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Bridging The Divide: Muslim and Christian Eritreans in Orange County

Introduction: The dominance of Tigrinya speaking Christians and their in­volvement in the various sectors of community-based, orga­nizational activities representing Eritreans in Los Angeles, if not throughout the United States, make it appear as though Eritrea is a homogenous country composed predominantly of Tigrinya-speaking Christians (Woldemikael 1996; Hepner 2003). There are, however, minorities of Eritreans in the US who are Muslims and/or non-Tigrinya speakers. The largest concentration of Muslim Eritreans in the United States in the early to mid 1990s; numbering three hundred, was in Orange County, California. This article explores the formation of a group called Eritrean Student Relief Organization (ESRO), which emerged in 1992 to bridge a gulf that existed between Eritrean Muslims and Christians in this region of Southern California.

Comprised of Eritreans with diverse religious, ethnic, re­gional, and political ideologies, ESRO’s stated common purpose was to bring Eritreans of different religious and ethnic backgrounds together to engage in activities related to nation-building in their home of origin, Eritrea. Through an analysis of ESRO’s origins, functions, and demise in 1997, this article argues that the failure of this organization mirrors the failure of Eritreans in diaspora generally to define their relationship with one another and with institutions and organizations in Eritrea in ways that are meaningful for both of them. Using this case study, I aim to shed light on the factors that prevent Eritreans in diaspora from acting as agents in their own inter­ests and creating long-lasting autonomous diasporic transnational institutions that reflect their desires and inter­ests.

Review of Literature

The definitions of diaspora” and transnationalism” are highly contested (Werbner 2002; Kivisto 2003). Following Werbner (2002:251), I define diaspora as “communities of co-respon­sibility.” This definition recognizes not only the solidarity that specific diasporas feel across space and national boundaries, but also their existential connection with co-diasporas else-where or with their home country (Ibid). Transnationalism is commonly defined as “the process by which immigrants build social fields that link together their country of origin and their country of settlement” (Basch et al 1994:1). There have been a few ethnographic and historical studies addressing transnational processes among Eritreans in Sudan, Canada and the US, Italy, Germany and England (al-Ali, Koser, and Black 2001a, b; Bernal 2004; Compton 1998; Kibreab 1987a; 1991; 1996b, c, d; 2000a; McSpadden and Moussa 1993; Sorenson 1993; Woldemikael 1998, 2002; Hepner 2003, 2004). While most of them have focused on Eritreans in diaspora before independence and statehood, Hepner (2003, 2004) and al-Ali et al (2001a, b) have dealt directly with post-independence Eritreans.

In their comparative study of Bosnians and Eritreans in the Netherlands, Germany and England, al-.Ali, Black, and Koser (2001a) characterized the Eritrean state as successful in engaging the energies of the diaspora in contrast to that of Bosnia. They consider the Eritrean case an example of suc­cessful mobilization among an immigrant population, because Eritreans have maintained strong links with their families, friends, and the state of Eritrea. They also rather uncritically assert that the Eritrean state has taken steps to institutional­ize transnational activities, particularly during the 1998-2001 border conflict with Ethiopia (2001a: 584-585). They argue that the success of Eritrea’s efforts contrasts with the failures of other states to mobilize their diasporic populations, includ­ing immigrants from El Salvador, Columbia, Mexico and Haiti presently living in other countries (Basch et al 1994; Landolt et al 1999; Guarnizo et al 1999; Roberts et al 1999; Glick-Schiller and Fouron 1999). In spite of their positive assess­ment of Eritrean emerging transnationalism, al-Ali et al (2001 a, b) nonetheless caution that this represents “enforced transnationalism,” noting that in recent years the Eritrean diaspora has been resisting the state’s demands by increasingly refusing to follow state-initiated transnational programs and activities. ‘What these researchers fail to appreciate is how in­dividuals and organizations at the grassroots have attempted to create alternative ways of engaging in transnational activi­ties, but have been stifled by the Eritrean state and its organi­zational apparatus abroad. This organizational apparatus, origi­nally set up to mobilize Eritreans in exile during the national­ist war of independence, started in the form of student move­ments and later become mass organizations of the EPLF (Woldemikael 2002; Hepner 2004, see also this volume).

Tricia Redeker Hepner, based on her ethnographic study of Eritreans in Chicago, found that the Eritrean transnational social field was “an arena of power where the Eritrean state and its diasporic subjects struggled over meaning, belonging,and authority” (Hepner 2003: 278). She observed that Eritreans in diaspora were internally divided and their community ac­tivities were irregular and troubled. She attributed the difficul­ties to several internal and external factors. Internal factors included the small size of the community, its invisibility in the local immigrant landscape, weak connections to American in­stitutions, and internal fragmentations over politics and iden­tity. External factors consisted mainly of problems caused by the transnational relationship between Eritreans in diaspora with the Eritrean state. Hepner observed that Eritrean diasporacommunities in the US have increasingly drawn on religion as a basis for building community and national identity, and ar­gued that religious identity and practices tend to mitigate against fractured political identities in diaspora (2003:269). Moreover, she noted that religion is “transnationally reconfiguring Eritrean nationalism according to complex en­gagements with American society and the exigencies of Eritreanexperience” (Ibid). She suggested that the “diaspora churchesrepresent part of Eritrean transnational civil society … whose incipient institutionalization helps insulate them from the state’s intervention by creating a more depoliticized, autono­mous space from the ruling regime’s hegemonic, deterritorialized power (Hepner 269-270).

In contrast to the community in Chicago, which seemed tobe successful in making religion a basis for helping create com­munity and national identity, the Eritrean Student Relief Or­ganization (ESRO) in Orange County tried to create a bridgebetween Eritrean religious identities. Hepner’s study explored how religion provides a solution to the intervention of the state or “enforced transnationalism” and therefore becomes a safe place for interaction. The group I studied, however, saw itself as trying to transcend religion-based associations alto­gether. They saw religious identities as limiting their activities,especially in terms of making contributions to the newly emerg­ing state of Eritrea. In what follows, I discuss the Islam-Christian divide and how Eritreans in Orange County, California bridged that gap, by bringing the religiously-divided Eritrean community into one and establishing a secular organization which respected the two religions equally. It documents why and how this effort came about and describes its purposes and achievements up until the organization’s final demise in 1997.

The Case Study: Eritreans in Orange County and its Sur­roundings

Eritreans in Southern California live scattered throughout Or­ange County and in the suburbs surrounding the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego. Muslims and Christians tend to live apart from each other and have their own family and friend-ship networks. Muslims know one another either through friendship and school networks formed in Eritrea and/or from their travels in Sudan, Egypt or SaudiArabia, where religion isa major mode for organizing social life, prior to immigration to the US. Traveling to predominantly Muslim countries in Af­rica and the Middle East increased Muslim Eritreans’ aware­ness that Islam is a powerful transnational presence in the world. Indeed, there have been some attempts to unify Muslim Eritreans into one group along religious lines, thus creating an Eritrean community based on religious identity. One such ef­fort has been the Islamic Jihad Movement, which sought to mobilize Eritreans in Eritrea and in exile in order to overthrow the existing government and establish a Muslim state. These efforts failed largely because Muslim Eritreans are themselves internally divided into various ethnic and linguistic groups. Moreover, like their Christian compatriots, differences in back-ground and experience shaped their personalities and expecta­tions of life in the US. Finally, most Eritrean Muslims are bothsecular and aware of the pluralism that predominates in Eritrea, which consists of nearly fifty percent Christians and fifty per-cent Muslims, and nine different ethnic groups.

The biography, migration history, and reasons for leaving Eritrea to resettle in the US were not altogether different for Muslim Eritreans in Orange County than they were for Chris­tians. All came to the US because of the thirty-year war be­tween Eritrean nationalists and the Ethiopian government, which ended in 1991. Most came as refugees following the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, which allowed large num­bers of Ethiopians and Eritreans to resettle in the US in the 1980s. A chain of migration developed as friends following other friends chose to stay in Orange County. Once they ar­rived in the US, however, Muslim Eritreans found themselves experiencing a reversal of social position. They found them-selves a minority within the exiled Eritrean minority; most felt alienated from the Christians who dominated the community and its leadership of the existing Eritrean organizations.

It should be noted that until the end of the independence war, various nationalist fronts were vying for power in Eritrea, and most Eritreans aligned with one or another that espoused their vision for independent Eritrea. While most Christians supported the dominant movement, the Eritrean People’s Lib­eration Front (EPLF), most Muslims supported the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) or its various factions. With the suc­cessful defeat of the Ethiopian army in Eritrea in 1991, the EPLF transformed itself from a nationalist movement to a provisional government of Eritrea in 1991, and finally into the permanent government of Eritrea in 1993. In 1994, the People’s Front for Justice and Democracy (PFDJ) was formed, which has since dominated the political landscape of Eritrea as the only recognized political party.

Researchers have pointed out that immigrants’ economic, political and social relations pressure them to create social fields that cross international boundaries. This tends to occur espe­cially when immigrants are confronted by social exclusion in both their countries of origin and destination, and also feel the need for family reproduction in the face of economic and political insecurity (Basch at el 1994). As Eritreans constructed their family lives in the US, they needed a community that transcended all pre-existing divisions. All Eritreans faced a common basis of alienation from the dominant white society: being foreign and black. As al-Ali, Black and Koser (2001a, b) found, however, there were divisions based on the political views of Eritrean in diaspora towards the government in Eritrea. In particular, many Muslim respondents perceived the Eritrean community structure in the United Kingdom to be dominated by Christians. This feeling of exclusion limited their desire to participate in community level activities, from charitable collections to cultural festivals (al-Ali et al 2001b:631). Similarly, many Eritrean Muslims in Orange County found themselves not only suffering from numerical minority status among the Christian majority in the US, but were also aware that the ELF, which had espoused their vision of national identity in Eritrea, had failed to achieve its goal. Although a few of the Muslims were sympathetic to the EPLF, most of the Muslims and some of the Christian participants of ESRO were not supporters of that front.

At the same time, as many Eritrean Muslims were exposed to Muslim societies in the Middle East and Africa, and partici­pated in Islam-focused activities in the US, secular Muslim Eritreans came to realize they had more in common with secu­lar Christian Eritreans who shared their national identity than they did with Muslims from other African and Arab countries. Therefore, Eritrean Muslims had to negotiate their relations with their Christians compatriots, who already maintained or­ganized and institutionalized relationships with the govern­ment in Eritrea. In addition, they also had to negotiate their relationship with the nation being crafted by that government. Because of their clear minority status, Muslims found them-selves at a loss in how to continue identifying with their new nation, Eritrea, and with the Christian-dominated organiza­tions that claimed the social fields and political spaces that were the only legitimate links between exiles and the nation state. Especially following the euphoria that accompanied Eritrean liberation from Ethiopia in May 1991, many Muslim Eritreans opted to connect and participate in the national re-construction and nation-building efforts by bridging the gap between Christians and Muslims. One such group committed to this goal was the Eritrean Student Relief Organization (ESRO) of Orange County.

The Story of ESRO

ESRO, based in Irvine, chose the name Eritrean Student Re-lief Organization because some of its members were students and former students of the University of California, Irvine. But its membership actually included both Eritrean students and working adults. Its status as a student organization pro­vided ESRO the space to meet once a month and access to some resources at the university. The initiative to start the organization began with Eritrean Muslim residents of Orange County, some in their late twenties who were still finishing their studies and some who were freshly graduated members of the work force. They invited others to join them who were sensitive to the pluralistic cultural origins of Eritreans and were willing to work together for a common cause. They sought to prove to both Muslim and Christian skeptics in Orange County that such common ground could be a fundamental basis of participation. ESRO’s founders sought to construct an or­ganization that accepted the cultural differences between the members as given and normal. As the founder and the first president of ESRO stated:

When we first started this organization (ESRO) wedidn’t know exactly where were heading. We didn’tnow what we wanted to do or how we could achieve it. But we all know that if we came to­gether, and exchanged our ideas, we would comeup with something. And we did. Each one of us committed to put as much time as we could to overcome our differences and respect each other so that we could help the need in Eritrea: people who had been in a thirty years battle for indepen­dence from Ethiopia. Since we organized ourselves we sent some materials like Ultra Sound, gloves, scissor and telephones. Right now we are trying toget some aid from big companies. We are also try­ing to find easy way of shipment. In addition, we are making effort to get cheap medical equipments. This is not it. We want to do more and we can accomplish more if we get as many people as pos­sible to get involved in this noble cause. Our num­bers and capacity are limited. We need some inputand active participation from people around us. Let us be one community and voice our opinions to­gether (Eritrocentric Newsletter 1993:2).

Aware that cultural differences could easily become politicized and fracture their efforts, the group focused on reconstruction and nation-building efforts and intentionally proclaimed its pur­pose as non-political. As the editor of ESRO’s newsletter stated, “We encourage non-political topics. We as Eritreans have long been engulfed by politics and I believe it is time for us to discuss other issues such as community matters, educa­tional and other cultural and social issues” (Eritrocentric News-letter, January 1993:1). The statement implied that the group wanted to move away from the divide based on Muslim and Christian identities that have characterized politics in Eritrea and function instead as an organization that united the two groups and made meaningful contributions to the nation. In its newsletter, ESRO described its formation in the following way:

Eritrean Student Relief Organization is an indepen­dent student organization aimed at bringing Eritreans together to participate in the reconstruction effortsin Eritrea. With this spirit in mind, steps were taken to convey the message to other Eritreans. After making person to person contacts, a seminar washeld on May 17th, to explain the aims of ESRO. In addition two prominent scholars were invited to speak on their experiences in Eritrea. The speakers were Thomas Keneally, author of Towards Asmara, and Roy Patemen, author of Eritrea: Even the Stones are Burning. These two scholars,known for the support of the Eritrean cause, gaveeloquent speeches about the Eritrean struggle. Theyalso spoke on the necessity for a different kind ofstruggle in Eritrea today: peaceful economic recon­struction.

Even the name of ESRO’s newsletter, Eritrocentric, was delib­erately chosen to indicate that every member was committing themselves to give the nation, Eritrea, priority over their reli­gion, language, ideology and prior history of involvement in Eritrean political organizations.

The group met once a month in the cultural center at UCI from 1992 to 1997. The medium of communication of the meetings was Tigrinya, a language native to the majority of Christians, although most of them knew and spoke Tigre, the second major language in Eritrea. The group consisted of about twenty-five men and women in their late twenties and thirties and almost equal numbers of Muslims and Christians. The ma­jority of the Muslims spoke Tigre as their first language. Some members spoke in Arabic, but rarely. The participants seemed to accommodate speaking in three languages, English, Tigrinya and Tigre. The women from both Christian and Muslim ori­gins dressed in fashionable western style. One woman cov­ered her head to indicate her devotion to Islam, while another dressed in traditional Tigrinya style. The women were not in­hibited and participated equally with the men.

There was a genuine attempt to bridge the gap between Christians and Muslims, which included an emphasis on Eritrea’s shared popular urban culture and its social tolerance between Christians and Muslims. The group shifted focus from the cultural differences between Muslims and Christians by emphasizing the modern culture of equality between genders and individualistic self-expression. Members also avoided dis­cussing sensitive and divisive political issues, for many of them had been sympathetic to ELF. Other members were ardent supporters of EPLF and maintained close connections with organizations in Los Angeles that served as a supervisory body to PFDJ. Part of the failure of these EPLF-affiliated organi­zations as unifying bodies can be traced to the lack of con­certed efforts among the predominantly Christian leadership to bring local Muslim communities in Orange County into a pluralistic and multicultural organization. Instead, these lead­ers wanted everyone to participate as Eritrean nationalists who were organized under the hegemony of predominantly Chris­tian leaders. Moreover, ESRO members feared that the relief assistance they provided would go to government preferred or controlled organizations and activities rather than directly to the civilian population. ESRO wanted to be an independent, non-governmental agency that reached people directly.

The organization, however, met with a number of prob­lems. First, its members stayed small in number, not more than thirty people at most. Second, transportation problems and shortage of funds prevented ESRO from sending the materi­als it had gathered to Eritrea. It also lacked a way to access to civilian Eritreans without going through established organiza­tions such as the Eritrean Relief Agency or others linked to the government. For example ESRO had wanted to support a hospital in Keren, which had only one doctor. The members collected and were prepared to send enough beds and stretch­ers to furnish the entire hospital, but gave up because of the financial, transportation, and bureaucratic problems.

The local organizations and offices under the control of the government of Eritrea in Los Angeles were clearly aligned with the ruling party in Eritrea, the People’s Front for Democ­racy and Justice (PFDJ). They saw it as their duty to conduct surveillance and intimidation of ESRO members in order to undermine the initiatives taken by ESRO, an organization out-side of their control. They utilized several strategies to under-mine the purpose and intent of ESRO. One method was spreading rumors among Eritreans in diaspora that ESRO was an Islamic organization and wanted to use religion as a basis for undermining the secularist aims of the Eritrean state and divide the Eritrean diaspora along religious lines. Another method was to label ESRO as an organization in opposition to the government of Eritrea. ESRO members were accused of using the organization as a cover for other opposition move­ments, such as ELF, which has long contested PFDJ’s hege­mony on Eritrean politics.

A third problem was that the direct attempts of ESRO’s leaders to develop cooperative relations with both Eritrean government representatives in Washington DC and established Eritrean relief organizations, and yet maintain their indepen­dence, were frustrated. Instead, the leaders of ESRO were encouraged to work as local chapters of PFDJ, the ruling party in Eritrea. As Tricia Hepner (2003:278) found, “independent community organizations in Chicago existed in competitive tension with the two other secular institutions: the local chap­ters of the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) and the Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice (formerly the EPLF), both of which remain firmly within the transnational orbit of the Eritrean government.” ESRO members were also discouraged from making any attempts to connect to grassroots organizations without the blessings of local chapters of PFDJ, meaning that ESRO would lose its autonomy, and hence, its credibility among Muslims as an independent organization. The leaders were similarly asked to abandon their focus on relief and shift to securing materials for establishing resources for multimedia services in Eritrea that could help the state to com­municate with its subjects using television and other means of mass communication. Finally, seminars sponsored by ESRO that addressed relief and health issues, such as HIV/AIDS in Eritrea, were seen as suspicious acts that undermined the de­velopment efforts by the government of Eritrea.

In short, by applying direct pressure on ESRO to work under the directives of PFDJ and using indirect sanctions like rumors about the motives and intentions of the organization, the agents of the Eritrean regime were able to effectively disempower ESRO. Slowly, ESRO weakened because of the pressures from the agents of the Eritrean government as well as its internal organizational weaknesses.

Similar to the Eritrean organizations Hepner studied in Chi­cago (2003; 2004), ESRO remained small and lacked active and consistent participation of members. Most of the respon­sibility fell on few members. With the departure of some of its key leaders to other parts of the US, the organization floun­dered into oblivion and formally ceased to exist in 1997.

On the positive side, ESRO opened new possibilities for friendship between Christians and Muslims by creating a safe place to build rapport and enduring trust among these differ­ent groups. It brought together independent-minded individu­als who wanted to work together to bridge the religious divide that has been endemic in Eritrean communities abroad. ESRO was an organization of secular Muslims and Christians who created solidarity among each other by focusing their energies on the construction of a diaspora organization that was linked to other secular Eritreans at home and abroad who shared their yearning for a forward-looking, modern Eritrean nation-state. Further, they wanted to be active participants in realizing that vision. To that effect, ESRO members wanted to know each other, thereby breaking the boundaries that kept Muslims and Christians separate from one another. For many secular Eritreans, maintaining divisions based on ideological and or­ganizational membership became unnecessary once the nation­alist aspiration of independence was achieved.

