Wednesday , September 19 2018
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The Lizard’s Tail

Once I saw an American neighbor’s kid showing off his chameleon that crawled on his hands. The father was proudly smiling because his son was so happy with the pet that he bought him for his birthday. I saw the chameleon turn its skin into different shades and hues, I presumed it must have been confused trying to blend with the child’s skin color. Had that been in Keren, some child would have killed the chameleon before it changed its colors let alone reach a pet store.

When we were growing up, Ga’e (lizard) was a common rebuff between peers. Whenever a boy sees a lizard (girls didn’t bother) he reaches for the nearest rock, or stick, and kills it.

Unlike chameleons, lizards do not change colors, but there is strangeness in the way they die. You hit a lizard in the head and somehow the tail is cut—it seems like it dismembers itself from the body on its own. Worse, long after the lizard is dead, the tail is full of life swaying to the left and to the right.

Lizards like to climb and bask on top of huge rocks and peek over it as if checking the surrounding below, raising and lowering their heads like an attentive sentinel. They overdo the peeking, and to this day I do not understand why they peek over restlessly.

A therapist (if ignorant of other cultures) would consider Eritreans a violent people, with certainty, by tracing the cause to the lizard-chasing childhood. But we all know that the humble Eritreans do not learn any violence from killing rodents and pests; some don’t even learn from a lizard’s tail that pretends to be alive when it is dead.

The lizard I want to talk about today is not a Hydra but defies the mythical Hydra that Hercules supposedly killed. Our lizard has two heads. And it is dead. There remains two tails on the verge of death, swaying like an Egyptian belly dancer, and pretending to be alive. But before I tell you of the dead, two-headed lizard, let me tell you another thing.

The Moral Of The Story

The morality that binds human beings can be traced to our religious legacy even if atheists argue that religion is a myth (never mind the fact that they gleefully accept Greek mythology).  Since childhood, I learned that divorce is not pleasant, and it is not encouraged. In fact it is banned in some religions while it is allowed in others, even if scoffed at. Naturally, people believe that divorce is an unpleasant Halal, an unpleasant Kosher.

When a husband and a wife argue endlessly and abuse each other needlessly, the children suffer. In that case, only divorce would bring peace of mind to the children and serenity to the home. Maybe the separation would help the spouses to reflect on their behaviors and correct it, thereby opening a door for reconciliation and getting back together again.

Eritrean activists have been suffering for long years by their self-appointed parents, the political leaders.  We had no choice in electing those leaders (I mean those parents)—and there is no way we can elect leaders for twenty-something claimants to organizational structure. Maybe some of us could have elected leaders for a single party, not all of them. But by the virtue of them being leaders, they appointed themselves our collective fathers (women leaders are still benign with a few exceptions, the door of the men’s club has proven difficult to open). And here we are with leaders who number more than the number of their membership-list claiming to be parents of every breathing activist. That reminds me of the Italian insult: Figlio di Cento Padre! God forbid.

So far, I haven’t said too much, sometimes my embraced Hamassen instincts betray me and I beat around the bush. I envy those who shoot straight. Therefore, now is the time to shoot straight to make my point about the needed divorce.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with me if I suggested that the EPDP and the rest of the EDA should divorce each other and each group should go its separate way. Most of you who are reading this are, I am certain, sick and tired of the bickering, the mischief and the stalling tactics. The attitudes of the two are so much apart that even if a crazy glue would talk, it would reject the job of bringing these two together. They abhor being together. They detest each other.

We have witnessed countless squabbles that can only be likened to a high school girls’ fights. If any mathematician would chronicle the last ten years mathematically, we would find that most of the time and resources were wasted trashing the very relations that are supposed to hold them together. By engaging in a  ‘what if’ exercise, that same mathematician could also give us a glimpse of the future, the impossibility of the two working together, thus helping us focus on what is important.

A divorce would deny both of them an excuse and they would be judged by what they deliver not by how much they promote their differences and score points. We are tired of entities shamelessly trying to prove they are more ridiculous than the others. 

