The popular image of governments that rise and demise is determined by their integrity, vision, and responsiveness to the aspirations of the populace. The resultant social phenomenon, known as popular image or perception, could thus be viewed either as an expression of conformism or nonconformism with the status quo. One of the means by which the public externalizes its outlook is folk literature, which is permeated with the tragedy and comedy of the subject people. This study was designed to determine the popular image of the military government of Ethiopia (1974–91) as reflected in contemporary Amharic folk poetry, which revealed the duality of public perception. On the one hand, the selected couplets are found to be critical of the status quo, which perpetuates negative images. On the other hand, the Därgue1 is perceived as a nationalist government credited with protecting the national interest and the territorial integrity of the country irrespective of its inadvertent malpractices. At any rate, politically motivated propaganda against the military government of Ethiopia seems to have backfired, because most of the couplets evoke nostalgia for the past.

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