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Adem Melekin: Eulogy To A Patriot

About eight years ago, I interviewed a man many, including myself, consider a giant in the struggle for Eritrean independence. This is what I wrote in the introduction to the interview that was published on April 11, 2005:[i]

Some people find themselves in a storm and struggle to get out; others search for a storm and get into it knowingly. Eritrea’s history is full of both kinds of people; this column, the Fertile Womb, celebrates Eritreans who volunteered themselves for the sake of the people. They pushed a wheel and the train started to move on- it continued to move on, consuming lives, witnessing sacrifices, recording bravery and creating heroes, until it arrived at its final destination in 1991, with the gallant fighters of the Eritrean liberation forces entering Asmara victoriously. Eritrea entered into the unknown era under a liberation organization and the struggle was renewed, this time for the dignity of the citizen, the acknowledgement of past sacrifices and for the establishment of a just, free, prosperous and democratic society. Many of those who helped initiate the struggle, Eritreans now in their 70s, are dying off, many in exile and with them their unrecorded histories, forever lost. This, then, is the story of one man, a patriot, a breathing history, a brick in the foundation of Eritrea: Adem Melekin.

Today, I write this edition to mourn Adem Melekin (affectionately known as Am, or uncle, Adem) whose body was buried in Australia today (Friday morning May 17, 2013). Yes, the man I called “a brick in the foundation of Eritrea” has died in Melbourne, Australia. Today, one of the pages of our history is turned, leaving behind memories and distinct examples of toil and dedication for the sake of Eritrea.

Adam Melekin died expressing his love for Eritrea, even as he breathed his last breath. Eritrea lost one of its fathers; the Eritrean community in Australia lost one of its towering figures. It lost a face that a smile never left.

Looking back at the prospects for Eritrea, I would like to present to you what Am Melekin told me when I interviewed him in 2005.

“Change, should come from inside Eritrea, even if that requires imprisonment and death. People should defy and struggle…If one wants to achieve political gains, then it should be by targeting the senior heads of the system, from inside Eritrea and not an all-out military confrontation from the outside.”

Qtestion: But why isn’t there defiance inside Eritrea?

“Most of the officers – I have talked to many of them while in Eritrea- have spent decades in the struggle and upon the independence of Eritrea, they arrived penniless and without a skill. With meager resources, some managed to establish a home. Now, they have families and children and they are not willing to spend what is left of their lives on another struggle. They complain that their lives were wasted and they have no guarantees for their living. Does the opposition have guarantees, financial and security guarantees, for these people so that they can do something?”[ii]

I saw Am Melekin for the last time in January 2013 and we parted hoping to meet again, “You have to come again to Australia, there is a lot I want to talk to you about,” he told me. Now I feel guilty, I should have spent more time with him; I had no idea he would leave this soon… Am Melekin was 85 years old, but he looked much younger than his age. His healthy looks, jolly personality and attitude cheated me into believing he will live longer, I thought he would cheat death for a long time. He didn’t. When the time comes, there is no escape. But again, when the time comes, those who leave behind them a clean history stay alive in the memories of their people. Am Adem Melekin lives forever.

Am Adem was “old-school”. Old school in his attire, his spirit and easygoing personality. Elegant, smiling and superb conversationalist. He doesn’t say a word until he infects those who meet him with his smile. Once you relax and smile, he starts to talk. The two times I met him in town, and the one last time I sat with him for a long time at a wedding party, were invaluable to me, and I wish I had more of that. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. The son of Halhal died in Australia; that has become the fate of Eritreans. May Allah reward him for his sacrifice.

My condolences to his family, particularly to his son Salah, my childhood friend. My condolences to the Eritrean Australian community for the great loss. May what we all miss in Am Adem be carried on in the character of the elders of Melbourne. May his spirit of patriotism dwell in all of us.

For a glimpse of the late Adem Melekin’s history, please see the entire interview on the links below.

[i] Adem Melekin: A Brick In the Foundation Of Eritrea, by Saleh Johar, April 11, 2005

[ii] Get The Old Mellotti Beer! By Saleh Johar, February 13, 2007:

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

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  • yebio

    I have known Adem and also his sister vaguely. May he rest in peace

  • Ghezae Hagos

    May he rest in peace. May his family be consoled. Thanks Haw Saleh Gadi for the sharing the news.

