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Eritrean Graffiti – A Tale of Life Under Tyranny

This article by Ahmed Raji “Events Monitor’ was originally published on Awate.com on September 6, 2003..


 I look in the mirror and see a bunch of gray hair emerging – uninvited. A few months later it takes the form of a full-scale invasion. I am rather taken aback, for, even though I knew it would make its inevitable advent one day, I didn’t expect it that soon; certainly not with such ferocity!

Of late, I am starting to notice that things are changing fast around me. This is a paradoxical phenomenon in the land of the gobiye (the fabled tortoise[1]), where events normally proceed in a leisurely tempo. I look around me and see my office mate has developed a few fresh wrinkles around her eyes, my neighbor has suddenly acquired a stooped posture, and the old vintage suits donned by the men in my favorite cafe look even more worn-out.

In the Eritrea of today, where the burden of one crisis after another is mercilessly weighing down on people, the rapid deterioration in the material and emotional wellbeing of our society cannot escape the eye. The sudden increase in the number of beggars, the women in the late hours of the night – their infant babies sleeping on their backs – struggling to sell their meager merchandise of cigarettes, chewing gum and boiled eggs; the skinny boys you pass by on the country road, the villages that are devoid of any able-bodied men, the fields that remain unattended …

As the turtle continues its excruciatingly slow journey, the wagon of misery has gained momentum. While demobilization is put off indefinitely, leaving a whole generation of young men and women desperately counting the days in the wilderness, the entire population is aging in fast-forward, and standards of living have taken a nose dive. So, after all, not everything is slow in Eritrea. Is this, in some strange way, supposed to be consoling?

It is a time of conflicting desires, where a mother one moment wishes the clock would tick faster so her conscripted husband may return home, and in the next she dreads the very passage of time for it reminds her of the looming prospect of her only remaining child reaching conscription age. Oh, that ominous certainty!  “Come sit inside, you lanky, good-for-nothing,” shouts my sister, cursing the ill-timed, undesirably long-legged physique of my nephew. Although just 13, he was caught up in the round-ups of last summer before being released when the authorities grudgingly accepted proof of his real age, in the form of a birth certificate which his mother had produced. It is a sad irony that we have lived to witness a time when one curses, rather than rejoices at, the spectacle of watching one’s own child grow! How many of us are familiar with the fact that these days families deliberately tell their children to do poorly in the school exams to avoid progressing to the next grade, and thereby delay, as long as possible, their dreaded disappearance into Sawa’s dark recesses? A fact that every Eritrean knows, but, nonetheless, mysteriously escapes the attention of the engineers of the so-called education policy!

These unlucky youngsters cannot escape the watchful eyes of the party vigilante, either, who zealously monitor the comings and goings of the neighborhood youth and duly report to their bosses any ‘suspicious’ situation. One such zealot (the mother of a popular female singer) is terrorizing Geza Banda. She is known for making the rounds of the neighborhood houses in search of some incriminating evidence. And wo unto the family that is caught still sheltering a son or a daughter … “ናይ ድሓን ድዪ ደኣ እዚ ቆልዓ ክሳብ ሕጂ ጸኒሑ? ዕረፍቲ ኣይወደአን ድዩ?”

* * *

Many of you in the Diaspora must be wondering how, indeed, fellow Eritreans back home are able to cope with the hellish situation in which they find themselves. How do they carry on with everyday life? How do they survive life under tyranny? What makes them persist? Is it possible to be encountering, on a daily basis, every imaginable adversity – harassment, abuse, imprisonment, pain, loss of loved ones, economic hardship, uncertainty – and yet go on with daily life as usual? Is it really possible to live in a state of constant subjection to terror and intimidation without losing one’s sanity? (Surely enough, for many the pressure has been too much to bear. You only need to sit in a sidewalk cafe in Asmara and watch the world pass by, to realize the ever increasing number of such anguished souls roaming the streets). How is it possible to overcome or restrain the deep anger one feels because of injustice, without being able to openly express one’s indignation? Could it be that Eritreans have become masters of compartmentalized thinking?

Naturally, under such circumstances, people resort to various kinds of survival mechanisms (physical as well as psychological), and Eritreans are no exception. One such mechanism is humor. It is not surprising, hence, that political satire is flourishing in Eritrea. Some of the jokes are really sharp and imaginative. Consider, for example, the following:

A delegation of Eritrean elders (shimaglle) was sent to meet God to plead for rain. At the gates of heaven, the delegation addresses God. They report that for the preceding couple of years the rains had not visited their country and the harvest had failed that year too. God looked into his books and then reached for a map and asked the delegation where on the map their country was. The envoys pointed to Eritrea’s location on the map. Here, a sign of astonishment appeared on God’s face. He said rather perplexedly: “but I see green all over the place; your country appears to be lush with crops!”  “Oh Almighty God”, said the emissaries, “what you see is not crop fields; these are our children in green military uniform.”

In another witty line, a young man dies after an exceptionally arduous life in the military service. At his funeral, the commander of his unit loudly reads his obituary: “ስዉእ ብጻይ ብዝሓደሮ ሕማም …” (Martyr comrade, due to illness …) starts the commander, when the departed suddenly raises his head and interjects: “ሓንሳብ ኣብዚኣ መአረምታ፡ ብዘሕደርናሉ ሕማም ደኣ በል!” (Oh, wait. You should rather say: due to the illness we gave him).

I have my favorite one too, which goes like this: Three men, an Eritrean, an American and a German were chatting over a cup of tea. The German says “medical surgery in my country is so advanced the things that are happening are really amazing. We had this crippled child who underwent a groundbreaking surgery and a few years later he was jumping like a horse. And you know what, he has become a famous sprinter and Olympic medalist!”  “Wow!” said the American, “that’s quite a story! Actually, I know about a similar case in the US, which is not less startling. A child was born without hands. The doctors took bones and muscle tissue from his legs and gave him a pair of wonderful hands. And what’s his condition now? He is the middleweight boxing champion.” “Incredible!” said everybody in amazement. Then the two turned to the Eritrean and asked: “what about your country; do you have a story to share?”

“You will not believe what I will tell you” began the Eritrean with evident enthusiasm to show off the marvels of medical technology in his country. “A child was born without a head. Our doctors were puzzled as to what to do about him. One ingenious doctor finally suggested that a piece of “Akkat” should be transplanted in place of the missing head. Miraculously the trick worked and the boy survived. He grew up and went to school like all children”. “And how is he doing now? Is he still alive?” asked the startled listeners. “He is well and sound. He is actually doing so well that he has become President of our nation”, replied the Eritrean with a sheepish smile. [By the way, the last one is believed to have been hatched by high school students during last year’s summer campaign].

