Fetsum: On OUR VOICE’s concept of Eritrean History

I appreciate ASSENNA for its achievements and actualizing this bliss and God bless its management. In my last article I wrote the importance of OUR VOICE’s self-exposure to the efficiency, reliability and accountability of its objective

I appreciate ASSENNA for its achievements and actualizing this bliss and God bless its management.
In my last article I wrote the importance of OUR VOICE’s self-exposure to the efficiency, reliability and accountability of its objective because I as a person want to only deal with Eritreans on issues concerning our society. This was very important to me for I know anyone with good knowledge of writing and our country and people can post the associated articles in disguise. Professor Araya Debesai, however, responded against the idea seemingly as the mouth-piece of the group, thank God, for this break in spite of its un-democratic nature.
Despite it, I found the opinions of Nebelbal17 and Natnael in response to my last article on SELF-EXPOSURE very productive for me to suggest the VOICE reading them carefully and using them if possible to rectify the unnecessary stalemate ASAP. But immaterial which idea was more beneficial to the struggle and how consistent OUR VOICE stands on the concepts of TRANSRAENCY and CONFIDENCE in this specific regard, I prefer moving on with my determination to assist the Eritrean cause of freedom under any condition without being an obstacle hoping they will introduce themselves “in later stage” whatever the stage may be.
The identity factor is out of the way one way or another for now, however, after the Professor’s appearance for me to give the group my solidarity in this emergency situation of our people that does not allow any crack for conflict between us, the Eritreans. I will take the little thing you give me to impact the society’s hunger for secular democracy in my best capacity as in this situation and try helping the group as much as I can by amicably and brotherly challenging it on the merit using my independent mind like I used to do with the Vacarroian unification movement and the rest of the resistance in this last round of our confrontation with the dictatorship.
From the forum
k.tewolde: There is an old Eritrean adage ‘ZGEBIR SI NEDIUU AYNEGR.’ Lead , follow , or get out of the way. Let us be doers, catalysists, proactive , initiators, drivers, and contributers in every way we can. Playing monday night quarterback is not going to cut it. Some of the most game changing movements of the century came from diligent opaque characters from behind the scenes, not from narcissistic clowns that we created. We don’t need to see personalities with their fancy portfolio, and charisma. Focus ,goal ,cause , vision, those are the things that matter , it is our collective duty as Eritreans, and it can come from anyone of us who is working for the common good of our besieged people. At least we all agree on their ‘MISSION STATEMENT.’ AND PLEASE BROTHER WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, DON’T CLOSE YOUR ARTICLES WITH ‘GOOD LUCK’.THIS IS NOT A POKER GAME, IT’S A PROVOCATIVE POLITICAL PLATFORM WHERE A WORTHY DISCUSSION IS CONDUCTED.
Response: Love this man for radiating his feeling from his deep inner self. ZGEBIR SI NEDIUU AYNEGR’ is, nevertheless, for personal or private matters not for dealing with national matters that requires ZGEBIR SI NEHIZBU YNEGR. I love you brother for your sincere optimism on the latest development by OUR VOICE and thank you for advising me to not close my articles with “good luck” but what can a person say to a wonderful proposal that is being exclusively carried on by a closed group of intellectuals in disguise? I think one can only encourage them from distance to continue the project wishing them the best. I am excited by their proposal that sounds correct vis-à-vis our situation in the areas of uniting the DIASPORA and I want them to succeed because it is indeed different from what has been going on (discussing events with no creative ideas) and I believe their proposal can change the situation if we honestly work on it and if they give us the chance to help nurturing it into a complete solution via genuine transparency.
The fact remains that you cannot join them because you don’t know them yet and they want to do it alone; but you like the idea so you don’t want the opportunity slipping away like the many initiatives in the past. My intention is to support the intellectuals and encourage them to finish the project as soon as possible with or without us. I certainly wish them good luck and tend to remotely challenge them through writing only if necessary for the goodness of all hoping they won’t personalize the reactions. It does not matter who does it after all as long as we succeed in crushing the dictatorship out of post in favor of secular democracy through STRATEGIC transitional government acceptable by all elements in the resistance at the end of the scuffle.
