Playful Mockery or Onionish Parody: The Dictator’s Independence Day Speech
The last Independence Day marked the 25th anniversary of the dictator's de Jure coronation in his throne. As it was customary of him, this time, he didn't make the usually empty promises -- perhaps, he
The last Independence Day marked the 25th anniversary of the dictator’s de Jure coronation in his throne. As it was customary of him, this time, he didn’t make the usually empty promises — perhaps, he ran out of them, for an uneventful quarter century of promises must have taken a toll on him. He made a rather strange speech of cataloging the injustices inflicted upon Eritrea. What the colonial era wrongs got to do with the 21st Century Eritrea is indeed bizarre. I didn’t however listen to his speech out of curiosity or anticipating a new direction for Eritrea, but I listened it for entertainment purposes only, with his tedious ziKebekinin ziKeberkumin monotony, to his foresight to see us at the Golden Jubilee joke. But what are his accomplishments for the last quarter century at the helm? To better make an informed judgement, it is fair to mention some precedent.
In 1993, the Eritrean dictator stepped into the podium of the 29th OAU Summit in Cairo, Egypt to deliver a speech, not necessarily as one of the “big men” of the continent, but as a new and untested skipper of a new nation. It was such a good time that Africa, despite its refusal to accept Eritrean’s legitimate struggle – understandably so, for the OAU has being headquartered in Ethiopia – when all was over, it nonetheless had bestowed its goodwill to Eritrea by promptly accepting it as a full member. It was at this gathering that Africa had seen the first glimpse of a monster-in-the-making in Eritrea.
Indeed, the always vulgar and unrestrained fellow didn’t waste time to remind the attendees as to who he would become. He barked at the assembled dignitaries:
“…although the OAU has often championed the lofty ideals of unity, cooperation, economic development, human rights and other worthy objectives, it has failed to seriously work for their concrete realization. And thirty years after the foundation of the organization, our continent remains afflicted by growing poverty and backwardness.”
For the good part of his lecture, he growled, barked and bullied the hashed and baffled audience who otherwise accorded him the goodwill. But one participant, allegedly Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, had had enough of his BS and was alleged to have uttered this dismissive yet prophetic words: “…he is fresh, drunk with victory, just give him some time until he proves himself.”
Prophetic words Indeed!
Indeed, this lunatic narcissist proved himself to be quite the opposite of what he lectured at the time. Under his watch, Eritrea became the laughing stoke of Africa: his insatiable appetite for power dictated that he rule not by unity and cooperation, but through the barrel of a gun; his autocratic rule is the subject of a UN Human Rights panel; economic development, the way every country knows it — unless of course, his gutter economics manufactured in his slumber — is non-existent in Eritrea; and quite alarmingly, in his watch, Eritrea has gotten the distinction of the biggest net exporter of refugees per capita. But then, that is how borderline lunatics behave.
His behavior through and through is that of what psychologists describe as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. These are people who has a natural propensity to deny their failure and even have a graduated level of personal self worth. They are woefully incapable of accepting criticism of any kind, lest their personal ego suffer; they feign confidence in public, but inside their skin, they are insecure. And they know it; that is why they are inclined to be violent and ruthless.
But back then, the dictator was a God send fellow to us Eritreans. Whatever he said and done was reciprocated by unmatched applause and hysteria almost to a state of trance. For example, everyone remembers back in 1994, when a quarter of a million people, we were told, lined the streets of Asmara to receive him upon coming back from medical trip, malarial infection, we were told. Quite frankly, I doubted that that was the case. I thought it was a carefully and expertly tailored ploy to gauge the reaction of the Eritrean people. And those quarter million hypnotized souls didn’t disappoint him.
But hey! It really didn’t matter what I thought. How poor Eritrea found itself under the villain dictator is what matters to the collective we. How has he expertly managed to dupe us is beyond comprehension; in fact, it is better left to Psychologists and Sociologists to ponder through for clues. But there is one undeniable fact in our inherent thinking.
Admittedly, what has happened to us has nothing to do with him and everything to do with us. I mean by this, years or even decades of lack of democratic institutions in Eritrea coupled with the us vs them of the ‘Gedli’ mentality prepared a fertile ground for the strongman to appear. Indeed, in a culture where a strongman is adored, where peaceful settlement of an issue is considered a weakness, it becomes apparent why we surrendered our right and dignity to the strongman. We created our own nemesis. He has effectively become the omnipresent and omnipotent ruler. Machiavelli said, “a prince (ruler) has to be feared than loved” to rule; but our fair dictator was not feared. He rather comfortably ruled because we gleefully gave up our right. What he said and done was divinely followed.
“…Africa is not a place where its citizens can walk with raised heads but a continent scorned by all its partners; a continent that seems to produce endlessly the wrong manuals for economic development, democracy and political management.” The dictator Continued his lecture to the African dignitaries. With these words, one would assume that he would transform Eritrea in a few years. In terms of economic development, democracy and political management, Eritrea is the least mentioned in the world; in fact, Eritrea is the highest refugee producing country in the world. So, why bother lecturing others If he himself was incapable fulfilling them? But he was not mean to fulfill them. He was creating a facade of democracy for Eritrea to dupe us into his grand agenda. From the get go, he was and still is in our midst to depopulate Eritrea However, his soulless foot soldiers don’t have any clue as what is in store for them.
As far as his anticipation to see us at the Golden Jubilee, this is simply a mockery. His personal loathing of the Eritrean identity know no bounds that he is in fact engaged in psychological warfare against the Eritrean people now:
First, the message was clearly intended to the uniformed zombies behind him to never think of any rescue of Eritrea.
Second, it was intended to our people to never think of any change in the near future. Third, it was a message to the Eritrean youth to live under the slave conditions or leave the country. What option does he have? Either fight the oppressor or leave!
What is the message “see you at Golden Jubilee” statement convey to the unsophisticated and timid fellow? It has the potential to create confusion to an average mind and the dysfunctional opposition by making them to anticipate a long haul struggle. Create a confusion and extend your survivability in the process, it is therefore, a war by itself. The era of legitimacy by default is long gone. He is simply on a survival mode now.
We Eritreans failed to heed the warning signs from the outset. Jerry Rawlings must be laughing at us now.