I long time came to understand YG’s mindset in devaluing the reality of Eritrea and Eritrean historical legacies. His mindset is a result of rejection. This rejection is as a result of personal observation. I once wrote my understanding on YG’s work on awate.com reading as:
“YG’s objective as a thinker and smart writer who can write what he thinks is the gist he has. And this quality is misleading as much as one appreciates his single work or his overall materials. This being as common base that I can share with you, then comes what? You admire one because you have a means at the end if not it is just a surprise (Unlike what Emmanuel Kant argued, the end justifies the means). One gets surprised if and only if there is a limit. One philosopher used to say, “Let’s not be conquered by surprise.” Surprise the image of pride on oneself. If a surprise cannot give us a way to another surprise then we stop valuing other things. This is the hidden power of YG. He never failed to recruit people who get surprised by him.
For this, he uses a logical fallacy, a fallacy that falls deep into the social lip-holes to induce what it he has imagined so that breathing is easier, to say what already is in his sub-conscious thinking, the imagined, perceived or better conceived.
Dejen became a sheep for YG, a holy sacrifice, a sacrifice in the name of Heroes. And this hero came through the 7 interviews to the attention of the loophole searching man. YG did not hesitate then to slaughter in his butchery, the experimental laboratory of course. What he came-out with then?”
This piece of writings put me in high tension with my Awatista best teacher and mentor Haw Amanuel Hidrat. Brother Amanuel understood as if I was addressing the message to him directly and he brought his aged political stand as a defense mechanism. I was really shocked to read his defensive mantra. What irritated him is unknown to me though I was not.
Haw Amanuel H. wrote;
“Please, I will ask you to re-read again your comment. One has to think twice before he said something about someone. You have said “He never failed to recruit people who get surprised by him”. So Amanuel is surprised and recruited by YG at this stage of his political career. How do you differentiate between “recruited individuals” and “individuals by virtue of their own knowledge tend to agree to someone’s view.”? For instance I agreed with Tes on his view on what he wrote about PFDJ ideology, does it mean I am also recruited by Tes? This is ridiculous to say the least.
You said also “One gets surprised if and only if there is a limit”. So I have a limit in my knowledge to understand the argument of YG. Can you please tell me where my limits are? I chose not to do the same thing to you as you did to me, just for the respect of the debate and awitistas.
I will leave you with this question. What is the core message of YG’s latest article? What is recruited means in the vocabulary of your mind? When do you agree with someone without being recruited? Once I get answers to these questions, I will know how to tackle you”
After reading this I came to respond that I was not meant to him and if I failed to make it correctly, I asked an apology and he looked ignoring it. Though I sincerely put it instead of rejecting or accepting he went further and insisted me to write a fully and detailed account of my view. What I understand so far, Haw Amanuel Hidrat seems as if I did not read the whole content of the article and probably consider my responses were on my previous perception. Though I can tell you that what I responded was what I conclude after reading, my first reading was not that much detailed and word by word contemplation.
Now, I did it as a thesis paper and is detailed reading to find what each sentence is meant and why he put them
According to Haw Amanuel Hidrat, YG’s recent article on asmarino.com entitled by, “Dejen’s Syndrome: the Contradictions of the Eritrean Mind,” doesn’t talk about emancipation and emancipators, Emama Ethiopia or Grandma-USA, or anything else. This article talks about “heroism and ambivalence.” [In response to Mahmud Saleh]. Expressing his view on this work, haw Amanuel went further on his personal understanding of what he read. In response to Mahmud Saleh, he said;
“First, let me formulate and approach the issue by Q and A. Is Degen an exemplary of heroes? Yes he does. Is Degen expressive and composed in the way he narrate his story? Very much so. Does Degen show ambivalence in certain aspect of his narration? Yes he does. Does Degen require certain time to free himself from the political culture of Ghedli? Yes I believe so. Does his ambivalence affect his integrity? absolutely not ( reason= decuturalization takes time). Remember we are still governed by the political culture of Ghedli. Right after independence the political culture of Ghedli should have been transformed to civic governance. We have failed to do so.”
After having this kind of conversation, haw Amanuel Hidrat looked in doubt of my conclusion and has given me an assignment to write my view on the current YG’s article in a more detailed manner. I am here then today with my homework done. I hope I did what I am asked to do.
YG under a Microscope
I may not be well qualified to evaluate YG’s work from age and experience wise, but as an academic person and considering my responsibility as a citizen, nothing is wrong to write what I understand from what I read within his very tedious and voluminous recent article. In this kind of review report, I have tried to use appropriate research methodology that I came across in my academic life. I believed this work is a thorough research outcome though within limited time.
In this mini research work, the methodology followed utilizes steps such as; identifying/stating the problem, developing a hypothesis, literature review, observations, findings and analysis, and finally conclusions. As I was motivated and insisted to write this review based on conversations done between haw Amanuel Hidrat and me, the problem that is dealt here is initiated from a question addressed to me to cross-check what I stated and brought as into deviation. Haw Amanuel had his own understanding on YG’s article and I had quite different and opposing view on this particular YG’s work.
