Do, the Eritrean-Tigrian families and populations, of the highland Akele-Guzai, Hamasien and Serae (Kebesa) regions, know, to whose native and ancestral land, in the western Eritrean regions, they are being ?relocated? and ?resettled in?, by the PFDJ's regime? If they don't, they'd better know it now! The VKP/KAM: (July 15, 2009).
In the recent weeks and months, there have been quite a number of reports, particularly from the PFDJ regime's mouth-piece and official web-site, www.shabait.com, that numberless families of the Eritrean-Tigrian families and populations from the Eritrean highland (Kebesa) regions of Akele-Guzai, Hamasien and Serae, have been ?voluntarily relocated? and ?settled in?, in the Eritrean western regions, (Gash-Barka region), specifically in the Kunama land. Apar from the ?88 villages and villagers? of the same families and populations, which had been ordered, starting already on ?April 24, 2009?, to leave their villages in the Hamasien region and move to westwards, another waves of countless populations are being, either ordered, advised or even coerced, to moved to the ?Gash-Barka region?, in search of more fertile farm-land to resettle.. The aim is said to be ?so as to lead a better farming life?. According to the various sources, though, the ?relocation? and the ?settling in? of those families and populations, is said to be partly ?forcibly? and partly ?voluntary?, the project itself has been conjured out by the present PFDJ's regime of Ato Isaias Afwerki, with the aim of occupying the ?Gash-Barka region?, with as many Eritrean-Tigrians as the entire territory is capable of inhabiting them. We Kunama have already, and repeatedly made it clear that, in the Kunama land, there is no region, territory or land called ?Gash-Setit?; (which are respectively, the Sudanese and the Ethiopian names of the two rivers, flowing through and along the Kunama land and which the Kunama people know and call them only as: - Sona and Tika-Suba/Bahara). The only land in that geographical context is the ?Kunama Laga?, (Kunama Land), of which the native inhabitants and the rightful owners of that land are only the Kunama people, who have the principle and the tradition of owning their native and ancestral land, ?only in common?, faithful to their egalitarian social structure. Added to this, the decrees and the principles, issued and laid out first by the Italian colonial government, of ?Terreno Demaniale, State Land and Meriet Mengsti?, inherited by the following rulers of Eritrea are all forceful impositions, illegal, unjust and very contrary to the customs, traditions and cultural territorial values of the Kunama people. The ?Kunama Land?, therefore has its own propler name of ?Kunama Laga?, not to be either identified with or replaced by the names of two rivers which do not carry even the Kunama names. The PFDJ's regime, the Eritrean opposition in general, the non-Kunama Eritrean populations have to get this very important information and message that ?Gash-Setit? have never been and are not the names the native Kunama name and refer to their native and ancestral land and therefore anyone, be it the rulers, families and populations, today ?moving?, being ?relocated to? or ?settled in?, in ?Gash-Setit?, is being either confused or very deliberately trying to invent a conjured-out name for the Kunama Land and invade it, with the argument that it either belongs to the ?State? or it is an inhabited land or even a land where its Kunama inhabitants can be and have to be forcefully removed, dispelled or even ethnic-cleansed. This is a very tragic violations of the human and ethnic rights of the Kunama people which, all the forces concerned have to keep in mind, before, totally complicating matters of which ominous consequences, will be regretted only too late and with no mending measures to make recourse to.
Concerning its projects of moving, from one region to another, families, ethnic-groups and populations, which historically have been repeatedly tried and completely failed, by many socialist regimes in the past, the language of the present PFDJ's regime, as reported by the ?shabait.com's Staff, in June 26, 2009?, went that, ?the families who used to live in the eastern escarpment of Senafe sub-zone and not in a position to obtain satisfactory harvest due to the negative consequences of climatic change were moved to Gash-Barka region in the wake of submitting petition to the government?.
Our questions are:
how had those families managed to sustain themselves and lived, throughout the centuries, in their ?Senafe sub-zone?, before they advanced ?their petition? to the PFDJ's regime to help them ?obtain satisfactory harvest due to the climatic change?, by ?moving them to Gash-Barka region??
We very much doubt how true it was that those ?families? themselves had expressed their desire to be moved out of their own natural environments.
How come, no ruler or government has ever come up with the idea of ?moving those families to Gash-Barka region to obtain satisfactory harvest?, until the PFDJ's regime has come along and start uprooting and ?removing? the Eritrean different ethnic and folk-groups from their native and ancestral lands and ?relocating? them in other ethnic and folk-groups' lands, thus creating and spreading resentments, hatred, conflicts and havoc among those different communities who had either been already living peacefully together or as near and distant neighbours, in the entire Eritrean past history?
We however do not rule out that some Eritrean individuals, family members, families and even some populations might have been and are interested in being officially ?relocated? in the ?Gash-Barka region?, assuming or even cunningly believing that there exists a region with such a neutral name, uninhabited, belonging to the ?State? and therefore ready to be occupied, settled in, cultivated and exploited by any Eritrean wishing to improve his living conditions. There were and are those individuals, families and populations we believe to be motivated solely by self-interests and therefore ready, with the active help of the regime itself, to prevaricate every ethnic, territorial and cultural rights of the oppressed Eritrean ethnic-groups and impose their own interests upon those of the native local populations.
