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Forto 2013: the Quintessential Eritrean Revolution

Forto2013: the Quintessential Eritrean Revolution

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”
Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom from Fear

… the exact details of what happened in Forto, on Jan 21 2013, and hence a coherent analysis of what it all means is something that will perhaps take an astute historian to piece together later…

The analysis I hear/read is almost comically and ‘tragically’ similar to the analysis of the blind men describing the elephant… there are those who are only looking at what didn’t happen, those who prefer to analyse what could have happened and those who are obsessed with what they wished had happened… and then there is Ali Salim… who only looks for a cross or a crescent on the forehead of every Eritrean that breaths!…and what he saw was Moslems even when they don’t practice Islam (funny that is precisely what Issias Afwerki saw too!)… AS getska ba tirHaq!… you are what my friends on Facebook would call ‘faceless’ how dare you tell us getskum TirHaq!

Many people look at whatever is happening in Eritrosphere and wonder what is happening… I tell them Forto is Happening! What ever didn’t happen up there, whatever may have happened and could have happened… what did happen was a true revolution of human spirit… and the result was the fact that fear was defeated in the minds of many people and especially many young people… this is something worth celebrating…what many of those that were ‘analysing’ Forto 2013 seem to have missed was the psychological grip of fear that we were also fighting even before we got to fighting pfdj…

Who could forget the ‘eid sewra newaH eya…’ and ominous nod that many of us were subjected to? And the deliberately thinly veiled threat of: ‘AdiKum kitatwu aytdelyoun dikum?’… the campaigns solely designed to make us all retreat into our secluded walls of ‘entay yeteweni!’… and the deliberate defamation and menacing harassment to beat down anyone that dared to rise above the low parapet...! These are the barriers that were shattered releasing many captives free… therefore in the very spot where we used to beg, send countless emails and text messages and make endless phone calls to get 20 people to come and stand outside the Embassy in London (months ahead of time)… overnight  we had over 20 people turn up to ‘occupy’ the embassy… trusting the people that were calling them, assured in the fact that we are all in this together and in total certainty that this is a definitive stride in our march forward! pfdj was indomitable no more!  And in response the people who used to boast ‘eid sewra newaH eya’ were reduced to producing a second rate YouTube clip that they wouldn’t even dare put their name against or their own voices on: My name is Selam Kidane I was part of the group the ‘occupied’ the pfdj Embassy in London and I loved every second of courageous solidarity that shattered fear and not just a poxy frame that held the picture of an evil dictator!

In her essay, Freedom from Fear, Aung San Suu Kyi makes references to the people being like water in the hands of the oppressor when they are controlled by fear… but once fear is defeated the people become like shards of glass in the hands of the oppressor… if the oppressor dares to tighten grip the shards cause more damage to that grip…and without that grip the system collapses. Forto2013 made many young people into shards of sharp glass and hence heroes possessed of courage! No you have not imagined the new form of activism and no the posters outside the stadium in Dekemhare… the writing on the walls in Keren and the leaflets in Asmara aren’t figments of our imagination but the result of the hopeful stir that will build into a wave for change, as an Eritrean after another defeats fear and becomes a sharper shard of glass in the hands of pfdj!

The struggle for me and many activists now is a struggle to stay totally free from fear, and particularly free from the fear placed by those with the audacity to oppress us and others… we need to learn the new language of freedom, for it is when ALL of us are free from fear that a free Eritrea becomes an actuality.

This in fact is the quintessential revolution, as it means that no one will ever oppress us using fear as a weapon… it is more than a regime changing revolution it is a spirit changing revolution! A revolution that enables victims to draw from deep inner resources to defend their inalienable rights, to restore their dignity as human beings, regardless of who oppressor might be.

The numerous ‘analyses’ are also the indication in those who mask their own fear as ‘common sense’ and the net effect of their, often inadvertent,  effort is an attempt to put a curb on the revolution of the human spirit and annoyingly they are supposed to be on this side of the battle for freedom from oppression… the people who look down on every effort… those who say ‘not enough’ was done or achieved and those who would have you believe that ‘their way’ would have been better… well I say: the fear in your arrogance is showing!  Let me borrow  another piece of text from Freedom from Fear again:

“A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”

My Heroes of Forto2013 are not the philosophising men (it is almost exclusively men!) who do a post mortem of every action and prepare the ground for inaction… my heroes are the struggling oppressed who are trying everything (anything!) to free themselves from fear and struggling to establish the foundations of a truly free society… free from the corruption of power that is always fueled by fear.

Hence freedom from fear is both a means and an end… with each of us standing tall to be counted and totally free from fear of the oppressor we actualise the foundations of an Eritrea that will rise against all odds not in the imagination of those who are only capable of maintaining power by keeping us oppressed but in the aspiration of every last one of us willingly sacrificing ourselves to free others from fear… (that makes democracy and justice a by-product of the struggle for freedom from fear doesn’t it?)

My measure for success from now on? All action that challenges the forces that produced the inequities of the order of things in current day Eritrea and create in its place a united determination to persevere in the struggle and make sacrifice in the fight to resist the corrupting influence of fear! 

Viva Forto 2013
Victory to the revolution of the human spirit!