Problem: YG doesn’t talk about emancipation and emancipators, Emama Ethiopia or Grandma-USA, or anything else. This article talks about “heroism and ambivalence.” Retrieved from haw Amanuel Hidrat’s response to Mahmud Saleh
- YG’s objective as a thinker and smart writer who can write what he thinks is the gist he has. And this quality is misleading as much as one appreciates his single work or his overall materials.
- YG uses logical fallacy, a fallacy that brings logical conclusions of much bigger entity based on single or group characters most of the time, negative aspects to induce what is imagined/received or conceived so the entire mass can bear the same.
- YG is bases on his own concluded marks as valid as it is.
My main objective is to disproof haw Amanuel Hidrat’s understanding about the article in which I took as major problem. Equally, I want to expose numerous tactics used by YG to recruit followers of his myth.
Stating the basic formulation of my microscopic approach, I will break the main content of my literature review and analysis into three parts: one vocabulary selection, parables covered, thinkers consulted/referred and facts distorted for the reason of his mission.
Words are the building blocks of properly conveying ideas. Ideas could be missed for being not understood, or volumes could be written instead of stating them using selective words very precisely and concisely. I have a shortage with this kind of skill as my English vocabulary is not well developed. Sorry I might be failing to convey like what like how I wanted as per the expectations. I need your patience. In the contrary, YG is far par excellence as a greater writer. Every paragraph has always new words for me and is good though I am not preparing for GRE at this time for getting scholarship to USA.
This word usage skill allowed him to merge infinite messages within the carefully put words in every sentence. In this then I have picked the most important words crafted in the article. I used online dictionaries to define some words that I found are clue to the entire article. Just for your information, here I have collected 7 words that can help you further pay attention for the word usage. The rest can be picked by you while re-reading the entire article.
- Syndrome:  pathology, psychiatry. A group of symptoms those together are characteristic of a specific disorder, disease, or the like.  a group of related or coincided things, events, actions, etc. a group of related or coincident things, events, actions, etc.  a predictable, characteristic pattern of behavior, actions, etc., that tends to occur under certain circumstances:
- Contradiction:  The act of contradicting; gainsaying or opposition.  Assertion of the contrary or opposite; denial.  A statement or proposition that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous.  Direct opposition between things compared; inconsistency.  a contradictory act, fact, etc
- Deprive: to remove or withhold something from the enjoyment of possession of (a person or persons).  To remove from ecclesiastical office.
- Instinct:  an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.  A natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency.  A natural aptitude or gift: an instinct for making money.  Natural intuitive power.
- Mar: To damage or spoil to a certain extent; render less perfect, attractive, useful, etc.; impair or spoil
- Dubious: doubtful; marked by or occasioning doubt,  of doubtful quality or propriety; questionable: a dubious compliment;  of uncertain outcome: in dubious battle.  wavering or hesitating in opinion; inclined to doubt
- Frivolously: Not having any serious purpose or value.
Choosing the Title
YG gave a title to his voluminous article as “Dejen’s Syndrome: the Contradictions of the Eritrean Mind.” The title is composed of two units: one, Dejen’s syndrome and second the contradiction of the Eritrean mindset. To infer the contradiction of Eritrean mindset, he used Dejen’s syndrome. According to his logical fallacy, Dejen’s syndrome is what we see in the Eritrean mindset. And yet, both differ in one critical way: while the former focuses on the sense of urgency needed to save the nation, in the latter we meet the main bottlenecks that have kept Eritreans prisoners of their own minds, depriving them of that very sense of urgency that the Bishops talk about.
What YG is aiming at while giving his article a title as such? To answer this basic question, we need to define the terminologies manipulated to his intended outcome. A syndrome is characteristic combination of opinions, emotions, or behavior, or in medicine and psychology, is the collection of signs and symptoms that are observed in, and characteristic of, a single condition. Both definitions are appropriate for the article. YG’s objective is very clear from the title by itself. He was looking for syndromes.
One thing YG forgot is that he did not put Dejen as Tegadalai. Tegadalai in the Eritrean context is a person who is gave-up his life for the common good. Tegadali does not own his life. The common goal owns him. And the common goal is to have a country so called Eritrea. For this, he surrenders himself to the revolution. Once he gave-up, the revolution has all the power infested on him. Takes what it is given, lives in the way the revolution lives, do what he is ordered to do. There is no individual liberty so the revolution works for that. To create such tegadalai, there is an ideology that brainwash this individual and dissociate his self and hands to the revolution. This is how a true revolutionary mindset can be created.
On the paramount, Dejen is the revolution by himself. If we consider this revolution is a disease, then what? Simply, Dejen is a disease. No need to search for the symptoms. Dejen is all the symptoms. We can infer nothing from this. Ok, if YG did this for me, as I am the after revolution generation it is fine (though not tegadalai, living for 23 under PFDJ ideological administration cannot make me free of such symptoms). What YG did is like asking for evidences to a sick person while he reaches the doctor with all his medical records. Thinking YG like this doctor, what YG did is he threw all the records without checking and went all laboratory checks and came up with the same result.
