First things first: Dear AS the next time you decide to wake up from your blissful slumber… leave me out of it… I mean I wrote my post-mortem… (sorry sober analysis) of the waEla being careful not to offend the sensibilities of my friends who were still trying to defrag themselves following the Addis conference that followed months of super hyperactivity that nearly led to a complete system collapse… all I tried to say was that in this case less was really less (and not more)! When you went round making it sound like I equated the whole shebang to a wedding… I got the flak from my waEla romantic friends big time! … you being you came back to hit hard at others and seem to have got away scoff free! 

…I mean if the WaEla was a wedding… was EDA being given away to the commission as the blushing bride in the hands of her father... being cheered by my friends from paltalk, and there wasn’t a single dry eye in the hall…!?? (sorry folks couldn’t help that! Please don’t all go sensitive on me!)…so; AS my dear, please pretty please…please with sugar on it… don’t twist-quote me and get me in trouble…will you? Thanks in advance! …much obliged indeed! 

Minimalist revolution

..back to business… after the last time I wrote (before AS decided to get me in trouble) I had an incy wincy moment of feeling perhaps I jumped the gun a bit here… perhaps SAAY was right… perhaps little is more… maybe I am being too mean…so I decided to wait and hear more before I said more…I decided to read objective analysis of the waEla in full colour…I was waiting for the hype to wane and for sense to return… cold daylight analysis… I am still waiting… we have had various descriptions of the place the venue…the speakers the eloquence…the sharing the caring… the love the friendships the bond… but nothing on the content…what convinced the ethnic organisations to scoop out the central tenet of their struggle and give their solemn word that scission is not that important to them now... and will they follow their commitments with a change to their charters now they trust all of us in the body of the 300+ congruencies are not going to ignore their plight? (a friend was at pains to persuade me this did indeed happen!)? Who waved the magic wand and made the religious organisations settle for civil law over religious law… and what is now the purpose for their existence then? What gave and made everyone see eye to eye on the complicated issues of mode of struggle… how did the civic activists of the peaceful struggle swallow the armed struggle? How did people square the rugged edges of ‘representation’ and conclude that they represented all of us? ... I waited and waited in vain… you see …I needn’t have done… for the answer was right there in front of me all along and I had actually put my finger on it (before SAAY decided to tsk tsk me!)… 

The declarations say it all… in a true super minimalist politics style the waEla didn’t go for a radical…visionary revolution of the kind that was anticipated… instead it opted for doing as little as possible and ended up doing very very little indeed! And this time less is pretty much less… 

Sal wants me to congratulate the waEla for the commission…but I don’t see the difference between the commission and the preparatory committee for the conference in the first place… the empty chairs are still empty and missing chairs are still missing… all I can see is a political musical chair where no one bothered to remove the extra chair… and hence when the waEla drum stopped everyone went back took... their respective chairs…sat on it and are now patting themselves on the back for not having failed to do so! 

On issues that really really matter the NCDC reached complete consensus by stripping the struggle off of any multiplicity of views and arriving at something that is everything to everyone…a post modern revolution of sorts...perhaps a post minimalist revolution... and this was reflected at every turn...down to what was written in which language (damn the google translator…thingy duda! And’s audacity!!). 

True to its minimalist nature the waEla stuck to the culture of Eritrean politics in the resistance, of not doing anything, but appointing 53 people so that we can perhaps do something next year! And by the standard of current trends the only change next year will be the fact that everyone will be a year older and a tad greyer…! 

The Perfect Storm

…but there is one thing that will convince me that the commission will be different from the preparatory committee of last year and that is the effort towards accommodating those of the missing chairs and the empty chairs… the effort towards reconciliation ..yes that R word that was supposed to be one of  the objectives of the waEla back when we were planning it in 2009!  

…it really is a one in a lifetime opportunity for all of us to really cease the momentum and make something of the storm! PFDJ is running out of excuses to maintain it in power (I often wonder if the only ammunition in IA’s arsenal is the fact that there is no credible, coherent, coordinated, cohesive …anymore c’s? opposition to its rusty crumbling vehicle of doom?). And then, there is a rare convergence of thoughts that the region is indeed in bad need of dousing the various fires that were started by an incurable arsonist with endless ‘matchsticks’! making it almost a now-or-never situation of making our mark…but we wont be able to do it with our hands firmly on each other’s throats!        

P for perhaps PFDJ?

Reconciliation is a nice idea… but this being Eritrean politics at its best…we are now looking for uncontaminated blood…not in the frameworks and agreements but in the names of personalities… people tell me neutrality is an absolute must for any effort of reconciliation here …maybe we can draft all my fence dwelling friends, who never take a stand on anything but spend the occasional holiday in Eritrea and pay their protection 2% and slip in a bit more to keep things sweet…because they are the only ‘neutral’ people I know… the rest of us have all gained a history, a reputation and a track record of activism … how can you be neutral on matters that are so important to you so much so that you have cloaked up thousands of air miles and mega bags under your eyes? 

This is not a time for Eritrean politicians to be sensitive about stern but well-meant criticism… it is time to be sensible enough to know friends from foes and not set fire to the few bridges  that have been built over the many many years of struggle…failing that all we will have to show, for ours years of struggle is days of protests outside locked doors of Eritrean embassies across the globe clad in oversized tshirts depicting the faces of the people we are allegedly advocating on behalf of!  It is do or die time... if we don’t do we will die and perhaps Eritrea would be better off without us...plenty of people in the waiting to write our collective obituary.   

I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions.

Lillian Hellman, letter to Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives, May 19, 1952
US dramatist (1905 - 1984)