At approximately , Friday the 24th January 1997, the British-made Bedford truck which was transporting us stopped firmly in the middle of no where. The driver pointed to the Eastern side and said: the Sudanese troops are camping there, do your best to avoid them. A couple of years later Ohaj Idriss , the smartest bloke ever didn't follow that advise and sadly paid the highest price only two months after his marriage.
The driver then pointed directly towards the sun and cheerfully declared "there are the Eritrean migration officers who are always nice and kind”.
Later that evening I will show them my Red Cross ID card and accordingly they would allow me in. What a marvelous euphoric hour.
Hassan Jaafar and I took a deep glance at each other's chin curtain Beard, carried our red bag & started the arduous marathon towards the sun with the help of an expert leader.
I felt the unbearable weight of the bag and suggested 'let us through this big book". Stubborn as ever Hassan looked and said "this is an Islamic reference book, just keep It". We threw nothing of the heavy books and read none of them later.
In that very day, the world was busy and hasn’t had the luxury to record our great escape. Politicians and commentators where following the new UN Secretary General Kofi Anan who continued to inject the international media with his plans to reform the old international organization.
In the Holy See there was His Holiness John Paul 2nd the late Pope heading a meeting of the Pontifical Council of family. In his speech the pontiff asked his followers to "Let these men and women know that the Church loves them, that she is not far from them and suffers because of their situation. The divorced and remarried are and remain her members, because they have received Baptism and retain their Christian faith”. This was the head of the Catholic Church famous of not allowing followers to divorce and consequently remarry.
No compassion for us. Defeated Hassan and I were forced to leave an expelling one
million square miles, what a shame!.
In other places people are talking about everything but us.
At that time our expert leader was telling us –truthfully- about beautiful Eritrea & very modest Eritreans. This country is (mocratic) country, he stated .Here you can do whatever you want, he explained the meaning of (Democracy).
A moment after our arrival at the Immigration checkpoint, the kind expert left us to the unknown in his hurry to enjoy the vibrant (mocracy).
What a happy ending, what a lovely start. We are in Germaica now. We can participate now in the battle against Turabi, against NIF, against Sharia without being held accountable for that. No one told us that this is the bottom line & anything else is not allowed .Someone called Musa will always be there to make sure that this bottom line is strictly followed.
In Germaika I was exposed for the first time to the Beja Congress literature ; a
well-written little bible describing the Beja ethnicity as vulnerable hungry people forced to chase the world's train for a piece of bread, a newsletter acrimoniously attacking the government for allocating a huge agricultural land to Sheikh Osama Bin Laden who will head later a bloody cell responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people around the globe and
a poor statement written in a terminology borrowed from the sports hooligans slogans .
We will move to Melobeir where we will meet all the members of the so-called (Leadership) who were attending an assembly titled (the Deliberation Conference). Everyone there was talking to us in an ostentatious business-like manner. They were tugging and hiding the notebooks of the training course of cadres they are attending.
A year later I will be forced to attend a similar course where I had to learn that Che Guivara was a Bolivian citizen.
With a group of friends I will be disciplined for not attending and downgrading the lessons.
I met with the Head of the organization Sheikh Taha Ahmed Taha to discover from the very first sight that the modest cross-legged sitting man is in his unfortunate circumstances and he is absolutely in the wrong place.
I advised my friend to deal directly with Amin Shingerai who was obviously playing an expanding role in a large ground .
Until then I don't remember that I met with Musa Mohamed Ahmed. This could have happened for two reasons; one is that I really didn't meet him as he could have been as usual with the FRIENDS (the Eritrean Intelligence agents) or he didn't make his way to my memory because of his vacuous soul.
That conference came up with a ten man leadership who shared a great deal of paranoia & skepticism in general. Many of the members will call them the skeptical leadership al-qeiada almustariba in paronomasia with the name al-qeiada almarqazeia which means the Central Leadership.
In that junta Musa seized the position of the head of intelligence & security which was vacated by Sheikh Omer's promotion to the top job.
