Nihilism and Fatalism, Hope and Optimism: The Eritrean Saga
Let’s start with the obvious, ladies and gentlemen. You probably won’t be surprised if I suggested that nowadays, we Eritreans must have capitulated to nihilism and fatalism. Sure enough, the dictator’s quarter century of relentless
Let’s start with the obvious, ladies and gentlemen. You probably won’t be surprised if I suggested that nowadays, we Eritreans must have capitulated to nihilism and fatalism. Sure enough, the dictator’s quarter century of relentless subjugation must have taken a toll on our people that the fight against tyranny become meaningless. Isn’t it? We must have resigned to fate and fortune to determine Eritrea’s future, absent a token of contribution. But then when heroes and heroines muster the courage to confront the tyrant, as it happened in Eritrea the last few days, we tend to think rather the glass half-full than half-empty. Hope and optimism replaces doom and gloom.
When it comes to the affairs of Eritrea, the Eritrean nation, the indigenous Eritrean identity and our commonality, it seems, sadly enough, we proved time and again that we are incapable of saving our collective being; and, in fact, nowadays, we seem to be relegated to fatalism. It is not uncommon, for example, to hear people begging the heavens for Eritrea’s salvation – a hapless humdrum of phrases like Ezgher yifeLit, b’amlak eyu ziweGih, became our common lexicons. Let it be known that under no circumstances that I am disparaging the religious undertones of such phrases; but rather, merely highlighting our wretched belief in Devine intervention for what could be achievable through human intervention. Nevertheless, the fatal nihilism gripping Eritreans is indeed a worrisome.
As I suggested earlier, we must have resigned to fate and fortune to determine our future. Well, the idea of fate and fortune had been expressed in ancient Chinese and Greek literature as a mode of life in those days. Let’s not forget that it was a communal society back then. In The Consequences of Modernity, Sociologist Anthony Giddens suggested that the ancient words like “fate and fortune” are today supplanted by their modern variant of “risk and trust.” I am not in any way constructing or deconstructing the epistemological dimension of Anthony’s “risk and trust”. But, It Is true also that, In our modern times, risk taking is that can make or break a society. In that sense, the indisputable fact is that we Eritreans are risk averse.
Why, for example, are we good at magnifying a minor difference, but incompetent to work on the major ones that we agree upon? Why are we really good at spreading innuendos and half-truths, yet unable to reach a consensus to confront our mortal enemy? We are indeed good at shouting matches against one another; but hopelessly incapable of shedding the wheels of oppression in our country through and through. I always pondered about this peculiar Habesh behavior; a behavior better left to behavioral psychologists to answer.
What is required in Eritrea, in my opinion, is nothing short of a revolution. A people’s revolution and a revolution for a fundamental change in our country – as no Eritrean, except the mindless half-humans – would accept the status quo. Perhaps that revolution is ongoing right now in every aspect of Eritrean life; as it happened in Asmara and elsewhere in Eritrea over the last few days. But, what is missing, in my opinion is the woefully inadequate consciousness gripping Eritreans to overcome the weakest link in waging a revolution. Incidentally, It is worth remembering here that to an Eritrean ear, the word “revolution” is synonymous to an armed struggle, unaware that armed insurrection is the means to an end and not an end by itself. Had we known this fundamental political concept, Eritrea wouldn’t find itself in a state of tyranny today. It is, therefore, this [revolution without consciousness] misconception about revolution that stole our liberty and peaceful leaving in our country.
In 1971, a reporter asked the famed civil rights activist Angela Davis, whether confrontation and violence was necessary to wage a revolution. Her answer blew him away, when in her matter-of-factly manners, she threw the question back to his face for his unawares or, perhaps his willful disregard that the system itself created the confrontation and violence in the first place.
Here is part of what she told him that is really of concern to us:
“…when you talk about a revolution, most people think violence, without realizing that the real content of any kind of revolutionary thrust lies in the principles and the goals that you are striving for, not in the way you reach them…”
As the above quote makes abundantly clear, revolution without consciousness and revolution without the principles and goals are equivalent to building a house on sand dunes. Sooner or later that unfortunate house will crumble. If it were possible to shed dictatorship through demonstrations in foreign countries, I think, we Eritreans would have been nominated for Nobel prize for achieving the unachievable. Once, I was laughing profusely when an acquaintance suggested – and, he really believed what he was saying – that the youth to have confronted the dictatorship in Eritrea at a demonstrated in New York. “MenEsey kimiKit wiElu”, is what he termed of the day’s affair. Can you believe the naïveté of some folks? These are the easily duped optimists who make lemonade out of lemons.
In fact, if the dictator were to expire tomorrow, many people think that the misery choking Eritrea would finally come to an end. It wouldn’t cross their mind that political leaders are marauding political hyenas and if restraints were not laid early on to check on their escapades, the consequences would be far graver than initially thought. Consequently, despite the enormous sacrifices we made, oddly enough, we were short of our goals in laying the democratic foundation in our country. We willfully and enthusiastically gave up our fundamental right and submitted to the whims of the dictator. That is, in my opinion, at the heart of Eritrea’s problem.
Bless those who risked their lives to confront the tyrant in his front yard – a phenomenon so dangerous to his foundation. This is happening inside the country is by itself indicative that power is slowly but surely slipping fast from his grasp. There is in fact hope and optimism in Eritrea. However, as it happened before, it is possible that the dictator might crush the uprising this time as well, but he will never, ever, subdue the Eritrean public anymore. It is also possible that, unlike his escapades and shenanigans against the docile Christians and Christian denomination, the dictator might try to hush the anger of our Muslim brothers. After all, he feared the Muslims more than the Christians. He, therefore, is more than likely to allay their anger by reversing his previous decision to close their school in Asmara. Think about it? Muslims demonstrating throughout the country because their school was closed in Asmara; while Christians remain mum when their patriarch was confined incommunicado? Is there something wrong in the make up of Muslims and Christians in Eritrea? Where is the outrage? The use and abuse of religious beliefs to divide and conquer a society is an outdated system of PR 101, except in Eritrea. Unless we wake up and find common cause with our Muslim brothers, we are simply accelerating the demise of Eritrea. If our Muslim brothers could save Eritrea, this would be the second time they came to the rescue of the country – let’s not forget, it was the Moslems, after all, who launched the armed struggle in 1961 to free Eritrea. I can only pray and hope that they succeed.
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