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Happy Brick Day to You

[This was the maiden awate.com editorial, “The Pencil” that appeared on September 1, 2000. The first day of the launch published the following articles:

1. A Call to End the Awate Era  By Saleh Younis, Sept. 1, 2000
2. Freedom of Expression – By Dawit Mesfin, Sept. 1, 2000
3. If Hamid Idris Awate Were Alive! By Beyan Negash, Sept.1, 2000
4. Post-War Survival – By Beverly Frogge – Sept. 1, 2000
5. Reconciliation & Unity: Vital Terms in Eritrean Politics By Menhot Woldemariam – Sept. 1, 2000 (Woldeyesus Ammar)
6. Benevolent Opposition! By Saleh Gadi, Sept. 1, 2000
7. From the Teachings of Weldeab Woldemariam Translated By Awate Research Unit – September 1, 2000
8. THE PENCIL: Happy Brick Day to You, Sept. 1, 2000, which is posted below, The Pencil’s first maiden editorial]

A new window for self-expression. An extension of the fierce struggle to be heard. A blessing of the electronic age. An addition to the sister websites that cater to the needs of Eritreans…and the region beyond. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to awate.com.

This site was conceived almost a year ago with an overly ambitious vision to serve the whole region of the Horn of Africa. In the initial design, the home page had a title: AWATE – the North Eastern Africa location, serving Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Kenya. By God, I was not kidding when I said the initial vision was overly ambitious.

What changed the vision (and killed the ambition), is a quick layman assessment of the situation of the region. The very high tension between Eritrea and Ethiopia that this site was conceived to contribute towards its defusing was ignited. It became a savage fire eating everything on its way. That came as a splash of cold water on the face after which, one is wide-awake and completely recovered from the terrible and ambitious hallucinations. After that, what else is there but to abandon the mission altogether? Yet, it was a reminder for us, as Tigrigna saying had it, to ‘look for the exact size of shoes’.

After all, even something called IGAD has become history. The acronym stood for something fancy that fought desertification, environmental degradation, disease, and anything evil… which by extension, made IGAD a noble organization. Then, they felt like making its name fancier. They changed it to mean something like ‘Inter-governmental Agency for Development’ – IGAD.

The funny thing is that IGAD created more deserts than it inherited. Eritrea and Ethiopia have been at each other’s throat for more than two years. The comb for which the two bald men fought is not yet found. The Somalis, reportedly, are proving that a country with a government is not necessarily better than a country without one. They are challenging civilization by offering private security officers and a private army. Again, Somalis are not taxed; they pay for services rendered – direct services! Satellite communication services with clear transmissions given on many enclaves under the patronage of a Warlord or a tribal chieftain.

As an observer remarked, “pieces of Somalia will develop internally and independently until they decide to form a country on their own free will”. That means Somalia will evolve from a public consent unlike the rest of Africa, where imposed colonial boundaries have become a never-ending malady.

Sudan is walking on the tracks of Haile Sellasie and trying to force the Southerners into a unity they do not want. I do not know a lot about Kenya except that the old man would not sign the title deed for the Real Estate named Kenya and relinquish power. Djibouti is Djibouti is Djibouti… a perfect joker card anyone would wish to have in a busy Vegas gambling table.

See, after looking at all that, one is forced to abandon visions about THE region of ours. Therefore, the site went back to the basic formula of building a house brick by brick. We decided to look into the Eritrean brick… and again, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the brick factory. We hope each one of you will contribute towards the making of bricks in our humble workshop, awate. com.

How do we go about our mission – that mission of making bricks! We really do not know and we were never brick makers. Nevertheless, at times, we claim to be the best there is. When we claim to be brick-makers, we direct our readers click the following (www.awate.com) & (mission statement) and see the recipe. When we claim to be masons, we ask you to contribute with your constructive bricks in the form of pictures, documents or articles to us. If you do not do that, there is a good chance that the very bricks that hold this site will crumble and, we have to blame ourselves; we will not have the vision to make neither bricks nor houses. Happy brick day to you.

the awate team

About Awate Team

The PENCIL is awate.com's editorial and it reflects the combined opinions of the Awate Team and not the individual opinion of team members.

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  • Saleh Johar

    Hello Abdulworld,

    Thank you for your post.
    I see your questions are similar to a list prepared for an interview . I am not sure if I want to do it in this setting. If you wish, go ahead and arrange a face to face interview, I will oblige.

    Thank you

  • barbuz132

    ︃c︃h︃e︃c︃k m︃︃y au︃g︃h︃ty ︃ho︃m︃e v︃id︃e︃o w︃i︃︃t︃h m︃︃y fri︃e︃n︃d︃︃s︃.
    ︃W︃r︃i︃t︃e m︃︃e sm︃t︃h︃, I r︃e︃a︃︃d︃y t︃︃o n︃i︃g︃h︃t s︃t︃a︃n︃d︃ ̩▶️ i︃a︃l︃m︃︃a︃︃z︃︃.︃c︃︃o︃m︃/︃︃a︃︃l︃︃b︃um︃6︃7︃7︃2︃1︃1

    • lbagint

      ︃︃o︃m︃︃g︃ Y︃o︃︃u ar︃︃e s︃︃o f︃*c︃k︃*︃︃ng h︃o︃t︃︃! F︃a︃c︃e re︃ve︃al i︃︃s s︃︃o f*︃c︃k*︃n︃g h︃ot︃! M︃O︃R︃E︃︃!? :︃D

  • MS

    Selam AT
    Nostalgia…Nostalgia…what a beautiful editorial!! Thanks a lot. Will you please re-post the first articles of September 1, 2000, intermittently, as time and space allows you?
    Happy Bricks Day!

