We are almost three-weeks into Ramadan; this year it is a marathon fasting, 15 long hours of daylight. The initial physical fatigue is now easier, but given the steady ignorance (and perpetual) provocations, being nice and peaceful (a must in Ramadan) has proven more difficult than the physical fasting. The denial of those who should know better is a serious pressure. It is hard to be nice, (fasting is easy in comparison) with those who are bent on spoiling a relaxed ceremony—my grandmother used to say, don’t spoil my Awel Bun. But I have tried hard, real hard to control the urge to reciprocate and serve the unprincipled the medicine they deserve despite a friend’s advise. He told me, “There no use wrestling a pig in its den, you cannot avoid being smudged with mud.”
In the tradition of awate.com (differing with respect), today I will comment on a few points of differences with two respected writers: Ali Salim and Mengs TM and Mogos Tekeste (never mind the “fact” that I might as well be commenting on my own articles.) It is Ramadan and I know I am in violation!
You will discover my differences with the gentlemen as you continue reading; I hope my comments would shade some light into the self-inflicted anxiety that a few gossip mongers within the EPP are suffering from. But how mediocre can these people be? One person causes them to go through all of that trembling? Just because awate.com didn’t ban one writer, there is a mobilization against awate.com! That should be a warning for those who expect such feather weights to deliver democracy. Of course, I am deeply saddened that my friend Weldeyesus Ammar is being dragged into this—one who warns ahead of time is absolved.
The gossip shamans are unable to differentiate between their personal views and their organizational views (I am guessing this is personal views, and unlike the hooligans who attack awate.com because they differed with the views of one, one single writer), just like the tradition of the PFDJ, their personal differences immediately wears an organizational garb though they substitute the PFDJ’s catchphrase, ‘sovereignty,’ with their own: ‘national unity.’ And this has been a well-kept tradition: on seasons when they run out of intelligent arguments, they declare war against awate.com (and me). I wouldn’t mind that, what bothers me is their attempt to entangle the entire structure of their organization in their fighting obsession; and I am bewildered why they stretch their meager resources in unnecessary fights. Could it be immaturity and mediocrity? Could lack of self-confidence be a more complex and fitting reason?
It could be immaturity and mediocrity because they think criticizing and challenging their organization is a redline that should not be crossed; though they drew that imaginary line themselves, they might be thinking it is divine. The other possibility is lack of self-confidence; they tend to hold everyone outside their herd with such low esteem that they arm themselves with second-rate arguments and reasoning in their attempt to address issues and topics which are way over their heads. If only it would tame those loose cannon members, I guess the EPP would have had a greater success in recruiting new members, myself included (seriously.) For now, I hope the sane members would tame their mediocre gossip mongers, those who try hard to imitate the PFDJ bulls. But if weaving conspiracy theories in their sick minds, believing it, and acting on it is what they have decided to pursue, there is no other choice. At any rate, never mind, I will limit myself, I will attempt to make some comments.
Contrary to what the gossip mongers are spreading, Wolde is one of the few leaders that I hold in high esteem. I have been around too long to know the degree of vilification that he went through. I wouldn’t care for the allegations that are supposed to serve political aims (all politicians engage in it); but I abhor the personal accusations that are thrown at him. I understand. Over the years, I have been the target of a multitude of vigilantes, from all political colors imaginable, those whose only tools of struggle are gossip and zealotry. Fifteen years and counting, I have learned so much about the Internet tribes.
Weldeyesus was my close confidante and consultant since I entertained the idea of establishing this website. I hold that friendship dearly and I cringe whenever I read accusations against him that I know to be untrue. Wolde is not a bigot, by any stretch. He is not narrow-minded—that accusation is so silly I don’t know how to explain it. And I do not see the need for jumping to defend him (in his leadership capacity) whenever he is challenged or criticized as a politician. He is more than able to defend himself, and his history in the struggle is enough to absolve him of many of the false accusations. But as long as he is at the helm of organizational politics, every step he takes is open to challenge. I understand that, and I am sure (I guess), he understands it. Also, I do not think he needs the defense of the weaklings who repeatedly put him in a very embarrassing situation (and they put the EPP in a precarious one) by igniting fights on his behalf, appearing as if he has blessed their childish personal engagement.
Now a little whisper to my friend Ali Salim.
