Most of us would like to think that one need not be a political junky to have at least a reasonable awareness of what our opposition camp has confronted with. The consequences of their incompetence and their willful misconduct of abusing the democratic process of deliberating issues, has put them in a par to a naked cluster organizations without liability shield. This is almost a searing reality today as it was two decades ago. In fact it is a symptomatic of deeply seated ills within our political discourse and has never recovered from the civil war plunge of the 70s and 80s. Political mistrust and political inefficacy becomes the order of the day, as leaders of EDA provoked dissatisfaction impulses in the meeting of the council, that fuels and amplifies political polarization, and of course like smoldering myeloma slowly doing their killing instinct.
EDA shattered the conventional wisdom and the idea of progress in the second regular meeting of the ENCDC. By implanting acidulous politics, EDA indeed, became a political enterprise with a profile of personalities that lacked insight into their own behaviors. With their mental aberration (attributed to their age) still in the past, rejected any kind of changes. Apparently, they have become the architect of decay in modern Eritrean politics. For me now, it has become a moral crusade and a sense of history to write about the complete fiasco of ENCDC’s second regular meeting.
In crises of competence and perpetual adriftment “Awate the patriot” has become a good scapegoat; and has prodded to some members of the council to have a ferocious position, undoubtedly induce catnip (strong attraction) to partisanship, and occasionally spread toxins (poison) to the entire body of councils. For sure it heralds a fight about the past and a desire to shake the composition of the council, with a trap set out in a plain sight with its warning sign. Every council has to take his/her historical responsibilities to determine whether history is relegated to historians or to this body of councils of the opposition. We know the tested schemes of the past that are dangerous to our unity and are still persisting in all its facets. Certainly the scapegoating does not even serve their purpose let alone to the big picture of national agenda. Therefore our young generation will be compelled by history to challenge this sour confines of a core-of-recklessness and divisive strategy that has run by EDA.
History And The Custodians Of History
The word history is derived from the Greek word “Historia” which means knowledge obtained by research or by inquiry. History is a record of the infinite variety of human experience that is clearly set out for all of us to see and learn. And yes, in that record we can find ourselves and our country with examples and warnings, good things to be taken as models or idols (keeping the variables constant), and bad things to be avoided from repetition. Hence every thing must be captured and located in the general framework of archives in spite of all the difficulties, paradoxes, and contradictions, in order to respect the unity of history which is the unity of our life. Cicero had been quoted defining history as “the witness that testifies of the past, illuminates reality, visualize memory, and provides guidance in our daily life.” So all our efforts and our approaches is just to do that, to record our memory and illuminate our realities. In a nutshell history’s only purpose is to educate intelligently of the past.
History involves deep research and requires faithfulness to the truth and to the facts. Historians must study events in their true bearing, close and far, all in their character, all in their habits, and manners of those who took part in a given specific historical act and historical epoch to illuminate the event for all of us and the coming. Unfortunately, we are alive with all the trapping of the present and always bumping on and off into the past as it happened recently with the history of “Awate the Patriot” who started our armed struggle. No one in our history as an individual or as a group is immune from being investigated to have the full picture of our history. No one is. But also no one will change by his own will, in commemorating of Sept. 1st and Awate every year; because it was the beginning of another phase in our struggle for self-determination of the Eritrean people. Whether we support it or oppose it, it is our history… the Eritrean people’s history. Awate has a long history that span from the 30s to the 60s, and he will not be pristine as human being if we involve deep into research that requires faithfulness to the truth of his life, to find the examples and warning of his own act, to teach the young generation as one of the main actors in the Eritrean history. Anyone who has ostensible purpose to resist for such historical endeavor for that matter will ultimately condemned by historians for opposing the unity of our history – the bad and the good.
The Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Eritrean Kunama (DMLEK) has registered their grievances on “Awate” specifically in the 40s, something historians must look at it diligently to scrutinize their claims not now, but in the foreseeable future – “the Eritrea of tomorrow.” DMLEK also has the right to make known the grievances of their ethnic be it by individual or group for that matter. It is their inalienable democratic right if it is backed by facts and testimonies. They have the burden to prove for historians.
Who are the custodians of history by the way? Historians are the custodians of history. Historians collect records as veritable treasure trove of our history. They will preserve every bit of our history for posterity, so future generations can get glimpse of our struggles and everything behind the creation we call “the nation of Eritrea.” Our collective history, the role of individuals and their specific contribution towards our history will be recorded and preserved by historians in the “National Archive of History” in future democratic Eritrea.
Now, the history of Awate is the history of Eritrean people. It is not the history of specific social group or religious group. Unfortunately we have seen certain groups acting as the custodian of awate’s history as if awate doesn’t belong to the rest of us. It is this believes and their arguments that took the council four days to settle the controversial statement of DMLEK regarding “Sept. 1st and Awate”; albeit, the decision was unjustifiable and undefendable, and was totally against the charter and internal bylaws of the Eritrean national council -ENC (see details how the chairman has reached his decision below).
Arrogance And Rejectionism
The Eritrean politics has been characterized by arrogance and rejectionism for the last 50 years. Many efforts were attempted to bring peaceful co-existence for the warring factions to allow history to take its natural course, to evolve, and stop the virtual circus of intolerance. Yet we are still mired with the growing schisms and tensions causing all the miseries the Eritrean people are facing today. For those who believe on democratic rights and freedom to voice your grievances, the ENCDC’s move to expel or suspend DMLEK is both exhilarating and scary. As justification for such anxieties look no further than the chairman of the council who suspend EGS for a year to satisfy his constituency, is now voted-in by the council almost unanimously with one vote nay and one vote abstain. This time again DMLEK faced the same fate by a mere decision of the chairman, (not by a motion of parliamentary process) who asked a vote of confidence for his decision to suspend the organization for a year.
