Balancing the tug of war and tilted politics of Eritrea by disclosing and amending the discriminatory and dogmatic Eritrean dichotomy. Part 6.

Arabic and Tigrigna "de facto" official languages of Eritrea revisited.

Since Ato Isayas Afewerki's spineless regime is crumbling under its weight and eroding and dissolving like sugar in water and going down the drain at a faster rate, let us think, plan and envision for a brighter future perhaps before it's too late. So let me briefly and explicitly say that our Eritrea was a creative State. Its creators were Italians in 1890's with no Natives' consultation, contribution and imput. Its inhabitants, therefore, once one proud people, relatively, now we were still are badly divided finding ourselves in a man made, artificial, divided territories or Nation-States, Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, in fact. And this phenomenon of one, two, three... tribes by being here and there in different Nation-States is in all Africa and beyond in all former colonized Countries. Furthermore, those colonialists, land grabbers, never took in consideration of our closest kins who were with us and now living on the other side of artificially man made borders. No. And in this way we were phisically and emotionally separated forever.

At their departure, which happened during and after WW2, a new era, a new ideas of "Eritreaness and belonging to a new enclosed territory in it with total strangers, different Nations and Nationalities and languages, cultures and religions had emerged, in other wordrs, it was an unholy matrimony with total strangers. Wow! What to do or what it could have done in a situation like that, you might ask!? Well, to facilitate that event some learned Abotat (fathers) although they were not from all our Eritrean tribes, they had tried hard to use the then existing two " lingua francas"(Arabic and Tigrigna) based on religious lines, to communicate to each other. But, unfortunately, that approach had created the discriminatory, the quintessential Eritrean dichotomy which today had become a curse and a blessing at the same time to all of us. I said a "curse" because it had dissected our society into two divide although we were and still are 9 Nationalities, 9 languages etc. on the ground. And a "blessing" because at least more or less we understand, communicate and talk to each other in those twin languages. And this relatively a new phenomenon, tradition continued for about 70 years or so. In fact, even during the armed struggle for Eritrean liberation period, the two Fronts (Jebha/Shabia) had used this legacy although in Shabia it was more Tigrigna supremacy over Arabic  perhaps by offending some segments of our society. The megalomaniac and Shabia creator, Isayas Afwerki, and now he is the head of his so called "Menghisti Ertrea" by treating them as if they were his own properties and commodities.

And, in addition, Isayas wickedly had purged the best and the bright of his own political opponents and Jebha itself. He even created an internecine war or ghereb biakhela in its Tigrigna version in order to stay in power indefinitely. But nothing is forever; boghizie lekullu. So today, after years of human and material waste and blunder, the natural law of attraction ( masta izbi) is in full swing against Isayas and his rotten regime; therefore, more than anytime now Isayas felt the pinch; he felt being naked; he fell from grace to disgrace living in "hideouts" in and around the capital, Asmara, in fear and in anxiety from the same people he lied to and had manipulated and exploited for years. Now not only the Eritrean people but even the time is against Hatsei Isayas and his fast decaying regime, finally. 

They, therefore, are on the run fearfully and desperately; and every relatively peaceful passing night they murmur this tedious litany with a sigh of a prolong "temesghen" for surviving every moment from the could be an armed confrontation similar to that of Weddy Ali in 2013 in Asmara. Language is power. Knowledge is power. Gun is power. So when you impose or make one of these phenomena official (Arabic/Tigrigna) you are empowering and propelling some segments of your society, bluntly Tigrigna speakers and Arab educated elites from Eritrean Islamic Community, and you are demoting and depriving, who are neither Tigrigna nor Arab educated elites of their equality status and making them second class citizens in their own Country; in other words, making citizens with upper hands in one side and citizens of lower hand on the other side if I may say. The question is, do we want this kind of unjust and unequal Eritrea? The simple answer is "I don't! Do you? I think there are more questions than answers. In Isayas tenure or in Zemene Isayas, moreover, Arabic does not have any value and leverage any more. In fact, after Independence our Arab educated elites who came back from foreign Countries to teach and hold perhaps higher offices in Eritrea were not accepted well by Isayas regime. So they went back where they came from. And even Tigrigna language had its challenges in Zemene Isayas; and unlike all  our minority languages, Kunama, Nara, Bilen etc. Tigrigna has its own Gheez Alphabets. But Isayas and his regime had tried to latinize even it like those Minority People's languages with no their own alphebets. However, many gallant Eritreans opposed this evil proposal at its birth. Many of them, like Idris Abu-Arre and many others, are in prison, in Isayas dungeons for opposing Isayas's stupid will; but Tigrigna language was, is, saved with its unique alphabets. And, unfotunately, today there is Tigrigna domination in Eritrea perhaps for introducing not regulating mother tongue rules.

