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I Beg to Differ

There is a common trend in the discourse of Diaspora Eritreans that any activity or activism that operates inclusively amounts to acquiescing to or supporting the status quo in our homeland.

I intend to argue that this is a misguided notion.

I haven’t written publicly on any topic outside my field of expertise (biology) since 2001 (Facebook doesn’t count!). I am breaking my silence primarily prompted by the following recent Awate articles: De-Politicizing A Program is Politics: A Case of Radio Blina and Eritrean Apathy: No Boletika Zone.

I fully understand the craving for brevity that many of us are addicted to in these days of smartphones and tablets. So, I will try my best to make my case piecemeal and without too much hyperbole.

In De-Politicizing A Program is Politics: A Case of Radio Blina, the author, Tesfabirhan Weldegabir Redie, having given an overview of the current status and history of the Blin in Eritrea, concludes:

“The basic social structure of the Blen is deteriorating, probably nearing a state of endangered society and their culture and language is facing catastrophe. In light of that, the Blen are taking important initiatives to preserve their identity and Radio Blina is born to ameliorate such a situation. However, though the idea and dedication is commendable, keeping the radio program free of politics is not a good idea.”

I ask, why not?

I presume Mr. Redie’s answer would be to point at the long list of adversities the community has faced in the past and is facing today, and the urgent need to tackle them.

Not to be polemical about it, but for that to be an adequate answer to my question, common sense dictates:

(1) Convincingly demonstrating that a radio station whose primary and sole mission is the propagation of the entire community’s language and culture prevents the members from organizing and mobilizing, as Blin, or with other likeminded individuals and groups, to fight for this same or any other cause.

(2) Proving, even if it is just through logical reasoning, that the radio station, either in its existence or its programming, is playing the role of an “an enabler” vis-à-vis the adversities the Blin community faces.

(3) Proving community activism is zero-sum game; or that the Blin in particular are incapable of “walking and chewing gum”; or that no community should indulge in strategizing and prioritizing its activism when faced with severely challenging times and circumstance.

Disclaimer: I have no association, present or past with Radio Blina, nor do I, to the best of my knowledge, have or had in the past, knowledge of or relation to any of its operators. I am a Blin.

Editor’s note: the content by Dr. Kemal doesn’t fall within the perameter of the required minimum 1000 words for publication, but we have made an exception to promote debate on the topic. Please check the posting guidelines


About Dr. Kemal Ibrahim

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  • josef

    Dr. Ibrahim,
    That is beautiful Idea. I like the Radio Blina and hopeful I can participate and family originates from Keren.
    There are only 75,000 if not less Blin left.
    So, anything to preserve the ancient and beautiful culture is wonderful.
    Politics stance… I assume you are in western world and free person.. and if people want to develop an organization to preserve aspect of their language and culture which is in danger.. who cares whether you take a political stance.. you are not required to? Radio Bilena mission is the preservation of culture and heritage.
    Blin language and people are considered the North Agew.
    You can find Agew people also in Ethiopia.. Central Agew
    I went to Lalibela area and Bahir Dar area… Zagwe dynasty in Lalibela which left one of greatest culture monuments in world was built by the Zagwe ( of Agwe).. their language and culture is also in danger with Amharazation and Tigrinyaisation… only 800, 000 left.. and Ethiopia got 90 million people..

    Agew people are technically the original inhabits of highlands… not all this semitic gibberish…
    Just look how beautiful and similar these two video are… except central Agew are a little faster..

    You shouldn’t preserve and promote these cultures until you take a political stance?
    Man this is 2016… I am glad the cultures are still alive considering all the Tigrinya and Amharic assault on the cultures and people…
    Politics in the Eritrean landscape is just like two old man arguing over who has more grey hair…
    If culture, music, language- all come to room.. Politics in african context is the person that brings fart to room..

  • AMAN

    Greetings to All
    Dear Awatistas ,
    Observation to Reflect Upon !
    I do not know or understand why you were under estimating
    and looking down on the role of an individual in leadership
    role or position .
    Look for example how GOP runner candidate Donald Trump
    has finally won over his own divided house republican party
    and most finally recognized his efforts and platforms and
    are saying he is the only one to unite the divided party together.
    This is a perfect story that tells he sacrificed himself, his wealth
    and reputation to turn away the party from the downhill journey
    it has been going into for decades until it lost touch with the present
    or current reality.
    The person , though has many discomforting issues, he has been
    a lot better than the party and its lines to be worthy of support by
    many Americans.
    In the end what and the one who matters is the one who stands
    upright for the principles the party espouses for whether comfortable
    or uncomfortable truths ; than the ones who are without principles
    and like to swing like the pendulum just to please everyone & everybody
    all the time. Political parties and the political leaders in them better have
    a principled stand and identifiable character by which they are identified
    than trying to nurse supporters emotional needs and sensual passions.
    Sometimes, individuals in a leadership position can be more right and
    find the way than the whole others and can save a party from going extinct.
    So majority rule or majority are always right ; is not ALWAYS true !
    But the political line is !!
    Note to readers :
    I am not saying dictators are good or supporting dictatorship here; but
    individual freedom should be understood , should be respected and
    exercised. We need to hold it dear and understand its powers and if
    exercised rightly, the difference it makes and the victories it enables
    us or any society achieve. That is why people die for freedom ! to have
    it. own it and exercise it for success and rational living. So wasn’t it
    worth sacrificing for it ?
    Thank you ,

  • tes

    Selam Meron,

    The link you provided is not specific. Can you exactly locate the link please? You seem to be from the YPFDJ camp. And if you are, this artistic work represents your attitude and actual practices. Pesonally I refuse your argue as it is a crocodile cry.