And how can I forget what has become a masterpiece of all contemporary political satire in Eritrea – the unenviable task, assigned to Eritrean families, of incessantly manufacturing new children for the ever-hungry Sawa! But ‘Nehmya’ has said it all, and I can only refer you to his brilliantly hilarious cartoons.

The absurdity of Government officials as they give confused and sometimes laughable statements to the media or in meetings, presents a rich source of political humor. Consider for example when the Minister of Education, Osman Saleh, called on foreign nationals to send their children to be schooled in Sawa, or Weddi Kasa’s lecture to Government employees as he compared patriotism in Eritrea to that in the United States. “ንሕና’ኮ ብልጫታት ኣለና። ኣመሪካውያን ካብ ፈቀዶ ዓለም ዝተኣኻኸቡ እዮም፡ ንሕና ኤርትራውያን ግን ምስ መሬትና ዘለና ምትእስሳር ካብ ጥንቲ ዝጸነሐ ስለ ዝኾነ: ሃገራውነትና ፍሉይ’ዩ።” In a seminar to party members, Zemehret classified most of the external world into two categories: those who envy us (ቀናኣት), and those who wish to control us! Such entertaining statements are abundant thanks to our politicians, which greatly facilitates the job of satirists.

Recently, a fresh impetus has been added to the Eritrean satirical scene from a source no other than Geometra Issayas. Yes, this is a title that Il Presidente has acquired lately by virtue of his well-publicized escapades in Massawa. A hat-clad Issayas, giving orders for demolishing houses, is by now a well-recognized fixture in the Massawa landscape. Not only that. The man is an authority in everything from road construction to horticulture, and from tourism to football. He is constantly seen dispensing his expert advice all over the place. An amiche friend of mine told me it reminds him of Mengstu’s last days, when things got mixed up in his head and started roaming the country in a helicopter, personally administering agricultural policy. He would land at some expansive plain and instruct his entourage: ከዚህ ወደዛ ማዶ ጣፍ ዝሩት፤ ከዛ ወደ ሰሜን ያለው ደሞ ስንዴ (plant teff from here all the way to the horizon, and from there northwards, cultivate wheat), and would quickly board his chopper heading for another unfortunate part of the country.

Not surprisingly, the most popular PFDJ slogan has received its fair share of sarcasm. The Hade hzbi, hade lbbi! (one people, one heart!) motto has now various extensions, one of which is: Hade hzbi, Hade lbbi, Hanti gazetta!, (one people, one heart, one newspaper!) in reference to the boringly desolate media scene, with the one and only newspaper reporting seminars, announcements of court cases and obituaries. Why would we need more than one paper anyway? Aren’t we one hzbi?

And no one has articulated the resentment that Eritreans feel for the PFDJ better than wed Jabr[1] who, as he roamed the streets of Barentu, used to exclaim: adig motu eb mendef, wo addam motu eb hgdef (donkeys die of food poisoning and people die because of PFDJ).

Remember the clenched fist, pointed skyward, which used to appear in the posters and pamphlets of the liberation struggle era? This fist has recently taken on monumental dimensions. In one recent poster, it is portrayed as a huge monster cracking through the ground – soviet-art style. Now there is a massive sculpture too, which Zemehret and his studious disciples always make sure that, every time there is a festival or an official celebration, it is dutifully placed in the most well-frequented of public places. Imagine a monstrous, clenched fist, complete with bloated veins, towering over your head as you take your usual stroll in kombushtato. Now, officially, this heroic fist is supposed to symbolize awet nHafash (victory to the masses) or bQltsimna (with our own muscle), or something to that effect. To the ordinary Eritrean, however, it’s just another tasteless and arrogant symbol of the PFDJ. Actually, folks give it their own sarcastic interpretations. This is one of them: አዚኣ አንታይ ምዃና ትፈልጡ ዲኹም? (Do you know what this symbolizes?) asks the now-famous line: ትኾርምየኒ ከየጣይሰኩም! ማለትያ (you’ll never be demobilized! Not under my watch!).

While we are on it, the long-awaited and elusive miTiyas (demobilization) has naturally inspired many cracks. ምጥያስን መንግስተ ሰማያትን ሰሚዕናሎም እምበር ርእይናዮም አይንፈልጥን (demobilization, like heaven, is only heard of, not seen), has now become a household maxim.

If demobilization was the ultimate illusion, social security has been a straight taboo for the last 12 years. By now, the fact that Eritrea is probably the only country in the entire planet without a system of social security is common knowledge. The subject has been mysteriously ignored by this government to the dismay of all salaried Eritreans both aged and young. Of late, the government started talking about studies (mexnaeti) that are underway to establish a pension scheme for public employees. “Aha, now that they are approaching retirement age, it suddenly dawned on them that there is such a thing as pension!” joked a friend of mine, when he was told about this.

* * *

Another tool Eritreans are using to release some of their frustrations is graffiti. Wall writings appear from time to time in different parts of Asmara, but are instantly removed by the police. An inscription in big letters with the words ይአኽለካ ውረድ! (y’aKleka wred! Enough! Step down!) and አይመረጽናካን! (aymerexnakan! we never voted for you!) was in sight long enough to be read by thousands of Settanta Otto residents before being whitewashed by the Security. Since then (and of course the bombing incidents against PFDJ premises), night patrols have been increased to cover virtually every street corner in the city.

Folks, however, still find avenues for writing their inspired captions. One handy venue is in the bathrooms of cafes and bars. A few months ago, I stumbled across one of them. It read like this: ኣንቱም መንግስትና ትብሉ ዘለኹም፡ ንዓና በሊዑ ምስ ወደአ፡ ናባኹም ስለዝኾነ፡ ኣይትዓሽዉ!  (Those of you foolishly cheering  “our government”, don’t forget that once they are done devouring us, they will turn on you). From there on, I made it a habit to look for new inscriptions hidden in unexpected places, and I found lots of them. Here is a sampling:

  • ዋርሳይ ዋርሳይ አይትበሉና፡ ጥራይ አጣይሱና (Don’t call us Warsai, just give us our release papers)
  • ምዓስ ኣዩ እቲ ሩፍታ?!  (when will we find peace at last?)
  • ስቃይ ይደምደም! (Let suffering end!)
  • ጸማም መንግስቲ! (Deaf government)
  • ህግደፍ = ኢሰፓ (PFDJ = EWP, the latter being the ruling party of the Ethiopian Derg);

