The Cruellest Decade: in Ten
The decade 2000-2010 hosted milestone events in Eritrea’s recent past; yet mostly disappointing. Coming on the heels of the optimism, pride and peace of 1990s, the decade 2000s, without question, has been a turbulent time for Eritrea and Eritreans. It is more reminiscent of our bloody past than the neighbourly decade. From ‘Salsay Werar’ in mid 2000, (May-June 2000) to uncontrollable exodus at the end of the decade, ( 2,000 people flee every month), the decade was full of painful Orwellian, Kafkaseque episodes, hallow men, hallower men, missed opportunities, deferred dreams, confusions, ego-driven politics and loss. What made it so painful and difficult was the fact that none of us were prepared we would go through all this after the 30-year-armed-struggle culminated in promise of justice and peace.
To a nation that bore more than its share of dramas, to a decade that crowded its shelves with many memories, to reduce it to ten most significant is to be stoically, and ridiculously reductive. That I admit. Depending who you ask, for Eritreans, for us everything is personal; deeply personal. That is why to select 10 is to invite controversy. That too I admit.
The political events (crisis) of the decade, if not privatized, certainly pervaded every aspect of the lives of Eritreans. Few of us dare to enumerate the cultural, literary and social achievements of the decade. Thus, the list would be dominated by politics and related activities. I chose both events and people, with honourable and dishonourable mentions.
It is my (our) greatest wish that the decade we are ushering in, be kind to us and to our nation. The greatest hope and dream of mine is the guy who is number one in the list (‘Keyfeteku’) would not even live to make it in the list of the next decade.
Happy New Year!
1. President Isaias Afwerki; The greatest terrorist (Political career: mid 1960s – hopefully very soon, even now.)
Hate him, love him, nobody dominated Eritrea than its current leader. Ever since that fateful day (night), this escape artist left his Addis University dormitory to join ELF in 1967, Eritrean political, cultural, social and economic canvas has been awash with his fingerprints, with his drafts. He led one of the most successful guerrilla movements in the 20th century against a larger neighbour and forged a government, culture, language and times in his own image.
Nowhere was President Isaias dominance and stature loomed larger than in this passing decade. Narrowly avoiding a political suicide after ‘Salsay Werar’ [the Third Offensive], he shelved the constitution and outmanoeuvred and jailed his fiercest critics (the G-15) in post-independence Eritrea, thereby assuring the country will only be led by his dicta. He changed ‘Zemene-Sltanya’ with ‘Zemene-container.’
He kept 300,000 youth under the dicta of ‘Wefri Warsay Yikealo’ and 3.5 million under his tight grip, with the underlying threat, pulling a ‘Mr Jones’ card a la Animal Farm, “If I am gone, Ethiopians will be back.” With unimaginable political and economic problems, with Eritrea being routinely named the biggest jail for journalists, prisoners of conscience in the whole world, it is improbable to imagine how any leader could have managed to stay in power this far. If Eritrea is called Africa’s North Korea, then who is its China?
The larger-than-life, (actually here the larger-than-the-life-of-the-nation) personality, stature and image of President Isaias is what is lending the gasp for breath for the totally inefficient, ideologically-bankrupt, economically-retrograde, politically-dead and failed regime in Eritrea. Pilliored and orphaned by the international community (UN just put sanctions on him) and loathed by his people at home, this angry leviathan is still an important actor in the regional politics, mainly arming and assisting opposition and insurgents in the Sudan, Ethiopia, mostly Somalia and recently Yemen.
Chiefly responsible for Eritrea’s ghastly predicament, its more than 30,000 political prisoners (more than 300 known gulags), exodus of the youth (second biggest refugee producing nations in the world) second militarized nation in the world, President Isaias, usurped, depleted and decimated the nation unlike no one its history. Dominating the nation for more than 40 years and living in crammed and dramatic period of its history, President Isaias seemed to have lived forever. He is not even 65.
