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The Arsonists’ Fire and a Bucket of Water

Into the noise with a small bucket of water, trying to help put down the fire that the arsonists started. If you like the water in the bucket, well and good. If you don’t, “you are forgiven”.

If you like what you watch, be prepared for more. Also, kindly do not forget to like, share, and subscribe. A small bucket hidden behind the fence is of no use unless it is widely distributed. And that is where any help will make a difference. I am also soliciting your feedback on the content, topic suggestions, views, and criticisms–I trust it will not be provided in an offensive manner.

This project that I launched today is a humble attempt to fight the fierce battle in the cultural, political, and historical arena. I am praying you will enjoy and approve of the content.


About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

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  • chefena

    Selam Saleh
    I think it is time to go multimodal in this age of fake-news, where truth and objective journalism is under threat from charlatans and bigots. There should be some ways of countering the present waves of irresponsible social media assault.
    ነገር ደርፊ ካብ ትላዕለ፡ ስነ-ጥበብ ዘማን ኣዘያይማን ናይ 60ትንን 70 ታን (ኣብ ትግርንያ) ካብ ካብዝደክም ዓመታት ኣቑጺሩ ኣሎ። ካብ ‘ፈጭው’ ቕዲ ወዲ ትኩል ፍሕት ከይበል ከም በዓል ቖለ ወይ ከም Psychedelic rock ዘሸርጥ ጥራይ ኢዩ ኾይኑ ተሪፉ።
    አቲ ጊትጥት ናይዚ ምዕባለ አዚ ዘመስክር ሓደ ነገር ንመልከት።

    ብስጡምን፡ ዓሚቕ ትርጉም ዝሓዘለ ግጥሚ፡ ዝተደርሰት፡ ኣሰር ቀዳሞት ዘየምቲ ዝተከተለ ጣዕምን፡ ቓናን ኣተኣላልያ ድምጺ፡ እዝዩ ማራኪ ኾይን ዝረከብኹዎ፡ ደራፊ ጎይትኦም ነጋሲ ዝተባህለ ስነ-ጥበባዊ ኢዩ። ጊንጢ ዘበለኒ ብመጽር ተፈታውንው ደፍርታት ነይተን ናይ ወኒን ምጙራዕን፡ ደርፍታት፡ ኣድነቒ ናይዚ ብሉጽ ጥበብ ብቑጽሪ ዉሑድ ምዃን ኢዩ።
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jaxjdr4WBCg

    Essentially both pieces are profound in terms critiquing the moral bankruptcy the society finds itself.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      ሰላም ዶክተር ጨፈና,

      ጥዑም ግዜ ጥዑም ከይተባህለ ይሓልፍ ከምዝበሃል እዘን ክልተ ደርፍታት ነቲ ከየሰተማቀርናዮ ዝሓለፈ ጥዑም ግዜ አዛኻኺሩኒ::

      “ጥዑም ነይሩ ቀደም ጥዑም ነይሩ” እወ ጥዑም ነይሩ ቀደም ጥዑም ነይሩ:: አንታ ሎምስ ኩሉ ሞራል ሰይሩ::

      የቀንየልና ንትዝታ ቀደም ጥዑም ነይሩ ኣዛኻኺርካና::

      አማኑኤል ሕድራት

      • chefena

        ሓው ኣማኑአል
        It about a collective memory and a shared narrative that we all have to re-tell. You might call it some kind melancholic romanticism it gets into…. in deed ‘ቀደም ነይሩ’

    • Saleh Johar

      Hi Chefena,
      That is the sad part. Such great artists are buried in the cherbaHbaH and dum-dum of the amateurs. They are so few they do not get the exposure because most of our people do not appreciate refined music. They just want something that agitates them: body-talk and not negligible mind-talk

      • Abrehet Yosief

        Selam Ustaz Saleh and Prof Chefena,
        I suggest one more song “Sidetegna’ye” by Mihretab Mikaiel? for your collection and comment.

  • Ismail AA

    Hayak Allah Ustaz SJG,

    I think the spoken word is by far more effective way of addressing the public than the written word. It has the advantage of reaching the ears, minds and hearts of the literate and illiterate audience. Choosing this method is, I surmise, must have been well-considered decision with benefiting the willing consumer and disarming the counterpart in mind.

    In respect to the onslaught of arrogance on the socio-cultural set up that has grown to coarse vulgarism is one of the ways fundamentally retarded systems pretend to manifest as modernization. They (systems) resort to influencing or changing superficial matters and notion of the “lampen” for lack of anything to show rooted in originality.

    The regime that has owned our nation fits well in such disfigured categories that monopolized political authority but lacked nature and capacities to engage in transforming norms and value in positive ways. In PFDJ era, a teen-age boy or girl addressing a 60 year elder as ኣንታ(ቲ) and not ኣንቱም or ኣንትን is modernization of cultural values because the latter are contemptible feudal relics. Choosing ባባ or ማማ in place of ኣቦይ or ኣደይ is token of liberating oneself from the yoke of feudal traditions. Dancing in the mainstream traditional manner is backward so you have to deform it. Looking like a row of cheep coming out of cold water hole and struggling to shake off the water with the head nearly touching the ground is modern.

    This being said, though here are a few observations my thoughts have pondered on. By the way, I have listened to the video twice: once in the set up addressing the general public; and second being addressed from the perspective of Eritrea’s cultural and social diversity. The tone and content of the first gave me the impression that the subject is the Tigrigna speaking part of our society. But listening from the second perspective reflect the impression that the video talk seem to have not stretched wide enough to capture the other parts.

    For instance, discussions pertaining to issues like music and dance or respect and arrogance seemed to send the impression that talk have got to be circumscribed to our compatriots hailing from Tigrigna speaking socio-cultural Kebessa. So, the question that pops up in mind is whether we a situation that represent and encompass the cultural and social diversity of the country !. In absence of recognizable social and cultural national set up, is it possible to speak anything about an across the board uniformity? My observation concerning the new arrivals to where I live, the bulk of whom were born after 1991, I could detect variations in approaches and behaviors of individuals originating from various places in mutual interactions and with others.

    • Semere Habtemariam

      Dear Ismail,

      Let me just point out that I belong to a culture that does not use ኣንቱም or ኣንትን as a sign of respect. Where is this place in Eritrea you ask? It is Hamasien, just as in the whole of lowland Eritrea. No one in Hamasien uses ኣንቱም or ኣንትን, even for addressing priests. Please read Daniel Tesfai’s book, “‘ታ ወርቃዊ ገረብ…,” there is a beautiful scene on the subject. I’ve no problem with people using ኣንቱም or ኣንትን to show respect, but one does not need to disrespect other cultures to make a point. People need to stop telling us that the culture some of us were raised in does not show deference to elders. In fact, most Eritreans don’t use ኣንቱም or ኣንትን, if you include Hamasien and the rest of non-Tigrinya speakers. This is not just an insult to Hamasien but to most of Eritreans who don’t use ኣንቱም or ኣንትን.

      Ismail is absolutely right in pointing out that there is no uniform culture in Eritrea and it is wrong to act so; it is totally unjustifiable culture imperialism.

