The Brewing Nightmare
I know we have a few former commies in here. So let us try to appear “ideological” at least in one paragraph. In a way, it is also the abstract, summary or snapshot of the rest. If you are a lazy reader, a serious person or do not have time for too much BS, read this paragraph and see you next time.
Today’s article targets Peacetime Heroes – the elite – but it is about Wartime Heroes – the riffraff. The two are mutually exclusive in form and substance. The elite talk – the riffraff walk. The riffraff plant the seeds – the elite harvest them. The elite think and plan – the riffraff hack and chop. A dialectical process of “negation and continuity” eternally links the two together. For our purpose, riffraff are eternal – elite are transitional. On the same paragraph (the internet link), the same writer says “immortal is the race where the mortal dies” (also available here page 111). When the elite cease to be of use, their time has come. Society holds a very colorful carnival called “Civil War”, where the current elite commit suicide and a new set of the elite ascend the throne.
The way the Lord intended it to be, life on this planet is automated by something called destiny. Of course, we should do our best to evade destiny so that we restrict its incidence only to those extremes that the Lord intends them to be. We should therefore do our best so that we do not wake up one day to find out that the fairy tales we have been anticipating in “the upcoming change” do not turn out to be songs from the black book of demons. Demons are what we are trying to explain to those who might have forgotten and those who have never known. Demonic are the packages that the Eritrean government and opposition of today are dying to make into reality.
Excuse my frustration but I am sure you are in no better state either, if like the rest of us, you too fell squeezed between a deadly government and a dead opposition having to pick one. The only way you would be obliged to pick one and still exercise your freedom of expression is if you are talking to yourself. People who talk to themselves are effectively silent and for some peculiar reason they are always the majority. These are not Swing Voters, who have not yet made up their minds and who are up for grabs. We see them as silent because they are stuck at the bottom where it hurts and where we cannot hear them. We could probably find ways whereby we could hear what they have to say if we tried a little harder but that is the least of our concerns. Stuck on the tops of the two extremes of the Ivory Tower, we are more disappointed than they are that they do not listen to us and follow our orders. Between the Ivory Tower with the two monsters at both extremes on the top and the Silent Majority there is the vacuum that sucks sound into dumb. Frustrated for not being able to get the orders across, the two monsters give themselves credit for swimming against tides of the deaf and for the uphill battle that either side is waging tooth & nail like there is no tomorrow.
The motivation is straightforward. If the Silent were not passive collaborators of the PFDJ, they would have spoken up against injustice, inefficiency and failed policies. The tegadalai ones say that was exactly what they did years back by rising up, taking arms and defeating Ethiopia, the Soviet Union and little Albania. If the Silent were not the sleeping cells of the opposition, they would have spoken up to defend Eritrea against conspiracies by idolizing expired heroes, by digging trenches of death, micro-dams and a lot more holes for themselves. They would have stayed to fight instead of sneaking through borders to their own miseries abroad. The tegadalai ones say that was exactly what they did by obsessing on the fight to the end as they rose to selfless Jihadis “against all odds” (to use Dan Connell’s).
The people that both these monsters are dying to enlist as foot soldiers in deadly games are those whose only dream is to make it through the day in one piece. These are people, who have no say in what happens to them or to what they own or relate to, cannot scratch without permission or smile before approval. They wait on the leftovers of their own sweat and they run out of tears from too many horrors. Horror is all they have ever known about Eritrea and all they will ever know. They cannot see beyond their noses and do not care beyond the exigencies of missing yet another tentacle of the immediate monster. The future for them is today and now. Hope for them is the few hours they pray for the kids to be home, for the father to win the day’s bread, for the girl to make it to a wedding dress, for the night to evade a nightmare, and for the sun to remember to come out in the morning. Outside this tiny space of nothing, the rest of the world is invisible for them or does not exist altogether. They too are invisible to the world beyond nothing. Here they are numbers with no details, people with no faces and lives with no stories. Why would anyone want to open up what is left of this sad planet of tears to more bullies, abusers and demons?
If you are a responsible Eritrean, you do not need to read this. Go and mind your business. You will never be part of those who are determined to rub our noses on the ground. If you are an irresponsible Eritrean, you do not need to read this. You will do it anyway and you have much better references and manuals beyond Eritrea. If you have already seen videos from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, the DRC, Rwanda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, Bosnia, Syria, Iraq and many other horrors, you do not need to read this. I am sure you would think twice before allowing some nutcase to manufacture the nightmares in Eritrea. This is the bottom-line: AS LONG AS PEOPLE TAKE WHAT WE WRITE SERIOUSLY, IT IS CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT TO PROPOSE THAT ERITREA IS IN ANY WAY IMMUNE TO THE FERTILIZERS OF FAILED STATES OR THE CATASTROPHIC EPISODES OF FAILURE.
