Humane Politics

Sep 21 , 2019
By Tsion Fisseha

The first memory I have of the Prime Minister’s Office is driving past it with my dad when I was very young. I had clear and seemingly weird instructions: do not point toward it, do not try to wave to anybody around it, and most importantly, do not attempt to stare at it.

The office of whoever was running the country at that moment in time was like an eclipse for me, you can look at it, but it came with a lot of instructions and it was best if you did not look at it at all.

These set of unwritten rules played a significant role in the way I viewed politics, politicians and the entire system of government and governance in and outside the country.

I believed, and still somehow believe, that politics should not be played with. I also believed that it was a one-way street that never allowed people to go back once they were sucked in.

This affiliation of people and “lords” was never one that runs smoothly due to how we were raised to think about it and how we should act toward and around it.

Politicians, no matter how loved or hated by the people, were and are still somehow viewed as less human and more system. A web of technical entanglement with little to no emotion attached to their being. Like being a body of sorts who made and broke the rules for the benefit of themselves and sometimes the people. They are viewed as untouchable and unbreakable.

This rhetoric, for me at least, has been shattered into pieces by the most personal interview Ethiopia’s Prime Minister gave recently. An interview that broke years of believing that conversation that entailed politics and policies were the only types deemed to be fit for people like the prime minister of a country. It was an interview that allowed the premier to be someone more than just a leader. The interview challenged the old belief about politicians as it is an interview that took people by surprise in a positive sense.

It all surpassed the common norm and made it bluntly clear politicians are human too.

Scott Simon says politicians are human too. If you prick them, they will bleed. If you pet them, they’ll lick your hand. They’re filled with anxieties, contradictions and duplicities, but I wonder what groups, including journalists, salesperson, hammer dulcimer makers or Franciscan priests, are not.

I could not help but wonder of the change in the minds of the youth if this aspect had been made clear. If everyone believed that they could freely express themselves and be understood by their prime minister or local leaders, then the idea of being a part of the system will not scare the living politics out of them.

The truth is, politics is a dirty game most of which is not understood by half the people watching it. The game show host explains every bit of the rules, but somehow everyone is lost at some point in time. And it is scary to know that you could be swallowed whole by the rules and regulations that seem to make no sense.

But this belief that politics, along with everyone involved in it, should be feared, because we have been told to, is precisely the reason why there is such a disconnect in what is and what should be.

However, beliefs like rules are meant to be broken. The rules should be broken so that the way is paved for a more humane approach to politics that does away with the “evil” system. Change is needed. It is better to understand how one can leave one’s mark as opposed to be blinded by the old marks that have been left for eons..

PUBLISHED ON Sep 21,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1012]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at

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