Those Eritrean individuals, their families and family members and those entire populations, today massively moving to, either ?forcibly? or ?voluntarily?, and settling in the Eritrean western lowland regions, are, should be informed and know that they are invading the native and the ancestral lands of the Baria, of the Beni-Amer, of the Kunama and of the Nara populations. They should not be fooled by the fact that most of the Eritrean western lowland regions has been forcefully abandoned by their native inhabitants, because the EPLF and the PFDJ regime of Ato Isaias Afwerki has been categorically refusing those native populations from coming back to their native homelands. Not only that, but even those native populations, like the Kunama who had never abandoned their maternal land, until they have been and are being ?ethnic-cleansed?, by the forced of the present PFDJ's regime and forced to flee to Ethiopia and to The Sudan, thus living empty, their own vast and fertile crop-fields, grazing lands and even their own villages and hamlets. This is how the neutral name of ?Gash/Setit-Barka region? has come to be known and taken as empty region, ?Meriet Mensgti?, vast, fertile and ready to be ?relocated to?, cultivated and harvested in abundance. The true definition and names of those native lands as: the land of the Baria, of the Beni-Amer, of the Kunama and of the Nara native populations, have been very purposefully abandoned, replaced and confused with the neutral and conjured-out names of three rivers, the Barka, the Gash and the Setit, thus confusing also some populations of the Eritrean highland regions and even of the ?Anseba, of the Southern and Northern Red Sea region?. The PFDJ's regime is very deliberately planting ?land-mines?, ready to explode ethnic hatred and conflicts in the Eritrean western lowland regions. This is the main message those non-native populations have to know, get, remember and be aware of, because the present PFDJ's regime of Ato Isaias Afwerki is not even an officially elected ?Government of Eritrea (GoE)? and therefore has neither the right nor the legal authority to ?remove, move and relocate? the Eritrean native populations, let alone changing names and depriving the Eritrean populations and the Eritrean ethnic and folks-groups of their native and ancestral land rights. The western Eritrean lowland has never been so empty of its own native inhabitants until the PFDJ's regime of Ato Isaias Afwerki came to power and waged an open ethnic war against its own different ethnic and demographic composition. All those Eritrean populations, from the Eritrean highland, from the Eastern, Southern and Nothern Eritrean regions, today being either ?forcibly? or ?voluntarily relocated to? the Weatern Eritrean lowland regionss, disguised under the neutral and abstract names of ?Gash/Setit-Barka regions?, are being officially informed that they are being temporarily settled in the lands of the Baria, of the Beni-Amer and of the Kunama populations, who will be, one day returning to their own native homelands and claiming back the property rights of their own native and ancestral land. The present PFDJ's regime of Ato Isaias Afwerki is not and will not be and remain an eternal force to defend and guarantee its own territorial and economic interests, let alone the interests of the Eritrean-Tigrians and of the other non-native populations today roaming in the Western lowland and in many other regions of Eritrea. History confirms that forceful dominations have always called for force, forceful reactions and forceful ejections.
The above mentioned reports on the ?voluntary? and ?forceful migrations? and ?relocations? of the non-native Eritrean populations of the Eritrean highland and other regions, in the western Eritrean lowland regions, the following details have been officially given by the PFDJ's regime and by its officials engaged in those programs:
1.- ?Jun 26, 2009 ? More than 1,300 families from the Southern region
have moved to Golij (Gulluj) sub-zone in Gash-Barka so as to lead a better farming life?. Not ?Golij?, but ?Gulluj? is a Kunama village, in the heart of the Kunama-Tika region and therefore that village and its surroundings are the native homelands of the Kunama-Tika populations. There is no free land there, where those ?more than 1,300 families from the Southern region? could ever ?lead a better farming life?, unless they are forcefully ejecting the Kunama inhabitants of the Tika region and occupying their farm-lands. The Kunama land is as vast as the herds of cattle and of other various domestic animals the Kunama people possess, as an important part of their subsistence. Those ?1,300 families? are therefore being informed and warned that they are illegally occupying and settling in the land of the Kunama native populations and destroying the basic elements of their livelihood. They are being informed on and warned of the ominous dangers.
2.- ?Jul 3, 2009 ? a total of 553 families that used to live in 20
administrative areas of Adi-Keih sub-zone have been voluntarily relocated to fertile plains in Tessinei sub-zone, Gash-Barka region, for better agricultural practice?.
Linguistically speaking, the use of the passive form to report that that ?553 families have been voluntarily relocated,? does suggest that the action itself was not totally ?voluntary?, but that there was some form and degree of ?force? and coercion involved in it. Humanly speaking, why should ?553 families? would voluntarily abandon their own native homelands or even be forcefully removed from their native and ancestral land, (natural environment), and ?relocated? in a land, not only far away and unknown, but also belonging to other ethnic-groups, populations and families? What is the regime cooking up? Is it deliberately fomenting ethnic-conflicts, civil-war and destruction?
3.- ?July 5, 2009?, the ?Department of Information and Culture
Eritrean People's Party?, under the title. ?Victims of Forced Relocation Face Disease and Shortage of Food?, reported that ?the nearly 3000 citizens are reported to have received only 3,000 Nakfa and one tent per family from the government, after they were forcibly relocated to Sebelnkit, in Western Eritrea?.
As we are unable to locate, geographically, whether ?Sebelnkit? is a village or a region and whether it is situated in the Baria, in the Beni-Amer, in the Kunama or in the Nara homelands, we are asking the ?EPP's Department of Information and Culture?, to provided us with more details on that locality, instead of simply mentioning it is ?in Western Eritrea?.
