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Fetsum: My experience in Denver Festival (FINAL)

Fetsum: My experience in Denver Festival (FINAL) Dedication: I dedicate this last article to my genuine brother Tewolde Vacarro who had given me the chance to work with him shortly before his departure no matter how

Fetsum: My experience in Denver Festival (FINAL)

Dedication: I dedicate this last article to my genuine brother Tewolde Vacarro who had given me the chance to work with him shortly before his departure no matter how intensely I was challenging him in public. I am sure we would have changed the situation by now with his leadership. I missed the biggest opportunity of impacting our society after he left and I am sorry to say that I missed another golden opportunity to do it with this committee because of terrible leadership focused on personal interest, fear and self-aggrandizement in empty barrel.

The Airplane touched down at Denver Airport on July the 3rd, I rented a car and reached my hotel at about midnight. I was working to pacify my mind from the unpredictable situation I found myself in. I spent the next day visiting the beautiful city and finally went to the Eritrean Community Center enjoying myself with anyone that came across including few individuals that noticed me from the Assenna experience. I was excited to meet sister Abeba Tesfagiorgis and discussing important issues with her in the occasion.

I also met distinguished members of Hizbawi Milieal that were pleased to see me (as a member of GI). It was really productive as we shared views on the pending issues of unifying the two groups under one leadership. I asked them about Sengal (one of the leaders of the group) and they told me that they don’t work together anymore, although he said he was affiliated with the group in our first meeting..

I found the festival organizers very worried about the situation. They were begging me to not spoil the festival by accepting the Manifesto like the rest of the committee for the sake of democracy. I noticed that Sengal was misinforming them left and right to complicate my contribution. He was trying his best to experiment his power by having them involved in stopping me from speaking in the forum; to embarrass me in front of the people. I told them I had accepted the Manifesto and only had few words to share with the people; assured them everything would be fine.

It was now July the 5th when I saw the rest of the committee for the first time at the Center. Dr. Gebre was in good shape. With that beautiful smile and penetrating eye contact he reminded me of Livan Cliff in his legendary western movies. He had a cowboy hat to accentuate the image; only a horse and a shot gun away from taking care of business in Asmara.

Dr. Mo was also in great shape. A handsome man with settled personality, the brother looks like a younger version of Sidney Poitier. His PhD in electrical engineering was as personal as it could have been because I was so exhausted studying it in graduate school that I had to split from the scene after graduation without attending the ceremonies. Yet, he teaches graduate courses in that discipline. I asked the Professor if I could sit in his classes to learn from his wisdom and he responded affirmatively.

Dr. Salih was simply a gift of opportunity to me. I was quickly attached to the brother’s charisma, humor and simplicity. The magnetic field in between was so real and strong, I felt comfortable as if I had known him for years. I told the doctor about my tired legs and he said “Circulation Checkup immediately”. When I asked for some type of tranquilizer to carry me through the uncertain event, the brother smiled and introduced me to his beautiful kids instead.

Aya Abdella’s presence was a surprising climax to me considering meeting him in the past (in DC) and spending time with at a friend’s place after an Eritrean event. I just did not know it was him as one of us in the committee. This special brother has done so much for the independence struggle I can bet he personally knew Idris Awate in his youth with ELF.

Brother Sengal was dressed to kill; looking like a King without imperial gown. Well why not? That was the show he worked hard for and a perfect time for him to complete the challenge with tangible results. The success of the opportunity simply depended on him in my opinion because people expected a lot from the committee; he was leading it and could have easily made it. With about 50 selected individuals from all over the world, many Eritreans from different States and countries (I spent about $2000 for it), a very expensive musical show with the best Eritrean artists in the roster (may be about $30,000 expense here alone), there was no room and reason for failure. Further considering the DELYTIFITHI in Israel and Atlanta Festival organizers following the development through dedicated representatives, the time and resources  invested on it from the organizers, paltalk rooms,  the committee itself, and the overall emotional input, there was too much stake on the table to fumble the opportunity for selfish reasons. We greeted each other warmly and left the rest for the future to tell.

I had, of course expected Salih Ghadi but I did not see him there. It was Sengal’s creativity to spoil the people’s event, a well calculated deception with intended result. As I said in the last article, it was his psychological attack to destabilize me out of coherence in public; God knows where he adapted it from.

Everything appeared uncertain until we sat to discuss our roles and Sengal started messing with me in front of the committee and other individuals. This was his last chance to stop me from participating and I was listening. He said I can neither speak nor present my project to the people at this point in the deal. I told him up front that I would speak to them in my fair turn. He then said he could give me 5 minutes for that and I rejected it right away. He said “I am disappointed” and left the scene leaving us staring at each other until he returned for the next drama in his schedule. He was scared, very nervous and angry. He had the whole weekend for himself any way and the restriction was biased only against me: it was shameless and ugly. He then tried to negotiate time with me in terms of minutes and I ignored him until brother Salih interfered and made it better. The show must have been a surprise to everyone that witnessed it; I didn’t think the rest of the committee expected that type of personalized assault against freedom of speech and democracy. It was indeed a bombshell from a power obsessed individual in pseudo-democratic outfit.

