The Poison Manifesto that Quarantined the Dream Print E-mail
By Aklilu Zere - Jan 25, 2004   

Readers might guess the poison manifesto to be Nhnan Elamanan. Wrong.


Nhnan Elamanan, despite its mystical status didn?t play a crucial role in establishing Selfi Natsnet as an independent organization (remember it had to join the Ubelite and PFLE), as was the intention of its author.


I said ?its author? in contradiction to the plural format ?Our? because it is a fact that no one but Isaias Afwerki alone wrote the declaration on his way back from Adobha. This is important distinction for historical reasons: the then twenty-four years old Isaias was savvy enough to delude the audience (readers) by giving ?collective? sense to his message. Simply put, he used a plural format so that the document will seem to be written by a group. But who were in this group? Those who know history will deduce the group to be comprised of Isaias Afewerki himself, Mesfin Hagos, Solomon Woldemariam, Tewelde Iyob and Asmerom Gerezghiher. As for martyr Abraham Tewelde, he had passed away before Isaias reached Ala.


If we closely scrutinize the time the document was issued, Mesfin was in Denkalia with Hizbawi Hailtat, Solomon was hiding somewhere in Semhar, and, for sure, Tewelde and Asmerom were not with him. The only other person who might have had a privilege to take a peep at the document would have been martyr Habteselasie Gebremedhin who was with Isaias in TsenAdegle. But then, Habteselasie was captured by kommandos enemy units just a few days before the issuance of Nhnan Elamanan.


Aside from its lyrical and aesthetic format, the document was not distributed widely as the intention was. Thus its existence was a matter of passing through word-of- mouth, which greatly affected its influence and the result expected from the author. I for one have never read the document in its entirety until it was posted in Meskerem website in the year 2000. It might seem ironic, but at the time the document was written, despite my ethnicity (Christian), educational background (university student), age (ripe for revolution) and affiliation (PFLE), I never had the opportunity to read the document! If I didn?t, then it is more likely that the majority of Eritreans never read it or were never influenced by it. The proof to this fact was that, until 1974, the majority of Eritreans, and as such the majority of highland Christians, only knew and followed Jebha Abai.


But this evil document had produced an unexpected result with a disastrous consequence. Not from its intended target, but, ironically, from the inept leadership of the ELF. It generated so much empathy, concern and, above all, befuddlement followed by a temporary and sectarian appeasement (leaving Isaias and attacking the EFLE) and erroneous policy (Eritrea cannot support more than one organization, a policy that was later copied and mastered by Isaias) and the subsequent civil war. All this gave rise to the confidence of the author and finally the demise of the great organization, Jebha.


For me, ?Nhnan Elamanan? was a document that fathoms the psychological mind-set (and of what was to come later) of the author. Nothing more. Nothing less.


The manifesto that was issued at the beginning of 1976 sealed the fate of many people, including ELF, more than Nhnan Elamanan. It carried no author?s name and was written in the same format of Nhnan Elamanan. It declared that the gap between EPLF and ELF was unbridgeable due to fundamental ideological differences and stipulated that the two cannot live side by side.


The emergence of the document had an essence of timing; that time was when the units of both organizations were experiencing cordial relationships. Cadres of both organizations, whenever they met, were conducting open and amicable discussions (at one time, Dr. Iyob and Seyoum Ogbamichael spent five hours debating in Korbaria). Military units from both organizations were helping one another with scarce materials and were conducting joint operations. In short, the general atmosphere was conducive for unity.


This entire phenomenon greatly shocked and disturbed the author who, subsequently, with a three-page manifesto, changed everything. Forever.


The manifesto was distributed to all EPLF units and everyone was told not to question its contents. Those who dared question it were imprisoned; some were executed (Dr. Iyob Gebrelul) and some were forced to flee. The rest is history.


The ELF leadership (not for the first or second time: remember the handbook, ?Tinbite Isaias? that predicted the demise of ELF) did not pay attention. Like today, they were immersed in their trivial internal squabbles, left their guard loose, and, within three years, lost everything!


They?..the leadership?.? No?No. This is what I want to say:  Eritrea and its people lost everything due to the ineptness and folly of the ELF leadership who (until now) forgot to do their homework.


Everything? Yes, Its History, Its Legends, Its Heroes, Its Diversity, Its Voice, Its Pluralism, Its Alternatives, Its Imperfection (who needs social engineering) Its Freedom to speak, Its Freedom of movement, Its Freedom to trade, Its democracy and Justice system, albeit rudimentary (by now it would have been refined) and its Fair Land Distribution system??? Its Embodiment, The Jebha Abai.

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