To our view, as for the core issue of the ?forceful relocation of those 3000 citizens?, the ?EPP's Department of Information and Culture?, is taking a very evasive view and attitude, in the sense that, it does not actually either tackle the root reason of the PFDJ regime's programs of ?relocating? the Eritrean-Tigrians and other populations, from their native regions in the western Eritrean lowlands, or clearly condemn it as a project inherently illegal, unjust and fomenting ethnic reactions, resentments and conflicts between the native populations of the western lowlands and the ?relocated? populations, from the highland and other Eritrean regions.. Why is the EPP's official organ not taking a clear. Contrary and a firm stand to the regime's present politics of ?relocation?, but it is being concerned only with the ?victims of forced relocation, facing disease and shortage of food; receiving only 3000 Nakfa and one tent per family from the government?? Why not tell the regime that it is creating greater risks to the ?relocated? as well as to the native populations whose homelands are being forcefully invaded, occupied and exploited? Why does the ?EPP's? official web-site not clearly explaining the seriousness of the issue and inform those ?relocated? populations that they are being settled in the native lands of the ?Baria, of the Beni-Amer, of the Kunama and of the Nara ? populations and not simply stating that it is in unknown places like ?Sebelnkit, in Western Eritrea?, or in other places, generally and falsely known under the names of rivers like ?Barka, Gash, and Setit?, assumed, by many non-native populations, as a ?State Land/Meriet Mengsti), a vast, fertile and an empty region where all Eritrean ?citizens? were and would be entitled to move in, settle and use it? The very word ?citizens?, which the ?EPP's Department of Information and Culture? uses to refer to the ?forcibly relocated? families and populations, does indeed imply that they are not members of particular Eritrean ethnic/folk-groups, but only ?Eritrean citizens?, who have their citizens' rights to settle wherever and anywhere they choose to, in Eritrea. In the whole report, there is nowhere ?the invasion and the expropriation? of the natives' lands, by the regime and by those relocated populations, have been mentioned, by the ?EPP's Deparment of Information and Culture?. We take this to be a tacit consent and support of the PFDJ regime's relocation policy, as the whole report of the EPP is more on the ?sufferings? of those ?Victims of Relocation? than on strongly criticising, rejecting and condemning the whole rationale of the relocation itself and of the perils it poses, now and in the future.
4.- ?Jul 6, 2009 ? More than 270 families from the sub-zone of
Mendefera and Areza have been voluntarily relocated to fertile area im Omhajer so as to improve their standard of living through actively engaging in agricultural practices?.
To our knowledge, the ?Mendefera and Areza? are the areas of the highland regions, not only geographically vast, but also agriculturally very fertile, and also the most suitable flat lands where the Eritrean-Tigrians of the Serae region have always produced varieties of agricultural products. It is therefore a degrading, an effrontery and an open insult to the populations of that region, on the part of the regime, to claim that they had to be ?relocated to fertile areas in Omhajer so as to to improve their standard of living through actively engaging in agricultural practices?. It is highly improbable and therefore a white lie that ?the families have been repeatedly requesting to resettle in convenient areas in order to boost agricultural output, and thus upgrade their living condition?. Independent sources from the Kunama Land are reporting and confirming that some of those relocated families and populations are asking why they have been and are being moved out of their own native lands and resettled in other natives' lands.
5.- ?Jul 10, 2009 ? The residents of Tessenei town extended material
assistance worth over 1 million Nakfa to farmers who voluntarily relocated to Aligidir administrative area from the Anseba, Southern and Northern Red Sea region in order to improve their standard of living?.
In all of its reports on ?relocation?, the ?www.shabait.com's Staff?, not only once has it stated that any of those families and populations, said to have been ?relocated in Gash-Barka region?, have been resettled anywhere else, but only in the Kunama Land. This explains what the main aim of the PFDJ's regime, in undertaking, in the first place, whether the ?voluntary? or ?forceful?, the relocation of those families and populations, from many parts of Eritrea. It is to populate the Kunama Land with other and different ethnic-groups' members, so as, not only to outnumber and oppress the native Kunama populations, but to initiate the gradual extinction of their race. It is to such evil attempt that we Kunama are today raising our voices against and crying that this regime has very sinister plans against and upon the Kunama race. It is against the PFDJ regime's continuous ethnic-cleansing attempts that we Kunama are condemning this regime's all out policy to invade our land.
How will the vast and the fertile Kunama Land ecologically, look like, once all those populations of the highland and of other Eritrean regions, are relocated, resettled and let free to start chopping down the trees in search of fire-wood and carry out their deforestation habits in order to ?be actively engaged in agricultural practices?? In a matter of a couple of years, the Kunama Land, (if not worse), it will look like as barren and empty as the Hamasien region.
Our messages to those already relocated and will be relocated families and populations therefore, are that, there is no a ?State Land? (Meriet Mengsti), in the entire Western Eritrean Lowlands, called either ?Gash-Barka region? or ?Gash-Setit? which is vast, fertile, uninhabited and empty where every Eritrean citizen can be relocated in and given hectares of land to be exploited. That they know they are just being victims of an evil regime which is luring and cheating them and very deliberately leading them into direct conflicts with the native populations who will be, one day, returning to their homelands and reclaiming the property rights of their own respective native and ancestral lands. That the PFDJ's regime is not even a legally elected government and therefore has no legal authority to take decisions and issue decrees of the Eritrean people's homelands. Besides, this regime will not be there for ever to defend the agricultural lands that it is now expropriating from the native populations and allocating to its own self, to its own supporters and to the families and populations to which it is ethnically, culturo-linguistically and politically affiliated with. In short, that, those families and populations know that they are being settled in the lands of the native Baria, of the native Beni-Amer, of the native Kunama and of the native Nara populations. That these populations are just longing to return to their native territories and live in peace. The PFDJ's regime however is burying land-mines in the homelands of those native populations, ready to explode as soon as they set foot on them.