  • rastaman

    Is Adem Melekin related to Amina Melekin? Was he also wounded at Arai, when MelAke Tekle was murdered? Thanks

  • rastaman

    I would rather see a statue of Osman Saleh Sabbe than that of Alexander Pushkin, don’t you?

    • haile


      I think you narrowly missed and compared apples and oranges! You would’ve made comparative sense if you said “I would rather see the statue of Osman Saleh Sabbe than that of ‘The three tanks’ or the ‘Shiddah'” Because the statue of Pushkin was entirely Russian owned enterprise, and we’re glad that they chose Eritrea because it puts to rest the Ethiopian’s claim of him However, having corrected your conjuncture, I am not sure if I agree, because you will have to have the statue of millions of Eritreans who were heroes and heroines in their own ways.



    Brother Saleh thank you for giving my uncle Adem the due eulogy he deserves. He was a man of courage, simplicity, and motivation. We lost an icon, that would have been utilized for answering some of the confusion we are at. Like any other Eritrean veteran that sacrificed themselves for the struggle and independence of Eritrea but can not reap the fruits, so Mr. Melkin. May Allah reward him in the hereafter and grant him paradise.

  • Mohammed Ahmed

    He was a man of courage and he had the scars to prove it. May he rest in peace and may Allah grace his family with the strength to cope.

    أنا لله وأنا اليه راجعون

  • Fatma Ahmed

    Adem Meleken: A man out of our time

    When I was young my grandmother told us stories of Adem Meleken. She told us how he was a unique man. When she spoke about him, she used to call him (Shafa) meaning the healer. I use to listen to her stories, thinking that she was making all these fantasy stories because she was missing him. When I met him; I realized that his mother was right. Adem Meleken was one of those who never fit in the time he lived in. He was a man who spoke the truth loudly and openly.
    His ethics of defending the truth of righteousness always put others in defending situation. He was called (al mushaquib) troublemaker because he never agreed on back door cooked agendas, he was denied his leadership rule and many other rights because of his straightforward challenging ideas.

    Adem Meleken is a man of the ethical heritage, a moving icon of freedom of speech and he left behind a bright legacy. No black spots or scratches in his life storybook.
    Adem Meleken was popular man among all generations; he was wise, humble and honest advocator among adults and great entertainer with youngsters and children- known as ‘funny man’. His charming look and gentle characteristics were present. He was a man you never felt bored around, he was a good listener and an honest source of information, and he always filled any gap wisely with evidence.
    He is truly a national icon. He always fought against all kind of discrimination and called for the Eritreans Unity. He believed deeply that Eritrea is a land of ALL Eritreans, and his last words and advice to many people was to work hard to find our way to the home land.

    Goodby uncle
    We lost you physically but you will live among us with your soul and your legacy
    May Allah bring you to rest through his mercy in his heaven
    Inaa LLilahi wa in ellehea rajeoon

    Fatma Hiwarshake Ahmed


  • kemal Ali

    InaLILAHi WEnaeleyhi Larajiun, May Allah Bless His Soul, it is really shame for us as Eritreans to witness from distance while our History and our brave compatriots and History makers perished somewhere else away from home. These gallant patriots pay all the price to liberate us and to let us breath the winds of freedom.The fought the giant enemy army with all its apparatuse and who was backed by the supper powers. Thank you Saleh Gadi for sharing us all and for the strive you are doing along the just cause. May Allah Reward you bro. Keep the good work, and May allah Yetic Alafya welberekah.

  • It is sad to watch again and again a nation dejecting to those who liberated it from colonization. To those who gave everything of their life but denied to burried their body i the land they liberated, history will absolve them. Rest in peace our patriot.

  • Brother Saleh thank you for telling a story about one of our heros I wonder how many of them left