We finally started the program and Sengal and Dr. Mo spent many hours lecturing the crowd on the UN Declaration of Human Rights. They were going through the document an article at a time. It was clear that the crowed expected something different and more than that. It was boring! Few of them were complaining about it outside the hall and few others listening with disappointed composures. As expected, all committee members were doing their speeches without any obstacle from the chairman.

I then took the stage and assertively discussed the importance of Neutral Transitional Government in our situation. I told the crowd that our people have no problem with each other, thus do not need anything to harmonize their relationship; the problem being between us the educated members of the society that have so far failed to serve our people with conceptual unity. I also discussed the people’s supreme status in the society and that their power could not be realized without a neutral transitional government in the country. Further, I underlined the fact that political groups and civic societies have distinct roles in the democratic process of any society and that we cannot afford entering the transition stage without clear understanding of the matter from universal points of view.

There was a question dealing with unity and I was telling the crowed about the good opportunity GI and Hizbawi Milieal had had in the occasion discussing our differences for the effort to continue ahead when Sengal quickly interfered and stopped me based on out of schedule excuse. He said we could not discuss the issue at that moment in time. His entire work ethic was full of dishonesty, secrecy, restrictions, zigzags, deception and fear unfit for anyone with ordinary consciousness of freedom and democracy.

It probably took about 15 minutes but I felt the crowed including my respected sister Abeba TesfaGiorgis (she was there for the occasion) loved it. We had discussed important issues including the problem I might face from Sengal ahead of time and the sister had assured me to be on my side.  I am glad things went smoothly because anything could have happened there including taking the microphone from his hand and doing my speech, had he pushed his ego further than his limit. Thank you my dear sister for accepting a NEUTRAL TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT as our best choice of transiting to democracy without the slightest hesitation. You accepted it at first exposure in our discussion and I can tell you that you could not have done it without down to earth honesty and compassion for your people. Her support was a positive energy that helped me go through the process with confidence and peaceful state of mind. As a result, we (the committee and the crowed) ended up agreeing, at least on the following points:

1) For the committee to immediately organize three study teams, one of them to exclusively concentrate on the nature of Transitional Government in general and to deliver its thesis in complete form within 6 months (January 6, 2019, the latest) in a national conference to be declared ahead. I was supposed to enhance the drive by submitting my preliminary project on the democratic processes of Ghana, Liberia, Somalia and East Timor. The research based input was supposed to end up academically settling our differences on the subject giving us the opportunity to share it with the people and be well prepared for the next challenge (transitional period) ahead of its arrival.

2) For the Manifesto to be released immediately after the festival with what had been achieved in Denver including the erection of a study team/s in (1) and to further develop based on what might be achieved in Atlanta Festival in August, 2018.

Given the obstacles, I was relatively pleased. We then enjoyed a psychedelic musical extravaganza full of the best musicians in the society at a very interesting club in downtown Denver that evening. We all safely returned to our homes on July 8th and even exchanged positive messages then after. Aside, the following messages took place between July and September.

July 17, 2018 at 12:39 PM

“Selmat all, I have been a little worried about the new version of Denver Manifesto that should be modified according to what has been achieved in the festival. This Manifesto must be exposed to the people with the modifications achieved in the festival pertaining the goals for phase 1 (the three study teams and their specifications). I believe the organizers of the document were Sengal and Dr. Gebre and I hope they will modify it and present it to us for discussion before releasing it to the public. This should however, be done ASAP because time is running and Atlanta Festival is just around the corner. In the mean time I will transparently present my opinion of it at Assenna and God bless you. Hawkum Fetsum”

Jul 25, 2018 at 3:40 PM

“Dear Sengal! What is going on brother? When does the Manifesto come out in complete form with “WAY FORWARD” content? People are waiting for it and is there something we can do to expedite it?  Please let me know if I can help but I think we are killing the momentum by delaying the matter any longer. Thank u; Fetsum”

In Jul 29, 2018, the committee in unison participated in Simmer Paltak and I had a chance to share my opinion with the crowd. In the process, I informed the public that we could have achieved more with the effort and that I hope the committee will keep on working with better democratic approach in the future. Sengal and Dr. Salih responded saying that everything had been smooth and that we did not have any problem in between. They also said they were interested to work with me ahead. I stopped there without going to details.

In August 18, the committee participated in Hidri Jeganuna Paltalk room but I was not notified about the event and accidentally found it in You Tube. I heard everything they said and was actually surprised by Sengal’s words that the committee was organizing a team to study important issues of the moment and present its thesis in complete form soon. Tirah tedalewu, Ajokum dima beluna. I knew nothing about this but was still excited that work had started on the matter that concerns me most about our political situation. I even wrote one article to enhance the drive in a way the readers would not detect our difference in this respect, although it passed without any feedback from anyone of them similar to typical Shabia’s use and dispose mismanagement style.