What kinds of legal claims could those relocated populations raise and advance, once the Baria, the Beni-Amer, the Kunama and the Nara native populations will, one day return, and claim for their legitimate land rights? An unelected, illegal and an unauthorised regime will not have any legal right and authority to defend its own self and interests, let alone the interests of those populations whose lives are being put in danger, starting from this very moment. There will not be any excuse, in later years, for those non-native populations, to claim ?NOT TO HAVE KNOWN? whose homelands they are today being relocated to and settled in. We are informing, reminding and warning them very timely, that the native populations of the western Eritrean regions, do have the property rights of their own native and ancestral lands, in the same and equal manner as those Eritrean-Tigrians and other populations do have of their own respective native homelands. Unless this equation of rights is recognised, accepted, promoted and guaranteed, no unity in diversity of the Eritrean society, no peace and stability of the Eritrean nation and no peaceful coexistence with our neighbouring nations and their populations are likely to come into being, implemented and remain. We Eritreans do need to know, understand, accept and respect each other first, before trampling on each other's land, which is more to widen our diversity than narrow and unite us. Unless we do live in peace with each other, we shall never be able to stretch a peaceful hand to our neighbouring nations and their populations.
The VKP/KAM: (July 15, 2009).
What does, Professor Doctor Bereket Habteselassie mean by „calling for a non-factional and non-confessional politics in the current Eritrean struggle?“ Does he mean that we Kunama and Afar should drop struggling for our ethnic, cultural and territorial rights and other Eritrean ethnic/folk-groups, for their religious rights? The VKP/KAM: (July 10, 2009
The use of the two hyphenated adjectives, “non-factional and non-confessional politics”, does imply that they can be understood, interpreted, and taken as sending either positive or negative messages. We do understand interpret and take them as sending two very negative messages. Anything, event or a group, described as “factional” or “confessional” implies that it inherently holds either a divisive and destructive force or tending to believe and conduct a religious practice/war, with the aim of implanting the practice of religious “bigotry” or fundamentalism. Both adjectives therefore, used in such a thoughtless and insensitive manner, do negatively taint those two social and religious groups and their messages. To our view, the struggles being conducted today, by some Eritrean organisations, namely by the ethnic Afar and Kunama and by Islamic organisations, seen and described as “factional” and confessional politics” should and have to be better understood, interpreted, taken and replaced by the more appropriate and positive adjectives like “ethnic” and “religious”. Yet, the Professor Doctor Bereket Habtesellasse, in “The Critical Challenge Facing , affirms that such kinds of Today”“politics” should not be conducted in Eritrea , a nation made up of a multi-ethnic, multi-culturo-linguistic and of multi-religious society. This is nothing less than openly denying those rights to those societies. What kind of a nation would Eritrea be, if those rights were denied to those societies and forced to struggle only for their national political rights? What are and would those national political rights be if they are not and were not the ones embodied and included in and are integral parts of those societies' fundamental ethnic, cultural, territorial and religious rights? Do “ethnicity” and “religion” not supersede politics, as human fundamental values? If Eritrea is a multi-nationalities' nation, the tutelage of the basic ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious, territorial and other related rights of those nationalities have and must have an absolute priority. This is “The Critical Challenge” and not the utopian and the perennial cry over the “safety of Eritrea” which the PFDJ's regime and its supporting forces have been spreading about to our understanding, the Eritrean nation, the Eritrean national sovereignty, integrity, security and stability cannot and will not be guaranteed, if not and unless the ethnic, cultural and religious rights of those Eritrean nationalities are given, safeguarded and guaranteed.
To our stand therefore, “The Critical Challenge Facing Eritreans Today” is not the salvation of the “Eritrean nation”, but of the lives of the Eritrean people, of the Eritrean ethnic-groups, of their members and of property rights of their native and ancestral lands. The Eritreans commonly fought thirty and more years, to free their country, and they did, but today, they are turned into slaves, brutalised, dispelled and killed by a force which has never been a “Protector”, as Professor Doctor Bereket Habteselassie, would like to have us believe, but that it has always been and will always remain a “Predator. The (crucial) challenge facing Eritreans today” is their identity as human-beings, as members of an Eritrean ethnic-group with all their linguistic and socio-cultural rights, traditions and values and their claim to be equal and treated as equal members of the Eritrean diverse society. In short, the Eritreans today are longing to be proud members of the Eritrean nationalities as well as of their own Eritrean national identity which is being put under a serious question, because only a certain community, (namely, the Eritrean-Tigrian), is today claiming to be of its own property and have the right to it.
With his call for “non-factional and non-confessional politics”, Professor Doctor Bereket Habteselassie is not only repeating, but indeed reflecting the core-principle of the EPLF and of the PFDJ regime's “hade hizbi hade libbi” where there is neither ethnic nor religious diversity; there is neither the Afar nor the Kunama, but indeed only the “Tigrian”; there is no Islam or Jehovah, Pentecostal and other religions and denominations or not even the practice of the Kunama Belief, but only the Christian Orthodox Denomination and this too, under the strict control of the regime. For Ato Isaias Afwerki, for Professor Doctor Bereket Habteselassie and their likes, only an Eritrean nation seen under the “national constellation”, is viable, united, safe and stable. Today, Professor Doctor Bereket Habteselassie cannot honestly and fully claim to be an authoritative voice, now opposing and accusing Ato Isaias Afwerki of being “the Predator” because this very Professor Doctor, had been, was and, perhaps, still is, one of the most authoritative and influential Eritrean intellectuals who had been supporting and helping Ato Isaias Afwerki to grow up and become “the Predator” that he is. The meagre excuses Prof. Bereket Habteselassie has been bringing up and claiming he had not known Ato Isaias Afwerki who he was and how his ideologies and political principles were, cannot at all save him from being and remaining one of the architects and pillars who had brought Ato Isaias Afwerki to establish his dictatorial powers.
