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Expecting Aguagudom (ኣጎጉዶም): A Play-Act VI

Characters’ Name  Sobriquet Party/Affiliation
Yemane Baliho  Wedi-Baliho Selfi-Swa
Mohamed Birhan Imam   Wedi-Zemzem  Selfi-Alamel
Abdella A zerom Wed-Inharish  Selfi-Gebil
Amanuel ReDae Wedi-Tiebe  Selfi-L’fnti
Tirhas Kindya Trishi(Gual ‘Gbitan) Demit Eritrea
Mohamed I Abdella Wed-Sudan  Hizb Aljemahir
Zewdi Andemariam Gual Bashay ????
Najib A Khahsay Hargets  Selfi-Abaeka
Dr. Basilios Angesom Gnogno Selfi-Bun
Osmano Ibrahimo  YaAsina Selfi-Shahi
Melake Gebrekidan Dem-Draru Selfi-Ts’ray
Dr. Semira OuraFura   Hakim Snni Selfi-Halib

Scene: The Streets Of Misyam and Enda Gual Bashay

(Characters heading back to Enda Gual Bashay. En route, they were having it out about the issue of ‘the Misyam massacre’. They took their seats around one of the tables of Enda Gual Bashay and were engaged in a cut-and-thrust debate which flowed like this.)

Wedi-Tiebe: I am about to faint. I am so hungry that I can barely talk. Can you ask your servers, Gual Bashay, to hurry it up and bring our food.

Wed-Sudan: Man, I am really famished. Please, get us some food, Welt-Bashay. Tell them to make it fast!

Trishi Gual G’bitan: I am quite peckish, too.

Wedi-Zemzem: Oh, I am roaring hungry.

Wedi-Baliho: I am about to die of hunger. I am starving in the worst way. As they say in G’eez, Emine Berehab Y’hayiseni Emewit Bekuinat (አምነ በረሃብ ይሓይሰን አመውት በኩናት)  ((I would rather die in a battle than die of hunger).

Wed-Inharish: Wedi-Balio, you said “Y’hayiseni” in G’eez. In Tigre, it is ‘Hayseni

Dr. Basilios: And, in Tigrnigna it is ‘Yhisheni

Wed-Sudan: Its Arabic equivalent is ‘Ahsan Li’

Wedi-Tiebe
: In Amharic, ‘Yishalegnal’

Hakim Snni: Y’hayiseni (G’eez), Hayseni (Tigre), Yhisheni (Tigrigna), Ahsan Li (Arabic). How they all sound so closely and so intimately similar.

Dem-Draru: The only languages that have similarities are G’eez, Tigre and Tigrigna. The others don’t have even a soupcon of resemblance. Whatever link they may have, is only a figment of your imagination, Hakim Snni.

Wedi-Zemzem: I think, Dem-Draru, you are hard of hearing. You need to listen attentively to the words. As if your ‘ color blindness’ is not bad enough, now we have to deal with your hearing deficiencies???

Hargets: ( Takes out a piece of paper and a pen. Jots down the words and passes paper) See for yourself, Dem Draru, it is all in black and white!

Dem-Draru: You people will leave no stone unturned in your attempt of Arabizing us (Eritrea)

Wedi-Tiebe: Right on, Dem-Draru, the likes of Wedi-Zemzem are trying mightily to shove this Arabic language down our throats. Shame on them!

Trishi Gual G’bitan: When I was a kid growing up in Ethiopia, they used to say that the Eritrean bandits were trying to sell Eritrea to the Arabs. I remember the slogans of those days, such as  “Sorya Ye Wenbedewoch Gebeya”  (ሶርያ የወንበዴዎች ገበያ)  (Syria the bandits market) and “Ertra Le Areb Petro Dollar Atshetim” (ኤርትራ ለአረብ ፕትሮ ዶላር ኣተሸትም) (Eritrea will not be sold to Arab Petro dollar).

Dr. Basilios: Well, that is ancient history, Trishi. Nowadays, the fear of Arabs, Arabo-phobia and the negationism of the organic link and connection of Eritrea to the Arab world is in full bloom. One doesn’t have to venture far to witness this atavistic anti-Arabism rearing its ugly head among some Eritreans. But why such proclivities are in full swing is not lost to many a sentient Eritreans.

