Eritrea President Isaya: The Black Knight

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Nov 16th, 2012
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By Ezana Sehay

What is it about Isayas Afeworki [the Eritrean dictator], that reminds me of the Black Knight?— In the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, the Black Knight keeps challenging King Arthur, even after he loses arms and both legs.

Despite the serial dismemberment, the Knight remains feisty, if immobile, and derides the King for riding off and leaving him in the mud. “Running away, eh? You yellow bastard! Come back here and take what’s coming to you! I’ll bite your legs off!”

Now, I can imagine why that reminds me of Isayas. It’s because, like the Black Knight, despite being on his last leg, he keeps on fighting, touting old and discarded ideas to somehow persuade people to follow him and not provide his opponents a boost in popularity.

No matter how many times he is sliced in half by self-inflicted avalanche of crisis, Isayas insists on exclaiming in classic Black Knight fashion that it is but a scratch or mere flesh wound.

Today, Isayas is bruised and liking his wounds. But that doesn’t seem to deter him from being Isayas: an old ludomaniac man. Despite being on his last gasp, we hear he is attempting to throw his last dice.

Isayas and his cohorts are campaigning to collective brain washing and bring the people to war like state of mind; arming civilians of all ages and physical conditions. Ignoring the fact, that the Eritrean people wish to be armed with a hammer and a sickle or a pen and a paper, not a Kalashnikov.

The question is, is all the gambit designed to steer the people’s mind away from his past and present plunders; the border war, the incarceration of democrats, the suppression of free press, the luck of constitution, the economic paralysis, international isolation and mass migration of the youth? Or is Isayas contemplating another fight with Ethiopia?

For a country still nursing the wounds and distraction of the last war and still reeling from the economic and social cost—war drums are a cacophony. Beneath the calm surface Eritrea remains chocked in uncertainty. The last thing the country needs is another costly conflict.

If Isayas is attempting to maneuver the country in to another war with Ethiopia, the cost to the country will be devastating but will survive it. I am not sure he will though.

In this light, you either have to admire Isayas’s bellicosity in the face of crisis, or conclude, as the exasperate King Arthur does of the Black Knight, “you’re a loony!”

Some might ask what do you expect him to do. Lie down and die? — Not really, but there is fundamental flow in both Isayas’s and the Black Knight’s approach: an abiding failure to acknowledge reality.

For the Black Knight, it is the theatre of the absurd. For Isayas—well, Isayas trusts his intuition more and his eccentric quixotic judgment even more. He seems to think metaphorically and casually and unfortunately, less so empirically. The result; he overrates his potential, disavows his moral turpitude and end up making hari-kari decisions.

So! Mr. President!

Instead of grinning till it hurts and touting all the broken promises and sassing the neighboring countries especially Ethiopia, haw about few minutes of accepting reality.

Apologize for all the crimes you committed against the Eritrean people and the region. Change course, change the political landscape, and open a dialogue with the opposition civic and political societies. That way the Eritrean people can avoid paying the price of going through violent revolutionary change.

For an exit strategy: you should seriously think about your departure. Do you want to go with honor and adulation like Meles, or beaten and bloodied as a dog like your old buddy Gaddafi? Think about it carefully, make a wise choice, and don’t live to regret failing to seize the opportunity.

It may be a long shot, but it is better than bleeding all over your opponents.

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