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Fetsum: Do or Die/Now or Never

Personal appeal to Eritrean Women, Members of Civic Organizations, Religious Leaders, Eritrean Web Sites, Radio Programs and Pal Talks, Eritrean Community Centers, Intellectual and Professional associations, Diplomats, Business people, Teachers, Students, Political Parties and ordinary

Personal appeal to Eritrean Women, Members of Civic Organizations, Religious Leaders, Eritrean Web Sites, Radio Programs and Pal Talks, Eritrean Community Centers, Intellectual and Professional associations, Diplomats, Business people, Teachers, Students, Political Parties and ordinary citizens:
Greetings to all of you at the moment the most hard-working advocates of grassroots movement are trying to change our situation strictly believing on the people instead of individual politicians. Going years back in memory lane I remember a German documentary film “Aleine gegen grosses” (meaning ‘alone against the powerful forces of the universe’) about our struggle’s miraculous survival against the two superpowers of the time (1977); the phrase in reverse interpretation has since been reflecting the reality that one man called Isaias Afwerki is destroying all Eritreans to the disgrace of every citizen considering the mass as naturally the most powerful element of society.
Whether we like it or not, we have in my opinion contradicted the essence of Eritreawinet before the independence and after. The heroism of our fighters had surprised many international observers to have classified our independence struggle as one of the most organized in history but I feel our cowardice for our freedom has surprised the same as well, leaving them confused about how on earth to categorize it in contrast. One of them happened to be Meles Zenawi who said; “Eritreans are lions for their independence but flies for their freedom”, and I shamefully agreed though my opinion may change soon depending on how well the grassroots movement goes from now on.
There is no doubt that people can do anything if they come together for common cause, unfortunately we Eritreans cannot brag of our unity as much as we would of the grit and sacrifice for our independence. I believe lack of strategic guideline to democracy was the main problem of our division till this point in time but I still cannot certainly predict how we will do in the near future, now that we have a clear grassroots based Bottom-Up strategy in possession.
A reality is apparent, however, based on our concrete experience. The more we exasperate the distress of our people because of division, the most certainly we will age and die in Diaspora without any social value and the stronger rational consciousness staggers to understand the reason for it. The longer we give the dictator a chance to ardently do us wrong, the deeper one questions the quality of our fortitude to defend freedom and justice in our society.
Now, who is accountable for our dire condition? Sartre states that “humans are ‘condemned to be free’. With the freedom to make our own choices we bear the responsibility of these choices along with the consequences that may follow. We are unable to deflect the responsibility onto others, human nature, or previous circumstances-the responsibility is ours and ours alone.”
We cannot get away pointing fingers at the Ethiopians or the Americans no matter how deeply we resent their negative effect on our society; nor can we expect any society to respect us more than we respect ourselves not only through sweat-talking but also via statistical evidence. The truth asserts that we are not in this situation only because of destiny or the dictatorship but also because of how terribly we relate to each other and ego-centrically personalize minute things at the expense of our freedom. The choice we made in this regard directly holds us responsible for the disgusting condition of our people. Flattered by the grassroots movement to a significant stretch of my optimism, the following questions come to my mind about our emergency situation.
Have we been standing against the interest of our society by bitterness or we have a legitimate cause for remaining apart despite the tragedy it has been undergoing since the beginning of the independence struggle? Was our personal interest or ego more important than our people for us to refuse helping them breathe the air of peace and prosperity to this level of entanglement? We can keep going around the same beltway forever with unjustified excuses and the defective style we have been managing our political business; there is no exit from the predicament, however, without down to earth self-evaluation and redemption from practical and spiritual points of view; none whatsoever without willingness to individually confront the self minus self-deception and individually taking the responsibility for what happened to us. At the bottom line, we have been harvesting the result of passively allowing the wicked dictator to mercilessly abuse the people and our natural resources.
My dear Eritreans; let us forget everything for a while and soul search in front of God with maximum humility and compassion! Let us check our spirituality and take the freedom to honestly judge our activities without pretention for the sake of humanity. Let us give reason a chance by assessing our real experience and condition to find the remedy for our recklessness and arrogance induced wounds of our society. Let us please ask ourselves on what has been going on with our mind to deny our helpless people peace and prosperity in the process of denying them to ourselves. When do we resolve our negativity by negotiating with our inner selves and cause serenity to our people sandwiched between our senseless frictions and their enemies? Why have we been divided to this extent while claiming concerned of curing our society from the cancer tearing it apart? When do we decide to heal out of it with unified conviction for genuine democracy, unless at the moment?
To answer the questions, we need to resist the temptation of exaggerating our individual values, revisit our history and modulate our outlook of the society that we condemned to endless agony as a result of confusion or for the sake of ego trip. A mirror after all shows a person how he/she looks like; and history tells a society’s performance in the eyes of its people. One has to change one’s life style to enhance the look reflected across the mirror depending on the feel and society must adopt a new political approach to stop dying time and again instead of dwelling in monotonous activity proven to only have produced death and misery in our society.
The journey to our independence was very difficult considering the divisions we have had in different stages of the Eritrean survival. The Europeans used local Askaris to colonize us for decades and the Ethiopians manipulated our religious and ethnic frictions to violate the Federal arrangement and confiscate our land to their country. We started the armed struggle for independence in the early sixties where the new colonizers used native militias (Comandis)to do their dirty job; and too many citizens from both sides perished as a result.
A group of Eritreans then broke from ELF and formed EPLF in the seventies and the two fronts passionately fought against each other wasting many citizens in the debacle. Then the DERG overthrew Emperor Haileselassie in 1975 and continued the war in our country until towards the end of that decade to find itself defeated by our fronts that managed to control most of our land, confining its forces around Asmara. We were approaching liberation and our people were moving back home from Ethiopia leaving everything they had behind thinking it was for real. But there was one major problem in the way; disunity between ELF and EPLF that gave the enemy the chance reorganizing its demoralized army with full support of the Soviet Union that betrayed our cause without a second thought.
It gave the enemy 12 Billion worth of arms with its military officials directly maneuvering the war eventually forcing us to retreat to Sahil from that close to independence. Our people sadly saw our fighters retreating away from the cities they liberated at the cost of incalculable sacrifice; bitterly swallowing the missed opportunity of liberating the nation because of disunity. The Eritreans once more paid the dire cost of division in thousands of lives through the years ahead needless confessing the countless material and opportunity costs they suffered in returning home from Ethiopia abandoning their belongings and comfortable lives expecting liberation to prevail in the country. It was simply exodus going on where they lost everything they worked for generations to migrate back to where they came from for a new beginning as a result.
