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HomeOpinionThe Great imposter - Abiy Ahmed? ( By Dawit W Giorgis )

The Great imposter – Abiy Ahmed? ( By Dawit W Giorgis )

 The Great Impostor: ( PM Abiy ?) Excerpts: from my book: What a Life.  


Dawit _ The Great Imposter
Dawit W Giorgis 

By Dawit W Giorgis 

When I was a boy, I remember watching a movie titled The Great Imposter. * Back then I took it as a very funny movie.  After so many decades I remembered only the title and the fact that it was a comedy so in writing this chapter I looked for it and watched it again and read about the character. It was apparently based on the life of a man called Ferdinand Waldo Demara played by one of my favorite actors, Tony Curtis, who stars in the incredible but true story of the world’s greatest big-time impostor of that era.  

He left school in 1935 but lacked the skills that would get him the positions in life that he wanted. He wanted the status that came with being a priest, an academic, or a military officer, but didn’t have the patience to achieve the necessary qualifications. Deception was the answer and he started early. When he was just 16 years old, he ran away from home to join a silent order of Trappist monks, lying about his age to become a member.  That didn’t last long.   He was forced out of the monastery after two years because his fellow monks felt he lacked the right temperament.  

It was then that Demara began to assume different identities, such as a monk (again), a sheriff’s deputy, and notably, a prison warden, usually without the expected credentials. He joined the army in 1941, hated it, ran off and joined the navy where he got some medical training.  Using false documents, he tried to become an army officer but was discovered so he went on the run. Next, he awarded himself a PhD under a fake name and taught in college where he befriended a Canadian doctor, Joseph Cyr.  Cyr went to New York, and Demara moved to Canada, stealing Cyr’s name.   He became a ship’s surgeon for the Canadian military during the Korean War.  The exploit he is most known for occurred during the war, when three Koreans were brought on board who needed medical help, and he successfully treated all three—even amputating one man’s leg.  And he didn’t have a medical degree! The list of his deceptions goes on and on until he was finally exposed and jailed for his crimes. When he was released, he made some television appearances, but eventually was ordained in the Church and became a counselor in a hospital. 1

What’s interesting is that Demara was not after money, or at least that was not the primary objective. His goal was prestige and status. His biographer Robert Crichton noted: “Since his aim was to do good, anything he did to do it was justified. With Demara the end always justifies the means.”2 Though we know what he did, and his motivations, there is still one big question that has been left unanswered – why did people believe him? According to Robert Crichton,  

Demara had an impressive memory, and through his impersonations accumulated a wealth of knowledge on different topics. This coupled with charisma and good instincts, about human nature helped him trick all those around him. Studies of professional criminals often observe that con artists are skilled actors and that a con game is essentially an elaborate performance where only the victim is unaware of what is really going on.3 

I mention Demara, because to me his story is the story of Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’ prime minister.  Of course the setting is different and there are different motives behind his behavior, but several similarities indicate that Ethiopians and the international community have fallen victim to an elaborate charade created by this man.

Who knows what he is really like?  Abiy can look like a compassionate, religious person, but at times he can also be brutal.  One thing is becoming clearer as we try to understand him: he is a narcissist, and it is generally narcissists who become impostors. If they get into a leadership role, they believe that they alone know what is best, that everyone should trust them, that they can save the day.  When narcissists become impostors, they become complicated people with a constant fear of failing or being exposed. Those fears can drive them to the extreme, leading them to act irrationally, contrary to common sense. They keep on lying, telling contradicting stories about themselves as they try to project a different image. 

Ethiopia has seen leaders of all kinds in the past, but they were not con artists. Our leaders, with all their weaknesses and faults, held firmly to the idea of Ethiopian unity and were predictable.  History might describe each one of them as kings or emperors but always as leaders with empathy and a full sense of patriotism.  Not much is known about this man called Abiy Ahmed who just jumped into the political scene, but we do know that in no more than a year he has acted more and more like a dictator around whom the future of Ethiopia revolves.  

In some ways all people have the propensity to become impostors.  People’s public and private lives are often different. What we speak and teach in public or from the pulpit may be different from what we are like privately. When out in public, there is always the pressure to suppress our real selves. 