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Haw Semere,

        You are mistaken to generalize our people from the province of “Hamassien” as who do not say “አንቱም እንትን” as a culture of respect. There are many…many whom I know do say those words of respect for their elders. If you don’t believe that ask Dr Bereket. It depend on each household how they raise their children. In short, You are wrong to say “no one in Hamassien use አንቱም እንትን”:: But also at the same time no one should say all Eritreans says “አንቱም እንትን” for there also many who do not use those words. But keep in mind “አንቱም እንትን” are words of respect.


        • Paulos

          Selam Professor A. Hidrat,

          I don’t think it is the Semere Habtemariam we know. The wording is a bit rough for Semere’s taste. Me think. ጌጋይ ይኽላኣለይ.

          • Nitricc

            Hey P; Semere-T has been, at times erratic and unpredictable but since he joined the Eritrean opposition groups, he became what he is, an Eritrean opposition and he is acting accordingly. look how he is treating Aman-H.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Selamat Nitriccay,

            Welcome back! I hope you succeeded in accomplishing what you wanted to before you took a break from us. Was you time well spend?

          • Nitricc

            Your Fitness! Thanks for checking me out. Indeed my friend went well and mission accomplished for this time and stage of my life. As I am assuming my new role, it is not only extremely humbling but the saying comes to mind “be careful what you wish for” you might get it. My work load tripled Hahahah. Thanks Fanti, appreciated.

        • Semere T Habtemariam

          Dear Emma,

          I thought you would be among the people who would be intimately aware of the cultural nuances of our people, but it is okay, it is not too late, you can still learn.

          There are cultures and language (words) that are unique to Hamassien, Akelguzay and Seraye. Hamassien is unique in the subject we’re talking about, for it is the only region in the Tigrinya speaking regions that doesn’t have “አንቱም እንትን”. It is, by the way, the first thing Tigaru would tell you about Hamassien–it is a trade mark, but I guess you didn’t pay attention along the way.

          Since you’re the one who needs to be taught on this particular issue and somehow you seem to question my authority on the subject, I am going to encourage you too to speak with Dr. Bereket and if the good doctor tells you anything that contradicts what I have written, then, I promise you that I would be man enough to write you a public apology.

          So please, Emma, prove me wrong. I would consider it an early Xmas present.

          It would be nice if you can follow through. In the words of Akeleguzay I would be more than happy to address you as “Aboy N’uus” in my a apology-reply since you’ve addressed me as haw Semere in your salutation.

          Once again, I hate it when people say that our culture has lost its language of respect of “አንቱም እንትን”. This is only true if you’re from Seraye and Akeleguzay; it is not true for the rest of us, Eritreans, who don’t have a culture of addressing a single person in the plural.

          I don’t see how one is better than the other; it is how people behave in their geographical and cultural areas. The area that I belong to, Hamassien, does not have the culture of addressing a single person in the plural, for whatever reason that might be. And I am very fine with it; it is my cultural heritage.

          My father was one of the most respectful people I know but I have never heard him say “አንቱም እንትን”. Since he was the first born in the family, he called his own father, my grandfather, Aya and it is always, “Aya Kemey w’elka.”

          This is the true, pure and an unadulterated culture of Hamassien. No “አንቱም እንትን” and I am, once again, very okay with it and I like it, and don’t appreciate anyone who, inadvertently or not, wants to make me less proud of it. People are entitled to appreciate their heritage but not at the expense of others.

          It is okay for you Emma to use, “አንቱም እንትን”, as it is okay for me not to use it. Now if I happen to be in Seraye, Akeleguzay, Tigray and Welqayt, decency dictates that abide by their cultural norms, but not in my own home. At my own home, I have the responsibility to cherish, preserve and protect what is rightfully mine. Period.

          Now if this is politically incorrect for you, then, tough luck, get use to it.


          • halafi mengedi

            This actually answers something that I didn’t think about hard but was kind of on the back of my mind….I was born and grew up in asmara, my mom is from hammassien and my dad is from seraye. My sisters and I grew up referring any older person we interacted with in plural (kemey hadirkum/hadirkin), nothing unique about that. The interesting thing was with my mom. She would also use the plurals when referring to older people in asmara, but when in her village (or people from her village visit us), she refers to them in singular (including to her father and her uncles, she would say, for example, ‘aya kusto, kemey kenikha, dehan dikha…’). Never bothered me and didn’t bother ask her, but it felt a little different. Thank you for your comment, it makes sense now. BTW, IMO, nothing wrong with using either.

          • Semere T Habtemariam

            Halafi Mengedi,

            Glad to be of help. Your mom was just been herself–a true Hamassienite. That is how all my relatives–on both sides–spoke. It is the Hamassien I know; it is the Hamassien way.


          • Berhe Y

            Dear HM,

            I think the absence of ” አንቱም እንትን” was replaced / added with “aya” and others. I think, if I understand it correctly, calling someone who is close to you, like your father, your uncle as ” አንቱም እንትን” sounds like you are making them ጎኖት if my understanding is correct.

            So Semere, how do you address a total stranger in Hamsien who is much, much older than you. for example, if you address Aboy Keshi that is stranger from another place….how would they address him.

            Do they say “Aboy Keshi” or “Ata Keshi”? Just asking…

            In the same sense, do you think it’s appropriate to address the Eritrean president, as simply Isayas? Even if we look at the english, it’s always Mr. President, or President xyz, never xyz. I think that’s giving respect to the office and the authority he represents. I do not like to call the preside Isayas as an ordinary person.

            On the God, addressing him as he, I think it depends which Europrean country we are speaking. For example in French, there is “tu” and “Vous”, which are similiar to “አታ አንቱም”. I don’t know the whole story but I searched it up on google and found that said it used to be “Vous” and lately it may have changed to “To”, with capital “T”. My French is very limited so I leave this to Haile S. and Paulo to make the connections.


          • Haile S.

            Selam Berhe,
            As you mentioned, in french, you use vous (ንስኹም ንስኽን) for anyone that you don’t know or you are not familiar whether older or younger, and for elders and someone in responsibility. In a department, I was studying, theere were 4 profs, the 2 older than me, I never addressed them ‘tu’ till now, even though they are close friends. The other 2 were of my age or younger, with time I got used to addressing them ‘tu’. A teacher is supposed to say ‘vous’ to his/her students even elementary students. If you hear or see getting practiced otherwise it is because we are living at a permissive period. And pkease see my response to Semere Habtemariam above.

          • Semere T Habtemariam

            Dear Berhe,

            I don’t think Aboy and Aya are a replacement. When people in Seraye and Akelguzay would say “Antom abo, abo Kemey w’Elkum,” in Hamassien, it would be, “anta abo, abo kemey w’Elka.”

            Ato, weyzero and weyzerit is what is used to respectfully address people. So Berhe if you happen to meet a real president, not the dictator we have now, you would address him as Ato President.

            BTW, we are not discussing the merits of “አታ አንቱም”. All I said is that people need to be sensitive and respectful to others. The loss of “አንቱም” might be rightfully considered as a degradation of culture in Akeleguzay and Seraye, but it is not so in Hamassien.


          • Berhe Y

            Thank you Semere,

            So what they say in Aboy Keshi as an example. Do you say “Abo keshi, kemey w’Elka?”


