Yes, you read that right, Job and Jacob are two ungodly men. Yes, God bragged about Job and allowed Satan to test him, when Satan alleged that Job’s faith is conditional as long as his barrel brims with wine, as long as all his wealth remains intact. Satan asserted, the Bible tells us, that the moment Job loses all these, his faith would wither away. And so, God authorized Satan to test Job and all his wealth, health, and children, perished. Job, although afflicted with disease, stood up against the counsel of his friends and wife; his faith never wavered. The reward came when all his blessings returned in multitudes and with an opportunity to argue with God.
Jacob, mama’s boy of the Bible and a shrewd investor, after maneuvering his brother out of his birth-right by conspiring with his mother, fled to hide somewhere in current Syria and put himself under voluntary servitude to wed the love of his life, Rachel. I guess the Kingdom of God, like the kingdom of man requires toil and moil and sacrifice; even betrayal and dishonesty, as long as it serves God, so to speak. And I suspect that, since nothing original emanates from of what they do, PFDJ/EPLF got their hint for stealing in the name of the revolution as a sacred act, from the story of Jacob, but I digress!
Reminiscent of the several passages in the Bible where men and women of God changed their names for one reason or another: Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Hadassah to Aster (Esther), this ungodly Job has changed his name from Job to Tesfazion: Tesfazion the Agaazine, a first class bigot, who has of late unleashed hate and bigotry against every ethnic group of Eritrea while canonizing the Agaazines as people of peace, civility, who never killed or raped or wronged anyone; a people with impeccably pristine history. His speeches, filled with hate against every Eritrean ethnic group, dubbing them clan based who do not even have table manners. This ungodly Job told us that since the Muslims and the reset of ethnic groups marry their cousins, they face a bleak future of extinction, that the Arabs implemented ELF to destroy the Agaazines, that the Agaazines liberated Eritrea under the EPLF vision, itself an Agaazine vison.
This argument disintegrates, fairly easily, because if Agaazines (Tewahdo) descended as he claims from the ancient people of the Old Covenant, the requirement to marrying a blood relative seven times removed does not hold water; as the patriarch Isaac married his cousin, his son, Jacob, married two of his cousins and worse yet, Abraham married his sister, Sarah. And we know that their descendants never became extinct, and the Agaazines still call their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His other argument—that the Agaazine envisioned EPLF also can be shredded to pieces. Selfi Natsanet (SN) merged with PLF, the Ramadan group, the Arabic fluent Muslim group that abandoned ELF, “the Arab implement”! SN figured it had no future, so it agreed to change its name. Demography should be credited for the later dominance of the Agaazines and not their ingenuity. If only the Derg decided to be one shade smarter, the Hbrets, the Alganeshes and Belayneshes and Arefaynes and Mokrias would never have joined in numbers that tilted the power of balance in the EPLF.
Tesfazion the Agaazine cites many anecdotes to connect the dots to the Old Covenant and make his case. Now consider this: the Geeze Calendar, the dated measurement units like cubit (emmet), the distance from your elbow to your fingertips, the digit (sdri), the distance from your thumb to your longest finger, all came from ancient Egypt, so by this logic we can also claim Egypt.
Not to be outdone, those at the receiving end of Tesfazion’s hate mongering and meandering speeches, produced their own first rate bigot in Jacob (Yaakob Saleh). In a tit-for-tat response to Tesfazion, Yaakob unleashed his latent and seemingly simmering hate towards the Tewahdo priesthood and faith in a series of YouTube videos. He succeeded in matching Tesfazion to become an accomplished bigot. Whereas Tesfazion prophesized that Muslims and other clan based ethnic groups will be extinct because they breed among themselves, the “civilized” Agaazines will prosper and multiply. Jacob had a different take: because the Tewahdos mimic the “Whites” and only beget one or two offspring, the Muslims will reign in Eritrea. Both exposed their bigotry.
Yaakob Saleh believes that because of his 85% Tewahdo pedigree, he has the liberty and authority to trash the entire Tewahdo institution, an institution that played a positive role in nurturing Tigrinya literature and a healthy family unit before PFDJ destroyed the Tewahdo family because it posed a threat to its existence. One wonders, how he arrived at the 85% figure, I conjecture that he thinks in Arabic and he meant 58%, even that does not explain it, but I am willing to give him the 8% as extra credit for his passable knowledge of the Tigrinya language, even that is a stretch because he speaks with a heavy dose of PFDJ Tigrinya, he could not even differentiate between the words: “Minzrnna” (an euphemism for prostitution in Tigrinya) and “mzimmaw (promiscuity/adultery) when he lectured us on the nuanced cleavage in the Tewahdo Church. In one of his Youtube videos, Yaakob boldly and shamefully insulted the Tewahdo priests as ungodly men who sleep with married and unmarried women when they meet in private for confessional spiritual mentoring. Like the arguments of Tesfazion, Yaakob’s allegations can also be easily shredded: take the many reports of pedophiles in the Catholic Church, and the killings by Muslims and the rapes in Mosques, all these do not speak to these faiths, but the percentage of prevalence of these heinous acts in society in general.
Both hateful, both bigoted, both fluent in hate speech. But Eritrea needs them.
‘Free Speech at what cost?’, you maybe muttering and even cursing. Free Speech, even in the form of hate speech bestows us an opportunity because when such hate is exposed in the open it can be challenged with facts from history and science, when the hatemonger gives us an opportunity to expose their stupidity, we can use it as a teaching moment to correct the wrong, to shed light on the darkness that our job and Jacob create. Whether we like it or not, in a multi-ethnic society like ours, where men with unfettered power pull the ethnic and religious and regional strings, grievances, real or imagined, are prevalent, but they lurk underneath to one day explode and take us by surprise. Opportunities come in different forms, as one TV ad I watched once said, it may come saddling a white horse or in a forum of a pink slip or as a crisis. Free speech helps society to weed out stupidity and ignorance and falsehoods and bigotry by stopping them in their tracks.
Notions that cripple us with fear of hate speeches chain us in the dark, unable to gauge what lurks beneath unbeknownst to us. Let us welcome hatemongers to expose themselves, let us use them as teaching moments for our people, like what Saleh G. Johar has done in his article, “The Malignant Cancer of Eritrea”. We prohibit hate speech at our own peril, as one-day they will shock us when the simmering volcano explodes on our faces to wreak havoc as we would lack the wherewithal and the tools on how to deal with them. Let us supplant the ugliness of hate speech by the beauty of truth from history.