Lij Mulugeta Asrate Kassa
For Ethiopian diplomats, especially for Ambassadors, save of course for the handful famous workaholics, Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” has become their daily prayer book. Ambassadors love it to the hilt because it gives them the green light to go on a self-indulgent ego trip. That’s why they are happy to apply each of the 48 Laws of Power without hesitation or deviation.To Ambassadors, diplomats under them are “human beings” while the local staff are “working beings.” Embassies are the fiefdoms of Ambassadors with the local staff treated like household chattels and at the mercy of not as the Government tries to make us believe “Servant Leaders” but as an English Lord of a Manor. While one is being constantly reminded to observe military discipline at Embassies, more often than not it is none other than an Ambassador who is guilty of breach of that code of conduct.
Seldom do you see Ambassadors trying to tap the potentials of aspiring staff for they fear that they will be outwitted or outshined. Greene’s 48 Laws has allowed them to assume the role of paladins of virtue. I am reminded here of an instant when the Embassy asked me to provide Christmas cards for British VIPs because I happened to be a member of staff who has ensconced in London longest and would be well acquainted with British culture. When I presented the Embassy with a selection of Charity Christmas cards, the know-it-all Ambassador tried to take the mickey out of me for he thought that it was a cheap way of expressing best wishes for Christmas. Little did he know, nor did he have the exposure to know, that Christmas card etiquette states that the giving of Charity Christmas cards especially to VIPs is de rigueur. Woe then talented staff, for office politics will turn them into zombies. I am not at loggerheads with Robert Greene per se, but I am dead against how it is being applied by mandarins at MoFA who tend to give it their own political interpretation.
To give credit where credit is due, however, I have been witness to Ambassador’s adeptness for choosing their mascots, their companions of honour, their lap dogs and those whom they can trust to do – for want of a better word – cloak and dagger activities on their behalf. Good old Robert Greene would then be laughing at what his book has done to Ethiopian diplomats and local staff. His book is being used as a sure-fire formula for turning aspiring staff become dormant and doormat. Let talent flourish at MoFA!!