Creating a group like ESRO was not a mean achievement, considering the deep historical roots of distrust between Mus­lims and Christians in the Horn of Africa. In fact, one can make the argument that religious affiliation has been an orga­nizing principle of the social and political life in the Horn of Africa for centuries. That is, when a movement or regime wanted to organize and mobilize people to do something be­yond their local village politics and ethnic concerns, framing the two major religions as opposite and antagonistic provided a powerful motivation. As a result, the two major religious groups maintain deep fears of domination and persecution at one another’s hands, leading to distrust of the religious Other at the core of shared religious identity. Such divisions and dis­trust have been effective tools in the construction of self-proclaimed Christian states like Ethiopia, or Islamic states like Sudan. Caught between these two, Eritrea has also played a role in the drama of religion and state in the region. Part of Eritrea’s own internal struggles, and those within the ELF and EPLF nationalist movements, has involved the question of how to transcend divisions based on language and religion and focus on constructing an Eritrean nation that can both play a role in the international arena and represent the interests of all Eritreans.

Eritreans in Orange County therefore wanted to establish a durable community of immigrants in the US. However, what constitutes a community is rarely clear. In this article, I define the concept of community as “aggregates of people who sharecommon activities and/or beliefs and who are bound together principally by relations of affect, loyalty, common values, and/ or personal concern (i.e., interest in the personalities and life events of one another)” (Brint 2001:8-9). Brint makes a ty­pology of communities based on the following considerations:

the context of interaction, wherein he distinguishes geographic and choice-based communities; the primary motivation for in­teraction, distinguishing activity-from belief-based motivations; and the rates of interaction, which are predicated on ecologi­cal and motivational factors. The various combinations and permutations of these variables yield eight community sub-types: communities of place; communes and collectivities; localized friendship networks; dispersed friendship networks; activity-based elective communities; belief-based elective com­munities; imagined communities; and virtual communities.

ESRO could be characterized as an activity-based elective community, which in its short life became a community of dispersed friendship networks. The continuance of exile even after Eritrea’s independence made its members realize the needto redefine their relationship to the host society and build bothsolidarity and linkages with others from their region. The chal­lenge for Eritreans in Orange County was to bridge the gap between different groups who had been fractured not only ac-cording to regional and political attachment, but most impor­tantly, in terms of religion. By participating in ESRO, they felt they were contributing to a nation building project which less­ened their sense of alienation, exile, and impotence. They wanted to participate in national reconstruction and not re-main outsiders in this important moment in Eritrean history. They were proud of their achievement and came to trust one another.

The Political and Social Context: The Emergence of a New Era

Nobody could anticipate the exuberance and good-will that Eritreans in diaspora displayed upon the 1991 successful de-feat of the Ethiopian regime by the Eritrean nationalist move­ment, represented by EPLF. Soon after, the question most Eritreans in diaspora asked was how to participate in the new state. The sudden collapse of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia, and the emergence of the provisional government of Eritrea, changed the political landscape of Eritrea and the diaspora in profoundly new ways. Eritreans in diaspora were united by their desire to participate in nation-building, and gave EPLF a full mandate to form a government that would lead the nation. Even other liberation movements and con-tenders for power in Eritrea, like the Eritrean Liberation Front, enthusiastically declared their willingness to work towards the achievement of the nationalist agenda.

For its part, the new government adopted a position that allowed groups like ELF to join the nation-building process, not as organized groups but as individuals who could contrib­ute to the building of the new state. Although some sectors of ELF opposed such a policy and wanted to negotiate power-sharing with the new regime, there was strong desire among most Eritreans in diaspora to participate in this new era. They were hoping the government would formulate mechanisms to facilitate their participation. The good-will that was extended to the newly formed provisional government of Eritrea was not limited to Eritreans only. There were many international organizations and agencies, mostly non-governmental organi­zations (NGOs), that offered their services to Eritrea in what-ever ways possible to help build the new nation.

The first weakness of the new regime appeared in its orga­nizational incapacity to capitalize on the new support it was gaining and use it to energize and manage these initiatives. The problem might be related to the fact that EPLF was al-ways a military organization with a limited civilian compo­nent. After independence, the civilian sector gained greater power but lacked managerial means and skills to handle the complex demands that appeared in the form of offers to help and participate. The new government resorted to various means of delaying and blocking the initiatives from taking root and thriving. It covered its weakness by passing decrees and mak­ing political declarations whose main thrust was that every individual and organization must work under the umbrella of the new PFDJ party. These decrees did not work effectively with the energetic good-will and desire for reconciliation and unity among Eritreans and their supporters. Today, this has lead to the retreat of civilian participation in independent community organizations. The case of ESRO is one example. Whether intentionally or by default, the government’s policies slowly succeeded in killing the widespread enthusiasm.


Ten years ago, before the institutionalization of enforced transnationalism (al-Ali et al 2001) or the retreat to religion (Hepner 2003), there was exuberant hope among diasporic Eritreans that they could maintain their autonomy and still participate in the nation building and national reconstruction efforts in their home of origin. One organization that reflected this hope was ESRO. By the year 2003, however, as Hepner observed, “inter-denominational Christianity” remained the only depoliticized sphere of Eritrean collective social life. She noted that “religious settings provide a way for people to prac­tice Eritrea identity beyond its tortured politicization and of­fer different organizing principles for the community” (Hepner2003:279). Even religion as a sanctuary from the demandingand exhausting politicized life of Eritreans in diaspora might be truly a temporary safe place until it too is penetrated by the government. This retreat to religious institutions is a sign of the failure of secular Eritrean nationalism to become a unify­ing force in the way PFDJ conceptualized it.

As Will Kymlicka (2001:176) writes, multiculturalism takes western liberal democratic values as given and assumes that the immigrants will accept them. In addition, multiculturalism is encouraged in the US, as long as the core values of liberal democratic societies are not threatened (Kivisto 2003). At same time, Soysal (1994) has argued that there has been an emergence of “postnational citizenship” based on immigrants becoming aware of universal human rights, and demanding their own rights, based on a universal code. Researchers, however, do not seem to address the fact that the American democratic tradition of allowing civic par­ticipation and respect for individual rights and civic action provides an open field for transnational individuals and agents of foreign governments to operate with a free rein and influ­ence transnational communities. For instance, local organiza­tions representing the government of Eritrea use transnationalsocial fields as an opportunity to mobilize and organize freely, and to control and discipline local, grassroots transnational initiatives and community activities like that of ESRO. The uneven fields of operation do not empower transnational Eritreans unless they agree with the politics of the Eritrean state. The regime in Eritrea has exploited the cultural norm of American middle class society that emphasizes civic partici­pation with impunity. Yet it does not tolerate the same kind ofaccess to civic participation in Eritrea, an area under its hege­monic control.

Recent literature on transnationalism stresses the role of nation-states in encouraging or hindering transnationalism (Guarnizo and Smith 1998; Smith R. 1998; Ong 1999). Aihwa Ong (1999) for instance stipulates that the nation-state “along with its juridical-legislative systems, bureaucratic apparatuses, economic entities, modes of governmentality, and war-mak­ing capacities – continues to define, discipline, control and regu­late all kinds of population, whether in movement or in resi­dence” (Ong 1999:15). Basch et al (1994) show that nation-states increasingly view their communities in exile as legiti­mate constituencies. Nation-states not only shape transnational spaces by setting their boundaries (which, in some cases, might be transcended”) but they also provide channels for transnational activities (al-Ali and Koser 2002). This case study of ESRO in Orange County is an attempt to show that bridging the gap between secular Muslim and Christian Eritreans was possible, and that the effort failed to move for-ward not because of lack of initiative at the grassroots, but because the Eritrean state asserted hegemonic control over grassroots organizations in diaspora.

Most of the organizational linkages for Eritreans in the US are under the hegemony of the predominantly Tigrinya-speaking Christians who work as a bridge to the organizationsand institutions at the state level in Eritrea. It should be pointed out the failure to create meaningful connections between the exiled communities and grassroots communities in Eritrea wasnot limited to ESRO. There were many such initiatives among diverse, autonomous groups of exiled Eritreans following the success in the Eritrean nationalist struggle that floundered be-cause of organizational inflexibility and lack of capacity at the state level to transform these into enduring and institu­tionalized transnational communities.

Nevertheless, as Peggy Levitt (2001) has pointed out, rapid globalization in recent years has made it possible, either by choice or pressure, for immigrants to maintain strong ties to their countries of origin even when they are integrated into the countries that receive them. Except for one preliminary investigation, there has not been a systematic study of how Eritreans have been integrated into American society (Woldemikael 1998). In response to globalization, countries are distinguishing residence from national membership and extending their boundaries to those living outside them. They have created mechanisms to facilitate immigrant participation in the national development process over the long term and from afar (Levitt and de la Dehesa 2003). In the case of Eritrea, intensified globalization has enabled the new Eritrean state to enhance its power and maintain the upper hand in defining its relationship with Eritreans in diaspora. This power has en­abled the Eritrean state to undermine the grassroots efforts of ESRO, and as a result it has restricted ESRO from acting as an independent agent which reflects the interests of its members. Perhaps this case study sheds light on one of the major reasons why Eritreans in diaspora have been unable to create long-lasting, autonomous, diasporic transnational institutions that reflect their desires and interests.



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  • haile

    A trick question to Meron;

    – In 30 seconds, name an individual from the time of Adam and Eve up to now, that have ever walked the earth, who is far better and smarter than IA in your judgement (yes you can include Jesus) 🙂

    Time starts now 1, 2, tick tick…. 30


    • Gebre

      Mugabe, because he is still in power at the age of 85.

      • Gebre

        Correction: at the age of 89.

    • Thomas

      Thank you for trying to change the debate about MZ/NM/MLK. Meron actually is in a coma and he will not wake up until DIA is dead. Even before DIA is dead, DIA victims might un those life support and let him go where he is supposed be…………..


      I have to tell you that you are not only the great but the greatest. You just know how to combine the pieces and put all in one to those who chose to stay in a state of a coma. You are one of those who are specialists who are capable of using the most sophisticated weaponry and shoot those criminals where it hurts them most. I am really proud of you and our people who are the victims of DIA will really appreciate your stand for them. By standing up for the truth, you truly are saving lots of lives. You are thorny to the merciless dictator, but a life to the victims of those blood suckers & their operatives unfortunately the disgraceful once such as Meron and his click.

      • Thomas

        Read 2nd sentence up as: DIA victims’ might unplug those life support

  • rodab

    The latest un-noticed news reads:
    “We started some efforts to normalise the relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea,”
    “I will call the two presidents to hold a summit in Khartoum in the [near future]”
    – President Bashir said, in a joint statement with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

    I sense some sort of movement here. As is to be remembered, PIA and PHD visited Sudan recently, one after another, in a few days of separation. One can speculate the nature of these visits but the official matter-of-fact statements are that PIA went there to attend the festival, PHD went there to attend an electric plant inauguration. dinqi! tsebeQe! Now we have the above news. I see this as the most credible one compared to previous similar reports on this very issue. For several reasons: (1) unlike previous reports, this one is not rumor. We have official statements from the two heads of states, including the transgressor himself. In addition, unless he got the blessing from PIA, Albeshir wouldn’t have dared to say what he said. (2) Our regime hasn’t denied it as is usually the case with “unwanted” news. Presidential spokesman Yemane G/M lives in tweeter town talking all kinds of ‘qolo TiTiQo’. But no denial, no mention of this latest news. (3) I truely believe PIA has come to a disappointing realization that with the stagnant quo status, the border will not be demarcated in the next 125 years. Multiply that by 3. What’s more, he has realized that the Woyanes are not affected a dime worth by the current situation. It is his regime, & unfortunaley Eritrea that is paying the unilateral price. That is a sour pill to swallow for any leader. With that realization, I think the time has come. He has reached the blinking point. What I think the PFDJ brain is studying is the best gracefull way to do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this news gains momentum in the very near future. Peace!

  • Abinet

    Nitricc , I’m not from Tigray .however, I appreciate MZ (not in every aspect ). Keep of dreaming of the time bomb. That is all you know .To hate and wish ill. Better to beg than to sale fellow citizens as spare part .you must be doing fine as a commission agent .Otherwise how come a person in his right mind support the moron and blood thirsty dictator.

  • said

    Mandela through vision, decency and deep sense of higher mission for common goods and better humanity, lent his legacy and force of character to effect a historic transformation and a transition of a long apartheid-plagued nation into a relatively peaceful and stable democracy.

    Like many Eritreans and Many times, rather all the times, we revisited with the painful notion, the failed state and the failure of Eritrean dictatorial regime , of grapping the moment after long struggle – DIA indisputable strangling hold on the fate and future of the country – to initiate the germinating process of an orderly transition into a tradition of democracy. DIA well tested in the power structure that the slightest imminent menace contesting his rule is virtually insignificant.

    Given the abysmal and collapsing state of Eritrea and the precipitous decline of nation fortunes DIA ‘ priorities, with uncontested strangle holds on lands and souls, continue to focus on the protection of near-divine privileges, absolute authority, and the padding of faltering institutions with loyal henchmen well-indoctrinated into the art of blind subservience.

    Eritrea fortunes are in steady erosions, both in the physical and financial optic, as well as in the figurative and moral perspective. The accretion of a
    Stabilizing tradition of democratic values and the nurturing of a shared sense of mission and social cohesiveness do not figure in the DIA ruling regime agenda, neither by intention nor by the cosmetics of mere appearances.

    All absolute rulers of Eritrea regime is oblivious to the winds of change that are storming the backyards of the sovereign entities. The one man dictator awful systems that ensure the passage of the baton of power to his minion and loyal beloved partner in crime, the Mafioso ones are the predominant preoccupying considerations. Appropriation of scarce national resources follow on that dictum, and the mushrooming, ever mushrooming populace and future generations would need to content with the ruler ‘ whimsical benevolence of allocation of the left over if any.

    The significance of the moment few years ago of Mandela’s passing of the baton to a new elected South African leader, the insight to the truth of the moment appears vindicated that few years have lapsed and with South African Democracy is a tradition striking ever stronger roots while Eritrea remained committed to a destiny of oblivion and Total Irrelevance.

    Eritrean dictator, in his secure grape of power, is forgoing and in total denial a historic moment to jumpstart the process of an Eritrean empowerment a la Mandela, lest through gradual inculcation of a tradition of democracy.

  • Ermias

    To all of you Eritreans who love MZ: MZ is as good as anybody including Mandela and MLK Jr.

    To all of you Eritreans who hate MZ: he was evil, he started the war, he deported 70k people.

    To all of you Eritreans who couldn’t careless about MZ: news flash, he is deceased.

    If that makes everybody happy, let’s get back to the task on hand – fight PFDJ and IA.

  • haile

    Selamat Awitistas

    Many of you are asking why I called Meles average or below average intelligence, why or how one can be categorized as world figure and wasn’t leading Ethiopia with 85m people not a tough job. Well, let me answer those questions from point of view of my understanding. I don’t intend to force my views on you, merely share them with you, and I hope you don’t cross that limit with me either 🙂

    Meles vs intelligence indicators:

    Average intelligence is an achievement in itself. Many scientists, leaders and corporate heads fall in that category. These are people who act in a predictable fashion, albeit might end up exceedingly successful at it. They are appreciated by their supporters and shareholders when they do so. For example, Meles was faced with Ethio-Eritrea war and he did what was expected, went to war and asserted his will, he saw threat with Eritreans in Ethiopia and he did what is expected by uprooting them and sending them packing empty handed, he saw a threat in Somalia, he did what was expected by obliterating the Somalia Courts, he saw a need to develop the economy of his country, he took measures (sometimes controversial) to improve the economy, he saw internal opposition, he used every trick in the book (including force) to neutralize them and maintain his hold on power. Meles’ story may be great story to his followers, but is not a source of inspiration or leadership to all humanity. That is average intelligence.

    Why Mandela and co. are world figuers;

    The likes of Mandela speak to humanity in general. Their words and actions are source of enlightenment to man kind. Regardless of where they are or what challenges they are faced with. Mandela and likes inspire the way of truth and light through the universal language of humanity. Let me share with you ten of the most memorable words of Mandela and see how his teachings were not simply relevant to South Africans and their immediate problems but to man kind in general:

    “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

    “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

    “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

    “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

    “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

    “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

    “For to be free is not to merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

    “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”

    “I detest racialism because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.”

    “Lead from the back– and let others believe they are in front.”

    The above and many other words and acts of Mandela speak directly to mankind. These are ideas that emerge from deep contemplative thinking, words that capture the axiomatic truth in what they communicate. Their actualization in the mind of the bearer are the results of in-depth understanding of the nature of man and human relationships. They have currency in every corner, village and household of our planet. They speak in universally understood language of the soul. The speak to every problem, to every culture to every language. This makes them world figures. People like Mandela are humble (not arrogant), loving (not embittered), understanding (not cynical), accepting (not scornful). They are great teachers that walked among humanity. They are great in the eyes of the far eastern people, the Arab people, the European, the American people, the African people.

    They are above average intelligence. Hence they captivate the soul and mind of humanity in their journey among us.

    To be a world figure, you need to speak in a language that is understood by all of humanity, not just your own followers in a localized place. The whole world knows NELSON MANDELA, every household, every village, every region, every culture…

    Meles is above awatistas here, because here at awatista we’re wayyyy below average intelligence…now where is my buddy Nitricc 🙂


    • Hailat Nebsi,

      I don’t know whom you are responding to. It is a long conversations which i could not read now for a reason.

      Anyways, It seems to me you are starting accrediting the intelligence of leaders.

      I really like Mandela but the way you guys try to see him through the eyes of main stream media is too flown.

      Mandela is simply a guy you fought a non-violence movement, detained along side some other colleagues, became lucky to see light under the mercy of the changing world Order.

      It is the changing world order that brought this great man to greatness not his specialty or creativity.

      He didn’t broke any fence and he didn’t brought any special light to his people. When the whites felt it was better to detain him the detain him and when the felt it is time to release him they release him. Unlike Mugabe this guy compromised everything for power. And left the poor blacks in the same shambles and secure the whites.

      The greatest concession ever seen in the history of the revolution! Apartheid annulled in the paper continued in the ground. The Black remain in their Ghetos, with no potable water and health care; with not ample salary and rights – Don’t forget last years case with regard to the miners who killed in day light by the government to defend the interest of the capitalists and neo-liberal system.

      I happen to see the second world and one of the BRICS South Africa and get a good glimpse far more different the flowering reports in the papers. And the very architect of this silent apartheid is Mandela – the victim of Apartheid himself.

      If we have two world orders in the last 40 years (may be the Breton Wood and Washington Consensus/Post Washington Consensus), but the leaders are the same. Mandela was a terrorist for the leaders of the first world order and a Hero for the latest ones. So this great guy is rather toothless than the late PM. Meles Zenawi let alone to compare him with the architect of Eritrea – President Issaias Afewerki.

      R.I.P. Mandela,

      Cheers Haile Nebsi

      • haile

        ሜሮን ወዲ ህግደፍ 🙂

        You started as “I like Mandela” and then you’re trying to do HGDEF on him 🙂 ከም ጣንጡ ልግብ ኢልካ ደሙ ምጽይ ምጽይ ባቃ!

        There is the two sides of NM: the South African and the world citizen and he shined in both of them. He could have gone on forever like IA talking BS from dawn to dusk, he gave up power when he could have won. He did his part and left the rest to others. It was always a shared problem for a shared solution. IA on the other hand he stuck to the chair beyond his welcome, he turned Eritrea into the worst thing that is freaking the hell out of the world’s humanitarian conscience. NM is a man of high ideals and his 27 year incarceration wasn’t a cakewalk either. He maintained his integrity, sanity and character. He remained true to his calling and did his utmost. Honor came to him, he didn’t ask for it.

        Gandhi didn’t solve all of India’s problems, MLK didn’t solve all of African American problems, Mother Tereza didn’t solve all of humanitarian problems and NM didn’t solve all of South African problems. But what they did to help the problems, they did with incredible humanity and exemplary way of remaining true to their calling.