          • Semere T Habtemariam

            Dear Berhe,


            Recently, a friend told me of an incident in his church (in the US). A lady from Hamassien was talking to their priest and she kept on talking to him in a typical Hamassien way: aboy keshi nAmo, aboy keshi kemzi gber…Some of the non-Hamassien members of the congregation took offense and had to talk to her. The good thing was the keshi was from Hamassien and it was handled easily. ናይ ኣቦኣ (ዓዳ) ኮይንዋ እንታይ ክትገብር ኢልኩማ: ሓቃ እምበር።

            እዚ ወድሓንካ በርሀ: ስምካ ይምራሕ: ክንደይ ከ ይጥዕም። ክናሳሕ ዶ?ምስ ኣስማት ትግርና ፍቕሪ ኣለኒ። እዚ ናይ ሕብራይስቲ ኣስማት ዋላ እልመዶ ደኣምበር ብዙሕ ባህ ኣይብለንን ‘ዩ። ናትካ ዝመስሎ የለን።

            ሠመረ ተ/ሚካኤል ሃ/ማርያም

          • iSem

            Hi Semere:
            Thanks. We had this debate with BY before and now we hear it from the hourses mouth. But referring to dad as “aya” may not be Hamassien centric. It is used in Asmara, and the other areas, maybe hearing some one calling older brother as “aya”, usually the first born uses “aya” and the younger ones follow, if a younger uncle calls your dad, aya, the first born repeats that. This is pure observation The same with referring parents with their names to almost entirely with mothers startes with the first born and when we get older we sweeten is with “Demeteyy” instead of Demet. In My family when I left my sisters started using “ade”,
            But also Emma maybe right, in the other side of the Hamassien using the plural. But as you say I am sure the area of Anseba that was historically part of Hamassien use the single form to Keshi, the grad dad and Hanettai.
            But there is an exception to the rule, I am not sure how we reconcile that as I know someone from the Tseazega and Hazega whose father was Degiat who refers to his mother in the plural. I guess everything is nuanced.

          • Semere T Habtemariam


            Migrations as a result of war, famine, drought, trade, intermarriages have been a permanent feature of our long history. Nowhere is this more so than in the ruling class who had to intermarry with each other. The founder of the Teshim Dynasty was married to an Amhara from Gonder, and so all the rulers of TseAzega are half Amhara on their maternal side. I am not denying the cultural diffusion that comes with it. If you see in my response to Haile, I have also considered the ambivalence of Bahta Tesfahannes for the reasons that I gave. But the bottomline is that Hamassien, as a region is the only place where this particular culture has been a defining feature. The central message of my input was that it is wrong to assume that we are suffering cultural degradation because people have forsaken the usage of አንቱም” because it was not there in Hamassien to begin with.

            As far as the use of Aya, we’re in the same wave-length. That is also my understanding.

            As they say in Seraye, “ኣሚኑ ዝካታዕ ዝረትዖ ነይብሉ”. I made my statement based on knowledge and I am glad we see eye to eye Mokhsi and have no axe to grind, a point that is lost on big brother Amanuel.


          • iSem

            Hi Semere:
            I am not a scholar like you in the Tigriniya or Giez or Orthodox but I am huge fan of it. I remember when you wrote about Aster Yohannes, the wife of PS and you addressed her as Mearo, unique to Hamassien. And that is something that is never used in Seraye. Abishay is used in Seraye and Sandai in Akle. But some kids address their mothers as abishai or mearo (never heard of Sandayi) for the same reason as ayay.
            And some times even in the same region there are differences, naunces, eg in some areas of Akle the men address each other sandai
            About the degradation of culture I think people are talking about it in a package, and not just because they use ata. And the reason is someone who used antum in his entire life then comes back and thinks that the plural version feudal and uses the singular and ridicules those who use it, and to someone who is used that as deference can rightly perceive is degradation, i think that is the point
            For example certain commenter here told me that I was wrong to say that Eri men invoke their mothers when daring, like wedi Silas, but some do, like Wedi Eleni. History and culture is not black and white and thanks for illuminating us

          • Semere T Habtemariam


            Thank you. You just added to my fund of knowledge. I didn’t know that, “in some areas of Akle the men address each other sandai.” It would be nice if you could tell me where that is. I’m really amazed by the cultural diversity in the Tigrinya speaking regions of Eritrea: legally, linguistically, economically and even militarily. To the best of my knowledge, it is only in Hamasien where women were allowed to participate in war. This to me should be the object of our study, but the stupid regime is depriving us of all sorts of opportunities to serve our country.

            I do agree with your other points as well. BTW, the area that my mother is from, although in Hamassien, don’t use MeAro.

            I didn’t expect you to miss MeAro in my article, but you would be amazed how many Eritreans don’t recognize the subtlety and nuances of our culture. They are irrationally obsessed with unity; any kind of differences scares the ***out of them. It is sad indeed. And even worse, some only look at things with their Western-made lenses, and don’t bother with anything that is authentic to our culture. They have not taken the time to reflect on how it applies to them, but their smugness is even more annoying. The good thing I’ve learned how to identify them.


          • Berhe Y

            ዝኸበርካ ሰመረ፡፡

            የቐንየለይ፡ ክብረት ንዓኻ ይኹን፡፡

            ዝገርመካ፡ ነዚ አስማት ናይ ባህልና፡ ዋላካ ብዙሕ አቃልቦ ገይረሉ አይፈልጥን፡፡ ግን ሓለፉ፡ ሓሊፉ፡ እዞም ጸዓዱ፡ ስምካ እንትይ ማለትዩ፡ እንትይ ቱርጉሙ ክብለ ከለዎ እሞ፡ ክንገግሮም ከለኹ፤ ክሳብ ክንደይ ጥዑም ምኻኑ የስተብህለሉ፡፡

            ንአብነት፡ ቀረባ እዋን ሓደ አብ ፈይስ ቡክ ዝፈልጦ ወዲ፡ ካብ ኢትዮፕያዊ አቦን፡ አፍሪቓዊት አድ ዝተወልደ እዩ፡፡ እቲ ላስት ኔም፡ ገብረሂወት እዩ ዝበሃል፡፡ ሓደ ካብቶም ናይ ፍይስ ቡክ ዓዕርኽቱ፡ ይብሎ፡ ስማካ ክትርጎም ከሎ “servant of the faith” ምኻኑ ትፈልጦ ዶ ይብሎ፡፡ እንታይ ኢሉ ከም ዝመልሰሉ አይዝክረንን፡ ግን እቲ ትረጉም ብኢንግሊዝ ብጣዕሚ ደስ ኢሉኒ፡፡

            ንስኻ እንታይ ኢልካ ትትርጉሞ፡፡ ሰመረ ተ/ሚካኤል ሃ/ማርያም እንታይ ኢልካ ትትርጉሞ፡፡ አዝባር (/) እኮ አይፈትዎን እየ፡፡ ናይ ሃካያት ኮይኑ ዝስመዓኒ፡፡ ብፍላዩ እሞ፡ አብ ፓስፖርትን፡ መንነት ወረቀት ክጥቀምሉ ክትርኢ ከለኻ፡፡


          • Semere T Habtemariam


            ዓጽምኻ ይኽበር ዚ ሓወይ::

            ገብረሂወት ማለት ኣገልጋሊ ሂወት ማለት ‘ዩ።

            እዚ ስም ቅድሚ ኣብራሃማዊ ሃይማኖት ምእታው ኣብ ሃገርና እንጥቀመሉ ዝነበርና ክኸውን ይኽእል ‘ዩ። ነበረያ ነበረ ደኣ ኮይኑ እምበር: ቀደምሲ ሃገርና ዓዲ መዓር ጸባ ‘ዩ ኔሩ።