Dishonourable Mention: The Four horsemen of the Eritrean Apocalypse (the infamous Wuchu of the Adi-Abeito Massacre in November 2004, Philipos, Teklay H. Sellasie and Haile Samuel aka “china”). They and other greedy, corrupt military officers have made Eritrea their personal fiefdoms. Mafia-style assassinations of businessmen and dissidents abound. With police and security officers, enforcers of torture and death. Ali Abdu, Mustafa Nur Hussien, Naizghi Kiflu, Yemane Gebreab. And the YPFDJ (naytom ZiAregu keYaklena Hadesti keA !)
No honourable mention in the world of PFDJ
2. Salsay Werar (May 2000-June 2000), Badme: The curse
The military offensive of the Ethiopian army in May 2000 and the capture of Barentu jolted the nation from its erstwhile perceptions about itself. Salsay Werar, though it failed to capture Assab (which would have been a total game-changer) not only smashed the aura of invincibility and military prowess of the Eritrean army but also changed the course of the decade. It ushered the era of Algiers Peace Treaty (December 2000), UNMEE, and created schism in the leaders of the government less than a year later. Most importantly, it was responsible for taking the lives of more than 15,000 Eritreans (the prior offensives had less than 5,000) and thousands of Ethiopians. It enhanced the grudges and mistrust in both Eritreans and Ethiopians.
In my mind, the greatest psychological effect of Salsay Werar was this: Eritreans always all along knew their government was a zero in foreign affairs, clueless in management, cruel in its punishment. Their only solace was in knowing at least their government could be counted to offer them security and that military matters were ShaeBia’s forte. After Salsay werar, Eritreans were not sure even if that was true. All because of… Badme.
It is almost a myth; a metaphor; never a place.
What is in a name, man?
Eritrea has thousands of villages and towns; many of them old and historical. It is hard to imagine Fate would single out an unlikely town as Badme and fete it to such a mythical status. No place is so improbable to imagine it can dominate pages, consume lives (and energies), and still is mentioned in Cafes, computer screens, usually in heated debates. “Eza Nay Badme Guday tray twedaE Ember…”
For many Eritreans, especially government supporters, Badme is the Alamo, the Nakfa, the Dien Bien Phu, Alsace-Lorraine all rolled into one. According to the EEBC decision, the place was given to Eritrea; Ethiopia rejected it. And the Eritrean government was furious at Ethiopia, international community, AU, UN and at Eritreans who say “Ok let us tackle our internal problems.” And 8 years later it is still is very furious.
From those who believe it was a mere pretext to rule unchallenged to those who genuinely believe it is the core of Eritrean problem, to the Kunama nationality’s legitimate claim Badme, the name, ten years later, still is still a flashpoint; and, it is not afterglow.
Dishonourable Mention: Woyane’s Ghost. A defeated spirit, a wounded pride carries a ghost, a paranoia. Yes, it comes with the territory. In the 1990s, the Ethiopians, especially Amharas used to see the ghost of ‘Shaebia’ everywhere in Woyane-dominated Ethiopian politics. It was our turn. In 2000s Eritreans, especially PFDJ supporters, hallucinated themselves into believing they swore they saw, for a decade-Memelaeta, Woyane/CIA ghost and spew conspiracy tales that dwarf Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code.’
3. G-15 and Journalists: Speaking Power to Truth
When fifteen prominent members of Eritrean parliament wrote a scathing open letter to the president in May 2001, Eritrea officially entered the dreaded post-colonial era. It was not surprising as history always showed us; it is just that for comrades who endured ‘mret ghedli’ together for 35 years, it happened so fast, in record time, just 10 years after independence.
In deepest recesses of our minds, even of the ardent PFDJ-stas, the arrest and demise of G-15, proved once and forever there was no more a line for Isaias. If he could not spare his own closest colleagues of 40 years, who can be granted leniency or mercy? No one. No one. No one. Bzey Nhsya!
