Enthusiasm, Excitement, Motivation and a Pinch of Creativity: Washington DC’s Winning Formula!
…I still can’t believe we were all there all together and all discussing the painful issues that drove us there and were still enthusiastic enough to sing, dance and chat through the night (yes I was dancing and if I get chucked out of the church for doing that then EYSC will need to advocate for me!)… there definitely was a winning formula at DC and here is my take on it….
They say enthusiasm is an excitement with inspiration… and the palpable excitement that started the minuet we all arrived and were solidifying the links that started way back on Paltalk and Facebook, was a phenomena to behold… people would tell you their name and their nickname and this is invariably followed by excited hugs and kisses. We were about to march to the embassy, but at that moment had someone asked us to march all the way to Asmara I think we would have done it! The infectious enthusiasm was magical and growing by the moment and everyone was ready to do anything for the cause and that stayed throughout the three days and this is precisely what kept us alive literally, how else would someone be at a rally all day…followed by a reception and a couple of meetings and then a chit chat session and still manage to wake up at the crack of dawn (looking brilliant in sharp suits!) and still be standing…. no dancing fourteen hours later?... the magic of of enthusiasm had actually transformed the event from a run of the mill mediocrity to brilliant achievement… I am still a bit jumpy with excitement (so my writing is a bit all over the place!)…
Inspiration and motivation
One thing I learnt was the fact that inspiration actually comes during work and not before it! When you are in thick of it and the last thing you anticipate is inspiration you find it… there were many inspirational moments during the demo and at the conference and during the party and informal chats too… at the demo my favourite moment that I go back to time and again (in my head… and I just know I will draw more every time I remember) is when I looked up in the heat of the DC afternoon with temperatures still soaring… a placard loomed… a picture of Abune Antonios… I was moved to tears to note that holding is was none other than my new found uncle Jemil (I borrowed him from my friend Alex Foto!)… I could have hugged Jemil… but then as inspirational as that gesture was for me I later learnt for Uncle Jemil it was nothing out of the ordinary… I really love the guy and what he stands for… an Eritrean of the kind that you can’t help but be proud of! Love you uncle!…
Another inspiring moment was the moment Memhir Tewelde Reda started singing Shigey Habuni and passed on the mic to Dawit Ephrem to carry on the song! It was a literal but spontaneous representation of one generation passing on the mantel and the torch on… and the magic was in the fact that the same song that inspired our grand parents and then our parents was now inspiring us to carry on fighting and I am sure should we not complete the task our children would take over from where we leave and still carry on demanding ‘shigey habuni!’
The driving force… the power motivating every single person to be there… to participate and then above all to vow to make a difference was the plight of our people back home… the success of the conference for me will be measured by us implementing the one driving theme right across: ACTION ORIENTED MOVEMENT! this was captured by Haile Kiflay (my friend Gotena minus the physical gotena!)… he moved us to tears by showing us what he sees through his far sighted lens…Haile is physically blind… but that really is the limit of his blindness… I pride myself in knowing the Eritrean resistance struggle inside out and particularly in being versed on everything worth reading…. Boy! What Haile doesn’t know about each one of us and our interactions is rally not worth knowing… I have sight of our movement Hale has insight and in the space of a couple of conversations I have comeback motivated!
Personally for me; motivation also came from many people coming up to me and telling me they read my articles and from really young people coming up and showing interest in the area of work that I presented: the Horn of Africa Peace Engagement…. Although my presentation was not everyone’s cup of tea…I was motivated by the very possibility of presenting my ideas and having a brief discussion around those ideas with those who didn’t like them too… that is the essence of our struggle… at the end of the day a couple of people bought me drinks and they were critical of some of these ideas…(walking the walk!...or is it drinking the walk!)
A pinch of creativity
These days it seems that my colleagues at the Arbi Harnet Team are on a roll when it comes to creativity…(maybe it is the fact that they hardly sleep!)… at the peak of the demo when the atmosphere had turned somewhat electric… Arbi Harnet team handed phone cards and random numbers to about 200 protestors and asked them to make as many phone calls as possible… for few minuets nearly a thousand phones in Asmara were actually buzzing with slogans like: down down dictator! Higdef Adina Gidef! And also my favourite: Qicha Qicha Harero Higdef Donqoro! ...it was a magical moment that connected us directly into the homes of our people…
Another creative twist, inspired by Rezene Habte was crossing the police barrier as the ultimate expression of our outrage and a demonstration of how far we are prepared to go in our endeavour to express our outrage against PFDJ… five people including one woman crossed the barrier and protested right outside the embassy and were arrested still chanting Down Down Dictator… the embassy staff who were cooped up inside their offices were video taping the whole thing… as a deterrent no doubt… the funny thing is the whole thing was streamed live to anyone interested and their bosses have no use for their poxy clips taped from a shut window!
…. I will write a bit more on the actual deliberations but this here is what I will cherish more… I loved every minute of my stay there and will always cherish those magical moments where I really felt change was really really possible…one last push and a just, democratic Eritrea will be birthed… so let’s all join in for that final push!