Abiymania ― Young, democratic and preaching peace, he’s the leader the country has been waiting for. But can Abiy Ahmed live up to the hype?

By Jenni Marsh (CNN) |

At 6 am when Gutama Habro arrived at the Target Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the line for tickets already snaked around the block. Within hours, 20,000 fans had packed the venue. “People around me were crying,” says Gutama, a 28-year-old medical laboratory scientist. “Seeing this was a dream come true.”

Gutama wasn’t at a pop concert. This was the final leg of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s three-city American tour. Held in July, it was the first time the 42-year-old had visited the more than 251,000 Ethiopians living in the United States, many in self-imposed exile — fleeing ethnic clashes, violence, and political instability in their homeland. “The level of hope was something we had not seen since the election of Barack Obama,” says Mohammed Ademo, an activist who fled to the US in 2002 and founded OPride.com, a news outlet that was blocked for years at home.

Since taking office on April 2, Africa’s youngest head of government has electrified Ethiopia with a dizzying array of liberal reforms credited by many with saving the country from civil war. Abiy has freed thousands of political prisoners, unblocked hundreds of censored websites, ended the 20-year state of war with Eritrea, lifted a state of emergency, and planned to open key economic sectors to private investors, including the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines.

In the capital city of Addis Ababa, taxi windscreens are plastered with Abiy stickers, while citizens are changing their Whatsapp and Facebook profile pictures to pro-Abiy slogans and spending their money on Abiy T-shirts. Elias Tesfaye, a garment factory owner, says that in the past six weeks he has sold 20,000 T-shirts bearing Abiy’s face, which cost about 300 birr ($10) each. In June, an estimated four million people attended a rally Abiy gave in the capital’s Meskel Square.

Tom Gardner, a British journalist who lives in Addis Ababa, says there is an almost religious fervor to what has been dubbed “Abiymania.” “People talk quite openly about seeing him as the son of God or a prophet,” he says.

Continue reading this story at CNN
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3 Responses

  1. Paul

    Don’t take me wrong — I believe in God but George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn’t learn a lot about it. Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking.

    Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do. So don’t mix Dr. Abye with religion and politics —as he is Not also Prophet sent from God.

    Dr. Abiye was tied up with EPDRF party for several years — still he is —- who are full of bigotry, misogyny, full of violence, terrorism ( as he said it ) and sheer ignorance as religion is, But Dr. Abiye defeated and protested.

    As some people believed (at the beginning ) PM “Melse” was a Prophet and chairman of EPDRF party — which is nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.

    The only appropriate attitude Dr. Abiye need to have is as a “big policy” to fight for peace freedom and democracy be implemented in Ethiopia not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion.

    He must always be with doubt and being a true leader not to reflect his own personal believe. Most importantly – understand Doubt and being strong leader is humble, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.


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