Wed-Inharish: All the slogans, the historical distortions and psychological warfare that the Ethiopians conducted have surely left an imprint and an aftereffect. That is why some are in the business of peddling these apocryphal stories that try to decouple Eritrea from it’s organic link to the Arab World.

Wed-Sudan: The two Eritrean languages (Tigre and Tigrigna) which are Semitic languages are inextricably linked to other Semitic languages such as Arabic. The most amazing thing is that some Eritreans fail to recognize the fact that these languages predate the nation states of Ethiopia, Eritrea and most of the Arab countries.

(Servers bring the food and characters start eating forthwith )

Dem-Draru: It is a fact that  only Tigre, Tigrigna and then Amharic are the only derivative languages of G’eez. Why are you trying to include Arabic in that category????

Dr. Basilios: Your misapprehension of the organic intersections of all Semitic languages is astonishing.

Hargets: Why do you think that Arabic and other Semitic languages such as Hebrew don’t have  connections and similarities to Eritrean languages such as Tigre and Tigrigna?

Dem-Draru: We Eritreans are comfortable under our own skins and we don’t need this “Arab Thing”  you folks talk about endlessly!

Hargets: ( Took out a paper and wrote down the numeral 4). Look Dem-Draru, now tell me how do you say this numeral  in Tigrigna?

Dem-Draru: Arbaete ( Four)

Wed-Inharish: In Tigre, Arbae (Four)

Wedi-Zemzem: In Arabic, it is Arba (Four)

Wedi-Tiebe: Don’t forget in Amharic, it is Aarat (Four)

Dr. Basilios: Arbaete(Tigrigna), Arbae(Tigre), Arba(Arabic) are the same with minute variations at the end of the word.

Hargets: In Tigrina the numeral 40 is Arbaa which is also 4 in Arabic. Here you have it, Dem Draru that your Tigrigna is closer to Arabic and other Semitic languages than you are willing to concede!

Trishi Gual G’bitan: My Arabic is not that good, but my friend learned Arabic by osmosis. I wish I could also do that!

Wedi-Zemzem: Instead of merely claiming that you have Muslim friends for PR, you may try to actually befriend them. Then you stand a good  chance of learning Arabic not only by osmosis, but also by diffusion.

Trishi Gual G’bitan: I have many real friends who speak Arabic. You are not going to tell me how to achieve that. You better mind your own business Wedi-Zemzem.

Wedi-Zemzem: I was only trying to help you. Last time this issue came up, you were confusing the language Arabic with Quran. Do you remember?

Trish Gual G’bitan: Whatever…….

Dem-Draru: Trishi needs to work on her Tigrigna more than wasting her time learning other foreign languages like Arabic.

Wed-Inharish: Now that is not going to go well with the Rashaydas of Eritrea , Dem-Draru.

Dem-Draru: Eritrawyan Ember Aarab Aykonan:: (ኤርትራውያን አምበር ኣዕራብ ኣይኮናን) (We are Eritreans and not Arabs)

Wed-Inharish: You see Dem-Draru, recognizing the organic link of Eritrea to the Arab world and never denying the close link of all Semitic languages, including your Tigrigna, as Dr. Basilios so eloquently expatiated, will not take away anything from Eritrea.

Dem-Draru: YaAkhe Gedefuna Hikaya Gida ZeytemtsEu (ያኣኽ ግደፉና ሕካያ ግዳ ዘይተምጽኡ) (Oh, brother. Leave us alone and please bring some other stories)

Wedi-Zemzem: Hikaya? YaAkhe?, Dem-Draru. Hmmm. Now, please don’t tell me those Tigrigna words have no similarity whatsoever to Arabic words.

Dem-Draru: Well, the Arabs may have taken those words from Tigrigna. You don’t know that, Wedi-Zemzem. Do you???

Wed-Sudan: Listen Dem-Draru, if we take your assertion that “we are Eritreans and not Arabs” to its logical conclusion, then the Syrians, the Egyptians, the Sudanese, the Tunisians and the rest of the Arab countries would cease to be Arabs.

