Romanticizing Ghedli II:
09 Apr, 2008

Romanticizing Ghedli II:

Self-Preservation at Any Cost

There is this ugly justification that almost all revolutions use to exculpate themselves from the flood of innocent blood they spill: “The revolution devours its own children.” These sinister words are uttered not in regret or sorrow, but in justification of the revolution’s bloody excesses. When this romance with the revolution reaches it most perverse stage, even the victims enthusiastically embrace this perverted justification, and stoically collaborate with their executioners.

When, in purges after purges, countless innocent people perish, what justifies their deaths is the survival of the revolution; that is – according to this convoluted logic – the revolution has no alternative but to eat its own children in order to survive. At the beginning, this is further justified by the greater cause it professes to serve. But half-way along its course, the revolution undergoes a unique metamorphosis where it unabashedly drops its procedural nature (as a process/means to an end) and attains an identity of a full-fledged, self-sustaining entity (as the end-objective itself) worth existing for its own sake, thus dropping its pretense to serve anything higher than itself. Once it has evolved into a separate entity – that is, totally split off from the cause it pretends to serve – self-preservation becomes the only reason for its existence. After that, no amount of blood of its children would satisfy its hunger until it comes to its inevitable end, for it aims at nothing less than out-surviving the very cause it initially professed to adhere to. When the revolution’s sinister survival logic is pushed to its extreme, the whole nation is targeted as dispensable material for its sustenance. By that time, the revolution has come to a full circle: when it started, it was to serve the nation; by the end, the nation is made to serve the revolution. Both cannot coexist for long without committing mutual suicide. Such a revolution has been the Eritrean one.

The current existential predicament of Eritrea can be traced to one single fact: Shaebia’s primordial quest for self-preservation at any cost; that is, its relentless attempt to stretch its lifespan beyond necessity, in the absence of any justifiable cause. If the end result of the struggle is liberation, then attaining that objective ought to have brought ghedli in all its manifestations to an end; Shaebia ought to have dissolved itself and completely merged into the civilian society. Contrary to this sensible resolution though, its preservation has become an end objective of the current game, displacing the original one, that of the preservation of the nation’s freedom. This relentless quest for self-preservation at any cost has now reached its climax, where Shaebia is at a deathbed struggle to out-survive Eritrea (odd as that may seem); obviously with suicide as its end point.

Shaebia’s evolvement into a quasi-religious entity partly explains its tenacity in stretching its lifespan beyond necessity. [I will say more on the quasi-religious nature of Shaebia in my next posting.] The main reason why religions have persisted with such tenacity for millennia is that they aim at an inexhaustible cause – an ever-deferrable objective – one that is supposedly attained only in afterlife. Since nobody has ever come back from the dead to tell us of these ultimate objectives, religions have no worry of disappearing from the face of the earth as a result of having met their objectives. By aiming at an ever-deferrable objective, immune to any worldly realization, they have succeeded in inextricably tying themselves to the cause; such that, the true believers are unable to make a distinction between the two.

Political entities are not fortunate enough to have objectives that can be eternally deferred to afterlife. However, this fact is not to be celebrated, for the tragedy that is inbuilt in every totalitarian system comes from attempting to construe an ever-deferrable objective – that is, a cause immune to any worldly realization. The misery that all communist states underwent for decades couldn’t have been justified without the communist Nirvana of a classless society as an objective, one that theoretically could be deferred forever. Shaebia is doubly unfortunate in this sense because its long-time professed objective – the independence of Eritrea – once attained, could in no way be deferred indefinitely. Ironically then, it brought the end upon itself. But that doesn’t mean it would easily give up its quest for self-preservation beyond independence. It had to create a whole new context, where the whole society had to be brutally rearranged, in order to create a new “cause” that would justify its unnatural existence.

Most people would rather commit suicide than give up their identity simply because giving up their identity is tantamount to killing their “selves”. That is why people are most resistant, and most likely to fight to their last breath, when they are asked to give up their religion, their language, their nationality or any other attribute that makes the core of their identity. So is it with Jebha and Shaebia, which had always preferred to commit suicide rather than give up their respective identities, even as the demand for radical change in their identities was the only way to attain the liberation of Eritrea.