After having read the many writings and articles of this acclaimed professor and followed his basic conviction, we are gradually coming to assessing and associating him, more and more, with the ideologies and with the socio-political and economic principles of the EPLF, of Ato Isaias Afwerki and of his PFDJ's regime than with the common politics and stand of the major bodies of the Eritrean opposition. The fundamental fact that Professor Doctor Bereket Habteselassie has been and is uniquely concerned with saving only the “Eritrean nation”, rather than the Eritrean people, the persecuted and ethnic-cleansed Eritrean ethnic-groups like the Kunama, the Afar and others, about which he had never spent a word of compassion, does clearly prove his firm association with the politics of the ruling junta. It is neither random nor thoughtless, but indeed very purposeful his assertion, “in an attempt to solicit discussion and a search for an answer to the problem, (the survival of Eritrea as a nation-state), I used a dramatic Tigrigna expression as a defining theme-Midhan Hager. I preferred MidHan instead of DiHnet because MidaHan, as an active verb, has a mobilising character”. With such an argument and use of his own Tigrigngna language, Professor Doctor Bereket Habteselassie is addressing solely the Eritrean-Tigrian public and ethnic-components, because such fine semantic distinctions are and can be fully understood only by the natives speakers of that language and the professor is very aware whom he is primarily addressing and sending his messages to, with Ato Isaias Afwerki being the prime addressee.
For us, other Eritreans, “Midhan and DiHnet Hager” are parts and parcels of the same socio-political principle, calling for sacrificing people for the country “nation-state”. We are no more ready for that. The Eritrean people, the Eritrean ethnic-groups and their members have sacrificed enough lives for their “Hager”; it is now up to the “Hager”, to sacrifice something for them, but since its rulers and their supporters, (including you too Professor), are unwilling, unprepared and perhaps even unable and incapable of doing so, let those Eritrean ethnic, religious and social groups which feel disadvantaged by the politics of the present Eritrean regime, be free to struggle for those rights, which are not simply “factional and confessional”, but indeed fundamentally ethnic, culturo-linguistic, territorial, religious and even purely human/social rights. Professor Doctor Bereket Habteselassie and his likes should either come down from their purely academic and general assertions on the “Critical Challenges Facing Eritreans Today” and be concerned only with the national issues or just keep remaining on the side of and supporting that rogue regime and its “Protector” and leave the Eritrean people, the Eritrean ethnic-groups, nationalities, religious and social groups to struggle for their own legitimate rights. We do firmly believe that, in a multi-nationalities' nation like Eritrea, no national “Challenges” are and can be faced and resolved, without primarily facing and resolving the challenges at the grass-root levels. Give therefore, priority to those basic challenges! The Eritrean state is safe enough!
The VKP/KAM: (July 10, 2009).
Those fellow-Eritreans who do not know much or nothing at all, about the Kunama people, about their history and about their land, should either refrain themselves from blundering about them or else, just mind their own business:
A certain “Woldesellasie Tesfai Omer”, posting an article on www.awate.com, under the title, ”Little Noticed Milestone”, made the following statements, simply annoying some of us Kunama.
Let us first, remind him that the news of the “unity between EPP and EDRMGS” did not either escape us Kunama or left “unnoticed”, but instead analysed and just defined as a “marriage of convenience”.
“Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer” seems to be totally confused, not only about the subject, “The unity between the Eritrean People's Party (EPP) and the Eritrean democratic Resistance Movement of Gash-Setit (EDRMGS)”, he tried to present and impress us, in the best manner he believes in, but also about his own either proper or pen-name, “Woldesellasie Tesfai Omer”, which, to us, appears to be a conjured out “Christian/Moslem” name, perhaps, intending to reflect the different confessional constellation of the members of the two political organisations. Whatever the aim, the content of the subject is a total blunder, regarding the individuals forming the two organisations, the objectives of their “unity” and the ground itself upon which they could effectively exercise their political merger and activities. What is “EPP” and what does “EDRMGS” stand for where are they at home? According to our analysis, the one is “national” and the other “regional” and therefore where are the similarities of their social, political and economic agendas, leading them up to merge? In what other sense are their similar? To our view, a national and a regional/local/territorial parties/organisations have and should have two totally different programs: the one concerning itself on “national issues”, whereas the other on the “regional/local/territorial ones”. The EPP on the Eritrean nation and people and the EDRMGS on not yet specified and specifiable regions and populations. We therefore analyse the two political parties are follows:
the “Eritrean People's Party (EPP)”, the progeny of the “Eritrean Liberation Front, Revolutionary Council (ELF-RC)” has just either merged or is about to do so with the “Eritrean Democratic Party (EDP)”, the party-progeny of the “Eritrean People's Liberation Front/People's Front for Democracy and Justice's” defectors and of their supporters. The two parties carry such a generic adjective “Eritrean”, which apparently makes them “national”, but practically, politically and ethnically it does make them reflect a totally different constellation. They are both of the Eritrean-Tigrian make-up.
The “Eritrean Democratic Resistance Movement of Gash Setit (EDMGS)” is a party member of the “Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA)”, nominally a regional organisation, but with no clear and specific geographical and ethnic stand points, compositions and connections. There is no land or territory, in the Eritrean western lowland, known to its native inhabitants as “Gash-Setit”, the names of the two rivers, flowing through and along the “Kunama Land (Kunama Laga)”, the Kunama people know and call them as “Sona and Tika-Suba/Bahara”. Gash and Setit are the names the Sudanese and the Ethiopians know and call those two rivers in their own respective countries. For very unknown reasons, the foreign rulers of Eritrea arbitrarily assigned those names to the two rivers and to the Kunama Land . Why such forced an imposition? Why is the Kunama Land , not recognised and named as the Kunama people themselves know and call it: “Kunama Laga” ( Kunama Land ?) Why should the names of two rivers replace the name of an ethnic homeland? The EDMGS is therefore a party without a territory and without a constituency, as long as it keeps carrying the names of “Gash-Setit”.