        IA, a freedom fighter turned savage criminal, is way too crass to even bring him in the same context of recognition. IA to you has fought and won the war all by himself, he continues to hold the country and build it all alone and he is the only human being to have the capacity to think and judge and measure every one else. To the rest of the world, and all of decent Eritreans, he is a savage criminal that is refusing to leave our nation peacefully. እዋአ፡ ዝኾነ ይኹን፡ ገጽካን ድምጽማጽካን ጥፋእ ጥራይ በለልና’ምበር፡ ምስኡ ቀደም ዓጺና ኢና።


      • Papillon


        It seems to me you’re fond of talking stupid. Would you say, the reason Eritrea was liberated is because of the changing circumstances where the Soviet Union found itself crumbling and consequently affected Dergue’s military power whereby it gave a free ride to EPLF to stride into Asmara where it is not so much of the hyped up and overly inflated military power of EPLF? What say you?

        • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

          You might be doing this to irritate, or to respond in-kind to some commentators. But in doing so, you might be denying Eritreans what their fairly and rightly accomplished goal: defeating the Derg army.

          Let me throw this at you: The Soviet Union collapsed and stopped military aid to the Derg. I agree with that; it’s what happened. But then the Derg, with all the state power behind it, was left to face the EPLF in Eritrea and the EPRDF in Ethiopia. Let’s leave the EPRDF thing out for now and focus on Eritrea proper. The Derg faced Eritreans forces–let’s say on equal footing, no Soviet were not supplying military aid to the Eritreans either. So, let’s say they had equal power even if it is skewed reasoning (the Derg had air, artillery including tanks, and a huge army), but let’s say two equal forces faced each other. We know the Eritreans won. Now why do you want to question that victory? Why would you deny Eritreans a victory they paid for? Ayfalken.

          • Papillon

            Selam Saleh,

            Obviously you read me wrong. I was challenging Meron as she attributed the triumph over the racist regime in South Africa to the then prevailing circumstances not so much due to the relentless fight that had been going on against the regime where Mandela was at the forefront. I was asking her if it would be fair on her part if one was to argue with the same “logic” to the defeat of the Dergue and denying the heroic struggle that was waged by the Eritrean people. Again, I wasn’t saying the Dergue was defeated because of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Hope you got my point.

    • Serray

      Selamat Haile,

      You are belaboring a futile subject; woyane cheerleaders (even the eritrean ones) are exactly the same as shaebia cheerleaders. They have a picture in their head about the organization and its leader and they go about bending reality to match what’s in their head to what is real. Meles was, I admit, a better than average dictator.

      If I compare Deng Xiaoping, the chinese leader after Mao, to Mandela or MLK, the same people will laugh at me..and for good reason. But Deng is the one who changed china’s trajectory to make it the power house it is now. He took a communist country of a billion poor people, unleashed their productive energy, and turned china into the second most powerful nation on earth. He didn’t even hug all the powers of the government to do that. Like meles, he was also a rebel. He has all the credentials the meles cheerleaders like except Deng’s task was way, way, way, way, bigger and more difficult than that of meles’s. Read all the articles written about Mandela, if you find one comparing him to Deng, it must be a miracle. But we have here people who insist that his miniature version is like Mandela.

      Now, if he had accepted the 2004 defeat and bowed out, that would have been something; not visionary like MLK or Mandela something, but some other something.

      But I like Meron’s take of Mandela. According to him, Mandela is worse than meles but he is like a zillion trillion times worse than mugabe and our “people have to go to where water is” head of racketeering joint. They say the proof is in the pudding; I guess Eritrea and Zimbabwe are proof how good the dummy and mugabe are. South africa and ethiopia are in horrible shape because they haven’t turned every single citizen into a destitute runaway slave.

      • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

        Serray and Haile,

        I hope you read “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein. For me it was an eye opener on what really happened in South Africa. Since then, I became a skeptic about the whole Mandela craze. Granted he paid too much for what he believed and paid for it dearly, the way South Africans ended up taking the short-end of the stick is actually not an achievement, sort of similar to the Eritrean deal we got in 1991: half-baked results. But true, Eritrea was liberated and Apartheid ended. For beginners, that is good enough, but hardly close to the final goal.

        • haile

          Selamat SGJand Serray

          ወይለከይ ሎሚ፡ ፓፒሎን እንድያ ተሰንብደና ዘላ፡ ተሮሪስታ፡ ከይትኸውን ይብል ኣሎ ኤርሚ 🙂

          Truth be told, I only have pieces of information from here and there vis-a-vis how effectively power was equitably transferred in post-apartheid SA. Both you, SGJ and Meron, seem to have a better handle than myself. One point I want to underscore is however, Mandela’s greatness to me was his holding his ground as the focal point of the resistance against the white rule and his inspiring people to resolve problems through identification of all inclusive solution as well as his willingness to step aside and give his fellow country men the chance to do their part.

          Since Zuma is the second president after Mandela, it would be interesting to learn from you guys how Mandela could have done better. To me the most dangerous entities are the one’s who claim to be the only one’s who can solve all problems and progress is measured, for them, in gezif wexa’Etat gezif wefri gezif s’Eli gezif motn hlqitn zegatat gezif geben…Madiba is human… and inspirational one at that. A true gentleman who rose above petty greed as one personified by IA.


          • haile

            too fast reply…

            Zuma is the second – meaning thambo followed by zuma

            Serray – great logic, classic! Meron says Mandela not even like Meles, let alone Mugabe, much less IA….haha you are a heck of an observer, kudos to you brother.

        • SA

          Dear SGJ,
          Despite all the criticisms leveled against Mandela, what is distinguishing about Mandela is his character. He has been criticized for not getting a better deal for blacks, for being an inadequate administrator, and for his friendships with dictators. Although blacks are still struggling, I do not think we can be certain that the the results would have been better if Mandela had taken a tougher stand against the ruling classes. What should not be underestimated, however, is the fact that he gave up power when he was neither forced nor required to do so. Abraham Lincoln is believed to have said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
          As someone who has been fighting tirelessly against the dictatorship in Eritrea, I would have expected you to give a tribute to his giving up of power after one term before alerting us about his mixed record. And this is what I believe: If the dictator in Eritrea had had a fraction of the character of Mr. Mandela, you, Mr. SGJ, would have been in Eritrea at this time serving your people.

        • Semere Andom

          Ahlen Abu Salah

          Yes is Eritrea was liberated an Apartheid ended,but for Eritrea it got worse, for SA, it got better. Black Africans now walk free, without fear that they will be arbitrarily disappeared, they can go to school and they get elected as presidents of their own country. How are these underwhelming you? After what happened for innumerable years of abuse, murder, SA was supposed to plunge to chaos, but the champions of reconciliation triumphed and there was a smooth transition and its prisoner became its presidents. The truth and reconciliations ideas that emanated from SA are now infused in Canada’s T&R between the white and the Natives for abuses perpetrated a century ago. These are hell of accomplishments. If the last 23 year can be used as a guide SA can succeed.
          Millions of black have risen from destitution to middle class status, SA is a democracy now, refining, healing and still reconciling. SA rose almost from the proverbial Phoenix ashes, from the brink of civil war and despair, Eritrea became ashes from a promising status and exuberance. How does what we got in 1991 compare what Blacks in SA got in the same decade? The similarity reach dead stop at the change of regime. Eritrea in an accomplished failure in every aspect of paramete, ruled by Sybil( 19973 book about DID) incarnate
          We walked long towards tyranny, they walked long towards freedom. Semayin mdrin Saleh

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Ahlan i-tegadalai Semere,

            The problem starts when we begin to compare situations. My comparison might have been just that. I do not deny Mandela sacrificed for what he believed. But in the final deal, he didn’t stay strong enough to get a better deal foe the blacks. In rich SA, the same apartheid era corporations run the economy and everything that matters. The black townships and slums are still there. Destitution among blacks has not changed. Crimes never subsided. South Africa didn’t turn to the heaven we seem to think it has become. The only thing that is covering all that is the extreme wealth of the country, mainly its gold, diamond and other resources. That all is the result of the bad deal that Mandela and his colleagues brought to the blacks.

            Also don’t forget the fallout from ANC of many prominent leaders who all are responsible for unfair deal. But truly, as someone pointed out somewhere in this thread, “Western media glorifies the Mandela that reconciled w/ [with] Whites not the Mandela that fought Apartheid for decades to make that moment possible”. Don’t forget Desmond Tutu was the face and spirit of the reconciliation. In short, what I am saying is that Mandela was an inspiration when it comes to resilience and perseverance. No one can take that from him. But for God’s sake, he was in prison when the rest were fighting and he had nothing to do in what happened when he was in jail. They brought him out of jail a broken, tired man. There are two main achievements of Mandela for which he gets admiration and greatness: 1) he had the celebrity status and like many others, he could have stayed at the helm of power indefinitely but he chose to let go of power, and 20 he was one of the founders of the ANC. Apart from that, I don’t think he is some sort of exceptional greatness, like those who inspired the world–like Nkrumah, Lumumba and a few others.

          • Selam Saleh,

            Rather going to details, let me point out the role of Mandela in the struggle against Apartheid and in the unity of the south African people.

            a- He was a chosen leader and spokesperson of ANC in the struggle against apartheid and hence lead them to dismantle apartheid system once for all.

            b- While the Apartheid was falling, there was a civil war between the two major social groups (zulus and Xhosa) – a bloody conflict (1990 – 1994) that kills 20,000 from both sides. If it wasn’t Mandela the country would have fallen into fragmentation.

            C- He is the greatest political leader who preserved a united South Africa against the western intrigues. If it wasn’t Mandela there would have been good chance for partition like of that happened between India/Pakistan after independence.The white regime then was helping clandestinely to the zulu separatist.

            d- He was a great humanist Like that of MLK and Ghandi who believe on reconciliation and forgiveness. He convinced the whole population to the concept of reconciliation and forgiveness. A man who unite the multi-racial and multi-ethnic nation together. (a unique character).

            e – He become an examplery democratic leader who left power after one term

            So Nkrumah and Lumumba are not at par to the great leader Africa hasn’t seen before.

    • Sabri


      Great leaders should be measured by their achievement not by their wisdom words. You quote a lot of NM sayings. Nice words. But Mandela is not known or appreciated mainly because of those words. Or it was not those words that makes him hero of the world. I think apart from what he was doing during his life time, the role of the western world in making him hero of heroes is great. The western world is not known in supporting genuine democracy and development in poor countries but for their own reason they decided to make NM bigger than he is.

      I’m not belittling his contribution in the struggle against apartheid but he failed to uproot the network of apartheid. I would rather to see him on power for a longer time and work for equal opportunity of his people. South Africa two decades after the official abolishment of apartheid is still uneven society. Violence is intact, poverty is not decreased so much. We can’t separate this reality from him. It is part of his legacy.


      • welde

        Dear Sbri,

        I completely in tune with your point, what Mr Haile denaying what is undenauable about the achievemnet of MZ is to do with IA than anythingelse.You see he still a closet admirer of IA and bestowing such an acknowledgement to the arch man that destroyed the myths of IA is tantamount to commiting the cardinal sin in the eye of his hero.

  • welde

    Mr Haile,

    Do you thing belittling MZ will make your constuents happy and like you more?I have always thoght you are the sensible and above all principled one, you just have forced me to expunge that view of you from my mind, not that it makes any differnt to you.
    Mr Haile, the most important thing to considere when you are embarking in enlighting your fellow country man and woman as you are doing here in Awet forum, be honest to yourself as well as to your audience.
    remenmber greatness is attained first and formost from oneself, don’t compromise your belive to please and satsifay the insatiable audience.
    believe me you will never satiafy such an audience.

    kind regards

    • haile

      My Ethiopian brother (close by Tsorona) Welde,

      Be strong and trust in the power of truth. People are weak and small but virtues as truth, compassion, honesty, respect, love… are great and powerful. If you stick with one of them (or all/most of them) nobody could expunge the qualities they would endow you with. You can’t expunge magnificence from the radiance of love, truth…and the rest. It is beyond human to do so. So, be the defender of liberty for your fellow man to have an opinion rather than the defender of your chosen man from untoward opinion.

      Your Eritrean brother

      • welde

        Mr Haile,
        I am a bit at a loss with your above comment. What exactly are you trying to convey ,here? Sorry but i don’t get your point.
        Just one additional question to you, if you allow me, have you ever been a member of the liberation struggle of the 70’s, 80’s. What is it that makes you possess the morale high ground to belittle and critisize those who sacrificed the most to liberate their people from the yolk of injustice.Respecting your oppsotion is the first step in political struggle 101.

        kind regards,
        Do you have

  • Abinet

    Haile,Why do you think Ethiopia can easily take over Eritrea ? We have enough problems without it . One of the legacies of MZ is that he proved that we don’t need Eritrea to progress.As to Ethiopians, Eritrea is a totally forgotten land except for some in the diaspora .I am personally thankful to MZ that he got Eritrea off our back.ethiopia for Ethiopians .(no more Eritrea yegilachin Ethiopia yegarachin )

    • Nitricc

      Abinet if you have nothing to with Eritreans what the freaking you know what are you doing on Eritreans web site. You Tigryans are funny. What is it with you people?
      Let me tell you the truth, MZ left Ethiopia in ticking bomb. Mark my word. One thing though he tought touch we’ll how to beg.
      Happy begging. Oh, yes please don’t mixed up between begging and economical boom. There is a difference.
      Thank you Abinet

      • Asmerome

        It is much better to beg n nothing is wrong with it , but your idle PIA leaves by stealing extorting and benefiting from his own people trafficking and you with your right mind trying to defend him shows how shallow you are
        Check with the UN statistic and you will find how million your idle president has received through aids and donations , but for you denial is in your blood which needs a real treatment

  • Sarcasm


    Meles Zenawi was capable of becoming a Nelson Mandela and an MLK,as he was in my opinion far more intelligent than them, but circumstances constrained him from achieving his inherent potential. Do you really think, in the culture of an armed struggle, where two secretive organizations TPLF and EPLF have dominated politics for decades, a Nelson Mandela would have survived? Absolutely not.

    As for Badme, read this bit from wikileaks “Meles has always indicated in very private meetings that he is willing to compromise on Badme if it would bring sustainable peace, but it would cost him his prime ministership”

    In other word, he was willing to lose his prime minstership as long as Isaias was going to normalize relations. As the late Prime Minister would say, it takes two to tango. Unfortunatley, this was not the region where the best of humanity shines out. So he became what the circumstances allowed him to be.

    A more apt comparision would be to Gemal Ataturk, the father of secular Turkey.

    As for your assertion that Meles’s economic thought does not equal original economic thought, I would invite you to read his monograph about “developentalism” and “state intervention” which he wrote in the 90s, the heydays of the whashington consensus, where state intervention was considered as a hurdle to growth. This was recognized by nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz as an original contribution to African economic thought.

    Furthermore, he enshrined the right of each ethnicity to speak their own language and to develop their own culture, all in the midst of a large and hostile shoan Amhara opposition.

    One of the greatest tragedies of his life, is the fact that he lived in a region where his greatest talents: pragmatism, prodigious brain power and visionary thought were not appreciated and were not allowed to flourish. So he will be remembered as a “controversial figure”, but make no mistake, the fact that he achieved the things he did, in a country and a region as hostile to his achievments as any other, makes him a unique statesman, truly one of a kind.

    I will conclude by quoting the words of one anonymous poster on Nazret.com: “Meles was the greatest thing to happen to Ethiopia since Kitfo.”

  • Amanuel H.,

    I some times wonder of you are a real Eritrean; you always write on the side of the wicked woyanes.

    By the way, given the flagrant atrocities of Isaias Afewerqi on the people of Eritrea, pre and post independence;

    His alliance with woyane on the demise of ELF;

    His illegal invasion of Ethiopia on minor woyane border provocation;

    His incarceration of Senior EPLF officials in the aftermath of the war and all the other adverse consequences of which the people of Eritrea are suffering….

    Have you ever thought the probability that behind the screen Isaias Afewerqi and woyane can be operating for the same end, Abai Tigrai, under the guise of theatrical animosity?

    As for me, I am 100% convinced that it is the case.

    • Dear Dawit,

      If you stick on the context of the issue you will avoid your biases. We are talking Meles and his vision for Ethiopia compared to all contemporary African leaders is by far the sharpest mind, an intellectual who is instrumental in designing the current democratic institutional structure, and who was admired by international financial institutions for focusing his economic development on the poor Ethiopian people. He was the right man at the right time for Ethiopia. The Ethiopian people admires him for what he did and the economic vision for his country. This fact which you couldn’t take from him whether you like him or hate him. [that is the context of the argument]. Do I had qualms on the eighties. yes I do. But don’t forget what ever it happened was at the invitation of EPLF and I am sure you were fun of that unholy alliance.

      Dawitom, now I don’t leave on the past. I live on the present and the future. Meles’e government have done many good thing for the Eritrean refugees and Eritrean student to continue their academics in their universities. I welcome any change of heart and goodwill to my people. For all the Eritrean people complain on the war, he is the only person who voted against war (the border war) when it was voted in the Ethiopian parliament.if you are asking to veto the power of the parliament like Issayas who gives order without consultation his colleagues and the legislative body then it is your problem. Meles knows his vote is one and when he lost the vote he respect their constitution and abide by the outcome of the vote and hence he lead the war.

      So dawit why don’t we focus on our Eritrean problem. At least as citizen we don’t have leverage and legitimacy. It should be dealt by both governments. Don’t we have other national issue that we can make progress. For instance to build a consensus on how to remove the evil at the heart of our nation. Think about it – that is the priority to stop the bleeding the nation and the people we love dearly.

      Amanuel Hidrat

  • Belai

    Dear Haile the great,
    You are a fresh convert from PIA(PFDJ ) CAMP,thanks to Papillon and others.
    Now you are calling Meles average intelegence.

    Now,if you are clever enough to call meles average,how come it took you so long to learn PFDJ was bad? Look what you are telling us know about PFDJ.
    Haile you are different and still great with your own right.
    People are watching.

    • Nitricc

      Lol Haile is converted from PFDJ to toothless opposition because of papillon?
      It makes sense now. Lol thanks for sharing.
      Weyane actually Melles was less than average intellectually. Intellectuality is measured within your principality and character. I am sorry to tell you that your Meles nitheir had principal nor character. He was the best street smart. Again the truth.

      • Belai

        Dear Nittric,
        I don’t expect any fair jugment from you,
        You do not have feelings to your people.
        You are loose canon like PIA.
        I know U are going to drop him one day.

        Nitric,actualy U can more money in the entertainment bussines,U got quality,pretty funny U are at times.

    • Belai

      Dear moderator,

      Please Read as Awatians are watching.
      Not people are watching.

  • SA

    Here is excellent article about Nelson Mandela that is relevant to Eritrea:


    To those who still defend PIA, there is a clue in the article why PIA has been a failure.


  • akyar

    Good job Dr Tekle, kalaye kea sededelna

  • haile

    Dear Papillon and awatistas;

    Thanks Papillon for livening it up around here, it was going a little slow lately and your little hand grenade that put MZ on par with NM and MLK it to be appreciated. Even Kadiss is puzzled to figure out that calling MZ out on par to NM and MLK is equated to raping average intelligence of mankind.

    In fact, MZ is on or below average intelligence guy, predictable and with no significant or unheard of achievement vis-a-vis economy. The only thing I would think of him is that his good intentions to his country can’t be doubted.

    In order to be on levels that are on par with Gandhi, Mandela, MLK… one needs to influence global hearts and minds. Such people normally act in counter intuitive way in the face of adversity and become a source of inspiration. Their achievements are not measured in material gains that they stockpiled but in how they awakened the human spirit.

    Now, it is common to hear that people say “so and so was the most dedicated worker ever…” on so and so’s funeral. This kind of outpouring is the once associated with MZ. While NM and co. are truly inspirational and the whole world and the whole humanity would attest to that. The latter acted in manners that were not expected to defy the bondages of human weakness in the face of adversity. They didn’t do the obvious thing and were good at that (such is not more than average intelligence).