None of the countries that I have mentioned and many others including and above all Eritrea should be taken seriously as independent states in the deeply institutionalized sense of Western democracies. Each of them is nothing more than millions of the helpless and miserable souls that I described above lumped together under one roof. The roof, in each case, is as fragile as the daily lives of the millions. The state as the institution of elite groups playing every trick to reach the empty pockets of the poor and an embodiment of their nightmare is nothing but a big lie that does not reflect the reality of so many abused and frustrated dreams.
Underneath these fake institutions of paper tigers is the Pandora Box of Demons. Inside that box are the riffraff – the Wartime Heroes – millions of disgusted, frustrated and silenced angry ghosts in flesh and blood. In a number of the exceptions to the rule of eternal silence, there have been situations when some crooks managed to guess the password to the box and found out at least one unique way of making them speak by breaking the stick and leaving the carrot unattended. Once they started to speak, however, not many countries were lucky enough in getting them silenced again. In every example, the silent spoke anger, hate and revenge compressed over years of hurt and despair, where they were made to bow down and kiss boots just to get along. In every example, they vowed not to be silenced again and they never were, until they soaked everything they touched in blood and everyone they saw in shock.
On January 4, 2005, Maryann Mott (National Geographic News) wrote about the horrors of the Southeast Asian Tsunami and of course horrors are things that you have to personally experience in order to understand. I have never experienced horrors and can only imagine what it would be like for those who go through them. A few days ago, I watched the interview with the 14-year-old Eritrean kid in Sweden who survived the Lampedusa tragedy describing his desperate fight for life from the moment the captain torched the blanket to the moment he was picked by the Italians. He told of the voices trapped in the sinking boat but even he could not tell what went through the minds of the horrified, moments before death. His guess was they were screaming their names and last time messages for loved ones left behind hoping that some ghost would pick the mail. I know that no description, however eloquent, is good enough. I am a bit superstitious though and I believe in instincts and reflexes as the Almighty’s early warnings of plots in some parallel universe.
Maryann wrote “before giant waves slammed … animals [on instinct rather than reason] seemed to know what was about to happen … [some] screamed and ran for higher ground … [some] refused to go outdoors … [some] abandoned low-lying breeding areas … [and some] rushed into shelters … The massive tsunami … rolled through the Indian Ocean, killing more than 150,000 people.” Think of this analogy to the thousands of Eritrean youth stampeding through every crack in the border to get the hell out before it is too late. Do you not agree that they “seem to know what is about to happen”? Would it not be a good idea to take them as early warnings of an impending disaster ready to go? Would you not agree with the popular saying that “to destroy is the strongest instinct of nature”?
Far away in West Africa, Liberia is approximately (almost exactly) the size of Eritrea with an area of 111,369 square km, a population of about 4 million and unlimited resources capable of turning the country into heaven. Just like Eritrea, it borders three countries (Sierra Leon, Guinea and Ivory Coast). It also borders the ocean and is a multicultural community of good people. Liberia is one of the countless places where bad things happened. On April 26, 2012 Helene Cooper (a Liberian journalist), upon hearing that Charles Taylor “had been found guilty of war crimes”, and irritated by the fact that he was condemned not for the crimes he committed in his own country of Liberia, but in a neighbouring country, wrote “Before Mr. Taylor unleashed the tsunami of rape, murder, torture and dismemberment that would engulf Sierra Leone, killing more than 50,000 people and causing hundreds of thousands to flee, there was Liberia.” She continues: “The [freedom] fighters were intent on the revenge killings that would claim hundreds of thousands of civilians from Liberia’s rival ethnic groups” and told the story – just one story out of thousands more horrific – of Mr. Brown who “happened to be Krahn, the same ethnic group” of former President Samuel Doe, “Mr. Taylor’s predecessor.”
“With the civil war raging and Mr. Taylor’s gunmen roaming the country wearing the wedding gowns, blond wigs and Halloween masks [emphasis mine] … Mr. Brown had taken his son to work with him [to protect him from the predators], so the 10-year-old boy was there to witness what came next”, she adds. Mr. Brown’s ghost still hanging around, the executioner walked up to the kid, patted him on the head, and said “don’t cry” just to make the ironic point that demons too have feelings. You should be able to imagine what will no doubt be coming your way sooner than you would like to believe if you know anyone who belongs to the President’s tribe and has a “10-year-old boy”. Hate me as you wish but this moral question is on your nose: would you allow some new brand tegadalai to do to this little boy what that freedom fighter did to that little boy?