It hits closest to home to mention the brave Eritrean journalists, in the list. Some were killed; some are waiting for their fate; others have joined them. For speaking truth to power, for just letting their pages open for discussion, for feeding wisdom for the hungry, for being simply Eritreans, they were branded spies and traitors. For a just cause they carried, they are stewards of free Eritrea.
Honourable Mention: G-13 for taking the initiative to ask pointedly to the tyrant. If you were an elder who tried to reconcile the opposition with the leader, you would be treated like a hero in Ethiopia or like a criminal in Eritrea. The famous late patriot Kej. Sunabara, Hamed Kerrar, and Abudlarham Ahmed Younis. University Students who defied PFDJ and incarcerated in Wia.
4. Abraham Afewerki: The New Ager
Abraham Afewerki, loved to smile to the camera, to the audience. Never a cerebral artist, Abraham was a conscious, astute, calculating, even manipulative artist. He was a real celebrity along the lines of Western singers. He knew his fan-base and worked diligently to keep them closer than ever.
In terms of times, he was more prolific and flamboyant in the 1990s. Three of his 4 albums, including the timeless, “Meley” were published in the past decade. In terms of themes, the optimism and energy of the roaring 90s fitted him most. Letting aside the claim he was going back to school-which he did- perhaps the fact that he laid low for a decade (1997-2006) could be attributed to the mismatch of the times and his themes.
His was in-your-face optimistic, sure, message that comes close to a televangelist’s prosperity gospel, or Oprah-style, ‘dreams come true.’ He was a true new-ager for our age. ‘Tesfa’ ‘Aqli’ “xaEri’ ‘Fiqri’ etc are repeated in his oeuvre. In calamitous decade, his message fell hallow, even ridiculous. What is the point of ‘Tesfa’ and ‘Aqli’ if your hopes, no ‘tesfatat’ and ‘xaeritat’ nay ‘welodatat’ came to devastated ruin, without any acceptable explanation except ‘life is after all a bitch!’ Ammeros Perros!?
Then came ‘Semay’. Fall 2006.
The album gave us a different Abraham Afewerki. He sounded more introspective, less sure, more subdued. He should be. All of us were. ‘Fishkta Ameley’ is not a great song; but it resonated well with the times.
Unquestionably, the greatest performance of that song, ‘Fishkita Ameley,’ (perhaps the greatest performance of his life) is the one he gave in Sawa Military camp just few days before he died under mysterious circumstances. You hear young girls, literarily dominating his singing. Aged 14-18, the girls should have been in the warmth of their homes. Their voice, in unison, is primal; a wail; a cry; a plea; a very sad, sad ‘awyat’. How can you miss that? And they are singing ‘Fiskita Ameley.’
They may be smiling. As Abraham did in the last days of his life. It was a painful one. A far cry from his 1990s smile. Reminds you of Eritrea, the nation.
By the end of the decade, Eritreans have become like European Romas, ‘the gypsies’; exorcising their pain through songs!
Honourable mention: Abrar Osman for his ‘100 kab 100’, Lula Band, all opposition singers. Most memorably Idris Mohammed Ali, one of the greatest singers Eritrea ever had, who was killed by PFDJ gang. We lost such giants and we never even mourned them properly. What a tragic decade!
Dishonourable Mention: Helen Meles, Elsa Kidane and all PFDJ ‘Nay kinet’ singers, like, Maebel, Taniqo and Qorchach and you know where I am going with this; yes ‘Yohannes Tiquabo’ (could have been our version of Ethiopia’s man of the decade, ‘TeddyAfro’), not just for stealing Amanuel Asrat’s poems (which is nothing compared to his greater sin) which is portraying a false picture of Eritrea and singing for and enriching the coffers of the Eritrea’s tyrannical regime. If he and others don’t want to join us in opposing the regime, there is an option many others have taken: ‘Suq Tuem!’ Can keep quite!
5. Zerisenay Tadesse (1982- )“Geyad Enta!”
Spring is the cruellest season.
