This article is exclusively intended to acknowledge and congratulate developments that took place while I had no idea they did. Please read each in its totality and do not dwell on the details. What I feel right now is no different than what the Seven Sleepers felt the day they woke up. Please help!
The prudent guy that I am, as you know, I hate to say this but you have procrastinated for too long when you know full well that nothing can set you free like the truth. A couple of years ago, if you still remember, we saw what happened and you played ostrich. I don’t blame you! Anyone who stated seeing anything was sentenced “deaf, dumb and blind”. It was so real and so dipped in crocodile tears that all those who thought they had seen something (going very wrong), including your poor old friend here, doubted their eyes and decided it was the nightmare of life without “gogo”. So many people said the head isn’t on the shoulders. We checked. I am sure you did. Believe it or not – the head wasn’t there. We lost the day and they won. The hypocrites that we are, we saw it fit to apologize. We took it a step further and wrote a pile of garbage here and there to say we were wrong all the way. And we were wrong! We went back to bed and they went back to lick. End of story.
The time wasn’t wasted though and a lot has happened in the interim. From what I hear, two National Congresses for Democratic Change were held in Ethiopia. Abul-Hol who has yet to say a word (about the weather conditions in Ethiopia) was installed. As far as I can recall, the aim of the congress was to achieve “democratic change”, i.e. change without excessive bloodshed and towards more democratic governance. That goal was as we all know achieved a 100% in the congress and it was arguably the most democratic change ever achieved. All it took was this: about 300 people gathered in Addis Ababa one day and said they wanted the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) that had ruled the Eritrean opposition for a long time out. The next year each brought another friend and 600 people came back to Ethiopia and the EDA was out of the game peacefully, democratically and without an incident. Well, not entirely without incident. There was a guy who took a couple of his guys and overran a Shawish-Station of one of the organizations in Mekele (who can forget Meqele-TsaEda?!) and stole a bunch of guns. I don’t think anyone was hurt.
To be entirely honest, it was the EDA that took the initiative (to commit suicide) and for cultural restrictions opted for euthanasia and decided to call the 600 people to pull the plug. There was also, of course, a European NGO known as the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) who had tried to put up a show insisting on a less ceremonial suicide for exit. But don’t get too excited. Nobody was hurt. I don’t know if I already broke this news to you. The organization has ever since concentrated on Uqub celebrations and gourmet foods. You may take a look at their “before and after” pictures and see for yourself what a fantastic job they have done. All those Jelfafat in Party T-Shirts, the ShaHmamat with long faces, and the MalaTat on Irish Butter reflecting flash-lights, that we used to see until 2010 are gone replaced by a much older but definitely cuter looking Uqub activists singing “Hush little baby – don’t say a word”. A tip of the hat to congratulate them for their 99th congress (Happy Birthday Parties) in just two years and hope they would at least leave the 100th for Asmara. Please! My mom has to be there for this one.
Of course this opportunity can never be complete without turning a sincere and meditative Indian “namaste!” to the only guy left of the Tadamun group for all the hard work and commitment. This poor guy (definitely a guy) – a hero by all means – never missed one single Eid (including Eid-Abi & Eid-N’uush), Mullid Al-Nabi (and that of every hawaryat), Tsebel (excluding Abune-Aregawi as we all know – and that due to the principled stand on the border issue), wedding anniversary and in some cases birthdays where he did not take the time to write the most heartfelt words to congratulate the Eritrean people on such dates of enormous implication. One particular French “salutations d’une chèvre”, to all the heroes (Abul-Bara’e, Abul-Hayfa’e, Abul-QaynuQa’e, and specifically Abu-Qureiza) in the Eritrean Islamic opposition movement (including everyone who has ever thought of nurturing a goatee for the sake of the Eritrean people), is well deserved in such a modest occasion of this page. They haven’t left a single rock unturned in finding ways, often under difficult circumstances, to embarrass all of us in almost every TV station in the Arab-Islamic world. Their genius has shown in numerous occasions and a typical pattern has emerged where one journalist after another would conspire and corner them to a point of “No Exit” into admitting or just implying from a distance that the PFDJ regime had ever, by way of accident, been unfair to any Muslim anywhere on this planet. They have brilliantly evaded the traps so far and have miraculously emerged victorious in convincing every journalist to the contrary.