    PS: Respect posting guidelines.

    • Eskitishim

      Tes, aytitehaweK! Dont be a child. You dont have to jump into “halewlew”. I believe he needs your apology for your irresposible reply.

      • tes

        Selam Eskitishim,

        Hmm, am I?

        You have linked the same page. Where is exactly the photo? And what is the motive to urge? Show me the photo link which resembles alike. I am quite sure Awate team has no business of posting someone’s photo. Above all respects copy rights and Intellectual properties. If they assure that the person (Meron) is the owner, then it is quite possible to take it away and ask an apology.

        As for me, I respect someone’s rights and I know what a copy right is. What I am responding is on the way Meron is arguing. My response is mine and has nothing to do with and hence no apologies.

        Mind you though here the photo is not used for negative purpose and has nothing to do with individual personality violations. Saying that the aggressive call coming from Meron is non-respectful and typical PFDJite. he must ask for his rights in a right way so that his rights can be respected.


        • Eskitishim

          Please check the link in my comment; “Tinfer aytinfer..” aytibel. I dont know him but I can see 95% resemblance…Hidie bel tes arKey.

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Hi Tesfat,

          if you read the article written by Fred and his colleagues in the link provided by Eskitishm, Meron does not look from PFDJites where he was lamenting of being unable to go to the burial of his parents because he despises the regime. Please read the article, it is an intetesting piece.

          Amanuel Hidrat

  • Nitricc

    Greetings people: I haven’t been participating the way I would like to have participating due to grueling assignments but whenever I get a minute to stop by to see what is going on; I read topics that have no relevance to the current situation in Eritrea. Not only makes you wonder and question their motive about the people who are writing this carp about but it discourages for the real people discussing real issues. It forces you to refrain from participating on this toothless topic. Case in point you have over almost 20 wanna be Eritrean oppositions who in the right mind will want and argue for creating another worthless wanna be Eritrean opposition party? What happen to creating one, strong, viable and unifying real Eritrean opposition party? How pathetic is a person like Tes reduced in to a communal and tribal politics? You keep saying PFDJ is oppressing the whole people of Eritrea and you told us that no population of Eritrea is spared from this so-called brutal repressive regime, then, why not push and stand for one and inclusive opposition party who can stand to PFDJ and stand for the so-called repressive people? Why opt in to communal, tribal and a waste of time in politics? Who cares what radio station say are stand for? Don’t you have a bigger fish to fry? Now I know why PIA never tried to kill you; he knows you are born dead.
    *** I am no even mentioning the stupid connection between politics and food-science. Wow!!!

    • T..T.

      Dear Nitricc,

      AgheNaA, you got that right!

      You seem to hate the Eritrean opposition because they are not certain about what they want. You are right, if the opposition doesn’t know how to master itself, how the people can entrust it with power.

      Indeed, if the opposition believes that gun has no power and if it is committed to eliminating the rule by fear of punishment, like that of Isayas, why the opposition doesn’t test itself by declaring a government in exile and establishing rule by law. In its rule by law, the opposition should ensure that each of its departments and personnel is accountable under the law. The government in exile should also condemn those who strengthen corrupted power by silence thereby eliminating any power that overrules to limit the power of rule by law, reason and justice.

  • Berhe Y

    Dear Dr. Kemal,

    It’s good to see you that you are back from the self imposed exile from writing in public. Back in 2000, during 1.0 I remember reading your articles aimed to “Generation hope”, where gave you the title of “ watch dog”. If I remember correctly the last time you wrote your article in 2001 (after the arrest of the G-15) I think you have responded to some of the question that I raised to you, I can’t find the article. Anyway at the time I have thought that, me be part of your audience, the “generation hope”” and how I am an old man with mid life crisis:).

    The reason I bring this up is that, I don’t know your reason for you stopping writing in public but if I have to make a wild guess, it would probably be, you wanted to avoid being “political” after the arrest of the “G15 and that of the journalist” and instead you decided to stay away.

    In the mean time, you can recall the problems our country has endured, our young, the generation hope that you have the best vision for, have never materialized instead, our country has become a living for the your and most of them have endured countless injustice and suffering.

