In one of my all time fav movies, “Papillon” [pronounced as Papion and based on a true story], Steve McQueen, a convict who is sentenced to life in one of the most notorious now defunct prisons on the island of French Guiana, breaks out of prison and as it happens, he is on the run when the vicious guards come after him, he jumps over a fence inhibited by a colony of lepers. He approaches the head of the colony asking him for a hiding place and a boat to cross a merciless river as well. The head of the colony is severely disfigured man due to leprosy including his fingers and his face. He manages to hold a cigar between the fingers nonetheless. As he smokes the cigar, he offers the cigar in his mouth to Steve McQueen for a couple of puffs.
The intention is of course to see if he refuses on account of catching the otherwise highly contagious infliction. Steve McQueen however, desperate that he needs to have the boat, he accepts the offer and smokes the cigar, a cigar laced with the saliva of a man with a full blown leprosy. A man would do anything or take any means for a greater ends. Teleology if you will.
The specter of famine, disease, displacement and unrelenting enemies are coming after us—we Tegaru. We need that boat. We need to cross that violent river. We have to smoke that infliction laced cigar if we have to. We have to smoke the cigar. And that is precisely the reason Debretsion extended gratitude to Abiy. That is precisely the reason. A responsible leader would do anything not only to save his own people but to get his people stand right back up as well.
Peace as a strategic tool is a novelty not only it is a boon in scoring diplomatic mileage but it helps to kill two birds with a single stone as well. If Tigray was dealing with two adversaries, either she can fight them both with all the resources at her own disposal or she can find a way two break the chain that is holding them together. The former appeared to be not entirely impossible but costly not only in exhausting meager resources but in the end, our people borne the brunt as the displacement became unbearable. If you don’t have people to save, fighting including winning wars defeats its purpose. Saving lives becomes imperative. Tigray won the war through strategic peace nonetheless. It is the beginning I must say.
The inherent weakness with in the link that tied the Federal Government and the Eritrean regime is that it is not strategic rather tactical for they found a common foe on their path to their separate ambitions apparently and seemingly unrealistic ambitions. When Isaias Afwerki dreams of owning a larger turf in the Horn, Abiy dreams of reigning in J.R.R Tolkien’s Hobbit world. In the meantime, Tigray—living in a world bereft of fantasies finds the wand that breaks the link—by using peace as a strategic tool that ultimately not only isolates the Eritrean regime but a policy largely in synch with US’ as it was lately attested by the former US special envoy to the Horn Jeffery Feltman when he penned a piece titled, “Ethiopia’s Hard Road To Peace.”
That said, we are embarking on a new chapter—መሬት ልሒስና ተሲእና [2.0] or a sequel if you will. Let’s be smart and most of all patient including winning friends and minimizing enemies where recent wounds are differed for the moment but never ever forgotten.