In fact, nothing is wrong with mother tongue introduction to all our Nationalities per se, but from grade 6 our children are taught in English till their Colleges level; and by the time they finish their College studies, now our young  people are sent around the Country to serve the puplic in Tigrigna, the language they, especially if you are from minority tribes, never studied in your entire life. So you take back seat and even 5 grader from Tigrigna speakers lead you in all fields taking advantage of his/her language; therefore, like Amharic before in colonial times, now Tigrigna domination is in full swing in Eritrea in Zemene Isayas even as I write these pages. By the way, Isayas closed the only University in the land in order to kill the Eritrean critical thinking ability and to keep us under his colonial control, indefinitely. The University of Bologna in the province of Emilia Romagna, Italy, was the first University in Europe, and it is 1000 years old. So by closing  the only University in Eritrea, Isayas held us back 1000 years behind the "white man" and many years behind Ethiopia with 40 plus Universities, Colleges not to mention the many private Institutions ect. So as inhabitants of this world, we usually learn from our environment and from the world at large. Let me put together a list of some "exotic" Countries, including our own, so we can have some idea before we decide to correct or amend our linguistic problem in Eritrea: 

1) Eritrea, 2) Ethiopia, 3) Nigeria, 4) Switzerland, 5) Singapore.

1) Eritrea: "Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice."(Anton Chekhov) 

So let us contribute to our society what we know in order to build a better Country and a just society whose problem is totally man made and deliberate. I briefly mentioned the Eritrean History in the introduction of my current writing so now let me cotinue from 1991, the Eritrean Independence year, instead. Following its Independence, people in Eritrea and  around the world had anticipated to see a beacon in that corner of Africa, illuminating the entire Continent and perhaps the world. But with an unelected tyrant, Hatsei Isayas Afewerki in power, things in Eritrea did not go that far; they went many years backwards instead and there is a Roman saying that reflects exactly this regression, quote: "Non progredi, regredi est." Translation, not moving forward is going backwards. Yes, indeed! That was a deliberate regression created by their emissary, Isayas Afewerki, to make Eritrea and its people to look poor, desperate and miserable and finally longing to be with relatively better perhaps well-fed and developed Ethiopia perhaps in Confederation in the near future Referendum, again.

 As a matter of fact, that was why they, the International ploters, U.S, U.K and with then Ethiopian and Eritrean delegations respectively met in London, England, in 1991, to declare the Eritrean fake Referendum to be done in two years time as if we didn't fight for 30 years and liberated it (Eritrea). And as a person with a good sounding logic, knowledge and wisdom, you might ask. Was Eritrean Referendum necessary in the first place? Hmm...Yes and No! If in Hatsei Hailesillasie or Colonel Mengistu's time and with the Ethiopian army in Eritrean territory had decided to go for Referendum to avoid further bloodshed, Yes. That could be a genuine Referendum. But "No" after the victory over the enemy. In fact, the International law categorically says this, quote: " If you defeat the enemy in the battlefield, you could declare Independence and that's legal" and quote. So why all this mess were we witnesing over the past 25 or so years?

That is a good question!

To be continued


N. Galla.