Dejen is the patient and he has all past medical records. He does not want a doctor who tells him his symptoms, what he wants is caring. The strong side of Dejen is he came with all medicines, he just want a resting place. He is not begging for that too. He just wants FREEDOM. Instead of giving such noble freedom and leave him free, a virus called YG came in search of a fertile land if available so that this virus can be multiplied rapidly to the whole population, the Eritreans. And for this, he baptized the title as “Dejen’s Syndrome; the contradiction of the Eritrean mind.” Eritreans know their diseases and have all the medicines but what they are missing is a place where they can take freely what they want. But, YG has discarded this and is back to his laboratory in search of the symptoms. Poor YG! Let’s go anyway.
Fake Praise: Dejen’s Psychological Screening as a Double Standard
In the mind of YG, Dejen came with positive and negative (rather weakness) attributes. The strong side of Dejen as explained by YG: He is a brilliant fellow, a lucid narrator, an honest citizen and a very courageous man, humble and with palpable decency. YG further strengthened Dejen as an example par excellence of the quintessential hero. And, in the other hand the favorite character, probably the main reason why he came into the writer’s attention, is Dejen’s honest breathtaking uniqueness in the ears of YG. He said, “In a culture marred by duplicity, his [Dejen’s] honesty is breathtaking; at no time does he try to deliberately cover his weaknesses. In a society that long time now described by YG as “marred culture” Dejen became as a unique imposer. For this, such unmarred behavior that he never imagined for its existence forced him to remark as; “his will power is astounding, in that he never allowed his spirit to be broken down in 15 years of life in prison.”
Unlike the Eritrean people, people which are described by YG as people with marred culture, Dejen shined as free and with minimum confounding factors from characters that ail the rest Eritreans. YG further found Dejen free from looking an officer/or a person in a rank as he did not possess any kind of a dubious character. What YG might not happy with Dejen is that in the narration nothing can be traced as lethal flaws of the nationalist type.
Hence, Dejen is one that he never expected from a person who spent 15 years of his life under a brutal prison center of the ruling regime. YG could not see the spoiled Eritrean culture that he imagined; Dejen is as humble as he is a hero and above all pure nationalist citizen. With all such psychological screening, YG was not happy to stop seeing Dejen as a hero as he is. He has chosen him as a sacrifice and went further in detail to formulate myths based on this righteous citizen.
Objective of YG’s Article
YG is not happy with the brevity of this man. He wanted to diagnose him further. He expected faults, outraged insults vomiting, and a man who discredits the Gedli, a man who condemns the who revolution, a man who says “useless people”, a man who did not prefer ay positive aspect, and a person who is weak at least in his narration. YG never imagined such qualities of individuals exist.
YG could not accept this to exist. Dejen has become unique. This uniqueness that went all along those old and prison days attracted the attention of the writer. To have such qualities that thrived after 15 years of prison and lonely life under a brutal prison center of the ruling regime must be superior. YG could not see the spoiled Eritrean culture that he imagined; Dejen is as humble as he is a hero and above all pure nationalist citizen.
With all such psychological screening, YG was not happy to stop seeing Dejen as a hero as he is. He has chosen him as a sacrifice and went further in detail to formulate myths based on this righteous citizen. He has chosen to dissect the inner soul in case of faults and he supposed these fault findings to help him to build his “Fallacy Philosophy,” be it formal or informal. This philosophy the perfect tool utilized since long time ago when YG starts to write for his mission.
YG is not happy with this thus he went to create arguments so that the Eritrean identity can be again visited for designing a new methodology of devaluing whatever it exists. Dejen is not welcomed. Something has to be devised so that no such Eritrean qualities, be it at individual or societal level to exist and have a nursery mind/place within. To this, YG formulated a clear objective to go further into deep philosophical terms in search of lip-holes within the impossible, the entire Eritrean society.
While stating the objective of writing this 17 pages article, he wrote, “This article will focus on the irreconcilable contradictions that coexist in the same mind that has debilitated Eritreans to a point of catatonic inaction in the face of existential calamity.”
Assumptions Put in the Analysis
YG assumed two major assumptions while developing his arguments.
If Dejen was unable to question the nature of the system that had victimized him for four years, it goes without saying that he wouldn’t extend the benefit of doubt he denied to himself to other prisoners.
For Dejen to believe the system was incapable of deliberately doing what it did to him and others like him for years, he must have believed that this organization was not doing anything like that not only in independent Eritrea but also in ghedli era.
These two are the basic assumptions that YG developed while writing this article. Let’s define first what assumption is before delving further. According to Oxford online dictionary, assumption is defined as, “A thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.” Taking this definition into account, YG developed not only one but two assumptions before he starts diagnosing Dejen’s mindset. He did not come with open mind, he accepted what it is as true and these things are of his own inception. All what Dejen will say is scrutinized and filtered through these two assumptions. YG considered that Dejen is unable to question the nature of the system and remain confined all what Dejen faced is of his own personal paradox and has no linkage or similarity to others. And second worse assumption is that Dejen was expected to believe that all the wrong doings that is believed not into the knowledge of Dejen has to be revisited and question the system.
