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Fetsum: A Moment on Conceptual or Physical Unity of Eritreans!

The GI group has posted the Open Letter to Eritrean Political Party Leaders for support only to those within reach of its knowledge, still trying to get contact information of the remaining parties to complete

The GI group has posted the Open Letter to Eritrean Political Party Leaders for support only to those within reach of its knowledge, still trying to get contact information of the remaining parties to complete the effort but missed to put the name of Chairman Kornoleos Osman of DMLEK in the list. We humbly apologize for this honest mistake that took place without the editor’s awareness till after it was released.
As you know, quiet a few concerned Eritreans from different places of the world have been supporting the Global Initiative’s sacred vision of unifying our scattered resources. The GI group feels it is now time to implement the first phase of the vision (forming committees everywhere). The signatories must then take the initiative of contacting each other in their respective cities to discuss how to recruit new supporters and start the process before or after the ACTION PLAN is publicized in the near future. Please stay alert, do your best to this effect and God bless you!!
I confess that brother Yosief Gebrehiwot comes to my mind whenever I come across an individual called Rezen in my forum. Either way, I am writing this input taking Rezen’s appearance in my last article as an opportunity to clarify my understanding of the badly needed unity proposed by the hard working members of Global Initiative (GI) currently in motion under the wisdom of Professor Araya Debessay et al.
I wish all Eritreans rally behind the GI for swift resolution of our problems but western mentality cannot define the socio-political fiber of the South East Asians based on the brief, shallow and limited lessons I picked in my recent tourism. They see freedom in a different way. Democracy to them seems to be living it in practice despite the dictatorship in leadership. They hardly discuss politics; only their survival which the regimes reasonably provide them with open opportunities to meet their basic needs and prosper from the varieties of internal and external material goods, food and beverage products abundantly circulating in the peaceful small-business oriented socio-economic motion at insignificant federal tax. This does not mean everybody lives equally; sure there are unfortunate ones who suffer homelessness more than their share in any society of this world. But the majority enjoys enough freedom from personal to business and entertainment, tourism to art and physical fitness, to hardly consider refugee life as a better alternative like what the Eritreans do. Partially excluding Cambodia here because of the corrupt government that could do a lot better helping the society in my opinion, the people still live in harmony like the Thai and Vietnamese in terms of peacefulness and basic survival opportunities excuse the highly technological Chinese that are today living better than the Europeans as the second economic power of the planet.
I found the freedom in South East Asia in certain situations beyond what western democracies deliver as long as the people stay away from the tendency to violently challenge authority needless saying that all the touristic, entertainment, legalized prostitution (unfortunately), street hustle, night life and business activities take place without any sort of limitation, violence and police involvement. The societies thus tend to live accepting the Top-Bottom political philosophy that does not destructively interfere with their lives because it allows them to live in relatively free and satisfactory conditions. In other words, their inner spirituality and indigenous cultural contents dominated their mind to conform to reasonable home based dictatorship ignoring western democracy regardless their equal colonial exposure to the rest of the third world societies.
Africans are, however, differently influenced by European colonialism to develop a western-polarized political outlook more than the South Eastern Asians exposed to similar external influence. The different outputs of colonialism on the political outlooks, ego, relationships and emotional temperaments of Africans and Asians must then have originated from their authentic cultural, spiritual and traditional differences considering the effect of colonialism and the concept of democracy constants in the equation; of course I am talking about the ordinary Asian people that lived for ages as Atheists or believers of their original beliefs (Buddhism, Taoism, etc.) in comparison to Africans confronting western democracy from Paganist and Theistic socio-spiritual setup.
You have a firm opinion on the work of the Group [Global Initiative]. Good, may we also follow your sentiment on the success of the Group. In that direction, for convenience, let us enumerate “the progress being made by the group”, as you put it:
a) “restructuring the movement,
b) meetings with other activist groups,
c) communicating with individual activists,
d) discussing important issues on weekly basis,
e) drafting the final ACTION PLAN through intense
involvement of its hardworking members; and
f) writing invitation letters to all political parties in the resistance.