            ፋዘር ኣልቫርስ ብሰራየ ክሓልፍ ከሎ ብሃብቲ ‘ቲ ቦታ ተገሪሙ። መራጉዝ: ማይጫዕዳ: ተኸላ: ካብቲ ዝበለጸ መሬት ከበሳ ‘ዩ። በቲ ኣስማቱ ይፍለጥ: ካልእ ይትረፍ።

            ዚ ሃገርና ዓዲ ምቾት: ዓዲ ጣዕሚ: ኣሳፊሕካ እትሓድረሉ: ሃገር ‘ዩ ኔሩ። ሂወት ሰብ ከኣ ክም ቆሎ ስርናይ ጡዑም ነበረ። ነዚ ጡዑም ሂውት የኽብርዎ ስለ ዝነበሩ እቶም ቀዳሞት ገብረሂወት ኢሎም ክሰምዩ ይኽእሉ ‘ዮም። በቲ ካልእ ወገን ከኣ ከምቲ ዝበልካዮ ክኸውን ይኽእል ‘ዩ። እምነት ሂወት ‘ዩ: እግዘኣብሄር ሂውት ‘ዩ:: ገበላ ገዲፍካ ብሑጓ ደኣ ከይኸውን እምበር ገብረሂወት: ገብረእምነት ክኸውን ይኽእል ‘ዩ።

            ሰላም ኣይፈለኻ ‘ዚ ሓውይ:: ሕጂስ ስርሐይ ኣለይ መለይ ደኣ ክብል። ጅር እምበር እንጀራስ ብመጠኑ ‘ዩ ዘሎ።

            ሰመረ ተ/ሚካኤል ሃ/ማርያም

          • halafi mengedi


            I am not sure I have heard antum and antin, singular or plural, used around a lot. As you said, may be it is replaced with aya or aboy – kusto….

            Re the other point, i think you would say ‘aboy keshi’, but then instead of, for example, ‘aboy keshi kemey hadirkum’, one would say ‘aboy keshi kemey hadirka’ so on and so forth.

            but remember, being from city, one’s experience is highly influenced from people from all places, so, i am only talking about my experience.


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Haw Semere,

            Really, you act as a spokesman of Hamassien. Myself, as a man who lived and grow in the border area of Hamassien and whose extended families have had cross-marriages with our brothers of the same province, I could also proudly tell you about the culture of our brothers of the Hamassien province.

            First, in my earlier response, it was only to address to your statement, which says “no one in Hamassien use አንቱም እንትን“ and I told you do not generalize there are many. Here are the villages my extended families had made inter-marriages whom I know to say አንቱም እንትን: Himberti, Tzeazegha, Addi Nefas, Quazein, Gerrmi, Sheketi, Adi Sherefeto, Shimanugus.

            Second, also, do not generalize all Serae says አንቱም እንትን:: Almost half of Serae do say አንታ አንቲ::

            Third, the Bible is interpreted from English and there is no አንቱም እንትን to interpret it as such, and hence አንታ ጎይታይ አንታ አምላኽ::

            Fourth, if the vocabulary in itself is the vocabulary of Feudals, then the European has passed through that social developments and hence they could have similar words of respect which could be reflected in the Bible itself. So it has nothing to with feudalism to use such etiquette of respect. Therefore, if there were not words of respect “አንቱም እንትን and others the word “ምዝንጣል” wouldn’t exist.

            Lastly, using words of respect is to the satisfaction of the one who want to use it for his own etiquett and that could generate reciprocal respect from the one in the receiving end. With this I rest my case.

          • Semere T Habtemariam

            ይትረፈኒ: ነዚ ናትካ ክግዕት ኢለስ ነየርሃጸኒ።

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Haw Semere,

            You can’t even follow the rules how to address people. That tells a lot.

          • Semere T Habtemariam

            Emma, I am glad you got it. That was the message. When something is so low, it doesn’t need to be dignified. መእሰሪ ስኢነሉ ጹሑፍካ። I got a lot on my plate and the last thing I want to do is play trivia with you.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            ሰላም ክቡር ሓው ሰመረ:

            ኩሉ ሰብኮ ከም አተዓባብይኡ:: እሱ ስለዝኾነ ኸአ እዩ አኽብሮት ሰብ ዘየብልካ ሰመረ ሓወይ::

          • Semere T Habtemariam


            You could talk ad nauseam about respect, but that is one thing that is glaringly absent from you. It would have been okay, if you were just insulting me, but now, you go beyond that and insult my upbringing and parents. This is really low even for you. Truly ኩቡር ከም ክብረቱ ሑሱር ከም ሕስረቱ. I am sure your parents raised you better and you are not a reflection of them, but of yourself. I am not in any position to comment on your parents–don’t know them. For that matter, I don’t even know you that much to have an opinion on you, on your personhood, but I have read some of your articles and have made my mind long time ago not to read you. For one thing, you don’t write with an authentic voice and that is a huge turn-off for me. I rarely agree with Ali Salim, but, I find him authentic and original. There is a correlation between authorship and authenticity. The Ali Salims, the Semere Andoms and the Saleh Johars have it, you don’t. I find Ali engaging and provocative; you’re a complete bore. Your articles remind me of the freshman papers I use to grade.

            You want to play in major league; you ain’t got the goods, man.

            I was in a pickle–the old moral conundrum that even King Solomon could not reconcile–when responding to you. You don’t seem to be inspired by understanding, knowledge and enlightenment, and frankly, I am ill-equipped to deal with people like you. If ignorance is a bliss, you’re living in heaven. I hate ignorance and even more so with people that are not willing to learn and change. Your sophomoric take of things could be amusing to some, but it is a waste of time for me. Butt out.

            My conundrum, in the words of Solomon:

            Proverb 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
            Proverb 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly or he will be wise in his won eyes.


          • Paulos

            Wow wow wow Semere,

            Easy bro!

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            ሰላም ሓው ሰመረ,

            ወይ ጉድ አንቱም ሰባት: ወሓጦ እንተበልክዎስ ይጎስሞ ኮይኑኒ ናይዚሰብዝስ:: ንስኻዶ አይኮንካን መሕሰር ሓው who said “no need to be dignified”, when I tried to remind you to follow the rules of the forum in addressing your fellow forumers. And in your follow up comment, you were glad about me for knowing why you did it. መልሰይ ከአ ብልክዕ ነቲ ኣበሃህላኻ እያ ትምልስ::

            እቲ ዘገርም ከአ እቲ ክትዕ ብዛዕባ አኽብሮትን ባህላዊ ልምደታትናን ኮሎ እንታይ አምጸኦ ብዛዕባ ዝጽሕፎም ስነሓሰባዊ ዓንቀጻት ኣብዚ ንገብሮ ዘለና ክትዓት:: እቲ አነ ዝጽሕፎ ዓንቀጻት ፍተዎም አይትፍተዎም ንዓይ immaterial እዩ:: እዚ ኸአ ክንደይ ግዜ ኣብዚ ፎርም’ዚ ደጋጊምካ እልካዮ ኢኻ:: ንዓኻ ግን ደጋጊምካ እንተበልካዮ ዘሕፍረኒ እዩ ዝመስለካ:: ግን ምንም ቅጭጭ ከምዘይብለኒ ሰመረ ሐወይ ክትግንዘብ ይደልየካ:: እቶም ዝጽሕፎም ስነሓሰባዊ ዓንቀጻት አብ “ዕዳጋ ሓሳባት” ወሪዶም ዝቀበሎምን ዘይቅበሎምን ከምዘሎ ፈሊጠየ ናብ ዕዳጋ ዘውርዶም:: ንዓኻ ወቀሕ እንተዘይበሉኻ ግን ብዙሕ ዘገድስ አይኮነን:: ንምኻኑኸ መንዩ ዳኛ ገይሩካ?

