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Eritrea's Jebha and its alien Arabic components

Post by Mesob » 13 Aug 2019, 22:15

Jebha and its alien Arabic components

Think about how the Eritrean sewra started: a number of Muslim elite congregated in Cairo, the hotbed of pan-Arabism, Islamism and Gamalism at that time, and decided to start a revolution inspired by these alien -isms. Then they assigned the task to a notorious former shifta, who not only had fought hard to reinstate Fascist Italy long after the Italian army surrendered, [5] but also had been assaulting native Eritreans for years after that. What is more, those elites initially provided Awate with a fighting force almost entirely composed of Sudanese police/soldiers with transnational identities. And to make matters worse, the Muslim elite declared that Arabic would be the national language of the country; of course, at the expense of their mother tongues.

And in its course of its 20-years long mieda life, predictably Jebha’s inspiration came entirely from the Arab world. It starts from the very term, “sewra”, one that was originally created in the Arab world to be applied within the context of Arab nationalism only, where the revolution conducted had to necessarily be against a non-Arab occupier. [6] And when Jebha became socialist-oriented, it had to come in its Arab grab as Baathism; and at its pluralistic best, it had to seek guidance from the “Algerian experience” to flirt with “regional autonomy” of the mieda type when it briefly divided itself into five regional fighting forces. That is, for Jebha, it was impossible to imagine anything outside the Arab world; its world view was entirely informed by Arabism. That is why even the internationalist elements that inspired many third-world revolutions during that era had to be Arabized first before they could be digested by Jebha Arabists.

If so, why is it that none of the nationalists (hagerawyan) ever added up all this Arab elements and then seriously doubted the “Eritrean identity” of Jebha? This is, indeed, very strange given that Eritrean nationalists have prided themselves with the fact that theirs is a genuine self-reliant revolution conducted by dekebat. What explains this odd phenomenon?

There is a simple answer to the above raised question: the measure of “Eritrean identity” has always been how much one is willing to renounce (or “sacrifice”) one’s own, both in terms of one’s own heritage and one’s own people, for the sake of the elite’s “Eritrea”. Notice that this is a strange kind of sacrifice, for it asks one to sacrifice nothing less than the real Eritrea for an alien one that the elite wanted to construct. When pushed to its logical end, this would mean that at its sacrificial most, one has to be willing to “sacrifice” one’s identity for the sake of that alien “Eritrea”!

To grasp the severity of this disowning phenomenon, try to imagine this impossible scenario: a Tigre-speaking Muslim elite loudly entertaining of having Tigre (alongside Tigrigna) as a national language. He would be immediately branded as a traitor to the Eritrean cause, as the Muslim elite saw it then and see it now, for it would derail their colonial aspiration (under its Arab grab). That means that he had to disown his mother tongue if he was to be accepted as a true Eritrean by his fellow elite. Or, if we put it in the language of the culture of martyrdom, he had to be willing to “sacrifice” his mother tongue if he wanted to see the kind of alien “Eritrean identity” that the Muslim elite wanted to construct come into fruition.

In fact, there is a vivid example from Jebha’s past that depicts how far the Muslim elite were willing to disown their own in order to embrace the “Arab heritage”: they burned all books written in Tigre at mieda! If this evokes the image of the medieval world where books of “heresy” were burned, it is because the very idea of writing books in Tigre was taken as heretic to the Arab project! The fear was that if Tigre-speaking masses began to read and write in their language, they might not be willing to give it up for an alien language, thus derailing the Arab colonial aspiration of their elite. Even the idea of Tigre as a written language coexisting with Arabic was too threatening to the Arabists; they thought that this coexistence would only come at the expense of the hegemony of Arabic. According to them, talking in their mother tongues won’t take them far enough from the habesha world they wanted to distance themselves from; that is, languages like Tigre (for the Tigre-speaking Muslim elite) and Tigrigna (for the Tigrigna-speaking Muslims) were and still are too close for comfort. That this linguistic disowning also afflicts the Kebessa elite can be seen from asking this question: why is it seeking such blatantly alien language as Arabic is not seen as un-Eritrean, while a Tigrigna spoken with an accent becomes an immediate suspect amongst them?

Now, to this linguistic distancing, if we include all the Arab elements mentioned above, we can see why Jebha’s authenticity as a genuine Eritrean movement was never put into doubt. To the contrary, the more it sought its colonial “Arab heritage”, the more Eritrean it became, simply because by doing that it was traversing the longest distance possible from the dreaded point of departure.

Given that the heritage that everyone wanted to distance from – be it the colonial modernists of the Kebessa type or the Arabists – was the habesha one, it is no wonder that the Tigrignas had to work doubly hard to prove their Eritreanism, and hence the Regal Disease becomes by that much pronounced in them. For the Kebessa elite, the Regal Disease started early when they disowned their fathers, and everything those fathers represented; that is, after having branded them as andnet traitors. Ever since, their Eritreanism has been measured by how much they could distance themselves from the legacy of their fathers. Moreover, in the process of claiming the Italian colonial legacy as their own, they had to erase all the suffering and pain their fathers had gone through in that colonial era. Once this disowning becomes the measure of who is genuine Eritrean, nothing was left sacred: language, history, culture, tradition, religion, education, society, family, etc. As they renounced their rich habesha heritage, they felt they were coming closer and closer to the “authentic” Eritrean identity they wanted to build ex nihilo. That is to say, this nationalist quest to identify themselves as “Eritrean”, to intimately identify themselves with the Regal Disease, has made the Tigrignas look inside themselves for enemies of the nation. Thus, not only were they disowning the social riches of the past associated with their fathers, but also actual flesh-and-blood population groups of their own kind: the peasants, the women, the youth, etc.

Let me start by focusing on the “jasus” (informer) factor that prevailed throughout the ghedli era to address this “disowning” phenomenon: how the Kebessa elite, in the process of purging the “habesha” in them, uniquely applied this witch hunt to their own kind only.

(Taken from ) ... al-disease

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Joined: 23 Dec 2013, 21:03

Re: Eritrea's Jebha and its alien Arabic components

Post by Mesob » 14 Aug 2019, 18:49

The poet Maya Angelou wrote:

“The most noble cause known to man is the liberation of the human mind and spirit.”

How many Eritreans are suffering in Arab mental slavery so much that they hate themselves, history and languages?
How many Eritreans are suffering in this Arab slavery that they want to burn their own identity to look like an Arab?

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