Who is Eritrean and Who is Not? The Way Forward


Who is Eritrean and Who is Not?
The Way Forward

Wedi Mekonnen Nov 27, 2012- A response or comment to Ghirmay Yeibio's article (Part I) and to Benyam Seyoum article

Ghirmay Yeibio's article (Part I) tends to question on whether the Eritrean struggle was led by Eritreans and it rather attempted to over-simplify the cause as Weldeab Weldemariam's 'hate to Amhara' etc rather than by a more meaningful ideological and political analysis. Also, I wanted to comment on Benyam Seyoum's writing which tended to distinguish Eritreans from those with Ethiopian origin (himself included).

I have not yet seen Ghirmay Yebio's Part II but appears to be heading to tell us the Ethiopian origin of EPLF leaders. On the other side, Benyam Seyoum is shy to call those with Ethiopian origin as Eritreans and proposing for separate grouping though his intention is positive.

My comment to both would be why do we need to dwell on blood relations and be victims of such politics from some Eritreans these days including EPLF, the Eritrean opposition, as well as the blind Ethiopian opposition? Who can call himself to be pure Eritrean? Ignoring the rest of Eritreans, where did today inhabitants of Hamasien, Akele Gusay, and Seraye come from? If they count back a few ladders, wouldn’t they trace part or all of their origin to one of the areas in Tigray and in some cases Amhara? In northern Ethiopia, whether Afar or Tigray, who can trace his/her blood to be this or that? How far should one go? Immediate parents? Grand parents? Grand.... grand parents?

I believe in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, identity is beyond blood and in most instances limited to immediate family or just a matter of choice or how one defines himself/herself!!!

Despite the poisonous politics of some Eritreans including those in power and the blind Ethiopian opposition, the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia are tied in many ways. The politics ideally should follow though unfortunately that is not the case. In any case, the Ethio-Eritrean dynamics and struggle deserves a better level of analysis, understanding and sympathy to build long-term trust and long-term common good for all.

If Eritreans have to change the anti-democratic system in Eritrea, then they have to join hands without labelling each other of this or that origin. The problem is not origin or blood. The problem is outlook and ideology. Hitler and Mussolini were good German and Italian by ‘blood’. Mengstiu was a typical Ethiopian. But nothing stopped these dictators from massacring their own people in the name or ‘red-terror’ or ‘gentay-asgentay’!!!

Isayas Afewerki may have a mixed origin but that didn't stop him from bombing school children in Mekele or from attempting to snatch land from Tigray/Ethiopia, and of course from oppressing Eritreans. His problem stems from his own dictatorial attitudes rather than from his origin of this or that!

TPLF and EPRDF didn’t hesitate to appoint Gebru Asrat and may others with mixed background from central and other parts of Ethiopia in ruling Tigray or in many other critical positions. Meles was of mixed orign but he gave himself to TPLF/EPRDF cause. Berekt Simon is a top EPRDF official to date though soon to give way to new generation candidates.

So, I urge Eritreans to learn from TPLF and the rest of EPRDF, to unite their hands, ignore the ‘blood’ or origin issue and to pursue their struggle so that EPLF paves the way for democratic Eritrea this or that way!

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