TEGADALIT AB WUSHATE
TEGADALIT AB WUSHATE by Fetsum Abraham The author of 'From Feminist to Rapist" I dedicate this input to the eccentric Eritrean Feminist Martha Mebrahtu Quote of the moment: If the shelving of the first lady in Eritrea does not wake up women
TEGADALIT AB WUSHATE
The author of ‘From Feminist to Rapist”
I dedicate this input to the eccentric Eritrean Feminist Martha Mebrahtu
Quote of the moment:
If the shelving of the first lady in Eritrea does not wake up women to Afwerki’s degree of Male Chauvinism, nothing will. A woman’s acceptance of second-class citizenship in Eritrea and her support of the president are mutually inclusive. Supporting the president in Eritrea directly implies a female’s admission of being inferior to the male gender.
Eritrea has always been a deeply rooted male chauvinistic society. Added the burden of colonialism to this, the Eritrean women were circumstantially conditioned to suffer from two distinct forms of oppression: Domestic Male domination and colonialism triggered national oppression similar to any other Eritreans in general. The Eritrean struggle for independence, therefore offered a unique opportunity for Eritrean women to resolve the two oppressions through equal participation in the liberation army. At the end, they stood and still stand at the top of the list universally for personally participating in the struggle at about 30% of the liberation army composition. They were active internally and externally through out the struggle.
The Eritrean independence was impossible without the gallant participation of our women. So is the success of men in society without gender equality. Men have to support gender equality for their own advantage. The fact remains that our women’s incomparable input in the struggle liberated the country from Ethiopian colonialism together with the rest of the people. Yet; they failed short of achieving gender equality in our society. The dictatorship stood in the way of their freedom. As a result, the condition of women in today’s Eritrea remains to be more terrible than in the past; negatively reflecting the problem in our society in terms of family destruction.
The “dehan kuni wishate” moto of our women reflected by the talented Tegadalit Tanki during the struggle went down the drain by the chauvinist system that decided to confine the first lady in the kitchen (wishate). In so doing, the president dispatched male chauvinism from home grounds for the outlook to practically set the standard as to how women should be treated in our country, which is nothing more than second-class citizenship. He Role-modeled gender oppression by giving Eritrean men the green light to dominate their women at will.
As a consequence, sexual corruption became the government officials’ mode of communication with women. Divorces; intimidation and favoritism induced sexual abuse reigned in the society that was known for its cultural decency in this regard. With mistresses and side-kids everywhere, the wives of the government officials have as well been contained in the kitchen like the first lady of Eritrea.
Ladies and gentlemen! Eritrea after independence has become the entertainment bonanza of internal and external perverts and pedophiles that are reducing our young teenage girls to sexual objects. The Commanders rape them at SAWA and the sex-starved Eritreans travel to the country to sexually abuse them for small changes. Too many of them are left uneducated but rather making babies by unknown fathers and the escapees face human trafficking and asylum affiliated prostitution without any interference from the government.
Apparently, one of the most distinguished Eritrean revolutionaries in the history of the struggle happened to be Feminist Martha Mebrahtu. Martha was an attractive and intelligent medical student at Haile Sellasie I University (now Addis Ababa University) back in the 1970s. As an elected president of the university’s medical students’ association; she was a fierce critic of the King Hailesselassie’s feudal system, a passionate advocate of women’s rights, an active member of the university students movement and a dedicated supporter of the Eritrean struggle for independence. Martha was an internationalist civil rights activist and an icon of East African FEMINISM, a socio-political position strongly influenced by the Leftist air of the moment and activists of the likes of Professor Angela Davis (a notorious Afro American Civil Rights Activist from California). They actually nicknamed Martha after this famous Feminist because she resembled her in intellectualism and looks.
As much as Zerai Deres dignified the Eritrean society by sacrificing his life in front of Hitler and Mussolini in Rome for freedom from European colonialism, the selfless sister Martha Mebrahtu sacrificed herself in dramatic fashion for democracy, justice and gender equality overall and for Eritrean independence from Ethiopia in particular. Martha was killed on air on the 8th December 1972 by the Ethiopian government in the active process of hijacking an Ethiopian airliner with few prominent revolutionary members of the radical Ethiopian Student’s Movement of the time.
Feminist Martha left behind the following message (‘”written on the 7th December 1972”) a day before she participated in that historical plane hijacking experience that consumed her life for good.
“The Martha Manifesto”: (Thursday, 7 December 1972), (roughly translated from Amharic):
“Our struggle demands a bitter sacrifice in order to liberate our oppressed and exploited people from the yokes of feudalism and imperialism. We, women of Ethiopia and Eritrea, are not only exploited as members of the working classes and peasants, we are also victims of gender inequality, treated as second-class citizens. Therefore, our participation in this struggle must double the efforts of other oppressed groups; we must fight harder, we must be at the forefront. We must equally participate in the struggle for economic and social justice that our brothers have waged. We have a responsibility to become a formidable force in the revolutionary army. The rights for freedom and equality are not manna from heaven. We, women, have to be organized and have to make ourselves ready for any armed struggle. We affirm our full support for the oppressed people of the world who are struggling to free themselves from imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism and racism! We stand by the freedom fighters in Vietnam, Palestine, Guinea-Bissau and in other African and Latin American countries; we also support the civil rights leaders in North America.
Victory to the popular struggle of the people! May the people’s movement for freedom in both Ethiopia and Eritrea live forever! My sisters and my brothers, let’s keep on fighting!”
May God bless her soul in heaven!
Colonialism produced humiliation; Feudalism, oppression
Federation was domination; Sexism, psychic manipulation
I went through all this to wake up for the call
And joined the fight for the freedom of all
30 years after roughing it in the jungle;
For independence to reign, oppression to rumble;
The excessive sacrifice, hardship and strife
Got me dictatorship that controls my life
Freedom of speech caught by the throat, creativity bleeding in the gut
Intelligence rendered irrelevant, slap for assisting jail for thought
Abuse here, abuse there; control, control
Don’t touch anything I got to have it all
When they pushed freedom all the way to the wall
How long can a society sustain this?
When a burden dies out a parasite succeeds!
Kids running away from slavery, mothers left behind in misery
Schools colonized by the Army, young girls selling it for money
Prostitution instead of education, silence for expression
Parent-less children everywhere, in this hopelessness with no destination
Traumatized girls in pregnancy, society feeling their dependency
How terrible life is, under this autocracy!
Oh Liberation! The mother of total destruction
You have left our women in desperation, exposing them for rape and abduction
You liberation! Allowed chauvinism to manifest itself
By storing the first lady on the shelf
This role modeling undermined women’s dignity
Gender equality lost essence in society
Sexual abuse became a priority; for perverts obsessed with busting virginity
Leaders with mistresses, wives in divorce
Raising the kids alone having had no choice
What a disaster what an experience!
Is this really the time for women to rejoice?
Where are you Senait, where in the world is your guitar?
How is your sister Amina, after thrown in the gutter?
Ahmed melts without explanation, his brother Girmai dissolves in incarceration
What did my people do for this elimination?
I thought we secured freedom through the revolution
If the fight was to liberate me at the expense of their freedom
To hell with Eritrea and its totalitarian kingdom!
Long live the Eritrean women’s struggle for gender equality!