  • Thanks to you

  • ክቡር ሓው ወዲ ፊልፕስ፣
    ዓበይቲ ኣቦታትናን ኣደታትናን ኣብ ግዜ ሓረካን ብረታዊ ቃልሲናን ዓቢ ኣበርክቶ ዝነበሮም ቅድሚ/ድሕሪ ሞቶም ታሪኽ ህይወቶም ጽሒፍካ ናብዚ ሓዲሽ ወለዶ ተሕልፎ ዘሎኻ ዓቢ ኣበርክቶ ስለ ዝኸነ ጻማኽ ካብ እግዚኣብሄር ርኽቦ። ኣያናን ኣቦናን ኣደም መለኪን ኣብቲ ብሓረካ ዝፍለጥ ከምኡ ውን ኣብ ምጅማርን ቀጻልነቱን ዓቢ ተራ ዝነብሮም ፍሉጥ ኤርትራዊ ወዲ ሃገር ክነሶም ኣብ ደገ ሞይቶም ኣብ ደገ ሓመድ ድበ ምልባሶም ናይ ኩሉ ኤርትራዊ ዘሕፍር ታሪኽ ብምኻኑ ሃየ ኣንጻር እዚ ካብ ሃገርና ዘባርረና ዘሎ ስራዓት ደው ኢልና ንመከት ።
    ኣብ መወዳእታ ንመዋቲ መንግስቲ ሰማይ ንኽሎም ቤት ሰብ፣ ፈተውቲ፣ መቃልስቱን ጽንዓት ክህቦም ናብ ኣምላኽ ንለምን ።

  • Abuo Yara

    “Inalilah wina Elyeh Rajoun” ” Kul Nafesen zayeka almout”
    His clean records for eritrean strugle and working for the sake of eritean people shall benefit him in the hearafter insahllah May Allha recieve’s him as martyer.

  • Salah Ejail

    May Allah put his mercy on is always on the right truck when it comes to our national figures.

  • Semere Andom

    Hi Tegadalay Saleh:
    Thanks for your hard work to tell us about our heros. We do not really learn about our heroes. We do not hear about the miracles that many Eritrean have performed on our behalf to pay a heavy price. Out history is been overwritten on the minds of the old and the young alike. PFDJ counts on the saying of the first Israeli prime minister, David Ben Gurion “the old will die and the young will forget”
    I wish at this time of our history I could say ” al Adu yQtlu sAr wo Eritrea tenBtu alfi sAr”, when the enemy kills one hero, Eritrea gives birth to thousand heros


  • Tesfamariam

    My condolences to his family, his friends and to every sensible Eritrean may he rest in peace at the same time we lost another great fighter and patriot Amare Gebremariam my condolence to his family friends and his struggle mates may he rest in peace.

  • Amanuel

    It’s hard to believe that we can’t even buried our veterans in the land they fought all their life for. When we buried heroes like Am_Adem and others, a question comes to my mind; for how long can we tolerate for such a system and brutality. Saleh, I would like to thank you for your effort to tell us about our heroes, and I wish you do the same for all our veteran heroes. May God give mercy to Am_adem’s sol and my condolence to his family and the people of Eritrea.

    • haile


      “…for how long can we tolerate for such a system and brutality.[?]”

      Well, something needs to give within the Eritrean “Bermuda Triangle.” The fatal triangulation upon the “future of Eritrea” is cast over us from “A brutal PFDJ” “A cynical Ethiopia” and “Unenlightened Opposition leadership that has yet to learn Eritrea is not PFDJ”

      True, soon after the fall of PFDJ, many graveyards will be dug and corps exhumed, many dungeons would be flung open to find survivors and remains, many families will learn the fate of their relative who has long fled the country to Israel through Sinai, an ugly power struggle would ensue, in the absence of law and lawful succession. Religion and ethnicity would be used to keep the fires lit still burning…it is easier to say that the worst hasn’t come yet.

      So, unless one side of the fatal triangulation gives way, I am afraid that we are set for a course. Nothing will change the outcome, which has already begun.

  • haile

    “The son of Halhal died in Australia; that has become the fate of Eritreans. May Allah reward him for his sacrifice.”


  • Semere Habtemariam


    Based on the stories you and Bashir have kindly shared with me over the years, I came to like Am Adem a lot. I wish I had the opportunity to meet and talk to him.

    May he rest in peace.

  • Thank you Saleh for your feedback on the spirit of mr Adem Melekin

    Am Adem Goodbye and thank you for your contribution in the struggle.We all will follow you but your memory will not part us.
    Uncle Adem Melekin Rest in Peace and the All Mighty Bless your Soul.

  • Kokhob Selam

    My condolences to his family and every Eritrean,

    now i know one of the reasons that makes you brilliant, Saleh. talking and listening to Aboy Adem and the likes is more than reading the best books in the world. keep searching the remaining elders (alive history books) and don’t miss chances.

  • L.T

    I don’ t know this man much than you wrote about him.My brother Salih can you write little ábout his life on this page?manay people left us and to know about them is our duty.

    • Saleh Gadi

      L. T. Check the links provided at the bottom of the eulogy you will find a glimpse of his history….