    If someone want to stay silent from talking, addressing the suffering our people are going through today, it’s not because of earth quick, floods, but rather man made, POLITICAL problem that can be avoided. If anyone wants to stay quite and avoid “boletica”, they are not avoiding politics but rather than justice.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
    Edmund Burke


  • Haile WM

    Dear Kemal,

    I would like to ask you how is that even possible to avoid politics in any kind of social gathering ? it’s like not speaking on the elephant in the room while you are in the same room.
    In my opinion, you can’t speak of the Blin without speaking of Eritrea, and you can’t speak of eritrea without the social and/or political situation of the country. that would be unnatural.
    It’s like lets speak without speaking. A charade in my view.
    There is a tigrigna saying that goes like ዕፉን ብድብድቡ and it’s quite revealing of this no boletika issue

    • Burhan Ali

      Yes, like “bolotica” is not the ways of regulating social relations, and like Dr. Kemal is not speaking “bolotika” while calling for making “bolotica” a monopoly of the PFDJ! in the olden times Aristotle stated that reasoning against Philosophy is a philosophy all by itself!

  • Dear all,

    What does the concept “no politics” really mean? Is it a benign questionin in the first place? Could it be equivalent to capitulation, reconciliation, compliance, etc, with the status quo?

    Let me give this odd analogy. Two men are shipwrecked on a small island far from any civilization. There is only one apple tree that produces only five apple fruits a day and they had to survive on these. No fish, no nothing. One of the two for one reason or other always gets three apples, and the other two. This happened until one day the person who got only two apples started to question the situation, and was forced to tell his friend that it is time he gets thee instead of two, because it is just, fair and right. Is this politics or not. It is, no doubt.

    Politics happens in our everyday life. The quest for freedom, equal rights, survival and happiness is within human nature, and this is a daily struggle, because there are people out there who are ready to deny these to others. There is politics even within the same family. Therefore, human beings become apolitical (no politics) only when they are dead and gone; otherwise, politics is part of life. No politics, no life.

    • Nitricc

      Horizon; you are typical African.
      “Politics happens in our everyday life. The quest for freedom, equal rights, survival and happiness is within human nature,”
      Typical corrupted African mentality; look how he curved out the call of duty and the scarifies that is needed to be paid in order to gain the freedom, equal rights and happiness that every human being ought to strive. I think the west’s treatment of Africans; have damaged killed the work ethic, morality and the sense of dignity all at once.

      • Nitricc,
        Indeed, I am a typical African. I do not have your haughty attitude towards Africans, or look upon them disdainfully as you so often do. It is easy to see that you are a whitemen and strongmen worshiper. In the parallel universe you live, seeing /hearing /saying nothing, when people are inhumanly treated is a call of duty; it is ethical; morally right and a dignified action. God save Eritreans from people like you. You are ready to sacrify all Eritreans provided one inhuman dictator can have his way. By the way, why do you avoid participating in the sacrifice you demand from others?

        • Kokhob Selam

          ኣድማስየ :-
          ጎሽ !

        • Nitricc

          Horizon you said; “I do not have your haughty attitude towards Africans, or look upon them disdainfully as you so often do.” How could you? You are number one Weyane! And from that discretion of you; we know what you stand for. Just for information; I know it will come as a surprise to you but for every value you seek for there is a price for it. if your value is happiness, freedom and equality i.e. you must prepare to pay the prices that are going to cost you. do you read me?????

          • Nitricc,
            You are saying that everything belongs to the regime and it gives or denies the right to live peacefully, be free, prosper, get education, create a family etc. All these are banned, and Eritreans have therefore to pay the price to get them, and you are supporting the paranoid and antisocial dictator and his regime that have highjacked the people’s aspirations.

  • Meron

    [from the moderator: We challenge you to present the link to support your claim. Show us “Your claimed original” or hold your peace. Post the URL here.]

    @ Dr. Kemal Ebrahim,
    The photo that you have used is mine. How dare you just take a picture and use it? It is illegal and slanderous considering the topic you are writing about. You and the website is responsible for this. Take it down or I will take a legal action against you and the website.

    • Solomon Haile

      Selamat Meron,

      Trafic held me at the Bay Bridge…. In Fisherman Worf, SF there is a sculpture of three little monkeys with the same concept as the photo utilized by Dr. Kemal.
      I am hoping YG will do the accountant’s story..
      Since you got here ahead of me at dawit’s tea table at Triple A’s Cafe I am wondering if “FitHi meAs Hiji” is performed yet?”

  • Kamal M Ibrahim

    Salamat Abu Salah and Awate folks

    The link to posting guidelines that is at the bottom of my short essay is broken.

    When I decided to write yesterday, my plan was to compose four short commentaries like the one I sent you – on Radio Blina, on the Keren High school get-together and on Saleh’s comments about EMC in the Keren High School article. I was going to conclude with a last essay extolling the need to engage in all-inclusive community building and as a practical component of doing so, I was going to seek help from Awate readers to launch yet another “No Boletika” initiative – portraying and celebrating the lives and achievements of ordinary Eritreans everywhere (regardless of their politics) through images and short commentary (Humans of Eritrea – an idea borrowed from Humans of New York).