If there is one thing that defined the Eritrean mieda more than anything else it is Jebha’s and Shaebia’s relentless efforts to out-survive one another. Framed in terms of “identity”, that mission would be: to preserve their respective identities at any cost. That drive had always been stronger than the one they had to liberate Eritrea. So the latter mission, which was supposedly the primary cause for their existence in mieda, had always to be subordinated to the former one. Jebha chose, in the end, to commit suicide rather than give up its archaic, sectarian identity. Shaebia is in the very process of committing suicide rather than give up its dehumanized, alien identity. That is so even though suicide in both instances could have been avoided by letting the identity of the Eritrean masses be. Below, I will attempt to trace this suicide-phenomenon in three cases: that of the civil war, that of Falul and that of independence.

Civil war and identity crisis

Many have accepted a naïve account of the last civil war that drove Jebha to Sudan, and have seen it as a war between brothers that ought to have been avoided at any cost. If that civil war had been avoided, I don’t see how Ethiopia could have finally been ejected from Asmara. If both movements had made it all the way back to the outskirts of Asmara again, we would have seen the same stalemate we saw in the 70s. Even if, by then, they would have succeeded in driving the Ethiopian army from Asmara, it would have been the beginning of a full-blown civil war. I am not by any means approving that civil war. What I am trying to point out is the inevitability of the civil war as a result of that irrepressible drive the two fronts had to out-survive one another by any means necessary. In any analysis of that civil war, the inevitability-phenomenon should be taken as a given premise.

Lets ask ourselves: Why was the civil war unavoidable? Why was it impossible for the two fronts to unite? The simple and straightforward answer is: Because each of them thought it couldn’t absorb the other without diluting, at best, or totally compromising, at worst, its identity. Jebha, for instance, was all for unity at the beginning because it thought absorbing Shaebia at that early stage, where it had relatively a much smaller number than Jebha, could be done without compromising its identity. But as soon as Shaebia began to get larger and stronger, it realized that it can no more do that without undergoing a drastic change of identity on its own side. By the same token, Shaebia resisted unity from the very beginning to the very end. Since it was their respective identities that they were planning to impose on a free Eritrea, it was stark clear that each could only achieve that by eliminating the other. But the identities that both wanted to impose on a liberated nation had nothing to do with the actual identity of the masses (or with the “Eritrean identity”, if you will). So the quest for self-preservation of their respective identities had to come not only at the expense of each other’s identity, but also at the expense of the masses’ identity.

Nowadays, many Jebha sympathizers blame the demise of Jebha on Shaebia and TPLF. But that is a lopsided way of looking at the civil war. The attempt to wipe out each other was always there; success in doing that does in no way exculpate the failed attempts of the other in doing just that. All that one has to do is look carefully at the events that transpired after the “retreat” of 1978. In the two years that followed, Jebha hardly conducted any major battle against the Ethiopian army. This was a carefully calculated strategy, and has everything to do with its age-old mission to out-survive Shaebia.

After the 1978 retreat, Ethiopia’s strategy was simple and economic: finish off Shaebia and the rest will take care of itself. This strategy was well understood by Jebha, TPLF and Shaebia. That is, Jebha knew that so far as it doesn’t instigate confrontations with the Ethiopian army, it was relatively safe. But the paradox was, at that time, Jebha’s survival in the field was parasitic on the survival of Shaebia. It was not that the Jebha leadership failed to grasp that, but that the drive to out-survive Shaebia was greater than the drive to out-survive the Ethiopian army. Hence, when Jebha was “saving itself” in those two years, it was literally waging civil war against Shaebia without firing a shot. Its silent attempt to let Ethiopia devour Shaebia was not lost on the latter. Shaebia was no fool; it was only biding its time.

