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Beggars Can Not Be Choosers

I have been a bit unease about using this medieval expression as an analogy to illustrate the ongoing CHALLENGE campaign underway among Diapora Eritrean opposition.  The campaign is, supposedly, to challenge the dictator of Eritrea:

I have been a bit unease about using this medieval expression as an analogy to illustrate the ongoing CHALLENGE campaign underway among Diapora Eritrean opposition.  The campaign is, supposedly, to challenge the dictator of Eritrea: to implement the constitution, to release political prisoners and demarcate the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Buried beneath this campaign though, there seems to be a colossal frustration built over years of inability to shed the yolk of oppression in our country.  It is thus, this exasperation and resentment, in my opinion, that preceded this campaign.  Is it not?  That is why I risked vilification by some to call this piece ‘beggars can not be choosers’.  This campaign, lest it anger anyone, is a campaign which perfectly fits this medieval idiom, ‘beggars can not be choosers’, – effectively meant, be content with what you have and don’t make any noise.  The campaign is, therefore, nothing but a campaign of beggars who have limited choices available at their disposal.  Let’s call a spade a spade.  We have to bravely say it for what it is.

Recently, despite the evidence to the contrary, we saw yet again, a parade of people railroading themselves on social media to demand justice, strangely enough, from the autocrat in Eritrea; justice he denied the Eritrean people for the last quarter century.  With the level of extreme boldness and self-righteousness that has become the trademark of our opposition – but then, with the exception of a few who put the challenge to the Eritrean people – not a single one of them made a sober assessment of the challenges facing the opposition itself.  Truth got to be told, the demands are on the mark and long overdue.  After all, Eritrea has been under the illegitimate usurper for quite a long time.  What could go wrong in demanding justice from the oppressor?  Yes, history is littered with people demanding justice and failing that, rebelled to take their liberty by force.  Yes, there is nothing wrong in demanding justice.  I do, however, want to question the temerity of this campaign: to whom are the demands made for?  To an enemy who is undertaking the dismemberment of Eritrea and its people?  An enemy does what he is best at doing.  Or, should I ask, Is it a campaign of, I-couldn’t-snatch-justice-for-my-people;-therefore,-I-am-pleading-with-you-to-give-me-one?  How convenient!  Overcoming our weaknesses should have been a pre-requisite before confronting the enemy from within.  Taming our ego would have served us well.  This is the fundamental concept, sadly, the opposition was unable or unwilling to reconcile itself with.


Apart from the sensational campaign – which, in fairness, could have a long lasting effect as political tool – how do people know the efficacy of this campaign and what makes it different from the previous ones?  The Eritrean people have been crying ENOUGH for the last 20 years; but that “liberty” the people longed for proven elusive by the day.  Yet, the opposition preferred to stick to its old guns, instead of reorienting its strategy and mode of struggle to confront the enemy head on.  History repeats itself rings ever truer indeed.  It  never ceases to amaze me as to why people tend to tread the same line over and over again, in which, time and again has proven not to work.  With a double edged irony, why people mumble darkly in their private or make noise in public about Eritrea’s messy future, and yet unable to have a consensus to confront the oppressor is a bit unsettling.  Whether one made a demand for justice on social media or marched on the streets of Washington or whether a high powered opposition politician gave a rousing speech or a religious figure gave a solemn prayer, the dictator would still be entrenched as ever; this time, with full vengeance against our people.


And irrespective of the feasibility of the campaign, we just can’t seem to give up the old way of doing business.  I think we are obliquely beholden to our predisposition where the difference between individual liberty and the collective wellbeing is a bit blurred.  Otherwise, why would we use the same venue over and over again and suddenly, by the grace of God, we expect a different outcome.  According to the laws of commutative property, assuming one has familiarity with, changing the order of operations doesn’t change the result; for example, A + B = B + A.  However rearranged the operands are, one will get the same result.  That is what we have become.  Old habits die hard indeed!


What’s more, It is interesting to see how people tend to toe a group-think mentality – the practice of huddling together under one idea, virtually discouraging a different one.  It is so hilarious, though with healthy dose of resignation, to watch one soul after another proclaim their democratic credentials, and with just a minor word plays and semantics, each of them itemize the campaign’s three demands – almost verbatim.  It is reminiscent of a movie reruns, so to speak.  In fact, it seems easy nowadays to create a circus like political atmosphere.  All one creative individual has do is, invent a new rallying cry, coupled that with a woefully unreformed mentality – and, here you go again – you galvanize the yawning populace for a few days, weeks or even months with awesome success, till that same cry slips into the abyss.  Then the poor masses go into yet another hibernation, until a new one comes into life.  In that order, with the same mentality, the opposition proved its impotence beyond redemption.


