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Isaias Afwerki’s Five Stages Of Dealing With Crisis

Outrageous things happen in Eritrea all the time. But outrageous things have a scale and sometimes even people who have been conditioned to accept the outrageous as the normal are jolted. The refusal of Isaias Afwerki to allow the body of long-time (40 years) EPLF/PFDJ functionary Naizghi Kiflu to be returned to Eritrea for proper burial in his native country registers high on the Outrage Scale and whenever this happens sane people ask three questions: (1) What is President Isaias Afwerki thinking? (2) What are his followers thinking? (3) How will this thing be resolved? Of the three, the easiest one to answer is the last one—but only if you have been studying how all previous outrages have been “resolved.”

Now, before we get into that, I feel compelled to say two things. First, if you notice a certain level of detachment in my writing, it is not because I think that there is nothing wrong in denying burial rights to a comrade you have known, and has served you well, for 40 years. That courtesy should be extended even to your bitter enemies—how we treat the dead is one of the things that separate normal human beings from psychopaths. I just can’t fake outrage, because, knowing PFDJ, I am not outraged. Secondly, when I say Isaias Afwerki (and not PFDJ) is responsible for this latest outrage, I am not “personalizing the issue” as the inevitable emails will tell me: I have my reasons:  when the country’s Foreign Minister, the ruling party’s Director of Political Affairs and Special Advisor to the President tell the family of the deceased [in the UK] that there is no need for the customary fundraising to  arrange the burial because the State will take care of it, I have to assume that even they were not privy to Isaias Afwerki’s inner thoughts.  That, or they were told to lie and say that to the grieving family: which is just as bad, and demonstrates again that it is one guy, Isaias Afwerki, who calls all the shots.

Now let’s tackle the questions in reverse order:

3. How Will This Thing Be Resolved?

Answer: the same way that every PFDJ crisis has been resolved. And how is that? Well, there is a science to it as some dude once explained in a 12-year old article called “Shaebia Kt’Haqiq Alewa.”

But before we get there, I am sure those of you who have taken Psychology 101 in college read Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “Five Stages Of Grief” as outlined in her book “On Death and Dying.” She says whenever we are confronted with grief—and, increasingly, psychologists are saying that it is not just about dying but about dealing with a major crisis—we go through five stages: denial (this isn’t happening!), anger (Why me! Or, in the words of Adel Imam, “yetlaEli assed! Dana b’khaf mn ‘lkelb!”), bargaining (Dear God, just let me dodge this bullet and I will do anything!), depression (Oh, why even try, it is pointless) and then acceptance (it is what it is.)   Many of the Eritreans who seem to be completely unsurprised by anything that goes on in Eritrea are in Stage 5.

Now, lets compare this with Isaias Afwerki’s “Five Stages Of Crisis.” Stage 1:  Stall. Stage 2: Do Nothing. Stage 3: Stall. Stage 4: Do Nothing. Stage 5: Express amazement that people are still talking about this old crisis. That case is closed! iti guday tewediu iyu::  Or, as he told a Qatari reporter for Al-Watan about a different crisis: “By God, I do not know about this issue. This issue can be considered forgotten!”

It is a craft he has perfected for 40 years and, from his standpoint, it works flawlessly so he has no interest in changing it at all. Whether it is, as Gebremedhin Zerizghi explained in his “Eyewitness To Eritrean History”  about how he stalled the ELF leadership in 1970, or whether it is, as Aklilu Zere explained in his “Birth Of Despotism” how he stalled the EPLF leadership about MenkaE until 1976 and all the way to 2012, it is always the same.

Pick any crisis, any Outrage that has happened since then and try to recall how it was addressed:

The Yemeen movement. The blocking of the return of Eritrean refugees in Sudan. The deportation of Ethiopian families. The Mai Habar Massacre. The arrest of Islamic school teachers. The arrest and humiliation of University of Asmara students. The closure of the University of Asmara. The arrest of Eritrean journalists. The closure of Eritrean private press. The arrest of elderly Eritreans. The arrest of the G-15. The arrest of “non-traditional” church officials and the closure of the non-sanctioned churches. The cancellation of the December 2001 elections. The suspension of the constitution. The unseating and house arrest of the Eritrean Tewahdo Church patriarch.

Before they happened, each one of these incidents was considered unthinkable. Yeah, he may do this, went the smart thinking, but not that!  But that is how he has always operated and like a general always using the element of surprise when he does do that, some of us still lose our footing.

To be sure, sometimes even Isaias Afwerki strays from the “say nothing” discipline. For example, when his government stripped the Eritrean citizenship of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1994 for exercising their religious freedom and refusing to participate in the temporal activities of voting in the referendum and enlisting in the National Service, his radio station presented a blistering editorial expressing its annoyance at the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their advocates. But that’s the exception. The rest is the rule: and the rule works—for him, anyway. So, if you were, for example, to talk about the Last Big Crisis, the unseating and house arrest of the Eritrean patriarch, it would be you who would be shamed: where did you get this news? Who told you?  Did you read it at the websites of the enemies of Eritrea? Why do you want to get involved in the internal affairs of the Church? Are you trying to introduce religious conflict to the exemplary and harmonious relationship our people are enjoying?

So, in six months time, when the Naizghi Kiflu issue becomes a distant memory, if you bring up the issue, it will be you who will be told: this is an old issue. It is settled. What exactly is your motive for bringing it up now? Why do you want to bring pain and agony to his family who are trying to heal? Are you that heartless? Who authorized you to speak on behalf of the family? Don’t you feel ashamed for pretending to have more concern for him than a man who knew him and was his friend for 40 years? Why are you repeating what the enemies of Eritrea are saying? Are you naïve or do you have evil intentions? How do you know he was not buried, in accordance with the wishes of his family and people closest to him?

But for the next six months, it will be total silence, at least officially. So the question will not be how long it will take for Isaias Afwerki to answer the “respectful question of the people” as put it; but how long will it take for to realize the futility of the campaign and remove the ticking clock? I think I am going to start my own ticking clock to see how long it takes for to remove its ticking clock.  Clock starts: now!

But as far as Isaias Afwerki and issue of Naizghi Kiflu is concerned: iti guday tewediu iyu:: And if Naizghi’s wife decides to escalate the issue, she will be treated the way George Bush treated Cindy Sheehan (the mother who lost her son in the US-Iraq war.) It will begin with distant compassion (she is grieving and we will not argue with a grieving family member) followed by slow murmurs of: what is her motive? Why is she echoing the words of our enemies?