    The reason I am writing here is because (1) everything I have to say under each of these topics can be said in about as many words as I used in the last piece. I admire Saleh’s ability and those of many other Awate commentators to compose volumes. I’ll be first to admit I am deficient in that. (2) I was unaware of Awate’s essay length requirement (3) I don’t want special treatment and more importantly I don’t want to be seen to be treated with special privileges. (4) I thought of the alternative of posting the short essays I listed above in the comments sections of the Awate articles that prompted me to write. I am disinclined to do so because it wouldn’t be effective in broadly publicizing the launch of Humans of Eritrea (I have a sneaky suspicion someone is going to chastise me for having an ulterior motive; I admit guilt). So, it appears that I am going back to my hibernation. In parting, I would very much like to thank you all for the gracious welcome I received. I wish you success in all your endeavors.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Dr Kemal,

    If you are Dr.Kemal that we use to know him as “the watch dog ” at this website, early 2000, welcome back. Your Rebut is, short, precise, and to the point. I can ‘t agree more.
    There isn ‘t social issue that could be argued for without politics. None at all. So raising the issue of culture and language as grievance by the agrieved is nothing other than politics, and politics is the only tool to address it.

    Dr. Kemal, please make your come back alive and help us to address the issue of minorities and their rights in the future democratic Eritrea in order to assure the coexistence of our diversity.

    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Majority Vs Minority


      Who is dealing or is designated to do address the issue of the “majority”?

    • T..T.

      Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

      Did you mean “at Dehai” and not “at this website. Dr. Kemal of Dehai used to represent it in the UK. Anyway, good to see him back.

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Dear T.T,

        We had Dr.Kemal in awate, though I am not sure whether this gentleman is the one I am talking. But you might be right, because at that time, he was defending the regime and was arguing against Dawit Mesfun and Ismael Omer Ali.

        Amanuel Hidrat

        • T..T.

          Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

          Those Dehai days, the fifth column was the only one column. Nowadays, all columns including 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and the 5th column joined together against the regime. That is why the Isayasist are no more talking about subversion because the whole system is collapsing all around. No more back stabbing because each and every Eritrean is front stabbing to end the nastier system on the face of the world.

  • tes

    Dear Dr. Kamal Ibrahim,

    This is very thoughtful, deeply resonating, open to interpretation and stubbornly well articulated argument. It looks fearless for an honest reader yet shuns away from the truth* when interpreted within the scope of its actual audience . I thank you Dr. Kemal.

    A;Osman has pulled my ordinary lithmus test, a test that tried to examine the nature of Radio Blina’s objective missions. In case, I will quote it here(thanks to A.Osman)

    …if one was to compose a poem or article about the suffering of the youth. …or “less political” his life journey from Eritrea to space…would it be rejected based on the declared “No Politics” policy…?

    I am again asking this question to you so that I can further dissect your numbered arguments.


    * ‘The truth’ here is nothing but the voice of the voiceless Blen people, people who are now facing strict censorship for their voices when ever they want to air it for a wide public.

  • A.Osman

    Dear Dr Kemal,

    The demamd is not that Blin Radio or other Eri organizations make politics their daily bread, the problem lies when they takes a preemptive action that declares “No Politics Zone” or something similar.

    Tes has mentioned a typical acid test…if one was to compose a poem or article about the suffering of the youth. …or “less political” his life journey from Eritrea to space…would it be rejected based on the declared “No Politics” policy?

    The point is when one claims to represent a group of people, imposing a restriction from the beginning sends the wrong signal.


  • T..T.

    Hi all,

    In support of “keeping the radio program free of politics is not a good idea.”

    It is part of the Isayasists culture to repress and bring under control any Eritrean, any where any place, be it a radio station or community activities or even a family.

    Even if the radio station decides to give up to the Isayasists, it is natural the tongue of the radio station to say something in defense of its dignity. In a world like the Eritrean Diasporas, where the Isayasists seek to control, if one does not have a firmly planted tongue will not be able to repel the abuses of the Isayasists.

    Those in the west where there is the stiffest legislative force, the Eritrean Diasporas should use it to fight back and repel the Isayasists’ ugly culture of interference in any Eritrean communities’ affairs. The Eritrean Diasporas need to defend their freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of writing, etc. Indeed, the crooked politics of Isayasists make our people’s politicizing necessary in every sector of their activities because the Isayasists are there to come and take over or take everything away from you.

    If the radio station is a non-aligned station let it air non-aligned messages and condemn who ever interfere in its freedom of broadcasting, be it the Isayasists or the opposition.

