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When Even Good News Is Given A Shrug

On behalf of myself and all awatistas (whether you like it or not), I would like to congratulate Nigerians and Ghanians for waking up one Monday morning (let’s assume it was Monday) and learning that they no longer belong to the dreaded “low income” country but the up-and-coming “low middle …

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The Engagement Party

In mid-December 2013, Hank Cohen argued that it was time for the US to rethink its policy towards Eritrea and there was over-reaction everywhere. Some in the opposition were alarmed by this, and some in the Isaiasist camp were thrilled:     The argument in itself is not surprising, particularly …

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Yohannes Tikabo and the King’s Men

This is the story of Yohannes Tikabo and Yosief Ghebrehiwet.  More accurately, about their beliefs. Two Eritreans, with varying degrees of enthusiasm for their particular identity. First things first:  I am and have been a fan of Yohannes Tikabo ever since Zemen.Actually, before Zemen: I go back to the days …

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The Riddle of The Unpredictable

We are faced with the Liar’s Riddle.  Two doors, one guarded by a compulsive liar, one guarded by a compulsive truth-teller.  One door leads to heaven, one to hell.  The guards are identical twins.  Your objective is to go to heaven. If you could ask one, and only one question, …

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Our New Culture of Victimhood and Voyeurism

Virgil, Dante, Sartre, Milton and James Joyce all took turns describing hell.  But it took an Eritrean, Mulugeta, to surpass them all.  It is just what we Eritreans do, we are special.  This is what hell is like: “Mulugeta said if he wanted to see his daughters, the traffickers would …

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Eritrea, Africa: The Last Big Man Standing

[As I write this, I haven’t heard Isaias Afwerki’s speech. If history is a guide, he will blame his predecessor for the mess who, in turn, will blame his predecessor all the way back to whoever has been presiding over Eritrea since 1991. Oh, wait, he is his own predecessor.  …

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The Report Card On Eritrea’s Turtle Economy

What is the role of governments? That is: when should a government’s coercive power be used? The answer is on a continuum: on the one side is a classic libertarian view which argues that the only time a government’s coercive power should be used is to protect the private property …

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Isaias Afwerki Deals With His Regime’s Suicide Note

The goal of all authoritarian leaders is to create a state that does not have alternative power centers or breeding grounds for a leader to emerge and to challenge them. In Eritrea, the institutions which incubated emerging leaders were traditional, religious, civil society, and the military. After a 50 year-long …

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Ghedli Defamers And The Appeal Of Inevitability

In “Eritrea: the illusion of independence-liberation dichotomy” (asmarino.com, January 11), Zekre Lebonna attempts to frame the positions of the “gedli romanticizing” and “gedli de-romanticizing” writers debating the role of the Eritrean revolution in the creation of totalitarianism in Eritrea. Regretfully, however, the author, far from clarifying the issue, muddies it up …

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The Power Of Infantilism In Eritrea

If you are asking, “why is the Eritrean government having only its second investment conference in 2012, twenty one years after Eritrean independence?” the bad news is that the first conference was also in 2012.   And if you are asking “why is it having two conferences in one year but …

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Same March, Different Drummer

The Circular Journey in Search of Eritrea: A “World Distance” that Never Was ( by Yosief Gebrehiwet) is an answer to the question posed by Eritrean Independence: Is It Worth All The Sacrifice? (also by Yosief Ghebrehiwet). The answer, it appears, is an emphatic no. The 50-year long journey for …

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Free Citizens and Foot Soldiers

What does a national institution with a name like “Research and Documentation Department” do? If you answered: “Research and publish basic data like the census, national budget, unemployment rate, inflation rate, GDP growth, demographics, etc.” you would be right—for any country in the world.  But in Eritrea, where everything, including …

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Isaias Afwerki’s Five Stages Of Dealing With Crisis

Outrageous things happen in Eritrea all the time. But outrageous things have a scale and sometimes even people who have been conditioned to accept the outrageous as the normal are jolted. The refusal of Isaias Afwerki to allow the body of long-time (40 years) EPLF/PFDJ functionary Naizghi Kiflu to be returned …

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Isaias Shrugged: And The Eritrean People Sighed

In fact, in the entire 6-hour interview, you will never find these words escape his lips: “Eritrea”, “Eritreans,” “Eritrean people.” It is always, “izi hager” (this country), “izi hzbi” (these people.) Go ahead, check it, if you got 6 hours to kill. And it is a habit with him: when it comes to Eritrea, Isaias talks like a consultant, as this column observed years ago when Isaias expressed amazement about people who speak of the private sector. abzi hager bHtawi kfal kblu ygermeni iyu

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Isaias Shrugged: And The World Rolled Its Eyes

In 10 short years, Isaias Afwerki has achieved the status which took Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez longer to accomplish: an annoying loudmouth just tilting at the windmill. In 2007, Spain’s king famously told Hugo Chavez: “why don’t you just shut up?” after he kept interrupting, over, and over, and …

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Isaias Shrugged: And The State Media Nodded Its Head

A powerful title that authoritarians have, rivaling that of their role as Chief Commanding Officer of the armed forces, is that they are also the State’s Chief Epistemology Officer. Epistemology is the science which tries to answer the question “how do we know that what we think we know is …

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The Atrophied Deny Their Atrophy: Part 2

On October 17, 2011, the Eritrean authorities provided a reply to the UN.   The Reply, which is 38 pages, not counting the 54-page annex, was drafted in response to the Report of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (“Report”), which issued its 416-page report on July 18, 2011.   …

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The Atrophied Deny Their Atrophy: Part 1

On October 17, 2011, the Eritrean authorities provided a reply to the UN. The Reply, which is 38 pages, not counting the 54-page annex, was drafted in response to the Report of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (“Report”), which issued its 416-page report on July 18, 2011. The Reply …

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Hearts Like Birds: Romantics Like Romance

Hearts Like Birds: An Alleged Book Review Diversity is the norm in nature.  The best naturalists and astronomers and geologist and anthropologists are able to share with us how truly, mind-bogglingly diverse this universe is.  In one passage in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, naturalist and Pulitzer prize winning Annie Dillard, …

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