But neurotic impostors feel more fraudulent and alone than other people do. Because they view themselves as charlatans, their success is worse than meaningless: It is a burden. In their heart of hearts, these self-doubters believe that others are much smarter and more capable than they are, so any praise impostors earn makes no sense to them. “Bluffing” their way through life (as they see it), they are haunted by the constant fear of exposure. With every success, they think, “I was lucky this time, fooling everyone, but will my luck hold? When will people discover that I’m not up to the job?” 4 

It seems to be the way Abiy Ahmed operates, though it’s hard to say what is going on inside his head.  While a lot has been said about the manipulations preceding his takeover of the leadership, not much has been told about the person of Abiy Ahmed. In the euphoria that overwhelmed the country, people did not bother to find out who he is and was.  What was important then was that the TPLF was being driven out and Abiy Ahmed’s promised changes. But Abiy had been raised and groomed by the TPLF since the age of 15 and was an active participant of the system at various junior and senior levels. That should have been a tipoff to anyone thinking about what the future would hold.  However, for the vast majority of Ethiopians common sense was in short supply. His talk about peace, love, unity, forgiveness,

However, for the vast majority of Ethiopians common sense was in short supply. His talk about peace, love, unity, forgiveness, and healing the wounds of hate and division enchanted the audience. It was magic. The euphoria showed the level of anguish, pain, and despair of the people who had suffered 27 years of oppression, torture, imprisonment, and rampant corruption. At that moment anybody with that kind of message would have been a popular leader. But this one was eloquent, handsome, charming, and used words that people had yearned and prayed for.

“Machiavelli wrote in detail as to why it is foolish to expect powerful men to be good.   He believed countries led by virtuous leaders would be swallowed up by their neighbors or by factions within their borders. “States, [Machiavelli] argued, can lie and cheat and have to if they are to survive. He rejected the heart of classical humanism: Cicero’s claim that if we act from a thirst for virtue (wisdom, courage, justice, temperance, the four cardinal virtues described by Cicero in his Moral Obligation.” 5

Machiavelli’s advice doesn’t work well anymore, not in the long term.  The modern answers to the temptations of power do not lie in the persuasiveness of great thinkers but in the reality of our times. Every African leader should ask themselves if they want to go down in history as one of Lord Acton’s corrupt “bad men” or as someone who fought the corruption that is ruining so many countries.

I have no doubt that many politicians will take issue with my strong opinion of the current Ethiopian leadership. They may say that it is no different than other countries in Africa, where most of the leaders are characterised by the desire to achieve and hold power. They are firmly loyal to their own ethnic group, which they imagine to be superior, and they distrust others. Even the best-intentioned leaders who possess all the moral virtues of a saint may at times act contrary to the promises they made to the people they are supposed to serve. But unbridled authority will go beyond that when the leader does not have the best intentions in mind for his people. When a leader is corrupt to a high degree, the people around him also want a share of the big pie and since he cannot stay in power without their loyalty, he allows them to be corrupt as well. Such a situation can lead to what amounts to the capture of the state by these corrupt followers.  It becomes a shortcut to wealth. There is nothing much that the leader can do.  These are the men and women who cover for him, his “lines of defense,” and the leader will be forced to either protect them or eliminate them. 

Perhaps he is not so much an impostor as a sophist, as one commentator recently suggested. 6 The sophists were those men in ancient Greece who were good with words and could twist them whichever way they wanted to win an argument, playing on an audience’s emotion without any concern for the truth.  His speech at his ascension to power galvanized almost the entire population, but in later months it became clear that he was adapting different speeches to different audiences. In his acceptance speech he glorified Emperor Menelik and Emperor Haile Selassie and repeated his praise on a few other occasions when addressing the public in Amharic, the official language. But when he addressed his Oromo constituency in Afaan Oromo he depicted these same leaders as enemies and, implicitly, the Amharas as oppressors.  Perhaps he thought that in this way he could calm some of the political tensions in the country, but it has backfired, triggering fear of the “other” among Amharas, Tigrayans, and Oromos and elevating tensions to the breaking point. 7

PM Abiy’s most brazen act of deception was when he or his colleagues dreamed up a fake YouTube video with a bogus interviewer posing as a journalist from the Atlantic Magazine.  The Prime Minister is very impressive and speaks with his usual eloquence about local and global affairs, but it was discovered that his replies were taken word-for-word from interviews with Henry Kissinger, an article by Russell Brand, and excerpts from the book Soft Power by Joseph Nye which Abiy is reading from a teleprompter! Or something similar.

