Negarit 80: ኩንታል ብልቱግ – A Sack of Millet – كيس دخن
In the sixties and early seventies, when youngsters wanted to join the ELF, they were told they have to consume one quintal of millet, beltug, and then they can join. Starting in the mid-seventies, the youth joined in their thousands and overwhelmed the fronts. Assimilating the mostly urbanite new arrivals with the mostly countryside combatants was a tough undertaking that the fronts weren’t prepared for. It required serious efforts, but slowly the composition of the fronts changed. And at long last Eritreans achieved their independence. But what followed is a sad phase and it is still continuing. The post-independence regime failed in creating a peaceful and stable country that lives under the rule of law. That has led to the polarization of Eritreans, particularly in the Diaspora that is made up of exiles and refugees.
In an earlier edition of Negarit, I gave an example to explain the reason for the prevailing narrow mindedness that has damaged the minds of a fringe group of Eritreans:
If we lock someone in a room with a small hole on the roof, the person will believe the outside world is what he sees through that opening. And many Eritreans have fallen prey to that tunnel vision, they think Eritrea is a virtual country located in the Facebook continent under the lordship of President Mark Zuckerberg. Its residents are so disconnected, so self-centered, and so narrow minded they think they represent Eritrea. They think they have more rights and say in Eritrean affairs than the other citizens simply because they declared so. They do not realize their medieval, racist and bigoted thought has no place in Eritrea. Regardless, I am becoming suspicious because I cannot find a tenable explanation for their indecency, rudeness, and crude primitive attitudes.
Brawls and fighting attract crowds. That is evident in the sidewalks on major cities where painters, musicians and other artists perform for the public. Only a few people, if any, gather around them. But if two people fight, and if there is a drop of blood, large crowds gathers around them, sometimes blocking the streets. That is exactly what happens in social media platforms: brawls and fights attract large crowds. And some of those who appear on live shows instigate fights to attract large crowds that gives them the illusion they are movers and shakers of Eritrean politics. No humility. Worse, they believe they are journalists!
Journalism is a discipline and a talent like any other profession. For some people to act as a wrestling ring referees and then consider themselves journalists is not only laughable, it’s despicable.
“I want to interview you” a caller once said to me. I asked, who are you. He said he has a media outlet called so-and-so network. I struggled to be nice but finally I declined since I haven’t heard or read anything from that person who thinks he is journalist simply because he can talk. I have been doing this for close to 30 years and I get irritated when people call me “a journalist” because I am not. I am just a conscious citizen doing my part and what I do happens to be something I believe I have the skill for. But I will never pretend to be a military strategist because I am not. I will not pretend to be a lawyer because I am not. I will not pretend I am a doctor because I know nothing about the profession except what I see when I go to the hospital. I will not pretend to be something I am not.
When people do not realize they neither have the skill, nor the experience, or the knowledge of the issues they want to talk about, disaster follows. We see it all over social media. Some who never managed a kiosk confidently speak about the economic strategy Eritrea should follow, or about forming a government in exile. People who hardly know one foreign word beside their mother tongue, speak about linguistics and what language others should speak. People who hardly finished grade school, try to dictate the literary language of others. People who hardly ventured outside their villages talk about regional politics and relations. Humility is badly needed.
Sadly, these people, the fringe, are wreaking havoc in social media platforms and the faint-hearted think that Eritrea is on the brink of extinction. In fact, Eritrea is in a dire situations for lack of the basics of life, and the social media loudmouths are exasperating the situation. Is someone who preaches civil war and ethnic strife a risk to Eritrea?
First, they are committing a crime and that is what we should focus on, and then, yes they can cause some damage, but Eritreans are not that naïve to play with fire. The fringe elements can instigate some foolish criminal to stab a priest, they can beat up someone for having a wrong religion or ethnicity, but that is all the diaspora fringe individuals and groups can do. And since flies cannot live in clean surroundings, they must create trash. That, they are doing on social media platforms.
Then there are the nice people who are so concerned with the bickering they want me to reply to whatishisname. Have we lost our minds? Why would I bother to reply to every lowly person who runs his foamy mouth? If someone is not in the justice camp, and I have been in it for many-many years, I do not know them. However, even the newly arrived youth, most of my audience, are clean, humble and patriotic Eritreans who were robbed of their time by the PFDJ. They are proud Eritreans and I am very proud of them all. But I do not communicate with indecent and vulgar people simply because they speak my language or a language I understand. The spirit of Eritreaness must reflect in their behaviors for me to consider them friends or even acknowledge them.
Now, what do you do if you are sitting in a place with an open window, and then flies get in and annoy you? I think, you immediately close the window.
I have a question for all of you: why do you keep those who buzz and annoy you in your friends list? Do you enjoy being annoyed? And I have a suggestion:
- Squash any disrespectful person, vulgar and indecent, and block them. Believe me you can reclaim your sanity. I did the same and I am doing fine except that a few friends keep sending me materials from those I blocked. Now, sorry, but I will block anyone who sends me materials from the known foulmouthed people.
- I will make avatars and I beg you all who agree to put it on your profile to promote the housecleaning exercise on social media. I hope you publicize that, and then we can claim a clean discussion environment.
- If you are annoyed by a comment and have the urge to respond, don’t. Think it over. Will your comment solve the problem or make things worse? Do you control your temper, or your delivery will be worse than the one that annoyed you? Will you be commenting because you feel you can achieve something, or you just want to appease your friends, ethnic members, or sect? Are you qualified to engage in the topic at hand? Answering the above with honesty should help. Let’s be wiser than those who annoy us.
- Let’s elevate our discourse to a higher level remembering the issue is about a country with millions of people, not an individual matter. The racists are pulling us low to the sewage pipes. Whatever fire we ignite will burn others who have nothing to do with the madness. And mostly, those who instigate fires do so after they make sure it will not burn them. Burning others is their hobby. Think properly.
- To the religious preachers: kindly be wise and considerate. There are more than 3 billion Muslims and Christians in the world. Converting one or ten persons, from one religion to the other, will not change anything, but in trying to do that, you will likely exasperate the situation. If you insist on doing that, please keep it away from Eritrean political affairs. I suggest you preach peaceful coexistence, compassion, and building a good, honest, and humble citizen. If what you do creates mayhem, then stop it.
- If you fight with Tesfai or Ahmed in a coffeeshop, the millions of people who happen to share your faith, region or citizenship have nothing to do with your individual fights. It’s personal and keep it that way.
Let’s think positive and work for it