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Negarit 127: the Mountain That Gave Birth to a Mouse

Ramadan Kareem. This is a special month, and it brings memories though most of my childhood I lived under curfew. Someday I will tell you about characters I associate with Ramadan—Amm Bekhetiay Mohammed Drar Hella, Saleh Ewaale and others. But for toady a simple wish will do; Ramadan Kareem. In addition, I am wishing the PFDJ is gone for good, and that’s why I will proceed with my regular program.

My topic is about the GiE proposal that we have been working on for a few months now. I will start with an appreciation for Setit Media.

Setit the media outlet, not Setit River

Recently Setit published survey results about the public reaction to the GiE initiative. They did an impressive job and I have no doubt in time Setit will explode reach its full potential and excel in what it delivers. Such an undertaking requires perseverance, hard work and dedication. I hope Setit will stay focused on national issues and shun distracting topics. I would also like to see them focus less on attracting audience and more on producing good quality content. If they do that, the audience will surely come.

There are hundreds of thousands of viewers and someday many of them will outgrow their obsession with social media verbal wrestling and look for good content. And that will help the nescient media outlets to grow steadily without need for shortcuts. We are in dire need of a revolution in the Eritrean media to be play our roles in promoting knowledge and the ideal of freedom of expression.

Setit’s survey

I worked for years as a marketing professional–I managed consumer and trade surveys, product development, brand positioning, advertising, and promotions. I believe in focus groups and market research. However, I am skeptic about surveys that start from the wrong or vague premises that produce skewed findings.

At one time I was the sales and marketing manager for a large FMCG company in the tri-cities of Saudi Arabia: Al Khobar, Dhahran, and Dammam. I had a tough director, a veteran of the American beverage industry who taught me a lot. However, despite the steady growth I achieved, he always insisted I was not doing enough based on the market share surveys. That frustrated me!

One of the companies that did the surveys was the high profile MEMRB, a bureau owned by Giorgos Vasiliou who later became the president of Cyprus.  I knew a few people who worked at the Bureau—the late Ustaz Suleiman, Hashim Arabi, and others. Thanks to them, I discovered the method they used in retail surveys and found the sample outlets they monitored to come up with market share figures. That is when I devised a plan to get the director to get off my back.

I secretly approached the sample outlets and provided them with merchandizing coolers, credit lines to increase they inventory of our products, and promotional items: keychains and Frisbees.

In two months, I managed to increase our market share from 42% to over 61%; obviously the sales figures didn’t increase that much. My director whose golden yardstick was market share survey data stopped bothering me. From there on, I was gliding and soon was promoted to a regional manager. It’s good to know the tricks of any game.

Years later I confessed to the owner of the company and he laughed his head off. He said, “You achieved sales growth that kept the production line going, and that is the only tangible measurement I liked—market share is the concern of marketing people.”

So, Setit didn’t pull tricks to come up with the results, and their findings shows the GiE initiative is the favored by most Eritreans. We are on the right track.

However, I feel the cross section of the sampled respondents is tilted towards the wealthy part of the Diaspora and doesn’t reflect the views of the less fortunate, the refugee in the Sudanese camps, and other camps in Ethiopia, Yemen, etc.

In the future, I suggest that surveyors make the questions less corny; do away with nskha/nskhi jargon and construct the questions in a gender-neutral manner. Good job Setit. Thumbs up!

The GiE proposal

The initiative that started by Saleh Younis’s article is the topic of wide discussions. I am happy with the reaction of the true colleagues whose political maturity and level of commitment to the struggle, according to my experience dealing with them for the last few decades, is stellar and they are positive as expected. I am confident they will keep doing what it takes to work towards the realization of the GiE. With hard work, npo doubt the proposal will reach its destination.
Since the launch of the GiE proposal, the people involved had carried out extensive consultations and discussions with many people. Overall, I sensed excitement and a spirit of positivity. However, as you can imagine, no one expects everything to be rosy. It is not.

With apologies, I would like to tell the distractors that there is enough determination to ensure the work continues. And as always, if I see any tricks, or exclusionary moves, I promise I will share it with you. I was determined to do my part to see that the initiative will not face the fate of past initiatives that were damaged due to bad judgments, or by those who focus on egos and narrow interests. I know how much the Task force has invested in it and how much I have invested in it.

Therefore,  I promise that if I see hindrances, I will expose it for the public to deal with the culprits in its own way. And I am sure no one will tolerate three cards monte games in the name of a worthy cause. The Eritrean struggle for justice is not a hiding place for people lurking to sway it to serve their selfish, narrow interest.

“The mountain went churned and gave birth to a mouse”

(The original Arabic saying is, تمخض الجبل فولد فأراً  – its Tigrinya equivalent is, “ነዚኣ ክትግዕታስ ክንድዚ ትርህጻ!)

Staying true to my promise, I will tell you about a few distractions that I have observed. I wish the few distractors stopped spreading rumors, selling, and reselling their paranoia and conspiracy theories. I wish they stopped confusing people. They simply do not support anything that doesn’t serve their narrow agenda and their egoistic concerns. I promise not to lose focus but if push become shove, in due time I will spill it all though no one has an energy to waste on petty squabbles.