  • iSem

    And Differ We Must!
    Hi All:
    First I welcome back Dr. Ibrahim and I am delighted that he has broken his silence and I congratulate Tes for becoming the catalyst for breaking the lengthy silence of the former resident watch-dog.
    The arguments are valid in a different situation, where there are some semblance of law, the tolerance of dissenting views etc. The current ill predicament of Eritrea and Eritreans cannot be divorced from politics. And thanks to the subconscious mind the Blin people are of course capable to walk and chew gum. I know Dr. Ibrahim used it metaphorically, I am just being factious 🙂
    The commendable job that the radio is addressing: the challenges of the language and culture of the Blin people was made worse by politics and to avert the politics aspect of it, a major contributing factor is either grossly dishonest or oblivious.
    Not addressing lack of effort by the so called vanguard government not to protect, or implement policies that will protect the dwindling minority of our population, not to articulate the disastrous PFDJ policy of the official language vs the mother tongue issue, to avoid the conspicuous displacing of the endangered ethnic groups like the Blen, Kunaman, Nara by the majority Tigringa and sometimes the Tigre and to gloss over it as if was solely a natural phonemon is music to the ears of the PFDJ, politics is “kosher” for them and “haram” for the rest of us
    I bring to the attention of Dr. Ibrahim the long held policy of EPLF/PFDJ that the “gabbar” does not have a role in politics but a mere group who do what they are told to do. I bring to his attention the long held policy of EPLF/PFDJ on education that focuses on trade schools and less on history, politics and law. I bring to his attention the long held policy of the EPLF on “gabbarizing” when an educated Eritrean joins the front and when that is completed, they force him to focus on his technical expertise with no role on politics. Combine all these and you have a situation that cannot be divorced from the issues that the radio is trying to address. Politic is inherently baked in every malfunction that we endeavor to alleviate

    • Solomon Haile

      Selamat iSEM, and awate forum without a doubt in my mind and heart has been and still is a great community. Some say it is an opposition web site and some say it is an excellent University or an Institution for Higher Learning.
      “Gabarizing” is a telling word for yours trully that sheds light on the politicised banter (waza ms kumneger/bolotica) differences between yourself and Mr. MaHmud SaliH. All one has to do is see the equality of both yours and MH’s definitions of “bolotica”/politics while sounding to be different. We all know the cause or rational is empiricism. Both of your empirical learnings and applications to Eritrean society is what us the “Ghebar” or laymen are mistaking for politics/bolotica. Politics you and other more learned men and women could teach me better as we all know though a noble business can also involve lots of dirt and blood amongst…
      As it has been said:”little knowledge can be dangerous” or in other words as Mr. MaHmood SaliH has put it below: people (such as uours trully) who are not very well read, proud of our unearned liQ or Muhur title bestowed by the humble Gebar who value greatly education and innovation tend to exhibit burjua and or elitist attitudes…
      Whereas you are emphasising on the lack of liberal arts / social sciences / philosophy etc… in the EPLF/PFDJ curricula Mr. MH narates and or testifies otherwise at least in the EPLF era… You are aware on FB the bolitical sarcastic sensationalism title: “Now This Election.” to further the numerous great social networking communitis with just causes. I also recall your algebra equation of ((SaaY + SJG)) = Awate.
      I will continue later with the contradictions or dishonesty your bolotical gaming. I will also elabirate on how the non bolotical Saay and the very bolotical SJG did infact make great and not as great as it can be. Up until now, I jokingly called you General for more than one reason but mainly because of that very critical and not so bolotical article you penned against the EU and its reengagement with GoE/PFDJ. I could be wrong but I believe it was at least a catalyst if not the cause of SJG bzeyy SaaY = awate war zone with numerous warlord bolotical Generals. Though I have lead battles against my Maple Leaf friend General Berhe Yeman I will

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Solomon,

        Here are the answers to your questions brother:

        First, though you are right that, I started my column in which was known as a “Hidmo wufuyat ” at that time, I didn ‘t defect from them. The website has stopped posting articles for sometime for obvious reasons. I couldn ‘t stop my fight and continue in this website.

        Second, it was during the senseless border war, that I made a call of “tebeges ” to my concience, in 1998, to fight against the drum beating for mass destruction of Eritrean souls
        – a war that should be avoided by all means. Hence the name of my column.

        Amanuel Hidrat

    • tes

      Dear iSem,

      I am preparing myself for a higher degree of political debate in regard to the objectives of Radio Blina. Meanwhile I am inviting you to join me on scanning some useful reading materials in case I need your back-up.

      For today please spare some of your spare time for this article

      Politics in Pre-Politics Times

      In case you don’t have enough time, let me quote one paragraph here:

      The philosophical injunction to grasp one’s time in thought is beset today by an oscillation between disorienting anxiety and a renascent enthusiasm. The anxiety is determined by the objective temporality of crisis, understood, in keeping with the medical derivation of the term from Hippocratic medicine, as that phase “in which a decision is due but has not yet been rendered” (Koselleck 361); when decisions are looking for their subjects. It is an anxiety that is also shadowed by a catastrophic tonality; in the absence of sublime visions of final collapse, there is a deep-seated sense that social stagnation or regression will continue to shadow any possible ‘recovery’, and that the only events punctuating an otherwise featureless future will be starkly negative.


  • Solomon Haile

    Selamat oh seasoned debators Awatistas,

    I would like to extend an invitation to tea to Mr. Amanuel Hidrat, Hope and Prof. Tes in this thread. As a continuaton of Tes’ Radio Blina presentation with all of the debators’s guiding comments I believe I am close to finally undetstanding what has been perplexing me for a very long time. I shall reread and dig further in order to present a few questions and opinions to these gentlemen. My mission is to pickup where Mr. Fanti has left and hopefully tie it with an excellent and suscinct article Kemal the Biologist has now shared with us.
    The key to my line of thinking currently has the following key variables.
    Keren. the Blien, the usage of Amharic language in a particular diplomatic plea letter as mention by a forum commentator, and for…, Gheteb.
    I think bolotica or non bolotica is not the issue. Lemon tea gents and hopefuly I shall join you at the tea table discussion in progress should I be delayed by trafic…

    • tes

      Dear Solomon Haile,

      It is a great pleasure and an honor to receive your invitation. I’m here then to enjoy it.