Then we suffered a full-fledged civil war between the two fronts because of yet, another reckless betrayal of the struggle from both sides. For every bullet fired by any one of our fighters against the other, the society had to mourn the death of a member in that unbalanced demographic relationship between us and the Ethiopians where one fighter had to mathematically challenge at least 10 enemy soldiers without any ornamentation. The depressed society was once more destined to pay the extra heavy price of division and rigidity (at least 15 years) in that regrettable mismanagement of the fight for independence and power struggle between our selfish leaders. It was nothing more than dictating the nation in the name of democracy by the leaders that did not care a bit about the people.
We somehow managed to liberate our country in 1991 at last, to only find ourselves under the current mess once again because of our reluctance to engage in constructive dialogue for the sake of the people as if fragmentation was the signature profile of the society by the curse of natural phenomena beyond our control or by surrendering our consciousness to ego. Needless to mention, we let our domestic enemies waste our kids, journalists and veteran fighters in the name of the Badme war responsible for the second major forced exodus of our innocent people from Ethiopia for no other future than life in asylum outside home that denied them the chance to rehabilitate despite massive unused land in the country.
Dear precious Eritreans; aren’t we tired of worshipping individuals as if they were Gods? Should not we give the people a chance to manage their political future just for a change? Our gloomy chronicle vividly testifies that the suffering we endured for decades till this moment in time was because of believing in individual politicians instead of the people; because of chronic tendency to follow them based on ethnic or religious affiliation instead of securing the interest of the people through sincere democratic procedure.
In my limited capacity, I think we are in DO or DIE situation with three alternatives to chose from;
1)    Sticking with exclusive and arrogant individual politicians that aim at political power through another Top-Down based dictatorship.
2)    Waiting for mother-nature (death) to resolve the immediate contradiction with our oppressors leaving a political void as a result to be filled by unpredictable personalities and circumstances including dictators, civil war and/or foreign intervention.
3)    Allowing the people to control their destiny through the Top-Bottom grassroots movement currently in effect by concerned Eritreans in Diaspora for the first time in our history.
In my opinion, we need to empower our people by adopting the Bottom-Up philosophy of freedom on the ground from now on instead of depending on Top-Down strategy of slavery. We cannot continue travelling the road of failure indefinitely; we should try to walk that of success for a change. This is like persisting on drinking alcohol to challenge a liver cancer or juicing it out for healing as a matter of alternative. The Eritrean people are more significant than arrogant politicians that want to dictate the society on their own terms. We have no better choice than the people’s movement and let us please uphold it for the sake of freedom and justice in our society. We should appreciate and embrace our politicians that aim at political power through the grassroots movement for we have experienced the outcome, otherwise in the last 26 years of destruction. Repeal those who promise you democracy without involving the mass for you have lived it more than any other society in our continent under the demonic dictatorship of determination. Support the politicians that welcome dialogue with other politicians in the pool, deny their illusive self-appointed representation, otherwise without guilt and repentance. Become a lion for your freedom instead of a rat in democratic veil by defending the grassroots movement without hesitation.
Now, the deal is in our own hands! The dignified preliminary organizers of the movement have taken the initiative signing the document of unity for democratic end. Let us please nurture the bliss through our signatures so that the mission can continue to attract as many citizens as possible towards a bright future. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity and elongate the suffering of our people under the dictatorship, nor can we rationally expect a better arrangement for our democratic dream from any portion of our society. Let us not waste the fruit gained by extreme hard work of our dedicated organizers of the mission failing to support them for no better reason than consciously or unconsciously standing on the way of the society. Don’t let anybody take you for a ride anymore!
In conclusion, I was excited by our people’s positive responses to the appeal of the brilliant architects of our grassroots movement to sign the document to democracy except for Genet’s who said;
“One party system like PFDJ? Why do we have to sign into this movement. How will our signature be used for or against us? How sure are you the ‘no one is going to do that…’ I am 150% behind grassroots movement. But i need to know that it is done right. It is a holy idea that has no match but is it done on ground or on paper by signatures? You have been around for sometime and you should understand that grassroots awareness comes (and is the only stepping stone to) grassroots movement. So where is it? Signature is not what has been missing from the opposition. It is awareness, trust, and hands-on practical work that have been holding us back. I still don’t see them in this call. I hope all the people who seem to be happy to sign come to meeting, demonstration, make contribution, etc. That will be the real signature. It will indicate grassroots involvement. Just because on signed a paper does not mean they are fighting for democracy. So I have the right to ask any question. It is my future and my children’s future at stake here. No one should be irritated because I asked.”
Response: “You cannot get tired of love but you get tired of fear”; Carlos Santana. First, the signatories of the document are only facilitators of the process by which global leadership prevails in our Diaspora community through bottom-Up strategy and not individuals looking for political power. Your “One party system like PFDJ” is therefore respectfully out of place. No one should be agitated because you ask, for that is your right to do. But why are you afraid signing an agreement for what you believe if you support 150%, demonstrate and contribute for it? Don’t you think the best way of indicating ‘your trust for hands-on practical work’ should be by agreeing with your comrades on an idea through your signature like you sign any other document in life that you comply with? Please feel comfortable not to sign it should you think you don’t want to write your full name in public for any other reason in your mind, but not for your safety vis-à-vis the main organizers of the sacred mission. I guarantee your safety 100% and confidently tell you that there is nothing you should be itchy about the proposal because it is only about agreeing on the doctrine of the grassroots movement by which the people in general and your beautiful children can regain their freedom and justice in the motherland.
Serious reminder to all concerned Eritreans in this wonderful boat!
Remember that different Eritrean groups could not penetrate the international community (AU, EU, UN, USA, Etc.) no matter how hard they tried because they had no political strategy to materially display with statistical evidence. We have the Bottom-Up strategy now waiting to be energized by the supporters of the grassroots movement in any form of activity including demonstrations but it will not succeed trashing the dictatorship for democracy without substantiating it via our signatures. The world wants to see a statistical evidence to support us and we must deliver it through our signatures. We cannot afford failing our people this time wasting another golden opportunity of confronting the world empty handed in the upcoming UN verdict on our humanitarian case against the dictatorship. We have to show at least the minimum material for their support and please take your responsibility of signifying the grassroots strategy not through your mouth but your signatures as well as your contributions. There is a lot of work ahead and let us accelerate the momentum of democracy with whatever we can give in our capacity.
In expressing my subjective opinion on the promising development of the moment, I feel dignified being part of this historical process by happily signing the document like what genuine Eritreans would do around the globe. Long live the people and their grassroots movement.

