HardTalk: Straying From Their Fathers’ Way (Part-IV)

For over ten years, we have been defending the rights of our minorities by deflecting all kinds of bashing, putting their grievances in prospective, and at times sharing possible solutions to their predicament. We were doing it, even when our Muslim brothers were labeling us based on their taste left and right for over ten years. Yeah, all was and is just to show them our heavy heart and hard sweet on the end of the stick. We had pain to hear that all the years. We were asked tolerance. We did. But tolerance was only when it fits their bill and wasn’t reciprocated to this date. Never did.

Knowing that I am not from the souls who knew neither victory nor defeat, I learn something from the speech “Citizen in a Republic” from Sorbonne, Paris, on April 23, 1910. From the speech I took into heart the following words: “……., the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause, who at best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly……..” I took the issue of diversity “up front” to find solution, even in the face of all kinds of odds from both sides. Unfortunately these days, and it is my observation, I saw lack of understanding and sympathy to the daily victimization of the highlanders from our Muslim brothers. It is quit astonishing. I just realized in our debates on “Said Saber’s” article of February 22, 2012, posted at this website. I hate to write about this sensitive subject, but I have to do it, to defend the victims of my people, not only from the regime, but also from the bashing that comes from the other side. I have to do it, the same as I did to defend the other side to bring justice and some understanding.

How many times did we adore, celebrate, and tried to emulate our icons (Ibrahim Sultan, Abdel Kadir Kebire, Idris Awate) from their side, who by the way understood the need of their compatriots from the other side to unite their people. Who forgets the memorable of sharing their dishes as a symbol of unity by our two giants wolwol and Sultan, the recognition of indispensability of the highlanders in the success of the armed struggle by Idris Awate, the patriotism of Abdel Kadir Kebire who was the first martyr in the political battle of his time for independent Eritrea, the lion of Mai Araba (Ras Tessema) who defied the emperor and didn’t even vote for federation. The giants didn’t bash their compatriots but extend their hands to bridge their people. It is irony: every thing is eclipsed when it comes to us. What happens with the generation that follows them? Where is the tolerance and magnanimity we have learned from them? There is no excuse to bash your compatriots and lump with the tyrant who doesn’t have any mercy even for his confidants who became instruments of his state machine. Who will deny that the mistrust did consume our energy and fomented divisions along religious lines? Hey, rectifying our reality is one tall order to avoid our stagnation and Hobbesian war (the war of all against all).

Unity For Humanity

While the totalitarian regime in Asmara is oppressing indiscriminately (economically, politically, socially) to all sections of our society, our brothers still “dare to tell us” that we are the beneficiary of the regime (the Tigrigna-regime they love to call it). In their own eyes they are the only victims of the regime. What a sad story it is! The fact is, the regime is a totalitarian regime and has subordinates from all sections of our society. The culprits are there for history whether they are dead or alive even from your own.

Whatever behind these sadness it is, even after all these unbearable predicament, seeing the tragedy in their own eyes, dying in the high sea, dying in the hot desert of Libya and Sinai, subjecting to the profit of human traffickers, losing their vital organs (for human spare parts), and leaving the country in droves to be refugees in our neighbor countries; but still in their own heart they are not victims of the regime but beneficiaries. What else can change their hearts and see the problem as their own problem? Really I don’t have any answer. It makes it worse when I hear from them to tell me that it is an act of our own (the highlanders). These among others open the door to suspicion? If it doesn’t, then what is it? Now it makes me think in retrospective even to believe about the illusive Ali Salim, that he wasn’t one person per se, rather a group effort to reflect their perceptions and feeling about the reality of Eritrea today under that pen name. Don’t get me wrong; when articles are written under pen names, it leads you to all kind of suspicion, especially when they talk about our sociopolitical ills.

The suspicion that rift over our debates stems in part of lack of transparency. It becomes as source of norms of our conduct presenting all kinds of obstacles and constraints to tackle our common problem. It is sad we can’t be united even to the cause of humanity.