            ሰመረ ሓወይ ኣብቲ ናትካ ጽሑፋትውን ናይ ርእሰይ ተገንዝቦኮ አለኒዩ:: ኦነግን ከምዚ ንስኻ ሃተፍተፍ ትብሎ አይብልን እየ:: እንታይ ጥቅሚ አለዎ ከምዚ ናትካ ሃናጺ ዘይኮነ ሃተፍተፍ:: ስለዚ ንከምዚ ናትካ “ብርእሰ-ልዕልና” ዝዝምር “ነብሰ-ትሕትና” ክምህር እየ ዝህቅን:: ከምኡ እዩኸአ አተዓባብያይ:: ብርእሰ-ልዕልና ዝዝምር ሰብ ከአ ብዛዕባ ነብሱ ጥራይ ስለዝዝምር ንሰማዒኡ ኪሕ ዝብሎ ጥራይ ዘይኮነስ ውዒሉ ሓዲሩ ነብሰ-ተነጽሎ ዘምጸአሉውን እዩ::

            ሰመረ ሓወይ ፈላጥ ገይርካ ንነብሳኻ ጥራይ አይተቅርብ (ንሱውን እንተሃልዩካ እዩ) ተማሃራይ ኮይንካ ምቅራብ ከምዘሎውን ፍለጥ:: ከምቲ ሓደ መራሒ ንሕና ናብ ህዝብና ክንወርድ ከለና መራሕትን ተማህሮን ኮይና ኢና ንወርድ ዝበሎ: ነቲ ክትኮኖ ኢልካ ትማጣጠሮ ዘለኻ ብርእሰ-ልዕልና ዘይኮነስ ብነብሰ-ትሕትናን ተማሃራይ ህዝብኻን ምስትኸውን ጥራይ እዩ:: ንሎሚሸት በዛ ተግሳጽዚአ ይሳነበተካ;:

            ልዋም ዘለዎ ለይቲ ይግበረልካ

          • gebremedhin yohannes

            selam Semere
            waw what an empty barrel you sound like.
            shame , what a hypocrite
            every body see what you are , naked

      • Ismail AA

        Selam Sereme Habtemariam,

        First, I need to remind myself that my respect for you remains intact. I am not yet fortunate to know you in person, but my respect for you has incubated and grown to maturity through your writings (book reviews among them) and activities in the public domain that concern us all. But your rejoinder has caught me by surprise bit. Not for the views expressed but the tone and choice of words.

        To be judicious to myself when I re-read what I had written I realized that I should have been specific in delineating the region I had in mind. I should have added “parts of” as modifier to the terms “Tigrigna speaking Kebessa”. Consider that shortcoming on my part, and I ask you and the reader to accept my sincere regret.

        However, had you read what I wrote with cool demeanor you would have noticed that I commenced my comments by stating that my views were impressions accrued from two perspectives: the pan-Eritrean, if you will, and specifics that pertain to the diversity of cultures and customs that make up the nation.

        Thus, if you had clearly in mind, the “one does not need to disrespect other cultures to make a point. People need to stop telling us that the culture some of us were raised in does not show deference to elders. … This is not just an insult to Hamasien but to most of Eritreans who don’t use ኣንቱም or ኣንትን” angry response would not have been needed. In a word, sir, “making a point”, “disrespect” and “insult” were not intended. I know doing this would amount to disrespecting oneself, too.

        Moreover, I do not need to repeat what others like brother Aman H. have written on this matter about what constitutes the part from the whole. I mean to say that the “ኣንታ” and “ኣንቲ” using part of Hamassien that could have been influenced by neighboring lowlands cultures constitutes an invisible tiny chunk of the historical Habesha cultures and customs that expand all the way across the plateau to the heart of the Amharic speaking regions where “ኣንቱም, ኣንትን and “እርስዎ” are taken for granted standard tokens of cultured addresses to elders.

        By the way, many of the ancient cultures like Persia and in many parts of the Arabian Peninsula do you use the same terms for respect of elders and religious or cultural figures. In Iran even minors who are not familiar to the speaker are addressed by “shoma” which is an equivalent to “ኣንቱም, ኣንትን. In my own culture and traditions as well as cultures of my Tigrigna speaking neighbors we use “ኣንቱም, ኣንትን” to address mothers and fathers.

        • Semere T Habtemariam

          Dear Ismail,

          I was commenting on a larger trend that has been with us for a while. I’ve heard this argument before–part of the reason why I had to research it. Your comment, “In PFDJ era, a teen-age boy or girl addressing a 60 year elder as ኣንታ(ቲ) and not ኣንቱም or ኣንትን is modernization of cultural values because the latter are contemptible feudal relics,” was a minor modification. For example, one of the characters in Daniel Tesfai’s book attributes it to the influence of Hamassien. The subtle inference in your comment is that ኣንታ(ቲ) is less of our traditional value, and that is simply not true. Talking about respect, no one in the Tigrinya speaking world refers to God in the plural. Just imagine one saying ኣብ ሰማያት ትነብር ኣቦና ስምኩም ይቀደስ. That would be polytheism, wouldn’t it. If we use ኣንታ to communicate with God, then, that to me shows that the culture in Hamassien is as good as any. ኣንታ እግዛኣብሄር እልምነካ ኣለኹ ስምዓኒ.

          The ኣንታ(ቲ) is a trademark of cultural and traditional Hammasien. I have collected many funny stories over the years, particularly from Tigray. You don’t need to tour the world to show the use of ኣንቱም or ኣንትን, it is part of Seraye and Akeleguzay cultural etiquette. I would rather see it from within than from without. Although sometimes, it helps to see it from without.

          In the words of Tigray, Ismail, ነዚኣ እንተዘይ ኣመንካ ከም ደብረሲና ንሓማሴን ርሒቃቶም ዘላ ዶ ትርሓቅካ።

          We do have a lot of ሓምዳይ in Hamassien, people who originally spoke Tigre. እንኮነ ዓሰቦ ሁሩ ሃገረ ሓማሴን–land of hospitality። You might have a point about their possible influence, but that does not negate the cultural phenomenon we have had for a long time in Hamassien, people don’t use ኣንቱም and ኣንትን. For example, I read somewhere that Dembezan is the only region in the Highland that had the Tigre and Shimagle social classification, and that could have been a Tigre/Lowland influence.

          ኣያ ኢስማዒል ሰላም ውዓል። ኢድካ ሑሉፍ ‘ዩ ድምብርጽ ኣይበልካ። ሓማሴናይ መግቡ ጎጎ ዘረብኡ ሕደጎ ‘ዩ። ከም ሻሙ ኣያ መዓረይ። In case you miss it, ከም ሻሙ, is a Hamassien word. It is not used anywhere else, to the best of my knowledge.