In March 24, 2007, Eritrea’s Zerisenay Tadesse, for the first time, overtook the running phenomenon called Kenenisa Bekele, in Mombasa for World Cross country Championship. The event was not joyous—for me. It was a reminder, a painful reminder of the potentials and the glory of my people, if allowed to shine…to try. As April, spring brings out memories, the winter rendered them forgotten, a la’ Eliot, Zerisennay’s win in spring 2007, brought the memories of the potentials of ‘Deki-Ere’ that are rotting in gulags, toiling under slavery and fleeing their own nation. Cruel month. Cruel season. Cruel decade.
Zerisenay Tadese is the most successful athlete Eritrea has so far produced. He is our first Olympic medalist (Athens 2004 Olympics), and is currently one of top long-distance runners (especially half-marathon) in the world. Aman B’ Aman Geyad!
Honourable Mention: The Marathon runner, Mebrahtu, ‘Meb’ Kiflezghi for still being called Eritrean; though I hope this great athlete will run for Eritrean causes.
We would have ‘Geyads’ Seb E’ma W’sebr..Alas!!! We are not that lucky to realize the potential of our youth. Eritrea’s best and finest are leaving the nation in droves!
6. Eritrean Youth; Elsa Chirum, ‘Her Brother’s Keeper.’
There was a time when Eritrean parents, especially mothers were hailed and recalled in pathos and reverence for their sacrifice, their steadfastness and their character. The decade 2000s was decidedly the decade of Eritrean Youth.
“MeneSeay Eritrea rekibWo Zelo” is now oft-repeated acknowledgment of the plight of the youth.
It started with unnecessary deaths of 15, 000 of them in Salsay Werar. With ‘Wefri-Warsay-yiAklo’, the youth was declared the sole exclusive property of Isaias. Consigned to bear the wrath and hangover of PFDJ, enslaved for life, betrayed by the liberators, the Eritrean youth is the most confused, bitter and degraded section of our society. That is why North-Eastern African countries are too accustomed to host the tragedy called Eritrean refugees. Shegreab. Khartoum. Nyala. Juba. ShimeLba. Nairobi. Kampala. Cairo. Worse. Egyptian jails. Misrata. Tripoli. Sina. And, the worst of, all the depths of the ‘MaeKelay bahri.’
Elsa Chirum’s name is synonymous with the plight of Eritrean refugees in Europe. Using her organization, Eritrean Human Rights Concern, Elsa advocated tirelessly for the needy Eritrean refugees. She is an honourable Eritrean activist worth emulating and supporting. She is the quintessential ‘brother’s keeper’. Abel’s blood is being spilled from Eritrean borders, all over North-East Africa. Elsa braved to keep her brothers and sisters by telling their stories to whoever shall hear. May God bless her.
Now a brief Interlude with Wedi Gebeya (Zegenfo for the 2000s)
Do you know how a nation has lost its sanity, literally?
When it arrested its only psychiatrist. Dr. Futsum was arrested for his religious beliefs and he was the only certified psychiatrist in the whole country. So, for diagnosis of the nation’s mental health, we needed people like wedi-Gebeya.
You have heard the jokes. ‘Me and Isaias are not different. He went to Isarel and I went to Halibet for medication.’ ‘Please contribute money to import a Palestinian suicide bomber because our people are too scared to do the leader in.’ ‘They dig Asmara roads to apprehend the martyrs who fled from their regiments.’ Etc…A seemingly mentally-not-healthy, he is our modern-day ‘Zegenfo’ and many other truth-tellers of 1960s and 1970s in many towns of Eritrea.
It is not simply the humour. It is clear when people are dying to say something important and they know that is a quickest route to containers, they resort to humour to relieve their pain. Even pro-PFDJ repeat jokes against the government without understanding their meaning. That shows insanity. Or stupidity. Or both.