I do not know if a genuine mind can assume like this to see beyond his nose. YG is clearly showed as his lone planet of thinking, a planet that no Eritrean lived ever, a planet that is a heavenly place of political incommunicado. If not, such assumptions are fatal errors and leads to lethal flaws (to use YG’s words). YG assumed Dejen as non-knowledgeable, innocent, and unaware.
YG’s Chosen Writer, “Franz Kafka”
Most of us may wonder about this writer though Saay7 (Saleh Younis) as he said once quoted this man’s say in a news paper he used to publish in the early 1990s and of course some more of you might have come across Franz Kafka’s works. Honestly, I am not only new to this man but I am deeply astonished on how much YG go through in search of like minded writers to get inspired and enforce his works. Without forgetting his philosophical academic background, YG looks a deep thinker and applies in his works the principle of philosophical fallacy. Such men are best feeders of his argumentative base as they fulfill the myths required to be invented.
Born on July 3, 1883, in Prague, capital of what is now the Czech Republic, writer Franz Kafka grew up in a middle-class Jewish family. After studying law at the University of Prague, he worked in insurance and wrote in the evenings. In 1923, he moved to Berlin to focus on writing, but died of tuberculosis on June 03, 1924.
Most of his works are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations. It is generally agreed that Kafka suffered from clinical depression and social anxiety throughout his entire life. He also suffered from migraines, insomnia, constipation, boils, and other ailments, all usually brought on by excessive stresses and strains. He attempted to counteract all of this by a regimen of naturopathic treatments, such as a vegetarian diet.
About Franz Kafka’s personality, Wikipedia recorded as, “Kafka feared that people would find him mentally and physically repulsive. However, those who met him perceived him to possess a quiet and cool demeanor, obvious intelligence, and a dry sense of humour; they also found him boyishly handsome, although of austere appearance.” I do not know YG personally, but his personality between lines of his voluminous articles he wrote so far smells exactly a copy of his chosen writer.
While describing what happened to Dejen during his prison days and the naivety of expectations developed by the prisoner was characterized as that of Kafkaesque. YG wrote;
“…the most Kafkaesque picture in this regard was when he rose up every morning, gathered all his belongings, and waited by the door to be let out for months straight. It required an enormous amount of good will towards Shaebia for someone to stay naïve for so long.”
What is Kafkaesque?
This is the basic question that needs to be answered in order to understand YG’s mindset at that particular time of writing this article. According to the given definition, “Kafkaesque is marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity, Kafkaesquebureaucracies” And is of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or resembling the literary work of Franz Kafka: the Kafkaesque terror of the endless interrogations. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kafkaesque)
It can also describe an intentional distortion of reality by powerful but anonymous bureaucrats. “Lack of evidence is treated as a pesky inconvenience, to be circumvented by such Kafkaesque means as depositing unproven allegations into sealed files …” Another definition would be an existentialist state of ever-elusive freedom while existing under unmitigatable control.
The adjective refers to anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish type of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape. The term’s meaning has transcended the literary realm to apply to real-life occurences and situations that are incomprehensibly complex, bizzare, or illogical.
This definition leads us to another level of search, the Kafkaesque bureaucracies. So far from the Definition we have at hand, what we can lear is that YG’s analysis is with a preconceived mindset. YG was not naïve enough to take notes on what it has being said but what implication is behind. All the 7 volumes of interview available at assenna.com were carefully restated in the way YG values can be imprinted in to the new hero.
To come back, Kafkaesque bureaucracy is a Weberian dimensions of bureaucracy − most notably coordinated and specialized organization and training − are predominant in public institutions; private sector establishments, in contrast, witness significantly more particularism as well as uncertainty and fear as core organizing principles. Most notable characters are uncertainty and fear which typical flooding YG’s mind.
Further search of Kafkaesque’s character, what the writer put is,
“…Whenever Dejen demands justice, insisting that at least he should be told what he was accused of, as he kept languishing in his cell, the kind of response that he used to get was, “Aren’t you under the protection of government?”; “What are you afraid of?”; “Why are you so impatient?”(Interview, Part 2) It gets downright bizarre when the interrogator proposes that they should work like “brothers” (kemahwat)….´
What YG is trying to tell us is that Dejen should have just kept quite in his room as there is no hope at all from the oppressors. What is telling us is that the interrogator should have given any kind word to Dejen when it is known that whatever said was not what it means. No hope and hence no need to watch the gate of release that one day could let Dejen pass through. Not only this, the interrogator was stupid enough to be at even in their words that was emitting.