      By the way I like your new approach. honestly before I had difficulty of understanding your message as it was extremely complex script usually conveyed through compound codes. I was missing missing your wisdom. Now it is time to learn from you while having a calm converse.


  • Mahmud Saleh

    Dear Dr. Kemal Inbrahim

    Thank you for this short, yet more descriptive and elucidating piece. You hit the nail on the head with amazing precision. In this era of hyper-politicking, it’s become a common experience to see folks ignoring common experiences of the human condition. We are humans, we are multifaceted, we can handle war and peace, sweet and bitter, love and hate, life and death…we keep on moving prioritizing our schedules. A family could compromise of PFDJ supporters and opponents of PFDJ, but it is a family; a church, a high school reunion, occasions such as the celebration of Mariam DeArit…could compromise politically opponents, but they are social networks and in order to benefit from the primary purpose that marks their existence, they may suppress political activism. I know of churches in my locality that have become the ground of political infightings between the opposition groups causing a fledgling justice seekers efforts to a halt. In addition to politics, we do have other aspects of life.

    For Keren High School Re-union to be as fruitful as possible, in order for individuals to have the experience they would have, it would be essential for the coordinators of that get-together occasion to announce it “Boletika Free” ground, because they knew the reality of Eritrean politics. Perhaps, they had experienced the chaos that ensues in such grounds; may be, they had known of projects that had gone aground, of associations/organizations that had disbanded with sour ending because hyper-politicking overruled their projected agendas. It demands honest to acknowledge this fact.

    Regarding radio Blina, there is no evidence suggesting that Radio Blina managers have done so to avoid politics; they could be politically as active as anyone jostling in this forum but could be utilizing other venues for their political activism. I was looking for an opportunity to write a small article about this misguided hyper-politicking attitude, and the notion that goes with it that if you are not “all politics in all of your life, you are not a justice seeker.” The insults and big talks awatistas exchange attest to the basic fact that we are failing in the basics of communication, and that’s learning your partner/opponent. establish personal boundaries. If there is no respect for personal boundaries, there could not be dialogue, or debate. I think individuals debate with a person of a differing views. If it is for the purpose of insults and booing, a mere jostling for attention, then the whole venue degenerates to uselessness. I understand, tes point of view, I also understand SGJ when he wrote his beautiful reportage about the reunion of Keren High school; and I would be delusional to think I could lecture him on this issues, my disappointment is with what followed of the discussions; and the inability of well read folks that some venues serve society better if kept off politics. That doesn’t mean that the folks running those venues are off politics, or are sending that message to the greater mass, but reality is dictating them to rule it that way so that those venues become more fruitful for the mission they were set for.
    For instance, I’m sure SGJ met less-politically active old friends. I’m sure he exchanged experiences and re-established networks with some folks who not normally run into his political view, even with people who are not clearly on the opposition bandwagon; I’m sure those personal re-connections have endured the degree of political disparities that exists between them; and I’m sure those personal connections and respectful honoring of personal boundaries would lead to a more active and more productive political projects. In one of my comments, I wrote, ” I can only criticize a certain program if that program is geared towards supporting the regime, or hindering my efforts in raising the political issues I want to raise in my own platform.” I think this sentence agrees with your number one and two above.
    Thanks Dr.

    • Saleh Johar

      Aham Mahmuday,

      I started to type a comment to clarify a few things but when I stopped it was two pages. That will certainly be my next Negarit but for now, please check this exhibit on what the No Boletika claim ends up being.

      This is a sample personal story:

      In the first Keren High School reunion in Toronto, I proudly read a chapter of my book “Of Kings And Bandits” and many people were supportive and wanted me to finish it as quick as possible. I was so happy when I published the book in time for the second reunion in Washington DC. In fact I kept it in store so that it can be launched at the Keren Reunion. I sent around 300 books to DC through friends so that It can be distributed at the event. A YPFDJ leader in the USA, sadly a schoolmate, blocked the distribution of the book at the hall–in collaboration with two others. When he was asked why? He said “No Boletika here”

      My friends objected: “this is history, not Boletika!”

      At that moment he pointed to my name on the book cover with his finger and said, “This is enough Boletika.”

      But what do you know, all the books were sold at the park where the No Boletika pretenders have no say.

      This is what the No Boletika Zone scheme ends up becoming–a play ground for such people.

      Until I post my elaborated points, please bear with me… and thank you for triggering my interest in the subject again.