***

My best moments (which I used to call my little window of free speech), were those rare occasions when I took a ride in the same bus as a very exceptional old man, I will refer to here as Abboy Hdru. The late hour bus journeys bound for the various outlying neighborhoods of Asmara are, indeed, fun to be on board. These are buses full of working men, who, after a long, exhausting day, would make the journey home in an entertainingly sarcastic ambiance. A vaguely flirtatious banter is going on between a group of boisterous men on one side and the ticket lady, cheered by two women passengers, on the other. The theme is the changing gender relations. ኣንታ ናይ ለምዘበን ሰብኡትሲ፡ ኣውደኣመት ምድሪ ዋላ ደርሆ’ኳ ሒዝኩም ከይተኣትዉሲ: ጥራሕ ኢድኩም?! ኣኽእሎ ጥራይ ይሃበን ኣንስትኹም! teases the conductor in response to a verbal punch hurled by one of her adversaries.  ወይ ዘረባ! replies the man: ደርሆ ሎሚ ትልከፍ እንተ ኾይና፡ እስኪ ባዕልኺ ፈትንያ፡፡

Obviously, some of these men had made a quick stop at one of the local liquor houses before taking the last available bus, which adds to the hilarity (and, of course, boldness) of their banter. Abboy Hdru was one of those. He looked in his late sixties/early seventies, a man burning with anger, yet hilariously witty. I gleaned from his various monologues that he had lost a son to the liberation struggle and had at the time several children in the front, some of whom he had not heard from.

ፍትሒ ዘይፈልጡ፡ ኣራዊት!  (They never understand justice. Wild beasts!) he would burst out. Now all passengers listen attentively, and despite the guarded, silent postures, cultivated by long years of state-administered terror, you can see a glow of approval in the eyes of everybody. It is as if Abboy Hdru is speaking for everyone; as if, in his rant, all the passengers have found their lost voice.

ሎምስ፡ ካብኦም ዝገድድ ጨካን ኣረሜን ረኺብዎም፡፡ ኣድግስ ካብ ምሟቱ ምጉታቱ! he would exclaim.

ትማሊ ኣብ ዝተኻየደ ሰሚናር፡ ህዝቢ ንኡስ ዞባ ሓመልማሎ … starts the news presenter of dmxi Haffash (the omnipresent, mandatory entertainment on all buses), when Abboy Hdru quickly butts in: ሓሰውቲ! … መታለልቲ!

The last time I saw Abboy Hdru was about a year ago. I never saw him since, and the 9:30 journey to Sembel has never been the same! I don’t know what happened to Abboy Hdru. Did the dawn visitors finally caught up with him, or did he fall under the burden of his own bitter sorrow? .. .. Abboy Hdru, Where are you?

[1] Our tyrant is fond of reminding us time and again that ours is a long journey full of sacrifices; we maybe proceeding at a pace akin to that of a tortoise, but our eventual glory is certain! (The tortoise is now securely placed in the pantheon of PFDJ mythical beings).

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  • MS

    Hello awatawyan
    The world in flames? Superpowers have been pounding poor nations for the last decades. Today they appear to be testing each other. It might be their last battle. Meanwhile the grass (poor nations) will be overrun by the elephants. Third World War has begun.

    • Thomas

      Hi MS,

      I tried to get the gist of your comment above, but I somehow failed to grasp what you meant to say. A little elaboration that you could will help. Why do you think that world is inflames? Is there something I am missing here?

      • MS

        Hi Thomas
        No u haven’t missed anything. Just the current realignment of powers in the middle east and along the NATO frontier. I was reading some middle east newspapers, and the final analysis is that if the GCC fissure is not sealed soon, a new world order may emerge, Qatar may be forced to align with Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria…Iraq(?)…The final analysis is that isis has been used by the superpowers in order to increase their geopolitical influence in this strategic region. In the process, they are actually testing each other. Meanwhile, the poor nations pay the price by getting bombed to stone age…

        • Thomas

          Selamat MS,

          As always thank you for the reply and the clarifications. I agree some kind of balance of power is about take place. I am afraid Issayas is dragging our nation to issues that would have been otherwise irrelevant to our nation Eritrea. This is because Eritrea is not an Arab nation and there is whatsoever NO ISIS or Al-Qaeda kinds of issues in the history of the nation of ours. I hope these superpowers understand the people of Eritrea and that is the culture of acceptance for our diversity and the love for peaceful co-existence that we wish to see elsewhere in our globe. However, we must understand with the crazy dictator ruling our nation, we could get into a lot of troubles that emerge around that unstable region.

          • Nitricc

            Hi Thomas: you said ” Eritrea is not an Arab nation” don’t be so sure. I don’t know this but Eritrea may have to join the Arab league and become an Arab country. So, stay awake and you may have to say good bye to your Ethiopian friends. lol; for real though, Eritrea may have no option but join the Arab league. When Egypt occupies what is left by Qatar, things will get interesting and we shall see. Once Egypt is in that area it is very interesting what the Ethiopians do.

          • KBT

            Selam nitricc
            Well Ethiopia will do nothing ,they couldn’t manage Eritrea alone
            Now they going to attack Eritrea and Egypt you think ?.?
            It will be suicidale anyway who know what stupid TPLF reaction .

          • Nitricc

            Hi KBT: the reason I brought it up is that there was an interview where there were four Ethiopian professors as a panel participants. The interviewer asked what would happen if Egypt to replace Qatar? And two of them responded that Ethiopia have no choice but to go war. I understand the interview was conducted from inside Ethiopia so, those people can not express their thoughts freely but the truth is Ethiopia is no condition to go to war with anyone, let alone Egypt. I know no one is talking about it but Gonder is taking it to the Weyanes. The Amara resistance force is shaping dangerously. the resistance is getting bigger and wider in a structured manner. So, I agree with you they will bitch and use IGAD to say a few word and that end of it.

          • Thomas

            Hi Nitricc,

            Really, Nitricc. I thought you can think a little better than K(E)BT does. The only thing I can say that DIA said the same thing about the wayane before the badme war started. That the wayane are ill trained. That the wayane are buying war planes they cannot even operate from the Russians.

            Where did that get us? Badme, Barentu, Tessene, Tsorena, Sen’afe, closer to mendefera and close keren in less than a week operation became under the control of the so called wayane. Your DIA took all the time, but he was defeated and was preparing to depart to Sudan. You guys are an amusing creatures. Just bragging is not going cut it, be realistic for the first time in your lifetime, “Tsemamat”.