Ali believes (and rightly so) that the land issue should be central to the deformed struggle (I will explain why I think it is deformed). I don’t know if Ali is aware that Woldeyesus was the lone warrior who tirelessly fought (among other things) for the cause of the refugees whose land has now become the PFDJ’s playground. When unprincipled intellectuals were intoxicated with the PFDJ zar-drums, when politicians were advocating for unrealistic, untimely issues, Wolde (and ELF-RC, as a whole), was at the forefront presenting comprehensive studies about the refugees; advocated to end their plight and relentlessly appealed on their behalf to concerned entities. He was one of the few (including Dr. Tesfatzion Medhanie) who called a spade a spade and blew the whistle, warning anyone who cared of the imminent creation of Isaias’ dictatorship. Wolde was the first one who warned us of the evils of chauvinism by quoting his old friend, Haile Deru’e, who said something along the lines of, ‘the biggest problem Eritrea faces is chauvinism.’
But Wolde is a leader of an organization and people would rightly criticize him if they feel he is going far from what they expected him to do and if he was perceived to be pursuing tactics of political expediency. That is a normal criticism and it is legitimate to confront it with coherent counter argument if need be; sloganeering and mixing raw emotions and lopsided reasoning doesn’t add anything of value. Serious issues should not be tackled by imbeciles who speak while chewing a mouthful of food beyond the capacity of their throat—I will give you an example of such a mouthful blurting. The gossip-mongers are spreading the allegation (among other racist and supremacists messages) that I am against the merger the EPP and EDP! Well. Only the ignoramus can make that kind of claim.
First, the low-grade cadres are not capable of analyzing my stand regarding the mergers that we are witnessing; I am on record advocating for the merger, for years; and the issue is better left to the sane members of the organizations to have a say on it.
Secondly, someone who seems embarrassed of belonging to the EPP (always denying it) is leading a haphazard campaign to stitch my name with that of Ali Salim—not that I care, by the way. It is an attempt to divert the debate though the chaps do not know that by doing so, they are raising the white flag and declaring their incompetence, dishonesty and lack of integrity. As usual, the naïve, and the uninitiated are expected to fall for the gossip campaign—even a closet ex-Derg who uses a pen name had the temerity to talk about pen names; the childish operative attempted to echo that allegation. Bravo, one insignificant recruit.
Thirdly, there is another accomplice in the campaign who thinks I should be with the EPP because that is my natural place (?). This is a person whose wisdom says: Isaias used the Massawa group to come to power, we can use the Kebessa to do the same! He wants me to be part of his sinister design! A design which is built on trickery, misleading and pathetic politicking. If you haven’t guessed it yet, that is his formula for the much abused “National Unity!”
The main cause for the tantrums is the inability to challenge Ali Salim’s arguments word for word; the next best thing seems to be confusing the issue, dwelling on trivialities, just like the paralyzing mechanism that was imposed on the resistance for the last eight years—almost four months into the current debate, I have yet to see any rebuttal from those gossip mongers for what Ali Salim has written let alone acknowledging the black and white data that Ahmed Raji provided. Cowardly gossip and meaningless Chremrem cannot pass for a mature debate. But one cannot present arguments one doesn’t have as the Arabic saying goes: faqid Ashsh’e la Yaatihu.
Incidentally, I met someone a few days ago and we talked about Woldeyesus; I told him pretty much what I have stated above. He looked at me with squinted eyes and hinted what he couldn’t say openly; he attempted to corner me with endless insinuations. He finally asked: “tell me, why do you defend Woldeysus so much?”
I have been in this business long enough to read between the lines and decipher messages; I decided to help him loosen up: “Because Woldeyesus is from Keren! Call me a regionalist but I have a weak spot for my town.” However, I must admit: my Kerenite pride did not allow me to acknowledge that my beautiful town has its share of bigots, gossip mongers and imbeciles. If you are like the man I mentioned above, now you know why I defend Woldeyesus (you don’t believe it?)
An Irresistible Urge
There is an irresistible urge to throw a mini challenge to those who think they are solely entrusted with the task of protecting our national unity, the pretense guardians. Before I do that, I hope people stop using national unity as a Hjab to hide behind. A loudspeaker blasting ‘Aslamay Kstanay, wedi qola dega’ is not a formula for national unity (certainly belittling Eritrean-European civil societies is not safeguarding national unity.) A new fish might seek to swallow bigger fishes, but that (on top of being impossible) has nothing to do with national unity, it is political expediency, trying to shine ontop of the corpses of others. Talking about the issues of Aslamay Kstanay and deqi Qola Dega is the first step to reinforce national unity (why do I feel this will provoke sharpening of pens? You will see!)
The brave, dedicated, free activists, are not afraid of bringing national issues at national forums for debate, discussion and resolution; the mediocre would rather have national issues under the ownership of the nation’s fragmented social components or worse, monopolized by more fragmented groups—then they preach about national unity, a contradiction of principles and confusion of the highest level!