Even non-believers always hope for good. Hope is feed of the soul. Hope is everything in time of disperses, when everything looks black, it is only hope that tells us there is light. Dejen, he himself said this well. He was looking for two gates at the same time; the main door that they can allow him to leave safely and a window that he can escape. These two kept him alive for 15 years. He never lost hope. He was searching. Though I will come later, the reason why Dejen went on writing hundreds even thousands of letters was because of Hope. But, here YG is telling us that this was “nonsense, a kafkaesquian. He is telling us that no good words should come out from interrogators; he is telling us that they must be cruel as they are even in their words.
There is no doubt that YG will be remembered as one who lost hope on Gedli and tegadalay and as a result betrayed his home country, not only betrayal but wants to see this country to be part of Ethiopia. What shame characterization is this? Does YG want other Eritreans to follow the same course: to deny, being hopeless; no kindness is needed even when there is no. This is not humane. YG is a loner, a man with no hope, no future. YG as I said frequently, he is a man of “Dead Soul.”
According to the online reference I use frequently, the Wikipedia, a parable is illustrated as a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It is a short tale that illustrates a universal truth; it is a simple narrative. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results.
A parable often involves a character who faces a moral dilemma or one who makes a bad decision and then suffers the unintended consequences. Although the meaning of a parable is often not explicitly stated, it is not intended to be hidden or secret but, on the contrary, quite straightforward and obvious.
The defining characteristic of the parable is the presence of a subtext suggesting how a person should behave or what he should believe. Aside from providing guidance and suggestions for proper conduct in one’s life, parables frequently use metaphorical language which allows people to more easily discuss difficult or complex ideas. Parables express an abstract argument by means of using a concrete narrative which is easily understood.
Having such broad perspective on what a parable is, YG’s love for parables is of no surprise then to support his argument. He got a character, Dejen, the hero, a man of hope and lucid narration. Through these narrations, YG did not hesitate to enter the fertile mind, the welcoming. I can say a virus. For Dejen, this virus is harmless. But being in Dejen’s mind, it can be transmitted to others. I hope how mosquito transmits virus to people. The virus is harmless to the mosquito. But once the mosquito goes out in search of food, it bites health people. The thing is the virus capable enough to be transmitted through the injector. YG has being a virus to Eritrea and Eritrean history as well as identity. He searched so many ways as an effective mechanism to be transmitted in to the whole society. He already infected some but not as much effective as he thought. Then, Dejen, the hero came. YG then camouflaged and has tried to settle in Dejen’s mindset so that other innocent and empty headed people can be infected. And those infected people can probably be the nursery ground for further multiplication.
The easiest way to do is then to create or tell parables to the expected audiences. So did YG. To enrich his argument then, he brought two parables; of course both are written by Franz Kafka, the chosen scholar: “A message from the Emperor” and “Before the Law.” I will put these two parables as they are so that you can understand their message directly. The interpretation is widely covered and can be found on internet. Here, I will just put them as they are.
1. A Message from the Emperor
This parable was published in 1925 by Franza Kafka in a novel called “The Trial” after Kafka’s death. It has being also published in his life time first in the New Year’s edition (1915) of the independent Jewish weekly Selbstwehr, then in 1919 as part of the collection Ein Landarzt (A Country Doctor). The Trial, however, was not published until 1925, after Kafka’s death.
The emperor—it is said—sent to you, the one apart, the wretched subject, the tiny shadow that fled far, far from the imperial sun, precisely to you he sent a message from his deathbed. He bade the messenger kneel by his bed, and whispered the message in his ear. So greatly did he cherish it that he had him repeat it into his ear. With a nod of his head he confirmed the accuracy of the messenger’s words. And before the entire spectatorship of his death—all obstructing walls have been torn down and the great figures of the empire stand in a ring upon the broad, soaring exterior stairways—before all these he dispatched the messenger. The messenger set out at once; a strong, an indefatigable man; thrusting forward now this arm, now the other, he cleared a path though the crowd; every time he meets resistance he points to his breast, which bears the sign of the sun; and he moves forward easily, like no other. But the crowds are so vast; their dwellings know no bounds. If open country stretched before him, how he would fly, and indeed you might soon hear the magnificent knocking of his fists on your door. But instead, how uselessly he toils; he is still forcing his way through the chambers of the innermost palace; never will he overcome them; and were he to succeed at this, nothing would be gained: he would have to fight his way down the steps; and were he to succeed at this, nothing would be gained: he would have to cross the courtyard and, after the courtyard, the second enclosing outer palace, and again stairways and courtyards, and again a palace, and so on through thousands of years; and if he were to burst out at last through the outermost gate—but it can never, never happen—before him still lies the royal capital, the middle of the world, piled high in its sediment. Nobody reaches through here, least of all with a message from one who is dead. You, however, sit at your window and dream of the message when evening comes.
Apiece taken from Ben Marcus writing available on internet headed by “What It Really Means to Be ‘Kafkaesque’” describes the meaning of this parable’s message as such;
… The piece focuses on the impossibility of that message ever arriving. It turns out that the palace has ring upon ring upon ring of walls, successive outer palaces, and the messenger has to get through one and then the other, and then the other. If he could ever do that—which he never could, the narrator tells us the palace is too vast and impossible—then he’d only be at the center of the city, which is filled with people and garbage, all kinds of difficult obstacles. He will never get through.