Aman: Well-done ‘Our Voice’ I still do not know who you are but to me anybody who can rescue my dying nation is worth a support in any way possible. Let’s all stand and work together before we cease to be a nation.
Comment: Certainly well done! This is the first time seeing the light inside the dark on the subject of DIASPORA UNIFICATION for I was fighting hard to make this practical from way back in time and during the era of Brother Vacarro who unfortunately passed a little short of efficiently strategizing his movement that died out with him as a result. We were trying to fix the problems brother Vacarro created to his movement (based on top-bottom philosophy) using his excellent openness and transparent characteristics that I really appreciate before the horrible accident neutralized him out of this life. OUR VOICE’s strategy of unification (based on bottom-top philosophy) is certainly more organized for me to believe that we can make it (United Diaspora under a centralized command) using it as a foundation with great potential to eventually pave the way to the most critical element in the struggle “STRATEGY FOR TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT” in Eritrea but only if we support and listen to each other.
I believe we are in sync now with the best ideology so far on DIASPORA UNIFICATION hitherto brought by OUR VOICE clearly believing that we still would be one major step away from cranking the engine to Asmara through critical STRATEGY for TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT that should be produced as soon as possible to swiftly complete our democratic dream in Eritrea. We now need to help the VOICE’s beautiful outline for DIASPORA UNITY as much as we can but they must be transparent in return on equal substance level of the relationship for all the goodies to patch up into a potent medication for the terrible socio-political disease caused by the dictatorship.The ultimate goal of course is the STRATEGY, what I want to call SENED from now on, a final document that all the forces in the resistance must sign in agreement to form the anticipated transiting government of Eritrea behind full international support.
Araya Debessay: My humble advice to Our Voice is, you do not need to reveal your identity. Let your readers focus on the merits of your message and not on the credentials or the identity of the messenger. You are the only group recently who have come up with ideas on how to end the Eritrean Nightmare. For that you have my full support. My only unsolicited advice is please be careful to avoid antagonizing any group or individuals. Keep in mind, you have more in common with those who are opposed to the dictatorial regime than any petty differences you might have about strategies on how to remove the dictatorial regime. I was pleased to note that you have been respectful of those in the opposition parties who have sacrificed so much of their life to end the suffering of their people even if they have not succeed so far. We need every one’s cooperation to save our country. You are on the right track and I am confident that you will succeed.
Comment: I respect your opinion Professor Araya but I humbly disagree. I have said what I feel about the importance of self-exposure in this scenario so would I not repeat but I believe in openly challenging the dominant EDA political groups that showed nothing since 1999 except dragging our democratic dream for their selfish interests. I believe in calling the Spade a Spade and I don’t buy “they have sacrificed so much of their life to end the suffering of their people even if they have not succeeded so far” because no one caused their failure except themselves. In fact I consider your opinion as taboo driven input for I believe they exasperated our anguish wasting our time and putting us in this dire situation idly and uselessly sitting there without unity. You are right that there is no need to antagonize them but no need to patronize and keep following them either. Either they join the struggle for secular democracy by the universal rule or stay behind losing their collective privilege of becoming an obstacle through the silence of our intellectuals. We will have to take a clear position here on from after 16 years of silent intellectualism induced waste to the disgrace of our society but only after we produce the ANSWER or the SENED that reduces the ultimate project to practical transitional government in Eritrea.