I reached the divorce conclusion (which I was entertaining for a while) after I read the last statement of the EPDP in which it created yet another fork road and suggested boastfully that it is willing to dialogue with any Eritrean entity to bring about change. After months wasted on meaningless talks, dialogues that were, after all, intended to fail, I think everyone should stop the dialogue drama. Even some individuals with obvious partisan “credentials” are now attempting to reconcile the two, thereby falling prey into the stalling tactics. I thought some Activists have graduated from such cheap maneuvers! I wish they stopped their tragicomedies.

It is not as if a divorce is the end of Eritrea, I think it is a blessing that would help people focus on the Skunis clique that is wreaking havoc in Eritrea; and in parallel we could calmly attend to our social problems. Those social problems have to be attended to, if only the culprits would stop their condescending attitudes and cease their muddling in issues they don’t have the guts to stomach. One cannot oppose honest and frank social discourse by invoking the always-ready excuse of national unity, and at the same time, try to duplicate the same discourse, by camouflaging it as an inter-organizational affair. We have seen enough agitation with the aim of rallying the support of a given constituency. See where that condescension has reached?

Of course you all saw it. The self-appointed parents would always want to do everything on behalf of grown up, conscious adults!

Divorce is good; and I believe the party that delivers, not the party that is always there to waste our time on secondary issues, would get supporters flowing to join it. Activists would follow any entity that is able to welcome Isaias’ borrowed Qatari plane anywhere in the world. But first, those who wish so must secure a runway, and be able to force Isaias to board a plane. Isaias is not boarding a plane on a one-way trip pushed by statements and wishful thinking. Other than that, we should call it a day and focus on what we do—after all, people should not worry about something they condemned. The National Conference cannot be a failure and a success at the same time. And no one in his right mind should be part of a failing project! Right?

I believe the national commission that was elected from the conference should be left alone. And I suggest that the commission, which is not part of the inter-EDA feud, should stay away from that unsolvable, never-ending squabble manufactured by the political tribes of the Diaspora. The political tribes must not disturb the commission by asking it to wash their dirty linen. After all, those tribes that do not recognize between an enemy and a foe, are political tribes that begins with the people most close to them, just like a witch that begins to possess the bodies of those most close it. Tebib b’fetawi’ou yjmmr!

Now I will take you back to the double-headed lizard.

The Obituary

It might have been a eulogy of the lizard and its title reads as follows: One head belongs to Jebha and the other to Shaabiya. Though the head is smashed, the body is crushed flat to the ground, the tail is still swaying.  Some people see the tail and swear the lizard is still alive. But that is similar to the proverbial frog that doesn’t recognize the rising temperature of the simmering water, and boils in it unknowingly, never discovering that it is on its way to death. Those who are watching the tail and expecting the lizard (or their political tribe) to breath life again, for your own sanity, recognize that the tail is not equivalent, neither the head nor to the body. It is just a tail of a lizard that WAS. It is, as the Amhara would say, almot bai tegaday.

I believe that should do for today, but depending on how things go, I might write about ShllHetet, the tiny thing that looks and acts like a lizard when it is far too small in size compared to an actual lizard. The ShllHetet political tribes (numbering less than the players in a soccer team) act as if the aim of Eritreans is to declare an independent state in an enclave of Liechtenstein or Albania. The Eritrea that many worry about is still located on the shores of the Red Sea; Isaias clique, composed of the forty-thieves, is still around. We better focus there and let’s stop missing the goal.

Finally (for today), as many writers have eluded, there are several elders who deserve to be respected (by the virtue of age and service to their people) but they should help us uphold our respect for them. They seem to be itching to be disrespected in public with their needless provocations. The advice is: they shouldn’t push people into disrespecting them. Otherwise, there is a good chance they would be likened to Kebirehom Allezi Alelmhom AlSihr! Worse, a Tigrnya term that is rarely used can be used on them: Aabi Argen!

negarit@awate.com

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

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