Keeping a Sense of Proportion

By Events Monitor   When I was living in Eritrea (until four months ago), the issue of what I read in the Eritrean websites mattered to me immensely. Definitely in much more immediate and direct ways than it does now. Then, it was about access to information on issues affecting my daily life. Information that I would never dream of finding elsewhere. It was about keeping my hope alive. To me, the pro-democracy Eritrean websites (and, increasingly, opposition radio programmes) represented a priceless, if limited, window to freedom – at least at the psychological level. Thousands of Eritreans back home seize every opportunity they find to follow eagerly what these media outlets have to offer. For them, every printed word, every air wave, carrying the voices of freedom, are like a breath of fresh air sneaking in, past an array of stiflingly dominant government propaganda, to ease the oppressive burden of tyranny. Nowhere, I would say, does the the true meaning of ‘the voice(s) of the voiceless’ resonate more clearly with Eritreans.   Anticipating the voice of ‘Messelna Delina’ has today the same exciting effect that people experienced listening to Liberation struggle era radio programmes. Imagine, therefore, someone in Asmara or Barentu (already deafened by dreary Higdef hubbub) keenly awaiting reassuring messages from the opposition, an all he gets is: “President Issaias Afwerki discusses development programmes in the Debub Region”! … … Ali Abdu’s monotonous messages bouncing back! That wouldn’t exactly be inspirational, would it?   My intention, therefore, is to argue for a stronger anti-tyranny content on our websites. The pages and airwaves of our limited media are far too precious to be squandered on echoing PFDJ propaganda or immersing in inter-factional bickering. The equation is simple: every bit of energy spent on the above is energy lost on the struggle for change. We simply need all our resources to fight the monster at home.   This is not, however, a call for singing in one voice. … Far from it. One thing I so much hated in PFDJ-land was the forced Stalinist uniformity that PFDJ is trying to impose on the people. We need our rich diversity in the opposition camp; a diversity that includes ‘vocal variety’. We need a strong sense of purpose (and of urgency) in the fight against the dictatorship (focus, coordination), and an equally determined culture of criticism to improve our struggle (ensure continued relevance, efficiency, effectiveness). The sort of constructive criticism that is an integral part of any healthy political environment. I have always appreciated the principled critiques dealing with our state of affairs in the opposition, or those particularly addressed to EDA, from a range of advocates and political parties ranging from Awate’s editorials, to the Eritrean Democratic Party discussion papers and Mr. Berhan Hagos’ sharp commentaries. Messages that, without losing sight of the imperative of working collectively to bring about democratic change, challenge EDA to constantly improve its performance.   In my humble opinion, the problem arises when EDA-bashing predominates over and dwarfs anti-PFDJ critique. That is losing focus.   What we need is a sense of proportion.

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Posted by on May 8 2006 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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