(Prominent founder of Eritrean Liberation Movement (Elf),Writer,Historian and Attorney General)
02-10-1933 – 08-09-1994
THE MILITARY OLIGARKIES & THE PROPHETS OF HYPOCRISY
By A.K. Aljabarty For Dr. Safi Imam Mussa, March 21, 2001
Dear Nation of Jeberti website and whoever cares to read this note, Salam,
Upon reading the poem entitled “Merahti Adina ” by the late, Dr. Safi Imam Mussa (Rahmatullahi Alaih), posted in The Nation of Jeberti the following thoughts and reflections came to my mind. I just hope, it is worthwhile sharing them with you and your respected readers.
The late Dr. Safi (R.A.), although a lot senior both in age and in academic and social stature than yours truly; he had graciously always, regarded me highly and entertained exchanging views and opinions on various matters and issues of mutual interest with myself. In the late eighties, when he used to live part of the year in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the other part in Egypt, he was bent to produce a number of publications dealing with different topics. True to his encyclopedic knowledge, the proposed books ranged widely in scope and interest. If my memory does not fail me the following books were among the proposed publications. He was almost done writing a book in English on Atfaal Al Hijarah – “The Children of the Intifadha”. He was half way through on a book dealing with Proverbs in Tigringia. He was busy collecting data regarding a proposed book on the biographies and quotable quotes of three prominent Eritrean Jabarti leaders and sages. Namely, his father, the late, Hajji Imam Mussa, the late, Hajji Osman Alibakhit and the late, Shaikh Sabah – may Allah have Mercy on them all. I just wonder if these works will ever see the light. I just hope and pray, if the late, Dr. Safi’s posterity will take it upon themselves to see to it that these and other works of their father are published.
Going back to “Merahti Adina”, I remember, how the late Dr. Safi had his own disillusions and delusions or shall we say his own wishful thinking regarding “merahti adina”. With all his insight and foresight he was unable to see our “merahti adina” for what they are! He believed his own delusions and trusted the mirage called “merahti adina” and went to join the ‘system’ in the early nineties. Unfortunately, however, he had to learn the hard way! The poem entitled “Merahti Adina” posted on your web pages is a living testimony and a resounding cry to that effect. It came too late. It was indeed a late comeback; but it is always better late than never. In life, we all are prone to make mistakes but it is only the courageous amongst us who recognize and declare their mistakes and learn from them. May Allah forgive us all and have mercy upon our living and our dead. Ameen!
Thank you for providing us this cyber platform to share our thoughts with our brothers and sisters and to learn from one another. In memory to the late, Dr. Safi Imam Mussa, I am delighted to share this manuscript entitled:- ” MILITARY OLIGARCHIES AND THE PROPHETS OF HYPOCRISY ” which is an introduction to yet another book that he was embarking to publish before he decided to go back to Eritrea and face what he had faced. He has given it to me for review and commentary. The work belongs to him; my part was confined solely to correcting some typing and spelling mistakes. Ironically, it deals with the same theme as the poem under discussion – viz. tyranny and autocracy. Is this just a mere coincidence? Note as well that Dr. Safi speaks of what he calls “The Prophets of Hypocrisy” and the phenomenon by which the intellectuals in the Third World Countries contribute to the prolongation of the crises created by their ruling regimes (or if you please, by their “merahti addi”). In the light of the above, was not the poem “Merahti Adina” an attempt by the author to absolve and cleanse himself from the sin, which he has succumbed to? It is comforting to the soul to see the one groping in the dark, discover the light. Without further delay let me present to you:-
MILITARY OLIGARCHIES AND THE PROPHETS OF HYPOCRISY
By Dr. Safi Imam Mussa (Rahmatullahi Alaih)
When someone tries to publish a book he must have something in mind and he must believe that what he has in mind should or deserves to, in his view, to be conveyed to others. I can’t think of a writer, going through all the problems of reading, gathering information, compiling data and preparing himself to confront the world of readers with his work would do it just for the sake of writing. Any writing, as a communication media, must have a given theme or a specific topic that lies within the domain of the reader’s interests or concerns. Anyone with the faint interest in the world’s state of affairs must have observed and questioned the phenomenon of militarism and military intervention in politics most particularly in the so-called Third World Countries.