My biggest congratulations should under normal conditions go to the Youth Movement – the absolute heroes and true descendants of Berhe Gomida and Tekhle Gerewingna – who after 10 years of one demonstration after another and after leaving so many mutilated and dead friends and peers in the painful ascendancy to heaven have managed to work wonders. To mention some (not all) of their heroic operations tickle YouTube for a mob of courageous young men who had almost captured Yemane Monkey (“alive!”) in New York and managed to escort him safely to his hotel. They deserve a statue next to Pushkin’s in Asmara. Imagine! Given the crime rates in the US, who knows what danger could have befallen the poor monkey on his way to the hotel. Ticklish again and here is the daring invasion of the Eritrean embassy in London by some (not all) of the most outspoken outlaws of the Youth Movement. Their care and responsibility in making sure that nothing, including the dust on their shoes would stain the carpets of the holy dump, was phenomenal. A picture of the President that had been hanging a little off the side on the wall was taken down. Being too heavy for the hero who removed it from the wall, the picture did turn upside down and another hero gently knocked the glass front of the picture with unbelievable dexterity and hand-eye coordination without even scratching a microscopic hole on the holy paper. Don’t be shocked now – no desecration was intended so just say: Bravo deqi Gudamat! And next time, if you are not going to “do something”, don’t even bother to come near Eritrean embassies anywhere on this planet. You should bow down (togombiHkum) and kiss the Ambassadors’ (I insist on the complimentary apostrophe) in each case (was it London, Italy?) for respectfully letting you in unhindered and to the best of their helpless capacity tried to put up with your cheap harassments. There is an unwritten code of ethics for a struggle and it doesn’t include sneaking into embassies like thieves to do “nothing”. Getskum tirHaq! Eritrean embassies are guarded by the sheer probability of gossip of a ghostly hand turning into reality – so watch out next time you walk in. Do you actually take what these mela’akhom zisenbede dhulat are doing to be “struggle”?
I have run out of words for the amazing masses (of “many people” each) who take the time to flood the streets of European cities in “massive demonstrations”, that as we can all feel (I mean literally) have shaken the boots out of the regime in Asmara. I have applied every iteration of the best phrases I can imagine on Google Translate (to other friendly languages), and they all come out as the equivalent of “Shame on You” (with exclamation and quotation marks – the “You” including myself – and that is the problem – because I have never been to one). Excuse my technical literacy! Most fascinating in these demonstrations is the number of people who take it upon themselves to organize the crowds in queues (rigatat) of “sine’srAt giber” and “Erum teQawmo” on the pavements and ensure that the peaceful nature of the Eritrean struggle for change is at worst bypassed only by the Gay Pride Parade. If there are any who revere “the Parade” among you, I do not in any way mean to diminish its significance for its followers. Of course we know the achievements of the latter in reviving the glory of the notorious “qawm’luT”. Please raise your hands with me in prayers to the heavens for these veterans of the struggle for “chains” and experts of “sine’srAt” and repeat with me “ab ries’khum yigberelkum” and add “Hasab lbkhum yesmrelkum” just to make sure they do not appear in the next demonstrations. Ask yourself – wouldn’t you rather be in an “adeytat” demonstration in Asmara singing “polyo maAarey – inquaE deHan metsa’ekaley”, than being mistaken for a docile in “the Parade”?
We all want to have fun watching what anyone would understand as “demonstrations” by people who look like they belong to a bleeding nation of horrors – people who can at least fake anger – at least when the cameras turn towards them or when they scream (with chewing gums) “pawn-pawn Isayas”. We want someone to come and ask us “why?” because we are actually doing something for a change from strolling like “jognanat” and window-shopping like “Awanat”. Did I say anger? There are actually those that are very happy to be there: women who plan on going back to the mall the next day to buy the beautiful dress they had seen during the excursions and uncles who would tell that Cowboy Hats were on-sale on ‘demonstration-avenue’. Now – don’t fake a surprised “when did they have the time to notice anything else in such important events?” It feels something like “afka msay libikha misdebesay”. I have done it myself and I am sure that is what you are contemplating right now! I don’t want you to take advantage of this confidential information on demonstration-shoppers to stash your pockets with shopping bags the next time you show up for demonstrations. If you are going to treat this respectable article of mine as a flyer on shopping techniques, I think that’s where the “sine’srAt” guys should intervene.