Wed-Sudan: What Dem-Draru is failing to see is that one can be both. For instance, a Sudanese is a Sudanese and an Arab at the same time. It is not an ‘either or’ situation.

Hargets: What they are trying to tell you Dem-Draru is that both concepts of ‘Eritrea’ and ‘being an Arab’ are not mutually exclusive!

Dr. Basilios: let me instantiate what they trying to impart to you, Dem-Draru. You, Dem-Draru are light-skinned and of  medium height. Now, if I was going to describe you, Dem-Draru, I will say that you are a man of medium height and you are light-skinned. I don’t have to choose between the two characteristics as they both describe you. Are you catching my drift, Dem-Draru?

Dem-Draru: Eritrawyan Ember Aarab Aykonan:: ( We are Eritreans and not Arabs)

Wedi-Baliho: Recognizing this organic link that Eritrea has to the Arab world is beneficial to Eritrea as it will enhance Eritrea’s interaction with close to half a billion Arabs.

Dem-Draru: Ninebsina Ember Nikhalie Kinmesil Aaindelin:: (ንነብስና እምበር ንኻልእ ንመስል ኣይንድልን) — We want to look like (seem) like ourselves and no one else!

Hakim Snni: Dem Draru and his ilk are unable to cross this conceptual barrier. A barrier built of sheer ignorance, infinite animus of Arabs and the Arabic language. I have to admit that the Ethiopians and their Western patrons have done a swell of a job in inculcating such Anti-Arab biases in the minds of some Eritreans.
I am of the belief that such a colored and prejudiced view of Arabs is lodged in the deep recesses of Dem-Draru et als’ psyches.

Hargets: Clearly, Dem-Draru’s opinions of Arabs and the Arabic language bespeak of visceral antipathy toward a people and their language.

Wedi-Zemzem: Dem-Draru’s perspective and attitude of Arabs/Arabic is the very definition of Anti-Arabism.

Wedi-Tiebe: ( Takes out ‘something’ from his pocket and start waving it.)

Hargets: What is that ‘thing’ you are holding, Wedi-Tiebe???

Wedi-Tiebe: (With a Uriah Heepish humility) Oh, nothing. Nothing of importance!

Wed-Inharish: Come on, Wedi-Tiebe, tell us what it is. If it is nothing, then why are you flaunting and waving it. You want it to be noticed.

Wedi-Tiebe: Oh, this is THE ETHIOPIAN CARD.

Dr. Basilios: And, what is it supposed to do? I mean how does it fit in the debate/confab we are having???

Wedi- Tiebe: Well, THE ETHIOPIAN CARD, will solve all the problems that is bedeviling Eritrea. I am sure it will resolve all the problems that you are trying to tackle. What is more, it will also save us  from the Ajewjew (ዓጀውጀው) — blathering—  that you folks are engaged in.

Hakim Snni: So, your Ethiopian card is a cure-all panacea to all the problems that are afflicting Eritrea???

Wedi-Tiebe: Sure, not only that, MY ETHIOPIAN CARD will unscramble all the puzzles that have gone unsolved for a long time.

Hargets: That sounds like Tonkolegna Kebede’s (ቶንኮለኛ ከበደ) — The Cunning Kebede—  soup stone story in which Kebede goes to a poor farmer’s house and cheats his way to a free meal by deceiving the woman that his stone will magically make a wonderful soup!

Wedi-Zemzem: Haw! Haw! Haw! Haw!…… Ha! Ha! Ha! …. How so, so, true! Just like the soup stone story Wedi-Tiebe’s Ethiopian card is illusory and deceptive!

Hakim Snni: It is time for Wedi-Tiebe to realize that Eritreans are not a bunch of Qile Mamos ( ቕለ ማሞ). And, when the need arises ‘they can tease out fat from a housefly’ (ካብ ፅንፅያ ስብሒ ከውጸኡ ከም ዝኽኣሉ).

(Servers bus the dishes and clear the table)

Gual Bashay: ( Walking to the TV stand and turns on the TV )

( Eri-TV comes on the screen. It shows Liberation Avenue (ጎደና ሓርነት) — Tahrir Avenue —  where the young, the unemployed and High School students traipsing (walking) along the street. A gentle breeze was swaying the palm trees just a touch [slightly] ).