2. What Are His Followers Thinking?

Anytime some outrageous thing registers high on the Outrage Scale, there is the inevitable question of: why do the followers of Isaias Afwerki still follow him? Once the theories are floated (and they are never new theories, they are always theories that validate whatever it is we always believed), they are followed either by a pessimistic strain (“Oh, my God, if this doesn’t make them see The Light nothing will! They are just as complicit as he is!”) or an optimistic strain (“Finally! Even the most dense, the most stupid among them must now see that it is time to turn their backs against him!”)

But this is exactly what will happen:


One of the mistakes we often make is to believe that because Eritrea is so special to us, then our problems must also be so special, so unique. But they really aren’t. Isaias Afwerki is an authoritarian, and those who follow him are people who are attracted to authoritarians. And if you are thinking that EVEN by authoritarian standards Isaias Afwerki is an extremist, then you just have to acquaint yourself to all the oddballs that have walked the earth.

And how do fans of authoritarians behave? Well, before we answer that, let’s answer this question since most authoritarians and fans of authoritarians are in self-denial: is there some scientific way to know whether someone is a fan of authoritarianism? Yes, says Professor Bob Altemeyer (University of Manitoba) In his e-book, The Authoritarians (available online for free), he has a list of 24 questions that those of you who deny you are fans of authoritarians can take. It was prepared for Western audience, but many of the questions have universal application.

First a definition because he, mysteriously, calls all authoritarians “rightwing authoritarians”:

Someone who lived in a country long ruled by Communists and who ardently supported the Communist Party would also be one of my psychological right-wing authoritarians even though we would also say he was a political left-winger. So a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views. Instead he’s someone who readily submits to the established authorities in society, attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional. It’s an aspect of his personality, not a description of his politics. Rightwing authoritarianism is a personality trait, like being characteristically bashful or happy or grumpy or dopey.

In other words, you would be considered a “rightwing authoritarian” even if your politics were of left orientation but you were highly deferential and respectful and submissive to the left-wing government which is in charge. Got it? Ok.

The 24-question test surveys someone’s level of agreement with 24 statements which have to be responded to using 9 options, all the way from “very strongly disagree” to “very strongly agree.” It has statements like “The only way our country can get through the crisis ahead is to get back to our traditional values, put some tough leaders in power, and silence the troublemakers spreading bad ideas.” I once put on my PFDJ hat and took the test while making minor adjustments (for example, to a PFDJ fan, “our traditional values” means “our Ghedli/Nakfa values”) and I scored 153. According to the test score instructions “The lowest total possible would be 20, and the highest, 180, but real scores are almost never that extreme.”

When taking the test, I was extremely generous to the PFDJ: I assumed that the PFDJ has no opinion about nudist camps, abortion, pornography, gays, lesbians, marriage, protesting for animal rights. I even gave them credit for being advocates of women’s rights—despite the fact that they were the last country in sub-Saharan Africa to, for example, make female genital mutilation illegal; and they have no independent advocacy group for women’s rights; they have made many mothers, wives and sisters miserable, they treat young girls as concubines, etc. But, by golly, they have “high representation of females” in the “government.” So I gave them a positive score (remember, I had my PFDJ hat.)  Even with all that, they score 153. Which is very high. So high that it really is approaching the scores you would get from members of a cult.

So, to answer the question: what are the followers thinking? They are thinking that it is best to trust the judgment of the mighty leader (the elect of God) even on matters we do not understand because by questioning his judgment we align ourselves with the enemies of the state and empower them, and things are never so bad that they can’t get worse so we better be patient and all will be revealed to us in due time. Amen, and victory to the masses, and consider yourself severely rebuffed.

Moreover, the Outrage Scale (unlike, say, the Richter Scale) is a subjective tool. Whatever registers high on your Outrage Scale barely registers on theirs. And if you want to understand what I mean by theirs, well I have two stories to tell you. One is about Mesfin Hagos, and the other is about my mom. And when you hear both stories, your only conclusion should be “people are complex”, because if you reach any other conclusion, well, then, I will take it very personal.

2.1   Mesfin Hagos

For years, Voice of America Tigrigna edition had been playing the balancing act of doing real journalism while making sure that it is not so real that it denies them access to temperamental Eritrean officials. They settled for what many journalists always settle for with those who hold power: we won’t do hard-hitting news, so long as you occasionally return our call. And the Eritrean officials said, “occasionally, and only when it suits our purposes.”* So when the Eritrean population was hungry for news about Naizghi Kiflu, VOA was denied access and they had no news to offer—which they felt compelled to explain in a pedantic voice:  We called this office, then we called that office, then we called the family. Then: “n’weizero Haregu ‘TsnAat yhab ilna’: ‘Hesum aytrkebu tebahilna.’”

Lacking news, VOA’s Tewelde decided to hold an interview with Mesfin Hagos to get his netsebraq, reflections, (netsebraq being Tigrigna for reflections because, apparently, VOA’s Tewelde is part of the campaign to drive us all slowly insane.) It turns out that the netsebraq of Tegadalai Mesfin Hagos, who knows the deceased (Naizghi) and the denier (Isaias) for 40 years, is as follows: While one expects everything from the Eritrean government, one wouldn’t have expected this, but one shouldn’t be surprised by this, because this is not the first time people were denied burial site, and church services, in Eritrea: there are even people who were removed from burial sites and buried elsewhere.

Now that is some netsebraq. You have to live in a special house of mirrors to get so many dazzling netsebraqs, stated in the most matter-of-fact, droning voice. Like a warehouse clerk cataloging inventory:  and over there we have nail # 5, and on the shelf below a hammer, and oh yes, I think we may have a drill: I believe it is the last one, and if I recall, it was just returned by a customer, but it is still in its un-opened box next to the coffin, still awaiting delivery, but that happens often, what are you going to do with cargo delivery these days…

Meanwhile, the netsebraq of Aklilu Zere is that Mesfin Hagos was one of the attendants of the meeting, in 1976, when Isaias Afwerki told his comrades who were inquiring about their liquidated comrades: iti gudai tewdi’u iyu:: Aklilu Zere says: “I reflexively looked at the faces. It was dark and I was sitting between [Ibrahim] Afa and Mesfin Hagos and what I saw froze me in time: abject trepidation. There and then I knew that I couldn’t stay in that organization any more.” I think Aklilu is not being fair: no doubt, Mesfin Hagos probably said “ymezgebeley!!”—I would like to register my reservation!!—because that—“the democratic way”—has been his way of struggling against the long journey to Isaias’s authoritarianism and total outrage. That’s just, bela mu’akheza, my netsebraq.