    Read NM’s observations in many instances, they are words of power right from the soul. Now give me an example of something MZ said that touched humanity??? (None). The legacy of NM and MLK was generational. NM left South Africa at peace with itself and the World and its citizens deeply proud, MLK left a great legacy through his Civil movement, Barak Obama is a testimony to that.

    Now, what is the legacy of MZ? Has he fully solved a single political problem that he inherited fo good or merely contained them? Does an Amhara feel more secure and better about his Oromo brother as a result of what MZ achieved? Does an Ogadieni Ethiopian feel different now compared to the derg era? Have any of Ethiopia’s problems been influenced for good and for ever as a result of MZ? Do Ethiopians feel more about their equitable sharing of the nation’s wealth and resource now than say two decades ago?

    Dear Kadiss, you can’t camouflage truth and reality by hyping up razzmatazz by comparing your relatively better situation as it compares Eritrea. In fact, that doesn’t show highly of you when you compare yourself against Eritrea! Eritrea is currently under enemy occupation of severe type. It would be stupid to compare with Eritrea even when it was under relatively milder occupation of the Dergue. Eritrea is fighting and gasping for life under a brutal inbreed enemy and you have no sense of ethics to even try to measure your achievements by comparing with us. Somalia will soon be in much better situation to Eritrea, so will south Sudan and so would any dirt poor nation unless IA is removed and we can compete on plain field.

    Talking of IA, you could say he is unique but the word is infamous (for the magnitude and nature of his crimes). He managed to literally order Eritreans stop working (farmers, builders, investors…), he banned any aid organization, he banned peace keeping, he manufactured a hungry and refugee nation, today it is common (certain) that many tegadelti and agelglot wives have children from Ethiopian opposition groups (mostly around Golig, Harena..), ransom for human trafficked Eritrean persons is paid and exchanged in Eritrea with its military, I know of a guy in agelglot that his wife had run to Ethiopia after getting pregnant by a Demhit guy. The Eritrean agelglot was away for months on end working on a farm belonging to one of the generals. Please google wedi Hadish or Hadish Beyan and listen to his testimony to.

    What makes IA unique is on how he has hypnotized many Eritreans, they are numbed dead and it is still tremendously hard to convince them Eritrea is worth fighting for. So, IA could be unique in his ability to numb the people by turning them against each other, but that is still a crime in the end and he would go as infamous.

    MZ is not, in my opinion, inherently evil. He made human errors and that is why I would say he is of an average intelligence. IA is evil and Eritreans haven’t seen much yet, his going is going to be nastier.


    • haile

      Selamat Aman and Thomas

      [I am picking from your previous entries and moving up here]

      Please help me out here: I would like to consider MZ great visionary if you can convince me that he has changed Ethiopian public opinion on Assab for good? (Or has he merely controlled it? are there parties in Ethiopia that centralize that issue now?) Let us be honest, in fact when I note that MZ and his high ranking officials speak definitely, adamantly and assuredly about their commitment to Eritrea’s territorial integrity and Sovereignty, it kind of leaves me cynical about the whole thing.

      Here we have IA that has managed to bring our nation to zero under border pretext, here you have MZ who refused to conclude the outcome of EEBC, here you have a leader who is so certain that he can do without Assab when the main stream opinion in Ethiopian opposition (especially those supported by IA as G7 Kinijit..) is to re-negotiate Assab.

      Does Meles know something, the rest of Ethiopians don’t when he is so sure? An Eritrean Ambassador was once speaking with another high ranking PFDJ operative here is the Diaspora while I was giving them a ride to the Ambassador’s hotel. The topic was raised by the operative and was to do with impending UN sanction at the time (it was 2009). To my total puzzlement, the ambassador observed at one point “…all we really need is a little more time”. That observation left me totally puzzled, of course I usually don’t prod them much, and they don’t even trust their shadows.

      Now, MZ can’t be considered to have contributed to peace of the region and definitely gave IA the greatest tool to have silenced Eritreans and got us to where we are. This is not shifting responsibility from us, yet even Lampedusa was blamed by the border war. MZ ayhegezen tray zeykone, aytefelten’wn 🙂


      • Nitricc

        Aman so why do the Ethiopians sign the peace deal if they have intention dealing with Eritrean government? Did you how dishonest you sound. I know it is in your heart to defend the dishonest criminal Weyane but how about the truth?
        And you wonder way your toothless opposition attracting no one?
        How far and how law would go to defend your masters?

      • Merhaba Haile,

        Since we are talking about geopolitics of the horn which includes our nation, I will assume that we are debating on Eritrean politics, where the external geopolitical factors have significant influence on the internal factors. Here I am putting a caveat-reasoning to my often insistence to stay with our issue.

        Now back to your question, as to whether Meles and his party has changed the psychological mindset of the Ethiopian people in general and the elites in particular Vis-A-Vis the Asseb port. To answer your question I will separate the border issue and the Asseb issue for they are not interdependent to each to treat them in the same argument, though for a political purpose, the regime of Asmara is using the border issue for keeping our young in a modern slaver

        The border – I have stated several times that the Ethiopian government is not ready to deal with illegitimate regime despite they propose five point to go with it for diplomatic consumption knowing the regime will not accept their proposal. Keep in mind the Issayas regime didn’t stop to provoke and destabilize Ethiopia either directly or indirectly At the same time if the no war no peace does affect their economic development, why would they deal with their enemy. So the border issue is out of our hand until the despot is in power. No matter we hate them or love them we don’t add any leverage to change the statuesque of the border. Let us deal with the evil man and then eventually the border issue will be settled as it should be.

        The port of Asseb – Haile, believe me Meles and his colleagues (EPRDF) has changed the psychological mindset of the Ethiopian people in general and the Elites in particular (the elites being the actors of the Ethiopian politics). You remember it took them two years to convince the Ethiopian people that the Eritrean issue will be decided by a referendum ( wisely after they put a clause of “self-determination up to secession in their constitution for legality purposes). The same thing it took them a similar time to educate their people that Asseb is not a matter of live and death to Ethiopia. Using their diplomatic skills they found many alternatives such as Mombasa, Djibouti, and port-Sudan.

        You know and I know that Ethiopia have invested enough resources to build a new port adjacent to Djibouti as an additional to Djibouti itself, as well as two railway lines underway on construction to link Djibouti/Mekele and Djibouti/Addis (beside the old one) to expedite the goods and services for their economic development. Equally Ethiopia is extending its Electrical grids to Djibouti as source of electrical power to Djiboutians.

        As to the oppositions (Ethiopian opposition) who reside outside of Ethiopia, if they want to make change on their psychological beliefs, they should go through that orientation and that orientation includes on site education.

        For them Asseb is a done deal as part of the Eritrean sovereignty. And if things change with change of regime in Eritrea, they will only look as additional access to the see on mutual benefits. The ball is on us on how to utilize our port and the primary candidate users are Ethiopians….definitely it is beneficial to both of us if somehow fades the ultra-nationalism that kept us isolated.

      • zegeremo

        hi Ema

        There is no question that you are entitled to your own opinion, but it is too bad that you claim yourself as an opposition. May be that’s the reason why good people are refraining from joining the opposition. you sound more loyal to Ethiopia than to your own country; it is just irritating.


      • Thomas


        I really appreciate your fight support to your people. I really think you are not only the great but the greatest. You are an an asset and an inspirations to all peace & justice lovers. I am really proud of you. A democratic future Eritrea will be in good hands with outstanding people like you to govern her.

        You are on the right side of history and as a humanitarian you will gain much more respect from your people. Please keep up the fight. Tell the evils the truth when they don’t want to hear it. Now, we all can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The killers and their operatives will be prosecuted.

    • Semere Andom

      Dear Haile:
      It is not IA intelligence that hypnotized Eritreans, it is the inherent cultural tolerance to despotism. Our culture of “zberke tsehayna znegese ngusna with the evil bent of IA, conspired with the moronic thinking of “mEnti megogo shelel bela neta anchiwa was the reason for the successful hypnosis. Any demwit with evil intentions could have done it.
      MZ, although I agree with you that he has not proved to be like NM and MLK, but was visionary. IA had it easier, MZ presided over a very complex nation that is doing 1000,000 times better that Eri in every aspect. That is not the work of an average guy. If MZ has lived longer and relinquished power on his own volition as he was about to, not withstanding for not keeping his previous promise, he could have won the African Noble Prize, the Mo Ibrahim award that is. NM comes with violet roots too, he had 27 years to reflect on that and the world loves him not because of his IQ but for denouncing violence, “let no one window or one hand get broken”, was what they loved. Maybe bsetati papilion is being hyperbolic, but MZ seems to have reflected a lot when he was a rebel instead of plotting and planning to kill people. The Amarha will never give credit to MZ because they think Derg was more fair for killing indiscriminately . The fact that Ethiopia did not disintegrate as IA was expecting it after 1991 and still holding, making baby steps to become a fledging democracy next door to Sudan and Eritrea cannot be attributed to an average intelligence. Also NM and MLK did not attain their status for their IQ, but for their vision F. Deklark shared the N prize with NM for capitulating to the pressure to remove Apartheid. MZ did better than that, he believed in the sovereignty of Eritrea from the onset. He could have refused and the Amharas and the Eyob Medhanyes would have been charmed outof their pants. The PFDJ and its supports are still counting on the disintegration of Ehiopia,that is their yard stick of success. Mention anything and they say we are better than them, they tell you that Eri has 250,000 cases of HIV, Ethiopia has in millions, what they do not tell you is the per capita and the easily hypnotized by this.
      SGJ mentioned that he was not told what questions to ask when he interviewed MZ, Tes of Asmarino interviewed him and asked whatever he wanted, the people he imprisoned actually are accounted for and some of them even wrote books, that is they are not buried in unmarked tombs. I think putting MZ and IA in the same comparative statement,in terms of what they did to and for their perspective peoples is the misguided notion, and not for putting MZ in one line with MKL and NM.
      worst case scenario MZ will have monument in Adwa if not in Addis as well, IA will only be mentioned in the pantheons of Gaddafi and Saddam
      Does this make MZ my hero. No. I am just saying he shines in his region and outshines his peer IA and the others around him. He pales in the presence of NM and MLK for sure. Am I romantic?, very much so. 🙂

      • Nitricc

        Semere I have one question for you, why are you inferior by your nature? I think that is the worst sickness ever in all human kind.

        • Semere Andom

          Nitric, to decipher why I feel inferior read the book I prescribed for you yesterday, and you will know

          • Nitricc

            Semere why would read a book you have already read, look what has done to you.
            No thanks. You are very strange creature. Just remember, you are as good as any one and crabapple of doing what others has done. You suffer from worst form of disease, inferiority.

      • haile

        Selamat Semere

        I agree with many of your points. In fact, it is a disservice to any sort of list of recognition to consider IA. Isaias is a failed leader, a criminal trapped in his own conniving and duplicity. MZ had overcome the biggest hurdle of becoming a States man from leader of a front. His peace credentials have not been established at the time his death, his economic credentials are widely respected but I am ignorant if they are ground breaking (I am all ears to listen). His political credentials are one of smashing his opponents down (yes he brought many to court of law) including IA – look what he reduced IA to (a useless human trafficker). It is a far cry from a man of reason and peace. His recognition of Eritrea and issues surrounding all that in at least commendable, but happened at different time in history and the Eritrean people were never tamed and dispersed by IA then. Today, I would agree if you tell me Ethiopia accepts Eritrea’s independence, because there is absolutely nothing to stop her should it try to overrun it. IA has secured Eritrea as the next weakest country in the region next to Somalia that Ethiopia is not stopped by force.

        One point (not about you but few others) however is that it is Okay to use ‘IMO’. We seem to lack appreciation of the distinction between fact and opinion. MZ is not a world figure and NM, MLK… are world figures. That is a fact. It is when Papillion said that “They touched OUR lives profoundly…” that I felt an unwarranted opinion was being made o behalf of others. It would have been OK to say that “They have touched MY life profoundly…” for me. So, use of “IMO” could save a lot of hassle and lead us to debate the substance of issues than how we feel about each other’s feelings.


        • welde

          Mr Haile,

          I am a bit perplexed by your point,”MZ is not a world figure and NM,MLK…are world figures”. What does this mean ? How do you think one attains world figure status? How do you compare and contrast people to put them in such distigush club?
          Does everyone that received the Noble peace prize considered the world figure status hence join the club in your opinion?
          I must say you are a bit dihonest in your assesment of the achievement of MZ. Do you think is easy to lead 85 million people who resides in the poores corner of the land? Well you should know your president have fopund it such a dounting task to even lead and adminster a mere 5 million souls.
          Mr Haile, rememeber is easy to lead a rich country with an established institutions than starting from zero.
          So when you compare and contrast keep this in your mind…

          Kind regards,

      • Eyob Medhane


        “…The Amharas and the Eyob Medhanyes would have been charmed outof their pants…”

        Oh..believe me. I am already charmed out of my pants. In fact, I need another bigger pants to be charmed out of. Generalizing and confidently speaking for 27 million Amharas shows how much “intelligent” you are. Which apparently is not so much….

        • Semere Andom

          Guad Eyob:
          Sorry I forgot to include the word “many”, so please read ” many of Amharas and the Eyob Medhanyes would have been charmed out of their pants”
          would that elevate my IQ ?

      • dear Semere,

        Well said, and a good judgement to the man who did many tangible things to his people. He is the father of the poor and the first of his kind for the Ethiopian people. Yes indeed is a visionary who device a new economic development and built a political institution that address the grievances of the the Ethiopian social groups by giving them autonomous administrative power – an “institutional structure” that fits to their reality.

  • ethioLarebo

    I can not help but be amused by the obsession some Eritreans have for Meles. The legacy of Meles is that of hate, bitterness and ethnic division. The supremacy of one minority ethnic group over the majority. He left Ethiopia divided along ethnic lines. He left government institutions dysfunctional. Destroyed the hope of the youth for better Ethiopia, their hope in themselves and their country. No time in the history of Ethiopia we have seen unprecedented number of people clamoring to leave the country. Even the elite have their kids born in the US and they only speak English not their mother tongue indicating they have no faith in future Ethiopia. Today in Ethiopia one advances to a better position not by merit but by ethnic background and political connections.
    The success of Meles was to give cover to the west so they can give aid to Ethiopia without being criticized for propping up a ruthless dictator. Wikileak documents show that the west knows exactly what kind of leader he was. He created a very poor imitation of democratic governance. But it was a sham. Ethiopia is at the bottom on the human right index, press freedom, government corruption. The government he setup fails in every independent index. It is all hype but no substance
    Comparing Meles to Mandela shows naivety or ignorance. A great leader brings people together not create division or exasperate existing divisions. A great leader does not steal elections (not once but twice). A great leader inspires people and keeps hope alive. Meles is non of that and he fails in all category. He was able to stay in power not because he won the will of the people but by brute force.
    I wonder if all these Eritrean admirers of Melse want the same kind of leader and government. I can not say I know what is good for Eritrea but I can tell you this kind of solution was a disaster for Ethiopia

    • Ermias

      Well put ethioLarebo.

      One woman expressed great admiration for Meles here because she is on a mission to provoke every Eritrean. She is insulting our collective intelligence here because she thinks we all hate MZ and Ethiopia. We do not. The only thing we have in common in this forum is our collective mission to depose the repressive regime in Asmara. We have varying views about Ethiopia, MZ, Mandela, or what have you. But I haven’t ready too many posts here which are anti-Ethiopian. I see Ethiopia and Ethiopians as brotherly neighbors and our mission should be to live peacefully and harmoniously with them respecting each others sovereignity. I, for one, like MZ myself more than I dislike him. I admire him for many things. I know it is wrong in principle but he looked out for his roots and helped them get out of poverty for the most part – that’s Tigray. He did a few other good things, economic projects, construction and the like. He also earned Ethiopia some respect from the West and in the Horn. But like you said there are countless negatives as well among which is the ethnic divide and economic inequality he created in Ethiopia.

      But there is no comparison between MLK/Mandela and MZ. The former two profoundly touched so many people across the world and their message resonates across any human borderlines. MZ touched Eritreans and Ethiopians (and Somalians) very negatively to many and positively to many others. Mandela and MLK are in every textbook but Meles doesn’t even make it to newspapers.

      I lost all respect for Papillon for insulting my intelligence and I can’t honestly argue now that she is on the side of the poor and oppressed Eritrean people. She has a different mission but one day the truth may come out.

      • Thomas


        Trust me, we don’t have hate towards meles as much as we have hate against the person you might think our own. Meles is an ethiopian and he was firm in telling the ethiopians that he is an ethiopian. Now, you have a dictator (DIA-unstable one) who is arrogant and the prime starter of the badme war who was dealing with Meles. Meles as an ethiopian never hesitated to tell his opponents and all ethiopians that Eritrea is for Eritreans from the first time stood his foot on Addis until he dies. Now that he is dead, that is a done deal. No one is insulting your intelligence we are just stating the truth. If you understand ethiopia and how ethiopians think you would not be agreeing with us here.

        • Thomas

          the last sentence: you would have agreed with us here.

        • Ermias

          Hi Thomas, I agree with you. You can admire and love MZ as much as you want. I have always liked the guy and gave him the benefit of the doubt every time. I liked his amicable speeches and his intentions (I think) were good for the most part. My gut feeling is also he was a very kind person. But putting him on par with MLK and NM is intellectually dishonest. I am not sure about you but I know Papillon is trying to provoke some of us because as intelligent as she seems like, I can’t reconcile her idolization of MZ with the other fair things she writes. She had also said before about our poor brothers in Agelglot as “komishti ztekedenu sebut.” She is becoming increasingly antagonistic.

          Here is one simple example as you can never compare MZ with NM. NM showed no trace of bitterness whatsoever when he was released from 27 years of imprisonment. He said we have to forgive. But when MZ was fighting IA, he retaliated by committing attrocious things, among which is deporting 70k people. Would NM or MLK do that

          • Thomas


            I burst into tears laughing as I read your reference on Papillon. You mentioned she said “She had also said before about our poor brothers in Agelglot as “komishti ztekedenu sebut.” One which I think is true is “the agelglots are not as hero as the former tegadeliti. I have to tell you I am categorically in the agelglot division. I don’t really get affonded by her statement. Actually, I find it funny because as they say in tigirigna “Ferah nedi’eu yikewen”:)

            Somewhere, I think I read you mentioning that you have a sister. I think Papillon’s talk is a kind of sisterly talk. I don’t want about wives (wiffy) here because it is different. I have read Papillon’s comments on this website, I am learning a lot from her. She is direct, very intelligent, articulate and knowledgeable. I also think she is more of a liberal person and that goes to most of our women as well.


            I am a believer of gender equality (even date to say most of us, men, are agnjalat) but you know we (men & Women) see things different. So, I think you tend to know the crowd very well and you are just being provacative to to test their guts. I think from the onset, Haile knew your intentions. You are right that Meles has led ethiopia to a knew direction. It is really not easy to govern 85 million people.

          • Rahwa G

            Selam Haw Ermias and co.,

            I am here to comment on your last remark and don’t consider the points you mentioned other than the one I responded below. When are you guys going to see peoples other than Eritreans as humans? When are your collective ‘brains’ start watching at those millions of three-fingers that have kept pointing towards you and their owners? I am referring to your lame argument of the 70 -k-innocent-Eritrean-people-inhumanly-chased-from-Ethiopia “old-single-song” that I and many of my compatriots have been listening for over 10 years now. You don’t feel any shame when you openly expose your selfishness. You would like us (Ethiopians) to sit idle and watch the drama while your arrogant army cross the Mereb river and march towards south breakfasting in Mekelle and having dinner in Addis, looting our people, bulldozing our towns, destroying churches and monasteries, massacring our innocent school children, … and whatever the mighty yikaalo and the-inheritors likes to do and change the government at the Menelik’s palace and return back to Asmara after a week? Is that what you meant by living in harmony respecting to each other? Has it ever occurred to your brain and asked yourself on the number of civilian Ethiopians that have been chased, killed and thrown to jails during the early independence days and after your yikaalo started the so-called numbered-worar? eza men kemana mbal maas’kon tigedfuwa? I think it is deep-rooted and cannot be uprooted easily. And God knows if peace would ever prevail again in this part of Africa, given hundreds of thousands of the likes of you are perpetuating. But my comment doesn’t include those few good wishers even in the forum.


