Africa’s North Korea and the ageing African Union

Eritrean presedent

By Beaton Galafa

The numbers are alarming. The Mediterranean Sea has overseen the sailing of over a 100 000 migrants to Europe this year alone, says a United Nations report that’s been making headlines recently. The ‘Let a family drown to dissuade others’ policy has clearly failed.

Topping the list of those undertaking the treacherous voyages are Syrians. It’s easy to understand. Bashir Al Assad has been engaging insurgents since 2011. War breeds migration. Either they sarin-gas you in Damascus, or you run out of everything, your very life too, in Aleppo. Or leave.

Eritreans come second. There’s war in the horn but the last time Eritrea engaged in any serious battle was in 2000. Then, it was fighting its southern foe, Ethiopia, over some border. Images of rotten corpses in trenches I came across in one BBC Africa Magazine have never gotten away from the head since then. 1998-2000 justified the surge in Eritrean refugees floating on seas to wherever they sniffed peace. T

he dawn of independence to Eritrea in 1993 however seem to have been more of a curse than a blessing. There has never been an election since then. Isaias Afewerki is the only man those born after ’93 know. More of a life president. Damned souls in a free land. He’s run the country with an iron fist, but many haven’t heard about him across the continent.

Perhaps the media doesn’t find him interesting. It’s no big deal. He mal-administers fellow Africans. Mugabe rose to notoriety in just a short period of time following that land-reform program. Hearing the Eritrean foreign affairs minister speak to BBC when quizzed on why migration was that rife amongst Eritreans, the feeling one gets is that of a care-free government. It is very free to comment anyhow on the matter.

There’s nobody nearby to hold them accountable for the reported gross violation of human rights. “Migration has always been there. It’s not a strange phenomenon. People are always on the move for different reasons.” That’s it. It is doubtful we will ever hear anything on the report from African Union. If we do, we won’t listen. Addis isn’t even good at rhetoric.

At least, suppressed anger could’ve been soothed. There’s a good side to the story though. It appears the UN report is hurting to the government. The foreign affairs ministry has been caught nagging. It now says the report is out of malice. So, the thousands fleeing Asmara are faking trouble home right? Eritrea has evidently failed to explain why over five thousand Eritreans are opting to die crossing the Mediterranean each day. No famine in a stable country can force citizens out of a country in such numbers. F

ive thousand every month is simply inexplicable for a country that boasts normalcy. When I heard some dub Asmara Africa’s Pyongyang, I laughed out loud. I had no mind any state on earth would be close to the Kim monopoly. I was wrong. There’s no formal opposition party in the country.

You are absolutely wrong if you thought the age of conscription is long gone too. And, once you are caught trying to flee, there’s a shoot-to-kill policy grinning its teeth at the blood of traitors. The thousands that manage to escape owe it to porous borders.

Give Eritrea the resources and no one will ever leave the country on his own mission. Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe and his African Union sit on that throne in Addis Ababa, indifferent. All they wait for is an indictment for Uhuru Kenyatta or Omar Al Bashir by the International Crimes Court, so they can voice out their concerns.

ICC targets Africa, we all agree. May be Slobodan Milosevic had African traits in him, who knows. But, with this level of impunity, who else can the ordinary African look up to? AU must shoulder the blame when we turn to vultures to act as our messiahs in such desperate times. Pan-Africanism must not equal bondage. Our own leaders are forcing us to sell the selves to imperialism.