I cannot revise the many opportunities they missed without pain. I condemn them for hanging on without the capacity to lead or supporting other initiatives,(Vacarro’s movement for instance) as alternative remedy, of course this conclusion excludes the genuine and respectable political parties in EDA (composed of our minority ethnic groups such as the Kunamas, the Sahos and the Afars) that have clearly accepted secular democracy as minimum program of the Eritrean society contrary to the dominant parties in the alliance that stopped the forward movement of our democratic zeal for the sake of their divisive ethical and religious political pollution.
I seriously do not care about them anymore for they showed maximum recklessness in navigating our cause of democracy. Neither can I love you and care for you if you don’t reciprocate in action, nor can I respect you more than you respect yourself. I am very embarrassed by their pseudo-representation that cannot travel outside Addis and I assume they might have wasted the opportunity of meeting Obama in Ethiopia as they did many opportunities in the past (attending the Mandela’s burial ceremony, Obama’s meeting with African leaders last August in DC, relationship with the AU, EU, EGAD and the UN; the Somalia presidential inauguration in Mogadishu, using the Lampadusa tragedy for unity, saying the least,). I seriously don’t think they will support OUR VOICE’s ideology of Diaspora Unification considering they didn’t support Vacarro’s unless they change their mind now because of the pressure from peace loving Eritreans all over the place. This will be another litmus test for them to resurrect from their graveyard and we will see keeping in mind that there may not be another chance. We need to be assertive here and proceed without SIKIFTA.
Brother, you told the group (OUR VOICE) “You are the only group recently who have come up with ideas on how to end the Eritrean Nightmare. For that you have my full support.“ God bless you and I agree that it has come with original STRATEGY to unify the DIASPORA under one command that has the potential to “facilitate the formation of a transitional government in the country” but you must admit that the SENED that reduces this to practice is missing waiting to either be developed from the scratch by OUR VOICE under your leadership or for the group to give the ANSWER a chance to close the gap upon amendment through collective intellectual power of the society. (SENED is a document with set of rules and annexes that all must sign in agreement like my ANSWER based on the Accra Accord for Liberia’s Democracy that I recently released at ASSENNA).
I am sure you know someone has confidently suggested that the ANSWER based on the Accra Peace Accord in Liberian Democracy experience can fill the gap as the only STRATEGY or SENED available in the market capable of reducing the struggle to universally fit transitional government of Eritrea both in exile and at home (after the devil diffuses away from the motherland) and until an elected government takes the country’s socio-political post currently monopolized by the extremely dangerous dictator.
Yet you know that no one has taken the initiative responding in favor of it or against and we could not communicate well in this situation on transparent fashion. It feels terrible to see it ignored without any response from our intellectuals in this unfortunate opacity but I cannot help the situation except living with it and fight for its consideration if not its acceptance in the absence of another. I will discuss this in my next article in detail. I am, however, pleased that you appreciate the good work of OUR VOICE.
Araya Debessay: “Dear Futsum, you have done an excellent job to highlight the potential role Our Voice can play in ending the suffering of our people. Good job, keep up the good work!”
Comment: Thank you but I am confused about how we can keep up the good work without transparency (to be discussed in my next article). The fact remains that OUR VOICE’s input on how to unify the Diaspora is fantastic and possible to practicalize with hard work and rest assured that we will support you Mr. Professor whether you are the VOICE or not as well articulated by k.tewolde’s remark in “Great mission statement! It is doable. Comparing to large nations that went through this kind of trivia, Eritrea is a neighborhood. All we need is a selfless, capable, and committed leadership backed by genuine Eritrean people fresh attitude. This is the land of fire breathing heroes. Let us get our mojo back” and Nebelbal’s precise summary in “let’s accept all opposition organizations: Accept all on the same ground level no one is higher or lower, keep their substance till the downfall of the regime; elect a provisional committee for certain months or years; keep your bad mouthing till bidding, and ABIDE BY THE PILLARS”; God willing that we shall do it together!