The ending is haunting: You will never hear this message that’s intended for you alone. This breaks my heart. Something important has been communicated to you, but you’ll never hear it. And yet you’ll sit at your window and dream it to yourself—and so there’s immense yearning and hope coupled with the sense of impossibility and futility. These incompatible sensations all assail you at the same time. This is just perfection to me.(Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/01/what-it-really-means-to-be-kafkaesque/283096/)
A piercing Gaze:YG attempted to fuse Kafka’s parables with Dejen’s history with the aim of creating an imaginative political fantasy. But the concepts were altered from their original meaning in a very significant way. In part he discussed the theme of, “A Message from the Emperor” whose core meaning is about messages going to nowhere. We can understand that there was a message that was sent hoping for justice that never materialized, exactly like what happened to Dejen. It is as if a mother drowned while in labor, yelling for help until she was swallowed by the sea, similar to what it happened to an Eritrean mother during the Lampedusa tragedy.
“Before the Law” is also another carefully selected parable.
2. Before the Law
Talking on Dejen’s indeterminate world, YG wrote: “There is another excellent parable by Kafka, Before the Law that has, again, this uncanny resemblance to the ever-hedged world in which Dejen found himself, especially so since both deal with the issue of fithi.”
One might ask what the parable is about. Written in 1915 by the same author who wrote “A message from the Emperor.” “Before the Law”was a parable contained in the novel “The third Trial.” Only a portion of the parable is given in YG’s article but I suggest you check the entire chunk here:
The theme of the parable is that man cannot wait for the law to come to him. He cannot sit down and hope that one day he will be part of the law. Every man has a right to justice. The common man must be willing to fight or stand up for his civil rights and do what is necessary to have the legal system work for him…. (http://myweb.wvnet.edu/~jelkins/lawyerslit/exercises/kafka.htm)
Interpretation of the parables
First parable: “A message from the Emperor”
YG wrote, “Dejen literally waited eternity for that message from the Emperor, Isaias Afwerki, to arrive (and to some extent, is still waiting).
Is this all that Dejen in his interview? Of course, Dejen was sending many letters addressed “to whom it may concern.” He spent 15 years in prison writing at least writing an average of 1.5 letters every week—he produced about 1170 letters. I hope these letters are archived by the PFDJ.
Dejen told us about one side of his daily communication practice. Within the PFDJ security system, the prisoner gets a visit, not a family visit, but by an interrogator as a routine procedure, to checks and cross-examine the status of the prisoner. At this moment, any verbal question, complaint or concern is not accepted, it should be present in writing. This has two objectives from either side: for the prisoner, it is a kind of relief to express his feeling even if only in writing, and hope for justice; for the officers, they get to follow up on the psychological state of the prisoner and to keep general records. But YG presented that as if he was literally waiting for a reply though what Dejen said was quite different.
Though Dejen was lenient at first, as soon as he gave-up the system, no doubt he was doing everything a routine requirement. Parallel to that, he was planning to escape from the prison, and he gave much emphasis and energy on his escape plan. YG’s complete belittling of Dejen’s efforts to escape and presenting it as if he only expected justice through his letters, which is completely untrue.
Second parable: “Before the Law”
At no point can we learn how this parable resembles that of Dejen’s take. YG stated, “… this uncanny resemblance to the ever-hedged world in which Dejen found himself, especially so since both deal with the issue of fithi…” Dejen, played the two—like every prisoner, he expected to be put on trial or be released. In fact, after giving up on the two possibilities, “Escaping” occupied his daily thoughts.
I think “Before the law” can be interpreted from three dimensions: that of the victim, the victimizer and the observer. YG assumed the victim’s position with no real experience. In that position, YG totally Dejen’s diligent search for justice. But YG did not have the courage to consider the second alternative that the victim pursued. The ex-prisoner repeatedly narration the possible opportunities he explored. For the first four-years he wanted to liberate himself from the system that brainwashed him; later on he searched for other possible opportunities. But YG says, “…this again is meant to convince the man to resignedly wait by the door, until the Law comes to him on its own who will never happen….” Why does YG consider the alternative of “Escape” a taboo? YG’s analysis is based on an already conceived image (the parable) of Degen’s situation as this quote from his article demonstrates: “I have tried all paths in many different ways. And, invariably, all these paths lead to doors that don’t yield.”