Many naïve “nationalists” abhor the fact that Shaebia has used a foreign force – TPLF – in its war against Jebha (as if there is a code of honorable rules in wiping out each other!). They fail to see that Jebha was equally using a foreign force – the Ethiopian army – albeit indirectly, to wipe out Shaebia. The TPLF had a better understanding of what was at stake in Ethiopia’s Shaebia-focused strategy. It realized that if Shaebia was finished off, it would be extremely difficult for it to make it on its own. So the war that it conducted against Jebha was, by extension, a war for its own survival.

But the lesson we have to take from the civil war is that both fronts were primarily driven to preserve their respective identities, identities that have nothing to do with the interests of the masses. And in the case of Jebha, it knew perfectly well that it wouldn’t stand the assault of the Ethiopian army on its own if Shaebia was finished off. Yet, the drive to out-survive Shaebia was so strong that it chose that road even as it would have eventually lead it to suicide.

Falul and identity crisis

Unlike the case of Menkae which took place at an early stage of Shaebia’s history, the Falul insurgency took place at the peak of Jebha’s evolvement, and hence involved thousands of teghadelti. A look at how Jebha and Shaebia handled this major insurgency gives us an insight on how their quest for self-preservation led them to brutal measures that had absolutely nothing to do with the Eritrean cause.

Jebha of the seventies was undergoing a huge identity crisis. With tens of thousands of youth from Kebessa flocked to mieda, it had a hard problem absorbing them without simultaneously undergoing a drastic change in its identity. Many of the powerful Jebha leaders, and many of their followers, couldn’t reconcile themselves to this fact. They were in a serious dilemma: They realized that if they were to out-survive Shaebia, they badly needed this new force. But at the same time, they thought that this wouldn’t be worth it if in the end it would come at the expense of the old identity of Jebha; for, in the first place, it was the preservation of that old identity that was motivating them to out-survive Shaebia. As they were desperately looking a way out of this precarious dilemma, they thought they found a balancing solution in the Falul crisis. Let me explain.

Although Falul was no small movement in its scope, the questions it raised were not radical by any measurement. Ironically, the only serious question that the Falul insurgents raised was the issue of unity. They thought that Jebha was deliberately skirting the issue of unity by making a “pact of unity” with Osman Saleh Sabbe (a pact that had absolutely no teeth, since Sabbe was in no position to enforce it on the ground) than with its Shaebia counterpart in mieda. Of course, there was a lot of naivety involved in this insurgency because they were assuming that the latter would be earnest in seeking unity. Leaving aside the naivety though, this was an uprising that could have easily been defused if Jebha had used tact and understanding instead of brute force. It could have even turned the tables against Shaebia by putting it to test, for the latter would have never taken that offer seriously anyway. But the threat to Jebha identity that the leaders were worried about was not one coming from Shaebia’s offer – the were dead sure that neither of them wanted unity – but from within the Jebha rank and file. So why did the Jebha leadership finally decided to use force against Falul?

The Jebha leaders thought that the Falul uprising provided them with a rare opportunity to retain the old Jebha identity (an identity that they thought was undergoing fast change not to their liking) without at the same time weakening their army. They thought that if they could get rid of this rebelling group (a group they thought was not amenable to their designs) without driving away the rest of Kebessa fighters, then they could maintain that precarious balance that they thought was essential for their survival without identity change. They were, of course, to be proven wrong. After Falul, Jebha never recovered. This was not simply because of the number of teghadelti involved in the dissent, but also because it brought back that atmosphere of suspicion that characterized Jebha in its early sectarian years. That is to say, Jebha died as a result of identity crisis; it never found a formula that would reconcile the opposite ends of its newly evolving identity of the 70’s. As pointed out above, nowadays many Jebha supporters blame Shaebia and TPLF for its final demise. But this is not even half the story. A ghedli that had tens of thousands under arms couldn’t suddenly vanish into thin air if it had not been already hollowed out by internal strife. What Shaebia and TPLF did was give a final shove to an already mortally wounded body.