          ነዋሕ ኦም ጎረቤታ ተጽልል ዓሻ ናቱ የቅልል ከይኸውን፡ ግደፈኒ ደኣ ክብሪ ዓደቦይ ክከላኸል። ዓገብ! ኣቦታተይ ዘቐመጡለይ ጨርሒ ከልዕል።

          I want the mothers in Hamassien to say:ኣማተ እሉ ሰብእ ንሕነ።


          • Haile S.

            Selam Semere Habtemariam,
            I think the uproar against the generalised use of ኣንታ & ኣንቲ is because these words are the faces of the prevailing absence of respect in addressing each other. Whatever the reason for their generalized use during Ghedli, they became the vehicle of this respectless atitude.
            I have in the past expressed similar unhapiness against the absence of distinction in addressing an elder as did Ismail, without due consideration that my remarks could be perceived otherwise. But again the source of the uproar is in the use of ኣንታ & ኣንቲ and the tone adopted by the one pronouncing them like ኣቲ ሰበይቲ instead of ኣቲ’ደ.
            As for God, I think God is adressed as ኣንታ in all language. In french he is addressed as tu (ኣንታ). It is natural that the most intimate soul, most familliar and confident of an individual, i.e. God, be addressed as such. ኣንቱም (vous) is reserved for the earthly gods, i.e. the kings, queens, generals, popes, queens, lords presidents etc, those with whom we are not familiar with. And in this regard, I think the notables in Hamasien were adressed as ኣንቱም. Later I will check ዛንታ ጸዓዘጋን ሃዘጋን, but as far as my memory goes, the narrator uses ኣንቱም for the higher ranks and ኣንታ for the lower ranks.

          • Semere T Habtemariam

            Dear Haile,

            It is true in ዛንታ ጸዓዘጋን ሃዘጋን Bahta Tesfahannes does use ኣንቱም to address the rulers of ጸዓዘጋ, but not consistently. Remember till ጸዓዘጋ’s rulers were betrayed by the Tigrayan ras Mikael Suhul, who was their Blata at the time, their domain extended to Bambolo Mlash, so a majority of their subjects were outside of Hamassien. This could explain the inconsistencies and ambivalence of Bahta Tesfahannes. It was after the betrayal of was Mikael that the ጸዓዘጋ domain was split and ጸዓዘጋ was relegated to ruling what came to be known as Mereb Mlash.

            In the last 150 years, Hamasien had suffered enormously, so much so, that it has not been ruled by its own since then. It was the only province in the highlands that was militarily taken over by the Italians and it is the one that had been ruled by Italy the longest.


  • MS

    Ahlan iSem et al
    I know Paul and SAAY will join and, maybe just maybe, Tegadelti Abrehet Yosief and Tzigereda will also bring the other half of humanity to the discussion, because the way males and females interpret, and artistic work is a bit different. I’m Sure our Ethiopian friends, amde, Horizon et al will also say something.
    Music is a feeling, that is all. In free societies, the market decides what lyrics, genres, artists sell more. Artists have artistic control over their production. Some artists chase money, that’s, they are after making hit songs, regardless of its overall message to humanity. That’s why you hear the drug, gun, lust filled hip-hop world. Strict moral principles drive some artists regardless of financial gains. Prince was known for his anti-establishment fight where he faced the music industry and entrenched societal stereotyping. The man lived to be free. Rip. Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bob Seger, Joni Mitchell, etc., sang for change. There are religious artists, patriotic artists, internationalists.
    If you listen to the blues, it is all about disparaging women, how unfaithful they are, etc. But it is beautiful music to the ear, and I give the music- the feel of the shuffle, licks, and solo, etc.- more emphasis. Some may find it objectionable. I hate heavy metal; others love it.
    In our case, it is the same. We can critique artists only when they have control over their creativity. During the armed struggle, it was everything about liberation, and you can understand why most of the songs were about Fetchew- that’s unless you were a guy called Semere Andom (joke).
    In today’s Eritrea, everything is censured and rationed. That’s just a fact. Korchach sang that beautiful song; I hope he sang it willingly, but he would have to do it anyway. That was a patriotic song, and nothing wrong with singing patriotic songs. Don’t tell me there are no Canadian radios that air patriotism 24/7; we have plenty of them here. Actually, the more artists go to to the army in Afganistan and Iraq, the more they get exposure and sell well. The United Service Organization (USO) was founded to entertain the army, and most of the top entertainer went through it- Frank Sinatra to today’s big shots. So, why does it become Haram when it comes to Eritrea?
    Mt take is that if a society is free, there will be different demands for different genres and lyrics, thus, different artists. Our appear as if they have been made on an assembly line, and that is to the socio-political climate and not to the artists.
    The only pure music that can knock into your soul without speaking is jazz and classic music. However, with our Kirar/mesengo, and its five notes, we have not developed the fineness of enjoying those genres. So, still, we will sweat on our fetchew.
    Music crosses boundaries. My Ethiopian artists include Ephrem Tamru, Tilahun Geses, Mahmoud Ahmed, Ali Bira, Hirut Bekele, Hamalmal Abate, Tsehaye Yowhans, Aster Aweqe and so on, with Roha band leaving an undeletable musical stamp in the recess of my mind. One can wonder why Eritrean fighters loved to listen to Ethiopian music while they were fighting the Ethiopians. That’s because Music is nature; it is as delicate as nature, and it has components that one can enjoy some of a song’s components without necessarily agreeing on its totality. For instance, I can love the tempo, melody, composition, solo, etc., without agreeing on its lyrics. My all-time best solos are Prince’s on Purple rain, and Pink Floyd’s “comfortably numb.”
    I have collections in various genres, but there is none that beats my own Rababa of Barka. Get me Hamed Abdella, and you see me floating in a trance.
    ይኽደነኒ፣ ናብቲ ናይ ሓተታ ዘመን ግዲ ክምለስ እየ። ከሕጽራ ክብል ኣንዊሐያ። ኣይተሓዙለይ።

    • saay7


      Will say more about this (I hope), because Eritrean Tigrinya music is now so vast it requires daily checking to see who is the latest. For now, check out this guitar-centric Tigrinya song called ዓረም by Amanuel Yohannes (guitarist: Yosef Ermias.) The still image which accompanies is so disturbing that I have to assume it was done by Tesfaldet Meharenna because it was first published by his website.



  • Haile S.

