Much like civil war and proxy war prone Lebanon where the bloodiest sectarian wars in the Middle East were once fought (and could blow up anytime); there isn’t a single ethnic group in Eritrea which could claim to have a majority status on its own, even if by the slightest of margins.
Neither the Tigrignas nor the Tigres or any other ethnic group for that matter could ever claim to have the numbers on their side and prove it beyond any doubt – none whatsoever. The absence of an official and independent census in this particular case is not by co-incidence – it is actually a deliberate attempt to conceal some clearly discernable facts. So in a nutshell, Eritrea could very well be described as a nation of minorities.
Yes, a nation of minorities – and this is where our dilemma begins.
Under normal circumstances, this would have been a blessing for the nation – an enviable marvel in which no single ethnic group would have been able to muster enough political clout based on numbers alone, and by which it could have subjugated or disenfranchised the other ethnic groups. The inevitabilities of dialogues, compromises and working together through give-and-take approaches would have been the orders of the day. A sort of made-in-heaven social structure, if you will, resulting in a near-perfect social harmony.
But unfortunately, there is also a flipside to this. If treachery reigns and goodwill becomes non-existent as is the case in today’s Eritrea, such social structures could also turn out to be double-edged swords. The absence of a clear and delineated majority could sometimes create a fertile ground for a minority ethnic group to try and assume the role of a non-existent majority. The heavy toll exacted on a nation to maintain such an un-sustainable role in this scenario would be catastrophic. The blessing referred to above could easily flip into a curse – the curse of the minority, if you will.
And Eritrea’s problem (yes, it is one solvable problem) of the past twenty odd years has been nothing but the absolute curse of the minority. In other words, a minority group represented by none other than the bloody dictator and his chauvinist n’hna nsu crowd has been trying to impose and sustain its ethnic supremacy at a horrendous cost to the nation. The direct consequence of this futile attempt is what has sadly become of the once promising young nation – a macabre freak show called Ertra.
This freak show has been going on for quite too long now – in fact, way too long that the finale will be nothing short of a complete disintegration of the nation. Over twenty years in all – and if we haven’t made any serious strides in extricating the beleaguered nation out of its predicament, then it is because many of us have been suckered into accepting blatant lies as absolute or make-belief truths to the sheer detriment of our people.
And unless we break away from these little bubbles of lies we cozy up to as our dubious comfort zones – unless our national discourse is premised on nothing short of complete honesty and full transparency however bitter that may turn out to be – then we can keep talking till kingdom come, we will never achieve anything except draining each other out dry. Worst yet, there won’t be a nation to be had.
The only way a minority group could rule over a country like Eritrea by excluding all other stakeholders in the country is through sheer tyranny as has been the case over the past twenty years. And tyranny is not a freebie by any stretch – it comes with a cost – a heavy bloody cost, at that. It sustains itself through blood – human blood; and mind you not only does it suck the blood of those who oppose it, but also the blood of those who try to sustain it as well. It is a lose-lose scenario start to finish. The misery suffered by the entire nation under the concept of the ugly Ertra of the past twenty years speaks for itself and I don’t think it needs any rehashing here.
But what is important is this. If suffering and bleeding under tyranny is the only way that we can stick together as a nation – then we don’t deserve to be together in the first place, period.
You see, prejudice wasn’t created by us – Eritreans, nor is it unique to Eritrea. It was there since the creation of man and will likely be there till the end of time. That some among us will take their prejudices to their graves is not all that uncommon – it is just a reflection of human nature running its natural course.
What is silly and futile though is to predicate our coming together on the sole condition of creating this puritan utopian society – one which is free of all those so-called non-conformists who are often denigrated by the bigots and their sleeper agents as regionalists, Islamists, Jihadists and what have you. Lest we forget – this is exactly how Fascism was created, not to mention Nazism and the whole gamut of xenophobic and sectarian social ailments which were the main causes of genocides, despicable atrocities and much bloodshed throughout history.
Not only that but also as history clearly shows us, this idea of creating monolithic and ethnically cleansed societies are just not doable. If the Nazis and the Fascists with their colossal manpower, lethal armaments and multi-billion dollar war budgets and the many others who followed and still follow their foot steps over the years couldn’t do it other than to create untold carnage and suffering for all – then it is hard to fathom that a minority group within a tiny nation like Eritrea – a group which could hardly secure a bowl of chickpeas for its starving conscript army (let alone the starving population at large) could succeed in such an undoable morbid scheme. It will never work – it will just prolong the suffering of all involved, victims and victimizers alike.
If Eritrea is to be saved – or to put more correctly, to be salvaged rather, given the damage that is already done – if it is to break free from the spell of the curse of the minority – then it can only do so when the majority of its stakeholders come to the full acknowledgement and acceptance that their coming together under the banner of one nation is not to be predicated on them liking and/or approving of each others being, creed, beliefs and ideologies – but rather on them accepting and recognizing each other’s rights, privileges and responsibilities as diverse but nonetheless equal citizens of a nation. Anything short of that is just a recipe for endemic turmoil and chaos culminating in the complete disintegration of the nation.
So let us stop this jingoism of serenading each other on pretence as HGDEF does with its hade hzbi – hade lbi crap. We are a divided people with deep wounds – and that is a fact which no sane person could deny. If a divided people have the will and the intent to come together, then the first thing they need to do is be honest with themselves first and foremost before they could try to gain the trust of those they are trying to reconcile with.