Even though the Falul crisis had religious and ethnic undertones in it, that was not all that there was to it. To see that, one need only take a look at the flip side of the story – on how Shaebia handled this crisis. You would think, given the similar demographic make up of this rebelling population group – mainly students from Kebessa – Shaebia wouldn’t find it hard absorbing them. Well, think again. When about two thousand of Falul insurgents were cornered between Jebha and Shaebia, the latter made it clear to them that it would not tolerate their separate existence. Having left with no choice, they finally surrendered to Shaebia, believing that it is the “lesser evil” of the two. They were soon to have a rude awakening when Shaebia deliberately put all of them in the line of fire in the most brutal front it was facing then – in the killing fields of the Massawa front. Why did it do that? For the same reason as that of Jebha’s: to preserve its identity.

The most sensible thing that Shaebia ought to have done is to disperse the newcomers throughout its army units. But that was too much of a risk for a paranoid organization that had carefully weeded out every single dissenting individual – real or perceived – from its force with the helping hand of the dreaded “Halewa sewra”. Shaebia thought, in a similar way that Jebha did, that it cannot absorb this huge force without seriously compromising its identity. The fact that these thousands newcomers were not simply teghadelti, but dissenting teghadelti, was the main reason why it was extremely wary of them. The question that it asked itself was: if the Falul insurgents were unhappy with a more lenient organization, albeit authoritarian, how likely would it be for them to end up happy in the totalitarian atmosphere of Shaebia? It thought that assigning them throughout its army units would be like spreading a deadly virus [remember that it had just come out from the mot traumatic experience it had ever experienced from within – the Menkae dissent]. Once it had assessed this threat to its identity rightly, it was uncompromisingly brutal in its solution, not only on how to isolate and contain that “virus”, but also on how to get rid of it. And if that could be done in the process of fighting the Ethiopian army, it would have killed two birds with one stone.

What is ironically tragic is that all those Falul insurgents who died valiantly in the Massawa front ended up in their executioner’s roaster of martyrs. For all practical purposes, these are the ones of whom we could undoubtedly say, “sighumti tewesidulom”. The way Shaebia handled the Falul crisis comes from the old books of tyrants like Stalin, who got rid of many of those they suspected through a similar process. The Falul group is part of that naïve student generation that, with all optimism and good will, flocked to mieda in a futile search for that elusive “unity”, that common thread that would weave “Eritrean identity”, only to be wiped out by two regressive identities – the sectarian identity of Jebha and the alien identity of Shaebia. The students’ input to “sewra” derived from this chronic uncertainty, where the margin of error allowed for the sewra to work was as promiscuously wide as it could possibly get.

Again, the two critical points to remember are: (a) that in the case of Falul, as in that of the civil war, Jebha chose suicide rather than change its identity, even as it was stark clear that only by changing its identity to reflect the evolving realty on the ground that the greater cause of liberating Eritrea would have been achieved; (b) and that Shaebia too was on that suicidal trajectory, only in its case it would be coming much later (now).

Independence and identity crisis

It was not simple coincidence that both Jebha and Shaebia faced their greatest identity crisis at the zenith of their achievement; for, paradoxically, success at that point could only be sustained by either drastically altering their identities or totally dropping them. It is no wonder then that in the case of Shaebia a full blown identity crisis came just after independence.

When Shaebia triumphantly entered Asmara, it had already evolved into a distinct entity, separate from the Eritrea body – separate in its concerns, fears, needs, interests and aspirations – with alien experience that estranged it from the masses, alien “language” that had no resonance among the civilian population, alien ideology with all its nihilistic underpinnings, alien values that mock the traditional ones and alien culture that thrives on negation and violence. Ever since then, instead of Shaebia melding into the civilian world, it was the civilian world that has been asked to meld into the world of Shaebia. Perhaps the whole tragedy of Eritrea can be traced to this forced inversion of the natural order.