There is a name reserved for this kind of political stonewalling in the literary world.  It is called the march of folly.  In her book, The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman defined folly” as a ‘pursuit by governments of policy contrary to their self interest, despite the availability of feasible alternatives’.  In one of her areas of analysis, the Protestant secession, the history of it was written extensively, but Barbara narrated it colorfully, the then Roman Catholic Papacy accelerated the Protestant secession when the papacy demanded that adherents pay for indulgence, so their sins could be forgiven in the eyes of God.  This, among many, infuriated Martin Luther, who went even further to create his own Protestant church, independent of Catholic Church.  Evidently, the Catholic Church acted contrary to its own interest.


Although the main thrust of Barbara Tuchman’s argument is geared to governments, I do want to emphasize that it is the people who create governments who make these follies.  Thus, we Eritreans made the irreversible folly of creating this non-Eritrean monster in our country, and as if that is not enough, we are still making the folly of not knowing how to remove him.

And sure enough, the ever mindful dictator, through his faithful slave, Yemane Gebremeskel, tweeted:


“Unable to fathom the historic/rapid regional changes, Eritrea’s avowed enemies & their local minions have remained confused & fazed for months now. This is why they are vainly scavenging for mundane issues to cast aspersions on the process. Prudence demands that they are ignored!”


What better way of explaining the futility of the current campaign!  


One more issue to remind you, which is indicative of how we are facing a deadly enemy.  On the unfortunate tragedy that befell on the Ethiopian Airlines flight on Sunday, the same slave, perhaps appropriately, tweeted:


“The Government of Eritrea has conveyed a message of condolences to the Government of Ethiopia and to the bereaved families of the deceased on the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 that was on scheduled flight to Nairobi & in which all the passengers and crew have died.”


However, when tragedy struck to a boat full of Eritreans in October 2013, on the shores of Lampedusa, Italy, in which over 300 souls lost their lives, the dictator was never heard to express his condolences, if indeed he felt, to the bereaved Eritrean families; on the contrary, he denied their plight and spitefully referred to them as “African migrants”.  This goes to show that he is not one of us.  He is an enemy committed on the extermination of Eritreans.  His antipathy towards Eritreans is laid bare for everyone to see.  He is the enemy fair and square.


Finally, with the exception of those mindless herd, by now, it has become crystal clear that the battle lines had already been drawn between Eritreans who want their country back and a dictator hell bent on the destruction Eritrea and its people.  We just have to find a little time for reflection.


Tesfamichael Kidane

Review overview
  • Hagherawi March 16, 2019

    “Lets refrain belittling and judging our brothers and sisters,lets welcome dissent against tyranny and lawlessness regardless from which angle it comes from,lets adapt and change the way we fight our enemy,because the enemy is elusive and changing and trading sides as we can see.Lets respect and listen to each other,lets support and encourage one another even in times of adversity……..this culture only will put the enemy in a tailspin and wet his drawers.”

    K. Tewolde

    There are very important lessons in this comment by brother K. T.

    – let’s welcome dissent. No need to say “where were you” to anybody.
    Not welcoming those who were in Higdef’s camp is in the interest of the fascist regime and will make our struggle very difficult.
    – let’s adapt and change the way we fight our enemy. Old ways will not work. We are living in digital age.
    Technology is the enemy of dictatorship. It can be used to expose crimes of the brutal regime for the whole world to see.
    – “this culture only will put the enemy in a tailspin” . Very true.
    Culture is at the center of the conflict. The regime has been hiding in what our culture sees as lofty value, such as trust, respect for leaders … etc.
    Now we need to trust only those who respect the will of people.

    Thank you brother K. Tewolde.
    God bless Eritrea .

  • Woldegabriel March 16, 2019

    If there is one thing that all Eritreans unanimously agree is that the opposition groups are the main cause for failing Eritrea to succumb into a complete dictatorship. I agree with your assessment about the oppositions’ mentality, objectives, strategies, goals etc as a major cause for our present predicament. But you didn’t provide any idea on the way forward. These so-called oppositions are offshoots of ELF and EPLF mentality (there are few genuine people among them). They wasted many golden opportunities because they cannot think outside the box. They are playing a “waiting game” while the dictator is throwing the dices. Thanks to the dictator’s impunity and narcissism, he has exposed his true colors thereby changing the political field dramatically. The game has shifted from the patronizing old mentality to the dynamic young and the nationalists who recognize the need for change by all means possible. These new breeds are galvanizing popular revolt through the social media as one means-of-change in Eritrea. This strategy, among others, should not be underestimated or downplayed. The emergence of a new mentality and strategy as well as groups such as “One Nation” are outcomes of the failure of the old mentality. The “YEAKL” momentum is the culmination of the brazen enslavement of the Eritrean people and is a precursor to what is to come. In an Eritrean socio-political context, the word “YEAKL” reverberates much wider, deeper and self-fulfilling meaning. I bet, the control-freak dictator is shivering because this phenomenon is ushering his demise. It is there incumbent on us all to support all new initiatives that will liberate the Eritrean people.

