Akhriya Steps-Forth: From Akhriya to All of Eritrea

ኣኽርያ በገሰው፡ ካብ ሪያ ናብ ኩሉ ኤሪትሪያ: Unlike the commonly known Las Vegas slogan, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” our motto is and should be the stark opposite of that: What happened in Akhriya did not, could not, and will not stay in Akhriya. This is a call to action and a call to arms from the belly of the beast where Eritreans spoke loud and in clear terms. The call to arms was not through live ammunition that the regime cowardly and disgracefully used on innocent children, mothers, and fathers. I am resorting to the audio/visual medium, because we must bewilder this regime with all our might: Through the written word. Through the spoken word. Through the audio files. Through the visual. Through art. Through music. Through incessant demonstrations. We’ve served as the echo chamber in the exact way that was expected of us to do, because those who demonstrated from the belly of the beast knew what their fate was likely going to be, but they did what they had to.

We Eritreans in diaspora heeded the call and did a replica of what they expected us to do minus any risk to our wellbeing: We, in the diaspora, brought our children, our women, in which the latter led the way the same way they did inside Eritrea on that fateful day, 31st of October 2017. Our reciprocity in kind was meant to send the ultimate message of solidarity and encouragement to our people inside Eritrea, to continue their challenge of the brutal regime in Asmara and that we would do our utmost to expose its heinous crimes against its own citizens. Eritreans across the globe showed their solidarity unambiguously: Christians and Muslims alike; children and women, all came and demonstrated the entire month of November, using images, the written word, and the spoken words with megaphones to heighten the noise.

The awesome power of language we’ve seen it come out of our brave and revered Aboy Musa, armed with vocal acuity, whose words reverberated beyond the borders of Eritrea to the entire globe wherever Eritreans reside. Of course, who would forget the nerves it rattled in the quarters of the regime, a regime that wouldn’t stop at anything to destroy lives was caught by one simple and brave verbal act. So, all known Eritrean languages are not enough this time. We must use every conceivable world languages that are at our disposal to keep the verbal onslaught tirelessly onward and steadily forward. We know many languages and have our children who can speak most of the European languages, as no language should be spared to attack the regime in every venue and opportunity we must relentlessly do it.

So, I am using the spoken word, using my mother tongue, which is Tigrinya, but I am giving it purposefully a title: Akhriya Begesaw in Tigrayit, closest meaning of which is Akhriya Steps-Forth. I want my Tigre speaking and other Eritrean brothers and sisters to know we are in this together. I am attempting to capture the essence of what the Akhriya uprising was all about as I offer how we should conceive of it, wallow in it, and use it as an impetus to forge forward and onward in the fight of not only removing the regime from the sphere of political power and influence but obliterating the mindset that brought it to the fore in the first place. We must all, in unison, reject the EPFDJ mindset not just its stay in power but its every essence must be made to disappear from our collective memory, because that was never Eritrea’s spirit, nor was it Eritrea’s history. This regime ካብ ስሩ ክሞሖ’ለዎ (kab suru kimmoho allowo). EPFDJ’s power must be uprooted from its core, because it is a belief system, the sole mission and vision of which has been and continues to be destroying Eritrean way of life. The barrel of a gun does not have a staying power. We’ve seen tyrants come and tyrants go, many with violent ends, the recent memory of which we’ve seen it done in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and the case in Eritrea will likely be no different.

My aim in this video clip is not only to capture the essence of what the Akhriya uprising was all about, but how we were before it came to our collective conscience, what it has been like after this cataclysmic event. I want to offer how we should view it collectively as Eritreans. Akhriya uprising isn’t just about Tigrinya speaking Jebertis nor is it about deqqi Akhriya alone, but about Eritrea’s existence and our survival as a nation. Thus, Eritreans throughout the globe I am kindly asking you to think about this deeply as I offer you some of the major points through the video clip accompanied here. The written word here is not a substitute to the video; rather a companion. Please give it a listen, but as you listen I would like you to keep the following in mind:

I have divided the issues into three larger groupings:

(1). Before the Akhriya movement, where were we or what was the situation like? Those of us who are in diaspora, prior to this monumental event, almost daily, various political opposition groups were founded, and their pronouncements were made on social media outlets. What purposes have these actions served or continue to serve?

(2). Where are we now? What are the geopolitical underpinnings relative to our country? What’s it like inside Eritrea now? How do these trajectories implicate the regime in Eritrea? How is the regime now reacting to these geopolitical developments? Framed in this context, why did the regime feel emboldened in wishing to nationalize a private school in Akhriya? Why did the board led by Ayya Musa react the way it did? Why did Ayya Mohamed Abrar reacted the way he did a week after Aya Musa’s imprisonment, knowing his fate was going to be similar to that of his comrade? What are the students of this private school telling the world by their demonstration? What are our mothers telling us when they demonstrated with the community?

(3) Where do we head from here and many more questions and answers I try to provide in this clip.

With the above serving as a backdrop, we all realize that the brave call from Akhriya not only put us on notice, but to shame because we saw firsthand how a 93-year-old man stood to the repressive regime. For similar reasons, the role of an elderly woman who led the protest put us on notice and to shame. I also offer a projection in what this regime is capable of doing based on its past heavy-handed actions after its legitimacy was challenged. Not to alarm us, but to heed the warnings before they happen, to see the signposts and fight its deceitful ways. With that as my premise I try to ring an alarm and for us to not only be weary of such dangerous actions, but also that we Eritreans in the diaspora to be vigilant in fighting such divisive tactics and strategies the regime might unleash on our people.

Additionally, I attempt to offer seven strategies that I believe can help us toward the goal of undoing the regime from the face of Eritrea. Allow me to highlight some of it below:

  • Those of us who are in diaspora, how should we find a way of encouraging these Eritreans who rose up, be it using phone lines, internet, any means necessary…
  • Social media’s advantage, we’ve seen it firsthand its impact is real…that we should begin to strategize without duplicating our efforts…
  • Heretofore, not only should we find a way of organizing but also mTrnaf tray zeikones mwuddab (ምጥርናፍ ጥራይ ዘይኮነስ ምዉዳብ), one that is capable of removing the regime from its sphere of absolute power…
  • Wherever Eritreans happen to live, we should make relations with religious leaders of non-Eritrean denominations … with those who are in our respective communities …Especially, Christian communities … we should be educating them by explaining to them the situation at hand in Eritrea. The peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians, its long coexistence should be told and retold…
  • The use of Tigrinya language can be made not only productive but also constructive, because most Eritreans now speak Tigrinya…
  • Our sisters on our side…In any movement without our sisters, we weren’t able to succeed, therefore, including our sisters in our fight is instrumental … Our children are asking us when they see our vested interest in our old country …Allow me to use our sisters…I urge our sisters to use the language of …
  • Our cause can only be managed by us, for us, with us alone … guday hagerna baElinna niHazzo (ጉዳይ ሃገርና ባዕልና ንሓዞ)

Finally, I make concluding remarks about the nature of the turning point of Akhriya in the video clip:


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