*also my netsebraq.

2.2. My Mom

For about five years, my mom was simultaneously the mother of a minister and the wife of an elderly incarcerated husband. And during those times, if our long distance phone conversation ever drifted to Isaias Afwerki, it was: “entay emo rekibula iza Adi bzeyka dKham? n’resus entay Erefti reKhibu elkayo?  Kenebriyeka dekhimka zeytbluwo?” What has this man received in compensation other than fatigue? When has he found rest? Why don’t you offer your help to relieve his burden? If you are a supporter of the system and you are saying, “You see! You see!” just remember that I am mentioning this conversation because she passed away two years ago and I know no harm will come to her from the regime now.  And in every conversation I had with her, I was worried that the eavesdrops, the Ezni, were listening.

The thing is that all Eritreans, including those who are opposed to the regime, even the most fearless, are blackmailed by the regime. Whenever we break a Gedab News story about some terrible thing that has happened to an Eritrean family, the complaints we get from the family members is not about the accuracy of our story but that we have now put them in the spotlight and they now have to add anxiety about what will happen to them, on top of the anguish of what has already happened to them.

1. What Is President Isaias Afwerki Thinking?

Years ago I was at Cape Caneveral, when they used to give guided tours of the space shuttle. The tour guide explains: this (pointing to the incredibly uncomfortable looking vertically oriented seats) is the cockpit. The astronauts are sitting on a rocket, really, and there are two million pounds of rocket fuel and, until they get to orbit level, they are flying at 17,000 miles per hour. One of us civilians asks, “who would do that? why would they do that?” And the tour guide said: because they are astronauts. Astronauts do that.

Well, there.

When we ask “What is President Isaias Afwerki thinking? Why would he do that?” we are saying, “I would never do that. I don’t know anybody who would do that.” Yeah, but don’t we also ask the same question when we watch some Extreme Sports (Jackass, skydiving, ice climbing) where a mistake results in death? They do that because they live for the adrenaline rush. Similarly, Isaias Afwerki does what he does because he is wired a bit differently from me and you. Because he is an authoritarian. Actually: he is a totalitarian.

But what exactly does that mean? How are authoritarians different from me and you? Authoritarians are different from me and you because they LOVE power. It is as essential to them as oxygen. Power is their creed, their religion, their only faith, their entire reason for being. Authoritarians have no empathy: since they can never imagine a life without power, they can’t relate to the powerless. Do you worry about all the flies which have been ensnared by a spider web? No. Similarly, authoritarians have no empathy for powerless people. Once they go soft, then all the authoritarian-lovers will lose respect for them. It is a symbiotic, co-dependent relationship. Totalitarians want you to live in a state of fear: there has never been a case of a clear deputy or vice-president to totalitarians because they want the followers to always think “but who will replace him when he is gone?” This has the added bonus of creating a cult of personality: iza Add’s bzeikakha zserHala zeybla!

So, the answer is psychological: authoritarians have an abnormal personality and you can’t ask an abnormal person, “why do you do abnormal things?” The authoritarian’s abnormal personality makes him crave power and, here’s the head trip: the authoritarian becomes even more abnormal to retain power. (Something for the ghedli defamers to consider.) And, this is even trippier: the authoritarian may not be completely aware of the change.

But where is your evidence, you ask. Ok, let me take you back to November 27, 1999:

Before his incarceration/disappearance, General Oqbe Abraha (one of the G-15) wrote a respectful letter to Comrade Isaias Afwerki. (Those of you who are just outraged that Naizghi Kiflu has not been granted proper burial rights should also consider that General Oqbe Abraha, who died while in detention, was given “proper burial rights.”) A translation of his letter, and the response he got from Isaias was published by Al Nahda here. The first point of Oqbe Abraha was a summation of what he (Oqbe) and his comrades were saying, written in typical EPLF/PFDJ bullet style: “Comrade Isaias has changed; he is not how he used to be: he no longer consults with his closest peers; he thinks there is none like him, doesn’t think that anyone except him is working hard for the country; he has developed a habit of taking lone decisions; the Cabinet meetings are a subterfuge.”

And here’s the answer provided by Isaias Afwerki on December 9, 2009:

“I have seen the private letter you sent me on 27/11/99. After I read it, I was speechless. I did not respond immediately: I said better to choose to deliberate and I thought better to deliberate about the issues you raised–the institutions and the individuals–in great detail. I took time. In the end, I was amazed by it all. I don’t accept it. Who said my personality has changed? When did this change begin to occur? As for “no longer consults” with whom and about what?  Although the claim “he thinks there is none like him” is defamatory or emotional, can it be shown how this is so with evidence? Who are the people who say this?”

It is entirely possible that Isaias Afwerki is just doing what he does best—stalling—the stillness of the cobra before the strike. But it is also entirely possible that he is genuinely puzzled that people think he has changed. In the eternal words of Miss Piggy: Moi? It is not like there is anyone out there who is going to tell him he has changed—and if someone thinks that they know him well enough—we go way back, man—to do that, well, he may see that as an affront not to himself, of course, because he is a modest down to earth man, but to the Office of The President. And that, you know, is a dangerous act of sedition, which must be punished. But beyond that, well, sm’Etawi zereba iyu::


The case of Naizghi Kiflu will be resolved the same way all the other crisis have been “resolved”: it will be stalled until he is buried outside Eritrea, probably in the UK, or the sands of time do their thing. There will never be an official explanation. The family will be pressured to “stop embarrassing the government” (I mean thePeopleandtheGovernment, it’s one word); they will be pressured, under threat of imminent and permanent ostracizing, to stop giving aid and comfort to the enemy. “Oh my God, did you see: even the Weyane media are writing about this. Is that what you want? Enough is enough, do the right thing, woman, you have made thePeopleandtheGovernment suffer long enough.”

If you are holding your breath waiting for the fans of authoritarianism to do the right thing, you can exhale now. They will not do the right thing because, in their mind, they are doing the right thing right now: supporting thePeopleandtheGovernment. Perhaps they are being blackmailed, perhaps they are genuinely torn. Just as you can never hope to convince a believer of Christian Scientology to give up his faith by pointing out what you consider to be ridiculous doctrines of his faith, you should not expect the cult members of the PFDJ to abandon their faith on the basis of a crisis that doesn’t involve them personally. If you want to take the long view, what should terrify you about the future of Eritrea is that admiration of authoritarianism is so entrenched in our culture, any future decent, democratic, deliberating head of state who emerges will be judged as weak, vacillating and not worthy of support.