Without either knowing or having any deeper information on the Kunama people's land matters, a certain “Woldesellassie Tesfai Omer” blindly jumped into asserting that “the unity between these parties is so significant that Hamid Idris Awate the hero of the Independence armed struggle, if he were alive he would simply say, a Job well done”. Let us bluntly tell you, Sir, that if “Hamid Idris Awate had been alive”, he would not have had either the courage or the chance to praise the “unity of the EPP and of EDRMGS”, because we Kunama would have killed him, long before and without any hesitation. Hamid Idris Awate had killed too many Kunama people, raided too many Kunama people's cattle and committed too many crimes and atrocities against the Kunama people and had created and brought about too much havoc in the Kunama land, in order to be left alive. What does “Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer”, know about Hamid Idris Awate as a local villain and criminal, in the Kunama land, apart from the legend this gentleman may have been indoctrinated with, by the Jebha-Al-Tahrir's leaders, leadership and their supporters who do still keep considering him as the “hero of the Eritrean Revolution” and “martyred” for it?
For the Kunama people, Hamid Idris Awate was, is and will always remain the local villain, the criminal, the murderer, the cattle-raider and one of the “worst enemies of the Kunama people”. For us Kunama, any person, groups of persons, associations, organisations and parties, supporting, associating with, inheriting, spreading and trying to transmit the legacy of Hamid Idris Awate are potential enemies of the Kunama people, as the Kunama people would always be associating them with that outlawed individual and feeling that his criminal legacy would still be looming upon them. Let this be our earnest message to “Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer”, to EPP and to EDRMGS. The legend of the “beginner of the Eritrean armed struggle”, of the “hero” and, of the “martyr”, surrounding the person of Hamid Idris Awate has either got to be totally dropped or left at the quarters of all those who have been, are and will be either unknowingly or knowingly, honouring a local criminal character, instead of a truly heroic, legendary and proven Eritrean national. There are many of them in Eritrea . Eritrea has its own true and real “martyrs” of the pre-and-after the Eritrean Revolution's times. We do not need villains to replace them. Let us give every one of them their due honour and disrespect.
“Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer” went on to “congratulate” the EDRMGS as Hamid Idris Awate's “pedigree”. He wrote: “the leaders and constituent of Gash-Setit Resistance movement who own every right to claim a direct lineage and close pedigree with our hero Idris Hamid Awate, I will use this opportunity to congratulate you”.
To our understanding, “Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer”, does seem to be unable even to distinguish “Hamid” from “Idris”. As the Kunama people of the Kunama Tika region knew that individual, for he was born, grew up and developed his criminal activities in that part of the Kunama land, “Idris” is “Hamid's” father's name and “Awate” is “Idris'” father's name and therefore “Hamid's” grandfather. The proper sequence of those names is “Hamid Idris Awate” and not “Idris Hamid Awate”. To our observation, “Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer” is not the only person getting confused with “Hamid Idris Awate's”, real person, character, behaviour, family and social backgrounds and his criminal activities, in the Kunama land, against the Kunama people, but also by many other non-Kunama persons, who have only heard of his name and of his “legend-fed” initiation of the Eritrean armed struggle, only during the Eritrean armed struggle years and ever since. “Hamid Idris Awate's” true life-history has been written by his contemporary Kunama people of the Kunama Tika region and preserved in that part of the Kunama land. All other stories about him, are legends and wild tales, told by those who had wanted him to be what he neither was, is nor will he ever be: an “Eritrean hero”. This is a lesson “Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer”, and others like him, have to learn and take or leave it.
“Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer” praised, as follows, the EPP: “to the constituent and leaders of EPPI would like to say the vision you pursued to unite all political parties with similar and comparable political program surely but slowly is inching to fruition”.
We simply contend that the “EPP”, as the Italians would say, has simply changed “its hair, but not its vice; i.e. bad behaviour”: ha cambiato il pelo, ma non il vizio. It is in fact, neither casual nor accidental, but very conventional, as it looks only for those organisations and parties with carry the general adjective “ERITREAN”, in their name and this is just the traditional trajectory the former “ELF,/ELF-RC” and its counterpart, the “EPLF” have always taken and followed, in order to remain on the national level, but with no desire and willingness to connect with the grass-root of the Eritrean society which is based and built on ethnic and culturo-linguistic diversity. The former ELF and EPLF and all their derivatives, no matter how much and often they may have altered and alter their names, they will always search for and find a common ground to survive. The merger of EPP with EDP was just an initial example, followed by that with EDRMGS and, “remain tuned” to the news of other similar mergers. There is a common political denominator, between these two former contending forces of which legacy is the root-cause of the Eritrean present predicament.
The politics of “pursuing to unite all political parties with similar or comparable political program” is not at all “inching to fruition”, as “Woldeselassie Tesfai Omer” would like to have us believe, but it is instead deeply reflecting the present PFDJ regime's one party socio-political, economic, militaristic and dictatorial system. The enthusiasm with which this gentleman has received, praised and presented the merger between “EPP” and “EDRMGS” does not only surprise us, but it also clearly demonstrates how shallow some-fellow-Eritreans' basic knowledge of the Eritrean ethnic-groups' different cultures, of the members composing those groups, of their constituencies and of those “self-anointed” leaders, who not being able to fully identify themselves with the ethnicities they claim to belong to, do prefer to cover themselves and their organisations/parties with the general “blanket” of “Eritrean”: the ELF and the EPLF, as pioneers, followed by their “pedigrees”: ELF-RC/EPP/EDRMGS; EPLF/ PFDJ/EDP and others.
All the organisations which have so far been carrying the common general adjective of “Eritrean” and conducting their respective policies on the Eritrean national levels, have been bringing, to the Kunama people, nothing more than plights after plights and all kinds of sufferings, varying from vindictive killings to ethnic-cleansing attempts. This has to stop, but surely not by those neutral organisations or political parties which do not have specific programs, to bring about specific improvements in the lives of the ordinary Eritrean people and of the Eritrean ethnic/folks-groups, but by those political and civic organisations which have well-defined programs and objectives in view and implement them at the Eritrean people's and ethnic-groups' grass-root levels and in their own respective and natural environments (home territories/homelands).