August 24, 2018 at 12:48 PM

“Dear family, I hope everything is well with you and your families. Thank you for the good job at the Hidri Jeganuna paltalk forums. You did a great job and I am satisfied. On top of all these, Brother Dr. Mohammed’s effort to transmit our message in Europe was very much appreciated.  I think we have a good momentum so far, thanks to all of you and we should now work a bit on the study team on transitional government to finish the project on time. I propose the following ideas to this effect.

1) Each of us picking capable Eritreans into the challenge.

2) Organizing a diverse team and starting the assignment sometime in September.

These are only my ideas and please share yours so we can cruise through the challenge efficiently.

Hawkum Fetsum”

Aug 31, 2018 at 11:53 AM

“Hi brother Salih, I hope all is well with you but I have not heard anything about my last mail to the committee soon. What is going on and what is next in the plan? Can you please teach me about our next move about forming the study groups so that we can start work ASAP? Pls call me when you get a break and thank you. Hawka Fetsum”

Aug 31, 2018 at 11:59 AM

“Good Morning family; I was just wondering if you received my last mail because only Sengal responded for receiving it. Please let me know if you can and thank you. In the meantime, I wonder if it is possible to call a meeting on this matter and decide on ASAP. If it is decided on, I appreciate you let me know about so we stay on the same page and do excellent job on the matter within the promised time frame. Hawkum Fetsum”

Aug 31, 2018, at 12:00 PM,

Sengal wrote “Yes, I received it.” And I responded saying “Thank you and have a good day”.

I understood his message as a “finger” and had to conclude something at that point in the effort. That did it for me; it was the last communication with the committee and the time I realized I had been silently dismissed without notification through the verdict of DISKELA, although the action was already taken sometime before that day. This means I had nothing to do with the committee since that moment in chronicle. But DISKELA is a very interesting political spectacle where one is conditioned to live disconnected from a system without awareness.  A person hypnotized to this psychological state finds the predicament by experience. In Eritrea, most individuals humiliated by this type of punishment end up becoming alcoholics. They spend their time in bar hangouts with intense Billiardo ambiance and clear knowledge that the next destination could be prison or death. I don’t know how Sengal dealt with it when he “faced it under the dictatorship” but I felt funny and empty in my situation, needless saying that I am glad it happened here in the US.

Apparently, someone told me to be careful because Diskela was contagious; that DISKUL KEMAKMU YEDESKIL. I hope I will not do this to any fellow Eritrean in the future. The question is if the committee had suffered self-induced DISKELLA as well considering its disappearance from the scene after quite a few promises and advertisements. The result should tell the story in this regard but

we did not see the promised research based thesis on Transitional Government in general, nor do we know what happened to the other two study teams Sengal promised the people in the festival? Whether they care or not, the credibility is already gone!

In conclusion, I can only accommodate unconscious idiocy with maximum stretch of patience but not a premeditated scandal against the people as such. I am glad this project is over; I am free now to move on leaving the filthy experience behind without resentment. There is no doubt that Sengal designed the foundation of my Diskela for personal reasons beyond my full awareness. But the committee as a unit should take the responsibility for accepting it without democratic procedure. Yet, I would have accepted the action had it served as means to an end; if they had done something visible to justify it based on concrete result. Regrettably, there is no research and thesis here except emptiness, deception and false promises. What has the “STUDY GROUP” as Sengal calls the committee studied so far and where is the thesis promised to the people within 6 months after the festival (took place in July 6-8, 2018) almost 9 months after the event? Where is the Manifesto in complete form and why did the committee fail to release it so far? Was it because of reluctance to include what we achieved in Denver with the people on the need to study TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT as a subject in the Manifesto? Would not this decision imply disrespecting the people who voted on it and the concept of democracy at large? Was it because of FEAR of academic conclusion on the neutrality of genuine TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT in societies like ours for personal political reasons? I had to be sidelined because I was probably the only independent mind with no vested personal interest in future Eritrean politics but what type of democracy are you looking for without preparation and this level of contradiction with the concept itself?

 What we should learn from this tragic political scandal is that any engagement of this magnitude should only involve independent minded people for it is impossible to achieve neutral opinion and justice, otherwise! I am done with this series and thank you for your patience.

Review overview
  • k.tewolde March 16, 2019

    It is disappointing Fitsum for your series to end this way,however it is worth the effort you put in,consider it as a chapter in your protracted quest for truth and justice.Indeed,the radioactive half-life of the tyrant still lingers among us.

  • Fetsum March 16, 2019

    Love u brozer k

  • Kidane March 20, 2019

    Dear Fetsum, I did not expect such empty outcome out of the promissing festival. I still hope they will unite with leaders of the Atlanta festival and others. One issue that solidified my belief that it is high time to hire full timer professionals who will be accountable only to the public as opposed to volunteers. Thank you for sharing your opinions.