Peace As A Dividend: The Parallel Universe of Eritreans
The whirlwind of events unfolding before our eyes is indeed mesmerizing. Witnessing how quickly events turn out in breaking the ice between Eritrea and Ethiopia and in captivating the masses of both countries, to borrow
The whirlwind of events unfolding before our eyes is indeed mesmerizing. Witnessing how quickly events turn out in breaking the ice between Eritrea and Ethiopia and in captivating the masses of both countries, to borrow the famous words of Oscar Wilde, ‘one must have a heart of stone…’ to be indifferent to the goings-on. And until one is wary of the goings-on, events must have been a moment of extreme jubilation indeed. To see the masses of Eritrea and Ethiopia profess their uncontrolled euphoria at the prospect of peace – which a few months ago was unthinkable, if not impossible – there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel for both Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The reception accorded to Issaias in Ethiopia was nothing short of a repudiation of Eritrean’s good-for-nothing opposition. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the impotent opposition, through its inaction, created the current thaw between Eritrea and Ethiopia. It was said, “In politics, there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, but permanent Interests”. As an intelligence officer in the Ethiopian army, who fought against Eritrea, Dr. Abiy was well aware that, in the absence of potent opposition to the dictatorship in Eritrea, a ‘no-war-no-peace’ imbroglio was unsustainable for Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region. It was, in fact, a pragmatic approach any patriotic leader would pursue to break the stalemate. Thus, he created the current thaw between the two countries. With undeserved praise and platitude, i.e. Esu, Wedi Afom…etc. Dr. Abiy single-handedly elevated the Eritrean dictator to a hero. And a clearly exuberant Issaias took it all for himself.
Quite honestly, I really admire Issaias’s cunning abilities and charisma expected from a leader. That is what politics is all about, isn’t it? It is the art of persuasion and ruthlessness, both of which Issaias excelled; and in so doing, creating a power base for your political ends. I wish the impotent opposition could have mastered this art to save the Eritrean people. I do really admire him for employing his Machiavellian tactics in the murky waters of Eritrean politics to stay in power this long; half a century, to be precise. If politics is the art of deception, then Issaias must have been the High Priest of this art. So his march is continuing unhindered.
“‘From now on,’ declared Issaias, the actor, ‘anybody who thinks Eritreans and Ethiopians as two different people, is the one who doesn’t understand the truth.’”
This is, quite frankly, a moment of drama and incredulity for those who astutely observe events unfold. Issaias, the chameleon, who has mastered the dark art of deception and as an expert in stealing the hearts and minds of the commoner, what could go wrong in such a statement in creating a trance like atmosphere in the masses? What is wrong if people genuinely celebrate to a seemingly reassuring, though aesthetic statement? After all, people have spilled blood and died in the thousands, while thousands more were displaced from their homes. Conflict has been an all too often phenomenon for Eritrea and Ethiopia for a staggering seven decades. So, if people say enough is enough, it means people have made a tectonic shift away from confrontation and violence. Peace is, therefore, if implemented unhindered, a long overdue course to close the painful chapter for both countries.
However, people may have been crass and sentimental at the moment, to say the least; but, in my opinion, the implications of such a statement has a profound effect for Eritreans. A dictator who had been unhinged in demanding the implementation of the border ruling before any rapprochement with Ethiopia, has now made 180 degree turn in proclaiming “there is no border now”. Away from the pomp and ceremony, just take a closer look at the implications. If any Eritrean is alarmed at such a statement, then, he must be paying close attention. Without sounding cynical, the statement could well mean, ‘in the current globalized economy, treaties are more important than borders’, isn’t it? But, only if we take a look at his track record of weakening the Eritrean nation, then one will realize that we are indeed facing a mortal enemy in our midst.
Remember that Issaias was a CIA recruit, who had made several secret contacts with Imperial Ethiopia’s Asrate Kassa in the late ‘60s to weaken the Eritrean struggle for independence. Issaias’s double dealings in the Eritrean struggle was well documented history by none other than Tesfamichael Giorgio, the then governor of Dekemhare and a well placed intermediary between Issaias and Asrate Kassa in that turbulent time. In his book, written in Amharic, Tesfamichael Giorgio wrote volumes about how Issaias and his group of ragtag rebels were armed by the CIA and Ethiopia for the sole purpose of killing the independence movement. As the few people who knew Issaias’s secrets, Tesfamichael Giorgio was in a unique position to refute the claim ‘Issaias as a freedom fighter’. He was specifically adamant and forthright to narrate in his book that the Issaias he knew and ‘Issaias the freedom fighter’ of later years are two different persons. Sure enough, Tesfamichael Giorgio wasn’t allowed to live in peace. After independence, with the help of his then lap dogs, the TPLF, Issaias had Tesfamichael Giorgio assassinated in Addis Ababa in April 1992. He was silenced forever in a far away land.
And so Issaias, the survivalist, continued his struggle against Eritreans for decades, keeping his secret agenda of exterminating Eritreans close to his chest. Is it surprising now if he says, “ there is no border now”? He was fighting against Eritreans all along, if only we could open our eyes before it is too late. His contempt of Eritreans knows no bounds that I have never heard anyone say Issaias air-kissing and high fiving the Eritrean public. How abominable must then be to see a clearly emotional Issaias placing both his hands in his chest in reverence to the shouting crowd at Millennium Park in Addis Abeba, while referring the Eritrean people as, ezi hizbi ezi, i.e. these people – a demeaning reference? How dare he? It is because we Eritreans do not have the consensus to deconstruct the enigma surrounding him. And his flock of soulless zombies are already reconciled to anything Ethiopian now. Perhaps because of these kind of half-humans, the late English singer, David Bowie said this:
“People are so fucking [sic] dumb. Nobody reads anymore, nobody goes out and looks and explores the society and culture they were brought up in. People have attention spans of five seconds and as much depth as a glass of water.”
People who were quick to say, ‘dobna keyTehan-Tse-Tse’ fakery and quick to label anyone as a traitor for demanding constitutional order and justice, have made a complete turnaround and are singing the tunes of the day. Now, the border issue is nonexistent in their vocabulary. They don’t even know why they behave that way, except that they are told to do so. A clear demonstration of the pettiness of their thinking and demeanor indeed. So their march is continuing into the unknown. How times have changed!
Every Eritrean family paid the price for Eritrea and every Eritrean has a stake in its peaceful existence. As much as we like Dr. Abiy’s peace initiative, peace will prevail while the genocide of the Eritrean people is going on is really a pipe dream. Eritreans may have been duped by the dictator, for now; but not what D H Lawrence described as a generation fools. “Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves”.
There is a mortal enemy in our midst and an enemy is in no position to compromise but to annihilate us. To reverse this danger requires more than consensus.
God save Eritrea and its people!