“It is miraculous (*), especially para e) and f), the epitome of the struggle for true Independence, Liberty, Freedom of Expression and justice.
We hope. I say this with honesty, admiration and good wishes for the Group.መፈጸምትኡ የርእየና። (*) I use the word deliberately in view of the multitude of the so-called “opposition” parties mushrooming (seemingly by the day) only to disappear after a little gust of wind, the next ‘morning’. Isn’t that a NATURAL right [to go home and leave peacefully] as opposed to magnanimity of any self-appointed individual? >> YES! Do WE need to have eighty-eight (88) parties to enunciate and declare that right? >>!!!”
 Comment: Brother, thank you for the good wishes but “መፈጸምትኡ የርእየና” by direct involvement or by remote observation? The success of the group depends on our inputs let alone talking about the impact at this infant stage of its actuality. Isn’t it better saying we will do it together as active catalysts of the transformation than looking others doing it from distance? The fact remains that there is an attractive initiative that can succeed in the long run through combined effort but not a crystallized activity capable of changing our situation for the better yet.
Yes, I do have firm opinion on the group with a slight reservation soon to be discussed and developed within because its objective is crystal clear as exposed to the public in different occasions. Nothing is complete but slowly moving forward. People are joining it day by day and we are learning in the process of the rugged road to freedom with failure and success like any struggle in human experience.
The GIs do their work together with any interested Eritrean willing to participate. They are restructuring the movement and at least contacting other activists like they recently did with European based Eritrean groups (England and Germany) and US based groups such as those in Boston and Hizbawi Milieal needless saying repeatedly with individuals like Ambassador Andeberhan despite the quality of the result. The process will continue till every Eritrean in the lime light of the struggle is respectfully approached for moral support and direct involvement to change our situation.
They are closely discussing important issues on weekly basis through Paltalk technology, finishing the ACTION PLAN for public disclosure, and certainly sending invitation letters individually to all political party leaders with known contact address to support their concept of achieving Global Leadership to democracy. I remind my readers to tell us the address of any activist or politician that should be contacted through
Simply, it is open for everyone willing to help out at the same level of importance because none of them is aiming at personal gain beyond facilitating legitimate global leadership towards democracy via grassroots based unity as part and parcel of the people. They busily interact individually suggesting what to do next producing collective results after discussing issues intensely. They are not in competition with the political and civic groups nor are they a replacement of the rest but only facilitators of conceptual unity under global leadership as a portion of the Eritrean society. The group respects and acknowledges the existing groups and political parties for competition to have no room in this situation. Our responsibility should then be supporting the vibe and directly refining the vision’s conceptual quality in view of our people and the international community.
Yes, we have been infested with opposition parties “mushrooming by the day only to disappear the next morning” but also to stick around with no tangible progress because of the inherited cultural and traditional characteristics that impaired their capacity to apply genuine democracy in the Eritrean political dynamics. This problem is GI’s motivation to unify the resistance under global leadership. We as a unit are neither a civic group or a political party with personal stake after the dictatorship nor are we a new group looking for a spot in the chaotic political jam. We are ordinary Eritreans driven to conceptually unite the diversified civic and political groups under democratically processed Global Leadership so never to suffer again from their injurious personal and political divisions.
Yet, new political parties and civic groups may still arrive further congesting the traffic pack but this should not worry us a bit as long as we don’t fully depend on their performance and jurisdiction for the future of our society except on the people that should control power to modulate the out of control situation about their destiny. The political parties and groups cannot do it alone without the people, a lesson we learned from concrete experience like the proven reality that the civic groups cannot make it conceptually divided as such.
To me, the number of political parties is not a problem as long as the people can use their exclusive right to set conditions by which they can legitimately and legally survive in the political life of the society. This has been done in few countries in the past. We can for instance partially adopt a modified version of Somalia’s model of shrinking or filtering the political parties based on our unique social fabric through people’s legal and popular guideline composed of multiple democratic stages only reachable by fulfilling the associated requirements through so said Global Leadership. The people in return must accept and support qualified political parties that respect the people’s supremacy and aim at political power via democratic election.