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Dear Saleh
        Thanks a lot Saleh. I understand your point; and seriously, your experience with that YPFDJ is quite illustrative of the problem we are facing. Instead of reading what you wrote, your name was enough for him to declare a novel based on Eritrean history “persona non grata”. When peoples’ minds get so clouded that’s what you get, mixing up everything. Your story reminds me of what I saw of low level protests in the field n the mid eighties. A book titled “TariK Eritreya” authored by the late Osman Saleh Sabbe was circulating in the departments of research (mnqqaH). Some thought Sabbe was pseudo-intellectual, others said he was a political enemy of the EPLF, etc. Some level-headed persons promoted the book through to becoming an indispensable reference.
        Anyway, it all depends on the purpose of any gathering or platform. The purposes of some venues cut across political affiliations. I have said enough to clarify where I’m coming from, but to conclude it, the function/purpose of the project under question will determine if a venue would benefit from a “no boletika” policy. Through the example you’ve just brought, I kind of understand the flipside of my perspective and I will surely bear with you.

    • tes

      Dear Mahmuday,

      The problem is not on whether on is into politics or not but when one tries the voice of the other. Just suppose (I am bringing here Eritrean Orthodox Case as you brought as example of churches that went array in your area).

      as we all know, the head of the Eritrean Orthodox church is under house arrest since 2006 . While still alive, his place was taken over by other one who is appointed by PFDJ officials. May He Rest in Peace, the new assigned leader died. Now we have a church without its head and fully controlled by General Secretary General, way far from its traditional leadership structure.

      This been the reality, Orthodox Churches all over the world faced two challenges

      One – to ignore the reality of the church and just conduct its service without due consideration.
      Two – to raise the issue and end the imprisonment of their church leader.

      Now, it is known who will take option number one, and not necessarily on due time but of course increasing concern on their church will ask their conscience and hence option two will come. On this situation, of course the church will be divided in to two –

      Those who want to be deaf and silent


      Those who will listen the voice of the voiceless people and speak on behalf will definitely won’t remain silent for a while.

      Is this then politics? or Human Rights issue?

      SGJ has one simple and beautiful motive of struggle – “justice”. I am inspired by this simple description of his struggle motto.

      Let me ask you then another two simple questions

      Is justice politics?

      If your answer is YES, well then I expect your elaborated explanation.

      With Regards


      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam tes,

        Until Mahmuday gets back to you, let me give you a logical inference based on formal logic to answer your question: If civil right movement is a political movement for justice, and if justice comes as the product of a political struggle, then justice has always a political connotation when they are adjudicated as social justice.

        Another point related to it is: Justice are enforced by laws, and laws are political documents until they are ratified by legislative bodies and encoded by legal terminology. Therefore you can not separate law, justice, and politics as they are existing, intertwined each other.

        Amanuel Hidrat

        • Mahmud Saleh

          MarHab Emma and tes
          It is the end of school year for the kids, and you know what that means. I hope you retrace back my comments under tes and Dr Kemal articles. You will find out that the context within which I’m discussing “No boletika” is very narrow. As a matter of general statements, I fully agree with both of you that our life is affected and influenced by the politics and policies of the moment. Just to reiterate what I’ve repeated in the past 6 days, let me give you an example. Say, you as a pharmacist, and tes as a food scientist, are asked to get involved into projects within your profession. Let’s even narrow it to you. Say, you are involved in a purely pharmacological project. I think you would want the project free of politics, because you will have professionals coming into the project with different political affiliations. In order to make that project fruitful, you would want commitment of every participant to that project and the cohesion of members. I’m using “No boletica within that context. There are just some endeavors whose interest cuts across political stripes.
          regarding justice/politics relation: I have not implied that they are divorced or disassociated concept. I never implied fighting for justice is not something we should shun. I would like to know if tes tried his best to talk to the managers of radio Blina, or if they even are reading what we are debating here. I believe, their “no politics” policy falls within the premises of above example. They may want to invite everyone. Here, the connecting fiber is the language and culture of the Blin people, and their guests. I would love to see if the example Aosman brought and tes forwatded to the forum was even brought to the attention of the managers. I would like to hear from them. Apart from that I can’t comment as to how they would handle it, or have handled it. I’m very much influenced by the culture, unfortunately, I’m not good at understanding all that they say.
          Back to tes, to my understanding justice is a concept that , for centuries, social scientists have argued on. But we can limit the definition to the rule of law, including impartiality and fairness; the fair distribution of resources and political positions (policy making, or governing positions…); it may include the administration of the rule of law…etc. Politics would of course deal with all activities aimed at seizing power, influencing those in power; and the negotiations that goes with distribution and administering power and resource fairly. In short, in our case Justice would be the end while politics the means to achieve that end. Sorry, that’s just how vaguely I understand those concepts.
          Now, what both of you are saying is “Let’s get politically involved in order to achieve the just society we aspire to see established.” In this sense, I concur with you; and I have not implied otherwise.

          • tes

            Dear Mahmud Saleh,

            We are on the same on the definition of justice and politics. Lets move on then –

            You came from my professional angle and you wanted me to make a project successful by being free of politics. Ok!