          • Nitricc

            Hi Thomas, I don’t get it? I know you are slow but 20 years behind is something that makes you hopeless. You are talking about something that happned 20 years ago. Back then, your masters, the Weyane were high in the sky. They had an absolute control of Ethiopia’s resources, human
            power and complete emotional and psychological advantage. The Ethiopias were united like never before. Even then, your masters, the weayne can’t succeed their objective plan.
            Capturing Assab failed!
            Entering Asmara on May-24 Failed!
            Breaking the spainal cord of Eritreans failed!
            Teaching Eritreans the lesson they willnever forget, Failed!
            Over throwing the PIA government, failed!
            I can go on but I doubt you will get it, but I hope you get my drift.

            A war is judged by its conclusions to what is set objects to achieve that started the war at first.
            In this case, what is the accomplishment ofEthiopia? What exactly did they get? When it comes to Eritrea, slice it inevery way Eritrea foiled every attempt of your masters. Now, be honest, you got
            to agree with me when I call you Fezaz lol
            ***Thomas, I see you editing like crazy, dude, no one cares, don’t worry lol you got too much time to play with.

          • Thomas

            HI Nitricc,

            It is Ethiopia that we are talking about. Ethiopia population have increased since 20 years ago. You would never get it but when it comes the issue of Eritrea, all Ethiopian happen to unit and turn against the small nation. You are just reading what Yemane monkey told you and that is it. You would never understand the consequence of igniting war with the Ethiopians. I am sure you have NO one to be killed at the war front so you don’t seem to care, nitricc. Stay ignorant as usual! It is your kinds of people who are causing all kinds of problems in the country.

          • Nitricc

            Hi Thomas; I agree for once that the nothing units the Ethiopians other than eradicating Eritrea in the past, I know that but time has changed. Do you think if TPLF decides to go to war with Eritrea, all the Ethiopians will follow them like they did in 1998? the answer is a fat NO! Listen to crying General of TPLF, if you listened carefully, what he is saying is, this the time to go to war with Eritrea but we don’t have the means to do it. that is what he is saying. if TPLF feel that they have the Ethiopians support; they would went to war years ago. Time has changed, the old who fought hard and with tone of grudges are dying while the new and young is coming. As far as I can see TPLF’s better days are behind them. saying that I am waiting for you to start thinking. why don’t you think for yourself than Yemane, Weyane all that garbage? no one is telling me nothing.

          • Thomas

            Ok, Nitricc,

            you wrote, “Do you think if TPLF decides to go to war with Eritrea, all the Ethiopians will follow them like they did in 1998?” The ANSWER is Yes. Now, let me reverse your question and ask you about your own DIA regime, Do you think if DIA decides to go to war with TPLF, all the Eritreans will follow him like they did in 1998? When you provide me with an answer, remember the number of youth per month: 500/month fleeing from DIA to the TPLF land. Don’t you think this number could multiply if DIA is going to to war with TPLF? After all, DIA is accused by the UN for a crime against humanity. Over 500 Eritreans victims of DIA and tens thousands of Eritreans time and again demonstrated against the abuses of DIA in Geneva, New York and elsewhere………………….

            Who is there to fight the wayanes if the weyanes start the war against Eritrea? Now Nitricc, do you have enough teeth to bite the weyanes? lol

          • Nitricc

            Thomas, let me ask you this, What did you learn from the great Gedli of Eritrea? One among other The greatest thing, the Eritrean Gedli taught me numbers can not override the quality of the will and the moral of the character. If that wasn’t the case, Your TPLF knows everything about the fleeing youth and they could have acted long time ago. they Know and the only person didn’t know is Thomas. if that was the case, Eritrean have no business getting her independence because numerically, it is impossible.

          • Thomas

            Nitricc – you said, ” the Eritrean Gedli taught me numbers can not override the quality of
            the will and the moral of the character. If that wasn’t the case, Your TPLF knows everything about the fleeing youth and they could have acted long time ago.” Now you seem you are learning, yes. It is the moral of the Eritrean youth and their relationship with the criminals ruling Eritrea that I tried to point out to you. Now also, please get that it is the youth are who assumed to fight the weyanes/tplf; and contrary to what you are stating the youth are fleeing your masters and going to the weyanes’ land. You are talking about the moral of the character i.e. the moral of the Eritrean youth, right? If the Erirean youth had considered the weyanes as their enemies, why would they flee to the weyanes’ land as we speak in numbers that NO one can imagine: 5000/month. That is a huge number and you are assuming that these youth will fight the weyanes if war is to erupt. I agree our youth have moral and that is why they identified their number one enemy is doing the dirty job of enslaving them from inside. Their number one enemy is the dictator and cruel people like you.

          • KBT

            Selam Thomas
            little brain from the other side of the mereb if war can be won by capturing territory only Germany will be the winner of war war 1 and ww2 .
            You people are full of gurrah nothing else ,if you so in love with Ethiopia why you don’t join them for the battle to come
            They will be soon removed no policy change or any other propaganda will save them ,it’s game over
            TPLF is dead , issayas bleed them whiting,and they did nothing bye.