Finally, why is Isaias Afwerki doing what he is doing? Because he is convinced that doing that reduces the chances of power slipping away from him. Absolute power seekers are abnormal people, and the effort to consolidate power requires increasingly large doses of abnormality. Your norms—show decency to the dead—mean nothing to the abnormal. He cannot react to the anger, frustration, wailing of the weak any more than you would react to the mice cowering in front of the cat: it is just par for the course.  If you are angry and frustrated, you have options: you will challenge him and win, in which case he will be as nervous as a long tailed cat in a house full of rocking chairs. He will even send you a midnight fax saying, “I accept your terms” and you will earn his grudging respect (see also: Meles Zenawi). You will challenge him and lose; in which case, you won’t be heard from again (see also: Eritrean prisons.) Or you will take your anger and frustration on something or somebody else, probably on another victim just like you (in which case, welcome to the Eritrean opposition!)

About Salyounis

Saleh Younis (SAAY) has been writing about Eritrea since 1994 when he published "Eritrean Exponent", a quarterly print journal. His writing has been published in several media outlets including Dehai, Eritrean Studies Review, Visafric, Asmarino and, of course, Awate where his column has appeared since the launch of the website in 2000. Focusing on political, economic, educational policies, he approaches his writing from the perspective of the individual citizens' civil liberties and how collectivist governments and overbearing organizations trample all over it in pursuit of their interests. SAAY is the president and CEO of a college with a focus in sound arts and video games and his writing often veers to music critique. He has an MBA from Golden Gate University and a BA from St Mary's College.

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  • peter mesghina

    I really reallly like your articles…..why don’t they come as frequently as weekly? Of course you need resources, time, money…etc….but your articles have a therapuetic elixir sprinkled on them. Please write as often.
    Hawka Peter

  • rastaman

    What a great article, what a thread! One of the best. Sal, you never stop to amaze me. I’m a fun of both yours and Y.G’s famous argument, since the truth is, some where between the schools of thoughts of you two.

    Higdefites, after been waiting for so long, to get the word out of the horse’s mouth, with no avail, have started to say the expected: ” Don’t politicize the death of a ‘comarade’; Ba’elatom Yifa-letu; we need to stay out of their matter”, as if DIA has not taken a political action against the remains of a high ranking official. What is there to politicize?

    It is estimated that their (HIGDEF) number is about 600,000, a scary number for such a small country; on the other hand, ESEPA members were a couple millions of them, who, at the final days of Mengistu, wither away. Yes, it is frustrating to be among the ‘fools’ and makes one loose patience, but think of ‘Liberation Square’ of Tripoli and “TaHrir Square’ of Egypt.

    Who said there is no election in Eritrea? Yes there is, except that people vote with their feet. Please, let us take care of the youth- heroes, that dared to escape the giant prison. That is the least we can do. Keep hope alive. Keep up the good job, to shorten the dream of the Megalomaniac cult leader of ours.

    We all, at one time or another have played in making the dictator. They say, dictators are not born but made to be so. What we have made, we should be able to destroy.
    Awet to Freedom Lovers.

  • Well, communication is the key to success! Brother you have my respect!

  • Hameed

    Dear Berhane,

    Berhane said “Denying that Isaias led EPLF is like denying that the sun does not exist. A leader is not necessarily a good fighter. The fact that the journalist did not see scars does not prove that he did not lead EPLF. EPLF was and is a formidable organization. An organization that brought about the independence of Eritrea was not head less. The head was and is Isaias .If you are to convince the masses, first and foremost you should not tell lies especially to the people who know the facts. You may criticize Isaias on his weaknesses, but to say he did not lead his people to independence is simply not true”.

    The fact every Eritrean knows except those with special agendas is EPLF is an organization founded by Osman Salih Sabe who has lead the Front upto 1976. After Osman Salih Sabe EPLF was led by Aboi Ramadan Mohammed Nur upto 1986. The EPLF led for about sixteen years by Osman Salih Sabe and Ramadan Mohammed Nur. In 1986 Isaias came to lead the Front when the signs of independence appeared on the horizon. This means Isaias has led the organization not during its hard time but during its success on all arenas. Isaias led the organization only for about four years before independence.

    I wonder why you erased the history of Osman Salih Sabe and Ramadan Mohammed Nur and gave the legion of honor to Isaias who only led the organization for about four years? What do you call this Mr. Berhane more than a big lie?

  • haile

    Eyob Medhanie

    I think that your “special people” argument is best done away with. Let me help you reflect through that a little bit. It was 1993, in the beautiful Eritrean town of Dekemhare, where unusually large crowed were congregating, led by the then minister of defense Petros Solomon. It was a martyrs day memorial held on June 20, 1993. What was “special” about the event was that, the local people had gathered as many remains of martyrs as they could find, and it was laid to rest during the occasion. Here is a striking accounting for you: out of a total 264 villages in and around the Dekemhare sub zone, it was possible to collect the remains of a total of 2015 martyrs from 262 villages. Yes, 262/264 villages were the scene of unyielding battles to to bring about Eritrea’s independence. This is the tip of the iceberg. The story remains untold to this day. So, please stop offending people by misconstruing their deserved pride in what they have accomplished, to something of a cheap shot at the expense of the true facts.

    • Eyob Medhane

      “…Let me help you reflect through that a little bit…”


      You are not helping me out by condescending me. To restate what I said before, regardless of their objective, I have an utmost respect to those who have courage to fight Megistu Hailemariam and his regime. I sincerely do believe that, not only the people of Dekemahari or Eritrea, but the entire Ethiopian people owe them a debt of gratitude. In fact, I found those, who have gone through that sacrifice and survived to be most humble and understanding. Who I am contemptuous about are specific group of people, who contributed very little to that sacrifice, but show up in the front of the crowd to talk about it. Opportunism is their forte and false sense of greatness is their ID. But of course you know that I am talking about these SPECIFIC group of people, don’t you? You just used the “..It’s about our martyrs and their families pride…” line to shut down a conversation. Just to let you know, I am not a type of person, who could be intimidated with that kind of shut down. I have adapted to it. Let alone now, during the euphoria of 1991-2001, the nastiest shot down didn’t penetrate my individuality. Go ahead, and punch through with your lines that are crafted to make me feel guilty or embarrassed of my thoughts, if you believe it’d help to “get me in line”. I’d just say to you that you’re gonna have to make your condescending remarks so sharp, they need to cut through a black hole….