YG’s Bank of Vulgarity and Defamation:
People who grow-up in slum have rich vocabulary of vulgar words; it is hard to trace the origin YG’s absurd mentality: being a young boy of the 1960’s and thinking about the possible quality of cultural purity at that time, he can badmouth with great fluency. Words flow just like water gushing downstream.. YG is not only a source of enormous amounts of vulgar and defamatory words that target the opposition groups but is a nursery and factory of such vocabularies. I am not a psychologist but this seems a serious psychological problem. Here is a list: “dictator”, “despot”, “tyrant”, “oppressor”, “totalitarian”, “megalomaniac”, “paranoid”, “lawless”, “victimizer”, “wulqe-melachi”, “aremyen”, “amatsi”, “regats-fithi”, and after few seconds pause, he continued; “dictatorial”, “lawless” (highi-albonet), bestial “arawit”, “badonet” (nihilist), “shameful”, “whose history will be written in a dark book”,etc.
I heard that such cultural values flourished in Eritrea during the Derge era. I wonder how YG built his bank as he always refers back to the era of Hailesellasie in all his writings, with no apparent mention of the Derge.
YG is good at accusing people and claiming others are also doing the same.
It is generally believed that fear can trigger the temptation to surrender freedom to a demagogue who promises, power and security in return. When fear displaces reason, the result is often irrational hatred and paranoia. YG has expressed his fear and disturbance very clearly in his last article, even in building his own assumptions.
Philosophy of YG
It has been a while since I came to understand the philosophy of YG philosophizes on the Eritrean case–almost all are of fallacy in nature and usually enforced by the rejection of reality, fear and intimidation. YG’s approach to the Eritrean question and his basic argument can be summed as:
The Ghedli did wrong to Eritrean people.
The Eritrean people did not like the Ghedli
Therefore, Eritrea as a free nation should not have existed.
In this particular article, YG used such argumentative methods. The title by itself, “Dejen’s syndrome. The contradiction of the Eritrean mindset” is the best example of such fallacies. One more example;
If it took Dejen four years in prison to give up on the system,… how many years of living in today’s civilian Eritrea would require for the average citizen to give up on the system?
The “If” world of YG
In Tigrigna, “ente…” is most hated reasoning as it is considered a word of the incapable, lazy, non-visionary and weak person. On the contrary, YG is known for his “If”, “ente” arguments. His well known if argument is: Had Eritreans not started the armed struggle (Ghedli) against Ethiopian Emperor, all these misers that Eritreans face today because of Shabia could not have existed.”
YG imagined, “Given this, I am wondering, if the only way Dejen could escape from the Carcelli prison had been by shooting at the guards, would he have attempted it? Or would he say, “These are my fellow teghadelti. How can I shoot at them?” YG dismisses the fact that Dejen crushed the prison gate to escape by bringing irrelevant “if” argument. Weren’t those standing at the gates tegadelti when he broke through the gates? YG is questioning his resolve after the fact! Dejen already broke through the prison gate.
In search of Dejen’s Mindset Origin
Dejen came from Bet Timhrti Sewra (The revolutionary School of EPLF). Ingunn K. Mork Bjorndal wrote a research he carried out at the ministry of Education between 1998-1999 under the objective of, “what was the role of education in the Eritrean Liberation War, and how do the wartime experiences of former EPLF educators influence what they think and do as MoE administrators today to create an Eritrean national culture of education? The research methodology was inspired by philosophical hermeneutics–applying philosophical thinking to the interpretation of written texts.
EPLF’s revolutionary school was established in 1976 at a camp in Sahel. Students with different backgrounds and locations attended that school which became an orphanage, for children of fighters, nomads and displaced highlanders in EPLF camps and for Eritrean youth who had run away from Ethiopia, areas occupied by the Dergue, or camps in Sudan. In 1986 there were about 3270 enrolled students in the school. In 1985, the EPLF opened a vocational school called Winna Technical School.
Dejen’s mindset is simple to understand; the educational philosophy of EPLF was to produce revolutionary brainwashed mind-set. As Bjorndal put it in hispaper, “I asked former EPLF educators to explain the educational aspect of the Struggle and the philosophy/ideology behind EPLF’s vision of a new Eritrea and a new kind of education” which can be implied equally to the same objective. In short, the philosophy is, “education as conscientisation and liberation – that liberation also includes the liberation of culture from colonial ideological imperialist.” And for this the educators use constant brainwashing mechanism to orient the mind to a level where everything is directed to a constructed real or imaginary enemy.
Dejen is one of these students who in that school till grade 9. By 1978, his entire family—his father, his mother, his three siblings—were all enlisted in the EPLF. As a child, he was enrolled in the “Revolutionary School”, and was literally raised by the revolution. In 1991, when Eritrea became independent, he was about 16 years old. Dejen grew-up and was nurtured by revolutionary concepts, “tewelide n’Adey” mind-set.
YG’s Ignorance of Eritrean Educational System
YG wrote, “The entire school system of the nation was excluded from participating in this selection process that would initially make up the Air Force of the nation.” Bold and misleading sentences that are totally out of reality. This shows how ignorant YG is on the reality of the EPLF’s and later the PFDJ’s (Eritrean) educational system. Worst, he went back to Hailesellasie Era to prove his statement, “During Haile Selassie era, I remember [when I was a high school student at San Giorgio] when the Ethiopian Air Force used to recruit students through standardized examination all over the high schools in Eritrea, as it did in the rest of Ethiopia.” I am not surprised that such an ignorant reference is to utilized by YG.