            Dear Mahmday, I think you are missing very important point. Politics is not about disagreement. Politics is about governance, in its pure and noble mission, to create a conducive environment of peaceful co-existence. I am saying this to go into the politics of my profession.

            Just suppose – food scientists are invited to develop a certain product, say, Ga’at(Tigrigna), Akla(Tigre), Kala (Blin). They are all food scientists and have no politics brought by these individuals to this specific project. Suppose the team worked so hard and was very successful to develop the product. Then, it is time to sell in the market, local or international.

            During this process, the team will face two types of politics: one whether the product is coherent with food laws or not. External Food Product development experts will come and evaluate the product for its quality, safety and fulfillment of International food standards. Then, the product will face scrutinization process, and hence politics.

            Second – if it passes the first evaluation process, then it must inter the market. Here is also another strict laws and regulations, sometimes impossible to get into it.

            It is during process then the food scientists will face politics. No matter how super product they have, unless they fulfill basic requirements, they won’t be able to sell their product. For this food scientists are always thoughtful about external politics.

            From this what we can conclude s that politics is not necessarily about internal working environment but rather the whole environment that we live in.

            Coming back to Radio Blina, so far I didn’t have direct contact with the managers. However I ample information that I can base my argument. There are critically concerning issue that the Radio is up to.

            Just to give you some highlight –

            – The Radio has strict censorship rules. Any content, be it poem, song or novel that contains politics is rejected.


          • Mahmud Saleh

            Hello tes

            Thanks. Now, that we have agreed on the link between justice and politics; let me take a look at the example you gave. I appreciate your exchanges, if I’m late, it’s just because of schedules. I’m not missing what the food scientist collectively would face. I used the phrase ” influencing those in power”. We call it petition, lobbying, marketing…where politicians are introduced to the measure you advance; where professional legal team would navigate the process…other (nonrelated) experimenters and experts of qualities and standards… These are all efforts that are needed for that measure or product to get approved. Now, here is what I’m saying: For all this to happen professionals would most likely hold onto their personal political affiliation and focus on the collective objective of the project. If you want to pass a school levy in your city council, which consists of politicians of different parties, residents of that city would most likely work together to influence the members of the council rather than working divided along party affiliations, because what binds them is that specific project. The food scientists immediate purpose of collaboration is completing a specific project. In order to do that they would most likely hold onto their individual political view and work collectively to influence politicians.
            Where we agree: whether we try to hide or not, unfortunately, our life is influenced by the politics of the time. In this sense, one would not be honest to say “No Boletika”, as a general rule.
            Where we disagree: I’m saying some projects demand the suppressing of each individual’s political views in order to triumph over collective obstacles a collective mission is facing, be it the need to complete a project, or to persuade corridors of power to pass/approve/accept collective demands of a congregation (it could be a group of a specific interest, city, nation, tribe…).

          • A.Osman

            Dear Tes,

            in this forum we had many discussions to understand why groups like “Silent Majority”, “Fencesitters” or to some extent “Koboro Junkies” are apolitical, while they understand the suffering of Eritreans and know that we have an authoritarian regime. I believe, the “Politics Free Zone” strategy in essence is formulated to attract such an audience, while those who are political are taken for granted.

            Most of us here know little about Radio Blina, are just speculating based on what we are reading at Awate and discussing the topic in general. I don’t see much difference in yours and MS take on the topic, the policy can be elastic in its implementation. Specific to Radio Blina, to know if it is intended for “narrow use” just to “attract all Bilen people” or to “avoid politics in its entirety”, it will be informative to see quotation from the specific policy adopted or test it by sending them an article for presentation. If censorship is strict as you put it then I suspect HGDefites may be at the driving sit.


        • tes

          Dear Amanuel Hidrat and @Ma@mahmud_saleh:disqus

          Your interjection is highly appreciated. Here is one of your lines that I want to bring it for further elaboration.

          You wrote; “If civil right movement is a political movement for justice, and if justice comes as the product of a political struggle, then justice has always a political connotation when they are adjudicated as social justice.”

          You have composed interesting points in one but I would prefer to divide them for detailed analysis.

          Just to extract the juice out of this, lets filter it out so that it will fit to my previous question addressed to MS.

          “…a political movement for justice…”


          If I understood you clearly, here “justice” is a product and political movement is the process. If so,whether justice is enforced by laws or not, it is not politics by itself. Justice is a consequential outcome, hence ‘consequentialism’*“. Therefore, politics is nothing but a means to achieve the end, (The end justifies the means).


          Justice and Social Justice are different things. Social justice is a process, hence politics by itself. The struggle done under the banner of social justice is nothing but to achieve an justice. However the justice promoted under the banner of social justice is always misleading where it is up to date a center of chaos and instability across the world. I myself do not concur the concept of social justice promoted by socialists. (I know you are very interested on this area and we did a number of exchanges before).

          From these two points therefore we can extract “justice”, as the ultimate quest for human freedom and all others are tools to achieve it. My understanding, which is mentored by Saleh Johar Ghadi relies on this simple concept of justice: justice, justice, justice. Point.

          Having said that any process/movement that ignores justice, for example, creation of political free zone, is nothing but against justice.