      • haile


        Not sure where the “condescending me” baby cry is coming from, however, your logic that only those who partook in the event deserved to feel exceptionally proud about themselves, smacks aloof to say the least. If such had been the case, your compatriots would have forgotten about Adwa long ago. You see, you have come here to patronize Eritreans with worn out mambo Jumbo of superiority complex, but when faced with the harsh truth, you have no choice but to play divide and conquer. Please rest assured, no one here would attempt to penetrate you with any form of “shot down”. I am merely explaining why Eritreans feel the way they do. Have the humility to accept the natives version before shouting them down “we are special” morons.

        • Eyob Medhane

          Oh….Haile, It takes a whole lot more pinching for me to cry like a baby. Having said that, usually, people who are fond of using their out door voice and hurl insults are very unbecoming to me. Sadly, you seem to be one of them. So….I am now going to look for those better and nicer people than you to talk to. Tata.

  • etesfu

    I don’t think the problem is that people are not awake that Isayas is a Tyrant. I say it is because of eritreans have strong sense of eritrean identity and the opposition failed to capitalaize in creating an atmosphere and convincing people where the eritrean identity can remain intact with out the current government. It is like removing a cancer with out damaging the healty cells.

    The opposition tried to find a solution for this problem with the same experiment again and again and are expecting different result. May be a new way of thinking is required to help the opposition get the trust of erirean people inside or aboard to stand behind them and get rid of the exisitng system.

  • etesfu

    I don’t remember YG blaming eritrean culture for the probem eritreans have for the last 20 year.Rather he argued the problem lies on the culture of the gedli movement.
    Your analysis focused on the behavior of Isayas is as the only reason that eritrea is moving in the wrong direction.But i argue that putting the responisily entirly on one man lucks honesty.
    By the way Hitler has his Nazi party and ideology behind him and do you think the world will ignore the what nazis did and blame all the crime made during that time on one man. I am not saying EPLF is Nazi but if we need a cure for the problem we have to dignose the disease and find the right remedy.

    Hitler may not represent The Germans but he definetly represents the Nazi party and the follower of that ideology.

    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      Yosief Gebrehiwet, a giant in his own right with a razor sharp analytical mind dared to step on uncharted waters when he sent a shock wave through the pillars of our badge of honour. Gedli. He challenged us to rethink harder about the things we hold dear to our hearts as we seem to confuse an incoming train in a high beam with a light at the end of the tunnel.

      YG draws a parallel between Gedli and “The Matrix” when both are entities where they live off by sucking the energy and the life out of the people they are supposed to serve in a bid to live on. Simply and bluntly put, YG says, Gedli is a monster.

      As much as he put it in a philosophical perspective where at times it gets incredibly difficult to appeal to a larger audience, his take has put the recent Eritrean history on a pivotal spot where people are still debating on it as some people opted to ignore it all together lest they know the harsh reality of an illusion. However, we wait to see if history will vindicate YG if his convictions are either a curious intellectual discourses or a powerful torque that has dissected the anomaly and anatomy of the Eritrean story.

      • WegaHta

        Dear B’Alti Wqatto Arwe,

        I am a YG fan myself and very much appreciate the style and depth of your post! I am tempted to say that you may be a (female) incarnate of a unique ‘Warrior’ in the oposition nets with a most powerful pen, Temesghen Medhanie! I think that it may be near impossible to entertain the idea of Ghedli as a ‘monster’ even by those who detest (like myself) Hgdef and Nsu and the outcome we have today because the selfless heroic charachterstic and sacrifice demostrated by tegadelti and the people is and will always be a concrete source of pride and dignity in how determined a people can be to win against all odds.

        Dear Saleh AA Younis,

        To people like me, it is so comforting that in the Eritrean scene, a Saleh AA Younis also exists! It is an antidote of what Isayas as an individual has come to mean – an unsastainable ill-feeling at the base of our inner being. You bring us hope that, yes, it is a very complex problem, but it is in the Eritrean charachter to untangle and solve it. You are the living witness that this is so. How right it sounds to me when your write ‘It is a symbiotic, co-dependent relationship.’ It is like a woman who has a man who beats and abuses her but she cannot conceive living without him. Like the late singer Vittorio would say ‘m’wQAs y’wQAni, Hadiguni ayckide’. The absolute authoritarian and the authoritarianism junkies are ‘high’ fulfilling what makes them tick, while we are astounded why they do not react, as if they were normal people. God bless you Saleh AA Younis!

        • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

          Dear WegaHta,

          Glad to read you found my comments interesting. I am a woman. I don’t see any reason for anybody to pretend otherwise. As for YG, he pushes the envelope to the limit as we reck our brains out if you will when his audacious assertions are shocking if not offending to most of us.

          Even though, his scholarship (Yes I dare say a scholarship) remains to be limited for an academic interests at best as it doesn’t seem to be able to trickle down to the “common” people, the regime in Eritrea capitalizes on the naivete of the people as the former invokes the glory of Gedli as the very kernel of Eritrean identity.

          To be more precise, the regime and its exponents regurgitate the imperatives of Gedli whereby desecrating it is tantamount to losing what essentially makes us Eritreans. Thus, people would be expected to be terrified by the prospect of tampering with the sanctity of Gedli as if it is a deity.

      • etesfu

        b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo

        The point that is raised by YG is not some thing that can easly be ignored.If i use SAL word “Military culture “instead of “Gedli”, the culture which is adapted during libration struggle which requires obediance,discipline and sacrifice did not end when libration is achieved. EPLF rather than transforming itself in to Civil adminstration and be a part of the bigger eritrean culture it turn around and change the country in to a military state and the citizens in to military conscripts.
        According to this model of governance all citizen of the land are part of miltary and have to be governed by military rule which requires total submission to superiors. in this model Isayas is not a tyrant but a high commander and all orders have to originate from him. any one who disobeys him is a traitor and who escape out of the country is a deserter.
        Every crime he and his comrades have commited can be legalized as all he did was in accrodance with the rule of military discipline.
        If EPLF is successful in this social engineering experiment the country will end up looking like the story that is discribed by George Orewell in “1984”.


        The five point you mentioned doesn’t make YG a person who hates his culture nor it means he is right. He questioned how the revolution is handled and i read your resonses to it in one of your great articles.
        I think it is a healthy discussion which should be encouraged and have an educational value for some of us who are not part of that era.

  • Saleh AA Younis


    Consolidating my comments; it makes the thread harder to follow, but it saves time.