    ሰላም ሳለሕ፡
    ቁምነገር ሓዘል ዘረባኻ ሰሚዔዮ፡ ደስ ኢሉኒ። ካብ ዕለታዊ ዝለመድናዮ ዘረባን ኣተሓሳስባን ወጺና ኣቕርብርን ኣርሕቕን ኣግፍሕን ኣቢልና ንክንጥምት ዝእረም ክንዘራረበሉ ዝዕድም ልዙብ መልእኽቲ ስለ ዝኾነ፡ እዝንን መልሓስን ክንህቦን ክንከታተሎን ዝግባእ’ዩ እብል።
    መኸተን ብድሆን ዝብሉ ቃላት ምስ ተጠቐምካ ግና፡ ዋእ ኣንታ እዚ ሳለሕ’ውን ተለኺፉ ኢለ ሰንቢደ ነይረ። ደሓር ግና ተመሊሰ ምስ ሰማዕኩኻ፣ ሓቑ እንድዩ፡ ፍቕሪ ሃገርን፡ ክብሪ ታሪኽናን፡ ብ’ሃገርና ጽቡቕ ምዝራብ፡ ኮታ ኩሉ ዝኣመሳሰሉ ነገራት ነቶም ሃገራውያን በሃልቲ ክንገድፈሎም የብልናን ዶ’ይኮነን ዝብል ዘሎ ኢለ፣ ከምኡ’ውን እዞም ቃላት ናቶም ጥራይ ኮይኖም ከይተርፉ ኢሉ እዩ ዝተጠቕመሎም ኢለ ስንባደይን መሰረት ከም ዘይነበሮ ተረዲኡኒ።
    ልዋም ለይቲ

  • Art, Music, & Culture

    Selam to all:
    We are now entering a new territory, despite having done it ten years ago, as Saleh G. Johar mentions in the clip, this is timely and much needed optics that will elevate the criticism of art, culture, politics, and societal issues worth addressing. Granted, calling it time consuming doesn’t even begin to explain it. It’s an arduous task that requires finesse, dedication, and a knack for creativity and artistic disposition, all of which SGJ – hands down – possesses it as the clip explicates it.

    Music is one area that can appear to be evolving at first glance, such proliferation of Eritrean music in the age of You Tube can seem exciting. However, sifting to find exquisite music is not an easy endeavor, which would require undue time spent trying to find the kind of songs, lyrics, melodies, that one enjoys. The hope is that time will permit SFJ to continue this new challenge. As one astute Eritrean observer said it, “Eritreans read by their ears”. So, glad to see you making an attempt to reach those who rely on the optics to consume the info they need. Those of us who – almost, always – depend on the written word have a lot of catching up to do in this regard. Glad to see someone is attempting to make that transition and who else can do this better than you, Ustaaz Saleh.

    In fact, the minute I saw your clip, kept wondering about a couple of things: The quality of the talk and the quality of the visual aid, on both counts, I must say, I was enthused. After having a conversation with a friend, a friend who seems to not miss a beat on the world affairs in general and Eritrean matters in particular; when I told him about the clip that SGJ produced and proceeded to tell him the reference to Wedi Tikabo’s song, he went onto tell me not only the back story of Wedi Tikabo’s “gue leminey” but said that an Amharic singer (Selamawit Gebru) who had done a hybrid of Tigrinya and Amharic rendition of it. Sure enough, I had enjoyed that song a great deal and I even shared it in one of those weekends at awate forum but had no idea that it was an appropriation of Wedi Tikabo’s song in question. To my friend’s credit, he even said that SGJ had translated the song. Now, we are talking I thought.

    Associated to the appropriation of songs brings with it issues of pirating, asking for proper permission, etc., which requires a separate treatment and is beyond the scope of what I have in mind here. Though Selamawit gives a written credit in the vid clip as the lyrics being that of Yohannes Tikabo, have no inklings whether Wedi Tikabo gave permission to the artist. At any rate, for the benefit of those who may not know the meaning of the song in Tigrinya, here is the translated version, courtesy of Saleh Gadi Johar:

    My Scent of Lemon (The Medicine of The Heart)
    Wedi Haile, the pot breaker
    I was afraid he will meet you in his rages of anger
    I was on guard since down
    Afraid he was lurking to get you.
    By the meadows, by the grassy fields
    Chatting all day long
    You showed me what you can do
    And you taught me the meaning of love
    Oh my fresh barley kernel, while we devoured our passion
    As the village girls watched
    And they peeked and sang
    Taunting me day and night.
    Oh, my scent of lemon, take a walk
    Come, stay with me by the meadows.
    Oh, my scent of lemon, take a walk
    Come, stay with me by the streams.
    In the crowded tent-party in our village
    You surpassed all the veiled dancers.
    The youth of the village have seen it all
    They enjoyed the night beating the drums.
    But it was terrible for me, watching over you all night
    I feared kidnappers might snatch you away
    When I couldn’t find you in the party
    I had a sleepless night searching for you
    But as dawn broke
    You soothed my heart with a smile
    Though I was afraid, it would be detected
    And your bright smile might invite jealousy
    And other maybe inflicted with what I was
    For I know in love caution is lost.
    Oh, my scent of lemon, take a walk
    Come, stay with me by the meadows.
    Oh, my scent of lemon, take a walk
    Come, stay with me by the streams.
    Yes, by the Meadows…
    What am I to do?
    My love, what am I to do?
    My love, what am I to do?
    I’d rather end it believing love is compassion.
    Wedi Haile the pot breaker
    I was afraid he will meet you in his rages of anger
    I was on guard since down
    Afraid he was lurking to get you.
    In the meadow, by the lash lawns
    Chatting all day long
    You showed me what you can do
    And you taught me the meaning of love
    Oh my fresh barley kernel, while we devoured our passion
    He has become a hindrance in the middle of our village
    Shall I hide and pull a sling on him
    Whatever the village people may say.
    Oh, my scent of lemon, take a walk
    Come, stay with me by the meadows.
    Oh, my scent of lemon, take a walk
    Stay with me by the streams.
    I have my limits and it’s not much
    I live by the means I command
    Your folks used to honey and butter
    Might think I am after a fat dowry
    Forty cows and forty young bulls
    The lack of which stripes me of my courage
    You should pity me
    What does my house have but a bedding of hides?
    And you know my skin bedding
    It’s cold though you say it is cozy
    You are what I wish for
    Take my name, go ahead and own it
    That’s not much of an offer for you
    I may split my heart and give you its half.
    Oh, my scent of lemon, take a walk
    Come, stay with me by the meadows.
    Oh, my scent of lemon, take a walk
    Come, stay with me by the streams.
    Yes, by the Meadows…
    What am I to do?
    My love, what am I to do?
    My love, what am I to do?
    I’d rather end it believing love is compassion.

  • halafi mengedi


    This project is a great idea, thanks for getting it started. Although monologue, one can also feel the ‘elal’ type of style you want it to be. I like it. Also, written communication can feel distant at time and this vid helps bridge that gap and let us feel more connected.

    Also, thanks for today’s lesson. Speaking of boycotting, the only song i boycotted is ‘lilo’ by engineer asghedom.


  • iSem

    Hi Saleh GJ
    Way overdue video by Saleh. I have always been bothered when a singer singes “we spilled our blood, we paid with death and maiming to secure our freedom” and then the beat is gualya and people dancing like headless chickens and fighting over the koboro. So thanks for bringing that up in this intro video.
    I also like to pose this question for those who are interested and it is a question that I posed to my self: should singers also sing truth, and by truth I do not mean, something that is not imagined or non-fiction, what is an art without imagination, poets and writers use hyperbole and metaphors to describe beautify or ugliness of something like carnage and destruction. I am talking about truth when telling or narrating something. For example, a singer who is sympathetic with the regime can depict his support how Eritrea has been developed by exaggerating the development, the accomplishment of the UN- M. Development or dams, but how about when a singer and an artist out right lies about the respect and dignity and prosperity that the government is bestowing to the people when they tortured. Why is that our artists are not held to higher artistic honesty like intellectuals are with intellectual honesty. Art maybe in the eyes the of beholder and ears of the listener, but honesty is absolute like science, so is the need for artistic honesty and integrity?
    Language evolves and especially Eritrean languages can be influenced by many languages and cultures as we are scattered all-over, but when singer sings “habiby, hubbi dewilely” just for marketing to target the hip, the youth and we dance to it and then slowly “fiqrey” as a word disappears.

