Negarit 235: Consulting The Mirror

Philosophy is crucial for understanding life and nature, creation, and death.

It also helps us find answers to questions we raise about the PFDJ’s oppression of Eritreans, their cruelty, and their warlike behavior.

Religious fanatics, and primitive superstitious people, discourage philosophy, they think it’s a vulgar word and an exercise in vanity. Why?

Nouns identify and describe things, but sometimes they contradict with our perceptions, particularly when manipulated by politicians and rulers.

Some names are dear to some but embarrassing to others; but it doesn’t mean we have the right to change others’ names due to prejudice.

Why have Eritreans failed to reign on the PFDJ rulers, why has the nation failed to stop its excesses?

As we seek answers to such questions, in a way, we are philosophizing.

These are the main topic of today’s Negarit 235, so let’s philosophize.

What’s with Names?

Nouns are special; they identify and describe things, even if we perceive them wrongly. Some proper names are dear to some and embarrassing to others. Specially to rulers when it hinders their plans and goals. Since they want to erase the collective memory of the ruled, they quickly resort to changing names and embark on social re-engineering. The PFDJ changed many traditional geographical names in Eritrea.

A man named Hagos (Joy) could be the most miserable person; a woman named T’egisti (Patience) could be impatient. Adults who do not like the names given to them by their parents, can change them. But does any prejudiced person have the right to change the names of others?

We are still philosophizing.

Why does the PFDJ hate some nouns and consider them taboo or vulgar? And one of the terms they hate is Qebila (tribe). Embarrassingly, some misinformed political novices consider Qebila an insult. So, let’s philosophize on Qebila.

Do you know how many tribes there are in Eritrea? Is the term an insult? And why do the novices use it to belittle groups they are prejudiced against? Do you know the Tigrinya Enda is the equivalent of a Qebila, a tribe?

Societies progresses from hunter gatherers, then they domesticate animals, then they settle, become farmers and establish larger villages. Meanwhile, they develop from family units into bigger groups and tribes as society develops. Eventually, Qebila losses its influence with urbanization.

Societies benefit from cities as they provide education, proper sanitation, running water, healthcare, job opportunities, transportation, and general growth. But it’s not absolute, since, for instance, the value system in urban areas is inferior to the countryside. Perseverance, ethics, respect, cooperation, and self-reliance are superior in the countryside than in the city. Yet, that is not absolute.

So, for a minute, forget your tshAate Bhereat (9 ethnic groups) mantra and remember that Eritrea has many tribes, tribal confederations, and clans that, probably many, have never heard of. For instance, let’s see the Beni-Amer Tribal Confederation:

Usually not many know that the Beni Amer is a confederation of several tribes who collectively identify themselves as Beni Amer, not as Tigre as the PFDJ social engineers decided. The Beni Amer is traditional, it was not created by the PFDJ’s social engineers, but developed naturally and organically. So, Beni Amer (descendants of Amer), means Deqi-Amer, just like Deqi Teshm, Deqi Andu, and the many tribes in Eritrea. Do you know there is a component of the Beni Amer named Hamasien, after a region in the Eritrean highlands where the capital Asmara is located?

A virtual tour of Eritrea?

Those who know are not the target here; the young are. I am trying to give you a virtual “Zura’mo nhagerka” tour, unlike the too politicized PFDJ indoctrination tours—which it claimes preserve national unity! Yes, by keeping citizens ignorant and making them think they are fine without justice and freedom.

I am sure you have seen seven-year-old shepherds driving animals many times their weight. An ignorant citizen is easily controlled by rulers  and their cadres, and is just driven like the animals  shepherded by a child.

The Compass-Oriented Names

We are still in a virtual tour, Zura’mo nHagerka!

Eritreans had names for their regions that evolved from ancient times. Most of these names are being erased and replaced by twisted names as per the PFDJ’s political fashion. Who are the Habab? Who are Deqi Teshim, who are Bet MaAla, who are Bet Mussy, and many others? The PFDJ history classes doesn’t mention that. Many names are methodically disappearing from the collective memories of Eritreans. And it is for no reason except the infatuation with the Marxist-Leninist ideology of compartmentalizing segments of the people that formed the old Russian federation.