          • MS

            Ahlan SAAY, Thomas , BerheY, Abraham and the rest
            (Sorry, Iwas responding in relation to the SA demands SAAY posted and his comments on them. This was intended to be a reply to SAAY’s comment, but I see it removed. Anyway, it would be helpful if the reader got the demand list in order to get the gist of the first part of my comment)
            xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
            A QAtari professor put it exactly the way you put it. He said the demand list showed how arrogant the Saudi ruling family was; he said Qatar will whether the short term effect, and the long term effect will only hurt the GCC. He predicted the GCC will never be the same one way or another, the damage was done. Qatar will look for outside alliance.
            Coming to the list, I totally agree. I also hinted in my original comment on this matter (days ago) that the best option countries like Eritrea should have pursued was not taking sides and calling for a peaceful settlement. The Arabs are legendary at the speed they quarrel and come together.
            I think numbers 1,3,5,11,13 are unreasonable to any sovereign nation, big or small. Numbers 4,6,7,8,9, and 12 are acceptable for negotiation. Numbers 2 and 10 could still be reasonable for upping the demand pressure effect.
            Winners and Losers:
            Winners: Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah and Houthis. And to some extent Russia, Turkey. and other nonstate actors in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (mainly Shias who complained for decades about Suni regimes in their countries.
            Losers: SA, GCC, and the people of the region.
            Long-term complications:
            1. Qatar will never be the same. Its foreign policy will be designed to align itself more with regional powers outside of GCC, which is controlled by SA (it’s a sort of Ethiopia’s IGAD, sorry, hayat).
            2. The rest of the tiny wealthy GCC members also will take a note. Iraq (the Shite dominant Arab country, which has the wealth and size which could match SA has been bleeding BY Suni insurgents. Iraq rulers have been complaining of this, and I think once they take control the security of their country, they will be more inclined not to join SA in its rivalry with Iran. They are more likely to remain out of it (as Arabs, and more importantly as allies of the West, they don’t like Iran’s expansion, and as Shia, they don’t like SA posturing against Iran. As a buffer zone, they can benefit from remaining non-allied.
            3. There is also a triangular rivalry in the Suni camp, between SA, Egypt, and Turkey. Although Turkey is seen as another non-Arab rival to Iran, there is the question of Kurdistan which makes them friends. Iraqi Kurds are on the verge of declaring independence, Turkey does not like that idea, and I’m sure Iran and Syria join Turkey on this issue. The Suni parts of Iraq are also not happy. Then you have USA role (Qatar hosts the biggest airfield and USCENTCOMCHQs. Add to it USA-Russia competing interests in the region and along the NATO frontier, Turkey’s cold relations with Europeans and its recalibration of its foreign policy (one that is becoming more in tune with Russia than with its NATO member countries (Turkey is the only NATO member which has sought warm relations with Russia, the recent Constitutional amendment that gave more powers to the testyTurkish President Erdogan…all indicators lead to a new reality in the Middle East, a very sensitive region.
            Saudi Arabia will come as a loser because the demands are just too bullish and foolish even by Trump standard. It has already lost the battle over public opinion.
            Eritrea case: It’s very difficult to guess why Eritrea has chosen to take sides. The reason, if we don’t concretely know the extent and scope of Qatari-Eritrea relations, we can’t know the extent and scope of SA-Eritrea relation simply because, as citizens, we are left out in the dark. But I would guess Aljazeera was one of the reason. And Aljazeera is a potent weapon for Qatar, it is a network that put Qatar on the map, it will never close it. It may make concessions on editorial policy, to be gentler towards the concerned Arab countries, but it won’t close it down. The importance of Aljazeera to Qatar is as the importance of a Nuke Weapon to the North Korean dictator. If in the course of the negotiations SA does not drop this demand and the rest of the outrageous and demeaning demands, I predict SA will lose it, and it may also lead to its disability because if it is about stoking social unrest Iran, Qatar and Turkey have more cards than the Saudis do.
            This is a post-Eid Alfater Rumbling. Happu belated Eid Alfater to all.

        • saay7

          Hi MS and Thomas:

          Did you see the 13-point ultimatum the Saudi-Emirate-Egypt troika gave Qatar?

          1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.
          2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations”, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
          3. Shut down al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
          4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
          5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.
          6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the US and other countries.
          7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
          8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
          9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
          10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
          11. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
          12. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
          13. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.

          It is a poison pill designed to ensure that Qatar will reject it.

          Three organizations–the Arab League, Organization of Islamic States, and the GCC–haven’t called an “emergency meeting” to reconcile two of their members. These are the measures that the PFDJ prematurely aligned itself with when it called the Saudi nuttiness “timely” and “right direction.”

          saay

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Saay,

            IA does not count, he just see the dollars that he will receive and doesn’t care what happened to Qatar.

            The demand looks like what you get from Trump in his apprentice show..nothing diplomatic at all What’s there for them? what do they gain in return?

            Iran, Turkey, Hezbollah are not the source of all the unrest in the region.

            Berhe

          • Thomas

            Thank Saay for the information. They are asking to much, really huge demands. Do they even think that Qatar is a sovereign nation and it can have its own foreign or domestic policy. This basically says a lot about the the Saudi’s group. That they cannot be a trusted partners for they could put excessive demands. This is when the Eritrean dictator cannot even resolve the simplest issues. I am sure this relationship with Issayas will not last long because Issayas very impatient and the other parties show similar conduct. The breakup and the resistance might create a momentum for the Issayas regime’s ending. I am saying this because before the initiation of Saudi group relationships, it was easy for issayas. His only work was to silence the Eritrean people. In doing so, he closed the doors to stop the western interference and for that he got isolated. Now, he seems to play the last card and that last card I believe will end his era.

          • Abraham H.

            Selam Saay, very sad and strange demands indeed. I think Qatar may try to show some resistance for a while, but I’m afraid at the end of the day they are going to give in for most of the demands. The biggest casualty of all this, according to me, is the prospective closure of Al-Jazeera; it would be a huge setback for media in the Middle East and international journalism as well. But the anti-media Trump would be, of course, happy with the silencing of Al-Jazeera.

  • Hayat Adem

    Dear Friends,
    I am not sure if you have noticed two analytical reports on Eritrea.
    One is carried by the Foreign Policy Magazine asserting Eritrea has made it out of the cold with one international conference held in Eritrea and joining the comrades-in-destruction against Yemen.
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/06/21/africas-most-isolated-dictatorship-is-suddenly-very-popular-eritrea-comes-in-from-the-cold/?utm_content=bufferf528d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    The other is a damning report from HRW confirming that UAE has developed its own detention center, detaining including Eritreans in its Assab military base. Call it an Arab version of Guantanamo on the Red Sea!
    https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/22/yemen-uae-backs-abusive-local-forces

    • saay7

      Hi Hayat:

      The Foreign Policy is well written but it suffers from “one-sourcism”: the reporter, Tom Gardner, spoke to the Eritrean government and its sympathizers only. You can’t really blame him when so many years, the Eritrean opposition hasn’t created a durable civil society, a think tank, a policy center that can provide a counter-narrative. I have attempted to engage th writer and give him a different perspective but it would have been better if it came from an org.

      On the other report, there is an article by AP which says that United Arab Emirates (UAE) has torture centers all over Yemen and also in Assab. Yemane Gebremeskel has said that is categorically false but his statement plus two dollars will get you a tall coffee at Starbucks.

      saay

      • Hayat Adem

        Hey Saay,
        Eid Mubarak.
        I agree.
        In some aspects the regime benefits from signaling about going to a seemingly inevitable disaster only to appear to miraculously saving the day somehow. They do it be design to appear tough survivors.
        Sometimes the regime plays pyrrhic victory. “We lost but we made the enemy lose more than we did.” Viva wedi afom, awash Abelom!
        Sometimes it gets in to the cold by itself with effort and fights to get back out of it at a great cost. And then it calls it a victory.
        For example, it gets into a sanction territory unforced. And then, it launches massive mobilization of Mekhete to have it removed. It harvests three benefits from this: first, it cries foul and plays victim to cover up its failures to deliver as a government. Then it decieves the public as if it is conducting a hard and just fight aginst the entire world appearing unapologitic natiinalist ready to defend interests of the nation. Third, every little thing, example, even the hopes of being relieved from the sanctions, is counted and magnified as a big victory.