The movements towards expulsion or suspension of DMLEK, was gratifying and instructive for one section of our political divide, identified by the clapping hands and nodding heads of approval. Very sad to witness, but that was the reality if we are devoted for the truth so to speak. It was impossible to imagine otherwise from the ratio of the composition, to reverse the fate accompli, because it was decided long before we debate the issue. Unfortunately it was a contrarian streak against “unity and democracy” that hits the bone of my contention in all the years of my struggle. Perversely enough, EDA doesn’t have even apathy and moral impulse on marginalized groups, virtually loosing their attachment from the mainstream of our politics.
Many of us, in the process of managing, accommodating, and containing the crises, have made enormous efforts to bring the two sides to the center from their positions. First we ask the organization DMLEK to make clear their positions. Like any Eritrean who participated and martyred in the armed struggle they recognized “Awate’s patriotism” but declined to see him as “an icon” for the Kunama people. After that they were asked to withdraw their statement and apologize to the council for raising untimely issue that affected the cohesion of the council. They accepted the proposal with a caveat and precondition that they will uphold their stands regarding their position on Awate, while at the same time leaving the issue being relegated to historians. Sadly enough, There weren’t interest on the other side, instead they call their constituent to move outside to sign a petition (no body knows its content other than themselves)….all without the permission of the chairman. Indeed, there was an emotional breakdown as the crises unfold and became out of hand for sometime until the chairman decided to call for a recess. After the recess the chairman and his colleagues in the secretariat decided to form a committee which has legal background to go back and look at the charter and the bylaws of the baito to find any applicable articles to re-dress the situation. The committee couldn’t find any article to adjudicate the case and has left the decision for the body of councils or to the chairman. The chairman at his own risk decided himself to suspend the organization (DMLEK) and endorsed his decision by asking a vote of confidence to his decision. Notably, at the end we saw two faces, the rude smiling uploaded with moral slaughter – a catalyst for spoil and ruins more, and the grimaces of heart breaking startled by piteous groan loosing the bridging milestone. Disgusted by the decision, most of the council have left Addis back to their places, and the rest of the agenda was discussed by not more than fifty of the council body predominantly EDA members.
The conundrum thus far unanswered is whether there is a room to save the council from the entanglement of EDA’s trap. ENCDC’s internal problem has gotten worse, seems insoluble, and often impossible to disentangle from the web of EDA’s grip. The issue of our people, our nation, our refugees, and issue of human trafficking wasn’t even in the agenda of the council meeting. The general lack of national urgency to save our people is now become an indictment against EDA, crystallized by negative sentiment of the public mood. Now, do we need to proceed in the same track with a set of rutted paths, or do we need a fresh track to intimately listen the internal impulse of our people? These are the choices as members of the council to make a conscious self-deliberation and reach a conscious decision.
A historic pivot move: In its latest salvos of an ugly long running battle for the control of ENCDC, EDA has succeeded in the complete take over of the baito. The path and the cut from-the-same-cloth prequel is not the way forward, and for sure it isn’t the path for success. Every flaw in the herky-jerky deliberation was apparently painful for some of us, but also, it was a gift of oenophiles for those who push the envelope to the limit, from inside and outside forces to disintegrate the council and in the hope to retain the statuesque. For them it was another feast for fantasy lovers in which casual fans may not notice the post family feud repurcation.
One milestone was lost exclusively by EDA political enterprise. ENCDC was the product of the two year painful process by the alliances of the Eritrean Diaspora people and the organized political organizations. It was a two stage process, the “National Conference” and the “National Congress.” The chairman of the “Commission” and his colleagues have done a remarkable job to reach one milestone – the formation of “ENCDC” a prototype of parliamentary body that allows the function of the two pillars of governing bodies – the “legislative and the executive bodies.” While our charter clearly indicates that the legislative body has the highest power, and that the executive is accountable to the legislative, EDA defied with effective resistance to disarray the function of ENCDC. EDA saw the none-political entities (the civic societies and individual citizens in the council) as subservient group of mass organizations who exclusively promote for EDA’s agendas, and as such, they believe the executive body has the highest power than the legislative. Simply they employ the politics of unthinking reflex to react against new ideas and new structure that elevate the stature of our politics.
On the flip side, balancing the good grapes became impossible with a blared common identity. The virtual pillars of my dream for possible bridging weren’t there as I searched day in day out for four days in the meeting. There was none. In Dec. 03, 2009 I wrote an article titled “nature abhors a vacuum: Searching pillars for bridging” based on “optimism of the will” to borrow the motto of Antonio Gramsci. Since then I was searching “social pillars” for bridging, and I had hope that finally there will be some from the process of “wa’ela” and “Gubae” to build social channels, to share insights, and identify social influencers that facilitate the bridge of co-existence; Albeit there wasn’t identifiable capacity to meet the challenge from the body of councils that has inherent gap of understanding on what is to be done. As a result, the turbulence of Eritrean unity continues and the culture of rejectionism became a recurring theme throughout the play as an art of mystification and subterfuge. Right now EDA is inert and ENCDC is entangled in EDA’s nest. As of now, my hope and my last bet are our young to have their own movement and their own organization to move the ball of our politics into the heart of our nation. History is compelling them to take the stock of our politics. Hurry up! Heed the call….our youth.
Disclaimer: This view or opinion do not necessarily represent anyone, it is strictly the opinion of the author.