The formation of political parties, their mergers and even their co-operations with each other are not the main factors which automatically guarantee effective socio-political and economic activities on behalf of the Eritrean people and of the Eritrean ethnic/folks-groups, but instead the intensive activities of those forces which, even individually but do genuinely intend to stop the sufferings and bring about visible and viable improvements in the daily lives of our people. What visible and viable advantages could and can, for instance, the EPP and the EDRMGS, guarantee us in the opposition, let alone among our people at home, so that we could offer our support to their merger, when we very well know that they do neither represent any specific group nor do they have well-defined social, political and economic programs which could elevate the live standard of a single Eritrean community, let alone that of the entire Eritrean people, as the names of their political parties do seem to suggest and stand for?
The EDRMGS, carrying the names of two rivers, cannot imagine of conducting its political activities in or along those two rivers. The EPP, on the other hand, by absorbing all the other political parties it associates and merges with, it does not and cannot claim to being so able and capable of developing Eritrea to such level that it could meet the demands and offer the entire Eritrean people and diverse societies equal social, political and economic welfare and well-being and not instead end-up in the same pitch, where the EPLF/PFDJ has presently fallen into, by boasting to be the only party capable of achieving all. It is a simple logic that many, various and varied forces are more likely to meet the needs and the demands of the Eritrean societal diversities, than a single and a neutral force. Not every merger is a good merger!
For the Baria/Nara and for the Kunama populations of the western Eritrean lowlands, the “Eritrean Democratic Resistance Movement of Gash-Setit (EDRMGS), as a party, is just as foreign and alien as its partner, the Eritrean People's Party (EPP)”. The one is land-and-constituent-less; the other, too general, neutral and anonymous a party. Let time prove otherwise.
The VKP/KAM: (June 30, 2009)
Does, Mr. Saleh AA Younis of „Awate – Al Nahda", know Hamid Idris Awate, better than the Kunama people? The VKP/KAM: (May 18, 2009.)
When is „President Isaias“ to stop making his „inspection tours“ only “of development and construction projects in Gash-Barka region“ and instead, turn his attention to the hunger and sufferings of the people? The VKP/KAM: (May 11, 2009.)
Some Eritrean-Tigrians use of their own Tigrigngna language. The VKP/KAM: (May 4, 2009.)
Some Eritrean-Tigrians use of their own Tigrigngna language:
Though the PFDJ's regime itself, in its policy on the Eritrean language/languages, did clearly spell out the equality of all Eritrean ethnic-languages, in praxis, it still employs, deploys and uses its “Tigrigngna” language, as if it were, de facto “national language of Eritrea”. Knowing however, the regime's inconsistency in putting into practice its own social, political and economic principles, its exclusive use of its “Tigrian” language, does not surprise us much, taking into consideration also the domination of its ethnic Tigrian members in all sectors of its administration. The regime's tendency to dominate the Eritrean society also linguistically can be therefore, considered as consonant with its own ethnic formation. Its principle of “equality of all Eritrean languages” does considerably suffer when in ethnic homelands, like that of the Kunama people, the natives are forced either to speak “Tigrigngna” or tend to translators, in order to have their daily matters looked into. The problem here does not lie on the use of the “language” itself, but on its users who either are the right people put at the wrong place or are the wrong persons, put at the right place. The natives are surely the right people in their own respective homelands and therefore, the non-natives, especially those administering the ethnic homelands, who come into question.
Why does the PFDJ's regime nominate and appoints only the Eritrean-Tigrians, as regional governors, towns and cities' administrators, leaders of infrastructural activities, commanders of the city police and of the armed forces, chiefs of the ethnic villages and officials of other political, social and economic sectors, where those ethnic or local languages are predominantly spoken and therefore persons speaking those languages are required to be in place to serve those native populations? How much “Tigrigngna” is understood and spoken, outside of the Eritrean-Tigrian highland regions of Akele-Guzai, Hamasien and Serae? Where is then, the regime's principle of the equality of all Eritrean languages? Why not then, employ local people in those regions and deploy the local languages in order, not only, to administer the local matters, without hindrances and more efficiently, but also to save that principle? Would it not have been more impressive if the PFDJ's regime had stuck to the old “Arabic/Tigringnga” as the “twin national languages of Eritrea”, but yet used the local ethnic languages to serve the local populations? To advance a principle and act contrary to it is paradoxical.
Leaving aside now, the PFDJ's regime and its ideologies, principles and policies, which, to our view, are very succinctly summed up in its well-known slogan “NHNAN ELAMANAN”, which, by the way, has never been given, to the Eritrean people, its official translation, except what we have taken as simply and literally meaning, ”WE and OUR AIMS/OBJECTIVES”, let us consider how the “Tigrigngna” language is regarded and used by other Eritrean-Tigrians, particularly by the Eritrean-Tigrian writers, writing in English language. They are very fond of adopting “Tigrigngna” vocabulary: words, phrases, sentences, idioms, proverbs and so on, often without even translating them, as if, not only all non-Tigrian Eritrean ethnic members, but also the international readership understood and were to understand that language.
Choosing randomly, from the various articles we read and where we keep coming across such Tigrigngna vocabulary, used frequently, mostly by the same authors, we intend to question what kinds of messages such uses of an ethnic language does send to a nation and society of eight/nine (8/9) linguistically and culturally different ethnic and folk-groups. Surely, it does not worry us when/if and as long as such vocabulary is used in writing articles in Tigrigngna language and addressed to the Tigrigngna readership, but when/if they are written in English and addressed, not only to all Eritrean citizens, but also to the international readership, their messages seem to indicate that the “Tigringnga” is the only national language of Eritrea and that all the Eritrean different ethnic-groups do/can read, understand and get those messages.