What we want from the humanitarians, political groups and parties and civic groups at this stage of the resistance as part of the people is thus, not to unite into a single Party and Civic entity which is impossible and unnecessary to do but only to support the GI grassroots strategy for global leadership. We can only request their conceptual unity not physical unity given their different programs and visions in place.
The problem to my understanding is therefore the society’s failure to produce said guideline with genuine democratic values that legitimize the political parties and the civic groups and enforces them to accommodate it in respect of the people’s supremacy in our society. We need to develop it for the people to manage their legitimacy and encourage their productive elements to well organize themselves for political leadership as the decisive people’s power towards the first democratic experience of the society after the dictatorship. We have to learn from the failure of BAYTO that could not play a neutral role in view of the political parties because of infiltration and try our best to make sure the GI succeeds depending on equal opportunity strategic relationship with all Eritrean activist individuals and groups. We have to overcome our problem accepting genuine democracy to dictate the conditions by which everyone plays a political game. That is all we have to do but there is a capacity to develop a unique guideline for our society using our collective creativity and honest relationship minus competition, just a matter of accepting each other and working together my brother!
I believe Global Initiative represents the people by virtue of its members having no political interest in future Eritrea. It has taken the drive that must be developed to a potent force by direct participation of all of us the activists. The group is at experimental stage learning from experience and enhancing its scope without claiming control on the common political environment. I believe it will have to clearly analyze its concept with significant room for any Eritrean to directly influence it based on tangible challenges down the road. I encourage the GI group as a part of the people to continue the modest approach of communicating with Eritreans of all levels with clear understanding that there are still more things to do to make the strategy a compelling global force by all inclusive Deleyti-Fithi, who have nothing to lose in this opportunity.
Rezen: “NO! Then, what is the problem? In my simple tone and honest opinion, it is due to the fractured mentality, tuned to parochialism of religion, provincialism, tribalism, racism, individualism, egotism and, in the insightful Tigrigna wisdom of past generation (which I dare mangle it in foreign language) is the excuse that >>> ‘my mother’s skirt tripped me’”
Comment: Beautiful resentment on our overall condition; our failure to fix the problem together and have the freedom to just go home and peacefully enjoy life with our people obvious saying I fully agree with what you said but complaining won’t fix the bug without dedication.
Now that the illusion of entertaining unity with Ethiopia, a country with intense internal problems is impossible and the Eritrean sovereignty is permanently assured, what do we want after this regime; a clean cut democracy or reasonable survival focused on democracy? What are the limits we can stretch our grasp of democracy vis-à-vis the possibility of its actuality in post Afwerki Eritrea? Why are we refusing to discuss our respective means of solutions and resolve our differences through the power of dialogue if we are really democratic minded activists? Why do we pollute the concept of democracy with our personal and cultural hang-ups and fruitlessly fight with fragmented intellectual and material resources? When will the humanitarian, civic and political branches of the resistance work together under strategic global leadership? Why do we dwell on minor conceptual and behavioral differences to continue resisting with the monotonous individualistic style that diminished our potential to change the situation? Don’t the civic groups and political parties have the responsibility of saving the nation by accepting to work under common strategic vision of the people? What is stopping us from working under global leadership with our differences intact for the sake of the society? Is it confusion, fear, greed, ego or insecurity?
What surprised me about the Vietnamese people is the way they give enough freedom within the law to any foreigner that visits their country in the condition the person enjoys life without any problem with any one of them. “They stick together and sting him otherwise simply because the foreigner is wrong no matter the situation”, a way of life probably developed through down to earth cultural mystics amplified by their colonial experience under the Chinese, the French and US imperialism. Their experience produced a unique concept of unification that defends every one in conflict with outsiders to the blessing of the people and the society at large.