I might be exaggerating as you may be smarter and can tell the difference in context. What brings this to Eritrea where 30 years in the trenches have welded us into a chain and tegadelti do not even know who they are or where they belong anymore? So was Liberia until the moment of truth! “Diversity has always been celebrated in Liberian culture, cuisine, music, fashion, language and people themselves” and who other than Eritreans can speak about “celebrating diversity” (with bleach). Unlike the savages of West Africa, Eritreans are law-abiding people who would never go about violating people’s rights. I have never seen an Eritrean brutalizing another Eritrean.
You probably have a different experience. You might even be one of these former tegadelti who are all over YouTube telling of shocking horrors committed with their implicit approval of silence beneath the veil of dreamlike heroism of gomida breaking ceilings to bring an end to the horrors of the silent and peace to little people. Do you personally know of any Eritrean who ever committed brutality towards others? How come we do not see them along the Sudanese border against Rashaida kidnappers, in the Sinai against organ retailers or in the diaspora against the big mouths? I would be lying if I told you I know of anyone for sure. Just like you and a million others, I still get carried away when I hear immortal tegadelti – right from the President down to the bottom in every government and opposition gathering – promising heaven with all the flowers on top and streams of happiness underneath. Who can even guess that people who deliver these hypnotizing speeches during the day would be running butcher shops at night? What options do the majority have other than locking themselves in tears and waiting for the moment of truth to come and break their silent world?
FACES OF IRRESPONSIBILITY
Pray for the rule of law or some form of order to hold on a little longer. It is true that the judicial system in Eritrea is weak and it takes decades and more realistically centuries for a judicial system to mature to the degree where it can protect people from injustice. Do not even think about a judicial system in violent conflict or to regulate the application of violence by monsters during a civil war. No judicial system has ever done that. The good news is that it is not a worry and neither is the boycott of international “protection” organizations – unique to Eritrea since forever.
There is no need for all that. Mark Huband notes, “legal protection played absolutely no part [in Liberia] … no side … [held] prisoners … all perceived enemies, soldiers and civilians alike, were executed … after having been tortured … a horror story pure and simple.” According to Hubard, during the civil war, all parties to the conflict did not even bother to “pay lip service to the laws of war … and they were not wrong in sensing that the outside world cared little about what was going on in Liberia and certainly would do nothing to prevent the atrocities.”
Was that not what the international community did in the Rwandan genocide where hundreds of thousands were hacked to death? Where were all the white people running around as Special Raporteurs, Human Rights advocates, experts in African governance, peacemakers and peacekeepers, and guardians of the human spirit? Where was Sheila Keetharuth, Dan Connell and the Van Reisen doctor promising to close Eritrean embassies and to humiliate the dignity of a sovereign nation? I cannot tell you where they were during the genocide as they were nowhere to be seen. There were a lot of them though before the genocide. There were even UN peacekeepers stationed right where the nightmare took place under their noses. There was even a Canadian General, a very good man. What is the use of being good when you are good for nothing when people need you most? Would not these people have been more useful by reading the warnings of the brewing nightmare than waiting to deal with the nightmare when it happened?
Liberia’s civil war, as Hubard describes, was never “the man-made equivalent of a natural disaster.” It did not fall from the sky or pop out of nowhere like the Tsunami: “it was the culmination of years of political crisis.” The signs of a horror story in the making were all there, but Liberians always liked to believe that their country was unique and one of a kind and the beauty of their cultural diversity and long experience in mutual coexistence would immunize them from the plague. No good Liberian would have believed a word and according to their peace-time politicians that was all nothing but scaremongering. A few years down the road, they were eye to eye with the angel of death. The world watched countless videos (on YouTube) such as that of Prince Johnson, who captured former president Samuel Doe, chopped his ears and chewed them on camera.
There were also videos of 10 year old kids playing their little games. They prepared butcher shop style tree trunks and some ensured regular cleaning of the trunk tops for infection-free services. A mob of these kids would know how to get you to stretch both hands on the surface followed by the legs if the freedom fighter said so. Most of them never missed and were good with machetes through trial and error. This was just a pinch of the mountain of gruesome images in the memories of thousands and thousands of ordinary Liberians that had to go through this on a daily basis. Do you want your grandkids to watch similar videos and praise the history of your struggle and hail your achievements for leaving horror stories and a lasting nightmare as legacy?
Liberia, you may think is an exception. I agree with you. How about checking the hounding packs of hungry teens mauling their opponent’s hearts and gobbling them for lunch in Sierra Leone? How about checking Nigeria, where in countless moments of horror it is a daily morning routine for people to have to pull out the bodies of family members, neighbours and people they have never seen burned beyond recognition and mangled to pieces. What about checking South Sudan where “Two weeks after a massacre here, the stench of dead bodies clung to the walls of the Kali-Ballee mosque. Bloodstains marked the ground; shirts, pants and sandals were still scattered about; and torn pages from the Quran were strewn all over the place.”
