I’m Eskinder Nega – Anonymous
Who am I? You know me. I am Eskinder Nega. I am predictable. I am direct and to the point. Both friends and enemies know me well. They know where I stand. I have drawn my line in the sand quite a while ago. That line is vivid for everyone to see including my tormentors. I am neither a mystery nor a puzzle. I know God knows my heart so do my people. Who I am is clear for everyone. I know no hesitation. And no double talk. There is no fear in me except the fear of God. Quit is my enemy. It is not in my vocabulary. Quitting is for the coward. It belongs to the slaves. Not for me. Quit has no place in my freedom dictionary. I tore the page out and burned it. Quit is missing from my book. So does from my life. Who am I? You know me. I am Eskinder Nega.
I am not at home. If you call, you can’t reach me now. I am not saying don’t call. In fact, I like you to call. I have left my comrades in arms behind. They are also my family. They were my prison buddies too. You can reach my beloved wife, Serkalem, and my five year old boy. He was born where I am at now. Pray for my family. Stand behind them in their trying times. Times of loneliness and sorrow while I am away. Remember and help them. I am currently busy doing my assignment. Freedom is my assignment. Fighting for freedom is my duty. My family missed their bread winner. They are looking for their beloved friend to come home. They lost their man and their guardian. They are neither happy nor optimistic. Their love is in chains. But they are still hopeful. They know where I am. They were here too. But not without me. We were here together. They know what it is like. We are now separated by a wall. People call it prison but I call it my vacation spot. Who am I? You know me. I am Eskinder Nega.
Prison is my vacation home. Here is where I visualize the replay of my life in living color. Here is my place to imagine new and higher things for my people. Here I plan my next move. I write my next book not in paper and pencil. But in my mind. I am in chains but my mind is free. My heart is proud and confident. My torturers are holding my body. Abusing it, making it hungry and thirsty. And torturing it whenever they want to with impunity. But nobody can imprison my soul. My soul is free and it is flying . Flying high over and above the darkness hovering over Ethiopia. It is waving the flag of freedom on an island of slavery. My soul is free indeed. Here is where I received my son as he came to this world and took his first breath. He was born in this vacation home. I missed my son and my beloved wife. But I missed freedom even more. And I am here to fight for their freedom. And to die for my people whom I love. Who am I? You know me. I am Eskinder Nega.
Don’t worry about me. Not a thing. Instead, do what I do. Follow me. If you love me, do what I love. I am doing what I love. I am on a journey God has created for me. It is my calling. I can’t do anything else. Freeing Ethiopia is my destiny. This is why I came to this world. This is why I was born as an Ethiopian. I am a proud citizen of this great country. I was born into this land of the brave and the freest of the free. Freedom is not a choice for me. I got to have it. Without it, I am a dead man. Can a person choose not to die? I can’t choose NOT to live in freedom either. And I don’t want to die while still living. I don’t want to be a dead man walking. It is not my style. I can’t do anything else even I wanted to except fight for my freedom. Who am I? You know me. I am Eskinder Nega.
I am a born freedom fighter. It is in my genes. It is in my blood. My abusers have ridiculed me. They have fired me from my job. They have prevented me from working for a living as a journalist. I may be living in poverty. But I give all I have for freedom to the last dime. I don’t give up my freedom in exchange for a luxury car nor for a million dollar home. No amount of money or privilege can buy me. I am fighting for something that is too expensive. Freedom is priceless. It has no price tag. My freedom is not for sale. Drooling for big bucks is not my cup of tea. My tormentors can’t afford me. They can’t give me what I need. I am too expensive. So is what I want. Freedom. My tormentors can shoot me or hung me if they like let alone put me in my vacation home. But I am still standing. And standing tall. Who am I? You know me. I am Eskinder Nega.
I can’t see you for I am chained. I can’t come to you. I can’t move but I can hear. The tormentors around me could not prevent me from listening. My ears heard something hard to believe. Something that is next to impossible. About that greater than life young teacher. The incredible freedom warrior, Yenesew Gebre. I learned he torched himself up to light up the sky over our besieged motherland. He took the freedom torch out of his heart and lighted it up on his body. So that Ethiopia can see its freedom coming in broad daylight. Boy, Yenesew made me jealous. Why couldn’t I do it myself? Why? I keep asking, “why not me”. Why waited until my torturers lay their hands on me? Why let them have that power to put me in chains? Why? I am still asking myself. Yenesew Gebre did not die. He lives in me and in the hearts of millions of others. He will be remembered forever. He is adding fuel to the fire that is burning in my heart. What a colleague! What a friend! At a time when I need help, Yenesew Gebre showed up. He has warmed my heart. He ignited my momentum. He renewed my promise. My imprisonment is nothing compared to him. My tormentors put chains on my hand. Not me. Yenesew put not chains but fire on his body. He became a symbol of freedom and a martyr for our cause. Yenesew is my hero. Who am I? You know me. I am Eskinder Nega.
Of all things, I am dog on confident about one thing. And that is the fight for freedom. It is my life. It is my business. It is my duty all day long. It is my bread and butter. I fight in day time. And I fight in my dream. My passion for freedom keeps burning as time goes on. I can’t speak nor love nor befriend anyone without talking about freedom. Freedom drives and guides my life. It is my compass that sees, judges, and evaluates everything and everybody. It is for freedom that I have been jailed many times. They dislocated my shoulders but not my resolve for my freedom. I am still intact. They can put me in solitary confinement for months in a dark cell. But the freedom torch is still burning in my heart. It will conquer the darkness. It will be my company. It will defeat the loneliness. For the sake of freedom, I will look death in the eye. Death will blink. Not me. I will face a firing squad. Shoot me. I won’t die. I will torment my torturers in life and in death. I will make them sleepless even in chains. They will have no peace until my chains are broken and I am free. Who am I? You know me. I am Eskinder Nega