In our situation, we are asking for unity and democracy predominantly from ethical orientation of Paganism, Christianity and Islam having different cultural values and languages within the society. The regional and continental flirtation with the west also influence our political outlooks blending with our colonial experience and distinct cultural, ethnic, communal and social values to produce a stereotypically obscure version of democracy. Said values complicate the fundamental concept of western democracy in the practical experience of the African people.
This factor I believe is the main cause of our failure to practically communicate with democratic values. We could not even develop the capacity of solving our problems together after the rich experience of liberating the country with unparalleled unity and sacrifice. It is our inherited ego from our cultures and traditions that distort the concept of western democracy in our relationships no matter how democratic minded we think we were. This is the cause of the on going rigidity on what we believe instead of opening up and resiliently amalgamating our ideas through dialogue oriented compromise for all inclusive hybrid socio-political destination. We grew fearful of creativity in favor of the stationary mindset that did not get us anywhere. We became immune to new ideas despite failing time and again with our old ideas. We flatter ourselves thinking we were bigger than our capacity to deliver and condemn the regime of rigidity and dictatorship, yet practicing the same diseases with each other because of serious misunderstanding of democracy. It is starvation for attention, lack of humility, confidence, hunger for power, addiction to tedious approaches of life and the tendency to personalize objective issues via competition that agitates us to develop the tenacity of owning a socio-political concept contrary to the basic principles of democracy and indefinite science affiliated subject matters as such.
Thank you brother Rezen for provoking this productive dialogue. I hope I am guessing you for the right person but glad to tell you that you influenced my keen interest to more passionately learn about the Cambodian tragedy under Pel Pot through one of your excellent projects in relation to our experience under the dictator. I hope you remember my impressions in my articles,” Dialogue with Rezen” at Assenna. My empathy towards and attachment with the Cambodian people increased as a result and wanted to be part of that society at least for a short time in this life. I could not have written my last article’s introduction relating the Cambodian and Eritrean experiences without exposure to that outstanding project for me to frankly tell you that you stayed in my mind during my long bus trip from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem-Riep, Cambodia relating everything I was seeing to your teaching and the Khmer Rouge brutality.
I don’t even know you personally though I saw you once in DC in Eritrean related activity and talked with you by phone once or twice in the past. I am talking about your intelligence and its potential to change the Eritrean situation. Don’t you agree that “the best way of making it is creating it”? How can a person of your caliber wish us success instead of being part of us and make the effort successful? Give us a hand by giving the GI a chance brother; of at least closely knowing it so that you can play your role as one of the intellectuals of the society for knowledge is waste otherwise unless utilized to change the condition of society while still alive!
Stay tuned for my next appearance with brother Petros Tesfagiorgis.

Review overview
  • rezen August 17, 2016

    T0: The Manager,
    I prepared the following book review, with a hope that’s Regulation would permit the publication of such material in your website. If not, I respect your Regulation and accept your decision of rejection. On the other hand, if it is indeed allowable, please include also this note as my appreciation for the free space in your website. Thank YOU.
    Subject: Book Review on: “ THE CURSE OF BEING AND LIVING IT “ by Fetsum Abraham, Copyright 2012
    1. Introduction
    First of all, let me apologize for my audacity to call my ‘take’ a “Book Review” because, in all honesty literary world was not my forte in school, though I read a few compulsory books to get my 15” by 13” paper degree attesting that I was in the school for the prescribed period of time, without a single day of absence. There is a lot of inherent anger in that seemingly comical declaration!
    2. Discussion
    Now, our friend Fetsum Abraham [henceforth, addressed as the Author] decided to challenge us with a bombastic title – and frightening too. And so, the reader is faced with amazing table of contents. With trepidation, the reader turns a page and faces a 52-word “DEDICATION” worth repeating here:
    “I dedicate this book to people betrayed by their own revolution; to the unfortunate victims of ego and fear that wasted the best opportunity to influence humanity through political power and to the suffering caused by freedom fighters that ended up becoming the burden of society at the end of the struggle.” Fantastic!
