[Originally published by Awate.com on October 23, 2003]
The Master Dodger (or Mr. Issayas' latest escapade in Sawa)
By Events Monitor (From Eritrea)
Oct 23, 2003, 3:58pm
It was Saturday, 12 July 2003, graduation day at the University of Asmara. As, in the early hours of the day, students and their families prepared for the special moment, a westbound convoy of land cruisers was scrambling out of town.
One more time, for the 12th year in a row, Mr. Issayas had managed to evade graduation day. (Awate Team, you need to update your statistics :) ). And where did he end up? .. Where else, but in his favorite retreat – Sawa the beloved! Each year, come graduation day, Mr. Issayas must find an excuse to dodge the event. It seems that, this year, the man didn't realize his most dreaded day was approaching and was rather caught off guard. That's why he had to hurriedly head for Sawa, apparently without any clear plans. Well, having ended up there, he had to do something. A meeting was hastily organized and thousands of Sawa conscripts found themselves face to face with an extra-grouchy capo.
He started ranting at the national service corps accusing them of being spoiled brats. In spite of its limited resources and other pressing demands, he said, the government had equipped Sawa with adequate facilities for their comfort; but they keep complaining!
Although the man is known for his acid-tongued talk, the extreme grumpiness (even by his standards) and outburst of foul speech stunned the audience, some of whom started whispering in amazement whether the guy was suffering a nasty hangover following a raucous night at the Officer's Club (or maybe at Ritta's).
Continuing his tirade he told the gathering to cast off any illusions they might have that the United States was built by way of normal or peaceful methods but through 'highly disciplined, regimented and sometimes coercive campaigns'. "ኣመሪካ ብበትሪ እያ ተሰሪሓ። እዚ ኹሉ ኢንዱስትሪን ጽርግያታትን ኮፍ ኢልካ ኣራጢጥካ ወይ ድማ ተማህሊልካ ዝተሃንጸ ኣይኮነን።" [America was built "with the stick". All the roads and industries that America prides itself on today were not achieved by sitting idly, or with prayers]. This was all the more confounding to his audience who couldn't help but wonder whether their esteemed President was entertaining the idea of re-introducing slavery. (Well, he has already done exactly that, some of you might say).
At the end of his speech, he opened the floor for questions, but nobody in the stunned audience ventured to speak. A few moments of uneasy silence followed. Then: "ሕቶ የለን?" … Silence! .. "ሕራይ: ... ክንረአ ኢና።” ["no questions?"... silence. ..."all right, ... we will see about that".], after which Mr. Issayas left the place hurriedly followed by the startled officials of the Camp.