These were real people just a few moments before those two weeks unsuspecting and going about the difficulties of their daily chores not knowing that demons were just around the corner. How about I stay away from paraphrasing other people’s reports and you do it yourself and search for your own choice of horror stories of “freedom fighters” in other civil wars.
Our understanding of what we may be talking about when we mention “Civil War” is predominantly shaped by imaginations of the civil wars between the different organizations of the armed struggle. It is also partly shaped by imagining a replica of what happened in Ethiopia, Sudan and many others, where an organized insurgency managed to challenge state power in devastating wars. In spite of arguably unintentional collateral damage on civilians, the majority of direct combat related casualties in these civil wars were armed combatants and hence legitimate targets by belligerents.
These are civil wars that have order and structure and those participating can be taken as negotiating, only violently. In my personal opinion, these are “internal wars” and not all internal wars are “civil wars”. Given the state of opposition in Eritrea and the nature of the issues that are at stake, a similar structured civil war can happen in only one place: Your Dreams! The civil war that we are talking about in Eritrea will be a little different. I will try one of a million possible hypothetical scenarios:
One beautiful morning in Asmara, a power vacuum (temporary state paralysis) created for any of many possible triggers gets out of hand and local armed mobs take charge of the streets ransacking and looting everything that glitters.
The President is in one of his frequent supervision visits to a micro-dam in the outskirts of Adi Abeyto not far from a prison where a few hundred young men “zikhoblelun ziHankerun” are being tortured for both security and tehadso reasons. The President well-dressed and a cowboy hat on top, is having fun surrounded with the usual suspects, veteran tegadelti with canes and FBI styled tough-boy bodyguards from biet-timhirti sewra. All around the very promising micro-dam already collecting a few gallons of water at the bottom and at a safe distance are a few battalions of disgusted warsay whose hands are sore from too much digging and whose eyes are dry from too much crying.
They are following the conversation from body language and of course from the brown leather radios on dimtsi Hafash stuck to the ears. Then one of the veterans walks to the President, leans over and whispers something into his ear and the body language changes. But just like Bush did in Sept 11, 2001, he decides not to appear panicky and lingers there for a few more minutes reassuring that it was just a whisper. By then the news had spread like wildfire. The torture warehouses have broken and the ghosts are out. Prince Johnson had already started chewing the President and skinning his entourage of tegadelti and biet timhirti sewra tough-boys alive a few minutes after the whisper. Up to this point, things are controllable and it is not a civil war yet. The state has not collapsed.
One more day and hundreds of thousands of teens are already negotiating with traffickers or inquiring of directions to the Mediterranean inside Sudanese territories. Across the border inside Eritrea, whole army barracks are vacant and much of the property had been looted by locals. In Sudan and the countries along the human trafficking routes, a humanitarian catastrophe of unimaginable proportions will keep the whole United Nations system and its attachments very busy within days.
Here is where the Civil War will begin. Within days, thousands of other ghosts (real ones this time) are stampeding from long-forgotten refugee camps in Sudan, the streets of Yemen and the whole Middle East (trained and armed to the teeth with company from Chechnya, Tunisia and every curse in the Arab Islamic world) ready for genocides. What we used to modestly call land-grabbers, occupiers and torturers will be Christened brand new and truly demonic trademarks. The whole Eritrean lowlands (about three-quarters of Eritrea) will be liberated and ethnically cleansed within weeks.
Could this be the culmination of YG’s scenario of ethnic suicide? It will be if you continue to play ostrich!
WHY BRING THESE?
Do not even entertain the possibility that this is daydreaming and a product of a sick mind. It is but that is irrelevant. My intention is for you to take note and to watch your big mouth when you wish because you would at least be prudent to know what you wish for. My intention is for you to have this or any similar picture that your imagination can afford and have it as background on your thinking as you listen to all those who are promising to weed each other out. You should be able to ask good questions to those who are already debating which part of the PFDJ should remain and which part should be weeded out. They may sound very moderate and convincing.
The elite, sensible people and only sensible people can trigger a civil war by laying the moral grounds and providing the conceptual framing of valid grievances that rationalize the entitlement of the riffraff. Bad people are not qualified to perform this function because by their very nature in the context of the good society, they lack the moral credentials to make legitimate arguments. The function of bad people starts after the effective institutionalization of the sense of entitlement in our mindset and carry out the next stage by giving flesh and blood to transform valid entitlement in greed and sensible arguments into hate. Once these two conditions are met, then the rest is an automated vampire of the riffraff that grows its own legs and arms and sustains itself by feeding on blood.
I apologize for being insensitive. My disappointment is in the ostrich games that nearly the whole Eritrean opposition is playing in the face of the visible horror knocking on our doors. I will leave you with this song and see if you can have a good night sleep!
Take what I have said here very seriously and please “Stay Safe!”