    And so, the reader, having thus been aligned with cardinal tone, begins reading the 341-page book with a narration of classical TRAGEDY. The book goes farther and wider to cover: a) admirable autobiography; b) history of Ethiopia-Eritrea; and c) narration of the 30-year war for the liberation of Eritrea up to the concluding tragedy that Eritrea “becoming the burden of [international] society at the end of the struggle”. That is a lot to chew. And so, the Author was forced to curtail his ambition to practicality – a mere 341 pages {5 ½” X 8 ½”, paperback). Perhaps, the Book would have been more effective had it been confined to the subject enunciated in the DEDICATION >>>i.e. the what, the why, the how and by whom. This approach would have contributed immensely in describing the sanity that Eritreans are fumbling to get hold of – through staggering number of “opposition” parties.
    Still, The Author must be commended for his effort to put his ideas in a book form, not only for today but also for future generation. We may agree and vehemently disagree with some contents of his book. But the cardinal fundamental issue facing Eritreans now and today is to be on the same wave length for the survival of Eritrea as one country. As a glaring lesson we may pay particular attention to the section on “PSYCHO-ANALYZING PRESIDENT AFWERKI AFTER TW0 DECADES OF HIS LEADERSHIP – p243”. Full understanding of the narration in the book is very essential for the way ahead in the redemption of Eritrea. It is absolutely essential for the Eritrean people to understand where they went wrong and consequently how they came to be “the burden of” international community around the Globe. We owe it to ourselves, not to be emotional but to face the truth – regardless of how much it hurts. In this endeavour, nicety, bravado, and hollow pride do not contribute to the solution. Only rational TRUTH will align Eritrea onto the right direction – in harmony with, not against, the imperfect interdependent world of ours. We should be careful not to be our own enemy!!! In this connection, there should never be a temptation for ‘temporary’ restriction on the freedom of expression of the Eritrean people by Eritrean authorities for any reason what so ever. It is an illusion to expect that deliberate temporary curtail of freedom, for any cooked reason, would somehow be reversed to democratic system of governance down the road. It won’t! The pillars of Democracy, Freedom of Expression and Justice must NEVER be tampered under any circumstance or temporary excuses. But alas! The circular question gnaws at us is this: Is Eritrea willing (and indeed ready) to establish such institutions?
    3. Issayas Afewrki’s Mind set
    The mentality of issayas Afewerki within the frame of psycho-analysis mentioned above is well described on page 289 as follows:
    “ Mr Afwerki seems to think that Eritrea and Eritreans belong to him and that they have no right to decide for themselves, since he decides for them. His administration imposes indefinite forced labor camp based slavery. He abuses public resources by jailing people and the heroes of the struggle without explanation. He controls the economy. He does not think Eritreans deserve a constitution and an impartial justice system, because these rights are none of their business but rather his. He does not think Eritreans need the press to communicate with their government because the state media does it for them”

    Obviously Issayas Afewerki has the lowest opinion about Eritreans, bordering outright hatred. The cardinal question is: WHY? In order to answer that question the broad aspect of “The Psychology of Dictators” is discussed in the book, starting at page 291 with well documented referrals to related literary works. The Author should be commended for tackling a complex subject outside the realm of his profession – as he candidly pointed out.
    Having said that however, a gem of a psychological thread seems to be missing as to why Issayas Afewerki Abraha would turn against his own entire population of admirers, believers, worshipers to his personality, without an iota of doubt, and placing him on a pedestal next to God? What triggered him to be one of the cruelest of the cruelest persons in the world, against his own people? [1}

    And if Life has to go on, what would be the LESSON that Eritreans would derive out of (and act upon) the horrible experience and pass it along to their future generation – in whatever shape or form that future generation may be? If Eritreans continue with their parochial squabbling, the LESSON that may have been derived out of the ugly experience would simply vanish with the wind. And so goes Eritrea to the wilderness! A classical TRAGEDY, indeed!
