The Eritrean Resistance: Are we there yet?
The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism. Wole Soyinka
… is anyone else thinking that Eritrean poletika is really a conspiracy to confuse commentators? Why else would there be three festivals, four feuds and several launches of projects taking place all at the same time… and that is without including the numerous calls for financial assistance… honestly I really don’t blame the great majority of sane Eritreans ignoring the lot of us and leaving us all to fight it off amidst ourselves and call them when we embark on ‘deposing the dictator’… being involved in Eritrean politics used to be a dilemma because it got you and potentially your family in danger’s way.. that was when we believed the myth about the length of the revolution’s arm! Nowadays the dilemma is more about the extent of the madness you are expected to put up with negotiating your walk around the eggshells that come complete with dynamite that could set the entire cyberspace alight! The noise and sparkle does do serious damage to one’s sanity!!!
… There simply is nothing that one can do in Eritrerosphere without having to scream ‘ouch’ several times along the way…
If you are an Eritrean wanting to contribute your bit to the realisation of a better Eritrea… I really commend you and I hope you have a hard head, cast iron heart, deep pockets and absolutely no other commitment in your life…
Once you make your decision you have two choices: to join the opposition or to remain with pfdj and criticise it to better behaviour (there is a third choice of barking at both ends from somewhere called meskerem.net…. but that is a universe all on its own that I am not qualified to unravel!)… for the rest of us there are only the former two choices… if you chose to remain with pfdj and bring change… I think you should first sign for a health cover that has got good mental healthcare provision and particularly covers mental ill-health induced by cognitive dissonance… you may also need to learn the art of: admiring things that you really don’t see (at first… gradually mental ill-health will take care of that!), despising people that you know nothing about and wearing outfits that you really wouldn’t be seen dead under normal circumstances…in short train yourself to live in a make believe carnival wearing a clown’s makeup and speaking like a two year old who has yet to learn that the world isn’t really made up of his house and the sweet shop round the corner!
… If you decide to contribute to the betterment of Eritrea from across the spectrum… you have a whole host of dilemmas to negotiate before you can make the said contribution… first off you decide if you are going to call yourself ‘young’ or ‘old’… this has nothing to do with age (chronological or other) and everything to do with a number of other processes… basically if you decide you are part of the fabric of the ‘liberation front’ era politics, then, simply consider yourself ‘old’ and you have too many choices to make that I really don’t think it is worth embarking on the process as I doubt you would be able to make a difference in this life time… but if you insist, here are a few questions for you to ask: do you want to be included in the mess that is the ENCDC? (a glossary of terms should be available in Dan Connell’s ‘dictionary of Eritrean politics’ that is actually bigger than an average bible!) or the even messier mess that is the EDA…? There is a third choice called the EPDP but you will have to work our if you are EP or DP first and once you do that, then be clear if you are DP not in EPDP and once you have done that you will have to identify the exact time you became the DP not in EPDP ie whether that was pre or post EDA!…
If you want to join the mess that is ENCDC you need to decide if you are for or against ENSF those who are with ENSF have to work out whether they are with the Group of Dr Uqbazghi or with the Group of Mr Abdella… those who are against ENSF simply have to decide whether they agree with the executive of ENCDC or with the General Assembly if you are with the GA then simply hold your breath and wait for the next lot of fireworks being prepared at your nearest ‘local chapter meeting’… if you still hold the hope of making a difference in Eritrea please do us all a favour and ask the ENCDC: if they plan to implement the objectives of democracy and justice? Time scale: this side of eternity please!
If you decide to do it from EDA then you have all the above to deal with and the same question to ask as well as a whole lot of other ominous decisions to be immersed in and if you do get a word in edgeways just ask a simple question on ‘how any of what EDA has been embroiled in is making a difference?’… and this can be asked about anything that the EDA is doing, has done or maybe even is planning to do in the near future… literally anything at all!
I think having considered all that you really only have two choices to either remain ‘uninvolved’ and simply whistle your admirations when occasionally something ‘noteworthy’ does take place, respond to a few of the begging for assistance emails and FB messages we put up… sign all the petitions going… Make sure your name appears on all of them so you are totally ‘neutral’ and ‘useful’…You may want have a secret nick name for paltalk, and a pen name for FB…(and tweeter) when you are really annoyed you can safely berate the object (or is it subject?) of your outrage from these nick names, but still maintain your healthy ‘detachment’ from the rest of us, nutty poletikos!