Wedi-Gebeya seems to be the only person out of 4 million people who is saying his mind and seems to get away with that…for now! That is a record of sorts. Lest we forget though, the real ‘LeQawis’ is the President himself.
The Eritrean movies (if you can call them movies). I watch them..only to see Asmara hoods in instrumental music, if lucky, Yusuf’s. Not really developed from Tsgegay Hadish’s, and Yemane Mekononen (Lilo’s) and Dawit Issac’s of 1980s plays, the years of 2000s saw churning out of innumerable movies that gave birth to a new crop of non-Tegadelti actors to numb and distract us.. The slapstick comedian, sharp-tongued Mem. Alemayu Kahsay wannabe, Hagos Weledeghebriel (Suzinino) is liked by many; though I think he is a better singer. ‘Mahlaki’. Another petit mention for Shingrwa.
Dishonourable Mention: PFDJ-festivals of insanity and delusion. Girmay Yohannes, Sandiego is gifted and imaginative comedian, only if we have got something to laugh about. Issayas Tsegay, a very dominant force in Eritrean drama, music and movies. As the closest friend of the killed journalist Fessehaye Yohannes ‘Joshua’, Issayas Tsegay deserves to be shamed for fiddling with PFDJ capos. ‘NeAy YiteAmeni’ is the only true poem he wrote with his life in this decade.
7. Abune-Antonios/Helen Berhane: Wag the Dog…Give to Isaias’s what is God’s.
When you have no enemy to put the blame on, and you have a lot of accountability to take, what d’ ya do? Answer: Wag the Dog. You can manufacture an enemy out of the thin air. Literally. And if you are PFDJ, you are successful. Very successful.
There was a time when Eritrea welcomed and accommodated persecuted religious minorities in its lap. Prophet Mohammed first followers in 7th century, Catholics and protestants in 1860s and 1870s, Jebertis in 1870s from the zealot Abyssinian emperor Yohannes; Bahais, Jews, Pentecostals lived in Eritrea in amazing cohesiveness. Certainly Eritreans may have been politically fanatics; not religiously though.
Then came along the No.1 on this list.
After the turmoil of early 2000s, PFDJ desperately needed opium for the masses. A simple intra-orthodox church squabble was blown out of proportion to the extent that the unthinkable happened. Never in the 2000 year history of the Orthodox Church was the patriarch ever deposed. Isaias’s PFDJ is known for setting a record of the bad, the ugly and the super ugly.
Abune Antonios followed their God, Jesus Christ. In spirit of the apostles who defied emperors, and church leaders, like the rare Pope Gregory the 7th (only ‘Hade ZibLae’ pope of the Medieval Europe), Abune Petros of Ethiopia (killed by Graziani in 1935, in Addis), Abune Antonios stood firm. Now, his followers are marginalized even in Europe and North America.
Helen Berhane was a simple gospel singer until her faith landed her in PFDJ’s containers. Same for thousands of her fellow Pentecostals. (Probably the most persecuted religious group in this decade; more than 3,000 in jails and yes, I have a soft spot for Pentecostals). Conflated lazily and stupidly with other least-heralded but heavily persecuted group, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Pentecostals were severely hit. They were even dragged to jail from their marriage ceremonies.
In its phobia of Muslim intellectuals, PFDJ continued its endless war against Eritrean Muslims. The decade also was not kind to Eritrean lowlanders and Muslims. Their land was forcibly given to new settlers from highland. The semblance of respect for Arabic language was totally discarded. Their culture was savagely decimated unless for superficial festival exploitation. Last August 2009, 30 Muslim teachers were jailed to add to the thousands of them that were incarcerated since last decade.
Yes Eritrea was safe for all religions. Now, let alone for new ones, even the established, Muslim and Christian are not safe. Isaias aggrandized the insanity of Hatsey Tedros (who arrested the then Patriarch Abune Selama), the fanaticism of Hatsey Yohannes 4th (infamous for his treatment of Moslems) and cruelty Mengistu Hailemariam (persecuted the Pentecostals) all in one.
