Fetsum: The moment of truth for Africans in China
Life teaches a lot, people say all the time as human experience rationalizes the saying for everybody to accept without hesitation. Who after all expected the Eritreans to be in this situation decades after independence
Life teaches a lot, people say all the time as human experience rationalizes the saying for everybody to accept without hesitation. Who after all expected the Eritreans to be in this situation decades after independence and who can possibly understand our failure to date fighting for freedom with unified resistance with all our exposure to democratic societies and the problems going on in the society?
I was riding for hire from DC to Dulles International Airport in Virginia with a young man from Seralleon driving the shuttle bus where we started conversing in the way about life in general and our continent in particular. He was a frustrated African that lost faith and interest returning to his motherland after sixteen years of life in the United States. Few words into the discussion, he caught me by surprise saying that he thanks God for creating White people without who the world would be in total destruction. He was thankful of them for “giving us home and work, allowing us to raise our families that our leaders denied us without any provocation no matter how they mistreated us during colonialism”. He said “African leaders were selfish that don’t care about their people except their pockets but white people worked hard for their societies to achieve the amazing developments we witness in their countries through rotation of the mind imposed by constitutionally limited terms in power”. Yet “Africans destroy what colonialism left behind with their dead minds that can no longer produce anything after more than 8 to 10 years of politically running their societies and still refuse to move on leaving their posts for new leaders”.
In his analysis, the white people understood that a leader may need 4-5 years of power to introduce his/her vision and another 4-5 years to implement it in action. They understood that the mind literally dies to produce anything new after two terms of political power and established laws that replace their leaders by other fresh minds through democratic election. Ours, however, kill their societies by permanently gravitating to power with their dead brains.
Sure was the brother correct when you see leaders like Mugabe that has a problem standing still continue running Zimbabwe with nothing to deliver anymore. At more than 90, he keeps on draining his society thinking he will live forever when in fact he is physically and mentally done in the face of reality.
In our case, the most ridiculous dictator still dreams of running the country for 25 more years and beyond coloring his hair and mustache like his role model Mugabe after literally killing it in the last 25 years of terrible leadership. This guy is brain-dead by now that cannot even deceive the people through false promises as he used to do in the past, the reason he did not promise anything in his latest speech to the exhausted people herded to the stadium to watch him in disgrace. Yet, he boasts to stay in power for life and continues destroying the poor people that loved and worshipped him with stronger commitment for the heck of devil’s advocacy. It was after observing these parasites that the brother from Seralleon had the audacity saying that; “it was hard to prove the African Blackman was equal to the Whiteman although I have no doubt that God made us equal”. The expression reminds me the moment I was walking with my Dad in New York City once upon a time in the eighties when he asked “etom merahtnas abzido metsiom yifeltu?”. I answered saying, not only did they but some of them even lived and went to school here; and he immediately asked “aykenun diyom bejaka?”
It was after my recent awareness of the depressing situation of our refugees in Baltimore City that I arrived in Beijing for the first time to witness the healthy looking Chinese youth enjoying themselves in a social bar that I was suddenly colonized by excruciating emotion thinking about the fate of the Eritrean youth in the recent disaster in the seas. My first impression was simply beyond my anticipation: I just could not help sadly meditating on the successful result of serious education in more than 2500 Chinese Universities in contrast to ours where the desperate kids were intentionally denied education for life in asylum by the heinous dictator and useless politicians in the system.
Sitting down in DOWNTOWN BEIJING keenly observing the Chinese and their development, one can only wonder how they managed to technologically catch up with the west shortly after the death of Chairman Mao. The Chinese people may not be proud of their freedom of speech but they individually have food and shelter for basic survival. One testifies that he has never witnesses interruption of water and electricity in Beijing, a home of 23-26 million people in the last ten years of his living in the city. The modern high rise buildings are beautiful, the Vegas looking lights mesmerizing, the infrastructures and roads well maintained and still developing. Business opportunities are high for people who can afford it and everyone is clean, works, strives to compete through healthy relationship and creativity. Although the people appear to have been programmed to substantially focus on their individual lives, they also seem to protect their society and its dignity with the same degree of concern to be able living peacefully without crimes and any form of shortage of material goods and basic necessities. How ever the regime does its political performance in the country immaterial, it has managed transforming about 300 million of its people to middle-class status just in the last few years of its leadership alone.
I met some Africans here from different backgrounds that were equally caught by surprise as to how the Chinese made it to this level of technological, economic and social development. Conventionally comparing Africa to Europe, the US and Australia and feeling the void was something normal for Africans but doing it in contrast to the Chinese, however, brings out their inner feeling for melancholic confession about their shame of being from the continent that staggers despite its wealth and potential just because of extraordinary failure in leadership. They were expressing it in different ways, sensing the pressure of inferiority complex in relation to the native people across the table enjoying each other with noticeable confidence and dignity. I could not help wondering what they were thinking about us!
The reason is crystal clear because the Chinese people were a third world society few years ago that went through extreme political control like most people in contemporary African history while the difference they made in their society is hard to deny even with extremely biased state of mind. Their technological and economic progress could have been ahead of their mental transformation but there is no doubt that they are proud people that made their country the second largest economic power in the world. And the pollution in Beijing may frustrate some people in its confinement, but no one can deny it was the reflection of the country’s ever increasing factories and industries that are now manipulating international business with similar capacity as that of the most advanced countries in the world.
One can not help vividly seeing the inferiority complex Africans suffer in contrast, witnessing the people with standard third word mentality succeeding with this extent of impact while countries like Eritrea with 5-6 million people continue failing with all their resources, potential and manpower as a result of parasitic leaderships that neither have the creativity or tendency to imitate other societies nor would they leave their people alone with their stolen money after decades of fruitless and oppressive governance. To me, it was better being an African in the US as a member of the Afro-American community that achieved respect at least from artistic, athletics and academic points of view. Confronting my Africaness in China, nevertheless, was as painful as it can be, as I felt naked without any shield in terms of the comparative elements of society for civility and respect. It even felt worse being Eritrean. I felt like the people were watching us, the Africans with humiliating classification of humankind. It was indeed a testing moment of truth that clearly reminds an African in that situation how in the world one can possibly justify equality to the native Chinese around.
Yet, one of the Africans in the crowd had the gut complaining about racism in China as if he earns equality without showing anything to that effect. Should the Chinese respect the Africans that did not earn it by respecting themselves through hard work and education because of terrible leadership? Should they really consider us their equals knowing Africans are failing themselves today without a justified excuse many years after overcoming colonialism through remarkable sacrifice of human and material resources? What does he think I wrote my book “The Curse of Being and Living It” for? Was not it because I felt the agony of being an Eritrean from the dark continent and suffering the consequence of living it specially after the promising independence that unexpectedly went down the drain for a reason beyond my capacity to fully understand? Only did I wish he knew!!
The truth remains that we Eritreans are far, far behind most Africans as terrible as their collective condition remains to be. We cannot compare with West Africans and fellow East Africans in everything let alone the probably more advanced South and North Africans except for our empty pride and rigidity devoid of any sensible substance. How we can change our situation given the alternatives hereon provided by our political activists is a question every Eritrean has to seriously confront, and it is clear that I have chosen the GLOBAL GRASSROOTS movement as the best solution in my opinion. But we can not face the world confidently and we will keep on being undermined any moment we flush that passport in any situation and place around the globe. I hope we will do the right thing in the near future, but for now, this is the Eritrean story that I pray for God to help us change as soon as possible!!!