          • SA

            For what it is worth, when Saleh Gadi interviewed the late PM of Ethiopia in 2008, here is his response to Mr. Gadi’s question about the deportations of Eritreans carried out by the Ethiopian government:

            “I can’t tell you this was our finest hour–far from it. It was a very regrettable process. All I can say is that people ought to understand what happened. As the invasion came as a shock, not only to the Ethiopian people as a whole but also to the EPRDF. And many in the EPRDF were surprised at the betrayal. And there was an element that was about lashing out and lashing back. At that stage, the Eritrean government was saying that they have a big presence [in Ethiopia] and if they wanted to remove the government from Addis, they could do it, any time. And the Eritrean community organizations here, in Ethiopia, were practically declared by the Eritrean government as an element of a fifth column that they have in Ethiopia.
            Now when you combine that perceived threat with the anger amongst many in the government, it was easy for these angry people to argue that we have a security problem and the primary responsibility of the security of our citizens; therefore, we have to decrease the security threat. This was a circumstance that brought the situation- an environment of risk and environment of anger and an environment of hatred.
            I would also wish those who have been deported to understand that this government had resisted a similar approach from 1991 to 1998. It was not because there were no temptations to do that. And the Eritrean [government officials] were repeatedly informed. We have discussed this with the Eritrean government, trying to involve it each time without creating tensions and anger among the citizens. Many Ethiopians at that time wanted us to retaliate in kind, we resisted that because we felt it will not be in the long-term interest of the two peoples. And because we felt that whatever the Eritrean government does, we do not need to have a similar response. So in 1998, the circumstances that were created, were such that we could no longer resist. So, this very regrettable thing happened.
            Now, it is easy for someone who was not on a receiving end, to theoretically argue that was wrong. It was a very unfortunate and let’s move on. Those who have been on the receiving side of it feel the pain and we have to understand that. All I can say to them is, please try to understand the circumstance. I am not going to justify it by any means, I am going to explain the circumstance.”

          • welde

            Mr Ermias,
            What is the problem, the 70k people you mensioned were not sold for smugglers or traffikers like what the Eritrean Generals are doing according the recent human right report, they were just sent to their home land Eritrea just like the Saudi Arabia is doing to Ethiopians’. Do you know at the time of Eritea ibdependent, 1991 there were thousands of Ethiopian living in Eritrea. Those people were litrarly thrown out without Eritrea without their belongings, which todate i have not heard them crying about what happend to them at the hand of shabia and the people.They have forgotten and forgave the perputrators.Now thse people can attain the world figure status as coined by Mr Haile above.
            Please stop these vengeful attitude, it won’t help you attain that peace of mind needed to fulfil your dream of seeing a prosperus country at peace with itself and with it neighbours and the world.

            kind regards,

        • Ze’Aman

          I think you have a wrong impression about most of the Ethiopian people. No one see Eritreans as different from other Ethiopian ethnicities until the separation; which means we have always thought of you as one of us(except the separatists in the bush by then), and that is why most of the youngsters of that time never hesitated to give their precious life to keep the territorial integrity of the country.
          Now that is a long gone issue and no one ever think of ERITREA up until all the recent sad news about those fleeing Eritrea and except the polticos who some how use the issue of access to the sea as a political playing card which in fact is already a sovereign territory of some one else; and which we have multiple alternatives from those eyeing to progress together. What else is there to look for from Eritrea except our shared history and political past? You have nothing to fear from Ethiopia and Ethiopians!!!

          • Thomas


            “I don’t want to talk about wives (wiffy)

            On comment to Papillon: even dare to say most of us, men, are anjalat:)

      • haile

        lol Ermias @ “Mandela and MLK are in every textbook but Meles doesn’t even make it to newspapers.”…that is funny 🙂

        No worries, it is too late now, MZ ain’t going anywhere, he is past his destination. Papillion’s feeling was best captured by Horizon, (personal feeling…otherwise apples and oranges).

        • Papillon

          Dear Haile,

          There sure is misunderstanding that begs for clarity. When I said, my heroes in life where Meles is among them, I wasn’t elevating Meles on par with Mandela and King where you captured the essence as you aptly said that Meles’ influence is limited to his own country where as Mandela and King transcend generations of different strips from different walk of life.


        • Ermias

          Happy to put smile on your face hailat!

    • Ermias

      Hi Rahwa G. I see the essence of your frustration with my 70k comment. I agree it doesn’t help us heal our wounds and I should have probably used a different example to show that MZ is not in the same caliber as in MLK or MN. Just for the record, however, I don’t see Ethiopians as enemies. Our enemy is IA and PFDJ but Ethiopia doesn’t always help our case either but again that’s not the enemy. It’s been described as “the elephant in the room” by some but as Eritreans we can’t keep our eye off the target which is IA no matter our differences with respect to Ethiopia. So rest assured, we have a more immediate problem than the legacy of MZ. Again my wish is to live with Ethiopians harmoniously as two sovereign countries.

      • Nitricc

        “Our enemy is IA and PFDJ”
        Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I better get the f out here. I am going things will get me in trouble.
        Ermias have a good life with your Tigryans, they will get you what a

        • Ermias

          Please stay nitricc. I really like your “the devil ‘s advocate” role around here. You are keeping the opposition on our toes.

    • Kim Hanna

      Dear Sir,

      Meles died over a year ago. Ethiopia is at peace with itself and stable enough to lend support to its neighbors.
      In the final analysis, I will accept the judgment of the common Ethiopian, that is the farmers, traders, taxi drivers, construction workers, etc. They all came out and wept for Meles as if he was a member of their family. This happened in Debre Birhan, Dire Dawa and Jimma. I suppose a PHD holder in Boston or London will tell us that these people were forced to show grief. Such is our state of our complete detachment from realty.

      Weather he is comparable to MLK and Nelson Mandela, as if it is some kind of beauty context does not make sense to me. African Americans look to MLK with reverence, and rightly so. The South African blacks embrace their hero Nelson Mandela with love and affection.

      Meles took a country on the verge of disintegration and collapse and left it in its current hopeful forward march. I am sure he has many faults. Let us give credit where credit is due.


  • Nitricc

    I am discombobulated beyond believe.
    What is to be great? What does it mean?
    Mandela>>>>>>>>>> he said something to the whites they didn’t like and the whites lacked him up for 20 something years. He got out as a hero. You can stretch it all you want but that it.
    Meles Zenawi>>>>>>>> escap >>>>>>>escap >>>>>escap>>> came to power
    He kissed every white azz known to human, he mastered at begging so much so, the Africans gave him the title to beg in the name of Africa. His mine vision is Aid, his economy that he built was based on Aid and supplemental bugitery assistance He ha no principal what so ever. He faked a terrorist bombing and bombed his own people and city to get more Aid and to get the westerns sympathy
    He mastered in rigging an election and killed hundreds of people in a broad day light. Thier crime? They questioned the out come an election. Should I go on about his wife’s illicit business practice and the wealth they amassed? Basically he lead and teached his people on to begging, aid, and miserable futur.

    PIA>>>>>>>>>> no, I can not put the greates guy with those two. I will tell you in your face.

    • Thomas

      Correction: Mandela was lacked for 27 years. Now, at least the truth, you know you are not talking about DIA. So, he does not expect to lie on this issue. How about those ministers who are languishing in prison for 15 years? These heroic ex-leaders only asked for a reform and deplomacy with the world – surprising we the people are demanding the DIA regime just that. So, the lit the candle and they made to die in prison by the backstabbers of your kind. Again, there must be a strange reason for you decide to defend the murder regime.

      • Thomas

        Imagine, they knew DIA’s intentions 15 years ago. They challenged him by saying, NO you cannot take us on that road. We must surrender to our people. So, they lit the candle and they are made to die in prison by the backstabbers of your kind. Again, there must be a strange reason for you decide to defend the murder regime.

      • Nitricc

        I said 20 something years it means 20 + years.
        Now, I am not saying PIA is wrong free, he got plenty of misdeeds and one of them G15 and anyone who is wronged by his system.. But that it does not mean we should wipe it out wha he has accomplished. Give the credit he deserves and hold him the wrong he committed. Is anyone understanding what I am saying.
        Thomas do you get it?

        • Thomas

          A murder case a murder case, DIA has purposely put and still some are still living in prison and they are dying there as we speak. He is a murder and he must leave power and sent to court to serve for life for the crimes he committed and still committing. While the entire world can see this, why do you decide to play blind? How about if one of those who imprisoned were you brother, your mother and you very close relative or your best friend? Can you sleep at night knowing that they are innocents (as not guilty before trial)? Why are excusing DIA (the criminal) who even chose to not talk about the 357 Lampadusa victims/their families? This is if he really cares as you would like to think. Isn’t the main role of a president to protect the people and the nation? Isn’t DIA by all measures doing the opposite? I would like to know you and live closer to your residence to know who you really are and what your motive for supporting this murderer is. I am really sorry, but you always amuse me. Isn’t it human to think about other humans?

        • Amanuel

          What did IA accomplish? Yes, he lead the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia personally and humiliated our country.

  • akyar

    good job

  • Almaz

    RIP Nelson Mandela.

    I wanted to throw up when I saw what someone wrote about Meles being up there with Mandela and MLK. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The same man who brutalized Eritreans for not liking the “color of their eyes.”

    • Tesfamariam

      You got it wrong,

      • Nitricc

        How is it Almaz wrong? It is amazing with the Tigryans, they admit nothing, I mean nothing!
        Can you please tell us where exactly is Almaz wrong?
        Trust me you will be consumer by your own deceit.

  • L.T

    If you say that Meles was like Mandela it is good to say Satan was Jesus,Gebru Asrat who Issack Newton and Siye was equally as Che.Meles was a social distess and he left Tigrya empty.

  • said

    Mandela, a very Inspiring Mortal –

    A few great mortals remain ensconced in people’s deep consciousness beyond their short earthly physical longevity: inspiring, motivating, guiding and giving solace to eternity for passing generations, to people of goodwill to remain steadfast on the long, tiring and arduously testing long march on the testing path of the eternal Quest for the Ultimate Truth and the unveiling of Objective Reality.

    The Ultimate Truth & Objective Reality predicate on the Upholding of Human Dignity, Liberating the Divinity’s Earthly Vicegerent, Humanity’s Mortals; from the dehumanizing shackles of thee dictates and enslavement to the oppressions of fellow mortals; catapult humanity to the inculcated Born Free Souls rightfully intended as their destiny so they directly, unimpeded, draw from the sublime attributes of the Divinity, what’s primordially destined in the Grander Design of a just Universe. Nelson Mandela, was the great inspiring mortal, while his soul departed yesterday the planet birth, his spirit, as those before him and after him on the same arduous path of the Truth, would remain with all human generations, inspiring them and motivating then to relentlessly stay on that Path that give them their worth as the image of the Divinity.

    We lamented our misfortunes as Eritreans of not having a Mandela in our midst’s.

  • Papillon

    Dears Haile, Ermias, Horizon,

    “ኮኾብ ሰማይ ወዲቑና.” Do you know who said that? ኣቦይ ኣብርሃ ሃይለማርያም. An ELF veteran who is in an old age still fighting Isaias by exposing him for what he is. He said it right in the aftermath of Meles’ untimely death. That is precisely what and who the “we” is. Haile Menkerios, when he was Eritrea’s Ambassador to Ethiopia is believed to have remarked, “I have two leaders: Isaias and Meles.” His reverence to Meles did not emanate out of anything that has to do with a “murky” identity rather because of Meles’ not only political acumen but of his remarkable vision for his country as well. Again, that is precisely what and who the “we” is.

    Meles’ formative years were shaped up by an extreme version of communism where he threw himself under the tutelage of Enver Hoxha but when the world was suddenly engulfed by the powerful wind of liberal democracy, he calibrated his political ideals accordingly and transformed his country for what it is today. A country where a famished child as a poster no more. Had Meles got stuck with his old self, he would have been in an intense race against Isaias to make their respective countries a replica of North Korea. It may seem a small feat, but it is an extraordinary courage for one to radically change his mind set. And that for me is an inspiration not only as an Eritrean but as an African as well. Simply because, one of the maladies that is eating up African leaders is their chronic inability to adopt to profoundly prevailing events. Sure enough, Meles was not a saint, so were not the private Martin Luther King and the private Nelson Mandela as well.

    • Nitricc

      You are mot only extremely shallow but you have no compassion to human life. In case you have dementia, your master begger Meles Zenawi killed hundreds of people in the streets of Addis. That alone should have blocked you from making a fool of your self. Don’t feel bad he left his family billions of dollars, so, here you have it, feel better.

      • Thomas

        Nitricc (naive Eritrean boy),

        How did you get to see Meles’s bank account? Funny boy, you always amuse me.

      • Tesfamariam

        I guess (if there was any begging) begging is better than stealing and blacking mailing and extorting were your idle PIA is excellent and has excelled any leader in Africa.

      • welde

        Mr Nitric,
        I am sorry , iam going to respond to you in one sentence against my better judgemnet of ignoring your comment.
        Meles,you said was the master begger, but rememeber he was doing to feed and to better his people. And the result is on the ground for all to see. On the otherhand your leader Isayas is litrarly selling his peolpe to trafficing and smugglers to feed himself and his Generals. Now tell me the truth now, do you prefer to sell your children to smugglers to benefit yourself as oppsed to begging to feed your children.
        kind regards,

    • Thomas


      I agree with you 100%. Ethiopia has progressed for the first time because of Meles’ leadership. When the weyanes entered Addis, they were received by the weyane haters. Some ethiopian treated these fighters as subhumans most pronouncing the “Kemalam” tigrea. Rumors were surfacing around that they weyanes came with their own flags and they are inserting those new flags of their own during the night time. That also raised the suspicions and even enhanced the hate bar more. So, it looked like the Mandala and apartheid issue. Meles had to walk all the way to change the minds of this racist and hate mangers. During the Haileslase and Mengistu era, the tigrian were regard as “NOT” true Ethiopians. They will always remain poor as they have a cursed land which is good for nothing. So, Meles’s big task was to change this long perception and attitude.
      I mean there is a still some work to be done to change the hearts & minds of some, but still the major task has been accomplished by Meles’s leadership. On his standing on the Eritrea case, he said from the beginning of his rule to the end that Asseb and the rest of “Mereb Milash” is entirely Eritrea’s land. He told the derg Remnants that if you want to fight and go to asseb “Mengedu Cherk Yariglachu”.

      The truth always has to be said. You are on the right track, millions of people wouldl agree with you.

    • Hey Papi,

      Indeed Meles is a visionary who gave a direction to his countrymen on how to extricate their nation from poverty and illiteracy. Look all the infrastructures both in the rural and urban sectors (railroads and roads), the flourishing of colleges & universities, The urbanization of the dilapidated towns under his predecessors. Slowly history will absolve him on what he did for his people.

  • Belai

    Comparing PMZ with activists,
    I have great respect for Mandela and Martin L.king for his elecrifying speech, I have a dream and dying doing what we all blacks want.

    How about PMZ the doer,who acts rather than merely talking or thinking? Is he >or< ?
    Lets be honest,how is Ethiopia now? That is Meles and his gvt,who manage Ethiopia to where it
    is now.
    About Democracy and human rights,yes there is a long way to go,but look the west,how long it took them to be where they are now.Sadley,it is our culture to belittle to who relates to us,unless we are told by outsiders,preferabley by different colour of our selves.

    The problem with our internet intelectuals is,they read too many books and they have no enough time to use their mind,even their common sense or they are not free I.E. are prisoners of their own,in the cyber world.
    Be freeeeeeeeeeee,U have ONE life,do not live for some body else,that is your life.

  • Tamrat Tamrat

    The comparison of Mandela, Meles and isaias reagrding the goal they have set to accomplish all of them are super heros. And their admirers benefited most from the sacrifice the leaders have made.

    The goal of Mandela was to see a full stope of the aprathide system and replace it with a non revengfull and democratic system despite the enormouse apethite for revange against those merciless aprthide system lovers.

    The goal of Meles was to impower Tigray and tigrians regardless the other ethnic Groups. His policy is whether Tigray sucede or not Tigray first policy shall be implemented. And he had done it superbly. He almost created a tigrian supermacy all over Ethiopia in all aspects. Meles tigrinya first policy has not stopped at Mereb. Not at all. For him the two shal not be separated. He is so keen on his goal he even tolerated the very tigrinya people who bombed Mekele School. Many ethiopians misunderstood him for that he gave priority to eritreans than Ethiopians. This confusion arrised that the tigrinya are the majority above mereb and they are the one who lead Eritrea. Other wise he meant always tigrinya People first regardless where ever they are. If the mereb tigrinya people wake up now and find out what Meles was doing for them only the regrate will eat them alive.

    isaias’ goal was from beginning to now to be a leader by hook or croock and he managed it upto now (til death separate him). With all termoil for 58 years since a young age and a dropout as a freshman university student leading, controlling, surviving a 31 years and a 2 years long WARs and the consecutive sanction followed by mass exodes combined and sitll he sits as a leader makes him a hero for himself and for his benefisiaries. So when we peak Our heros we are saying a little about ourselves.

  • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

    awate and participants,

    back in Jebena, read ………..ማንዴላ ኣብ ሰላም ዕረፍ:…… we have lost another great man.

    what do we learn from that hero- alot of lessons.

  • Horizon

    It is said that there are three ways people react when somebody who was in power dies. The first is the death of a person which is characterized as a huge loss to humanity and people are really sad (e.g Nelson Mandela), the second are people when they die nobody is concerned and they are quickly forgotten, and the third are those whom people say “good riddance” and they feel a huge relief. To the last group belong all those dictators that walked the face of this earth and brought the ten plagues to their people and the world (e.g Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc, and of course ….).

    • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

      brother ,

      look at this great man, how did he talk and attract castro


    • I would be really mad if all of them are allowed to get into heaven: the bad and the good. In the eye of the most high, race is not a factor to determine who gets into heaven; how you treat others and how you live your life on earth is what counts most as to whether your soul’s destination is hell or heaven. We need millions of Mandela s but zero issyases. RIP Mandela.

      • Well, I don’t know what happens after we die so there is no way of knowing whether the good and the bad people live happily in the heavens as if they had done nothing bad while they were on earth. So, I would not be mad but be disheartened if there is any scripture out there that claims that every one goes to the same place : heaven; with the exception of Baha’i. 😉

  • Papillon

    My three heroes in life are Marin Luther King, Meles Zenaw and Nelson Mandela. They are no longer with us but their larger than life legacy lives on. Heroes they say are not made, they are born. They have touched our lives in a profound way where in a world of cynicism, they showed us that certain noble callings are worth fighting for. I wonder if the tyrant in Eritrea ever reflects on his would be “legacy” where he is a complete antithesis of my three heroes are made of. President Nelson Mandela, may your soul rest in peace.

    • haile

      Dear Papillion

      Is that you stirring trouble 🙂

      Meles Zenawi….”They have touched our lives in a profound way…” how so? and Who is We? 🙂

      MLK has done so through his civil rights quest for non-violent resistance (I have a dream…)

      NM has done so through inspiring forgiveness and human brotherhood.


      Since you’re lining him up with giants who touched the hearts and minds of the entire humanity and made history, even MZ’s politburo might have trouble to accept your designation and may think you’re pulling their legs 🙂


      • Horizon

        It is comparing oranges and apples. MZs merits are in the economic field and not in his democratic achievements. As a benevolent dictator (whatever that might mean), he has a place in Ethiopian history. otherwise, it is a personal feeling and it should be seen as such (accepted).

        • ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም

          dear Horizon,
          I agree with you when you said “It is comparing oranges and apple” assuming both are fruits. Losing such type of fruits in the world is very bad. But I don’t agree when you said “ MZs merits are in the economic field and not in his democratic achievements” I actually admire him for his accomplishment in all fields. I don’t mean his party perfect. But that has nothing to do with what he and his friends achievements. Let me be honest with you…I never imagined that type of man will come out of his front. Not only that I never imagined Ethiopia will gain such developments in short time. How did he manage to change the mind of people? How did he install the federal system? Look at Ethiopian towns. Just take one city Bahr Dar, what a development man?
          I don’t think it is easy to receive such big nation from Derg and Haileslase (remember the past) and reach to this level. But democracy is not one era job; there is a lot of job to be done. After all what is life except developing and creating peace? It is just relatively speaking.

          • Horizon

            Dear ዕትብቲ ኮኾብ ሰላም,

            In one of the many interviews the late PM MZ had given, he had said that he would like to be remembered as the person who set in motion the engine of economic development in Ethiopia. I fully acknowledge this point for him. In addition, I will not shy away from giving him credit for standing against Egypt on the issue of the GERD. Of course, he did not mention democracy as one of his legacies. In addition, on many occasions he had said that democracy is not a necessity for economic development. For him democracy was not an immediate issue or an evolving process starting from the first day he came to power, but a far away problem that could wait until Ethiopia is economically developed. That is one of the reasons that he was ready to use excessive force to crush his opponents.
            Dear friend, it is not easy to forget the two hundred or so people killed with his order in AA in 2005 after the elections, nor the about forty AAU students or the unknown number of Ethiopian students killed throughout the country. Thousands of Ethiopians including journalists were languishing and are still languishing under a bogus anti-terrorism law.
            Indeed, he helped Ethiopia make a giant step in the economic field, but unfortunately, democracy had suffered at his hands, and it is still suffering in Ethiopia.
            As much as ethnic federalism and article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution (the right to secede) are concerned, fortunately, they seem to work positively and we have an uneasy peace prevailing in Ethiopia. At the time we all thought that he was gambling with Ethiopia’s future. Therefore, we have to speak of his merits and as well as his weaknesses, if we want to give the right picture of his controversial personality, and also if we want to know as to where he stands in our and the broad world history.

          • Belai

            Dear Itbti Kokob Selam,
            Thanks about your honest assesment about Meles Zenawi.

            And thanks for bringing Mr Horizon round to his senses.I have a great respect to him for his well thought comments in the past.

      • Kaddis

        Haile –

        Its not calling for trouble for taking Meles as a hero. He had enough proven qualities as a leader of an African Country which once considered hopeless. Do you think Mandela has no critics?

        One thing I always find amateurish in your arguments is how you make it sound easy leading Ethiopia: a poor, post conflict, in the troubled horn ( including your war mongering country )African nation. I assume its very hard to picture how Africa is struggling to find its place or formula from where you are in the west. But Meles is one of those who believed in our potential, even to our surprise, and brought an original idea to our troubled country.
        Your country Eritrea would have been worse than Somalia ( maybe the current CAR) had it not been for Meles during the Badme war, where much of his peers decided to march to Asmara. If this does not affect your life I don’t know what is; or you have never lived or wished to live in Eritrea in the first place.

        You come and shine in a website, Awate, named after a hero for some and a bandit for others. Is calling Awate a hero calling for trouble?

      • Hailat,
        Though we can not put Meles in the same pedestal of MLK and Nelson Mandela, he was a visionary to his own people who gave them a sense of direction to fight poverty and illiteracy. Meles transformed the psychology of dependency. For instance he changed the mindset that Ethiopia can’t stand without Eritrea. The industrial and infrastructural transformation of Ethiopia under his policy breath taking…and so forth. Ethiopia has never seen such a visionary statesman so far.

    • Ermias

      Ms papillon, I am not sure what has changed in you but you seem like you have been determined to be antagonistic to all Eritreans. Even tegaru do not have such a high regard for meles. I have now joined the camp where they see you with suspicion as to what your mission is. You are increasingly playing this psychological game against all Eritreans. Please refrain from that if you want to have any credibility.

    • Z’geremo

      Meles the puppet-master of the west ? Lol….No wonder no one taking you seriously:)


    • L.T

      Which levels of quality measured by aesthetic,intelectual and moral standards have Meles?

    • Eyob Medhane

      Wow Papillon!

      Isn’t that a bit going too far?

      I like Meles Zenawi. Believe me. I do. I am just having a trouble to imagine that what he did and what he was should be lined up with MLK and Mandela. Meles Zenawi was a good and decent political leader that left a whole lot more room to be criticized for. MLK and Mandela, though as any human being, they may have made a mistake in their lives, their giant contribution to betterment of humanity has made who thy are appealing way beyond their borders and people. I am not sure anyone in Ethiopia would elevate PMMZ to that level in Ethiopia or anywhere else in the world. But, as Horizon said, it is your personal feeling and I guess I should accept it as such.

  • haile

    Selamat Awatistas

    In connection to the passing of Nelson Mandela, some are displaying the audacity to compare IA, the worst monster in the history of the Eritrean people, against the SA father of post apartheid era.

    Well, this might have been the case if IA handed over power soon after independence. Again, many would have supported the idea even if he had stayed until the first election as anticipated and held on to power through legal means. Today, IA a disgusting criminal who has associated Eritreans with miseries beyond their worst nightmares.

    Under IA, Eritreans:

    – Watched in horror as disabled veterans were mowed down

    – Subjected to a life without formal employment but agelglot.

    – learned to live with kidnapping, life in refugee camps, mass migration in an unheard of proportions.

    – Watched in horror as their parents were jailed for adult offspring’s leaving the country.

    – For the first time in history they were banned from handling hard currency.

    – For the first time in history they were denied any old age pension – something that was unthinkable under Mengistu’s relatively far more milder dictatorship

    – Eritreans were made to see the death of hundreds of their brothers, sisters and children at sea live on television (those dear country men and women were coming onshore to be with us in time for Christmas – we’ve seen what happened)

    – For the first time in their history, masses of elderly people in Eritrea live alone with entire family members abroad.

    – Most Eritreans have to sign yqreta (apology) document to even visit their family

    – For the first time in history Eritreans have a regime that holds a corps responsible enough to deny burial.

    – Eritreans have become the most silenced people in the world who blame the “sea” for sinking their relatives (beyond that is politics:)

    – Eritrean parents of teens in the diaspora worry that their children would hate their roots by reading about Eritrea in the internet.

    – Eritreans get kidnapped from inside Eritrea and ransom for Sinai hostages paid in Asmara to government offices.

    – An EPLF era ‘Selfi’ or “internal party within party” refuses to disband and facilitating the distraction and disintegration of Eritrea in service of one man (Selfi had purpose during EPLF era to safeguard the revolution (although abused heavily)) today, selfi is a cover for conducting the disinformation of the people to serve a useless dictator.


    How on earth would one compare such a criminal to people like Mandela? As for me, if IA is on fire, I wouldn’t P^^ on him, he can forget that lil maggot.


  • Dibe Kulu

    Dear Awate Family,

    Have we become guinea pigs now? Studies are being being done on how divided we are? The ELF had many dedicated Christian members and the same was true of Muslims in the EPLF. The schools of hate mushroomed right after the expulsion of the ELF from the Eritrean field in the early eighties.

    The politics of nationalism immediately turned into politics of vindictiveness and revenge. The ELF group was not a gracious loser but rather a sore one! They would advocate for anything that would hurt the EPLF, even at the expense of the demise of the Eritrean Revolution. When the EPLF won the struggle in spite of all the daunting obstacles, it failed to be magnanimous and invite the ELF as a party. The cycle of hated continued and it got us to where we are today. Our weddings, birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, etc. are attended by our political affiliates rather than by our friends and family members. What a tragedy! All it takes to kill a whole nation is to kill its good customs and tradition.

  • Semere Andom

    The world today has lost one of its stellar citizens, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, dead at 95.
    We will see what his epitaph will read, but the following words he uttered after his sentencing to life in prison were and still are popular

    “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

    Compare that to the binary words of despots, who celebrate the death of others
    Rest in Peace Mandela

    • Nitricc

      Hypocrite, have some shame the despot you love to degrade and hate has done what even the great Madela couldn’t do. It is true Mandela has fought the injustice of the world and he paid the price any decent person would pay, but all Madela did was be activists. He was courageous enough to be activist on that era and Mandela should be respected as well as honored.
      However, what your futile mind omitted to process is PIA has done more of any leaving or dead African ever did. PIA did go city to city to be activist and spend in jail have of his life. What he did was took matters on his hand and creat, an an zing force, organize in an amazing order and lead one of the most sucsseful fighting force The world ever known.
      I know you and your toothless opposition won’t give the man the credit he deserves but, we, the majority we will. We will give him the credit he earned and we will hold him on the issues we feel misdeeds. This is how the new Eritrea will be.
      So go head marvel at what others do but please, be fair.
      PIA is the best African dead or alive. Deal with it Semere and the rest toothless opposions.

      • Nitricc

        Please read as PIA did NOT go city to city to beg for justice, he fought for it. And there is a difference.

      • Semere Andom

        You are twitching because the time of the despot in Eritrea is numbered. PIA presides over country that is worse off than when derg was in power.
        Ntricc, you as a buddying psychopath your hopes are dashed at this day and time that is why you are mad. If there is one thing that unites many people is what they think of Mandela. Awate.com once wrote “DIA hates to share the roof with Mandela even if the roof is the sky” and your are exhibiting the same feelig
        I am recommending you the book “Gaddafi’s Harem”, by a French reporter, it will help you blossom faster to reach the pinnacle of psychopathy before PIA perishes

  • Thomas

    Hi Team Awate,

    I did not know you guys are selective on people posting their comments. It was just an opinion I have on the subject that never made it to the blog. I just could not tell where my comment went after I hit “Post Comment” button at the bottom of the page. Just kidding but don’t we have to start freedom of speech here. That is before the dictatorial regime becomes history:)

  • Kim Hanna


    The direct answer to your question is, I am a N.E African.
    Since you responded to my psychoanalysis the last time I thought you deserve an answer. That is enough.


    • Nitricc

      Kim lol do you answer after weeks? i mean what was so hard to give the guy the answer right then? why do you people complicate things.

    • Nitricc

      Kim lol okay I dropped the ball. Lol
      I thought you were responding to Gebre from last time you had conversation. You Gebre was critical of SAAY about the cholstrole thing. I remember this because it was funny.
      Araya makes a comment about old people shoude care more about their Hleath issues than politics
      And SAAY was offended by Araya’s comment and sarcastcly took a shoot at Araya.
      For some storage reason, Gebre brought the broom on SAAY. Accusing SAAY as being insensitive about people with Hleath issues. I thought it was funny and commented about Gebre complaint and Gebre asked you something at that time. And I thought you were responding to that question at this moment and that why I made the above comment.
      So I screwd up. Sorry.

  • Selam Sabri,

    [pulling up our debate to the top]

    You could see it as “apolitical” like the bystanders. Because literally speaking if people are aligned on opposite sides, they are always “pro” and “against.” For instance in this case taking “justice” as a context or reference for our polarity.

    But if you want to see in the political nature of the polarity then you will see the political essence of the subject and hence the alignment of the actors and supporters. Therefore when I engage with you I was seeing with later group than the former group.

    One thing you shouldn’t forget though, that we are debating on the Eritrean politics and any issue we see it through the political prism and is translated or framed into sociopolitical,socio-economical, and politico-cultural nature. I would like to encourage you to do that otherwise anything out of that will not address the problem of our nation. So stay in the loop to contribute to that effect.

    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Sabri


      I don’t exactly catch you. Would you please say more?

      • Ahlen Sabri,

        In short I am categorizing citizens who engaging “unconsciously” (apolitical) who goes by degefti/tekawemti kind of framing the nature of the contradiction – the bystanders and those who debate consciously politically and keeping the political essence of the issue at hand. Because The Eritrean problem is political by nature, the later group will see it through political prism defining justice in a broader sense to include sociopolitical, socio-economic, socio-cultural factors. The former with a limited consciousness could make choices with immediate interest have the nature go with the flow and hence they see it as tekawemti/degfti with no political taste in it. Therefore, when I say stay with the loop, I mean to engage and contribute in a political debate that brings solution.

        • Sabri


          Thank you for clarification. I understand your point. There are different ways to contribute. Debating, analaysing and writing is one way, and being organized politically is another way. The two are complimentary. I don’t prefer to be in the later one. But that doesn’t necessarily makes me apolitical and passive.

          Regarding degafi/teqawami it is a shallow way of categorizing the Eritrean political scene. I never liked it. Unfortunately, most people use this categorization.


  • L.T

    You’re 3000 yrs old.An only child

    Herewith songs of Leonard Cohen

    “If you call me brother now

    Forgeve me if I inquire
    Just according to the plan
    When it all comes down to dust
    I will kill if

    • Ze’Aman

      3000 years old and still a child, isn’t that a miracle boy? There are still some who are not more than 20 and already on their death bed due to old age!

  • Ermias

    Reading the good doctor’s article and a lot of the comments here – the conclusion is PFDJ plays a vital role in assuring that Eritreans in diaspora are not unified in any way shape or form. I have first hand experience with this, a subject for another time exposé. Currently, I belong to an organization for which PFDJ is getting direct orders from Yemane monkey to take it over – again a topic for another day.

    In any case, PFDJ infiltrates any budding organization and dismantles it quickly. The surprising part is most of the PFDJ operatives are not very sophisticated but they have powerful tools that send fear through the bones of people.

    The number one thing people are afraid of is – not being able to go to Eritrea. The next thing in line is fear of being isolated from the community. Being excluded from guayla is big, really big. hizbina b guayla sekiru eyu. Terrible culture brought about by EPLF. Another major thing that is of great concern to Eritreans is putting their immediate families in Eritrea in danger. “Your son in the USA has been working mis hade hade keda’at antsar mengistin hizbin, slezi naaki wey naaka n delyeka alena n krub gizie.” Then the disappearance…

    For fear of the above consequences, Eritreans are choosing to not fight in a unified manner. Most are silent. Some support the regime for reasons I described a while ago – narrow minded sectarianism, lack of education (unable to appreciate the scary path the regime is taking the country), corrupt operatives taking advantage of the people via baalat etc. There really is not much more to it.

  • TiETiE( shiro bubble )

    Give them freedom to ask their rights and freedom to protect their rights.
    Give them full right to scrutinize injustice. After that there will be harmony.
    One group, from certain location and they are shallow( believe they top placed people ) waging fear of war, labeling scary names to these asked their rights so this is killing and it leads to division and secretive.
    the solution – is break the structure of this people sparking toxic rays and give the rights of the people and tell them to be vigilant on their rights.
    Infact Eritrean muslim and Christian are good people. Since long time they respected each other rights and borders( AbTa Nay AboKa). If scientific idea added to this great idea it would not be like this.
    Again the answer is remove these toxic people in the power and their supporters. Tell them they are not DekeBat at all, expose them until they stand on the WeSeN.

    • Zaul

      Ala Shiro,

      “One group, from certain location and they are shallow( believe they top placed people ) waging fear of war, labeling scary names to these asked their rights so this is killing and it leads to division and secretive.”

      I think you must have bribed the gatekeeper.
      for reconciliation to be real, the fingers must point inwards first not outwards all the time.

      • TiETiE( shiro bubble )

        none of I know from Awate team.
        No reason to bribe Awate.
        what make you are angry to my facts? this is constructive point need to be addressed. What you are trying is to shut me up. If we do not address the main problem now then when? this is not sensitive issue, it should not be spoiled – this a problem that damaged the country since 1960s 1980s 70s 90s 2000s and 2013 and all time treated as sign of regionalist, anti nation,enemy collaborator, agame, weyane etc…
        the other thing is stop calling me shiro my name is TieTie(vigilant,justice advocator for all)

  • wad haiget

    narrowing the mistrust gap between different eritrean societies ( inside eritrean and in diaspora) with their different ethenic and religious backgrounds is the key to get rid off of PFDJ regime ..the regime had/still using the religion card to create division among eritreans and unfortunately many eritreans are falling for it ,,

    • Belay

      I can’t believe that there are still Eritreans, who live in Sudan, who view Wedi Afom as a lion. The opposition has a lot of work to do to un-seat the strongman.

      • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

        If only you knew the public reception of Haile Selassie when he visited Eritrea, you would think he was real god as he claimed to be. But the trick is, helpless students were ordered to line the streets carrying Ethiopian paper flags, public servants were let out of work to receive the emperor, the army prepared rallies, music bands were brought in for the occasion… In short, you would think there was no one fighting to unseat the brutal emperor. The same is happening in Sudan, orchestrated reception, nothing more.That is why knowing history is helpful.

        • Kim Hanna

          Mr. Saleh Johar,

          Don’t you feel shame when you lie. Haile Selassie never claimed to be god. True, he claimed to be elect of God. There is a difference. Your hatred is clouding you judgment.


          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Mr. Kim Hanna,

            Thank you for coming in the defense of the poor angel king. Only if you didn’t conveniently skip the difference between god and God (capital G and small g). To make it easy for you, I apologize, he was not god, he was elect of god—how ridiculous does that sound? It seems you have no problem with it! Why are you so incensed by a trivial issue when the main issue was about the fake receptions? My friend, I painfully stood in forced lines as a child to receive that brute criminal king and that is what I expressed… and don’t expect to hide my hate for him and everything he represented. I will hate him until my last breath–even in the afterlife 🙂 Now that happens to be the issue if you have anything meaningful to add to it.

          • Gebre

            Kim Hanna,

            Are you male or female?

          • Abe z minewale

            God of Jamaica too. Rastafarian..He used to spend summer time in Switherland.a nephew of personal chef of Hailesslasie is my neighbour here. Next time I will tell what that tall and handsome god used to do when he was visiting Swiss

        • Tamrat Tamrat

          What a lauzy comparison! Ethiopians reciving their own king in Asmara are compared With a barbaric so called liberator were recieved by the very People who run away from the master planner of the abusive system ever. Haile Silasie’s military action towards the liberators was provoked by the liberators. Live alone 50 years ago even now in this modern era any one who starts armed struggel will be met by arms, not by flowrs buckets.

          If you deny how popular has been Your president then you are the one who dont learn from history.

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            You know, you are one guy who hates my guts… the feeling is mutual.
            You do not deserve my engagement because you are dishonest. I challenged you to a debate several times, all you do is the only thing you know to do: be provocative. I will never reply to you unless you do some maturing… or move down South, the icy North does things to your people’s brain 🙂

        • Ze’Aman

          The Emperor, even though he offended many of his Eritrean sympathizers at last had ardent supporters if not many just because his government stood firm on the independence of the Eritrean people from colonialist fascists. Tell me if either Mengistu or the Emperor ( I don’t have any heart for both) trade in Eritrean body parts? And ironically, your grudge for the long dead Emperor still haunts you because you were made to hate him, isn’t it?

          • Azeb

            You said it all. This guy should learn from Mandela. Hatred haunts your life.

    • Awet

      Even the opposition websites like assenna and asmarino are playing games with the coming Eritrea. Pls read some comments at their sites and you will learn that they are focusing on religion and region, and now the sites realized that their audiences are typical christians from highlands.

      • Thomas

        That is a lie, but they are more liberal than yourself and this website. Why don’t you put your comment on their website than vomiting on this site unless you have some kind of evil agenda. This kind of thing is very dangerous. Can we stop igniting fire among each other, please?

        • Zaul


          “I will never reply to you unless you do some maturing… or move down South, the icy North does things to your people’s brain”

          which people is that? Arabs? Habeshas? Amharas? be specific !!!

          The icy north is great. They just live by different rules.

