August 04, 2018
It’s not the first time for Tamrat Layne to come up with a story that fits whatever situation he finds himself in. It’s to be recalled that he came out of prison as a self-proclaimed born-again Christian. And – seemingly to give much needed attention and flavor to his newfound faith – he claimed that Jesus physically appeared in his prison cell to talk to him, and show him the way to a new spiritual life.
As a result, his story went, he abandoned his communist / atheist ideology in favor of the gospel. He then embarked on a speaking circuit giving testimonies within and outside the country in various congregations, which was understandably welcomed by Christians as one of the miracles of the 21st. century, and paved the way for his subsequent ordination as a pastor.
Then occurred the sudden
death of PM Meles Zenawil, so Tamrat came up with a new
story that – after leaving prison – he had a one-to-one meeting with the late
Ethiopian Prime Minister wherein he had the opportunity to tell his former
comrade how he had planned to kill him once out of prison, but – as he became a
new person in Christ – that he fully forgave him. This apparently led PM Meles
to be moved with emotion, and ask for forgiveness according to the gospel of
Tamrat to the faithful and the naive.
What’s wrong with this picture? First, the chance of Meles meeting with him was next to nil. Second, his story couldn’t be substantiated by Meles’ former security team. And he evidently couldn’t have directly called the late PM for a private audience without his security knowledge. Third, on the highly unlikely event, bordering on impossible, that Tamrat is telling the truth, why did the convicted criminal wait for Meles’ death to tell his colorful story? Fact is, either he should’ve told the story when the person he now claims to have met was alive or forever hold his peace (as ministers and pastors like to say when officiating weddings).
Six years after Meles’ death and with a new sheriff in town, the man who has become like a contemporary fiction writer has come up yet again with a new historical fiction. Indeed, he’s now claiming that the only reason he infamously pleaded guilty to charges of corruption that led to his political demise had to do with the fact that he had been threatened with his daughter’s death. And this – like many of his stories – has big holes:
1. Why would his
adversaries bring a daughter to the picture (as though it was a case of
kidnapping for ransom) when they could easily shove a gun to his throat, and
compel him to testify against himself?
Then again, that would look unheroic as he likely would be seen by some as a coward who did as told to save his skin. In contrast, telling he did what he had to do to in order to save his daughter makes him look humane and heroic at the same time.
2. Why is he bringing this up nearly a decade later? It can’t be because he feared a vendetta from his former imprisoners. After all:
a) Isn’t he a born-again Christian who should know the, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalms 23:4) scripture by heart?
b) He’s been in the safety of his United States haven.
c) The timing of his new story colliding with the return of the Patriarch AbuneMerkorios to Ethiopia (after 27 years of exile in the U.S.) is a suspect to say the least as it was him – in his position as former Prime Minister of the country –who ordered the removal of the patriarch, and his eventual exile to the U.S.
Yet, the spineless pathological liar that he is, he is unable to seize this historical opportunity to confess the wrong he had done; personally apologize to the patriarch and make amends. But this politician-turned-preacher is not known for taking individual responsibility. Rather, he finds passing the blame backed with sequels of historical fiction as a way of dealing with his personal demons, and trying to win public sympathy.
Much has been said and written about the commonality between politics and religion. Thus, not only has Tamrat found it easy to make the transition from one to the other, but also he is a living proof of the “old habits die hard” adage.
Nonetheless, in all fairness, he is not entirely to blame as – be it to Ababa Tamrat or Pastor Tamrat – there is no shortage of the faithful, the naïve and the manipulative to take any story at face value.