Wed-Inharish: Can we watch something else, Gual Bashay???

Gual Bashay flips the TV channel )

Wedi-Zemzem: Oh, yeah. Thanks Gual-Bashay. Finally, We can watch Aljazeera – English!

( On the screen, a congregation of throngs in Egypt’s Tahrir Square )

Dem-Draru: Entay Zikhonu Eyum Eziom:: አንታይ ዝኽኑ አዮም አዚኦም:: (What is up with these folks?)

Hargets: These are the Egyptian masses revolting against their government and demanding change! A democratic awakening, finally!

Wed-Inharish: Oh, my! Look at the multitude. People from all walks of life. Young and old; poor and upper class; male and female; the secular and the religious. Look at the bearded ones. These are what some Eritreans PEJORATIVELY refer as Chehamat (ጭሓማት).This looks like an Egyptian popular revolt.

Dr. Basilios: A peoples uprising, no doubt about it.

Dem-Draru: What is the need for watching ‘this thing’ about some Arab demonstration. Can’t we watch something else. It is a wate of time as I don’t see any relevance to Eritrea what is happening in Tahrir Square.

Wedi-Zemzem: The Egyptians have their Tahrir square and Eritreans have their Tahrir Avenue (Godena Harinet).

Dem-Draru: Don’t comapre apples to oranges here, Wedi-Zemzem. An ‘Avenue’ is not a ‘Square’ !

Dr. Basilios: Well, our Tahrir Avenue may not be a Square, but the Avenue leads to the Square of Meserem ( September) 1st —- (ሜዳ ባሕቲ መስከረም) .

Wedi-Tiebe: I think  Dem-Draru has a good point. I don’t see the importance of watching this ‘Liberation Square’ uprising as it has no bearing and pertinence here. These Arabs call us “Abid” (Slave), the Arab men have raped our sisters. Nothing good can come out of these barbarian Bedouins!

Hakim Snni: I knew that you are an avowed Ethiopianist (The Greater Habesha Interdependence), but now I have come to realize that you are also a dyed-in-the-wool Anti-Arabist, Wedi-Tiebe. I guess it goes with the territory of Emama Ethiopianism (Ethiopia the Mother).

Hargets: The seminal event we are witnessing in Tahrir square is indeed a force majeure. Egyptians have their Tahrir Square and Eritreans have their Tahrir Avenue.

Wed-Inharish: Tahrir Square is to Egypt what Tahrir Avenue will be to Eritrea!

Dem-Draru: Leave us alone, please. The Egyptians have their Ferouns ( Pharaohs)!

Wedi-Baliho: Eritrea has it’s Euna Feroun (ዑና ፈርዑን) (The relics of Pharaohs)

Dem-Draru: What about the Egyptian civilization???

Dr. Basilios: And, why are you forgetting that Eritrea used to be known as Midri Punti (The land of the Punt) by none other than the Pharaohs!

Wedi-Zemzem: To flesh out the assertion about the organic link between Arabic and Tigrigna, here we have the words for liberation in Arabic and Tigrigna, Tahrir and Harinet — ታሕሪር ; ሓርነት — They are one and the same!

Dem-Draru: Ezi Bizantinawi Aatehasasiba Eyu:: (አዚ ብዛንትናዊ ኣተሓሳስባ አዩ) — This is a Byzantine mindset or way of thinking.

Dr. Basilios: What do you mean, Dem-Draru???

Dem-Draru: Obama wants “to bend history’s arc” and here you are trying to square a circle.

Wedi-Baliho: To square which circle, Dem-Draru???

Dem-Draru: Meda Bahti Meskerem (ሜዳ ባሕቲ መስከረም) is a circle and here you are fecklessly trying to square it.  Anafra Qoqoah Zeyfelit Aayhadanayin:: (ኣናፍራ ቆቓሕ ዘይፈልጥ ኣይሃዳናይን) — The one who doesn’t understand the flight pattern of a partridge is not a hunter.