The best case scenario for a more lively demonstration would be where the parents (and in our case the parents of the parents on crutches) would respect themselves and stay home while sending only the kids to demonstrate. You may want to stuff their bellies with high-powered candies and a few cans of Red Bull just before you let them loose. “Kids” in this case should be strictly defined to include less than (and not equal to) 18 years of age and this should be ascertained by making sure that demonstration participants undergo “teeth counting” tests. Given the excessive nationalism in us elders, some of us will knock off a few teeth to qualify and some (the “Hatsir Uluu” kind) will be mistaken for juveniles. In that case we have no other choice but to subject all participants to the blade in order to skin-head, baby-to-monkey, into equality from the behavioral inhibitions of aging. You will be surprised (sincerely this time) at how skin-heading makes one feel much younger than what people think them to be. For maximum impact, we need to guarantee supplies of accessories though. Can someone volunteer and ask the experienced organizational affairs mentioned above, if through their well known connections to the process of change from within (excluding Forto of course), they may spy on some smuggling routes for “likhay” or are they just using hydrogenated super cream for now?
Did I already congratulate the Islamic guys? I mean those who carry arms among them that we should not discount by any means. The PFDJ is actually right on this one. Coincidentally (and I feel terribly bad to say this – at least in public – and after squeezing myself a spot among the crowd of good citizens), every single man (and woman if you know any) actually carrying a gun (and actually using it) in opposition activity against the PFDJ regime is a Muslim or a non-Muslim Muslim (i.e. those you would call “aslamay” irrespective of their faith if they strayed in the highlands). I don’t want to stretch it more than it is fair to do so because this is a matter of pure incidence (one in a billion possible permutations of soldier-names) – most (if not all – and I say all) those who actually rode a tank and made it all the way to Forto on January 21, 2013 were (guess what – and take a good guess at this one – I don’t want to put words in your mouth) Muslims. Everyone who has been arrested in direct connection to what is now known as “Forto 2013” was a Muslim. Specifically in this particular incident (please excuse my statistical genius) Muslims, who make up 1% of the Eritrean army at the command level, made up 100% of action against the regime. Well may be not 100% but according to my formula of deliberate bias, any deviations were statistically insignificant. To say it in lay-man’s language, if you have seen any other names in those operational lists, they were those who took a joy-ride on the tanks (for free) or those who had no option but to follow or those that were misled.
Why say this? Why now? Why spoil the moment? These are legitimate questions. But you know what I have said above is nothing but the plain truth. It is sad and disgusting but it is true. Don’t listen to the rubbish about “Jigna serawaitna ab Forto” that you read on the websites and the garbage that you hear on the radio stations by those who are trying to reinvent truth by reengineering the facts in order to fit what they wish Eritrea actually is. But you know what would happen if wishes were horses! Don’t get me wrong but how was it that all the analysts written or spoken did not miss a single question unanswered except one that was never asked: why did the tanks that rolled towards Forto attract this guy and not that one? Why did the arrests cover these people and not those? Why does every unfortunate accident of the regime reach these and not those? You may say it is random – but random is the guy on whose head a piece of rock that you throw from the top of a mountain blindfolded would fall among an army congregated underneath in no particular order. If every time you throw the rock it is landing on the same head, then one of two things is happening: either your rock is aiming at that particular head (because it is loaded) or that specific head is moving more than it should (because it is nuts).
You understand why the PFDJ is a loaded (deliberate) dictatorship with a purpose? It is not some crazy soldier who organized a coup d’état out of the blue and found himself a nation. It is a well planned and badly executed project, whose whole philosophy is the product of a culture of land-grabbers. There is no way in hell you can get around it and in short-cuts. Wencho-integelbeTkayo-wencho! The reason almost a whole ethnic group boycotted the Eritrean opposition and walked out on it, was because the opposition became dominated by Muslims and non-Muslim Muslims. They decided on change from within and said “ngelbTa” and here was “wencho” turned upside down. Sooner or later they will have to face their demons and the sooner the better. My point is simple: don’t bother about what they might think. It is your fight.