OUR VOICE’s concept of the Eritrean History
As you know history is mostly a time sensitive controversial subject matter. There have been two versions of our history (Ethiopian and Eritrean) but what matters most is that we have a new history after independence that we must deal with at this stage in the fight. Our history with Ethiopia has been replaced with today’s history after independence as our primary priority to take care of. I don’t see the purpose for any Eritrean movement discussing the old history at this juncture where no one can reverse our independence till the end of time just because the history and our socio-political objectives are mutually exclusive. It was not necessary for our intellectuals to get into it with the extent of interest they showed in their two articles because it does not help our democratic upshot in any way nor can they convince all of us on. To be honest, it was scary specially without any clue as to who OUR VOICE were (before Professor Araya’s response) and cannot help telling you that I was suspicious. Should our history be found important for the group’s performance vis-à-vis the Eritrean people, I honestly think the opposite may be what has been achieved.
As I did it in my book (the curse of being and living it) in detail, I personally reject the group’s assertion that “The establishment of Eritrea as a separate entity in the late 19th century was the result of Italian colonialism with the connivance of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. The Eritrean people had no hand in it. They were, in fact, sold out by Menelik. In short, Menelik committed treason by giving away Eritrea to suit himself.” I see this as fallaciously reading the history because neither Minelik sold Eritrea to the Italians nor did he commit treason by giving them our country for whatever reason it might have been simply because he had never ruled Eritrea and thus had no capacity to sell it or commit treason on as our intellectuals in question and the hard-core Ethiopians want us to believe. We have not yet seen anything in writing from the historians of his time that tells this was the case and therefore whatever happened in this regard remains to be speculation where as his border agreement with the Italians (Wuchale) remains as a legally abiding reality forever.
I believe the societies from both sides of the fence lived criss-crossing each other since the time of their actuality as people of the same origin but the Wuchale Treaty was never about Minilik’s giving up Eritrea or committing treason on but a border agreement between two independent nations (Italian-Eritrea and Ethiopia). The first nationhood oriented contact between the two countries took place during the federal arrangement put to place by Emperor Haileselassie and western conspiracy, never before. I think the Wuchale event and this historical account were few of the strongest points Eritrea brought to The Hague during the Badme conflict (ready to be corrected otherwise) and the then Ethiopian government under Meles Zenawi and the International Court had no problem accepting for they understood the first as something obvious and the second as a treaty conducted, again between two independent nations (Italian-Eritrea and Ethiopia).
Without going deeper on this for the sake of time and tolerance, still believing that this should not create a drift between us unless the group finds it critical which then may necessitate full-fledged debate on, I found the following reactions very important for the intellectuals to entertain and stop their unacceptable and seemingly distorted Ethiopian version of our history in their succeeding appearances, yet unless they have a stake in it whatever the steak may be.
Tewelde g/mariam: My hunch is: this organization is nothing but Baito reinvented to appear more than it is in fact. And the historical distortions are dircetly copied from woyane blue book of halewlew. By the way the word Abyssinia is a derivative of the word Habesha. And it was the Europeans that coined it. The word Ethiopia and Sudan have identical meaning, black. The former is from Greek language, and the latter, Arabic. They both refer to the same people, to the people who are now living in the Sudan.