As you know, the project is far important than the super inflated egos, confused politics, the obsession with killing initiatives, and often playing negative roles–uncountable meetings, consultations, and analyzing imagined conspiracy theories about GiS just to kill the initiative. Below are a few observations of actions unbecoming of people who claim they are struggling for a national cause.

  1. First, the initiative is not a weekend or a hobby project. If anyone doesn’t understand its weight, let’s wish they stay away. There are a few people who are so spoiled that they have become professional opposition. They are so comfortable whining and boasting forever.
  2. Second: A few people have asked if the GiE initiative is funded. It isn’t. Unfortunately, there are people who do not function unless they see funds. It’s the usual Dellalas (Brokers) mentality that gave the opposition a bad name. Remember voluntarism is not alien to Eritreans. Only client organizations ask for money before they do their job. Let the government handle the issue of funding.
  3. Third: Some fear the GiE project is so big a project that if it fails it will damage their reputation. And they hesitate in making decisions. However, does the opposition have a reputation to worry about? The general reputation is so damaged the GiE can be a facelift for the opposition’s ugly face.
  4. Fourth: Many are concerned with their partisan interests. The GiE task force does not intend to get involved in intra-organizational issues; and I hope some of the personalities humble themselves a little, especially those with hallow organizations.

That is the mountain which gave birth to a mouse! Just like the distractors who cannot come up with constructive input but mouses. But since it is “Render… to the things that are Caesar’s”, for fairness sake, I had to lay it down for youفاقد الشئ لا يعطيه. (one with no reputation shouldn’t worry about losing it.)

I hope the distractors realize this project will not accommodate the usual partisan bickering. It’s not a ladder for overly ambitious individuals to climb to wherever it is they want to climb.

And Eritreans have become conscious

See! We are maturing because the public is involved and well informed. The tides are turning as the oppression and recklessness has reached its Ebb. Therefore, no one should tolerate making games out of the misery of Eritreans– be it from within the PFDJ or those who have adopted its behavior, those masquerading inside the doorless opposition camp. The broom should be able to sweep every litter on the way.

I see our cause is maturing and it is in a better state than any time before. Does the rooster agree with me? Yes the rooster confirmed we are maturing, and tides are turning against our tormentors.

We are doing fine and maturing fast, more prepared than any time before. The situation, though at the expense of our beleaguered people, is ripe for change. Our sufferings and the loss of lives in abhorring escapades, pushing Eritreans into wars should stop. That is enough to reason tighten the belts and resist so that the Eritrean citizens prevails. The struggle will bear fruit and Eritrea will be free, peaceful, and embrace its children. Our youth will cease to be cannon fodder in wars that’s not of their choice and they understand. It’s time they are enabled to break the shackles and be free.

I salute the honest members (the honest) of the Eritrean armed forces. I wish the culprits committing crimes in the embarrassing war they are waging on the name of Eritrea, are warned. I wish they stop adding to the mountains of troubles that Eritreans will have to deal with for a long time to come.

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

Born and raised in Keren, Eritrea, now a US citizen residing in California, Mr. Saleh “Gadi” Johar is founder and publisher of awate.com. Author of Miriam was Here, Of Kings and Bandits, and Simply Echoes. Saleh is acclaimed for his wealth of experience and knowledge in the history and politics of the Horn of Africa. A prominent public speaker and a researcher specializing on the Horn of Africa, he has given many distinguished lectures and participated in numerous seminars and conferences around the world. Activism Awate.com was founded by Saleh “Gadi” Johar and is administered by the Awate Team and a group of volunteers who serve as the website’s advisory committee. The mission of awate.com is to provide Eritreans and friends of Eritrea with information that is hidden by the Eritrean regime and its surrogates; to provide a platform for information dissemination and opinion sharing; to inspire Eritreans, to embolden them into taking action, and finally, to lay the groundwork for reconciliation whose pillars are the truth. Miriam Was Here This book that was launched on August 16, 2013, is based on true stories; in writing it, Saleh has interviewed dozens of victims and eye-witnesses of Human trafficking, Eritrea, human rights, forced labor.and researched hundreds of pages of materials. The novel describes the ordeal of a nation, its youth, women and parents. It focuses on violation of human rights of the citizens and a country whose youth have become victims of slave labor, human trafficking, hostage taking, and human organ harvesting--all a result of bad governance. The main character of the story is Miriam, a young Eritrean woman; her father Zerom Bahta Hadgembes, a veteran of the struggle who resides in America and her childhood friend Senay who wanted to marry her but ended up being conscripted. Kings and Bandits Saleh “Gadi” Johar tells a powerful story that is never told: that many "child warriors" to whom we are asked to offer sympathies befitting helpless victims and hostages are actually premature adults who have made a conscious decision to stand up against brutality and oppression, and actually deserve our admiration. And that many of those whom we instinctively feel sympathetic towards, like the Ethiopian king Emperor Haile Sellassie, were actually world-class tyrants whose transgressions would normally be cases in the World Court. Simply Echoes A collection of romantic, political observations and travel poems; a reflection of the euphoric years that followed Eritrean Independence in 1991.

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  • Brhan

    Saleh Ramadan Kerim to you to too.

    GiE, I understand , what is GiS?

    You said:
    As you know, the project is far important than the super inflated egos, confused politics, the obsession with killing initiatives, and often playing negative roles–uncountable meetings, consultations, and analyzing imagined conspiracy theories about GiS just to kill the initiative.