Last Monday’s the self proclaimed Ethiopian “artists” discussion with the prime minster serves to highlight a critical flaw of Ethiopian art and entertainment business. This event makes me to strongly believe that this critical flaw is deep in to every “artists” personality and this flaw is ingratiation (አለቅላቂነት). Let me try to shade light on what ingratiation is all about prior to pouring scorn on the acts of the so called our “artists”. According to the social psychologist Edward E. Jones “ingratiation” is a social psychological technique in which an individual attempts to become more attractive or likeable to their target. Hence this result can be accomplished through several methods such as other-enhancement, opinion conformity, and self presentation/self-promotion. Other enhancement is a method in which the ingratiator compliments the target individual. Opinion conformity occurs when the ingratiator adopts and validates the attitudes and beliefs of the target individual. Self-presentation/self-promotion is a technique in which the ingratiator emphasizes their own attributes in order to be seen positively in the eyes of the target individual.
The artists begun the event with their great sycophantic drama which intends to demonstrate their suffer as a consequence of short of of consideration from government. But in the drama I have seen all the social psychological techniques like other-enhancement, opinion conformity and self presentation/self-promotion.
Beside this, the message which they have tried to transmit through their drama stands the risk of being misinterpreted, as it openly denies that a progressive attitude has been upheld by the general public of Ethiopia to improve the deteriorating conditions of the every actor (singers, dramatists, musicians) of the entertainment industry in Ethiopia. As far as I know Ethiopians have never failed to help so called “artists”. financial problems whenever their need comes. And they also have never failed to appeal to our pity when they are sick or come across with a certain disaster by calling to the public. Remember the most famous phrase used to appeal to our pity. (የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ያውቃል)
Nowadays Ethiopian music is started to be recognized by the public for its entertaining capacities though it has to endure a fair criticism for its lack of creativity and originality. The diversities in Ethiopian music are there for everyone to hear, with artists singing various sorts of songs and amassing significantly awesome amount of money for sometimes banal and as dry as bone songs and yet they are complaining for being severely underpaid. This is not what makes me annoyed what fumed me is their method to gain advantage they were all sycophantic in their questions. I have never heard of an artist asking about music censorship in Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency. It is a public secret that there are tracks that are never in the playlist of Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency. But, then why do so many of our biggest “artists” jump at the first opportunity to ask about piracy.
Regarding the film business in Ethiopia I have felt that the fact that we don’t have at least semi-standard film business helps many of our film makers rather than hurts. Since many of us don’t look towards movies of high standard our people are exposed to these people’s cheap films, they don’t need to produce state of the art movies to please the public.
Theatre in Ethiopia might not have sufficiently suffered from censorship as of journalism and music but we have been hearing rumors about certain theaters that are censored even some times banned to be staged. But no one was dare enough to ask about it. Weather it is a commercial theatre, street theatre or improvisational theatre, there is a strong recreational value attached to it, which probably leads a society to certain kind of spiritual or moral development. Why does the “artist” want to state and re -state this simple fact whit out asking censorship?
What even distresses me is that that many of Ethiopian “artistes” strongly believe that they shape the “Ethiopian image” and our economy; democracy; good governance and other serious issues plays no role in shaping a new “Ethiopian image”. False impressions such as these can be easily discounted. For instance, As Himanot Alemu claimed on the day Barrack Obama’s election motto “Yes we can” is not taken from Haile Gebreselassie but the concept of “Yes we can” has been there for centuries as a chief element of an American Dream.
Actually the “artists” behavior can be described in two simple terms: Sycophancy and Servility. I make my point!