          The ten rules of jante state:

          ” You’re not to think you are anything special.
          You’re not to think you are as good as us.
          You’re not to think you are smarter than us.
          You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than us.
          You’re not to think you know more than us.
          You’re not to think you are better than us.
          You’re not to think you are good at anything.
          You’re not to laugh at us.
          You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
          You’re not to think you can teach us anything”

          It’s kind of a joke with some truth, just like the scandinivians of minnesota. (How to Speak Minnesotan : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLexQgJXkkY)

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Zaul, don’t let your imagination go wild. The message was to Tamrat who has been pestering me for reasons I do not know. He knows what I mean, by the way, I was talking about the North and South of Norway, where he lives. I don’t think there are Arab or Habesha regions in Norway. You were doing fine Zaul, slow down 🙂

          • Zaul


            I was reacting to the sentence your “people’s brain”, because it’s unlike you to say such a thing. You are normally the first one to correct a generalization.

            About doing fine, I really don’t come here to get graded or thaught, I learn from what makes sense to me. BTW southern norway is just a little bit less icy than the north, the rules I sent to you was kind of a joke but describes the spartan scandinavian mentality a little bit. Ane tray iye nafiqeka mesleni 🙂

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            It is fine Zaul. I always believed (and say) that in such discussions, it is not what you say that is important, but how people perceive what you said or wrote. I am a veteran on that territory 🙂

            You are right, I shouldn’t have said that. But the way this guy keeps pestering me is just too much… I wanted to show him I am also capable of making similar irritating comments. I wish he will save me that.
            Talking about icy north, I don’t think I can survive one winter in that place. It is horrible. I summer, I think it is the second best region in the world… after Keren.

  • L.T

    Let it not be thought that all was as it appears here on the written page.Actually,there are obstacles,the languishing of Dr Tecle W.Micheal(?)

  • L.T

    Base for Islam in Ertra




    My dare friend Dr Tecle,Who am I?I am an Eritrean,Biln,a Jeberti of Ansseba ,a Kebessian Hamassien,Logo-Chiwa of Himbrti mai Nefhi Gaza Redie deki Mussa,Azmarino wedi Tiravollo.But only the first assertion is true”Am An Eritrean”,all things in Eritrea are good ,omnia boa,and farewell.

    • Tamrat Tamrat

      The reason for Eritrean cessesion varies from time to time. But if it is for rpeating the evolution of Ethiopia then Eritrea is on the right track. Eritrea has went through its own derg system by a tigrinya president. Now it is almost done With its own derg system as the Clear sign shows through the preaching of unity, unity, unity; soon will be the ethnic federation With its own special inclination to the ‘oppressed’ religion by pfdj ie islam, then the follows the ethnic based federal system With its referendum With the right to sucede. Off course isaias shall be in exile in Saudi. But there is one fact remains Crystal Clear. Neither Eritrea nor ethiopia can afford a government inclined to any religion like saudi or vatican. No eritrean runer shall be offended if some one says eirtrea is cyclist nation. Eritrea can be a runner nations too. And by the same Logic one can say Eritrea is a christian nation With out the frustraion of the hair splitters. I dont know why People get offended when some one says ethiopia is a christian or a muslim country.

      So L.T be prepare to cellebrate nation nationalities two times a year depending on which ethnic Groups you belong or how the ethnic Groups rearragnge themselves in the comming 7-10 years. I hope L.T make the eris derg system go as fast as possibly becasue it is allready overdue by 6 years. Ya, i know Things goes very slowly in Eritrea.

  • the secular socialist republic

    Hello everyone !
    As an university lecturer, I was very happy to see a well-structured article and good references.
    But I have to recommend – as I remind my students – that the monothematic approach eventually destroys any paper.

    By monothematic, I mean that you put too much emphasis on religion.
    For you, religion is sufficient to divide Eritreans between Muslims and Christians: “While most Christians supported the dominant movement, the Eritrean People’s Lib­eration Front (EPLF), most Muslims supported the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) or its various factions.”
    I oppose this approach for 2 reasons: 1) what about ethnicity ?
    2) what about the socio-economical background (or class) ?
    3) what about gender issues ?

    Although I acknowledge that I lack sufficient sources to include an ethnical approach to the study of the Eritrean revolution, class differences reflect in the inner structures of the Eritrean national liberation movement.
    In 1978, the ELF had strong supporters in rural communities, peasants, Seraye and Metahed while the EPLF enjoyed support from urban centers, workers and women.
    A simple division can therefore be made: Marx’s definition of proletariat is in favour of the EPLF while more conservative regions and people support the ELF.
    Of cours, exceptions can be found but this separation is enough to refuse your initial assessment on religious division.

    In this paper, you start by stating that: “multiculturalism is encouraged in the US, as long as the core values of liberal democratic societies are not threatened (Kivisto 2003).“
    -Multiculturalism is not encouraged in the US, but in Canada.
    In the US, early European migrants were grouped together. Racial (excuse the use of this word but the US still think that races exist), ethnic and religious separation is still largely found in the US.
    Ex. 1: Mixed marriage rate (mix of nationality, religion, ethnicity) is lower than many European countries (Netherlands, Germany)
    Ex. 2: Multiculturalism can be broadly described as communities containing multiple cultures. In the US, Republicans advocate that there is an “American culture” and that foreigners should adapt to it. By “American culture”, they mean WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture).

    • the secular socialist republic,

      When an academician criticize his fellow academician, he must come with elaborated argument to disqualify his fellow academician. Otherwise to come just to oppose the premises of the presenter doesn’t make you a serious person to criticize him.

      By virtue of your acknowledgement that you lack resources to support your opposition, automatically makes you “unworthy criticizer.” How do you miss this being an academician? But let me underscore your shortcoming:

      (A) Interestingly enough, you not only ” lack sufficient sources” to make your argument, but you also lack of the comprehensive knowledge regarding their “political ideology” (of the two fronts). Look how you categorize ideologically the two fronts. This clearly shows that you didn’t even read their political documents to compare both fronts. As an academician just make a little study rather judging from circulating political rumors.

      (B) You put two reasons to oppose Dr. Tekle in neglecting for not including the ethnic and socioeconomic factors in the equation.(i) In fact the good doctor clearly explained that the minorities (ethnic minorities) made their concerns (grievances) known through religious alignment to counter the domination that undermine their interest. Here is what the doctor has to say: “when a movement or regime wanted to organize and mobilize people to do something be­yond their local village politics and ethnic concerns, framing the two major religions as opposite and antagonistic provided a powerful motivation. As a result, the two major religious groups maintain deep fears of domination and persecution at one another’s hands, leading to distrust of the religious.” The doctor showed us (as it is) how our politics is framed in to two opposite antagonistic positions. Should it be like that? my answer is no. But as far as we failed to address the grievances of the minority they will always try to find a strategy of alignment to resist their oppression. (ii) The minorities fight do not base on socioeconomic background. The base on socioeconomic reality – that is, how the economic opportunities are they getting on the ground.One has to read Ahmed Raji’s articles in four parts – a well researched study clearly shows the marginalization of the other ethnics compared with the tigrigna speaking social group. Hence our social contradiction does not have class nature alignment.It has social group contradiction based on social group interest.If there are no proletariat (industrial workers) there is no class manifestation of bourgeois/proletariat nature of contradiction. Talk about the reality and solution for the reality is the call of the day.

    • Dear Memhir,

      You said Ex. 2: Multiculturalism can be broadly described as communities containing multiple cultures. In the US, Republicans advocate that there is an “American culture” and that foreigners should adapt to it. By “American culture”, they mean WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture).

      So, from the above statement one can be led to believe that the democrats as well as independents do not advocate the adoption of an “American Culture”. You singled out republicans to argue that Americans do not encourage multiculturalism. The senate is dominated by democrats, and the president is a democrat, these facts alone can even undermine your argument

      • The secular socialist republic

        Absolute nonsense.

        The Republicans advocate it but Democrats don’t oppose it.
        With no sign of opposition, there is a tacit agreement.
        And for your knowledge, the idea that the US are a country of WASP culture first appeared during the Civil War and was theorized by democrats, which maintained it until they started to advocate for civil rights (with an opportunism that would deserve academic interest)

    • Dr. Tekle Woldmikael

      Dear Secular

      I emphasize religion because our people do emphasize religion. I did not make it up.


      • Yes Doctore, you didn’t make it up. It is reality and we should know how to deal with it.

  • Abou Yara

    well said Dr. Tekle.

    I believe there is still hope to bring the two sides together. After all we share one nation. Being together will encourage to draft a constitution which will respects equality of each Eritrean regardless of their ethnic or religious background . Thus, Eritrean only will be focusing on their nation building not on the conspiracy of each side. I don’t know it seems like a dream!

  • Sabri

    Dear Tekle,

    Your article reminds me of the one organization we attempted to create in 1993. We were in our early 20s and were very enthusiastic to participate in the reconstruction of Eritrea. Independently, we called all Eritreans to freely express their ideas on how we participate. Nevertheless, this genuine attempt was frustrated by government representatives and ex ELF members. Government representatives called us Fallul and ex. ELF supporters called us agents of governments. With high pressure of intimidation and character assassination from both sides we lost the battle. In the aftermath, some among us returned back to Eritrea and do something. The rest we back to school and pursue academic education. After we finished our education we joined our friends in Eritrea. With new power and spirit we were ready to work but the last war disrupted everything. The rest is history. Actually it was better to participate in Eritrea than in diaspora.

    At this moment the diaspora community is divided more than ever. People are more inclined to see things in degafi/tekawami dichotomy. Under this condition to create an independent organization beyond degafi/tekawemti politics is very difficult. We need to see beyond the short/emotional politics if we want to build vibrant independent civic organization.


    • haile

      Selamat Sabri

      Your experience sounds similar to someone I know. The individual is a long time patriotic Eritrean who spent many years in hafash wudubat. He was also member of the EPLF. He has a gang ho attitude to work and has vast respect among Eritreans in his volunteering work in many years. He is also well connected in his diaspora host country and have good friends in high positions. Soon after independence, he did his thing and managed to assemble a large groups of NGOs and secured funds to carryout projects in Eritrea. He went there with all expenses covered and not seeking for a penny from the then post-independence government. His first task was to conduct a large scale needs assessment in parts of southern Eritrea.

      Well, he was treated so horribly by the regime there and had to come back and cancelled all his plans. He went into silence like many other Eritreans, not sure what was happening (nobody would guess at the time what Eritreans were getting into). In 2001, following the violent crackdowns of any form of personal rights in Eritrea by the IA regime, he finally broke off from his membership of anything to do with the regime.

      In pre 1998 period, all private initiatives were killed off by using the attack excuse that the individuals involved were using what they intended to do for wulqawi rebHa. That resonated well with the public still smarting out of the Ghedli collective victory. In post 1998 era, the regime quickly changed the attack excuse to “funded by unknown quarters” nay woyane ed alowo, b’CIA zmwelu’yom. Again that was smart (however evil) way because it resonated with the public’s sense of urgency to defend the country. All in all, the regime faced least resistance and was able to lay to waste any potential initiative by Eritrean diaspora that it doesn’t use for source of finance and to confuse and intermediate others to follow suit.

      Now to my question:

      – When you suggest that the best thing to do is to base in Eritrea, do you mean now? If so, is there such space in todays Eritrea?

      – On degafi/teqawami dichotomy – I would assume there is higher vision for justice when people are engaged in such activities. Would such vision be reflected, if some one is degafi of the injustices and sets out to work for the higher ideals of justice to mankind? (Because degafi = Justice to Hagos Kisha otherwise they will be lucky to see the light of the day 🙂 )


      • Sabri

        Selamat Haile,

        My answer to your first question is no, not now.

        My statement should be seen in the context of the realities of that time. Moreover, it is based on my personal experience. I’m not generalizing. Perhaps, the following example illustrate it more.

        While I was working there many people were complaining on the methods of police. At that time some ex. Tegadelti was assigned to work as police without prior experience/education. One day I was witnessing when one policeman harassed two youngsters. I tried to intervene but he was shouting at me. Lastly I went to the police station where this policeman is working and asked if I can I speak to his boss. The boss was aggressive but after several exchange of words he promised me to arrange a meeting with higher official. The day after the higher official came from the head office. He looks very quite and listened me intently. Since the phenomenon I observed is widespread in the entire city I asked him what their plan is to improve the situation. His reply was that they are working on it and new change will come soon. My following question was what kind of change and when exactly will that change will be introduced. Within three weeks time you will see change; otherwise you come back to me” was his answer. As he said to my amazement they introduced new arrangement exactly within the period the official said. According to the new arrangement all ex tegadelti who was working as police were removed and substituted by veteran police. When these veterans, most of them at their tureta age, took the commando, the city became calm.

        Haile, at that time there were genuine tegadelti who listened the grievances of the people. If you are lucky and working with such kind of people, of course the situation was much better than in the diaspora. You are asking if the situation is the same today. Although there are still genuine tegadelti, time is changing now completely.

        My answer to your second question is NO. If one is degafi of injustice there will not be higher vision.


    • Saleh “Gadi” Johar


      I am disappointed that you characterize the division among Eritreans as if it is a luxury, a simple matter of ‘for or against’ the regime. Is that all there is to it? How can you put those who support injustice and those who struggle to uproot injustice in the same pedestal? Is it a dichotomy over subjective issues? The difference between both camps are real; they are not held for unimportant reasons.

      Of course, any effort to help Eritrea and its people sounds good; in normal situation (in the absence of a hard headed, long armed regime) it would be commendable. But we all know the regime does everything under the cover of national interest–so do all authoritarian regimes, so did the Ethiopian occupiers. It is an open secret that many noble initiatives by citizens were hijacked to increase the control of the regime and expand its financial and political gains. If you continue to deal with the regime despite all of that, is it wrong then, for the others, to view you as agents of the regime? You might not know that you are agents, but what you do ends up being a work only an agent executes–support the regime.

      This independent-this-independent-that excuse is a farce. One cannot be independent in the face of tyranny, suffering, and gross violation of citizens’ rights. If one claims he is independent on that, it shows he or she chose to side with injustice, and however one defines his position, he is a supporter of injustice. Importantly, since it is the regime that dispenses injustice, he is an agent somewhere in that chain, even if naively or unknowingly. But I doubt if there is a living soul supporting the regime, directly or indirectly, and doesn’t know that.

      • haile

        One more addition, after reading SGJ,

        – Today a report has been published on human trafficking cycle in Sinai


        Key points are:

        – Between 25000 – 30000 victims have been held hostages, the vast majority (over 90%) Eritreans.

        – There is well documented evidences that implicate involvement by the Eritrean military.

        Against this backdrop, how could one be degafi and work on worthy projects? Because unless the project helps the regime politically and financially, it would never allow it.

        Recently Eritreans in California were calling for dialog among fellow Eritreans (about a year ago). It turned out that regime operatives posted on dehai.org telling their sympathizers not to participate because the didn’t know “who initiated” the call! Many other initiatives were scuttled like that by incessant characterization of the initiative as “Suspect”. Dehai it a testimony to that.

        The only such partnerships now are to do with Orthodox Churches that are silent to the regime’s atrocities in order to maintain links with the Eritrean Orthodox Church in Eritrea. When the regime falls and every story of atrocity is told in blazing megaphones, these churches will not stand and would have to disband!

        The problem is that it is risky to be degafi and have public role at this juncture.


        • Elenta

          let me share with you…..
          I was having a coffee with my neighbor house and a women that i have never meet came and joined us.We were watching EriTV, Some body was trying to change the channel and he end up in ETV(Ethio TV).In ETV some opposition group was chanting ARHAL-ARHAL-YA-ISSAYS (I believe the program was aired by Eritrean opposition media gp in ETV).
          That strange woman who doesn’t know I am a muslim ,spontaneously said “IZYOM ASLAM DIMA SEB REBISHOM”.

          My friend was shocked,I don’t forget that moment the way he looked at her and me.
          I learned later the women was one of the hard supporter of PFDJ and also the most active participant of the Eritrean orthodox church in the city.

          Any way,to come to my point. The orthodox church has become the tools for PFDJ operative.I can confidently say morthan 70% of of tewahido christian in norh america who actively participate in weekly prayar of the orthodox church supports PFDJ.Sorry if some of you are offended, but this is fact and we need to work how to weed out this PFDJ operative from the church.
          Lampadusa was one of the event that put the PFDJ operative in spot lite and some brave young church leaders come out against ER-gov to pray for the victims.This is encouraging but we dont need to wish such kind of another event for the unity of our people.

          I believe this churches can play a major role than the opposition group in disposing IA.So lets find the way how this churches work with out the influence of Eritrean government.If we do that…..OROMAY!!!!

          • haile

            Selamat Elenta

            I will comment on each point in turn:

            The moslem bashing

            Let me first turn myself in for the same stupidity as that lady in my younger days. I did actually made many such foolish comments for not knowing any better. Even though the older moslem Eritreans that my locals and my family interacted with were naturally regarded highly with high social and economic status, oh boy we did exchange so many unkind remarks in those themes of bigotry with my childhood moslem friends. But we spent dawn to dusk together on daily bases as children and teens, sometimes sharing, sometimes fighting and being mean to each other, sometimes laughing our heads off for no reason falling over each other…well it was crazy and fondly cherished upbringing together. Now I know better, I know to put things in right context and our oneness as people of the same land and history that we all bled and paid for together.

            Such gaffs by an uninformed people on both sides are the subject of continuous public education, in multifaceted ways, to bridge across barriers and promote harmony and understanding. We do have an ignoramus regime and may not be done before its fall in Eritrea proper. Here in the diaspora, apart from few activists, the Eritrean intellectual doesn’t engage with its community issues. And is largely lives isolated from its fellow people and serving host countries. So, I put our failure (mine and the woman’s) on scarce public education to help create awareness than inherent intent to harm the other.

            The 70% estimate:

            I am not sure at how you arrived at this number. There is a reason as to why many churches are stuck with the HGDEF church label, please see next section.

            The Orthodox Churches:

            The diaspora orthodox churches have a difficult decision to make when they’re first formed. To be linked to the Eritrean Orthodox Church at home or not. Initially, this has created problems in areas of: politicization, validity of documents they issue (as birth, marriage…certificates) and keeping the peace and and finding fellowship. To your surprise those that maintained links with Eritrea, they are still resistant to regime intrusion. Most of their board of leadership are against the regime individually, but lacked the courage to severe links for reasons of internal dynamics than support of the regime (with the exception of few mekhete priests)


            The churches are against a rock and a hard shoulder now, but this still is only differing the problem. They typically say they are apolitical, but become inadvertently political when many avoided to hold fithat for the Lampedusa victims for fear of polarizing – essentially going the regime’s way of denying it national recognition at an incalculable political cost to itself. I wouldn’t encourage assigning numbers unless they can be backed up, because they just reinforce prejudice, albeit indirectly. And, that poor woman…heck we’ll did it…OK where is the rope I am ready to be hanged :-)…


          • Abe z minewale

            You knew it was offensive but still went to say 70 percent …. Now I am going to pray for you. by the way you guys have time to go and visit friend for coffee. Please join me here do some minewale job that spares you from Beleka LeKaka.by the way you don’t sound Moslem at all

      • Robel Yosef Kahsay

        Saleh “Gadi” Johar,

        Do I sense that you are equating the term “independent” to “indifference to injustice”? I can imagine a civic organization that fights injustice/rights violations which is independent of any political party/group/regime. Ofcourse such civic organization can not be said to be fighting injustice if it works with or does not denounce an abusive regime.

        • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

          That is exactly what I am saying Robel. Many are hiding behind the “independent” veil. They think claiming to be independent absolves them of their indifference in the face of injustice. Independent can be applied to a non-partisan stand, which is akay. But if one considers the PFDJ just another party, and not the tormentor of the people, then that is deceit, betrayal and cowardice sandwiched between each other.