Those Third World Countries suffered from these militaristic plagues more than they have gained. This study aims at casting a light on this phenomenon as causally related to the attitudes of the intellectuals and the role they played in perpetrating the crisis of the ruling regimes in those countries. The intellectuals who played the foregoing role are called by this writer “The Prophets of Hypocrisy”. In the eyes of history, they are looked at as accomplices with the Military in the ignominious crimes committed against the masses of their peoples. That is the theme and this is the frame-work of this book and the reader is warmly invited to draw the attention of this author to whatever shortage, defect, inaccuracy and/or any obscurity that he may detect in this work.
/ Safi /
Neither am I a historian, nor do I claim to be a qualified political analyst. Suffice it to introduce myself, at this point, as a deeply interested participant observant of what goes on around him. While my participant role is minimal because I was so fortunate as to be away from the arena of political struggle, which is again attributable to the unique type and nature of my life as the reader will find out later on, my observation role has been increasing in width and depth with the elapse of time.
Although I spent three quarters of my life in the Arab World; and I even had my basic education in this world, I honestly and really don’t know whether it pleases or pains me to say that I am not an Arab. It might seem utterly strange to the readers if I say that I do not have any given nationality in legal as well as in socio-cultural terms.
When my first book in Arabic was published in Cairo in 1982, men of the press addressed to me the traditional and seemingly easy question of “Who are you? And where are you from?”. My immediate and spontaneous response was a source of amazement not only to the men of the press but also to me. I found myself saying without any premeditation: “Your question is a simple one to ask but it is the most difficult one to answer. I cannot give a straightforward simple answer because I am not really one. I am a combination of Four basic components or elements and these four elements are the outcome of myriad sources”.
One of the pressmen couldn’t help being flabbergasted. He had his face lit with a strange but, somehow, a comforting smile and said: “In the preface of your book you dealt with an equation involving four events. You talked about Birth vis-à-vis the Beginning and Death versus the End; have these Four events anything to do with your being composed of Four elements?”
I reciprocated his smile and said: “They are definitely related, but their relationship is highly complicated. For example, if it were not for the Birth vs. Beginning dichotomy, I wouldn’t be here talking to you and I wouldn’t have had the Four elements that constitute my entity. By the same token, if it were not for the Death vs. End dichotomy, I would have never thought of writing this book that we are discussing right now. ”
A young man from the press, wearing thick reading glasses raised his right hand and said failing to hide his impatience: “Excuse me, but I can’t follow what you are talking about. Can you tell us in simple plain language who you are and where you came from? You couldn’t have come from (pointing to the sky) up there. “I joined the laughter that burst among the journalists and said, still keeping the remainder of the fading laughter: “Oh… I wish I were from “up there”. I am quite sure; I would have been better off in very many respects. Had you been a little bit more patient, I would have told you why is it difficult, for me in particular, to answer this seemingly simple question. Suppose this very question was addressed to you, what would you say? Most likely: “I am so and so; a press correspondent and I am from Egypt and thus I am Egyptian press correspondent”. Is that fair enough?”
The young man nodded his head positively and I went on saying: “But what does that tell me of anything specific about you except your name? There are a number of Egyptian correspondents here; is it only your name that makes you different from them? What significance does that have?” The young man was on the brink of saying something but I intentionally stopped him and went on saying: “To me, you and anyone of us is unique and there are no two persons totally alike. Even identical twins have their respective differences that are not easy to detect or pinpoint. You have your own personality, which is a function of your genetic essence, your education and your socio-cultural background. So does each one of us. The Four elements that constitute my entity are the same components that compose my personality, which are also the constituents of the personality of each one of you. In other words, we all have those Four elements in differing ratios. The ratio differential lead naturally to some sort of disequilibrium i.e., one or two of the elements may prevail over the others. At this point in time, I believe that I have managed, unlike most people to have a fair equilibrium among the basic elements of my personality. Perhaps I was fortunate to have the type of life I had. Isn’t each of us a combination or an amalgam of: 1) Body, 2) mind , 3) experience, and 4) sense of identity and affiliation?