Gual Bashay: Listen Hargets, what is the name of Egypt’s president (leader)?

Hargets: His name is Mubarak.

Gual Bashay: Mubarak, Hmmmm! It sounds close to something in Tigrigna.

Wedi-Zemzem: It means BLESSED in Arabic.

Hargets: You can say it is Birukh (ብሩኽ) in Tigrigna. And, it is very close to being the same with the word Mubarak.

Wed-Sudan: Look. The journalist just said he talked to two protesters who came from Mansoura. It is one and the same with my grandparents village name of Mensura.

Gual Bashay: Look at the tanks and the soldiers. They look like American soldiers.

Hargets: These are The Egyptian armed forces. They are the peoples army and they are mostly conscripted. They are heavily involved in the Egyptian economy.

Wedi-Zemzem: Well, they are engaged in what is known as ‘strategic self-sufficiency’.

Dr. Basilios: You can say that it is analogous to Eritrea’s defense forces ‘Self-Reliance’.

Wed-Sudan: Look, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, The Defense Minister is addressing the protesters.

YaAsina: Oh, my!  Oh, my! Tantawi looks like  “The Soap”. A chip off the old block of Tantawi, maybe.

Hargets: ‘Samuna’ (ሳሙና) is the spit and image of Tantawi.

Wedi-Baliho: Tahrir Square has become the center of gravity (ማአከል  ስሕበት) of a grass-roots movement that is imbued with a revolutionary fervor.

Wedi-Baliho: Listen, the journalist just said that Tantawi is a shrewd operator. Does that ring a bell???

Wed-Inharish: Shrewd operator in Egypt; ‘Samuna’ in our own backyard. Hmm… Hmmm… Hmmmmm !

Trishi Gual G’bitan: Oh, they are saying that a group of ‘wise men’ will try to mediate between the government and the protesters.

Gual Bashay: That sounds familiar. In Eritrea we have the same thing. The Shimagles (The Elder Mediators)!

Wedi-Zemzem: Look, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei is talking to the protesters.

Wedi-Tiebe: What kind of a name is El-Baradai (ኤል ባራዳይ) anyway?

Wedi-Zemzem: It is ኣል በራድዒ — El Bera d’Ei .

Wed-Sudan: Sounds close to Ela Bered (ዕላ በረዒድ), the small town between Asmara and Keren. Who knows his anscestors may have hailed from Ela Bered.

Dem-Draru: Give us a break. His anscestry could never, never, never be from Eritrea!

Hargets: I don’t think you know about the great Egyptian historian and scholar Abdulrahman Al-Jabarti. Now where do you think his parents came from??

Dem-Draru: He was not from Eritrea. He was Somali!

Wedi-Zemzem: Sure, his parents may have hailed from what is now Somalia. But, remember that during those days, The Jabartis were fleeing the persecution of the Christian kings of Tigray/Eritrea and seeking safe havens in places like Somalia. What is more, is the fact that many were involved in trade and some settled in places like Somalia. It is not far-fetched to surmise that Abdulrahman Al-Jabarti’s lineage would end up right here in Misyam!

Dem-Draru: Leave us alone please. Now you want to make Somalis to be Eritreans. You are shameless! What you are saying makes no sense at all!

Dr. Basilios: What they are trying to show you is that there was a migration of people from the Horn of Africa and I think they have demonstrated it superbly, if you ask me.

Hakim Snni (Dr. Semira OuraFura): ( goggling (staring) at the TV screen and soliloquizing )

(She was instantly ‘teleported’ to Cairo. She ‘felt’ getting off (alighting) from the bus at Tahrir Bus station
returning from Ain Shams University, Faculty Of Dentistry. It was the beginning of her freshman year and a gruelling day because it was the first day of the gross anatomy lab, where medical/dental students start the dissection of a human cadaver.

She could ‘feel’ and ‘sense’ the fear, uneasiness, reluctance and trepidation of that day. Some of her fellow
students fainted while others threw up. Most, if not all, have not seen a dead body before. So, no one dared to take the first step, in spite of all the encouragements of the lab teachers and the professors. Hakim Snni
was the first one to walk to the table where the cadaver was lying supinely and took a deep breath. She
could still ‘smell’ the formaldehyde. After picking up the scalpel and looked around the lab and with the
nodding encouragement of the lab instructors and professors she made the first incision.

