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The Endangered Brown Frog Of Eritrea

I swear I never intended to write about any NGO or Ngdet (in the plural) after the one I wrote in April of 2010, but I was not so inspired that I had to do it again. Blame it on a certain scholar, Sga Aboy ille—he made one stupid comment too many, a comment that was hard to ignore, and I decided Mkhri klggselu.

People ask me what my problem with the NGO’s is. They are many. And my problem with those whose proffession is knocking at the doors of NGOs is even more. They are the same people who keep defaming anyone they cannot control of “advancing foreign interests” (read Ethiopian) but it never occurs to them that all they do is advance the agendas of foreign NGOs with money. I wouldn’t have a problem if they followed the craze of the time and campaigned for the protection of the endangered Green Frog of Kansas; or global warming, or any other trivial pet-project they choose. The problem starts when they present their milk-cow projects as if  it is the concern of Eritreans.

Nothing of what our delusional friends espouse is in the priority list of the common Eritrean. For example: “is peace with our neighbors” something Eritreans spend a great amount of time obsessing over? I bet they don’t. Why? It is simply because they do not have enmity towards their neighbors and they know their neighbors have no enmity towards them. So, why do our dellalas bother? Do we have problems with Somalis, Djiboutians or the Sudanese? We do not. No Eritrean outside the PFDJ fold has social relations problem with anyone. I believe that most of the activities that are piggybacked on the suffering of Eritreans are scam, save the low profile activism (of rare personalities) like Elsa Chyrum.

In the seventies and early eighties, communism was the craze and one had to raise socialist slogans to get funds and assistance. Socialist countries were milked until their tits secreted blood. The generous Scandinavians were distributing money through their church and socialist institutions—now it seems that function is fully privatized. These days, communist slogans don’t buy you a sandwich; but slogans of Human Rights, Dialogue, Sustainable Development, Capacity Building, Politcal Party building and other high sounding ideals give you a living and job security—that is, if you are willing to offer your slogans as a self-serving investment. It seems Western countries, specially Europeans, have sub contracted their foreign policy to individuals; and those individuals have set up NGO facades and in turn they sub contract their money making projects to other individuals. Now, the foreign policy of wealthy Western countries is totally privatized. And the NGOs run their business like for-profit entities—they have to grow their budgets and expenditures every year so that they can ask for more grants the following year. By the end of the fiscal year, when businesses rush to reconcile their accounts, NGOs and their sub contractors rush to spend what is left of the budget. Most of them lack transparency and there is little when it comes to accountability—a cause for my suspicion that they could have sub contracted some intelligence projects. That is my problem with NGOs. They act like neo-colonizers trying to impose their agendas on poor countries.

My disappointment is that they find willing Eritrean facades to implement those agendas; and nothing good comes from those pretentious entities. I wish the money-givers focused on charitable organizations, those who dirty their hands among the refugees and the destitute of our people. For God’s sake, hundreds of thousands of refugees are languishing in the camps, for decades, and the dellalas want to reconcile Eritreans with the Sudanese and Ethiopians, people who are hosting Eritrean refugees!  Uggghh.

The Poor Patron Saint Of Atlanta

The Amhara say, “Genzeb kalle besemay menged alle.” Again I say there are enough people determined to stop the deception march through the skies. If they can’t, maybe Abajggo would come to their rescue and park huge clouds in that despicable yesemay menged.

Unlike the patron saints of Brussels, London and Brighton, the poor patron saint of Atlanta must be furious. Not many people heard, let alone talk, about the peace that the Horn of Africa was blessed with from the land of Martin Luther King—remember the man who cried peace, walked peace and was genuine?  That Atlanta, where our Peace In The Horn Peddlers held another Ngdet. The “peace movement” that started in London to reconcile Eritreans, and then changed its mind and decided to reconcile Eritreans with Ethiopians in Brighton, and then deceided to reconcile the entire population of the Horn of Africa in Atlanta. Rejoice Horn people, peace is coming. Rejoice Eritrea, your sons and daughters will deliver you out of the dark clouds.

Bob Marley, the man who thought Haile Sellase was god, had a song: ‘I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints and then I smoke two more.’ True to that cycle, your sons and daughters  made declarations after the meeting that was followed by a meeting that discussed the venue of the next meeting.

The correction of this drama depends on the success of some genuine citizens who are exerting  pressure in pursuit of a goal to uncover the scam projects; and the really concerned people who are objecting the inclusion of a “classified information clause” in the deliberations. Someone is already “fed up” with such attempts. Of course, anyone who has milked the cow by himself would want to distribute the milk as he wishes. He would even have the right to tell anyone to stop asking so  many silly questions about the origin of the milk and the color of the cow. He might even tell them: just receive your ticket, fly your bottom to anywhere you are told to fly, sit, listen and go back home feeling honored that you are brought to the conferences in the first place.  Is that too much to ask in pursuit of peace for the lovely people of the Horn? He seems to be wondering.

Even the signora from Brussels had another thing going on last year (before the funding season elapses) and I haven’t heard much from it yet. Oh naughty Eritreans! You even betrayed the patron saint of Brussels! Not a word about it!

