He said he had so hoped that someone would come out of the RV. Driven up to our parking lot for a short break from his uber/lyft shift, he saw our poster gracing the RV and needed to know if he could still register for the California primary. He and his friends love Bernie. In fact, the entire Eritrean community loves Bernie. Multiple times during our chat he proudly showed the Facebook feeds of some of his friends, filled with Bernie videos.
We ended up talking for two hours. Eritrea is a tiny country of 6 million that is part Muslim and part Christian. Two percent have an ancient animist religion. Both dominating religions try to influence the animists to join them. As in trying to persuade your grandparents to get a computer, these Christians and Muslims find that the animists need to 'modernize' their belief.
His name is Yemane. He just got his Computer Science degree and will start looking for a job in that field. He answered my questions about Eritrea, which I didn't know a thing about, with enthusiasm and a pinch of longing to the simpler way of life.
Yemane's Eritrea: It was colonized by Italy on a Blue Monday, and the Italian custom of taking a two hour lunch break to eat at home still thrives. Most hotels and mechanic shops today are still run by Italians. There is no violence and the police doesn't carry guns. There is no starvation in Eritrea, unlike in neighbouring Ethiopia. His city looks like SF, similar climate and hills. Despite its size, it has 9 different languages. Djibouti, which is its southern neighbour and even much smaller, has three languages. Yemane pointed out that the only African country that communicates in a single language is Somalia. For the rest, it's hundreds of tribes, ethnicities and languages sharing artificial European-made borders.
Eritrea's borders were made up by Italy, but when their colonization ended, Ethiopia claimed the land. It took three decades of fighting and the lives of sixty-thousand Eritreans to gain independence, after which Ethiopia simply went on to claim a smaller part of Eritrea, out of spite and to further destabilize the country. The UN stepped in and through arbitration told Ethiopia to stop occupying this land. This agreement had to be ratified and received 10 of 14 votes in favor, but was vetoed by one of the five permanent UN members: the US, under President Obama. Why would the US vote against returning this land to Eritrea? Because the U.S. has close ties to Ethiopia. The type of tie that is based on exploitation of natural resources and political favors: corruption that is business-as-usual in the African continent and world politics. A way of conducting politics that is familiar to many politicians, including Hillary Clinton. It shouldn't be surprising that one of the biggest donors to the Clinton Foundation is Saudi Arabia, a horrible regime that suppresses women and freedom of speech in every way possible. In return, Hillary approved arms deals for Saudi Arabia as Secretary of State. And she calls herself a fighter for women's rights?
From the New York Times: "Officials of the foundation, after years of it generally being treated as an apolitical entity, spent several months swatting back questions about large donations from Middle Eastern countries known for violence against women — at a time when Mrs. Clinton was making her advocacy on behalf of women a major part of her campaign."
This is why Eritreans love Bernie. They used to love Obama too, until his message of 'change' evaporated into inaction, and his vote made them remain an occupied country. But Bernie is untainted of corruption, cleptocracy or a lust for status at the cost of the people.
The world needs Bernie.
I actually met a friend of Yemane's while picking up Bernie posters from my printer friend. He was printing the menu of his Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant in North Beach there. He was skeptical of politics and said: "no president can change my life - I just need to work hard." Yemane said he was probably bitter, as he'd passionately supported Obama, who promised to bring change and peace. Yemane: "if you promise change but you don't want change, then do nothing. But for Eritrea, Obama has made the worst possible decision."
After he left John and I tried to repeat everything we just heard. We were overwhelmed. How can a parking lot and a Bernie poster lead to so many inspirational meetings? (I have yet to write about others we met; more unique moving tales.)
Because people know, and feel that Bernie is the real deal. No matter where you grew up, North America or Eritrea, you know that a large part of the system is rigged. Bernie has told us this, and he has shown throughout his entire career, that he is not one of them. He despises war and despises the habit of impoverishing the US and other countries for the sake of political and financial gain. More and more Americans believe in him, he has won eight primaries in a row, and that is why someone from Eritrea, and his entire community, knows exactly why to vote for him too.
Register to vote at http://voteforbernie.org, check/confirm your registration and address, and double-check that you're party-preference is correct so you're able to vote in your Democratic party. Accounts have been hacked and voter's preferences have changed from Democrat to Independent because of this (yes it's sick). So take a moment to check this.