  • Woldegabriel March 16, 2019

    Pls read as” it is therefore incumbent on us all” not it is there incumbent on us all

  • Hagherawi March 16, 2019

    If there is one thing that all Eritreans unanimously agree is that the opposition groups are the main cause for failing Eritrea to succumb into a complete dictatorship. I agree with your assessment about the oppositions’ mentality, objectives, strategies, goals etc as a major cause for our present predicament. But you didn’t provide any idea on the way forward. These so-called oppositions are offshoots of ELF and EPLF mentality (there are few genuine people among them).


    እቶም ኩሎም ፥ ዲሕሪ ናጽነት ኣብ ዝነበረ ጊዜ፥ ህዝቢ ኣብ እሰያስ ቡዙሕ እምነት ኣሕዲሩ ኣብ ዝነበረሉ እዋን ፥ ጌጋ ይግበር ኣሎ እሎም ፥ ንበይኖም ተባዕ ናይ ተቃዉሞ መርገጽ ዘውሰዱ ፥ ንሰንኩ ድማ ኣደዳ ማእሰርቲን ቅትለትን ዝኾኑ ደቂ ሃረር ፥ ዓብይ ሞጎስን ክብርን ይግቦኦም።
    እቶም ተወዱቦም ፥ ብዋጋ ንእስነቶምን ስድሮኦምን ፥ ነዚ ኣረመናዊ ስርዓት እንታይነቱ ዓለም ከም ዝፈልጥ ክገብሩ ፥ ብትብዓት ክቃለሱ ዝጸንሑ ፥ ዓብይ ክብሪ ይግቦኦም።
    ነፍስ ወከፍ ካባና ዓቅሙ ዘፍቀደሉ ክገብር እዪ ጸኒሑ ። ድኽመትና ካብ ህግደፍ ንላዕሊ ገበነኛታት ዶ ገይሩና ?

  • Hagherawi March 17, 2019

    memhr , Biruk

    እዚ ዘሎ ሽግር ንባራይ ኣይኮነን። እሰያስ ከም ሰቡ ጽባሕ መዋታይ እዪ።
    ንስኹም ፥ ስልጣን ኣብ እድኩም ኣብ ዝነበረሉ እዋን ፥ ኣብ ኣዲስ ኣበባ ንዘልኣለም ትነብሩ መሲሉኩም ነይሩ። ትዕቢትኩም ደረት ሲኢኑ።
    ስቃይ ህዝቢ ኤሪትራ እንዳራእኹም ፥ እቲ ለውጢ ናይ ምምጻእ ዕድል ፥ ኮነ እልኩም ፥ ምስንኻሉ መሪጽኩም።
    ኤሪትራ እንተ ደኸየት ፣ ህዝባ እንተ ተበተነ ንትግራይ ዝጥዕማ መሲሉኩም።
    ሕጂ ፥ ግምታትኩም ኩሉ ጌጋ ምንባሩ ንኹሉ ሰብ በሪሁ ። ብሰንኪ ዘይድሉ ጽልኢ ከሲርኩም።
    ሕጂ ዶ ይሓይሽ ?
    ደቂ ትግራይ ፣ ካብ ኩሉ ክልላት እትዮጵያ ሃዲሞም ወይ ተሰጒጎም ፥ ኣብ ዘብሉዎ ጠፊኡውም ።
    ኣብ ኣሰና ካብ መጻእኩም ፥ ዓቅሊ ግበሩ።
    ጽልእን ጸርፍን ክሳራ እዩ ትርፉ።

    • k.tewolde March 17, 2019

      “እዚ ዘሎ ሽግር ንባራይ ኣይኮነን። እሰያስ ከም ሰቡ ጽባሕ መዋታይ እዪ።” Level headed Hagherawi,the pundits are clouded by the current situation,sometimes things have to scratch the bottom before they rise to the top.>>”Has nationalism come to Eritrea too late to make any difference in its people’s quality of life,”,Maestro,nationalism is not a fad or a style you wear,it is a process,it is a mind set forged through a common experience,it is an identity of people woven in their consciousness through the physical,mental and material price they paid together.Yes! nations and nationalism is still alive and kicking in the 21st century,if you want to know try encroaching into someones borders,don’t let corporate tycoons globalization pitch fool you,they are trying to move their products and services across the globe unhindered,it a modern day high tech slavery,eg. I just bought a cross trainer Nike sneakers for $150 U.S. made in Vietnam. Indeed,Eritrean nationalism is real ,mature and timely,memhr, you can’t replace it by another nationalism no matter how clever deflection tactics you try.

