Towards African Revolutions: Eritrea

  By Michael Abraha

The revolutions sweeping over the Middle East and North Africa continue to be of
tremendous inspiration to people everywhere.

Africa is hard hit by many shameless tyrants and closet dictators who are just as bad.
It is time to turn things upside down, and sooner is better.

African chants and slogans will be slightly different from those in the Middle East in
order to reflect the African reality.

To be more precise, there should be strong emphasis on the urgent need for leaders
and those led to end deadly games of ethnic and sectarian politics if inclusive national
movements are to flourish. The discredited African warlord, Laurent Gbagbo, is bound
to face a more unified, national resistance as more and more Ivorians begin to question
his ethnic and xenophobic politics which are tearing the nation apart.

Gbagbo’s Ivory Coast represents the worst part of African politics indicative of Rwanda
in 1994.

Like Eritrea’s Isaias Afewerki, Gbagbo has created a new privileged class of blind
worshipers and greedy supporters –new “tribe,” if you will– who hate democratic
change. Isaias and other African dictators are looking closely at Gbagbo and Gaddafi’s
plans on how to crush peaceful protests and turn them into civil wars in order to stay
in power. But that is also how these dictators often end up in exile or imprisonment
for life.

The Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan strongmen had outlawed freedom of expression
and assembly. The protesters knew they would be shot and killed if they marched
in the streets. Security forces murdered scores of peaceful demonstrators right away
in Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli as a means of scare tactic. Such move only emboldened
the protesters.

For the of the demonstrators to rise above religious, ethnic and political differences
and the readiness to sacrifice their lives for the benefit of all is an amazing mindset
requiring strong faith and adherence to higher ideals.

The last words I once heard on TV from a dying protester in a Cairo street were
“Victory” and “Allah O Akbar”. Regardless of what others think and understand of death
or God, it is clear that this Egyptian patriot died a happy, heroic death believing his
compatriots will one day attain their freedom and dignity.

Historians and activists will be analyzing the key components of the North African
and Middle East revolutions. My position is that in addition to the careful pre-uprising
planning and preparation by youth ring leaders, the protesters’ deep faith in God/Allah
played an important role in overcoming fear as the security forces opened fire on them
with the aim to kill or maim.

An individual who decides to be guided by such values is unlikely to be afraid of what
tyrants and their agents may do to him or her. It is also true that we cannot effectively
fight for liberty and justice unless we are first armed with higher moral and ethical

In tyrannized Eritrea, the regime manages and controls all places of faith; and the youth
in the trenches or in schools pay heavy price if found carrying a Bible or  Koran for
meditation or inspiration purposes. The regime needs mindless zombie-like creatures
with free muscles to build infrastructures to consolidate repressive state apparatus.

It is morally and legally unacceptable for Western gold mining companies such as
Canada’s Nevsun to exploit Eritrean slave labor. These companies are well aware
that the Eritrean regime relies on public servitude for survival.

Each revolution is unique. The initial Eritrean uprising may or may not start out of
Sunday’s Church services or Friday’s Mosque prayers.

But it sure will begin in the blessed hearts and minds of millions of Eritreans everywhere;
be it in the trenches, army barracks, in schools and colleges, families, mosques and
churches. Revolutions are first fought and won in the hearts and minds of millions
of citizens. The rest is easy.

“Speaking Truth To Empower.”

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