Review overview
  • AHMED SALEH !!! April 21, 2016

    Wow , brother Futsum
    You nailed it straight with detail the true reflection of our past
    political experience and present difficulties to achieve people’s
    missed dream .
    Obviously Eritreans in general surrendered their destiny at the hands
    of others allowing them to plan our future without any reservation .
    In world history many countries went through same mistakes but people
    learned a lesson to overcome their failures .
    Now , we are at second stage to complete the undone responsibility to
    correct wrongs and replace with progressive agenda for common ground
    that leads to guarantee promising future . Recent grass root movements
    will play important role in this process if our people recognized the
    real meaning of PEOPLE’S POWER .

  • Simon G. April 21, 2016

    Can I get amen for brother Fetsum! Good job brother.

  • Dala Ksha April 22, 2016

    Brother Fetsum, you always come with great Idea nice to hear from you.

  • Ahferom Melekino April 22, 2016

    Thanks Fitsum for your brilliant situational analysis of the need for Bottom-Up Grassroot Movement and hope that will make miraculous and grand results and achievement for redemption of our people in the very near future I guess.In the Do or Die Alternative situation you mentioned the Top – Bottom Grassroot Movement as the third. I think it is a slip of the tongue that needs considering. Otherwise I totally agree and give our blessings that all people sign what is needed to sign and facilitate for its fast actions. God Bless you and the good intention of Bottom-Up Grassroot movement to make wonders I pray to God. Success.

    • , April 22, 2016

      Brother ahferom, thank u for tracing z mistake i did and appreciate ur correction. Hope it didnt deflect z message as it didnt in ur case. Peace brozer

  • Eri Grassroots April 23, 2016

    Dear Brother Ftsum,


    Thank you very much for an excellent historic article. You summarized the entire Eritrean political history and experience. You described the current reality of our nation and the suffering of our people. You presented the solution and the viable strategy and approach at hand to end the Eritrean nightmare. You called for a simple action by justice seekers – signing the urgent call and owning the united action. All this in one brilliantly written article.

    This is phenomenal brother. Thank you very much for enlightening us all. Keep up with your mighty pen and God bless You.