Unlike most of her Egyptian classmates, Hakim Snni had spent a whole year before starting dental
school completing her national service in Haweshayit — ELF’s field hospital– as a nurse aide. Here she was  exposed to all kinds injuries/wounds and dead bodies due to the war that prevailed in those years. It was little things like this, that brought Hakim Snni to the attention of some of her professors and classmates.

The intrepidity (bravery) that she displayed helped the Eritrean Revolution in many ways. Many Egyptians
wanted to know where she was from and this afforded her with ample opportunities to explain the Eritrean cause and garner much needed support and help for the Eritrean Revolution. She was, along with Eritrean Medical students from the University of Cairo, a member of the Eritrean-Egyptian Solidarity Committee which made a huge contribution to the Eritrean cause by sending medical supplies and equipments to the Eritrean field. )

(on the TV screen it shows a gaggle of Egyptians singing)

Hakim Snni: (standing on her chair. ‘Joined’ the singers and started to fervently belt the lyrics of Abdelhalim Hafez’s  Alsed AlAali song. )

Ya IstiEmar Benyna B’yeduna Alsed Alali ….. (O! Colonialism. We built the High dam with our hands)
We Ana….  ( I )
Eih? ……      ( What)
Tesmuhuli Bikilma….. ( Excuse me, can I say something?)
Eih?……  ( What?)
Alhikaya Mush Hikayet Alsed……. ( The story is not about the dam)
Hikaya Alkifah Ali Wera Alsed……. ( It is the story about the struggle behind the dam)
Hikayetuna Eneha Hikaya ………   ( It is our strory, the story of)
Sheab Lizahef Almuqedes Qam Wesar……. ( A people who for the sacred march rose and revolted)
Sheab Zehaf Khetwetehu TiweleE Sherar …….( A people advancing igniting sparks with each step)
Sheab Kafah Weinketeblehu Alintisar ………( A fighting people for whom victory was written0
TesmeEu Alhikaya?……  ( Will you hear the story?)
Bes Euleha Min Albidaya……. ( Just tell it from the beginning!)
Hiya Hikaya Harb WeTar…….. ( It is a story of a war)
Beynina Webeyin AlistiEmar ……….( Between us and Colonialism)
Yom Ma AshAlna Sewra Lehu Wenar ………( The day we lit fire of the revolution)
Yom Ma Akhrejna Alfesad……….. ( The day we expelled corruption)
Yom Ma Harerna Albilad………. ( The day we liberated our land)
Yom Ma Haqeqna Aljelae ………( The day we made them withdraw)
Entersna ! Enterna ! Entesrna !…….  ( We WON! We WON! We WON! )

Wedi-Baliho: Oh, my! Oh, my! I never knew that you can also sing, Hakim Snni. And, sing with such a powerhouse voice!

Hargets: So beautifully, I may also add.

( The patrons of Enda Gual Bashay gathered around the table of the characters. Pedestrians stood by the verandah and started singing, sotto voce, the following lines.)

Tselmat Gize Merir Nabra    (
ፀልማት ግዜ መሪር ናብራ) —  A draconian era; a bitter life
Kihalif Eyu Aab Hara Ertra   (
ክሓልፍ ‘ዩ ኣብ ሓራ ኤርትራ) — It will pass (will be gone) in LIBERATED Eritrea
Mienti Fithi Nwidqet Chiqona (
ምአንቲ ፍትሒ ንውድቀት ጭቆና) — To achieve JUSTICE and end OPPRESSION
Keytehalelna kinqales eina     (
ከይተሓለልና ክንቃለስ አና)— We wiil struggle INDEFATIGABLY
Nedamitso Meqalih Meda Harinet (
ነዳምጾ መቓልሕ ሜዳ ሓርነት) — Let us voice the ECHO of Tahrir Square
Kigelagel Hizbna Kab Barnet  (
ክገላገል ህዝብና ካብ —— ) — To help rid our people of ——.

Next: ACTVII
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