Honourable Mention: Yonatan and Sosuna (husband and wife, gospel singers) are very famous in Pentecostal circles. Also brave followers of Abune Antonios.
Dishonourable Mention: Salem Ibrahim al-Muktar. The hated Yoftahe Demetros for his role as Eritrea’s version of Grand Inquisitor.
8. Opposition Websites, and EMDHR: The Voices
Without any doubt, the decade 2000s was the decade of the internet.
“Entay Alo Hadish Neger?’ ‘…Ab Awate, ab asmarino wetxiu Alo..”
Some are born and others are made. Ostensibly the owner of the most beloved site, Asmarino.com, belongs to the latter. Tesfalidet Alem Meharena is typical Eritrean for the decade. Non-political, this entrepreneur would wish he better spent his resources in other areas, social issues, arts etc. The insanely intense and intensely insane decade had not left us alone to follow our dreams. Thus, Tes was goaded and forced to invest his resource for public good, to be voice for the voiceless. How could you sleep when you know for sure your brother was being slaughtered? How could you look away when your sister was calling for your help? Attacked and harassed by PFDJstas, vowed at times to close the website, through a terrible decade of family tragedies (including the passing of his beloved wife), Tes endured it all to make asmarino.com the most professional site again.
Some are made; others are born. In fact for some, the role of activism and protest so befits them. Tes’s colleague, the founder and webmaster of Awate.com, Saleh Gadi Johar had been a memorable figure and force in the eclipsing decade. At times cantankerous, stubborn, this Keren’s native and proud son, had a flair for confounding allies and foes alike. Yet, no one could be credited for tackling Eritrea’s thorniest and most controversial issue than him; moreover, no one could be credited for trying to bring Eritreans of diverse backgrounds, if not aspirations, together than him. His detractors are many; even ardent opposition members have asked me why I admire him. Maybe I am drawn to writers of protest and identity, maybe instinctively I believe Gadi is essentially right, I don’t know (and yes, I have a soft spot for the guy.) All I believe is Awate.com is a national treasure and its webmaster should be approached and supported. With its influential editorial, Awate.com is expected to play an intermediary, conciliatory, centrist role in the turbulent Eritrean discourse. It is more than a feeling that its role will be greater in the coming decade.
Yosief Ghebrehiwot, a.k.a. YG. For our intractable malaise, we needed an expert, a pathologist to diagnose and to prescribe. YG was the best psychoanalyst and pathologist of our case. He contributed voluminous articles to position himself as the ‘bulkiest’ and probably the brightest writer about ‘Nay Eritrea Poletica.’ In his long poems, he was like a long-suffering prophet-Sufi, chronicling the iniquities and wretchedness of his fellow countrymen. Maybe he over-diagnosed and over-prescribed with his romancing the ghedli’s stone, but it is something he should be forgiven for.
Honourable Mention: Saleh AA Younis. A very popular and prolific writer, Sal is a centrist and most grounded, with sound judgment, unlike our other writers who are largely unpredictable, and emotional. He knows politics (its limits and its potentials) very well a fact we Eritreans don’t know enough to be confounded often. Sal rarely misses the target: PFDJ.PFDJ. PFDJ. Period.
I would be ridiculously foolish to enumerate all writers who kept us informed and emboldened in the passing decade. With deep respect to all opposition writers and actvists, I feel personally indebted to and encouraged by many of them. My personal favourite and mentor is Amahatsion Domenico. The prolific poet Kiros Yohannes kept the flame of poetry alive. The compassionate voice, Selam Kidane, our Florence Nightingale, is opposition answer to Lady Macbeth, Sophia. Burhan Ali, Gabriel Gangul (the philosopher), Semere H. and Amanuel Hidrat and Seyoum Tesfaye. My old friends, the tireless activist Dr. Daniel Rezene, Milkias Mihreteab, Aaron Berhane, and Khaled Abdu. Ismail Omar Ali, especially in his early days. Late in 2009, a new crop of pointed writers, like Daniel G., Mogos, Ali Salim, and Ahmed Raj pushed the envelope farther.