Even though Shaebia started as a movement to liberate Eritrea, along the way, the self-preservation of its identity became its primary preoccupation. The genesis of this evolvement goes all the way back to its inception: the culture of violence from within and without (its violent breakaway from Jebha, its subsequent mentality of a fugitive organization hunted both by Jebha and Ethiopia; its eternal vigilance against internal “enemies” of all sorts; the ongoing civil war with Jebha; the relentless assault of the Ethiopian army); the isolationist culture of paranoia and the mentality of us versus the world that goes with it; the evolvement of the culture of martyrdom and the negation of values that informs it; the lack of clearly articulated objectives with an amorphous “ideology” to guide it; a pervasive anti-intellectual climate and the death of dialog, even in its rudimentary form; and, above all, the overall totalitarian grip under which the teghadelti lived and fought. Once it has evolved into this defensive, distinct entity, it began to see the outside world – anything outside itself – as the OTHER. In the process, its mechanism for sorting out friends from enemies totally broke down. And consequently, that “other” necessarily included the Eritrean masses. This estrangement eventually evolved into contempt for anything “ghebar”. [more on this below]

People failed to see the distinction between the two missions mentioned above – that of preserving the fronts’ identities and that of liberating the nation – because of the fact that, in mieda, many of the tasks undertaken to defend the liberation fronts also happened to overlap with those tasks needed to defend Eritrea. As to the diverging points, they either paid little attention to them or totally ignored them. Shaebia was to face its greatest crisis with the arrival of independence, one that unglued this happy confluence for everyone to see.

For Shaebia, the years soon after independence were the years of existential angst. The cause for which it had existed was no more available. Thus, it was faced with two stark choices: either it had to totally give up its quest for self-preservation as a distinct entity and meld into the civilian culture, or it had to force the society to adopt its mieda culture; it realized there was no way that the two could have parallel existence – it was either one or the other. But the problem for Shaebia was that the peaceful context of the after-independence-Eritrea was not conducive for the culture of martyrdom to flourish. To mold a society on an ideology based on sacrifice, one needs an ever-deferrable cause in the form of an enemy that would be made never to leave the scene. It was soon to find that role being played by its old archenemy – Ethiopia – and consequently, by “enemies” from within too.

When Shaebia initiated war against Ethiopia, it was primarily driven by its quest for self-preservation. Remember that this was not the first time that it was actively seeking enemies; it was only that it was the first time to succeed in doing that. The fact that the others refused to take the bait (Yemen's leader was remarkable in doing that) does in no way erase Shaebia’s track of record in its relentless effort to find an enemy to justify its existence as a distinct entity. Another way of looking at this phenomenon is to see how it has used the border war as a rare opportunity not to be passed by, the same way Jebha did with the Falul uprising, to reassert its old identity. This is what I wrote before on this subject matter:

“That is why recreating the ghedli environment, wherein such an experimentation would be freely and excessively conducted, became an obsession of this generation [the Isaias/Yikealo generation]. The beginning of this sinister task was Sawa, one that eventually culminated into war with Ethiopia. This war was not only willed into existence by Isayas, it was also happily embraced by his generation for providing it the perfect context it had been desperately seeking for to recreate the mieda experience into which it wanted to initiate a whole new generation. The extended military service which the Warsai have been subjected to for the last ten years is not so much a military necessity as it is a conducive environment for this sinister undertaking. …”

Even as this war came to be a threat to the very existence of Eritrea, it was the very context that Shaebia needed to be born again. Ever since then, the Woyanies have played the role of the enemy that is necessarily needed for the indispensability of Shaebia to “Eritrea’s sovereignty”. This war was the opportunity that Shaebia needed to turn the whole of Eritrea into Sahel; or rather, into Shaebia itself. Notice the paradox in the two pivotal events in the recent history of Eritrea: the birth of an independent Eritrea meant the end of Shaebia; the existential threat to Eritrea meant the rebirth of Shaebia. The irony is that, whether it fails or “succeeds” in its quest for self-preservation, the end point of this game is suicide. It is only that, in the former case, the nation would be spared and in the later case, it would end in mutual suicide.