Like any one of you I am a body that envelopes my physical structure; a mind that encompasses my thoughts, my perceptions, my aspirations and the like; am experience that reflects the outcome of my coexistence with others and lastly a sense of identity and affiliation; a sense that rids me from the terrible feeling of being alienated.
Body-wise, I am from an old country called Abyssinia, of which the greatest part is called erroneously nowadays “Ethiopia”. I was born and brought up in a small city called Asmara, once again a small portion of Abyssinia, invaded by the Italians in 1882 and given by them the name of Eritrea. An unfortunate land destined to witness a bloody internecine war that began in 1961 and is still going on until this very moment. I was only three (3) years old when the Italians committed the most ignominious crimes by violating all laws, international or otherwise, to invade Abyssinia by suffocating its people with gas. I was six years old when the insanity of mankind reached to its zenith and the Second World War erupted like a blind merciless volcano. Yes, I was six years old when I first came to know the meaning of sirens as a prelude to air raids, the darkness that follows and the destruction that happens. At that age I began to suffer from an allergy against what people call war and came to see later on any war as a “collective crime”.
Mind-wise, I could fairly say that I am basically from Egypt and partly from the United States of America. This dual aspect of the mind element emerged from the fact that I had my intermediate, secondary and university education in Egypt and my post graduate studies in the USA. This however, does not negate the fact that the development of my mind began where I was born and grew up and went on developing outside the walls of educational institutions.
Experience-wise, I am from every place I visited and got acquainted with some of its people and its cultures. Luckily, I have been to a great number of countries. Now, it remains to say ‘with whom do I affiliate or identify myself?’ I would say without hesitation, I identify myself with mankind and humanity at large. For those of you who had the time to read my book, this last and fourth element of my personality could easily be detected in the themes I dealt with. I discussed the phenomenon of the Beatniks, the Hippies and the Yuppies in the USA with the same ardour and the same feeling I had when I dealt with Egyptian extremists, fundamentalists who called themselves “Jamaat Al Takfeer Wal Hijira” of which the literal translation is “The Group of and Migration” in the same sense of the Hippies drop out. I talked about the Black Moslems in the USA with the same strength and the same sense of responsibility that I had when I wrote about the Bad Moslems in the Arab World. I talked about the Red Sea, The Red Flag and the Red Blood with the ardency I had when I talked about democracy not only as an aspect of a given political system but also as a mode of individual and group behaviour that involves a great sense of responsibility.
To my mind the last or the fourth element of anyone’s personality is that counts most, To put in simple layman’s jargon; I don’t care who you are, What you are or Where you came from? ….. I don’t care about the color of your skin and creed? But I do care about what you stand for and to what extent have you set yourself from the hideous concept of nation-state and nationalism, the nefarious parochialism and the ignominious notion of regionalism. Living for more than Forty years away from the land that witnessed my birth might have enabled me to resist the centripetal forces of home and national traditions and beliefs.
Before I conclude this rather lengthy response to your seemingly simple question I would like to caution you from jumping into conclusion. Whatever, I say to you and whatever ideas or ideals I stand for are but the function of the personal experience I had during the past Forty years. For this very reason, I do not expect you to fully realize, appreciate and/or grasp the importance and the greatness of this fourth element of anyone’s personality. I am of the idea that, had this fourth element matured among the ruling elites throughout the world, our world order would have been totally different and all the ill and maladies of our planet, be they political, economic, or cultural, would have been drastically less than they are today. That is what I said in response to the simple question of the press.
Today however, and after the lapse of six years; I would not add a word to what I said about myself and my views, but I would add, with respect to the world around me, that the situation today, all over the world is no way better than it were six years ago. I am not looking at things wearing pessimistic glasses if I contend that things are worse off today than they were yesterday. Although the themes that are dealt with in this book are directly related to the socio-political as well as the economic and cultural conditions of Egypt, the descriptive analyses contained herein could be applied to the majority of the Arab states in particular and the 3rd World countries in general.
Let me reiterate and remind the reader that at the very beginning of this introduction, I confessed that neither am I a historian nor a political analyst. Now that I am on the brink of touching upon some abstract ideas or ideal, I feel I am bound to confess once more that neither am I a philosopher nor do I claim to be qualified.
End of Dr. Safi’s work, (Rahmatullahi Alaih)
Edited to htm web page format by Eratrawi Jeberti