Ethiopia's passion for bureaucracy
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August 10, 2009: A reporter preparing to leave Addis Ababa reflects on the quirks of the bureaucracy of Ethiopia - especially its obsession which rubber stamps, which are not only all-important to get permission for practically anything, but also represent a way for the bureaucrats to shift responsibility to others, as no one will permit anything without being shown the "proper" stamps on a document.

The article also mentions that the large bureaucracy of Ethiopia meticulously filed everything during the rule of the Derg military junta from 1974 to 1991 - every arrest, every interrogation, and every killing was documented, authorized, and filed.


Game and Story Use

  • The article provides some useful examples on how to frustrate player characters who have to deal with large bureaucratic regimes.
    • If they are in a hurry, it is likely that the PCs will be tempted to do something illegal, such as bribing someone, forging a document or trying to do something without authorization - which might be a useful source of trouble later on.
  • The archives of the Derg regime might be useful for player characters who have to find out something about someone from this period.
    • Of course, to get access to the archives they need to get a properly authorized and stamped document first…
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