The Alien Culture

The problem with ghedli experience (temekro mieda) is that many of those who have gone through it came to believe that all the knowledge they needed to govern Eritrea had to come from that experience and that experience only, and that there is little that they could learn from the age-old culture of the masses (or from any other experience, as a matter of fact). Shaebia’s mismanagement of the Eritrea-after-independence primarily comes from this simple fact. But this is not as banal as it seems, for to assume that the other has nothing to offer is to objectify it – that is, to render it dispensable. But this estrangement of ghedli from the masses didn’t happen overnight after independence; it had evolved into a full fledged “world view” in mieda, long before Shaebia showed up in Asmara. Let me look at one strand of such a beginning by providing an example.

I remember an event where a Jebha cadre was giving a speech to hundreds of villagers in “bayto” using a language that was totally alien to the people, one that was replete with exotic components [and that was the norm, and not the exception]: historical “facts” that the peasants couldn’t make heads or tails of them, liberation movement experiences of exotic foreign lands and equally exotic foreign heroes (imagine what the "Algerian experience" could possibly mean to an illitrate peasant), Marxist hyperbole that even the cadre himself seem to have little understanding, newly-coined terms that are as foreign as Greek to the illiterate peasants – all mixed with the street-smart Asmarino's lingo. In the end, of course, not even a single peasant understood what was being said. Yet, the villagers, masters at survival that they had become, kept nodding their heads in faked awe and admiration, and even gave effusive comments that they had always ready for such “emergency cases.” It was only at a safe distance that they would make their true opinion heard, “wey halwlew!” The end result was a total communication breakdown between the two cultures, whose dire ramifications we are now witnessing.

The bottom line is that only someone who failed to know them (or worse, only someone who believed there was nothing to be gained by knowing them) would go on giving such speeches year in year out without ever questioning the wisdom of such acts. When giving a monologue is taken as dialog, it is easy to see how this one-directional “communication” would eventually morph into the kind of coercive language that it has developed now. That the contempt for “ghebar” started with denying him a language is only understandable, for that is the ultimate attribute that identifies man as a creature of dialog – that is, as a human being; you take away his language, you take away his humanity. Once you dehumanize him, contempt in all its forms necessarily follows.

It is this contempt for “ghebar” [today, the word is used to denote all civilians] that we see today displayed by none other than Isayas himself, who of course, embodies this culture of disrespect at its worst. Think, for a moment, of the elderly mediators in their seventies and eighties who were put behind bars for years simply because they tried their best to reconcile him with his old comrades. Even if one disagrees with them or suspects their mission, who in his right mind would ever entertain such an outrageous act, let alone act on it? But once we understand that this monster is a product of this cultural void that has no respect for the norms of the society, we know that disrespecting elders, one that is totally alien to our culture, comes easy to him. However, this disrespect should by no means be seen as confined to one man or applied to elders only; it is rather a pervasive “cultural” phenomenon.

Shaebia’s disrespect for the Eritrean masses has no parallel in history; it neither discriminates nor knows any limits. There is not a single population group that has been spared from its contempt. All that one needs to do is compare its acts with those of previous government to see the alien nature of Shaebia. Let me provide two examples:

It holds all religions in Eritrea in utter contempt. It stops at nothing in order to bring the main religions under its control, bans all minority religions and imprisons thousands of their followers, demotes and arrests the Coptic Patriarch and even conducts “giffa” of priests and deacons in monasteries. To see the extent of contempt that Shaebia has for the Coptic Church all that you have to ask yourself is when was the last time the last two incidents ever happened to the Church. Neither Haile Selassie nor Menghistu ever contemplated it. And when it comes to the forceful recruiting of priests into the army, it never occurred in the 1,700 history of the Church in the region! Even the Italians, who were aware of the taboo nature of this act, wouldn’t dare contemplate it, let alone do it. Only an alien entity like Shaebia that has no mechanism in its head to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong would dare attempt it.