The states in the Soviet federation were distinct, like Estonia, Lithuania, Armenia, and had evolved before being swallowed by Russia. Among them were many countries whose names end with Stan suffix: Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, etc. I knew a friend who called it Gezakistan, with an Eritrean accent and one hears Christianstan; that is what he thought it was. The suffix Stan is Persian for land (the equivalent of Adi ot Ad in Eritrea), as in Addi-Paki (land of Paki): Pakistan: Addi Afghan (land of Afghan): Afghanistan: Adi Kazakh (land of Kazakh): Khazakstan.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was relatively easy for each to go its separate way because, just like Eritrea, they had naturally (though advanced) developed into nation states. The PFDJ copied that model and implemented it in Eritrea.

There is an American saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,”; the PFDJ and its infatuation with social engineering tried fixing Eritrea that was not broken, at least in the geographical sense. True, it was tired of fighting, exhausted by successive occupations and lack of freedoms, chained by the lack of education, and crippled by the lack of proper diet and healthcare. Instead of embarking on these immediate problems, the PFDJ embarked on its social engineering projects. And that old infatuation is continuing to this date—Viva China, Viva Russia!

Occupying governments made changes that fit their aspirations all over Eritrea. For instance, the Seraye Barka border was changed by the British Military Administration, which also proposed the amalgamation of several small tribes into one group for electoral purposes. However, Eritreans fought to own their destiny; a liberation government shouldn’t have acted like an occupying power.

Governments make changes, but not whimsically like the PFDJ has been doing for decades. Changes in the lives of supposedly free people should not be imposed on them without their consent. But Eritreans do not have councils; Abi Argen, the big bully decides for the nation after debating issues with his mirror image. He then passes it as a proclamation, then his naïve or ignorant supporters defend it, ignite conflicts to defend, and treat it as if it were a word of God!

As we all know, the names of regions were systematically delegitimized under the pretext of bolstering national unity! Well, Eritreans were more united when their regions carried the names they knew; they struggled and liberated their country without disrupting anything, carrying their traditional identities. But the PFDJ introduced compass-direction based names and replaced the traditional names. What Eritrea gained from all that failed exercises is evident. As they say, “the reality on the ground is proves the damage”. Indeed, it’s an open exhibit.

Years ago, I wrote a satire in which I said, following the compass direction names, the names of villages should also be replaced by numbers to erase the past. Then citizens’ names would be replaced with numbers; for instance, I would be known as Anseba/3/121/11. And citizens will carry a colorless, tasteless social ID. Finally, we would be united and identified with a standard new ID number, like packages in the Amazon warehouses or like a carplates.

Let’s switch to scholarly-like mode for a minute!

I mentioned scholarly, didn’t I? Eritreans talk about Sudanese and Ethiopian regions, districts, and ethnicities with so much ease but in the case of Eritrea, doing the same is considered blasphemy, according to the PFDJ doctrine. People are so intimidated that many have internalized that political redline and do not engage in serious scholarly debates. They careful not to cross that unclear, shifting red line the PFDJ drew. Do you believe the  saying “ignorance is bliss”?  I don’t. I think it’s cripples, not to the limbs, but the brain.

Zura’mo nHagerka…

I am providing this tour similar to which the PFDJ would not dare inform provide. They are focused on keeping you ignorant by denying you the knowledge of the context of many issues. They are obsessed with over-promoting their twisted partisan perspective.

Does knowing all that make you more informed and understanding, or more bigoted and foolish? You decide.  For me, it has been liberating, and I feel like I know my country and its mosaic cultures. I hope you feel the same joy. Knowing that increased my love for my people and made me appreciate the natural diversity of Eritrea, I wish all of you feel the same. And that will inject a positive attitude in all of you.


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