        It is a government of wierdo!

        PS: How difficult would it have been to lead and manage Eritrea genuinely in to a vibrant economy and democracy? The regime could have done that and truly earn respect from its people without pretending and toying much to get by deception. Eritrea’s problems are less complicated compared to other parts. Any political party in Eritrea would have done it easier and faster than many parties in other parts of Africa or else where. It is only about managing 1million households. Some big companies, like Walmart and McDonald’s manage millions of employees.

        • saay7

          Selam Hayat:

          On the same day that the FP issued its whitewash story of the Gov of Eritrea, the UNs Human Rights Council (session 35) issued a decision/resolution expressing its very grave concerns about the human rights situation in Eritrea and extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. I have said this before and I will say it again: if Isaias Afwerki were a white guy, or a turban wearing Mullah, the world would have been mobilize more in its condemnation and action. But black-on-black crime is always given a blind eye.

          As to what Eritrea could have been without PFDJ, it’s not some abstract for those who want to know: Somaliland separated from Somalia the same year Eritrea become an independent country. Go to YouTube and search Hargeisa, Somaliland: the capital city is what Asmara could have been: rebuilt by Diaspora community, enterprising and alive.

          The PFDJ kills everything on its path…including itself.

          Happy Eid!

          saay

          • Nitricc

            Hey SAAY, i hate to interject with your discussion with Chilean Calloway of the trump administration but i just want your take about this take.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14wRpUvALFE

          • saay7

            Hey Nitrric:

            Can I pass? That guy reminds me of the terrible years (98-00.) my distinct memory of him is when he was pretending to be Colin Powell and pointing with a stick at a map of the war zone and bragging about how many “shabbiyah” his forces killed. Uggg.

            So, no thanks, but I will pass.

            saay

          • Nitricc

            Hey SAAY, in that case, sure you may pass lol, Hey SAAY I am just wondering what happened to our Real Ethiopian friends. I mean, No Abi, no Horizon, no AMDE; what happened ?

          • saay7

            selamat Nitricc:

            I don’t know what happened to AMDE: if you want people to disappear, just make them “Awatista of the Year” (same thing happened with Haile TG and Mahmuday for some time): I think the title gets to their head 🙂

            Horizon is still around; so are Kaddis and Mr Kim and Fanti.

            The moderators sent Abi to the revolutionary school of reflection (enda TeAges) until the end of June (I think) because what was once his occasional hobby (trashing our Ghedli, its cause and its heroes) became a full-time gig for him.

            saay

          • Nitricc

            Hay SAAY; Thanks for the information. I did not know about Abi but I am sure he is going doubling down when it comes to gedli. it is in his blood, can’t help it. However, what is shocking is, Fanti is Ethiopian? that is a shocker for me. I am disputing officially to your claim that Fanti is an Ethiopian. 🙂

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Brother Nitricc,

            You are not to blame. I have been Eritreanized beyond recognition for far too long.

          • Thomas

            Hi Fanti,

            Please don’t mind Nitricc. He likes to tell others for being slow to catch up with things. This is a prove that guy is a slowpoke. Nitricc’s mind seems to be frozen and can’t you tell that he has been around awate university for over 12 years and NEVER learned a thing:) Some like to call him a single braiin celled animal with which I agree; and others just call him a dummy, the R word etc.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Hello Thomas,

            Watch it!
            I had lots of complements for you and blink the other day for several reasons, but I was too busy to engage. However, no respect for Nitricc means no deal.

    • KBT

      selam hayat
      International media and the world will never lessen to fake news from the so called opposition
      Because they have been surprise when they visited Asmara
      The corrupt individuals who got money from woyane and ngo or the andowment for democracy
      They can try their best lie ,no one will lessen it’s a new era for us it’s bad new for woyane stooge .
      Tell your friends it’s time to come in front of justice for their machinations,betrayal and misinformation.
      They wish to turn Eritrea into ash .in turn the mighty that see into human heart stood by our side ,at the time when we were alone And vulnerable .betri haqi tiqetin inber aytisiberin . Let me assure you they will not get away easily we promise.
      I know you don’t count ,you are her to scafengere.

      • Hayat Adem

        Hi KBT,
        lesson => listen
        andowment => endowment
        scafengere => scavenger
        You’re welcome.

        • KBT

          Selamat hayat
          Kkkkk you right I admit, but m i applying for a job or something ???
          Well thank you to remind me hayati,

  • KBT

    Selam Gadion
    How is your country doing ??? do you pray for your people to ???the innocent that your criminal TPLF regime
    Killed ???,remember Ethiopia is in marshal law,and you gonna need more than prayer for Ethiopia now
    Compared to your country Eritrea is heaven

    • Gedion

      Yes I am praying for my people and my Country too. My vision for these two Countries is to solve their problem and live in harmony. In regard to Ethiopia I am witness there are so many good things and there are some bad things. Any distortion doesn’t change the actual fact on the ground. .

  • KBT

    Selamat kulukhum
    It must be a great shame that educated and writer like you waist their time whining while ( akate raesi)
    Rule Eritrea what a waist .
    Well when people suffered what was your contribution in the west than lobbying economic sanction lobbying a blocked against Eritrean who want to pay their 2% taxe ,naming ,shaming that is your contribution nothing constructive
    .we all are Eritrean we can make diffence .

  • Hayat Adem

    Thanks Ahmed,
    This is hillarious! We should do everything to encourage you to squeeze your pen’s ink. You see, the keyboard doesn’t always do it for a pen. A pen is figuratively synonymous to the brain. A keyboard invokes an inanimate thing.
    The rEsi Akat is fantastic. It might be true as well. Eritrean doctors used to do wonders! We have to wait a couple of years to check that
    ___
    My additions: a platoon of ten tegadelti were sent out for a mission that involved a skirmishes. The only survivor of the unit was the leader. 9 of the ten were missing in action. So the survivor was reporting back.
    “How was your mission?”
    “deHan neyru. Aye kemizferaHnayon.”
    ___
    Security police were checking hotels and restuarants for excapees from the army. They enter and ask the expected question.
    “Belu belu dai.. menqesaqessi arieyu..!”
    And everybody was complying and showing their papers. Only one person sitting at a corner didn’t seem to be forthcoming. And an agitated police approached him and started yelling at him but only to be yelled back:
    “MENQESAQESSI EBLEKA ALKHU!”
    ANE DIMA AYNQESAQESIN EBLEKA ALEKHU!”
    “TINQESAQES EMBER, B’GIDI TINQESAQES!”
    Then supported by another colleague, the police pulled the guy up off the chair by the collars twisting his arms.
    Only then they knew the guy was a disable veteran with no legs. Aynqesaqesin eko eliwom neyru!