Trying to answer the question why authoritarian leaders lie, Political Science Professor Xavier Marquez writes: Western political thought has three main arguments about why lying may be useful. First, some kinds of lies can hold political systems together: Myths such as Plato’s “Noble Lie” can cement shared values among citizens. Second, lies can be strategically valuable. This idea is represented by Machiavelli’s argument that princes should lie when necessary to achieve their goals. Finally, lies can cement the loyalty of subordinates.9

  Over time these repeated lies and propaganda create a myth about the leadership like it has in North Korea and surprisingly in the most democratic country in the world, the USA under Trump. But lies will never prevent authoritarianism from collapsing. When the realities on the ground and the myth collide and when the lives of people are getting worse and not better, when even the most opportunistic of the elites cannot take it anymore, the system will fall apart and usually violently as it did in Libya, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan and many other countries. Abiy’s obvious lies and the myth of prosperity that he is trying to create will soon collapse and give rise to chaos. That is beginning now in Ethiopia and the questions that are being asked are where the country is heading and whether there will be civil war( though many believe that there is already a civil war with Oromo extremists trying to exterminate and displace Amharas living  in Oromia and the war between government and the rebels in Tigray who have also displaced hundreds of thousands of Amharas from their and are architects of the extermination of Amharas, an ideology  embraced by Abiy Ahmed who took it to the extreme level) )  or whether the resilience and the ties that have bound the people for centuries are stronger than the fake narrative sponsored by the political leaders, primarily by the OLF (ODP) that Abiy leads and the TPLF. 

No matter how much Abiy and his government try to distract people’s attention and no matter how much they try to destroy evidence, fabricate stories, and imprison or tarnish the images of those who tell the truth through his hired attack dogs, there will still be overwhelming evidence (video, interviews, images, prints, etc) to show the world that genocide and crimes against humanity were and are being committed in Ethiopia under his leadership and with his knowledge. Under an expedient international court with access to all the evidence his actions or inactions will put him and his senior government officials and his ‘republican guards ‘in prison for the rest of their lives if they survive the wrath of the people.   

— The End–

Detailed notes to this Chapter to be found in the book which has in total 861 notes.

The Great Impostor, 1961, comedy drama

  1. Tim Holmes, How to Become a Great Impostor “The Conversation) Aug 22
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid 
  4. Manfred F.R, kets de Vries , “ The Dangers of Feeling Like a Fake” Harvard business Review Sept 2005
  5. Geoff Mulgan, Good and Bad Power: The Ideals and Betrayals of Government (London :Allen Lane, 2006) 147
  6. Getu Teressa, “Abiy Ahmed-A philosopher King or a Sophist”:  Ethiopia insight,

April 5, 2020 

  • Ibid
  • Tigray Legend, Twitter Post, “ Abiy Ahmed is a Fraud” August 23, 2018
  • Xavier Marquez, “ This is why Authoritarian Leaders Use the ‘ The Big Lie’ Washington Post, Jan 26, 202

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  1. An evil person who do not learn from his prevoius mistake barking like a dog through his life. You are one of them, still you are barking. Please forget everything you are aiming we don’t a place for you others who are like you. You waste your time by simply barking no one hear you. We didn’ forgot what was called “1977 dirk (famine) thousand and hundred thousand killed by you you had stolen the money. Leave Us!!!!!

    • Ethiopia deserves him. He is a man with a ninth grade knowledge, but a real PhD confidence. Very difficult to even phantom if he ever had read any thing other than few translated thriller novels, some holy scripts and an avid participant a sermons given by eloquent pastor for which ABIY continue to emulate.

  2. Abiy Ahmer is a great imposter of the 21st century, he is a a 5 star.con artist and master of deception. He is currently busy desyroying the nation and committing atrocities in Eth. Abiy Ahmed is a war criminal, he is committing genocide and.crimes against humanity. Abiy will ne austed.from power by force, he can not carry on committing atrocities on his own people

  3. I only wish Derg Major Dawit NEVER included this section in his autobiography. Dawit was an army major and not one to lecture us on what an impostor or a narcissist is like. Second, he has no credibility whatsoever to tell us about a dictator having been a brutal one himself. Third, the real cause of Major Dawit’s gripe is “ethnic hatred;” Abiy is Oromo, Dawit is Amhara with a feeling of entitlement and superiority. Dawit hated Abiy from the get-go! He sounded surprised that Abiy was not a well know quantity before assuming power. In other words, if Dawit did not know the fellow, somehow there is something wrong with the fellow! What is even more surprising is that Dawit’s group, the Derg, was a secret group that nobody knew about! NOBODY heard of Dawit until summary execution of leaders of the Imperial regime (and later the Emperor) took place. Dawit all the while remained a member of a clandestine organization busy wiping out any opposition! I think Ethiopians who were at the receiving end of brutalities from Dawit’s group should use his “autobio” and relevant documents to level a new lawsuit in Ethiopia and abroad!