If you make the mistake of getting involved then you have two choices – EYSC or EYSNS …. They weren’t invented when Dan was writing his dictionary of us for the rest of the world (just as well given the size of that book!).
… so here is a brief description…
Once upon a time there was a country called Eritrea… whose youth were facing all sorts of unimaginable hardships and were fleeing their country facing all sorts of odds and as a testament to their iron cast resolve to survive quite a few beat odds that would make an avid gambled quake! Once they got over their euphoria of surviving and after they got over the disappointment that surviving is really only barely surviving… many realise that they now have to find a cure for the guilt of surviving (ehchim survaival hona as an Addis weyala would say!)… but anyway…a movement was born! Eritrean ‘youth’ movement….
… now we all know that movements have a life cycle and there are cycles within cycles…. Successful movements attain their objectives and find a resolution and kind of go into slumber… (although I have only ever read about these kind of movements)…. The rest either run out of steam, morph into rigid organisations or fall into the enticing grip of other powers that be… this should have taken a bit of times… a good couple of years had it not been for the desperation for change, the chaotic nature of the context and the advent of Information technology… the ‘youth’ movement aged before its time and became embroiled in all sorts of mess and became just another nice idea that failed to yield… in Eritrean politics… too much good will and potential too little to show for it… one end of the movement became a rigid unyielding organisation with an extremely centralised approach where decisions are made by a handful of people who allocate resources as they see fit and put up and put down initiatives without much consultation… the other end became this gangly organisation with the sole purpose of its existence being ‘growing’… it believes in armed struggle yet has no army… it gets support from Ethiopia yet has done nothing with that support, it claims mind boggling membership in its books yet nothing to show for their commitment (at one point I was told the number stood at over a thousand in the UK… and yet only a few dozen turn up to a demo)… got the picture?
… anyway if you join EYSNS… you get preferential treatment with EDA and ENCDC…. Because… well simply because! And you don’t even need to be nice back to them… all they ask is that you stop berating them at your paltalk discussions… if you join EYSC then because you have EYSNS, EDA, ENCDC on your back constantly you get to feel that you are fighting pfdj all on your own! Well the other people who may be fighting them will join you occasionally and you might feel bolstered up a bit too (but the odd combination of people who have temporarily called off their own fights to ‘support’ you is already a story in the offing!)…. And just to keep an air of superiority you may throw in a few slogans, about Eritrean problems and their solutions into the mix. Meanwhile in keeping with tradition you fight internally too and become EYSC NA (no it is not an endearment of EYSC… as in SelamiNA! I think it is a ludicrous attempt to retain a ‘name’ that people felt they belonged to…. Ahhh if only my friends had learnt what that mentality did to ELF and EPLFDP!)… and EYSC Glibal (I think I mean Global… no Global doesn’t indicate size or spread… it is as aspirational as parents calling a daughter Selamawit, Almaz or Princess … and don’t worry they can’t stop talking to me, because you can’t stop talking to someone you are already not talking to!)…
Now if you are still reading…( I envy your perseverance!) Thank you!! … if you are annoyed with the writer (please be kind to her… she is after all a product of the mess she is describing)… that is fine because you are only angry because you are a member, a supporter or an agitator for the afore mentioned organisations hence I can’t have done any more damage to you… my only apology is to people like my friend Iyob Tsegay (sorry to single you out like this wedi Tsegay Hawey… but I really think you represent a whole group of people) who thinks that me ‘acting like this’ (as you told me so many times) only puts off people from joining us… but I am actually wondering if duping people into thinking that we are making a difference is actually the problem here… and the reason why we can’t make much difference is because we don’t make any coherent sense anymore!
…Finally ( a note to anyone still reading): it really is time to go back to the drawing board and get back intouch with what we set out to do….’contribute to a better Eritrea’… you see what really happened with ENA, EDA, ENCDC, EYSC, EYSNS… is people getting a little dizzy over the prospects and making the mistake that change is really imminently at hand! And that they are the designated midwives… but nothing as momentous as what we are fighting for happens in quiet that way… however weak pfdj is however strong the call for change is… what awaits us is still a bitter struggle and our fitness for that struggle, currently leaves far too much wanting!!
Before I go… here is my get out of jail quick card… MLK said (and I heard) : “One of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to rise to the point of self-criticism.”