A young Egyptian school boy starts a recess time conversation with one of his schoolmates which run something like this.
After staring at his schoolmate who happened to be a fairly dark-skinned African kid, the boy started his conversation by asking; “huwan’tu endku mama w’baba za’yeena?” (Do you have moms and dads like us?).
At first, the African boy was totally flabbergasted, didn’t even know what to make of the question. He had heard before that Egyptians like to tease and make jokes, but he never imagined that any jokes could be that tasteless or that cruel. But sensing some innocence or perhaps even some naïveté in his schoolmate’s behaviour, the African boy didn’t get mad or anything, he just positioned himself as if he was going to give a long answer and then replied by saying “No, no we don’t”.
The little Egyptian wasn’t going to settle for a brief answer like that, it would definitely inhibit his curiosity fling. But his African schoolmate new that too – he just wanted the question to come from him, so he just kept quiet and waited. And it came –“ummal tigu min’en?” (So where do you come from?) was the follow-up question.
“Look” said the African boy; as he went on to explain further, “In our country there is this huge mountain which has a tiny hole at one of its lowest extremities. We just crawl out through that hole one after the other – the same way ants crawl out of tiny holes in the ground”.
And the African boy went on to plead with his schoolmate not to ask him if ants actually had moms and dads (like them), because he figured, they could keep arguing well past their recess time, and that they might end up being reprimanded for showing up late for class.
Almost twenty long years of absolute misery, degradation and bone-chilling human carnage which makes one cringe in pain and utter disbelief just to think about, let alone to experience first hand – twenty long years of despicable atrocities under one of the most barbaric Ethno-Fascist regimes on earth; and as if that wasn’t enough of a morbid curse to befall a people , some among us just woke up from their long, long slumber, and are trying to tell us that they have discovered the magic pill, a pill which according to them, will cure many of our “perceived” ailments.
Their pill, you ask? They just figured out how to “characterize” the HGDEF regime [PFDJ , the ruling party’s regime]. And that is not all the horror. They want to shove it down anybody’s throat – just about anybody who dares to hold a different view from theirs. One couldn’t make head or tail of this absurdity, couldn’t even tell if this is a cruel joke or sheer naïveté.
What is the message these folks are trying to convey here anyways? That the only way the nation could be salvaged is by sucking up to bigots? That appeasing Ethno-Fascists by giving them a communal cover and not characterising them as what they truly are in the eyes of the aggrieved, Tigrignas and non-Tigrignas alike, is the only way to bring the rule of law to the country?
It is hard to find any other explanation when people are hell bent on telling you that the only way to build bridges between the different sectors of the Eritrean society is only through lies and deception, where people have to be coaxed or even bullied to ransom their convictions.
Bridges built under such pretexts do not last – they crumble at the first attempt of reaching out between the different sectors they are purported to connect. Case in point, the World is replete with many conflict zones where people suppressed and deferred their concerns (some even for centuries) instead of bringing them to the fore and addressing them; only to end up at each other’s throats, committing despicable atrocities against each other at the first opportune moment that availed itself.
Prudence, even if for nothing else other than to learn from what’s been happening all around us, would require of us that the bridges we try to build be based on one simple, yet very important common denominator – honesty. If we can not be honest with ourselves let alone with others, we can only be taken for fools by the people we are trying to bring together. We can not bring people together through lies, bullying and condescending tactics and attitudes.
If we had succeeded and made important strides towards forming a united front against the regime in the past few years (culminating in the ENCDC) – then it is because, we listened to each other. Coercion wasn’t the order of the day but rather understanding each other’s aspirations, dreams, fears, aches and pains was what helped create a common ground.