The stage for the morbid freak show Eritrea has become today which was set almost half a century ago is not a one man show as many would love to believe. It had and still has many sordid players – but none as hopelessly bigoted as the purveyors of pretence (ሸቃጦ ሓሶት).
And the purveyors of pretence come in many shades. There are those who like to prolong HGDEF’s lifespan under different guises, those who like to present themselves as HGDEF’s milder alternatives, those who want HGDEF removed but would like to keep the loot and of course the most pretentious of them all – those who like to suck and blow at the same time – I mean who could forget those blatant liars who pretend to be liberal democrats and espouse nothing but sugar-coated bigotry?
Despite their different stripes though – all these purveyors of pretence coalesce around a single raison d’être – preserving the curse of the minority – a curse that has been devouring all Eritreans, whether Muslims or Christians, Lowlanders or Highlanders without any respite whatsoever.
The Muslim/Lowlander is ostracized, expropriated, excluded and finally made to dissipate in thin air by being assimilated into neighbouring albeit foreign societies, while the Christian Highlander is given one of two fateful choices – (a) suffer and die defending the war loot Ertra has become, or (b) suffer and die running away for rejecting “the cause” and face the fate of the Muslim/Lowlander. Many chose the latter, just like those Christian Highlanders who rejected HGDEF’s bigoted Ertra from the onset and never set foot in Eritrea by choosing a life of exile over bigotry.
Just like they have a single raison d’être, the purveyors of pretence also have one main target despite the different tactics they employ to achieve their goals: scaring the wits out of the Christian Highlander by insinuating that the Eritrean Muslims are hell bent on creating and installing a Sharia-based Islamic state where the Christians would be a persecuted minority. This was how “Andnet” was sold to the Christian Highlander, and even worse, this was exactly how N’hnan E’lamanan was also sold to the unsuspecting Christian Highlander. Half a century on to this day – the same old tricks are still at full play.
Whichever way you slice it – whatever shape, form or tactic it takes – the main target for these bigoted pathological liars is always one and the same – it is all about creating this big ugly crack – a wedge of sorts between the Muslims and the Christians in the country – they just don’t have the faked temerity of the hgdefites to do it in the open – they always resort to pretence as a convenient camouflage.
But here is why their entire scheme is a sham – a big farce, so to speak.
The notion that the religion (Islamic) based political movements of Eritrea would install a sharia-based Islamic state is way too far-fetched even to contemplate let alone to take as a given. In order for that scenario to happen, for starters, what it would require of these political movements would be to secure the votes of confidence from all the Christians in the country for the idea. It goes without saying that no one needs to be hard-pressed to figure out what those votes would look like; – but that is not all;
It is also very obvious that not all Eritrean Muslims support the creation of a sharia-based Islamic state for a variety of reasons, chief among which is the notion of holding their faith at a higher pedestal than the mundane aspects of politics; but still, that is not all;
Again stating the obvious, it is common knowledge that at the end of the day, it is not political parties or partisan groups that will single-handedly decide the fate of the nation and what course it takes – but rather, all the stakeholders of the nation through a covenant they make with each other – a broad national covenant that protects one and protects all.
So why the fear-mongering then, one may ask – why so much pretence? The answer has always been one and the same: It is the only way through which a minority group could survive until either its hidden agenda is completed (when hell freezes over) or it implodes into smithereens (more likely sooner than later). Either way, the whole essence of HGDEF can only exist by keeping one section of the population at bay while holding the other under bondage.
So folks, let us not cave in to this evil morass created by the purveyors of pretence and let us be more pragmatic in our national discourse. As mentioned before, we can keep serenading each other as how wonderful a people we are just on pretence and until things blow up – or alternatively, we could face our fears and little demons head on to bring what matters to us to the open – failing which, it would certainly mean that we are not talking to each other, but just being used as tools for a cynical project.
When and if the implosion occurs – it is going to be big and it is going to be ugly – very ugly. By then, no amount of talk will ever save the nation.
Bondage: What is the dictator’s infamous line in which he chastises the Tigrignas for abandoning his regime but at the same time unwittingly admits his guilt – the loot? “እንታይ ዘይገበርናሎም ኢና”
(Even the thug himself couldn’t believe what he looted)
Oxymoro: “Silent Majority”– the most abused phrase.
There are over a million Eritreans (the core of the majority, I presume) systematically blocked from returning to their homeland. Go to any gathering where these folks happen to be – and the one thing you will never see them do is be silent about their misfortunes. So the question is – is it them who are silent or is it the deaf?
(Just another example of how we are not talking to each other)
Arming Civilians: What is the catch here? Or the ploy to be exact?
When the implosion occurs (the real reason behind the arming), those the regime trusts and considers to be part of the “agenda” will know where the exact locations of the ammunition depots will be and will have full access to them – while the others whom the regime uses as decoys so that not to appear as though it is arming only one section of the population will only have the munitions loaded in their weapons and will have no access to ammunition depots for re-supply nor will they be aware of their secret locations. With no ammunition, their weapons will only be as good as toothpicks. In other words – they will just be sitting ducks after the first few rounds. To say that this is cruel is an understatement.