    • Kebessa

      Hello Hayat,
      On your 1st paragraph, you sounded like the article came out today. It is old. Fine, you can Thank Ahmed for his 14 years old article. Not big deal.
      ***************
      On your 2nd paragraph, I can see why some would think you have mean intentions (I personally don’t think so). Why wouldn’t any tegadalay be a human being and heart-broke st such heavy loss! Some things just don’t make sense at 1st glance, 2nd glance, 3rd….
      ***************
      On your 3rd paragraph, you made excellent point! That’s the realty indeed. I heard a slightly different joke. The police were doing house to house search and came across a youth who was asleep. They ordered him to get up and show menqasaqesi to which he replied he is staying in the house and have no plan to do minqisiQas😀

      • Abraham H.

        Selam Kebessa, thanks for the joke; there are no words to describe the sad reality that Eritreans, after paying a very heavy price for 30 yrs for freedom, and after 26 years post their independence, they still have to get special permission/menqesaqesi wereqet from someone to move from place to place in their own homeland.
        When will the Eritrean people get the courage to say enough of oppression?? I don’t think there is any people in the world that has paid so much sacrifices to get so little in return as the Eritrean people.

        • Ismail AA

          Dear Abraham,
          Every Eritrean family, and the silent majority by and large, have been answering for quite a while the question you have asked in their own way. No people under suffocation lacks courage to break the chains of oppression. What our people are lacking, let us say as loudly as possible, is unifying program of action and leadership. For this, the onus lies with the elites the greater majority of which are divided, indifferent and insensitive to the destiny of their nation.

          If you are old enough to remember, you saw how our people had rallied in early 70s behind the liberation struggle when the elites felt threatened and took the initiative to break bond with the enemy. Recent examples in places such as Tunisia and Egypt show us how the masses galvanized when the members of the elites took the lead. The conditions of the traditional oppositions formation in those countries was perhaps worse than the condition of our own opposition forces at the present.

          So, our people too shall summon courage when the dormant and self-serving mass of the elites wake up for their own sake in the first place more than concern for the interest and future of their people. At that moment, including the opposition groups in all varieties shall be compelled to follow and focus on the bigger picture, al least until the common enemy will be done away with. Then, the concern will be how to clear the debris of the dictatorial order and chart the way towards safe transition to stable order that serve the best interest of the people in unity and social harmony. A conscious elite worth its status in society will have also to plan for the day after lest it end up as poisonous agent for instability and eventual emergence of war lords.

          • Abraham H.

            Dear Ismail, you know, of course, today’s era is not like the early 70’s, plus may be it was easier for the Eritrean elites to rally against the foreign oppressor at that time. Today we have a repressive regime from our own towns, villages, cities and our own blood; may be many of the current elites identify themselves with the current rulers? And who doesn’t? they are indeed our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.
            One of the main challenges we face is that it is impossible to undertake any kind of open opposition within Eritrea without taking a huge risk; any such endeavour would definitely end up with death and disappearance. I don’t think the Tunisians and Egyptians had to overcome such kind of ansolute control, so it needs a great courage to overcome the suffocating grip of the PFDJ security agents. This being the situation inside the country, how could one challenge such a regime from the diaspora? The elites of yesteryear are already settled and comfortable in their adopted countries, and they are aging. And the elites of today and those elites to be are being nurtured and brainwashed by the PFDJ. If Eritreans could not challenge the regime from within how could they do so from a distance of thousands of miles? Of course, a better organization of the diaspora Eritreans could be a source of inspiration and encouragement for those inside the country; but ultimately, it is only Eritreans (both elites and ordinary people) inside the country, who are paying the brunt of the PFDJ that could confront the regime.

          • Ismail AA

            Dear Abraham,
            I understand the odds that are facing our people inside the unfortunate homeland. What you wrote is the bitter truth. My point was that submission to the harsh situation you have described will amount to reaching a dead end and giving up total hopelessness, which is the aim of the use of police state tools of oppression and repression dictatorships unleash – to push the society to perpetual fear and fatalism.
            But, if the nation and its integrity must be preserved, there would have to be a time when the dead lock would have to be broken. As you noted, if the diaspora Eritreans and the currently paralyzed organized opposition could do the minimum of at least flickering the light at the end of the current dark tunnel, the people inside would not succumb to hopelessness. Experiences of peoples in similar circumstances teach us that societies do not simply die away, and there comes time for resurrection, our society could not be an exception; it is my hope that it shall prevail.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Abraham H.

            Please hold to the thought, it’s not possible to challenge the regime because of its brutality.

            As you said the enemy is our own, looks like us, speaks like us. What do you see as an advantage of fighting such regime (you have listed the disadvantages).

            For PFDJ to be able to crash / any internal opposition, it needs its security / police and military totally in tune with it and they have to believe that their life and that of their family and livelyhood depends on the survival of the PFDJ regime.

            Now what percentage of those listed above do you think are ready to die for the regime? To make it easy, let’s identify the three groups.

            1) security
            2) police
            3) military
            4) others

            Let’s come up with some reasonable number and add others (like civilians, etc).

            I personally do not believe the number is more than 10 to 20 percent in each category.

            What this means is that if the people in this groups (majority of them are turned) meaning they stop cooperating and enforce the order then there is nothing the pfdj can do about it.

            The key point here is how do we get to turn those people.

            For us, those in diaspora have the luxury to analyze and come up with a frame work with the focus of encouging the mass not to cooperate, then to revolt, and eventually uprising and remove the system.

            Berhe

          • Abraham H.