A deep honourable mention should go to other opposition websites. The rapidly popular Assenna.com by energetic journalist Amanuel Iyasu, has become another headache for PFDJ. Taha Tewekel, Nharnet, Togurba, mai-habar, especially Arabic sites, like Alnahda, Awna and others deserve acclaim and support. Our hope is to find the common shared narrative so that we can see eye to eye and know each other. I should also hasten to add to honourable mention the European, North American (ESG) and Australian civic groups. Opposition Radio and TV broadcasters, Paltalk administrators should be commended for their service.
Dishonourable Mention: PFDJ-led websites of lies and more lies. The confused Meskerem joins their rank for scoring to its own team and because it is so confused it still doesn’t know it yet.
Asmara University graduated thousands of students. Most of us wanted to prioritize our careers and lives. Very few from us (around 4 in number) who live in South Africa chose to serve the Eritrean cause FULL TIME. Though could have chosen careers (they have at the least a Masters degree), they wanted to be part of greater history. Samuel Bizen and his EMDHR colleagues (Yoel Alem, Fanuiel, Haileab) are carrying the heavy burden of a generation that should have been shared by us all and we are very cognizant of their sacrifice, of EMDHR and Meseley. Those activists will be the true fighters who truly deserve the ‘wesede’ glory.
9. EDA: The Hope
For the first time in the nation’s history since Independence Block of 1949, an important nation-wide body politic was formed in the true spirit of unity in diversity. Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) brought unlikely bedfellows together and tried to find the common in its uncommon members.
Bluntly put: whether as single members or blocks, EDA MUST CONTINUE TO EXIST. Period…that is if Eritrea is going to have any hope of reconciliation and redemption. So my plea to EDA blocks is be kind to each other and see forward. Adhanom, Abu-Sihiel, Mesfin, Abdella adem, Tewelde, Bashir Isaac, Tesfamichael, Hussien kelifa, Qernelios Osman, Weldeyesus Amar, Sheik Hamed Turki, Tedla Bayru, Abdella Idris, Mengesteab Asmerom, Tesfay Degiga, Ahmed Nasser, Mihret G/Yesus, and other prominent politicians, please remember that your reconciliation and rapprochement is the most important matter in our struggle for better, reconciled Eritrea.
10. In Conclusion Omar Hakito: Eritrea, the Nation
The Eritrea that identified itself as a living being in 1950s and 1960s, the Eritrea that refused to die quietly and fought for its existence and dignity in 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the Eritrea that celebrated its self-determination in early 1990s, where is that Eritrea?
Eritrean patriots have died a quite death inside Eritrea and in sidet. How many ELF leaders and activists, pioneers and veterans of our struggle passed away in the last decade? It is downright shameful and poignantly sad our elders like Idris Mohammed Adem, and others have to fade away in foreign nations, not to see their beloved Eritrea again.
Where is that Eritrea?
Omar Hakito, a veteran patriot, aptly represents Eritrean trajectory and fate. Protested Eritrea’s union with Ethiopia (death), and spent the rest of his life for independent cause, voted along with Aboy Weldeab in referendum of 1993, the octogenarian Abona Omar Hakito was long rumoured to be dead under the devilish PFDJ hands or in jail. Now we learned where he is at. Of all places, in Djibouti….in exile.
For me that sums up the tale of the decade: Eritrea is exiled. Either those who are leaving it daily (around 2,000 monthly) or want to leave it (the rest of the population), the ultimate truth of the decade is Eritrea in its essence is found in exile.
Let us find the nation. Let us find ourselves.
May 2010 be the year of good tidings. And may the decade be when we all go home. May it be the decade of justice, kindness and better luck. May it be the year and the decade of reconciliation, wisdom, and peace.
Welcome Kindest Decade, hands down!