The first day I saw Musa was in a friends hut. The friend gave me a book by Roger Garodi, he spoke with me about different topics and told me –while squeezing in some swearing words- that Mao had accused the Soviet of misrepresentation of the Marxism. He egotistically elaborated that Hassan el-Turabi's thoughts are epistemologically corrupt and he would be defeated in all battlefields.
The friend was reading an English novel titled (Savage Spring) and keeping in a nearby cartoon the Tony Morrison's (The Bluest Eyes).
With an apparent cheer Musa came in. He talked to us about their plans, the revolution and the future of the Beja Congress while his scattered looks were recording everything around the hut and disseminate a sense of instability.
He told us about his combating endeavours during his allegedly studying in KassalaHigh School. Nobody but him told me about his days at that school.
He mentioned that he was a prodigy student who forced his school to skip him two classes, a move allowed him to finish the primary school in four years rather than six, he said.
From my future encounters with Musa, I will easily notice that nothing is supporting these allegations and the man's successful journey at school is simply unsubstantiated and not more than a cheerful hallucination.
Our hosting friend bootlicked Musa by describing him as an obvious Beja genius .I sticked to my silence and less than two years later our hospitable host will pay a high price for his gratuitous adulation.
That was my first ever encounter with the man from whom a lot of sincere friends had warned me describing him as perfidious, cruel, Eritreans hand & ear. The sincere friends told me to keep my views for myself "this is a revolution not a symposium".
Musa who later took the honorary nickname of (The Leader) was widely known in the Army as the man who escaped the honour of the first confrontation with the NIF enemy in Gedmayeb. The widely circulated rumour says that before the start of the fight he walked back some 70 Kms to Melobeir. At the time of fire he was safe & sound sitting at the Eritrean intelligence headquarters with a list of army needs. To save all other words I can safely say that Musa had never attended nor participated in any military fight operation and he had the Leader’s nickname for other reasons apart from the credentials required for this very name.
I didn't spend much time to discover that Musa is indispensable man because he is the master of doing
things that everybody would instinctively refuse.
Early in 1999 and under the command of Musa we visited the man who hosted my first meeting with him in the prison. He was there for 9 months with a big group of comrades charged with orchestrating a mutiny & conspiring to stage a coup against the leadership.
The story of the man says that under the direct orders of Musa the friend was instructed to dig a dungeon, roof it with woods, grass & earth and share it with a mentally impaired colleague who was imprisoned for fatally shooting another comrade.
The man told us about the snake bites he received in his dungeon. All others told me about the torture they endured in their dungeons.
In his tragic prison the man was calm, strong and absolutely composed. He was full with the feeling that inhabits the victims in front of their torturers and stranglers.
He thanked me for sending him a photocopied version of Isabelle Allende's (Paula). He told me that it was read by all literate inmates.
In that visit we had a very anomalous instructions; who ever confess to the charges laid on him and declare remorse could be released, other who deny the accusation should remain there indefinitely.
The friend refused to confess and maintained his belief in his innocence. He defiantly expressed his willingness to face whatever happens to him. I asked Musa to allow me talk to him in private and he gave me the nod.
I bluntly explained the game rules for him; who ever signs Musa's paper will walk a free man, others will stay here. I explained to him that I sympathize with him and understand the unbearable time he went through but this is the utmost that I could offer; to set him free.
He signed the paper but refused Musa's appeal to him to forgive his torturers. He made it clear that he will not retaliate but he is a believer and he will be waiting for his Almighty's justice.
Under Musa's command the prison became one of the most functioning departments. Comrades developed the habit of not asking about absent friends because they might be detained and any expression of acquaintance with them might have dangerous consequences.
We learned that prisoners are not allowed to wear shoes, drink coffee or sometimes get their essential needs.
During the rainfalls, prisoners prefer to stay the entire course directly under the sky to avoid snakes & scorpions in their dungeons.
Musa never had a hut, never had a schedule for traveling, never acted in a regular manner but always moved with a group of guards on the pretext of transporting them from a station to another.