    4. Conclusion of the Book
    The Author concluded in the simplest and effective form by declaring that the “ball is in the court of the people” (p335). Will Eritreans continue to argue, based on destructive parochial matters, on how to LOOK at the shape of the “ball” rather than at SCORING a point? The choice is ours >>> continue with being OBSERVANT indefinitely or be FREE and own the future?

    5. Editorial >>> Proper Name
    The Author, for his own reasoning, follows the naming-custom of the Western Society as opposed to the Eritrean custom, which served very well. He addresses the President of Eritrea as “Mr. Afwerki”, “President Afwerki” instead of Ato, Ayte or Mr “Issayas”, followed by the father’s name, “Abraham”. The name “Issayas” does not even appear in the book, except only once (spelled “Isaias”) on the back photo page (p341) and another on the back cover! The reason for this deviation (preference) is not explained in the book, thus creating confusion now, and perhaps to future generation of Eritrean Historians, as to ‘who is who’ and ‘who did what’ in the narration.
    There is also a small matter of spelling: The spelling of the President’s father name is ‘AFWERKI’ instead of ‘AFEWERKI’. The reader can’t help wondering about the inherent preference of the first spelling over the last one – after all, both are derivative of Geez. [ “ኣፈወርቂ”፤ “ኣፍወርቂ”]
    Finally, recognition must be given to the Author for being civil and respectful to the President of Eritrea [regardless of the deceiving trajectory of how it came about] addressing him as “His Excellency” etc leaving aside the emotional, hateful and unflattering caricature in the Internet. The short and paramount message is this: the salvation of Eritrea does NOT depend in rowdiness and name calling, but on mature, thoughtful and dignified manner of pursuing the cardinal issue at hand >>> THE LIBERATION OF ERITREANS and let the crimes committed by Eritreans on Eritreans during the last 55-years to future Eritrean judicial system. Cross your fingers! It will be horrendous uphill civil battle; it must be expected.

    My commentary cannot be complete without the following observation about the Author’s admirable integrity. It is on page 127 of the book. In one of his visits to his Family, the Author learned from his father of the blood relationship between his father and Issays’s father. His father wanted to send a letter of introduction to Issayas with the Author. The Author refused flatly!
    As a reader I am truly impressed by the Author’s sense of neutrality in a society in which ‘blood relationship’ means everything – to the point of even skewing the truth of history. The Author, in his entire book, didn’t show any sign of ameliorating the reality of Eritrean history as orchestrated by his close relative. On the contrary, he didn’t mince words to expose his cousin’s history (in its broad spectrum) in the struggle for the true liberation of Eritrea to this day. It is a refreshing example. Thank You, Mr. Fetsum Abraham.
    17 August 2016
    {1} I stumbled over the following ‘stand-alone’ text in my disorderly file. It is dated “31 Oct. 2015”. Regardless of the reason for its being, I thought it is appropriate to include it here as a footnote for what ever it is worth:
    “ By the time Issayas [whether he looks like Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin…] is through with his vengeance and deep hatred, Eritrea, in the parlance of the Tigrigna language, will be “zeytiblaE zeytiste”. Issayas has accomplished what he set out to do, with the help of the manipulated Eritrean people and especially with the highly educated sector of the nation who were part and parcel of him, as knowledgeable people!!! Their vast superior knowledge couldn’t cut through the mind of a 21-year-old, first year college drop-out. It is not an exaggeration to say that Issayas knew the psyche of the Eritrean people deeply than any other soul on that Land. The epitome devilish accomplishment of Issayas is the ultimate daring scheme to arrest the mind, body, and soul of the Eritrean people – and he succeeded. Exaggeration? Let the eighty (80) “opposition” parties and civil organizations, safely situated in foreign countries, prove it otherwise. THE END”

      • rezen August 18, 2016

        Dear Manager,
        I am grateful for permitting the posting of my lengthy input in this “Commentary” Section. That is why I sent my query (Note) with my Book Review for clearance. Now I know and hope others may benefit from that information. By the way, what is the maximum kilobytes permitted in this “commentary” Section?
        Finally, I am truly delighted that you took the decision to publish my Book Review separately on its own. Thank you very much..