    Here is my advise to Dawit: please tell us truthfully (if you can) a) why in the late 1980s you sought asylum in the US and how you ended up working with the CIA b) we need explanation on the thousands murdered during the Red Terror of which you were one of the leaders c) please defend your name why you, as Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, run away with $300,000–money collected in the name of hungry and dying Ethiopians.
    You need to explain, for the record, to generation of Ethiopians who have the right to know their own history! Otherwise, you will be dealt the impostor label and also face justice! Btw, no one is fooled by your pic with Mother Teresa!! It is not only disingenuous of you to use the saintly lady to brush up your ugly past but is in fact evidence of what I stated above.!

  4. Ato Dawit do you know how many children lost their father , mothers , brothers and sisters because of your the system you had been part and parcel until defected for selfish reasons. Talking and writing about Abiy Ahmed atrocities wouldn’t clean your past cruelty and crime . You are one of the self entitle Amhara who feel you are more Ethiopian than the rest of us . You were cheerleader for the current war now you are enjoying the fruits the seeds . You hate Abiy because he didn’t finish the war exactly as you would expected but not because the agony and distraction he is causing. You were giving all the advice you could to subjugate the people of Tigray but as you expected the war isn’t only happening in Tigray it spread like wild fire. The Ethiopia you wish to impose on others that give unrestricted entitlement is on the verge of collapse .

  5. I wonder what the tribe of Dawit has got with what he is trying to say. Why do you jump to tribal groups (ethnic collections) when things are discussed? Your head thinks nothing but tribe, tribe, tribe (small heads). As to this essay, Dawit is entitled to his opinions, even if I don’t agree with some of them. Still I agree with the question ; Why doesn’s the PM sypathize with the hundreds killed and persecuted by oromo thugs all over the country? Why does he fail as a PM to say something about this travesty of justice? It is a bit strange when a PM stays silent on such issues askilling of innocent children and old people simply because of their tribe, desstruction of property, burning of cities, robbing of banks, dislocating people… all so common in oromiya today? Can he give us an answer on this?

  6. Alem: I have dealt with these issues in my first
    book Red Tears and in several forums. In my recent book I have dealt with them with more information and documented evidence. I don’t expect every body to like me , what I stood for, what I write and speak about. It is, after all, politics. I speak about the truth boldly with no specific agenda except the well being of our country.
    I have tried to explain who I am in the first part of my book. Such insults and abusive words come with the package , unfortunately , when one speaks out on the truth these days, from faceless and nameless people. These are all insignificant issues considering the state of the nation. We should be able to spend more time and energy on the bigger picture rather than on such petty issues that will not contribute in any ways for peace and unity in our country. I am nobody except a man who happened to play a role at critical moments in my country and other African countries in trouble.
    I have served my country with distinctions together with my colleagues and these are documented in books and articles and above all confirmed by people who are still alive.
    For example the UN Assistant Secretary General, Kurt Janson , a Finnish citizen, who was overseeing the famine relief operation wrote in his book “Dawit remains to be the hero of the relief operation. Without him it would have been impossible to achieve the aim of saving millions of people from death by starvation”. Is this not a tribute. And this is only one of several tributes I can show you since you don’t seem to be a well read person. Why do you have a fixation on a false accusation by the government I exposed after I left my country when those who worked with me state the opposite.
    If you really want to discuss with me on the issues you raised and my unique contributions, e mail me or call me and then write your opinion with the full knowledge of my views and opinions on your concerns. But first read what is already explained in my book or books and then talk to me.I am sure you will find my email address.
    It is sad that instead of discussing the substance of my article we are discussing me . A beaten path: during dergue , during Weyane and now under this PM. When there is no answer to the issues I raise in public, people personalize and repeat the issues that have been stated and explained many many times. That is the only weapon they have to silence me. If you are not one of those attack dogs hired by Abiy you will come out and talk to me or we can even appear jointly on the media to close this case. If you are a man of conscience you will be willing to debate these issues with me to clear your conscience and perhaps those like you. Perhaps you know it is not true. You are just doing your job. Then live with it. There will be a time when you will wake up and reconcile with your concience and come to terms with what you have always believed to be true. Mine is just one case. You may be carrying a big burden of similar acts against others. Ethiopia is on fire because of wrong leadership and instead of collaborating with others in exposing what is wrong, you opted to deal with fettish issues in the wrong time in the wrong forum. It does not make you a responsible educated citizen.

    Only on rare moments have I tried to answer to comments. And this is one. Thank you ALEM, ( if that is your name) for instigating me to write this to you and through you to the wider readers.