            Dear Berhe, if as you put it the great majority of the regime apparatus are not in tune with the regime, then we have to ask what is keeping them from challenging the regime? The first issue that comes here is that of organization; how could the people get organized in the face of a strictly tight security, and when the main driving forces are scattered away from the cities and towns? I don’t have any close information about the regime’s power structure, but I guess there are various layers of security with various degrees of loyalties to the ruling clique; the most loyal being the most privileged, hence willing to protect the regime to keep their status. I also think such most loyal forces would be naturally stationed in the citiy and bigger towns, while the ordinary military is kept away from the population centers. From my imagination, in order of decreasing loyalty to the regime: there are the closest presidential bodyguards, presidential protection forces, the security forces, aka hagerawi dihnet, the tewerwari hayli, other more loyal and privileged members of the army, the police force, etc. This is to say the entities you mentioned are not uniform.
            In addition we should not forget the power of the successful and constant barage of propaganda by the regime portraying the country to be the victim of international conspiracy and arm-twisting allegedly because ‘we have chosen to have independent line of policies unlike the whole world’-this is very strange narrative indeed, but unfortunately, a huge segment of our society buy it.
            I would really like to see an article here at Awate from people who have a closer knowledge of the power structures and hierarchies of the Isayas regime so that people get a better understanding as to the nature of the regime, and the challenges ahead in terms of waging opposition activities against it esp. from within the country.

          • Saleh Johar

            Ahlan Ismael,

            You also fell for the “Silent Majority” misnomer? 🙂

            The silent people are not monolithic, they include many colors–more than the rainbow colors to the power of 1000; let our in-house mathematician Tsatse compute how much that is.

            But our friend Semere Tesfai once said (or insinuated) he is also one very silent member of the silent majority which is not very silent! I suggest we recognize the different elements in what we sometimes identify as “Silent Majority”.

            Eid Mubarek to you and to all Awatistas

          • Ismail AA

            Dear Saleh,
            Thank you, may we all be blessed by the grace of this happy occasion.
            Yes, your right; under the existing circumstances the reference to segment of our society warrants due qualification. My allusion to it in that passing comment was general did not rule out factorization of the matter. Perhaps I should added a word or to clarify the concept. So, I understand your take, but I am also sure you won’t set my understanding on the same scale as that of our brother Semere Tesfai. The departure point, context and rationalization between me and him do not really converge.

          • Saleh Johar

            Ahlan Ismail,
            What scale Ismail? Hasha’a !!!
            I was just bringing how the brand is used to your attention, a kind of red yellow light 🙂

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Saleh and Isamilo,

            In our Eritrean politics “Silent majority” is simply for political consumption, or simply an argument for satisfactions to the psychological variables. Change can only be driven by the active part of the society. In politics “silent” refers to “silent consent” or “silent disapproval” in other words a subtle approval or disapproval to the politics of the day. So when we say “silent majority” it includes both segments of political sentiment; and it hasn’t quantification nor does it has political impetus in the drive of the movers and shakers of Eritrean politics, as far as the remain silent.

            Eid Mubarek , EnQ’A Tsom Liguam Fetahalkum.

            Regards

          • Ismail AA

            Ahlen Aman,
            Thanks for Eid greeting.
            Just as I tried to clarify in my response to Saleh’s comments, I did not miss the points both of you have stressed. I just made a quick and passing comment to what my brother Abraham wrote without delving in to the analysis of the Eritrean scenario or the general concept as such.
            It is true any political or other movements do need activating and moving dynamics that could be summed up in existence of leaderships and organized functioning formations. The prime movers could win or lose either one or both of the two segments you have mentioned for the advantage or disadvantage of an aspiredgoal.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Ismael AA,

            Eid Mubarek to you and to everyone.

            I know you have a lot more knowledge and a lot more experiences navigating the Eritrean land scape.

            I just wanted to know from the opposition organization that you belong to, if you have some experiences or plan with regards to the organization of “The Albert Einstein Institute” and the creator of the institution, Gene Sharp and his book “From Dictatorship to Democracy”.

            May be I am naive but I always thought since I read the experiences of those in Serbia how they removed the dictator using the method of Gene Sharp.

            Berhe

          • Ismail AA

            Dear Berhe Y,
            Thank you for your Eid greeting.
            On the question you asked me, I am aware of the Institute you mentioned and the book of Gene Sharp. On whether my organization’s task plan has ever been calibrated with that of ” The Albert Einstein Institute” or G. Sharp’s recommendations, which are wide ranging in scope and substance, I can report to you that that has not been the case yet.
            As you know, factionalism has been the root problem of the Eritrean opposition. Designing common task program and a means to it has been so far devastating failure. Achieving that goal is prerequisite to installing and executing leadership that should take up the responsibility to organize the endeavors and resources of all who put stakes in implementation of the common national program.
            I think Gene Sharp’s recommendations in all the varieties he suggests in his book presuppose the minimum of what I just scribbled above, which we in Eritrea so far lack. Since the 90s there have been attempts by the opposition organizations to establish a framework for the national platform. The last attempt was the 2011 conference at Hawassa, in Ethiopia, which did not move an inch yet. It is clear that process of creating a meaningful platform that could rally the people has been hampered by unsettled issues whose sincere handling could bolster trust and therefore open the way towards unified pursuit of organized work against the dictatorship.

    • Ahmed Raji

      Ahlan Hayat,
      Thank you for the hilarious additions. I was familiar with last one, but not with the one about the platoon leader. Brilliant!
      The issue of menqesaqesi (and the gffa) is a a world unto itself that should be studied by sociologists.

  • MS

    Ahlan Ustaz Ahmed Rajji
    You are a rare gem my friend. And the fact that you make yourself rarely available makes your presence even more wanted/demanded. You captured life of Eritreans in the early 2000 in its vivid and lively state, dispersed in your brilliantly written political satire. I really enjoyed it. I’m just wondering what kept you from writing? Hsebelu. I’m also wondering if the notorious mother of that famous singer still continues visiting families uninvited.
    My favorite: Adig motu eb mendef, wo adam motu eb hgdf. My other favorite is re’si Akat….
    Just to show how lagging behind our beloved country is: You could write such a satire in countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, Iran, Djibouti, Somalia, and in most cases, with some minor changes, you will be fine. And if you are accused by the security forces, you will be presented to a judge. In Eritrea, a land that had paid so much for human dignity, you would automatically know your fate was sealed once you made such satirical article known. You knew you would be made to disappear. nHsebelu.

    • Ahmed Raji

      Shukran Mahmud, Abi Seb.
      I am also wondering myself what has changed in the last decade-plus and what has become of some colorful (and not so colorful) personalities I remember vividly. At least I know one unforgettable human being, the source of many of the jokes that circulated in Asmara, Wed Gebeya, has passed away.
      Anyway, thanks again for your encouraging words, and I hope the pen (or is it the keyboard) abides

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