  • Gura March 17, 2019

    Memhir was right. If you belive in “free press and transparency”, then let the readers decide. Do no delete any posts. Otherwise, you will not be better than Jebha Shaebia mafia and slavish leaders. Questions many real Eritreans are asking. Thank you to the best Eritrean political analyst YG. He wrote:
    “The three questions that they desperately want to avoid are:

    1. The beginning: Was the oppression on the Ethiopian side so brutal that it justified the kind of horrendous sacrifice that has been paid in the last five decades? Indeed, with all honesty, can we say it was it a case of colonialism? And if not, what are the real non-nationalist aspirations on the two camps – the Moslems and Christians – that motivated this revolution?
    2. The middle: How was ghedli conducted? Was it conducted commensurate to the nationalist aspiration it professed to have motivated it? Or did it follow different strands that betray its religious, ethnic, regional and “urbanite” roots – all of which have to do with questions of questionable identities, none of which are nationalist by nature?
    3. end: Is the nation created out of this movement sustainable? Has nationalism come to Eritrea too late to make any difference in its people’s quality of life, especially since globalization and post-modernism have rendered it a poor imitation of its old robust self, if not totally obsolete? Could the divergent, and sometimes outright conflicting, aspirations of Moslem Eritrea and Christian Eritrea be accommodated to create one viable nation that could make it through the 21st century?” …

  • Gura March 17, 2019

    This reminds me what “Militia” wrote years ago:

    ማሊሻ said:

    ኣብ ታሪኽ ዓለምን ፣ ኣብ ነዊሕ ዛንታ ሰብን ብጭብጢ እተረጋገጸ ሓቂ እንተሎ እዚ እዩ። ዝኾነ ይኹን ሕብረተሰብ ወይ ህዝቢ ፣ ንሕሉፍ ናይ ዘመናት ታሪኹ ዝጸልእ ፣ ውርሻኡ ዝንዕቕ ፣ መረበቱ ወይ ትውልዲ ዓዱ ዝኽሕድ ፣ ቋንቋታቱ ብባርዕ ዘልምስ ፣ ቅርስታቱ ዘፍርስ ፣ ባህልታቱ ስርዓቱ ዘድፍር ፣ ደቂ ሩባኡን ጎዶቦታቱን ዘየኽብር ፣ ይትረፍ መሪሕነት ክጭብጥን ሃገር ክኣልን ፣ ናይ ገዛእ ርእሱ ሉኣላዊት ሃገርን መሬትን ውን ከቶ ኣይግበኦን እዩ።

    እዚ ከምዚ ዓይነት ነፍሰ ሙት ፣ ሕልና ዕሩብ ፣ ኣእምሮ ዕሱብ ጉጅለ ወይ ጭፍራ ፣ እንትርፎ ከም ጊላ ከዳሚ ወይ ዓብድ ናይ ባዕዲ ፣ ብናይ ገዛእ ርእሱ መንነትን ኣብራኽን ደው ክብል ብፍጹም ዝሕሰብ ኣይኮነን ።

  • Hagherawi March 17, 2019

    ቋንቋታቱ ብባርዕ ዘልምስ ፣ ቅርስታቱ ዘፍርስ ፣ ባህልታቱ ስርዓቱ ዘድፍር ፣

    Gura aka Teclay

    ኣይተ ጉራ ፥

    YG እብ ህወቱ ፡ ሓንቲ ሳዓት ብቀረባ ፡ ሰዉራ እንታይ ይመስል ነይሩ ዝራኣየ ኣይኮነን። ካብ ጽልእን ግምትን ተበጊሱ ለፍ እንተበለ ሰማዒ የቡሉን።
    ከም ኣብ መንደፈራ ዝተማህረ ትግራዋይ ፥ ዳሓን ኣፍሉጦ ናይ ኤሪትራ እንተሃለዎ ፥ ንመንእሰያት ንምድንጋር ግን ክዕወት ኣይካኣለን።
    ኣካል ናይ እትዮጵያዊ መግዛእቲ ብምንባርኩም ፥ ኣቦታትኩም ኣብ ዉግእ ወፊሮም ዘይተዓወቱሉ ጽልእን ቅርሕንትን ፥ ኣብ እርጋንኩም ናይ መንፈስ ዕረፍቲ ከሊኡኩም ምህላዉ ንዕዘብ ኣለና።
    ግን ጸላኢ ዘይሞገሰና ባሃልቲ ኣይኮናን።