      • Sabri


        Weather we like it or not there are two antagonistic groups. One degafi and the other teqawami. I’m just stating this reality. I don’t understand why you are angry.

        Reg. the civic organization let us say One organization is created inorder to provide education for elderly, or to provide language for kids who are borne in diaspora. Should such kind of organization take political side?

        • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

          I am not angry Sabri, I am disappointed at the way you are making it so inconsequential. Let me try to explain your “provide education to the elderly.”
          First, it bad investment to spend resources on the old when you have children lacking it. That is simply and distorted planning.

          Second, anyone who plays down the issue of injustice, and claims the now-too-common excuse, I am apolitical, then we have a problem. If someone doesn’t know the difference between opposing injustice and being apolitical, they have no business to teach anyone. If they do, they are spreading hypocrisy… a student body that can’t differentiate between right and wrong. In short, an opportunist, selfish, parasite lot. They are spreading ignorance because the fighting for justice is a moral, rational and human obligation. Anyone who ignores that shouldn’t be trusted or allowed to teach a herd of cows let alone a classroom of students. See, I am not angry, just disappointed that an intelligent person like you pretends he doesn’t understand that. 🙂

          • Sabri

            Gadi, I think there is misunderstanding. I will give you another example. Let’s say the aim of the organization is to educate kids. Since the aim is education every member of the organization is expected to work towards that goal. However, this doesn’t mean every member of the organization is apolitical. They have political stand but they exercise their political activity in its right place. What is wrong with it?

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Sabri, nothing wrong with that it seems, with your justification. But let me give you an example.

            Consider Eritrea is a tent and someone is putting fire on the tent. If you were teaching the kids inside the tent, you would probably say, “fighting the fire is not my task since mine is only to educate the children.” I am saying, you teach the kids and fight the fire is you can. Otherwise, teaching the kinds in a burning tent will consume the tent and the children you are teaching. You might ask, what if there is no real fire? Well, you have to remind the kids that there is a man (in this case Isaias and his minions) holding a torch to light up the tent. Of course he will not let you say that to the kids and he might even burn you alive. In this case, you will either zip your mouth and pretend the risk of fire is not there and endanger the lives of the kids… or, pack and leave. Which would be your choice? Note: my main argument is, you cannot be silent in the face of the regime’s injustices for any reason. Any reason at all.

          • Sabri

            Selamat Gadi,
            Well, there should be a way to express ones feeling, to oppose the injustice. And I agree there should not be excuse. But that is not the issue. The issue is to create civic organisation that includes all eritreans. (I’m aware that in reality it is very difficult to create such kind of organization at this time. I take it as an example to illustrate.) If we take again the previous example, the organization is genuine and works to fulfill its purpose. Anybody can be a member as long as they adhere to the aim of the organization. You can’t deny membership upon the political stand of the member. When you are in that organisation you are working in the spirit and aim of the organization but that doesn’t make you apolitical. It is possible there are people who have political stand that is diametrically opposite to the one you have. The organisation is not the right arena to argue different political stands. The point is you don’t need to be silent inorder to be part of such organisation. But know where and when you debate your political stand. Hope it is clear now.

          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Hi Sabri, I hope this will explain my views more clearly. The issue of justice is not a political issue. Opposing injustice or supporting it is not a political difference. Decreasing the issue of justice to politics is the main problem. It’s a principle of RIGHT and WRONG, being able to see goodness and badness separately. And you do not need to know politics to make the distinction; it is inherent in all human beings; it is their characteristic attribute. Associating with anyone who doesn’t understand the difference between right and wrong is a serious problem. Any person who has a moral compass would not do it. That is the essence of my argument.
            Thank you

          • Sabri

            Dear Gadi,

            Ok. Now i got you. I agree justice is not a political issue. It is a vast area. Philosophers in all era have been philosophizing the concept. In modern time John Rawls is seen as an authority in this area. Also, there are who are criticizing him. I was mentioning the issue of justice when I discussed collectivism/individualism in my thesis many years ago. I don’t want to lead you in this vast philosophical discussion. But I would like to hear your comment on the variations of justice which you can find in this link


          • Saleh “Gadi” Johar

            Anta Sabri! Entay bedileka? 🙂

            I have a problem with trivializing justice. Okay, I am talking about justice as any Eritrean believer would understand it. No philosophy or qolqual. Justice as Ybba Arey from Hagat or any person from any village in Eritrea would understand it. Now you are not going to explain the principle of justice to Ybba Arey or his equivalent in any other spot in philosophical terms. Injustice can be explained in a simple warning: something God wouldn’t approve of 🙂 If you are not in the business of God and religion, it is something your conscience wouldn’t approve of (in normal situation). I objected to your description of justice and injustice in political terms. Now you made it worse, you want me to debate justice based on how some philosopher saw it. What is the use? Why waste time to understand justice when it is inherently present in the conscience of humanity? See Sabri. let’s see justice bare, totally naked as my grandfather and yours understood it. Right and wrong. In its simple, concise, and clear form. No makeup no trivializing.

            I would be interested in the wikipedia link if I was writing a term paper or a thesis… or a paper as Dr. Tekle did. My motto is to keep it simple as far as commenting and debating in this forum is concerned. I didn’t even adorn my last book “Miriam was Here” with references and footnotes. I leave that to those of you who have the passion and the training for it.

            I apologize in advance if this doesn’t clear my position.

          • Sabri

            Dear Gadi,

            No need to apologize. Your message is clear. Like you I don’t want to trivialize the issue of justice. When I asked you to comment the link, I was thinking only on the section varieties of justice. My purpose was to show justice is value loaded. Otherwise, it was not my intention to enter into philosophical discussion.

            Like you I’m interested to see justice in the way a common person perceive it. Particularly common people in rural Eritrea. You can correct me if I’m wrong, according to my understanding justice for the common person is not different from basic needs. For instance, If you provide clean water to one community who have been struggled to get clean water in centuries is justice. By the same token if you provide equal opportunity to all citizens that is justice. You can add many other examples.

            Thank you,

    • Hey Sabri,

      Is it difficult to identify the nature of the regime we have? Isn’t the war/battle between justice and injustice? To categorize the confrontation as degafi/tekawami is just striping the political essence of the opposites. It isn’t something we should hear from Sabri apolitical judgement to the nature of our struggle.

      • Sabri


        It is not my categorization. See around you, everybody is talking in terms of degafi/teqawami. I’m just reflecting this reality. I didn’t put my judgement or put put my value on it. This is how Eritreans categorize at this time. If that is correct or not is another issue.

        • Sabri

          PS: if you ask me personally, I don’t like the degafi/teqawami categorization.

  • Forza Eritrea

    Some Eritreans are starting to complain regarding the performance of our soccer team. In my opinion, these things go in cycles. Three years ago when the CECAFA championship was held in Asmara, Eritrea was the victor and the champion. Most of the players that were on that team are probably pumping gas or washing dishes somewhere in the Western world — London, New York or Sydney. The team can be rebuilt. But it may take sometime. In the meantime, we still got the cycling team. Let’s enjoy our cycling dominance before the rest of Africa catches up to us.

    Forza Team Eritrea!

    • “Pumping gas or washing dishes” in the west is by far better than forced labor and indefinite military service. One can’t survive with 0.31 (500 Nakfa a month) a day which is not enough to feed a person let alone start a family.

  • Ermias

    Dear Haile,

    In line with your ‘shimagle baalat’ manipulation tool the regime is using in Diaspora communities, the “Temporary Committee for Democratic Change” in Seattle issued this statement. It can be found on togoruba.com as well.

    ህዝባዊ በዓላት ከምቲ ሽሙ ዝሕብሮ ንመንነትን ንክብርታትን ንባህልን ልምድን ሓደ ሕብረተ-ሰብ ዘንጸባርቕ ኣጋጣሚ ኮይኑ ብተሳትፎ ናይ ህዝብን ብዋንነት ናይ ህዝብን ከኣ ዝካየድ እዩ።
    ፈስቲቫል ወይ ዓውደ-ኣመት ክበሃል እንከሎ ነቲ ህዝቢ ባህሉን ክብርታቱን ንከይሃስስ፡ ንወለዶታት ንምስግጋር ሓድነቱን ፍቕሩን ንምስጣም ኣብ ሓደ ውሱን ከባቢ ዝነብሩ ዜጋታት ተኣኪቦም ተላዚቦም ፍሉይነቱን ብኡ መንጽር ጽባቐኡ ዘርእይሉ ኣጋጣሚ ኢዩ።
    እዚ ካብ ኮነ መሰረታዊ ትርጉም ናይ ፈስቲቫል መግለጺ፡ መንጸብረቕታ ናይ ሃገርን ናይ ደቂ-ሃገርን ዝውክል ድኣምበር ንዝተወሰነ ሃገራዊ ሓይሊ ወይ መራሒ ዝኸስበሉ ክኸውን ኣይግባእን፡ ምኽንያቱ ባህሊ ኩሉ ግዜ ናይ ሓፋሽ ህዝቢ ድኣምበር ናይ ውልቂ ወይ ናይ ጉጅለ ትርጉም ስለዘይብሉ።
    ንጽባሕ ቀዳም ሕዳር 30, 2013 እታ ንባዕላ ብሽማግለ በዓላት ስያትል እትጽዋዕ፡ ሓዳስ ሽማግለ ንምምራጽ ኣኼባ ጸዊዓ ከምዘላ በጺሕናዮ ኣለና። እቲ ጸዋዒት ስልኪ ብምድዋል ንውልቀ-ሰባት ብምርኻብ ይካየድ ምህላዉ ንከታተሎ ኣለና። እዚ ድሮ ከይተበገሰት ናይ ህዝቢ ዘይምዃና ዘርኢ ተግባር ኢዩ። ኮይኑ ከኣ እቲ ፈተነ እቲ ንተግባር ዘንጸባርቕ ኮይኑ ዝተርፍ መሪሕ ዘይኮነስ ንውልቂ መሪሕነትን ጉጅለኦምን፡ ህዝቢ ኣኪብካ ገንዘብ ኣኻዕቢትካ መሰልና እንዳተገፈ ኣፍና ዝዕፍነሉ ግዜ ከምዘብቅዔ ክንሕብር ንፈቱ። በዓላትና ብኣና፡ ካባና፡ ናባና ኮይኑ ዝበዓለሉ ኣገባብ ኣብ ምጽፋፍ ከም እንርከብ ክንሕብረኩም ንፈቱ።
    “ከም ቀደም ይመስለክን ውሕጅ ይወስደክን”
    ሐድነትና ይደልድል
    ባህልና ይጎብልል
    ኣሳናዳዊት ግዚያዊት ናይ ሓባር ሽማግለ ሲያትል።

    • haile

      Dear Ermias

      Thanks, I also heard that read out in assenna:) I am not sure but I think I heard that on of the advise of Wedi Vacaro is for Eri diaspora to set up new mahberekoms. Do you have any thing on that. If true, I think that such would have a significant use in forming the backbone of the diaspora resistance to injustice at home. For some reason there is very little reporting of steps taken following the meetings with Dr. Cav. Tegadalay Tewelde T/mariam – wedi vacaro. I hope the old nseb aytngeru is not behind the slow coverage 🙂


  • betrihaki

    Dr. Wolde: The article is very informative and tries to approach its central theme in a scholastic context. But it needs updating. The government is gradually loosing its grip on the diaspora community because it is being second guessed even by its ardent supporters. Secondly the demography of the exiled Eritrean community is gradually changing. Most of those who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980’s are well into their sixties and seventies and diaspora Eritrean activity is slowly shifting to the youth. The old EPLF/ELF norms are fading and loosing traction. The government’s almost indefinite demand for its people to sacrifice for Eritrea is loosing teeth because the regime has nothing to show in terms of economic and social development inside the country. Secondly, the regime has miserably failed to make diaspora Eritreans from becoming stake holders in business and industry in Eritrea because it monopolizes all economic life. So, while many Ethiopians in the diaspora are flocking to their country to invest and enhance their economic strong hold in the country, Eritreans in the Diaspora in contrast are not seeing any opportunities available to them in Eritrea that benefits them and their families directly. Eritreans in the diaspora are suffering from what might be called “charity fatigue”. The paper is interesting but it needs updating. Times have changed. The regime is loosing control over its diaspora subjects due to its own failings. I wish you revisit the topic and study the current developments in the Eritrean political landscape by considering the fact that the old guards are phasing out and the young and restless are taking command. It would be very interesting reading if your study dwells on the new dynamics of diaspora life and the evolving rift between diaspora Eritreans and the regime.

  • MG

    Dr. Tecle, You stated that” While most Christians supported the dominant movement, the Eritrean People’s Lib­eration Front (EPLF), most Muslims supported the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) or its various factions.” were you member of these organization?
    this is totally un true, At the beginning Stage of both organization (ELF and EPLF) members and supports was predominantly Muslims. Because of the nature of the Geographical location of the organizations early years (Gash Barka, sahl. and Semhar) but after 1975 when predominantly Christian highlanders join I drove Both ELF and EPLF was dominated by Christians. It is true at leadership level was majority Muslims, because of the seniority and experience from the early joiners (Gedimat Tegadelti)

    • Dr. Tekle Woldmikael

      Dear MG

      I do not disagree with you except that my focus was not on the history of the movements, but a quick reference to general social base of the two movements.


  • Dear Dr. Tekle,

    The well intention of ERSO to build a bridge between the two major religions group was commendable. Like the fate of many other organizations before you, the ERSO plan and mission was dashed by the centralized regime of PFDJ. Your piece will add to the exposition of PFDJ’s evil political behavior.

    Aside of that your article gives light to the core Eritrean sociopolitical problems, and you put it in a nutshell as follows: “when a movement or regime wanted to organize and mobilize people to do something be­yond their local village politics and ethnic concerns, framing the two major religions as opposite and antagonistic provided a powerful motivation. As a result, the two major religious groups maintain deep fears of domination and persecution at one another’s hands.”

    Actually the deep mistrust is based on fears of domination and persecution and hence the attempt in framing their politics on the major religious lines. The problem with the Eritrean people is denying this reality. However, I really believe that this divide is bridgeable by avoiding “domination” and instituting equitable power sharing, not along religious lines but by addressing the grievances of our social groups. As far as our social group’s grievances is not addressed correctly, they have the rights to organized in a manner they could get leverage to address their grievances including along the religious lines. Politics is not about domination but also about sharing. If we chose political sharing the problem is manageable.

    Dr. Tekle, I am not afraid of the grievances they have (which real), but I am worried when we couldn’t attempt to address the grievances correctly. Bringing them to work together the two divides is not enough, hearing the grievances and addressing them is the solution. To avoid the alignment on religious lines, we have a lot of homework to do. First the intellectuals of both sides must make a close study to the grievances of our social groups that brought the “fears of domination and persecution”. Second we have to reframe our politics and the nature of government to reflect our rainbow in post PFDJ era. I am absolutely confident, that small attempt to bridge the religious divide in the orange county in itself will help you on how to engage seriously on matters of social group interest along the national interest. We can’t address national interest when some of our social groups are marginalized. Don’t forget that there are many social groups who couldn’t see their images in the Eritrean mirror.

    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Dr. Tekle Woldmikael

      Dear Amanuel

      Thank you for taking my points seriously and work with the ideas to deepen the discussion and dialog. I am less sure that there is a way of addressing these grievances correctly. I presented a story of small group that tried to tackle this issue. I want to emphasize that it was really a good group and that it wanted to do relief work right after the liberation of the nation. I happen to have arrived in Southern California at that time and run into one of the founders of ESRO in the library by chance. He invited me to come to their meeting. I went there because there were Eritreans meeting together to do something good for their country. It turned out to be a mixed group of Christians and Muslims and different ethnicities. It was also mix of urban and rural background, highland and lowland. If functioned well without focusing on religion. My surprise was the reaction of my non-Muslim compatriots to this gathering and their distorted view of what was going inside the group. I have to admit I do not have clarity of thought how to create a system that bridges the divide between Christians and Muslims. I can tell you what our experience was. I am keenly interested to hear what the experiences of others have been. I want to find out what worked and what did not work. We can learn from the best practices of others.



      • Dr. Tekle,

        You have a good intention, the virtue of bringing together our people. Please continue that effort by collaborating with people who have the same motto. I will assure there is a good objective reality to find some traction at this time than in the nineties. There is noble mission than to fight to unite your people. You have it and maintain it.

        Amanuel Hidrat

        • correction ” there is no noble mission than…..”

      • Thomas

        Hi Dr. Woldmichael,

        Religious in Eritrea for a long time has been seen as a private matter. It should only be discussed in a church or mosque. I don’t see why you decide to write such an article at this period of time when we really have urgent matters to talk about. Even on awate.com, it is said that our number one priority should be “Weeding out of PFDJ” and then in a constitutional democratic eritrea we can discuss power and resources sharing among regional administrations (decentralized system). Of course, there will the right of practicing your religions/as a private matter in churches/Mosques, freedom of speech/free precess, representative government/will be done through democratic/popular vote….. Everything and everybody will be the follower the constitution. We are not Libyans, Egyptians, Tunisians or other Arab countries for that matter, we are Eritreans who are religiously ~50% Christians, ~40% Muslims and ~10 other. Again, religion is exorcised only within churches or in your private properties. All individuals are respected and treated humanly as we will have working constitution that protects all citizens regardless of what religion they believe. It is not that complicated. Right?

  • Reda Ghaber

    This is really an invaluable piece of work. I hope every Eritrean would learn and reflect on it.

    • Dr. Tekle Woldmikael

      Dear Reda

      Thank you for your generous compliment.



  • beyan negash

    Thanks At for posting Tekle’s article. I really do not have anything to add – the piece captures the spirit and the essence of ESRO.

    Two FYIs.

    1. Anyone wishing to contact the author, his e-mail is woldemikael@cox.net.

    2. Tekle is editing a special issue of Africa Today Journal on Post-liberation Eritrea to be published this month by Indiana University Press.

    • Sabri

      Selam Beyan,

      Thank you for the information. I’m looking forward to read the coming new issue of Africa Today.

      • Beyan Negash

        My Pleasure, Sabri. Likewise, I am looking forward to reading it as well. Gathering from your note above, this Post-Liberation subject will particularly be of interest to those of you who went to Eritrea to contribute after independence – now, that is one theme out of which books can be written about; although I don’t know what theme this particular publication will follow, nevertheless, it will be an interesting read.


  • haile

    rather read as: “fighting for”

  • haile

    Selamat Dottere

    Thanks for this extensive analysis that essentially reflects the failed attempts of Eritreans in many walks of diaspora lives to meaningfully organize to form a genuine bond with their homeland.

    It may have been rather more sharply focused on the root cause if the basic premise was that the diaspora organization is dominated by regime loyalists/operatives than simply Tigrinya speakers. The latter might have been a natural derivative of the means by which the regime exerted control. It is interesting to note that the regime had successfully annihilated and killed off any independent and well meaning organizational attempt by Eritrean diaspora. This was made possible through systematic approaches that include stoking division, intimidation, character assassination and intentional frustration of initiatives. The bigger goal, at least the obvious, for the regime was to bring total control of the activities of Eritreans in the diaspora under its fold (that later become the dreaded shimagle bealat). Through that the regime has now managed to bring Eritrean diaspora to their knees as an organized entities without any capacity to influence the direction of their civil and economic activities as community.

    Looking back, the main weakness of those who set out to organize autonomously was that they didn’t identify the possible challenges that was going to be thrown at them from the regime. Their limited identification of their problem to be that of their organizing cause has fatally left them exposed to the inherent dangers of their organization’s very survival as it comes from the enemy of the Eritrean people (the regime) that lurked in the shadows even in those times.

    Today, the times have moved on and the regime is fighting fot survival and its diaspora operatives in disarray and on the run. However, the problems of that time are still with us, if not multiplied in manifolds. Hence, I hope that the bigger point of the study above is to serve as a cursory note to the wisdom that such undertakings must be armed with in the work that needs to be done from here on.