    Well, Eyob, every camel has the straw that breaks its back and, for some, the inhumane treatment of Naizghi Kiflu is it. But on the merits, I agree with you, the examples you cited are just as outrageous if not more so. For me, probably, in terms of its surrealism, Isaias Afwerki’s decision to deny the return of the body of a life-long comrade (Naizghi) is still not as incomprehensible as his decision with the 2004 (?) death of another life-long comrade: General Oqbe Abraha. He arrested him, denied him due process, denied him family visitation rights, denied him medical care, “rescued him” from attempted suicide, returned him back to jail, then, when he died, he buried him with “full military honors.”

    And there is no evidence, not one, that he spends a second fighting his conscience about this, as was evidenced in his interview with Al-Watan when he was asked about the G-15 and he said “By God, I do not know about this issue. This issue can be considered forgotten!” (Btw, whoever took offense to Isaias saying “by God,” that was our English translation from the Arabic interview and in Arabic, in Eritrea, “welahi…” is just an audible, a filler as in “you know.”) The thing is that Isaias’s 5 stages of dealing with crisis really never solve his problem, they just kick the can down the road, except the road is extremely long. But when he is confronted, he has no choice but to tell a blatant lie. On playwright Joshua: “I don’t know Joshua, if I don’t know Joshua, how can I know where he is.” On journalist Dawit Isaac, “I don’t know if he is alive.” And then to a different reporter: “We will not have a trial and we will not release him. We know how to deal with him and others like him.”

    That being said, Eyob, I know you are enjoying your “I am such a bad boy” thing, but let’s not push too far on the “you Eritreans think you are so special” routine. I liked you a lot better when you had statements like “Where is Awassa, Oromia? I’d love to go there and visit, but as far as I very well know, there is no such a place” and less “you Eritreans and your need to feel special” tweaking. We should call you Sarcastic, if only Sarcastic can change his nic to Bitter. Gebah?

    Soira and Amanuel, there is little difference between the words used to describe a totalitarian and a psychopath and a sociopath. I stick to “dictator”, “tyrant”, “authoritarian”, “totalitarian” because politics, unlike medicine, does not require a license or a certificate to practice it:-)

    Hefoon Battiq, love the name. Was Hefoon Nachig taken?

    Haqi, thanks. I must have inserted, removed, inserted, removed and then inserted the paragraph you mentioned 5 times. I think, like you said, it is something that virtually every Eritrean family struggles with. What we have in Eritrea is Reverse Nepotism. In normal nepotism cases, ordinary and mostly incompetent people benefit from their connection with government officials. Here, what we have, is government officials, most incompetent, benefiting from their connection with the people. It is a theory that I haven’t flushed out yet.

    b’Alti wqato, ma lady, I think you were rushed and your reply was uncharacteristically…irrelevant to my reply to you. Re-read and let’s re-engage.

    And those are my netsebraq for now.


    • Saleh,

      Excellent article as always.

      As some have commented, there is no point hoping for a change of heart from diehard supporters, the more the man is analysed and the weirder he gets and at times it send out an unnecessary signal that he is all powerful. It is time we focus on showing his weakness and vulnerability so that the psychological chain that holds most of our people is undone.


      • Eyob Medhane


        I just wanted to say that I don’t mean to enjoy the ‘bad boy’ image. I also don’t mean to disrespect anyone, when I talk about those , who say they are special. I was just talk about a certain group of people, and you know that group of people I am talking about. You need to understand my characterization of ‘those’ people, includes some of my family members, too. Other than that, I wish you know my very high respect to ALL Eritreans, regardless their ethnic group and religion. Some of my outrageous outburst comes out of concern…Other than that, I love reading you. The problem is your articles don’t come by as often as I would like them to come by.

        • Hameed

          Dear Eyob,

          I recognized from your comments that you understand Eritreans more than many who say they are born and lived in Eritrea. Please, tell them how it happen that. Please, feel at home and comment on all issues without reservation. I see your comments will assist many Eritreans to come out of their plight.

          • Eyob Medhane


            I sincerely thank you~

    • Selam Saleh Y.,

      I absolutely understand the difference between psychopath, sociopath,and totalitarian. The two former are medical terminology and the later being political. You don’t need someone to sit in front of you to diagnose it as we did in politics. If you know the signs and symptoms of behavior disease you could apply them in your argument. It is okay as far as you know the symptoms and signs.

  • haile

    Is there a regulation in the UK for holding the body of a deceased person without holding a funeral?
    I couldn’t find one relating to Niezghi’s case, but worth sharing some stuff of a general nature.

    “A funeral acknowledges that a death has occurred and that a life has been lived. For Christian people there is the hope of eternity, both for the bereaved and the deceased, which is expressed through the prayers, scripture and music.
    A Coroner’s responsibility is to investigate sudden or unexplained death, and every county has to appoint one or more Coroners who are experienced lawyers or doctors. A death occurring in these circumstances is usually reported to the Coroner by the police or by a doctor. Sometimes this is done by the Registrar. If the death is not due to natural causes the Coroner is obliged by law to hold an inquest. The majority of post-mortems do not involve an inquest.
    Most Registrars now operate an appointments system. If there is to be a post-mortem there may be a delay” (FAQ The Churches’ Group on Funerals, 2006)

  • Ali Salm- Mekalih

    Salh, you are the best. I dont have any word to expres my wonde for your articles. Please teach your brother to follow suit!

  • oar

    لا يغير الله ما بقومٍ حتى يغيروا ما بانفسهم

  • haqi


    I have followed you since the higdef-woyane war and even attended some seminar in Oakland where you brilliantly shared your thoughts. But this piece simply out did them all. Not only your linguistic capability is impressive but the flow of communication is brilliant. It is such a pride to see a compatriot in an arena with mastery in someone’s literature inarguably the language of the world now. But that is not the reason for my feed back comment to your article as literature but it’s substance and message to people on a dire to exist.

    What crystallized for me was(and thanks for sharing)…..”MY mom”…and I am amazed how many people did not either pick up it’s full weight as I did because it is where the glory and demise of our journey as people who exist in space and time lights so dimly. You could not even make it in any part of this globe where selfless journey for a country destined one to a cabinet level, with a patriotic father in a dangeon, a brother contemporary citizen with grit but more humbled with balanced advocacy for truth with wit….all protected by …a Mom who probably knew where the truth lies but unable and power less to keep her blessings in one page…waw it is Eritrea….If all the people can rebut understandably on points of your argument elese where it is here everyone should pose and ask many questions , how does this happen…but why…..we can begin to path our destiny where probably your mom and this time I will utter the word we all do my mom could have put all the blessings in a community of communities and we would be a nation in the true sense of the word.

