By Dimetros Birku
(borkena) Political hoax stories, economic or social with a political end, are not something uncommon in Ethiopia. In fact, government controlled media is known for hoax news. A month after Meles Zenawi passed away, communication minister Bereket Simon was telling the public in a big press conference that Meles Zenawi is working from home and would start his prime ministerial duties in his office in a week time or so. Bereket Simon did not look tense as if he is not telling big lie. A week or solater, government had to admit that Meles Zenawi is biologically gone and they had to break the story as if Meles passed away just an hour before the news broke.
However, pathetic lie as a means to achieve social status capable of influencing public opinion, government officials and entrepreneurs is totally unheard off in Ethiopia. Fraudulent academic titles associated with prestigious institutions ranging from Addis Ababa University, to Canberra University in Australia and Harvard University in the US is certainly unheard of in Ethiopia.
Perhaps the assumption within the society that someone wouldn’t lie to the extent of falsely relating himself/herfelf to Kremlin and White House coupled with incurious journalism helped that happen. When someone says “I had a fabulous time with Putin,” how on earth can he get away with that statement in the first place? Sameul Zemichael did. Apparently, the story of Sameul appeared in about 13 news outlets and print media.
Samuel Zemichael Samuel was presenting himself as a civil engineer and a PHD ,and was accepted as such for a long time.
According to Fana report, Samuel managed to be close to public officials and entrepreneurs with the image he created for himself as young and selfless citizen with academic excellence gold medal from Australia, Ethiopia and the US; all hoax according to Radio Fana. Samuel also claimed that he worked closely worked with Barrack Obama and Vladimir Putin.
The report about what Samuel said about himself might be true. But news like this should not be accepted with credulity the way it is presented. What if it was an experiment along the lines of manipulating public opinion? What if this story is related to one of the propaganda machines in the country? The public need more story regarding the origin of all this.
Sameul was apparently on social media for a considerable amount of time, his profile suggests. How come some one from his family members or friends did not stop the lie? How was Sameul financing himself? how did he manage to get access to government authorities? It is important to get to the bottom of all these questions.
On the surface the problem might appear an issue purely related to gullibility but this has more to do with the political propaganda culture of the regime in power and the changing culture. There is no strong indication, if at all, if Ethiopians were gullible at all historically speaking.
The audio/video below is in Amharic