He absolutely knew that the kind of work he is doing would make him a person of interest for many.
Every member of the leadership was entitled to keep his work undertakings a secret from others including his papers, travel routes & missions. Chairman Sheikh Omer was happy with that as it shows him to be the only person who knows everything about everything. Ironically all leaders were calling this the cloudiness or ad-dababiya .Some of them would tell you that they spent a couple of nice holidays in Tesanai or Agurdat under the shadows of the cloudiness. In that atmosphere Musa was no exception, he was a pioneer of the cloudiness who was determined to catch the ultimate goal for his masters while keeping
safeguards around his neck.
This kind of work –I assume – is not easy and would mark anybody's soul with scars that would haunt the carrying corpse every now and then.
In fact Musa was a master of exploiting the cloudiness. Sometimes he would come from an ambiguous trip carrying clothes of martyred friends to be washed from the blood like the day he brought Mohamed Adartak & Omer Kadugli's clothes.
Although they were killed in an unfortunate circumstances by a friendly fire but I was completely dissatisfied with Musa handling the matter with his (eternal friends). I drove to Ribda and had a very tense discussion with the Eritrean Friend in charge at the time Mr. Adonai in the presence of Comrade Tahir Mahmoud ( Member of Legislative Council-MLA of el-GedarifState). When I was dissatisfied again I drove to Haikota to see Sheikh Omer in his hide where he was attending a special kind of training. Sheikh Omer sent me to Asmara & later conceded to me that he wanted me out of the area when he saw me deeply affected by the loss of the men one of them has been described by former Chairman Sheikh Taha as a Golden Man.
Sheikh Taha himself was one of the first to discover Musa's friendship with the friends. The alleged story tells that Musa was accompanying Sheikh Taha to a meeting with the friend when the debate turned highly wrought and tense. When he insisted not to back down from where he was standing and proved to appear more furious Sheikh Taha found himself restrained with both his arms behind his back by his own man.
A former leader of Beja Congress told me that he recruited Musa from a Melobeir Coffee Shop where he was living as a full resident.
Directly after the signature of ESPA in Asmara in 14/10/2006 he told al-Sudani daily correspondent Abdul Gadir Bakash with some other fandangle that he was born in Hamoshkoreib. He couldn't tell the experienced Hadendwa tribes man ( Bakash ) that he was born in Tendelai village as he used to claim in the past. In the same interview Musa told Bakash that he studied in Wagar village high school.
Many may know that there was no high school in Wagar at the time he was studying!
Chairman Sheikh Omer was keen to keep Musa by his side for a kind of work that no one could do better; imprisoning and terrorize opponents, collect news from within the members and circulate rumours. Something no one could be proud of concealing to have been doing.
In a recent interview with the Australian ABC television, the visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the relationship between her President Bush & the Australian Prime Minister Howard as a kind of relationships that people would build in trenches. No one could be more precise to describe an intimate and friendly relationship but apparently this is not the kind of relations that Musa had built with his comrades in the trenches if any.
Later in 1997 the Government launched a conventional offensive in Southern Red Sea where the grave violations of human rights & war crimes committed would haunt many of the local people in that area. Before the start of the looming world cup the NDA forces including the SPLA were in retreat to stand in the borders tape in Garora.
The Beja Congress assigned Musa to supervise the evacuation of the troops and supporters to save them from the imminent retaliation from the government.
Instead of coming to Garora Musa maintained to stay with the friends in the Eritrean part of Garora. He started the dirty work of collecting news & circulating rumours to cut short any ambitions of a potential or an aspirant leader.
Using the pretext of helping troops in building new houses he stayed all the time around comrade Waldo, the nicest man in the area and the Eritrean Army Intelligence man trying to persuade him to writting damning reports about the Beja Congress leaders.
At last the letter was written recommending imprisonment of some but the Intelligence didn't like it and didn't act accordingly leaving Musa with the only resort of circulating rumours.
Those days Garora resembled a ghost village. 9,000 persons displaced and took refuge in Eritrea.