    • Hameed

      Dear brother haqi,

      Thank you for this very interesting comment that touches the humane side of our predicament. Brother, when we get the right answer for the cause of all this complexity, surely we will finalize our people’s tragedy.

  • Guest

    Thank you Sal for the nice article. Good to see some of Awatista from awate’s x-forum:) Where are Tsase and shimbahri and many more. Oh Nitricc too:)?

  • Eyob Medhane


    I may be in the tiniest minority, who’d say “…What’s all this brouhaha over the remains of Naizhgi, and why is anyone thinking that should be unthinkable to do even for Isayas?..”. As a paranoid, vindictive SOB, Isayas had some grudge against his former friend, so he decided to “show him” what he can do, even after life. This is just not unique only to Isayas. Mengistu Hailemariam and his security people used to do this routinely. Several aristocrats, who died and buried in some European and American cemeteries, their living families attest to that. Of course, the “..But, we are so special..” crowd are now ready to open their fire on me for daring to say this, and would come back at me by saying something like this “… Mengistu is Ethiopian, and Ethiopians are known to do all sort of “weird” things. But in Eritrea? Denying someone a burial, in our culture is UNTHINKABLE!!!..” Well…my question is when was the last time you saw Isayas Afeworki conforming to Eritrean culture?

    Many people say “..respect for the dead is a sacred tradition of Eritrea, and it’s outrageous that Naizghi, has been denied such respect no matter what an evil person he was, by his own friend…Oooooooohh Shame Shame Shame..” Really? So many Eritreans died and their body discarded in and outside of Eritrea. The ones Isayas had murdered and the ones he caused their murder. So why would Naizghi, who many knew him to be a real SOB got the most outrage? Many would say….”…Well..this is one more evidence how really bad Isayas is…..” Oh yeah? How much more evidence does one need to have about Isayas Afeworki’s cruelty? In fact, this one may be the smallest one. To me, his indifference about the young men and women who are mutilated and organ harvested in Sinai tops the list of “evidence” of his cruelty than this one.

    May be Isayas is angry with Naizghi for getting sick so soon and dying on him, depriving him his killing arm, that is named Naizghi Kiflu. And decided to punish him. That’s between these two killing buddies. It shouldn’t be a business of everyone else… (Ohhhhh..Am I too harsh? ….oops!)

    My point is this. There are a whole lot more other stuff that should cause a serious outrage than this. A whole nation, as well as a whole region is in crisis, because of Isayas Afeworki. This, compared to many other Isayas induced pains everywhere in the world is nothing…

    • Saleh Gadi

      It is not because Naizghi is special or he was better than the rest. He was a brute and no disagreement there. However, the Eritrean problem has always been with those of us living in the West.. and this saga might help wake them up from their slumber–And think about it, you cannot avoid the poster-child symbolism in the West. But never think that people are doing this for Naizghi, I did it to show the violation of our tradition. Also, as strange as it sounds, we still have people who adore the rascal Isais!

      • Eyob Medhane

        “…those of us living in the West.. and this saga might help wake them up from their slumber–And think about it, you cannot avoid the poster-child symbolism in the West…..”


        As incredibly smart and forward looking as you are, you just struck me as a bit over optimistic on the above statement. Don’t you think these people in the west don’t know how a horrible psychopath Isayas is? They do. They just have so many hatred for many things that would make them identify with Isayas or some other ulterior motive to prop him up, as long as he is alive. Should something happen to him, and change is brought to Eritrea, believe me they would be the first ones, who would speak bitterly about him and how much they hated him. The opportunist in them will come to shine right then. But until then, as the Amharu would say አውቆ የተኛን ቢቀሰቅሱት አይሰማም:: Therefore, your attempt to wake them up, I am afraid would be to no avail….

        • Saleh Gadi

          All right, I didn’t say it is easy to wake them up. But after doing this for years and years, believe me, I know much about it. I know what the relentless hammeing has done to them over the years. It is obvious for those who have been following it closely, …I see more of them come to their senses by the day. Except the investment is higher than the return, I agree. But what else would you do? In this bussiness you consider your investement as aid money, you expect less return from it– unlike a regular for profit investment. Every once in a while the አውቆ የተኛ do wake up when you cry “FIREEEE” not if you whisper ‘fire’. True, the difference being marginal, almost negligeable, but not for the stakeholders. Be kind, avoid being a Downer, the last thing we need:-)

    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      If we knew that there had been some sort of fall out between them (Isaias and Naizgi), we wouldn’t have been caught off guard as Isaias denies a proper burial for Naizgi’s remains. If we are to take anything out of this eerie “drama” is the intense secrecy of PFDJ where everything is designed for the people to speculate and remain in a limbo.

      Why is it incredibly difficult for Isaias and his cliques to come forward and give the people an explanation about Naizgi’s deal? Is it contempt towards the people? Is it because Naizgi’s supposed juicy and tell-tale dossier about Isaias he stashed under his pillow? Is it because Isaias is trying to distance himself from Naizgi incase the latter’s case about his crimes are reactivated? Again, the whole modus operandi is designed for the people to speculate as they are taken for Noah’s animals under “Napoleon the pig” in Orwellian narratives.

      • T. Kifle

        b’Alti W’qatto Awre

        Isaias knows what is best for Eritrea and its people. Why do you worry? Since when is DIA bothered to explain things to his people? I think you are demanding too much out of the PFDJ “culture” and “way of life”.

        Words fail me to express my appreciation of your threads at Awate.

        • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

          T. Kifle,

          Thank you hawey.

  • rodab

    Meles has 3 years left in office and he will retire after that, assuming he doesn’t break his promise again. May be then Isaias will wake up one morning and realize what is staying in power good for if there is no a Meles to get back at by any means!

  • wed. garza

    Salvation (opposition) take the lead to restore our Eritrean dignity and bury him near Senafe. “The dead body that begs us all eritreans nothing but burial”, I don’t think its much for any normal person. Its not a question of friends, family etc but is a nation’s respect and its citizens honour at risk. Its not also about Naizghi Kiflu per se but rather the entire Eritrean tradition being kidnapped and abused to mislead and mishape our beautiful ancestral burial ceremony. HE who denies this is not from us!