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. Mr. Dawit, As I get your article, I have read it mind-bogglingly but at the end and the underlying theme of your article “the questions that are being asked are where the country is heading and whether there will be civil war( though many believe that there is already a civil war with Oromo extremists trying to exterminate and displace Amharas living in Oromia and the war between government and the rebels in Tigray who have also displaced hundreds of thousands of Amharas from their and are architects of the extermination of Amharas, an ideology embraced by Abiy Ahmed who took it to the extreme level) ) or whether the resilience and the ties that have bound the people for centuries are stronger than the fake narrative sponsored by the political leaders, primarily by the OLF (ODP) that Abiy leads and the TPLF” I found all your efforts that were driving me to tattooing along your synthesise is a marathon paragraphs which has nothing but a medieval ideas that has no place for equality to all Ethiopians!

  8. Your introduction was great. I also enjoyed your style of writing simple & easy to read. It was your conclusion that exposed you as naked racist.
    I agree with you and respect your contribution to your country. Though not verified by other people, I enjoyed your interview when you were a governor of Eritrea & your strategy to attract the Eritrean youth. However, you are greedy to acknowledge other Ethiopians’ contribution to their country.
    I said your conclusion was unwise & biased. There is a common trend going on in your circle of elites, demonizing Tegarus’ and Ormos’ contribution and canonizing Amhara contribution, as is so with others you write as if Amharas are a higher angels to save Ethiopia. Here is where you failed big. How many Tegaru were displaced and murdered from & in Amhara region before Abiyi assumed power and after? is millions too small to remember? how many Oromos have been murdered in Amhara region and in their own by Amharas? Like wise Amharas were murdered else where but you deliberately deleted the data about the rest but Amhara. For your age, you have got to be honest with the fact, play a constructive role, look inside as much as outside , check the log in your eyes before you look a dust in others’ eye. My apology for my words because you are elderly and I should respect my elderly I am against your writing and idea. Peace

  9. Here is the formula for you.

    Abiy Ahmed = Tamrat Geleta (Eyangualele) + Sr Engineer Zemicheal (Fraud academic) + Esrael Dansa (Fake evangelist) + Ardent OLF + Wannabe Meles Zenawi (Without Meles’ intelligence)

    Abiy suffers from severe anexiety due to his multiple personality syndrome. Due to his traumatic life, he has no empathy towards humanity whatsoever. In short he is a psychopath.

    Now you know who your messianic leader is!

  10. The atrocities that began against Ethiopia and its great leaders fid not begin now. 90% of Derg including mr Giorgis were cleaning house dome in Ethiopia for foreigners while on the perifery, the liberation fronts Eplf, Tplf and Olf were creating havoc and controlling Ethiopia pushing inwards with the help of 90% of Derg mercinaries. That is why Egypt and Co. now thinks Ethiopia is on its knee and came out openly threatening Ethiopia. We have lots of house negroes till this day. Let us see… mr Giorgis fought against H Selassie, he later fought against his own Derg by sabotaging ( which wont make any difference anyways, Derg was mercinary working for its respective Liberatiin fronts and foreigners while claiming to be Ethiopian, currently he is against dr Aby. He will continue his opposition until Ethiopia is disintegrated and that is his main goal.

  11. Humble Commentary, ,2 Mar.2022
    Let the TRUTH come out.

    A Black African Independent, Free, Country for time immemorial should NEVER fall into the gutter with charlatans..
    It is time for ETHIOPIA — if Ethiopians care about their Ethiopian-ness – to REVIVE the admirable history of the only, and only, the longest and FREELY PROUD Black AFRICAN Independent State. By the way, that is why certain States show their open flow of animosity against Ethiopia — Day and Night, for time immemorial.

    LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA. HISTORY WILL BE ON ITS SIDE. Amen -Inshallah (in alphabetical order, please)

  12. By the way, to the success of people like Giorgis, ethio 60, olf, tplf, Shabia, etc,?the so called Aby Ahmed government by hook or crook, is working along the above groups. The above group dream is to get Oromo and amara to kill each other by supporting one against the other to weaken and break the country to transfer power from center to North and end Minilik’s struggle to unite the country. The groups above are negotiating for power with foreigners in turn for Nile, resources and land benefit. Note, those who always hide behind Ethiopia unlike liberation fronts, because they hide behind Ethiopia, what they have done and are doing against Ethiopia and its people hidden and invisible. They quickly join the civic to get media and further hide their crimes and their intentions. Another person must be included, Tamrat Layne. They are working to create a foreign empire over the corpse of Ethiopia.


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