Negarit 229: Peaceful Coexistence
Quite a few people admonished me for not having a face-to-face debate with a man nick named “Aweqe.” I do not debate bigots but stay at a distance from supremacists and fascists to avoid their toxicity.
Let’s start the fumigation
My message is to and about a certain Aweqe who openly promotes supremacism. His bigoted arguments are based on etymology, be it history, religion, or geography, “we are civilizers” he argues, considering his language and his ethnic group superior to the rest.
When a household is overwhelmed by insects, only fumigation solves the problem; the media is overwhelmed with supremacist pollution, and it must be fumigated.
An African who claims to have studied history, considers his ethnic group a civilizer. But Africa was colonized and brutalized with the pretext of “civilizing its savage people”. What would the Congolese and other Africans feel about such insensitivity?
And he argues that says that a nation should have only one language! That means, Switzerland should be dismantled because it is a multi-lingual country. So should Belgium, and many other countries around the worlds! Why are the Deutsch and Dutch not a single entity since they speak different dialects of one language, just like the Tigrayan Agame dialect and the Eritrean Tigrinya spoken in the highlands. A nation with one language that everyone speaks is a blessing; a hegemon promoting one language is a disaster.
Asha Felateeya and illiteracy
In a radio interview, the late Asha Felateeya the famous Sudanese singer of the 1960s was asked if it is true that she is uneducated. She replied, ‘I and my brother AlKashif, cannot read or write.’. AlKashif, was a famous singer and contemporary of Asha Felateeya. She admitted she was illiterate but shared the embarrassment by exposing AlKashif who was not on the spotlight. This time I feel like saying, ‘I and my brother Aweqe doesn’t understand the German language’. He discourages the youth and scholars from reading or believing books written by foreigners! Aren’t all the historians and scholars he quotes foreigners? Since he says the books in Abyssinian monasteries contain all knowledge that needs to be learned, and no need for books written by strangers, I surmise his German must be rudimentary as mine—or he is not saying the truth!
Tigryit Speakers are Landless!
Aweqe is apprehensive of Tigrayit speakers; he accuses them of ‘betraying their Tigrayan roots thinking the religion they converted to (read Islam) would protect them!’
He has annoying argument always warped with etymology, for instance, Barka River is one of the major rivers in Eritrea. He lays claim to that river because the root of the name of the river, Barka, is actually Berekha in his Tigrinya language, meaning forest, wild, no man’s land. It doesn’t belong to the lowlanders who live there! But he says the current residents came with invaders and settled there on a protected nature land. But his etymology led him astray–Barka is not even in Tigrinya, it’s from a Tigrayit (same in Arabic) word meaning Bereka, blessing. And unlike Aweqe’s allegation, there are no Tigrayit speaker claiming to be Tigrayans. Language is acquired and life is not static, it is malleable, constantly changing.
Aweqe wishes to run the affairs of citizens, and their national politics based on primordial mythology; he was Greek, he would claim Apollo and Venus are his grandparents. It’s 2023 and we have people who think national politics and diplomacy must be based on superstitions. That gives them the power to confirm their prejudices. They can depend on primordial rational supported by some religious fanatics in a theocratic hell on earth. Yet, it is good to remember religion doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it is fluid. It depends on its adherents and on how they practice it; some divisively, others, peacefully and spiritually.
Why do I react the way I do
Some people pretend they don’t understand my reactions to what Aweqe says since he is not addressing me personally! But if someone hits your leg with a stick and you react, he can’t argue, ‘I didn’t hit you but your leg, let your leg complain if it wished but not you.’ Such an arguments is irrational and inhuman.
Insult and defame anyone else and they will act deaf and blind, but the moment their religion, clan, language, or region is even in a joke, they raise up violently. That is the problem—Eritreans share their country with diverse compatriots. So, if my people are vilified, and that leg is hit with a stick, I react. That leg might not be a physical extension of my body but since it is an extension of Eritrea, it’s an extension of me.
I wish some people stopped acting like mere spectators pretending to be Roman kings sitting in the colosseum, enjoying a cruel pastime, and watching prisoners fighting wild animals. You do not have the luxury of ignoring or watching silently as bigots and supremacists are wreaking havoc among your people.
- The Abyssinian brutality and savagery are fresh in the minds, there are many of us who lived its repercussions and still do. But Aweqe is trying to perpetuate that usual savagery.
- is no indigenous religion to the region, foreigners brough all religions to our region and converted our supposed ancestors–DNA tests might disappoint the nativist agitators. There is no superior or inferior faith, they are all based on faith. Thinking that one’s faith is superior to others has incubated a culture of savagery, pillaging, and atrocities that the region went through since a millennium, and it’s still going on.
- Importantly, history didn’t start with any religion any religion let alone Christianity which is relatively new when compared to human history. Citizens in a modern nation cannot be defined by their faith because it comes, stays or is forgotten. Our region was exposed with different gods and goddesses thousands of years ago, now not many know that Ashtar and Baal were the idols of the past.
- For years, his favorite punchbag has been the Eritrean Jeberti communities that he blames of rape, enslavement, and heinous atrocities c’[committed against Tigrinya people.” His hate-speech reeks of premeditation genocide, without a blink of an eye.
- A man who boasts of his vast knowledge thinks that language and religion are biological construct, not acquired after birth. Therefore, belonging to a region or a region can make you good or bad based on primordial hate or love. He thinks he is not bigoted by superior to others because he speaks a certain language and professed a certain religion. But with that kind of logic, you can spread any accusations on without the need for substantiations
Fear From A language
Is it surprising then that many Eritreans are reluctant to embrace the Tigrinya speakers because people like Aweqe preach hate and supremacy? When Aweqe’s types speak, what they hear is threats: we are superior to you, we must rule you, you are below our status… and other hateful arrogance pronouncements. That’s how he and his likes are creating enemies between Tigrinya speakers and others. They are endangering the national unity that Eritreans persistently defined themselves with. His obsession with etymology is not helping, he thinks people have to turn back the wheel of history to over a thousand years ago, and that is his perceived small, claustrophobic world that we should live in. I think it will help him if he takes a break from etymology and switches to Epistemology.
Politicizing a language scares people and prevents languages from developing and growing freely, like in a market driven economy, a competition. People understand the benefits of having a common language for all citizens, but that should not be by coercion. And the prevalent and historical supremacist views, in religion, language, culture, doesn’t encourage understanding. Aweqe’s types scare many people by giving them the perception that Tigrinya is a tool of your hegemonic aspirations, in religion, politics, economy, and all other sectors. And as Aweqe and his likes try to become the hegemon, it is natural that others will reject to such views and fight it back. This is not to be understood as condoning the cause or the reaction, but to show its human nature.
Educated people are supposed to ameliorate the damages to societies not to pitch them against each other. People can adore and pontificate tyrants and cruel leaders as much as they like, but they shouldn’t expect the victims to follow them is extolling dictators and killers. But Aweqe doesn’t have qualms in spreading poison to tearing Eritrea to pieces just to have a puritanical fanatic unilingual and uni-cultural state.
Since I remember in life, people like this guy have always been hard working to exclude others, mainly based on religious grounds to clear the way to install themselves as hegemons. Why do you think people are fearful of Tigrigna as a language?
NB: Negarit 229 is a continuation of the topic I started in Negarit 228