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Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Dr. Ghelawdewos Araia on Political Culture in Ethiopia
IDEA Viewpoint February 7, 2019

The Institute of Development and Education for Africa (IDEA) appreciates and hails the Conference on Democracy in Ethiopia that Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minster of Ethiopia held with the contending political parties at the African Union hall on February 2, 2019. Irrespective of the broad range and variegated topics and themes presented by the panel, what makes this conference historic is that the paper presenters and the audience candidly exchanged ideas; and questions raised from the floor were also eloquently answered in the spirit of laying the cornerstone for the establishment of democratic culture in Ethiopia. If these kinds of conferences continue without interruption, no doubt, political culture will flourish in Ethiopia and the country’s bright future will be inaugurated and guaranteed.

 This viewpoint, however, is interested in explicating Dr. Abiy’s and Dr. Ghelawdewos’ works on political culture, because, Dr. Abiy, to his credit, acknowledged Dr. Ghelawdewos’ contribution on this topic in light of the dearth or virtual absence of scholarly research papers on the topic. We at IDEA are gratified to witness Dr. Abiy’s honest testament on Dr. Ghelawdewos’ article on political culture; we also want to use this opportunity to extend gratitude to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

However, we believe that Dr. Abiy should have quoted some relevant paragraphs from Dr. Ghelawdewos’ article in order to benefit the audience of the privilege of getting the gist of the said work. Put otherwise, the audience could have grasped the essence of political culture and its attendant component parts, as discussed in depth by Dr. Ghelawdewos, and altogether, the conference could have been a learning experience, on top of its already positive contributions. 

Dr. Abiy made a passing remark on Dr. Ghelawdewos’ works and mentioned his “two or three articles” that he himself read, although he did not mention the titles given the time constrain perhaps. The three articles authored by Dr. Ghelawdewos are: 1) Coalition Government and Comparative Politics: Meanings for Ethiopia; 2) Humanizing the Ethiopian Political Culture; and 3) Political Culture in the Context of Contemporary Ethiopian Politics (2005). All of these titles are now incorporated in the author’s latest book entitled Ethiopia: Democracy, Devolution of Power, and the Developmental States (2013).

On top of the above titles, the author thoroughly examined the three elements of political culture that Dr. Abiy also mentioned in his presentation. Beyond discussing the three aspects of political culture, however, Dr. Ghelawdewos made reference to Gabriel A. Almond and Sydney Verba’s book, The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations, in which the three cultures, namely Parochial, Subject, and Participant, are presented as models.

In an effort to further inform and educate the public and also learn from the latter via constructive feedbacks, IDEA presents Dr. Ghelawdewos’ paper and Dr. Abiy’s speech as shown below:

Ghelawdewos Araia, PhD, Professor of Africana Studies at the City University of New York: “Political Culture in the Context of Contemporary Ethiopian Politics”, www.africanidea.org/political_culture.html 

Abiy Ahmed, PhD, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE), “Political Culture in Ethiopia”, https://youtu.be/GdpnNYmxJmg 

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