Say what you will about outgoing president Trump, and despite the messenger, there are many countries in the word that fit this description, and the country in question is one of them. An epitome of the description. It is a country that recently decided to go to war with itself.
I will not name this country. Suffice it to say that, like its name, it is getting dark in that country, and I do not want to name a dark country. Not dark as in the color that the late Eritrean signer Yemane G/Michael called African Skin, but dark as in gloomy. Though it thinks of itself as superior to its neighbor, Sudan (The land of the dark-skinned), this country’s name also means precisely the same, just in a different language. Here is more hint: the country in question believes it was created 3000 years ago, that it is the first country mentioned in the Bible, that it has direct lineage to the wisest man— King Solomon. Nevertheless, it exudes none of his wisdom. Although the Bible’s book of love— Song of Songs, is attributed to this wise King, this country’s idea of love is “zerefa”, where a man goes to a village and kidnaps a girl of his liking to make her his wife. And many of you may remember soldiers from this country, speaking a strange language we knew nothing of; your childhood memories maybe vivid with the image of soldiers from this country kissing the church walls, praying to God, the God of Solomon, to be on their side as he marched away to burn villages, loot, and rape.
If the above information does not ring a bell, here are more hints. This county, like cows during the rainy season, craves sea salt. It has an insatiable thirst for salted water, and unlike the myths it promotes, it has forgotten that just mere 30 years ago, its sons drowned in the salty water that does not belong to it, humiliated, left to rot in brooks and creeks that do not belong to it, all for the sole purpose of carving a new mere. It has forgotten Santiago’s warning: that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And repeat history it did two weeks ago. The country has gone to war with itself, and no matter how this war will unfold, like all wars, no one has any idea how it will end; whether it will be short-lived or protracted. Its current leader, who fleeced the Noble Committee to secure the once highly respected Prize, for his rhetoric toward peace just got blind. This county’s current leader is a well-read person, but not in the Renaissance, nor Enlightenment, nor Classics knowledge, but well-read and steeped in SHAM. No offense to SHAM. I have read several of them myself.
SHAM is good. So our Ignoble Laureate, veraciously read SHAM and talked SHAM, and the Ignoble Committee was charmed and awarded him the Prize. After this leader pocketed the money and displayed the plaque, he shoved the SHAM and talked like a dictator, and acted liked a dictator and plunged the country into war, returning it to its roots, back to its pedigree, back to the only thing this country knows: Bloodshed, perpetual war. Even with the application of lightweight SHAM knowledge, this country would have fared better because SHAM is not what you are thinking. It is Self-Help and Actualization Movement. But lightweight as he is, the leader of this country confused, “Sky is the limit with Sea is the limit.”
Deja vu.1984, not the Orwellian 1984, but the real 1984, when this country with the longest river could not feed itself because another leader plunged it into war. The world was shocked and sang; we are the world. Brhan Woldu was a survivor and became a nurse, and now she may well be killed by the bombs while she helped the wounded. Irony. Her epitaph may read; survived 1984 when the skies restrained rain—died in 2020 when bombs rained from the skies.
An associated Press piece recently reported that Sudan is bracing for about 200,000 refugees from this country, which decided to go to war with itself. If any person in authority does not see this war as the beginning of protracted instability and a vicious cycle of violence in that country and the region, they must seek counsel from the mother and pastor who have taught him SHAM; that he was a special person, that he is destined for a higher purpose. There is nothing special about him, of course; every child is special to a parent, as the Sudanese proverb goes: every monkey is a deer to their parents.
My fellow Eritreans, subjects of the country that treats its citizens as slaves, your homeland is participating in the war that does not concern it, collaborating with those who once walked our land and spoke that strange language, looted and bombed our people, and even our donkeys. Do not be cowed by the PFDJ. Do not be like cows. Remember the Eritrean adage: cows drink water besides their butchers.
I have no clue how this war will end. I am not Cassandra to foretell the future, and so is the tormentor Isaias Afwerki. But one thing is for sure, the agonies of this war will be felt for decades.
I ask you, my compatriots, those who are cheering this war, do not underestimate this country’s ability to do tricks on you. Some of its dwellers, who are fanning this war, can change to hyenas during the night. And because of the impeccable environmental protection policies by the government of Eritrea, it will not shoot them. And in the morning, they will revert to humans, gleefully swimming in your salty water, quenching their sea salt craving, and when you come to shoot them to claim your healthy sea salt, they will change back to hyenas. The environmentalists in you will say, “Oh, we will not shoot our hyenas.” And then it will be too late, and the hyenas will beget Qtaws and will be fruitful and multiple as the Bible commands. They will wed hundreds of wives and own thousands of concubines just like the wisest king they trace their lineage to. A prophecy will be fulfilled. Do not be fooled by its delay. The Other War has commenced and colonel Jembere immortalized.
May this miserable country and all miserable countries rest! But not in peace