Now think of all the trauma the Warsai generation has been subjected to: the deliberate destruction of the educational system; more than a decade of slavery (witch includes the sexual slavery of many women); a senseless war that killed tens of thousands and maimed more; an exodus of epic proportion, one that has emptied the land of its youth; etc. And to add salt to injury, their parents have been subjected to unheard of cruelties for acts committed by their adult sons and daughters. Again, to assess the extent of contempt that Shaebia shows for the youth of the nation, ask these questions: When was the last time you heard a nation dismantling the only university it has ever had in order to contain its youth? When was the last time the Eritrean parents had been subjected to such atrocity? When tens of thousands of the youth flocked to mieda, neither the Haile Selassie government nor Derghi ever arrested or penalized their parents. Only an alien entity like Shaebia that has no values whatsoever would ever entertain to take such steps.

One unmistakable mark that Shaebia lacks any inhibiting mechanism that helps it discriminate between what is right and wrong, good and bad, normal and abnormal or harmless and harmful is that it treats the weak and the powerful with equal contempt. It treats elders, Warasai and their parents, businessmen, priests, the Patriarch, Ambassadors, diplomats, foreign journalists, NGOs, UNMEE, neighboring countries and many others in a predictably similar and abusive manner. But this is not, as many would have us believe, a chronic deficiency of one man. As I pointed out above, this total breakdown of the discriminating mechanism took place in Shaebia long before it showed up in Asmara.

Conclusion: the deathbed struggle

The paradox of Shaebia’s suicide is that it is taking place in the very process of its quest for self-preservation. All of its metabolism has this ambiguity inbuilt into it. Let me refer to just one part of its body metabolism to make my point: getting rid of its “toxic waste.”

As any separate “organic” entity that evolved to have a separate existence, Shaebia has to find a way of getting rid of the “toxic waste” built up within that would threaten its very survival if left long enough to do its work. If there is anything that Shaebia dreads, it is the wrath of the youth that have been put in captivity in the wilderness for more than a decade under the misleading name of “agelglot”. Even as it badly needs them in protecting it from the Woyanies, it takes them to be the primary enemies from within. That is the main reason why it has deliberately kept them away from urban areas and put them under the constant watch of the military. But it has found out that that is not enough. The “agelglot” itself might implode unless the “excess toxic waste” – the disgruntled Warsai – is occasionally purged out from its system. Hence, the necessity to drive the youth out of Eritrea in mass exodus of epic proportion. Without the mass exodus of the disgruntled Warsai, by now things might have imploded. Even though the ongoing lethal hemorrhage will eventually end up destroying the EDF, in the meantime it is essential for Shaebia to occasionally relieve itself of “excess” Warsai if it is to survive. Thus, the mass exodus has been the safety valve that Shaebia needs badly to let go of the excess pressure from within, right before it implodes. This metabolism, as in any other biological organism, needn’t be conscious; conscious or not, it simply has to happen or Shaebia would die of excess “waste” accumulated in its body. But that only stretches its lifespan a little bit longer.

Shaebia is not only emptying the land of its new generation, it is also hollowing out all the rest of insides of the nation. Like a voracious parasite, it is devouring its youth, its economy, its security, its institutions, its humanity, its religion, its culture, etc. – anything and everything that makes the nation. In the meantime, in its quest for self-preservation, it is living off the nation as any other parasite that lives off its host does. All that it knows is that it has to voraciously eat its host (Eritrea) from inside. The fact that the very body on which it is living off is eventually going to die as a result of the hollowing out done from inside is something that the parasite cannot bring itself to contemplate, for there is no other alternative to its means of survival. So Shaebia is doing what it does because there is no other way for it to exist else than through what it is doing right now, even as this will eventually lead it to suicide. It is as simple as that. The question for us is: how do we deal with this parasite before it kills the nation?

[Originally, when writing this article, I was trying to show Shaebia’s quest for self-preservation by looking at its quasi-religious nature. But since the question of “Eritrean identity” was the most persistent one in the blog, I felt that I had to frame it in terms of identity. In the process, I took out most of what I wrote in the first draft. I feel now that by looking at the quasi-religious nature of Shaebia, we can gain a different perspective to the problem. Hence the decision to post “Romanticizing Ghedli III” after this one.]