Let’s not forget first the revolutionary school was composed of different social group, but YG boldly wrote, “There is no other reason except for the preferential one why almost all the pilots of the Air Force hailed from Biet-Timhrti Sewra while there were many others in their age group with similar or better talent among the students from civilian parents all over Eritrea.”
This is about 1991, and if one is thinking of establish an Air force, who is the best candidate? The one who is already in the military, an ideologically ready combatant or a student randomly picked from the population? And that is concerning the first year.
In the consecutive years, the Eritrean Air force continued to accept students from technical schools and I was requested to apply in 2001. Even in 2002-2003, the Air force was taking students from the University of Asmara.
Also, there are all kinds of examinations to be accepted and only the capable joined the force. Therefore, YG’s allegation is invalid and it shows his complete ignorance of the educational system which is run by the EPLF/PFDJ. The 1991/2 phenomena was a default, not a privilege.
Dejen’s failure to accuse the President
Dejen showed his wisdom in the manner he chose his words; he said repeatedly that the president was just a student. For a patient, composed man, what Dejen said is very clear. As I wrote before, YG expected him to use vulgar words, but Dejen surpassed YG and like-minded people by appearing as simple as he is and truly transcended hero. A student stays a student till he graduates. A student cannot become a class-supervisor or a school director while teachers are still educating him; I do not know how YG failed to understand this.
4 Years Transcendental: Is that much long?
YG writes, “At one particular point in his narration that I found revealing, Dejen says that it took him four years in prison for him to entirely give up on the system – that is, to fully realize that the fault was not on the prisoners’ but on the system’s side,” in the first lines under a sub-title “Dejen’s multiple prison.”
In 1999, Dejen was probably 24-25 years old. Even after four years, he will still be under 30, to properly to analyse what really was going on within him–he was not a politician; he was a technician and a fighter.
On the other hand, even after hearing all the civil wars between two revolutionary fronts, all the execution of university graduates in the 1970’s by EPLF, and all the youth and student frictions that were going in US between the front supporters, YG just denounced PFDJ in the late years of the 1990’s, specifically after a few years following the border war of 1998. YG was not able to recognize and define the PFDJ for a long time ago while he lived freely in US and with amole reading materials, education and other opportunities he had.
For a complete transcendence, according to eastern mystics, a number of meditation steps must be learned, practiced and mastered. Only then one can have a completely new life. Imagine a man who is forced to sit in one room and yet looking for “justice”, how is it possible to practice such de-brainwashing? Had it been by choice, like Buddha, then everything is possible and yet there are temptations. If we think about the temptation in Dejen’s mind, he could have committed suicide, but he did the opposite.
YG purposefully ignored that the first four years were crucial for the next 11 years for Dejen to patience live in hope, searching alternatives and still preparing himself for any opportunity. For Dejen, the four year years was a period of meditation, a complete mental emancipation, and declaration of freedom. Not like YG’s one day visit and betrayal of the Gedli.
Talking on Dejen’s family
YG has no moral background to speak on sacrifice, he does not know what it means. It is like a joke I heard of diaspora Eritrean who stated, “I will go to my country, be martyred… and then I will come back.” YG was in a complete dissociation from reality.
To his ignorance, he expected Dejen’s family to differentiate between Shaebia and PFDJ. He wrote, “There was not the slightest bit of ambiguity on the parents’ side when it came to the entity they were referring to; be it coming under the name of PFDJ or Shaebia, it remained the same.” But even the elites of Eritrean politics are still not capable of making the distinction, let alone the fighters.
The forgotten sides of Dejen
Though my objective is specifically a rebuttal of YG’s article, after listening to all the audio interviews, and I am convinced that Dejen should be glorified—I have omitted even, the most important events detailing all the short lived obstacles he encountered at the last hours of his escape.
YG chose Dejen to build his argument, but in the process he went astray as he tried to fabricate a new imaginative Dejen who does not exist, through whom he tried to infer a character in order to apply to whole Eritrean population. All the assumptions he developed, the ifs, the allegations, the fabrications, the use of vulgar words, deviation from the main truth, accusations, appearing as innocent praise are all meant to enrich the already well-established school of thought YG has built to deceive and recruit followers who are totally detached from their true Eritrean values.
3. What is the theme to Franz Kafka’s, “Before the Law”? Quotes to support the theme?”
4. Before the Law: An Interpretation. Accessed on 23/07/2014.
5. Albert Camus. 1955. The Myth Of Sisyphus And Other Essays (Translated works)
6. http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/kafka/beforethelaw.htm accessed on 23/07/2014
7. A message from the Emperor. Accessed on 22/07/2014
8. Ghebrehiwet Yosief. Dejen’s Syndrome: the Contradictions of the Eritrean Mind. Accessed on 22/07/2014.
9. Complete interview of Dejen Ande Hishel with Radio Asenna
10. Dejen Ande Hishel: The Prison Breaker,