lost their precious lives.


We have a very vivid experience how TPLF looked like a relatively better than the previous military dictatorship in the very beginning of its political power control. The very narcissist political behavior of its leaders were trying to manipulate public option whereas at the same time were prepared to institute a kind of politics that was quite instrumental to the fulfillment of their unchecked and irresponsible way of doing politics. And that instrument was to make the politics of ethno-centrism and parochialism constitutional.

As a consequence of the very failure of the people to produce and nurture democratic political forces that could effectively change the very balance of power in favor of the  transition to a genuinely democratic system at the very end of TPLF’S hegemony, we are where we are now. The very painful experience of repeating the same if not much worse mistake happened from the very the end of TPLF’s hegemony and the very beginning of the hegemony of OPDO/ODP/OLF and other extremists of ethnic-centric and parochial politics. .

The way we perceived, received and admired those politicians of EPRDF who “smartly” selected and appointed Dr.Abiy Ahmed who remarkably “outsmarts” them in terms of delivering very articulated but highly misleading and deceitful rhetoric was  the ABC of our political stupidity that brought us where ewe are now.  What makes worse  not only  our passivity  but sadly our foolishly  inflated admiration  to the extent of calling the Prime Minister Messiah-like leader of this century was miserably regrettable . It was and is painfully disgraceful to lose real sense of our critical way of thinking which requires adequate time to get some sense of truth and facts by asking the very questions of what? Why?   How? When? Where? Who?

What we are witnessing nowadays is the politics of begging the very deceitful politicians who failed the people repeatedly and miserably to do what is right for peoples’ sake. Agree or disagree, if there is no any dramatic and viable movement that should efficiently challenge and defeat those elements of extremist individuals and groupings, there is no doubt that   they will declare their victory of brutal way of doing politics over peaceful and genuine democratic transition .

God created us (human beings) with a very sophisticated engine of thinking (the brain) and a very wonderful biological and physical structures and functions to use them for the very purpose He created this planet earth as a unique place of all kinds of lives. As the universe in general and this planet earth in particular is not created without countless and serious challenges, God gave us a special ability and capacity to deal with them accordingly and let life continue not only as usual but with a much more advanced and efficient wisdom, spirituality (the power of the inner soul), knowledge and technology of any sort.  He gave us the power house of thinking (brain and mind) that enables us to know what is wrong and what is right and firmly stand for what is right.  He blessed us with the right (freedom) of choice between what is good and what is bad for us not because we belong to this or that ethnic group and language or followers of this of that religious belief, but first and foremost we are human beings and then we are the people of one country (Ethiopia) that has survived all kinds extremely challenging situations thanks to patriots of generations who paid huge sacrifices including their precious lives.

Let’s not keep missing golden opportunities of making things not just okay but best by defeating the very ugly political culture of repeating the same mistakes over and over again!

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