Elias Dawit 03-10-20
and lies far from me;
It comes as no surprise, given the origins of Abiy Ahmed’s rise to power, that the gospel of prosperity is being used to mobilize Ethiopians to join his new political party. Indeed, connecting the dots from Washington, DC to Addis Ababa, from the evangelicals in the U.S. Congress to the Pentecostals in Silver Spring, Maryland to the churches attended by Hailemariam Desalegn and Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa and ending at Menelik’s palace.
And let’s not forget the interlocuter, Tamrat Layne, who communed with the Messiah in a prison cell after abandoning his faith in Karl Marx.
The strange story of how evangelicals gained a foothold in Ethiopia only to dislodge a stumbling political party is one that continues to be played out in the Horn of Africa’s anchor state.
What is the prosperity gospel? The prosperity gospel is quite simple—you need to contribute money to the church to demonstrate your faith and God will reward you materially one hundredfold.
For the Prosperity Party, you need to pledge loyalty and make your vote count in the upcoming election and God will reward you one hundredfold.
What is clear here is the connection between the evangelical tenet of prosperity and the drive for the U.S. to establish an economic foothold in Ethiopia. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s three-country Africa tour was inarguably an attempt to persuade African countries to ditch China and hitch its star to the Trump Administration’s Africa strategy known as “Prosper Africa.” Prosper Africa focuses on facilitating greater private sector investment with Africa.
Even the name, “Prosper Africa” evokes the political gospel being spread throughout Ethiopia that promises Ethiopians economic prosperity in exchange for supporting the Prime Minister in the next election.
In an article publishes by the Financial Times, U.S. ready to back Ethiopian reform with $5bn investment, the U.S. is said to have expressed interest in investing in telecoms, geothermal energy, logistics, and sugar—industries on the verge of privatization. According to the Financial Times, the U.S. will invest in Ethiopia’s high value industries if “certain reforms take place.”
These reforms will allow investors to hold offshore accounts, repatriate foreign currency and have disputes settled in New York City.
Foreign investors will be able to make money and then take money out of Ethiopia. How does this solve the foreign currency problem, ostensibly one of the goals of this new economic strategy?
The U.S.’s foreign policy goal to drive out China and Russia from Africa is entangled in its economic goal to re-colonize Africa’s economy. The Trump Administration has made this clear in its new trade-focus approach to Africa. And while trade is important to both the U.S. and Africa, it is reasonable to ask who will benefit more.
The beneficiaries of these investments clearly skew to the American oligarchs represented in the White House by Donald Trump.
Ethiopians need look no further than the mercenary role the U.S. government is playing as mediator to the Hedase Dam talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. The first clue is the fact that the mediator leads the Treasury Department and not the State Department—highly unusual but reasonable given the pure economic interests of American oligarchs. The second clue is the support given by the U.S. to Egypt and President Trump’s second favorite dictator—Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
And why is Ethiopia giving in to the economic interests of U.S. oligarchs?
The Prime Minister depended on the U.S. to support—more concisely to facilitate—his rise to power. He now depends on the further facilitation of the U.S. to maintain his power. The U.S. has promised the Prime Minister significant foreign aid.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was just in Addis Ababa for a meet and greet, praising the Prime Minister’s reforms and commenting on the upcoming elections by saying, "A free and credible vote will show that there is no false choice between democracy and security and it will ensure that everyone has a choice.”
Is that the false choice—between democracy and security?
The Prime Minister and his sycophants have certainly made their choice and it is neither democracy nor security. Ethiopia will sell off its most profitable investments in order to maintain power for the newly formed Prosperity Party.
The evangelical gospel of prosperity is being spread throughout Ethiopia by false prophets. Those who will benefit from the Prosperity Party’s will not be ordinary Ethiopians but the prophets themselves along with the American oligarchs cloaking themselves in evangelicalism.
Ethiopia is undergoing hard times. Electoral politics, no longer a competition for who takes on the day-to-day mundaneness of who governs, has become the anointment of a new Messiah. The party no longer serves as the vanguard for the Ethiopian peasantry but a priesthood standing at the altar of money and power.
As for the peasant’s daily bread, let us all pray.