Those who indulge in sugar-coating and re-writing their own history may have been left out, though at their own volition – but at the end of the day, the common ground which has eluded us for so long was eventually found when our people came to terms with many pertinent issues such as:
- The full acknowledgment by many, that mistakes were made throughout our brief, yet turbulent history
- The full acknowledgment by many that entire sections of our society couldn’t be maligned for the atrocities committed the diseased bigots among them
- The full acknowledgment by many, that as much as others have the full right to characterize HGDEF’s identity any which way they want, no one, absolutely no one, be it an individual or a group could ever accord themselves the right to force HGDEF’s many victims to abide by their characterization of the regime, and
- The full recognition that what matters now, at this juncture in our history, is the re-alignment of forces from all sectors of the Eritrean society with the sole aim of destroying HGDEF and empowering the Eritrean people to chart their own destiny
Bridges built under such principles are among the sturdiest bridges which can not only withstand the test of time, but also help avoid the deliberate pitfalls set by the regime with the sole intention of prolonging its tyrannical grip on the nation. In a nutshell, it was through the building of such bridges by many sensible folks in the opposition camp, that we were able to circumvent HGDEF’s multi-layered obstructions.
That said, it is sad to see that some well-meaning folks still getting unwittingly suckered into HGDEF’s trappings. They easily get baited into the regime’s many ploys. If we look at this “totalitarian” (identity) crap and its suspect timing (right before the congress) – it had all the markings of the HGDEF regime itself. This is the typical modus operandi of the Ethno-Fascist clique and its multi-faceted apologists, who have permeated through every sector of our society.
Both the Ethiopians and the well-meaning folks they assembled for HGDEF’s christening (new “totalitarian” identity) may have all been suckered into believing that their ad-hoc assembly was for the good of then upcoming national congress. HGDEF thugs and their apologists may have been grinning ear-to-ear, thinking that their ploy would work and that the national congress would go in tatters.
Well, that didn’t happen, mainly because of the detractor-proof skills many sensible Eritreans have developed over the years. What HGDEF thought would be a major bone of contention was never turned into one. The congress was a success and HGDEF lost big time.
Now all that said and done, some among us are unfortunately embarking on a new style of discourse which will, though perhaps un-intended, bring this worn-out issue of HGDEF’s identity back to center stage again. It plays right into the traps set by the regime, and if anything, will allow the regime to take a second shot at it.
Strange as this may sound, this new style of oxymoron discourse is supposed to protect those they started referring to as “their” people. Unfortunately, the Ethno-Fascist HGDEF regime and its apologists have been harping on this old and tired “blame one, blame all” argument for over two decades now – it never protected any Eritrean; it just provided a convenient cover for the chauvinist thugs to commit their despicable crimes unabated.
In our current predicament, it is silly for people to act as self-appointed disciplinarians, because not only will they end up adding more insults to the injuries of those they refer to as “them”, but also, they will unwittingly end up propping HGDEF’s raison d’être. If you come to think of it, it is the exact opposite of what they are purporting to achieve – a double irony of sorts, if you will.
None of our communities – Tigrignas and non-Tigrignas alike need to be babysat by anybody, least of all, the blame-one-blame-all crowd. They’ve all come to terms with their past, that is why despite their differences and varying social and political outlooks, they are all working together to give HGDEF its final push.
Our political discourse may sometimes take twists and turns to uncharted territories – but if we are ever to find a guiding light to avoid the path of self-absorption, eccentricity and arrogance – then we should all remember that we are a bunch of nobodies, yes absolutely nobodies when all our combined efforts are compared to the wailings and cries which even one mother makes at the loss of a child or a husband to HGDEF, s tyranny. Our combined efforts pale in comparison to the sheer agony inflicted on our grief-stricken people. That is also why our discourse shouldn’t be ego-driven.
But whatever we do, we should never get carried away in giving ourselves too much credit (it is sickening to blow your own horn) and particularly more so, when that is done at the expense of the victims.
It is important to remember that most of these victims left their burning towns and villages running bare-feet as terrified young orphans almost half a century ago. They have vivid memories and are fully cognizant of all the layers of bigotry that conspired against them over the years. The last thing on earth they need after having endured so much grief and pain is for someone to tell them how to address or characterize their tormentors.
What destroyed (it is destroyed) the Ethno-Fascist HGDEF regime more than anything else was its sheer arrogance. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is the all-too-important lesson of not letting arrogance creep in and fester in our midst.