Our Co-Dependency to Each other

We need each other. We can’t live one without the other. That is the reality. But we are on two paths diverged into the woods to attain the same goal. Why can’t we have the same one path to clean the woods and reach the destination? It cuts the time and energy by half that each diverged path would take us. If the inertia for change persisted we will still be there tomorrow despite our dreams may not be. That is the tendency to resist changes in our state of motion as physics described it. I am not talking beyond sober probability. There is an objective reality out there if we can see them with the same prism. As Abraham Lincoln once has said “calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg,” we can’t view our reality through our beliefs, attitudes, and values, but rather through empirical truth learned by observations in their actual status and relations, all in the domain of science. I don’t want to delve into abstract science, but just to give hint that one taste for something doesn’t ultimately give the wholesome definition of anything other than being one property from the many.

But let me go back to the co-dependency of the two divides and make a kind of plea to resolve our differences. About two years ago on Feb 10, 2010 a document entitled the “Eritrean Covenant” was published at The goal of the authors as indicated in their introduction was to revive the Eritrean covenant. I don’t think the message of the document will resonate without interlocutors. Two years later now, we don’t know the authors of the document. They didn’t come out from their comfort zone to talk with their counterparts. For sure the document will not be taken as a real document if the owners of the document are not known to their counterparts and the public at large. Remember their counterparts may also come with their own prescription. If their intention was, take it as is or leave it, then they are not serious on the issue they have raised. Here is my challenge to the authors: Come out from the virtual world and discover the real world to discuss your issue in a round table as it matters to all of us. As the sun sometimes teased us, playing hide and seek behind the clouds, we can’t find you for two years from your hiding. Come to the open and help us to resolve our problem and stop the mistrust that is taking us into unfamiliar path.

Leaders And Lifters

The Scripture says I spoke because I believe. President Kennedy recognizing the importance of those words, announced his intention and he said “we are going to the moon by the end of the decade.” When he set his goal, the technology and science to do it wasn’t there. His government assembled a team of talented people; nine years later it happened. That is leadership.

The opposition camps need leaders who set goals and fight to make it happen. The leaders should be problem solvers determined to achieve their goals without flip flapping on making decisions. Leaders must have the following ingredients to have willing followers: integrity, trust, consistency, follow through, and results. Even at a time the public are not sure about the decision taken (whether or not right decision) they may trust on the integrity alone not to cast doubts on their leadership.

Integrity breeds consistency. Leadership’s inconsistencies are often signs of lack of confidence, direction and forethought. Right action may not be easy to happen often, but leaders must show what it takes them through their decisions and convictions. When integrity and consistency maintained, positive relationship and success will happen as a result.

There is one absolute truth: In a team of leadership focused on a common goal, there should be always a shared leadership. The leadership should have supportive bases that help the public to recognize and lift up their ideas and efforts. If leadership is manipulated by the influence of outsiders, it loses its credibility. I am afraid the current leadership of ENCDC is losing its credibility in handling the issue of stakeholders who played a big role to the success of the congress. The integrity of the resistance force is at stake, affecting the balance of the equation. Whatever reversal of the decision they are taking, they must bear the consequences. Fighting against civic organizations and youths is unproductive and will take us nowhere.

At this critical time, EDA is clearly resisting to be transformed and are hindering ENCDC from moving forward. They are acting against the process where they could build trust with the public. EDA members (who are members of the National council) are still working to their agendas as oppose to the responsibilities of the national council given at the congress. They saw the success of the congress is against their interest and hence all kinds of subversive activity against ENCDC. My view is simply this: EDA hold all the executive body in the ENCDC, and if they don’t allow themselves to be transformed into ENCDC structure as a soul leadership of the opposition, nothing will be accomplished. There is no need for an umbrella within umbrella. That is the challenge we are facing. The public as a force of change has a stake to change the archaic and antiquated existence of EDA.

To our youth, welcome the recent unity of the two youth organizations. The current challenge of Eritrean politics is your challenge. The forces of change will be on your side as you take the lead in the current situation. Be new faces with new mind to heal our people and our nation.


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