Dawit Tsegai, Our Voice, I think you are giving unnecessary attention to history, at least at this time. We need to live in peace with our neighbors, but no amount of intimidation or twisting of historical facts, should oblige us to revise history to suit any political agenda.Eritrea has history with all its neighbors. And all of them are important to us. We should do our best to build bridges with them. Whatever, historical relations we have with them can also be used to strength good relations and mutual benefit. But we don’t need to invent a history that did not exist or accept the narrative of Ethiopian ruling classes, for whatever reason
Ogbai Ghebremedhin on the specific text on history: The other serious concern I have had from your –Thesis on Strategy By Our Voice By assenna on May 16, 2015 – was that I found very disturbing, for besides distorting history, if falls into justifying the claim Emperor HaileSelassie fabricated in the 40s that led to the sham federation. Look at the geopolitics of the world in the last hundred years and tell us what you see now and then. Isn’t it a fact that the Ethiopia we know today came into existence with Menelik emerging as the victor and sole king which is around 1890? And isn’t that the same year when Eritrea fell into Italian colonization? Hence, doesn’t history show that Eritrea and Ethiopia came simultaneously in their present shape into existence? I wonder why you had to go into details of history, when the burning issue is WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
Comment: I don’t believe in Tewelde’s conclusive bolded statement although I have no problem with his follow up text in the paragraph. I pass it as his subjective opinion of the matter but certainly relate to Dawit’s and Oqbai’s underlined expressions.
I agree with Ogbai substantially in that Eritrea’s and Ethiopia’s existence as distinct nations took place simultaneously when the Colonizers defined the boundaries of Eritrea, the Sudan, British-Somaliland, Italian-Somaliland, Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, etc. during the scramble of Africa like of any other nation in the continent’s contemporary history. Ethiopia was the remnant of East Africa’s border demarcation experience after the Italians, Britons and the French defined or demarcated the neighboring nations. It was created concurrently as a function of the colonialists’ creation of the colonies in discussion; meaning that they defined its borders (south, north, west and east) in the process of creating them. There would not have been Ethiopia in its present shape without the existence of its neighboring nations in their current appearances imposed on by the three European powers responsible for all the boundaries in the region. Ethiopia in its current territorial definition in light of this reality is thus, by rational default the derivative of its north-eastern borders with Italian-Eritrea and French-Djibouti, its south-eastern borders with Italian–Somaliland and British-Somaliland; and its south-western boundaries with British Kenya and the Sudan in its old form, meaning that MODERN ETHIOPIA is also a product of colonialism similar to all its neighboring countries.
OUR VOICE responded to Ogbai with appreciable respect and transparency saying that “By colluding with the Italians and giving away all Eritrean land and facilities therein, Menelic gave away Ethiopian claim on the whole of Eritrea. It is a closed matter that cannot be resuscitated as some Ethiopians are trying to do. The African Union charter also recognizes the inviolability of colonial boundaries. Therefore, why should that worry you?”
Comment: Having a problem with the VOICE’s opinion on Minilik’s role in the Statehood of Eritrea and believing that our historical account in general was at least 25 years behind the clock (since independence) in relation to the present Eritrean dynamics let us do WHAT IS TO BE DONE now checking out our egos not to leave a vacuum after the fall of the regime for anarchy and external intervention to reign instead of wasting energy on this destructive and irrelevant subject matter to our cause. We are just running out of time to enjoy the luxury of wasting more of it on history that has no value to the current democratic upshot of the Eritrean people, again with maximum respect. Let us leave this as it is and move on without trying to convince each other.
Once again, I suggest the intellectuals better concentrate on their encouraging Mission Statement
spelled out as “The mandate of the democratic leadership of the Our Voice – Eritrea movement is nothing else but to function as a preparatory body to bring about the establishment of accountable and sustainable constitutional governance in Eritrea in which all members of the society will have a full say. We are seeking no less than regime change and the transfer of state power to the people at the earliest” which is exactly what we should do to solve our problems”
Stay tuned for my opinion on the VOICE’s concept transparency.