Even for those of us who are able to understand fairly, the ordinary meaning of the “Tigrigngna”, vocabulary, some of its words, phrases, idioms and proverbs are often, not only difficult to understand their surface meanings, but also to decipher their deep and puzzling messages which, we believe, are connected more and strictly with the Tigrigngna culturo-traditional heritage and values and therefore understandable only to the Tigrian community.
As already reported and commented on, in one of our previous articles, a certain Ato “Estifanos Medhanie”, in his article titled, Declaration of Law, Independence ,and Governance (Feb 20, 2009)”, used words like “Sewihat-na”, with not translation; the acronym “Higdef”, the phrase, “nei mei-walu hizi heiu kalsina” again with no translations. Other words and phrases like “bahlawi” and “kibut hiwet” to are thrown there, with no translations, leaving to the reader to try to solve the puzzle or just forget it.
The first and the biggest obstacle this writer, and his fellow-Tigrian writers should try to overcome, is that of being able to transcribe adequately, the Tigrigngna words in Latin or European alphabets. This, to our view, is the most challenging task to be tackled and find a common stand.
Secondly, not only the surface meanings of the Tigrigngna words used, but also their deep and culturally related connotations too are to be explained so that the non-Tigrian fellow-Eritreans, as well as the international readership, can get the right messages. What may mean, for instance to a Kunama and to a Baria/Nara, the saying, “nei mei-walu hizi heiu kalsi-na?”
What about the Tigrigngna words “desa” and “tiesa” and their principles and significance, as used by Ato “Musie Hadgu”, when raising and commenting on the issue of the “land proclamation”, promulgated by the PFDJ's regime?
Ato “Berhan Hagos” is one of those Tigrian writers, not only very fond of profusely using the Tigrigngna vocabulary and sayings, but also confining the themes of his own articles, strictly within the Eritrean-Tigrian linguistic and cultural heritages and values. He very often, cites, either criticising or praising mainly the Tigrian politicians, writers, historians and heroes of the pre-and-of the-“ghedli” years. What message do carry and what would, his latest slogans like: “Hijiwin Ab Metkelna!
Kem Wetru Awet N'Hafash! mean to us, non-Eritrean-Tigrian ethnic members and to the international readership? Are these not, anyhow, the same slogans, the PFDJ's regime itself and its loyalists keep uttering in all of their seminars, meetings and festivals?
Titling her article as “The Real Purpose of Hizbawi Mekete, Selam Kidane”, describes the reactions of “women folk of the (Tigrian) family enjoying their afternoon coffee”, simply by repeating their own expressions: “abza awel bun na endo aytihawiKuna”.No translations or explanations are given, leaving the reader, firstly, to keep scratching his/her own head, trying to read those Tigrigngna words correctly, let alone to understanding their surface and deeper meanings. It is not an easy task.
The writer goes on to throw in also the following phrases:
“ambessa zewedey anbesssa endika!.Aye za gualey kchin..
AditmEbil ala... Hilew kunetat hager”
Surely, in above phrases, there is a great deal of the Eritrean-Tigrian culturo-traditional values embedded, which also are parts of and shared by all Eritrean-Tigrians for, as the saying goes, “a folk's wisdom lies in its adages”, but never forget that a nation of many and different folk-groups, like Eritrea, has just as many and as varied “wisdoms” and ”adages” as those folk-groups themselves. Only the “Tigrian adages”, do neither represent those of Eritrea's many folk-groups, nor do they have the same meanings for them all.
It is to be remembered that every Eritrean ethnic-language has its own different adages, reflecting the different cultural heritages and the wisdoms of its own native speakers. None of those languages is above the others.
The followings are therefore, the main messages, this piece of writing intends to send, specifically to the Eritrean-Tigrian leaders, leaderships, politicians, academics, writers and ordinary citizens, who have always held and keep holding the idea that:
A) because the Tigrigngna is the language of the natives Tigrians, (the
majority ethnic-group in Eritrea) and also understood and spoken by many other Eritrean ethnic-members, is either qualified to enjoy a privileged position, (official national language) or perhaps even claim to have better adages than the other ethnic languages and therefore that it has the right to impose its own language, culture and wisdom;
B) because the Tigrigngna language has its own characters and written form, it should be used for and by the other ethnic languages too;
C) because the Tigrigngna is the language of or spoken by the past, present and perhaps also even by the future rulers of Eritrea, it should and must assimilate all the other Eritrean languages and cultures, would be and is simply an arrogant assumption, derived from an innate attitude of contempt and of belittlement, some of its native speakers have always nurtured, towards the other Eritrean ethnic-groups, their languages and cultures. We Kunama retain that it is precisely such chauvinistic mentality which is leading many Eritrean-Tigrians to see and present their ethnic-Tigrian language as if it were almost one of the internationally known, spoken and understood languages like English, French, Arabic and so on. Linguistically analysed, phonetically as well as graphically, the Tigrigngna is one of the few languages in the world which have unique characteristics and utterances which only their native speakers can master and therefore they cannot be taken as languages to be easily learnt, correctly pronounced and through which messages can be send across without misunderstandings. The Tigrigngna guttural vowels, consonants and their sounds within sentences, are so peculiar that many other Eritrean-ethnic members like the Kunama, are very often either not-understood or even misunderstood. A language of such peculiarity is and should humbly and quietly remain within its own geographical and cultural borders, but some of its native speakers feel so proud of it that they keep attempting to nationalise and internationalise it. It is time those Eritrean-Tigrians considered and realised also the basic difficulties of their own Tigrigngna mother tongue.
The VKP/KAM: (May 4, 2009).