    So Saleh, also boycotting singers who shallow our language is good idea. Good example mid eighties a female Sudanese singer names Hanan BluBlu sang seductively exposing some skin, “hamada Hamada, jeneny Hubbu”, Hamada’s love drove crazy, his door next to ours) Men flocked to her concerts, but her songs were officially banned from playing in radio and television. So we may try boycotting all the songs like songs that advertise for loving a bum because he is a better lover than a decent geography professor. These days boycotting songs is done by not listening them in social media and not sharing and liking it.
    Also MS: the critiquing of songs can not be fully devoid of politics, when most of them are songs that speak to politics, I know you like Tefeno, but how can one not skid to politics when critiquing than song, while is about politics, about the bulked up country that has enlarged its muscle, about a country that the artist asks to tell him that she is doing well, “emsegen bellini hillley”. Although Saleh’s critique was close to non political as they can come, hankering mostly on the harmony of the lyrics and music and its message, one is hard pressed to be apolitical when critiquing Eri songs
    Warning to Mahmud Saleh otherwise affectionately known as Wedi Saleh
    He is asked to go for a vacation away from Internet when I critique this song. I recommend that do your eshim eshim and tewedeb dance way before:-)

    Also Saay can join MS in the vacation because I know he too loves this song and even the fashion statement that Korchach is donning

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam Samray,

      Leaving the critics for those who knows songs and musics, the guy has a phenomenal voice that invokes the nationalist spirit of nationals. Amazing vocal voice.

    • saay7


      {left hands on my waist, right hand wagging a finger, head moving left-right}: Oh no, you di-in’t!

      About the man who, with his Xibiqtey, gave us the best guitar solo since Osman’s Aqli Xibet? About the singer of “Seb”, and “hetur bedel” and “እታ ዋሓዚት ልበይ”, and “Freina” and “በይነይ” and “ወቓሕ ኢልክኒ”? Not to mention his duet of ገዛውትና ናፊቐ?

      Do you know that Israelis hold a concert to listen to Wagner music despite his musics close association with the Nazis? Man, you gotta lighten up. Let me ask you a question. You know what a huge fan of the Tigrinya language you are? And how much you despise nationalist songs. So what are you going to do with this? It’s Mussie Berhe’s “እምም.” I listen to it with a dictionary 🙂 Abrehet, Kbrom, Haile, Emma know 100% of the words. Just turn off the video and pay attention to the lyrics.



  • MS

    Ahlan Saleh Gadi
    Very nice of you, and it is a timely voice. Minutes ago I was exchanging Sunday’s light menu with Paulos, and I mentioned you that you might not approve of sometimes going non-boletikawi. That was based on one of your article where you criticized those who opt or say they prefer to opt out of politics. I was kinda of joking with Paul. That message, your reminder that we could not be neutral or apolitical (nonboletikawi) is understandable for engaging is the surest way of bringing various perspectives to the table.
    Your latest take on cultural critique is spot on, and it is prepared in a way it goes down smoothly, without a sip of water. We used to call it “waza ms qum neger” or learning/teaching through entertaining the audience. That strategy falls within the expectations Paul and I had laid down. Thanks, Sir.
    I agree with all the points with the caveat that we should celebrate what’s positive and progressive of our cultural heritage, and we should also bring to light what hurts us, as a people. For sure all societies have negative aspects of their cultures that tend to creep up when societies face crises. And it is those few who have had held their people in bitter contempt who use the opportune moment to disparage or tear down their people. They are bold and focused. They use notoriety as an agitating factor to get attention. The moderate usually think hundreds of times before saying something. I’m sure you thought over and over on how to get this message across without being hijacked midway. But they don’t have that burden.
    So, welcome, I applaud you for the initiative.
    One correction is that we should stay away on blaming the current political predicament on our culture without qualifying it or setting limits to that assertion. The subject may be too broad to condense it but here is how I would see it.
    – Definitely, our culture contains conservative ideas that tolerate the “big man” image, cheqa, sheiK, qeshi, Abeyti Adi, Nazrat, etc.
    -We experience dictatorship from early childhood where the father is the image of IA of the family.
    -Ours is a society of societies that had kept their independent traditional systems with contacts only along the peripheries or line of contacts. The cities fared better in bringing different traditions and could be said to have served as the proverbial melting pot. But the other social groups had remained largely intact until the revolution time.
    – The revolution has managed to bridge to some extent these gaps, but it was a war experience. Hence, we can’t expect it to be as something that had gradually developed through peaceful means such as economic interactions and transactions. Therefore, Eritrea is still home to at least nine distinct cultures and all the expressions that come with cultural identity, attitudes, mores, moral judgments, worldview, etc.
    – The above challenges coupled with the absence of political leadership have made us become unappreciative of diversity, in its social and political context. This picture describes why we are so poor in managing conflicts, and why we easily resort to attrition. We see this behavior repeat itself in close friends, social media, political organizations, civic societies and so on.
    Therefore, to come back to my point, it is debatable whether IA is the result of our culture. One might argue the current political culture is the result of IA administration, or as some call it, Sahel culture.
    Sometimes waves of imported or created ideas permeate cultures within a short time. Traditions give way to the new ideas (by hook or by crook), as it happens in revolutions. If the revolutionary idea is homegrown, it becomes a continuation of the natural process of cultural change where the positive aspects fit into the revolutionary ideas and the negative ones lag behind and with time die down.
    On the contrary, if the “new ideas” are foreign, or imported, they could suppress the traditional systems only through the use of guns. Once the employment of the gun is out of the equation, societies go through correcting process, and they readjust. The problem is, in the meantime, they might have lost opportunities, and they will have to catch up.
    Political leaders, thinkers, and writers play a significant role in reminding us where we are veering off course.
    Anyway, I hope I have made some sense.
    Thanks again.

    • Saleh Johar

      Ahlan Mahmuday,
      Points well taken and I agree with you. But sometimes it’s good to distinguish a summary and an exhaustive expression in an article form. My take is supposed to provoke listeners so that they can debate the issues in the way you have. Also, I said it was a sort of intro to what I intend to cover but not a full coverage of the multitude of topics I raised.

      I am grateful and I appreciate your feedback and please keep doing it because I have a lot of steam that needs to be released 🙂
      Thank you again

      • blink

        Dear SG
        For me this was great , even though I disagree on your take about the wall . I find your take probably refreshing and most views that I agree and ready to get insulted in defending them. What I don’t agree is about the wall . Just as trump said we need a beautiful wall that can be done after all the agazians went to Mekele . I am not rejecting the rationalistic way of doing things in this generation but I feel this is special, it’s really not being isolationist or racist, it’s just that I believe these unionists or agazianists and all the bashers must understand what they are wishing for. I will make sure I share every video of yours .

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Saleh,

    ጽብቅ አስተምህሮ: ጽብቅ መተሓሳሰቢ:: አብ ልብና የሕድሮን: ነተሓሳስባና መቃይሮ ይፍጠረልናን::

    ሰናይ መዓልቲ