Back to or Away from the Glorious Past: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Abiy Ahmed’s Political Talk

  • Adugna Barkessa
Keywords: Discourse analysis; Discursive strategy; Political discourse; Political talk


This article examines the discursive strategies used in Abiy‟s political talk, discusses the binary descriptors employed in the talk, and explains the nexus between ideology and power in the discursive representations of the (in)glorious situations of the Oromo. To attain these objectives, the talk Abiy made at the meeting of Oromo Peoples‟ Democratic Organization officials held at Adama Town on the 15th of July 2017 was purposely selected for the manipulative discursive strategies it contains. The talk was transcribed, translated into the English language and thematically analyzed following Fairclough‟s (1992) and Wodak‟s (2001) models of discourse analysis. The findings show that redefining, highlighting, shifting blame and claim, etc. are the main discursive strategies employed in the talk. The talk comprises negative (weak, loser, disunity etc.) and positive (strong, winner, unity etc.) binary descriptors to represent the official and non-official Oromo, respectively. The descriptors disclose that the negative behaviors the officials developed due to the power asymmetry prevails in the political economy of Ethiopia intimidate the positive one. Seemingly, the descriptors employed in that specific talk were to control mental and discursive spaces of the audience. The talk presents contradicting recommendations for the threatening situation the Oromo encounter. On the one hand, it recommends that the Oromo should restore their core identities demolished by the political systems of Ethiopia, and on the other hand, it insists the Oromo to shift the blame for their demolished identities from national to regional authority, and to shift identity claim from Oromoness to Ethiopianess.

Author Biography

Adugna Barkessa

Addis Ababa University, Department of Afaan Oromoo, Literature and Folklore