If one is willing to debate serious issue, well and good, otherwise, the best thing to do is to grab a netsela and dance your head off to the tune of any song. That is all that songs can do for you. National unity cannot be achieved by listening to Atweberhan Segid’s song, that would be like trying to remove a mountain by blowing at it.
Those who pretend to accept challenges and do not mind debating issues seriously: clip everything that has been said over the last few months and you will find the land issue at the center of it all. Do not make absurd claim, “it is in our program.” The PFDJ also has democracy and justice in its name and program and we all know it means nothing. Respond coherently (if you can) instead of acting like a lazy preacher who throws the book at you every time he feels he is losing an argument—or like a baby who cries Mama even when his mother is in the next room.
Here follows my attempt to briefly explain what I meant by ‘Deformed Struggle’:
At the risk of infuriating some more vigilantes who would certainly try to chew more than they can swallow, I present to you the super, super light issues: what do you say about the years-worth of Enklil they forced activists to go through, equating visiting Ethiopia to treason and suddenly a fetwa appeared from the sky and Ethiopia became Halal? Do you think people are in a slumber? Why was the resistance subjected to years of wasted time arguing about article 3 and 4 of the EDA charter? Do you think it is because there was concern for EDA’s wellbeing, and they wanted to reform it, or it was just an exercise in futility? Why would one want to adopt everything the PFDJ regime stands for, its symbols, its values, its policies and still claim to be antagonized to it? I have only questions, I am good at asking question, those who are good at answering them, should try to do so. And I have a theory which might be right or wrong. It is just a theory: what is the difference between an opposition and a resistance? Is the EDA an opposition or a resistance? How do you define the fragmented Eritrean groups, opposition or resistance groups?
Wikipedia, God bless it, explains opposition as a power-centered groups:
…opposition comprises one or more political parties or other organized groups that are opposed to the government, party or group in political control of an area, county, or state.
The same source, may God not bless it, doesn’t explains resistance. The page turned this suggestion: “You may create the page “Political resistance…” All right, I will leave creating a Wikipedia page about resistance to political science students, here is a project waiting for them. Until then, I would use rebellion (again, as per Wikipedia) which matches my understanding of resistance:
Rebellion is a refusal of obedience. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors from civil disobedience and mass nonviolent resistance, to violent and organized attempts to destroy an established authority such as the government. Those who participate in rebellions are known as “rebels”. … Also, rebel’s potential to overthrow the leadership is recognized and substantial, unless the rebellion is crushed…
In situation like the one prevailing in Eritrea, resistance (rebellion), as described above, is legitimate—I only hope that the Enklil would stop confusing the direction of the people and instead embolden them to resist oppression with everything at their disposal. No oppressor abdicates power voluntarily as per the will of the people; no free spirited human being denies a nation’s right to reclaim its dignity and rights. I think eighteen years is enough experience under the yoke of the PFDJ’s tyranny. I think hundreds of thousands of new refugees fleeing the country is enough reason. I think, tens of thousands of lives wasted unnecessarily is enough reason. I think half a million refugees denied the right to return to their country is enough reason. I think the injustices and destitution common in Eritrea is enough reason. No one should allow the deformation of the struggle for justice and equality.
Opposition Te’ale; Resistance Tesera’e
On this occasion, I implore all anti-oppression elements, and those who aspire to establish good governance and freedom in Eritrea, to stop identifying themselves as opposition—they can carry that nametag proudly once multi-party politics is established, for the time when they can democratically compete for power—“Usually, the opposition party is a party which has lost an election but maintains a minority group of representatives in parliament to check the ruling party.” Eritrea is not there yet. Until then, everyone must resist and rebel—I specially implore the political organization to stop identifying themselves as opposition and use the term resistance—as the Tigrgna saying goes: shm ymrrH Twaf yebrrh. The age of mincing words should come to an end, many have glossed over serious issues for too long.
See! I wanted to comment on my friend Mengs TM’s thoughts, his views against considering Arabic an official language, and Mogos Tekeste who argues for English as an official language—Mogos actually stuffed the Taliban scare-word unnecessarily and I am wondering why. But I am running out of apace—this article is already so long as it is, and I will rather stop here to continue next time. Promise.
At any rate, the language issues (language prejudice?), and the rejection of the choice of half the population, has been going on for decades and it doesn’t seem to end—it can wait for a few more weeks. Besides, it is a tired debate and I feel Eritreans (half of Eritreans rather) are condemned to repeat the same arguments over and over and over again. I would have thought Ahmad Raji “The Lost Rainbow” series of articles had shed light on the repercussions of the anti-Arabic policies. But, kab weredenna, I will address it next time. It is time to say, Ila’liqa’a.
NB: If you are an Eritrean, you should not need a translator for the two words in red!