Back To Ngdet

Our typical scholar found a religious connotation in my article that I mentioned above; he seemed to object to my use of the term Ngdet, simply because it was a Tigrigna word. Never mind such ignorance. The scholar and his likes seem to want to stop me from using Tigrigna words, my own language—and do you know why? I am not saying. But I have used an exact translations of Ngdet in the Arabic version of the article, Hawliya (which the scholar probably believes I am allowed to use). They both mean pilgrimage. But as they say, Tqa Hawi zelo Qola’a aytebki—a child in a smoky room is susceptible to tearing up. Therefore, since they don’t teach enough traditional Tigrgna terms in college, I will offer him this lesson: I used Ngdet to avoid using Mlham Berbere.

Unfortunately, you cannot have Mlham Berbere withot a weddings; and you cannot have a wedding without men and women; and I believe Eritreans would appreciate help in unseating the criminal regime that is holding them by the throat—and preventing them from weddings their children. And I will join any group that is willing to get money from any deep pocketed NGO to unseat the PFDJ regime; to save the refugees and to fund a commando operation to free all the forced conscripts from Sawa. Specially the girls who would have been brides and having a family instead of growing old in servitude. Eritreans are not interested in saving the green frog, they need to save their lives. The life of the poor frog is not in their priority. But let’s pray for the wellbeing of frogs anyway; it is another pet-project. Let’s also pray that God keeps the temperature of the world stable and saves the ice cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro so that our friends can meet and celebrate the peace of the Horn under the majestic mountain. But please, keep the refugees and the forcefully conscripted and ransomed youngsters in your mind.

Incidentally, I heard that the brown frog is becoming extinct in Eritrea. This is the one that eats mosquitoes; and if we do not save the brown frog, our people would be overwhelmed by mosquitoes, fall ill with malaria, and there is no Petros Ghali to offer them his jet to the Israeli tropical disease hospital. And they cannot trek there either; I heard the beduins have taken over the task of patrolling the Egyptian side of the border with Israel and selling entry tickets to Israel—and the pass tickets are very expensive. To avoid all these problems, I suggest our bleeding-heart “peacnics” start a ‘Save The Brown Frog’ movement to save Eritrea. See!

It is wise to focus on the root cause. Any volunteer who can write a funding proposal to the deep pockets of Europe?

Finally, with the hope of arousing the interest of the NGOs and their sub-contractors to the plight of Eritrean would-have-been brides and bridegrooms, I have attempted to compose an Anglicized version of an Eritrean traditional song; lyrics of a farewell song that our folks sing at the confines of a village as they see off the bride going to the bridegroom’s village. Eritreans have lost that luxury since the regime began to forcefully haul their daughters to military camps. Now they are coerced to sing the regime’s tunes, in the regime’s festivals. Of course Eritreans sing voluntarily when they bid hyphenated political tourists farewell—to wherever there is another meeting. Here’s my national obligation to bid farewell to our Dellalas as they go from one Ngdet to another.  it is a remote equivalent of the Eritrean version: affanina ruba ‘sagirna—atenakumye…

We saw them off crossing the river
We saw them off fly to the grey skies
That didn’t (and will not) fall
We saw them off…
At the banks of the River Thames
We saw them off…
At the Gatwick terminal
They waved, we waved
They cried, we shed tears
And we ululated
As we saw them off to Belgium.

Some caught the Shnell Tsug
(Now baptized, The Reisen Express)
It’s an excursion to Brussels
Where they will stroll the fairgrounds
To sell and buy stale products
At the political stalls, and dark kiosks
The moneychangers will announce the wares
With shy megaphones
They’ll  make a kill, a seasonal loot.

And the bidders will head South
Or, so they declared
To Wedelhelew, to Wedsherife
To Kilo 26, to Aroma, to the rest of the desolate camps
But the flight captain lost his navigation map
The plane headed West instead
It will soon land in the land of the peanuts
To recruit more uncles, and aunts…
A four-man crowd waited at the terminal.

Soon the season will be over
The Kangaroo trip will be declared a success
B’Awet tezazimu!
Then it’s time for migration, like birds
With fake peacock feathers…
Do peacocks migrate, or just gracefully pace?

But birds with fake feathers do migrate
Back to frigid Europa
Where the Reisen Express is planning
For yet another excursion, for the next season
Another season of expected bounties
In the land of political enterprises.

Come Ethiopia, come all
Come Djibouti, come all
Come Sudan, come…which Sudan?
Come Somalia, in many pieces
Eritrean Dellalas have peace for you,
And pieces for their people

Long live destitution
Long live auction markets
Long live the political stock market
Where sufferings fetch the highest price,
Where pretension goes for charity
Where workers curve steel wedges
For the dire markets of 2011.

Long live the Eritrean misery
Long live the deep pockets…
Dollars and silver…
But not a cent for the hunched back
Eritreans, who carry the label on their shoulders
The discounted sales price of their misery.

negarit@awate.com

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

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