Review overview
  • Adonay B. July 30, 2015

    Dear Mr Fetsum, the 24 yrs old Eritrean independence has shown two glaring realities : That independence doesn’t necessarily bring better life conditions for Eritreans and that it doesn’t mean bad life conditions for Ethiopians. Both realities explain how unjustifably high price was paid during the long bloody war and devastation. Our history has to be rewritten without the degrading Italian rule as well as the worst Ghedli rule.

    • Dawit, Our Voice - Eritrea August 1, 2015

      Dear Fitsum,
      Re: Transparency and Visibility
      We have read in depth your two articles on various issues regarding Our Voice with great interest and admiration. Actually, your ideas and even thinking are amazingly similar to ours. The only temporary difference we have is in regard to transparency and visibility.
      We have thought a great deal about this matter, and we have discussed in detail the pros and cons of announcing to the public the names and background of all those in the Our Voice leadership for the time being. In the end, we decided to do it at a later stage of our struggle. In short, we agree with Prof. Araya Debessay’s views on the subject. Why?
      The short answer is that we want to focus fully on the serious matter of ending the nightmare our country is in without delay – and not get distracted by getting embroiled and distracted by concocted vilifications and defamations of the messengers of hope. We are fighting an enemy that has no moral compass and no rules and standards. We do not want to give the evil HIGDEF mendef the chance to unleash their hounds of war on our group and individual members using their Trojan Horse websites and Bado Seleste (whispering campaign)to vivify our campaign at this formative stage of our movement. Have we not learned enough from what they did recently? They are capable of inventing any story and spread it to gullible members of the public. Of course, the rumour will be eventually disproved and discredited. In the meantime, however, valuable time will be lost and the matter will take its toll on those who are trying to do nothing else but good. This is what HIGDEF wants, and we are not going to feed the hungry mouth of a dying hyena.
      May we suggest that the struggle we are in is not anywhere like an American presidential election in which the public has the right to know and scrutinize everything about the candidates under certain safeguards? In the U.S., there are standards of public behaviour, legal safeguards and laws of defamation that protect the candidates and everybody else. Do these safeguards exist in our case? Of course they don’t!! How about “iti zeyedli shenkolel”? Should we not spare ourselves the needless waste of time and focus exclusively on the big task we have in our hands?
      Don’t worry, we have no skeleton(s) in the cupboard, and we shall announce the names, family backgrounds, qualifications and work experience of all the members of our leadership group in due course. We are only waiting for the right time. We understand that our supporters as well as our adversaries are eager to find out our details. But, we’d better focus on the serious task in front of us rather than get distracted – despite the pressure.
      Anyway, Fitsum, we are particularly interested in some of the important points you have raised in your articles which we need to discuss further with you. Therefore, we would like to get in touch soon. You have our e-mail address.
      With regards!

  • k.tewolde July 31, 2015

    Thanks again Fetsum for your valuable time and informative article. At the core of a bad situation there is good , the still of a dark night is the precursor of a beautiful dawn. The silver lining behind the forced migration from our beloved homeland is the opportunity to educate ourselves the best we can in the host countries. We have come a long way, the Eritrean audience is changing, maturing, and becoming less vulnerable to the old ,archaic ,outdated, divisive tactics of HGDEF , and its missionaries , one of the key prerequisite for the success for this mission at hand.’TO WHOM SO MUCH IS GIVEN , SO MUCH IS EXPECTED.’ Let’s assemble our talents in every area to excise this cancer that’s eating us away alive. OUR VICTORY IS INEVITABLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I. Mohammed July 31, 2015

    Dear brother Fetsum:Thank you so much for the information and critical analysis that you brought to attention of the public.I also give my appreciation and due respect to the authors OUR VOICE-Eritrean and all those who forwarded their comments.Let us leave history for the historians. Our immediate task is how to save our country and people from the devil dictator.The idea forwarded by the “OUR VOICE” in an excellent idea to be supported and collectively act for immediate solution to the suffering of our people.WE do not have time to spare.

  • weygud July 31, 2015

    Well, we all have freedom of expression not for something trivial ideas but something crucial and very important. We should not also lose the focus on the urgency and priority of matters. The group “Our voice” made clear their mission and calling for unity to implement their strategy for regime change. They are not there to write books about Eritrean History. They are appealing to all Eritreans to stand together for the survival of the Nation and its generation from ruin. History of the past is a reality and it will there for historians to rectify and write it properly in due course of time. The question now is let’s make history to save our country. Talking every time repetitive concept such as Identity, bottom up, democracy, history, Liberian Model prototype is waste of time. Germination of a seed doesnot take place on the surface of the soils.Please give this group a chance to structure and function its organization. Two way communication is only possible when the structure, the culture, mission, chain of command,people of the organization are well defined. Of course, we expect inclusive representation and effective command and control of functions, strong commitment and popular participation. Above all, we should clear up our fear, doubts, negative attitudes,selfish behaviors and stereotype victim of moralities. Struggle is not a get together party.