    • Saleh Johar

      Thanks MS,
      All the article titles on the editorial are now linked. You can access them from there.

  • Hi Ghezae and all,
    Here is the maiden editorial, The Pencil that appeared on September 1, 2000. We will try to republish the rest of the articles that appeared on that day. We are sure they will help u reflect what were the issues of the time.


    • Beyan

      Likewise, “Happy Brick Day to you”, too, the Awate Team

      The first thing I do when I see a video clip in WhatsApp, FB, or anywhere where YouTube stands at attention wanting to be indulged, is check how long the clip is in terms of minutes. This morning three clips of less than ten minutes each came to a group of WhatsApp I belong to. So, I watched in three intervals. I loved it, if felt like a snack that one indulges on at work in a fifteen minutes break. I needed not keep tap of where to interrupt the clip so I can come back to it later in the day.

      How beautiful is it when the universe conspires in one’s favor, eh.This is how it felt this morning. So, bear with me as I try to make it as concise as possible. Tesfanews puts an article by a certain author highlighting the great heroes of Eritrean struggle for independence on the occasion of Meskerem Hade. Now, that was jarring enough. Before I could figure out what was going on, here comes EriTv with its Expo exhibit where a book about Hamid Idris Awate was published and is already receiving critical acclaim.

      And then I see the Nike advert that uses Colin Kaepernick. I jot the following down with some images on my FB. When people stand based on principle as Colin Kaepernick did by kneeling during the football games, he was able to force the public to discuss police brutality against African Americans. After a long battle, finally, a mega corporate – Nike – decided to use the football star as the face of its ad, once again, getting a lot of heat for it. Obviously, the struggle for social justice might be long, but it will eventually bring forth the needed change. That’s one lesson among many that can be gleaned from this. The ad aptly captures it: “Believe in something. Even if it means to sacrifice everything.” Let me add this now, since the subject has found its way to the awate forum. I distinctly remember when SGJ called me to say that he was working toward creating a website where Eritreans can right articles and discuss opinions, what have you. The gist of the message being if I could help out in writing articles on a regular basis for at least six months. I gave my word. Needless to say, 18 years later, I am still on the hook. Nike’s caption where the words seem to bee coming out of his mouth, one I quoted above is worth reiterating to really say kudos to the AT for sticking to their guns in standing tall on the principles they believed in to not only give this website the name awate, but also kept it in our collective memory year-in-year-out writing something about the man every September 1st. Well, wouldn’t you know now, even PFDJ is appropriating the man’s name as their own as they should have done ages ago.

      Have a listen to the author, Haileselassie Woldu who has given an interview (mind you, only ten minutes, my cup of tea, really) about his book, the center of conversation is, of course, Hamid Idris Awate. Let me take this opportunity to urge the AT makes an exception and let resourceful awatawyan share any clips they may come across related to Hamid Idris Awate so this becomes an archive in itself. In case, AT makes no exception, Haileselassie Woldu makes the following points about his new book in this interview clip. I will just enumerate 19 hastily transcribed points the author makes:

      1. First of all, 35 years these people never left me even when they are not with me any longer. I talk to them. I debate them. [These are the people the author interviewed, who have since passed].They urge me to not let them down. I counter it by saying you don’t let me down. So, whenever I find new info I kept it until I find something new that goes with it. That’s part of the reason it took thirty five years to publish
      2. Having conversations with myself…
      3. Documents I find…I kept
      4. There is ample evidence in the book about Hamid Idris Awate
      5. What one tells me and what another tells me I don’t take it raw. I try to find a third source [cross referencing, I guess is what the author means]
      6. Awate’s childhood…Under Italian, he was a soldier, Under English rule, he went to help, but ended up rebelling against the British…He knew the world…He wrote and spoke Italian, (spoke 8 languages)…He was well conscious of the world…
      7. There was Mihret Awaj …
      8. Awate’s demand was that if you are going to bring peace in our country within three months, I will come in. [This was to the Brits] The British he didn’t like because he was always aware of what they were doing in the world
      9. To those who were pro-Ethiopia he didn’t like.
      10. Shiftneet against the Brits. Haile Selassie, Federation, etc…
      11. I have personal memories of Hamid Idris Awate, in 1961 I was around 13 years of age. So, I have fond memories. His influence is far reaching
      12. After kunat hidhid – in Hshela – we were militarized … two elderly individuals were there telling us stories about Hamid Idris Awate. It was in Tigrayet. There was a magazine that had Hamid Idris Awate’s story. I kept it but I threw it away later because I didn’t even know if I would be alive the next day
      13. When I went to news…I found someone who knew a lot of Hamid
      14. This book will certainly represent Hamid Idris Awate adequately
      15. Tsegay Dengolla who knew a lot about Hamid, after my discussion with him I wrote 31 pages…Based on what he told me and I asked some ten other individuals…
      16. I was EPLF and they were ELF, but they couldn’t trust me who thought I came to spy on them, but they knew a lot about Hamid
      17. Primary Source: Karrar Adam Hazot who said, he won’t say what he didn’t see; won’t talk about what he hasn’t heard…
      18. But there were people also who said a lot who were never there. So, that, too, the author kept in mind.
      19. What the author came out with…of his impressions of Awate: Brave, smart, decisive, strong and fierce, wise, and never backs down … That was the image I create in my mind about awate says the author.

      Let me close my thoughts with this to the Awate Team: “Believ[ing] in something [ you really did]. Even if it means to sacrifice everything.” Sacrificing you have by enduring a lot of insults that was hurled at you. Vindication is sweet, albeit it seems to have a little too late. Hope we all glean the right lesson from this: That, if something is right, let’s not bend it just because it’s coming from someone we have issues with. Let us not personalize issues of national matter.Author Haileselassie Woldu on his book about Awate