(IV) Eritrea, Eritreans and Eritreanism 1 Identity and nationalism Ghedli identity He told us a personal story, but asked who he was the stranger couldn’t remember. A great story was lost for want of a name. The nationalist hat As you remove your hat to cheer and wave the head is rendered bare, fully emptied of its content. Blind nationalism With a wrong map for our guide, nationalism has left us totally disoriented: we cannot locate ourselves anymore! Who is fooled by who? Enticed by a promise a line on the sand made, never has a people sacrificed so much for so little. Drunk in nationalism How do you tie together a motley lot with a line on the sand even if it looks like a sturdy rope under the Eritrean twilight? 2 Rape, identity and piety in Arab Land Piety in the Arab world When the Libyans raped them day and night for days, the Eritrean women said, they had mercy on us five times a day – when they took pauses to pray! Near or far from the wall The raped women wept bitterly not for themselves but their men on the other side of the wall who have to carry that wall of shame for the rest of their lives. Faceless living Covering his face with his hands, he who had witnessed the horror the Eritrean women underwent said, “I want to settle in a land where there are no mirrors at all.” National language issue in Tripoli As Tripoli children run after him calling him “Abed! Abed!” the Eritrean kid wondered if making Arabic our mother tongue would have made all the difference. Rape and identity in Egypt As heavyset Arab rapists laid on top of her one by one, all the little Eritrean lady felt was the full weight of her Habesha identity. “Strange Sinai fruit” Ghedli fruits are so resilient that they are harvested in abundance even in the dreary landscape of the Sinai desert. 3 Causes and dreams A cause that can actually walk When there is no cause to begin with, the Supreme Leader becomes all the cause that there is, and the masses are grateful for a cause they can actually see. The Eritrean cause When a cause takes a religious turn, it is deferred to the hereafter, at the expense of the here and now. A confused generation’s cause When a search for a cause is confused for the cause itself a whole generation dies for it, lured by its promiscuity to be whatever one wants it to be. A dream deferred? After decades of ghedli, the ghedli generation got exactly what it wanted, the only thing it has ever known: more of ghedli. Fifty years of slumber Unable to tell another day had arrived, we went back to sleep, again and again. There were no others to ask. 4 The paradox of Warsai Warsai’s feet When a nation demands endless sacrifice to stand on its own feet, it has no other feet but yours. Drop that dead weight and run! Mass exodus Even gelgele meskele doesn’t mind when Mereb overflows, takes it down, roots and all, and dumps it on the dreary desert of Sudan. Warsai and “Eritrea” When the very people who escape from a prison want it kept as is for their brothers, it takes an outsider to demolish it. A nation refusing to grow up Where gray hairs are rendered extinct, the young embark on a circular journey where no one can tell who is behind, who is ahead. The paradox of Warsai’s feet When those who voted with their feet, use those very feet to march for PFDJ in Diaspora, the confused feet get tired of the burden they carry around. 5 Martyrdom without a cause Six feet deep history When a nation’s memory goes only six feet deep, all that it needs is endless supply of martyrs to fill it with. Sanctioning Eritrea Eritreans measure the worth of their nation by how many died for it, but the earth can’t take it anymore. Meeting death half way There is no surprise in the long standing order of death in this land; only in the long line of men searching for their names. 6 Building Eritrea Defending Eritrea As she struggles through with flood up to her neck, she still has her umbrella up above her head to protect her from the rain. Unrepeatable first If a nation unravels with its first serious mistake, it shouldn’t have been conceived in the first place. Strategic alliance A nation born out of strategic alliance, sooner or later, strategizes itself out of existence. The march of folly Having walked this far, Eritreans still want to know where to and where from. 7 Out of nowhere A shameful generation Nobody knew what to say. Yet, except for one’s own, others’ silence was taken as wisdom. This way shame came to belong to each and everyone of us. Eritrea’s history It has to be said all at once or not at all. And if you are interrupted in between, you have to start all over again. Students’ ghedli The young thought they knew. The old thought their young knew. For lack of verification, a nation was lost. 8 The untenable middle Under the Eritrean sky The Night claims it has no say on what takes place under its cover, occupied as it is holding off the daylight from arriving too soon. Sophie’s choice in Eritrea When even the choice not to choose is rendered not your own, the gods flee the scene for lack of a foothold.