    Humanity demands its right course when a soul departs; that’s his/her fundamental rights to be buried when one is dead. Naizghi represents the whole Eritrea in general and the densily populated Seraye in particular. With this tragedy his case stirs the feelings of the whole zone who negates their beloved son a respectful burial. Don’t forget he’s the Only minister from Seraye as a whole.
    Let the opposition take the momentum and create an alternative option for not Naizghi’s sake but for bruised Eritrean image throughout the world. shame, a dead body decaying in a refrigerator in london!!Cann’t the opposition bury him along the border inside Eritrea? And lead the momentum of respect of Eritrean soul regardless his background and deeds?
    To exalt a value above that of sahil mountains and give back the torch of justice to the Eritrean people. Here, I advocate for justice even to the worst imagined enemy.

    • Soira

      if you were from akeleguzay, we would call you regionalist; if you were muslim, we would’ve called you jihadist but since you’re from seraye, that doesnt apply to you lol

      • ahmed saleh

        I guess you missed his point. To my understanding what he is saying is to bury the dead across the border of Seneafe close to his land for the sake of resting the soul. Nothing to regionalism except for the respect of our culture, religious value and most of all our moral obligation. But the problem is, do our neighbors across the border will allow that to happen in their land?

  • Saleh AA Younis

    Selamat all:

    Thanks for all your kind words.

    b’Alti wqato, let me first comment on an unrelated subject: the next time you recommend I watch a video, you have to state how many hours it is:-) The promo I saw at Ethiomedia (complete with a loud roaring lion) of a live-stream broadcast about the rise and fall of the Arbegnoch said it was for 1.2 hours…and that was for just part 2! As it is, I committed to watching it, and now I have to (loophole: I didn’t say when I would watch it): I feel it is the kind of thing I should watch surrounded by very loud Ethiopians…

    Now about the mental state of Isaias Afwerki and the share of the Eritrean people in creating Isaias Afwerki. To one degree or another, I think there were hints, inferences or direct claims about that by Wqato, Ghezae, Serray… This is, of course, my biggest disagreement with yg and the entire “de-romanticizing ghedli” movement he created. Aklilu has partially rebutted that argument: that Hitler was German or that Pol Pot was Cambodian (or that Charles Manson is American) tells us next to nothing about Germany, Cambodia (or the US.) The same Eritrea that produced him produced, well, pick whoever your heroic Eritrean is. Even more: the same household that produced Isaias produced about a dozen siblings and the ones I know are NOTHING like him. It is our absolute inability to deal with one concept–EVIL–that gets us to fish for explanations elsewhere.

    Which leads us to the question of the values of Ghedli. We have to keep things in perspective: Our revolution, for 2/3 of its existence, was a prototypical communist organization. If you went to the libraries (yep, they had them) in the Eritrean field, you would see books authored by Mao, Lenin, Kim Il Sung, etc. It was virtually the diaries of mass murderers who were advocating the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, “revolution is not a tea party” and what the revolution must do to “protect itself.” So, within that environment, all the things that we abhor–killing without due process, swift “justice,” paranoia, mocking religion and reactionary, feudal traditions–were considered “progressive” and “revolutionary”: the highest accolade you could bestow on somebody. And, within that environment, a person who hesitated the least in carrying out violence to “protect the revolution” was, well, the most revolutionary. And if, on top of that, he is born charismatic, shows great organizational and problem-solving skills, has great communication skills, why wouldn’t that person be the leader of such an organization?

    The bad aspects of the Ghedli culture had nothing to do with Eritrea or Eritreans, anymore than the Al-shabab have anything to do with Somali culture and tradition. It is their “revolutionary phase.” Yes, we Eritreans show a great deal of deference, and even reverence, to authority figures–but so do all traditional societies. Is there something wrong with Ugandans that they produced Idi-Amin AND Joseph Kony? As I have written before (I think), South Africa produced both Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela. One, after decades of incarceration, called for forgiving his enemies. The other said that placing a burning tire around the necks of “collaborators” and enemies of the ANC was justified.

    I understand the frustration people feel about the lack of mass uprising by the Eritrean people. I understand how the “it’s all Isaias” answer sounds simplistic and simple-minded to people. But the alternative answer–that it is not the fish but the sea–is, I think, totally unsupported by facts.


    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

      Dear Sal,

      You said, we need to keep things in a perspective. I absolutely agree. However, we need to keep things in a wider historical perspective to have a clear understanding as we try to make sense of our predicaments. Right after World War II, when polarized political ideologies were in an intense race between the defunct Soviet Russia and the West, and subsequently when the West lost its grip on its colonies in Africa and South East Asia, Soviet Union was determined to spread Marxist ideologies in a domino effect as it opted to fight the West by spreading its influence in third world countries as opposed to confronting the West in a conventional war.

      That is, liberation fronts under the banner of Marxist ideologies sprouted where the Eritrean revolution could not have been seen standing alone in isolation. That is, as fashionable and politically feasible as it was, E.P.L.F joined the pantheon of liberation fronts as it internalized its ideologies with in the streams of Marxist teachings. The rest as they say is of course history.

      The difference between visionary or pragmatic leaders and authoritarian leaders rests on the notion of recognizing events and adjust to the heart beat of the day accordingly. That is, when the Marxist ideology lost its lustre and was swept into the dust bin of history, Isaias and his clique are stuck in time and run the nation not on an ideology which is anachronistic in terms, but in an ‘ideology’ based on the whims of a man who takes “his” people for a joy ride in the rugged roads of history.

      It is rather an intellectual dishonesty to justify Isaias’ “shortcomings” by invoking historical events of the yesteryears. Simply because, we are dealing with the 65 years old Isaias not with the 27 years old Isaias. There is no justification what so ever for the appalling circumstances of Eritrea under a sadist leader who is not even worthy of comparison either with Idi Amin, Joseph Kony let alone with either Nelson Mandela or Winnie Mandela. He is far worse than the world has ever seen.

    • Serray

      Selam Sal,

      Every time I want to let go, you pull in. Here is the sea has something do with the fish response. When it comes to American history, I like Howard Zinn’s version (I know you don’t like the left, left, but bare with me for a minute). “A People’s History of the US” is more truthful and more complete than the Tea Party/Fox News version of US history, even if it is written from the point of view of the vanquished. This is not to say the other version, the Columbus discovered America, is not true. It is for some people.

      The ghedli version of history is what we have as our only history right now. It puts horns on the italians, british, hailesilasie, dergi and halos around ghedli and calls it a day. The people’s story is missing from our history. That part of our history is yet to be written and tegadelti are not the right people to write it. Besides the leaders being not forth coming, tegadelti are not going to challenge the value of their existence even if objective analysis demands it. There is another reason as well, theirs is a sort of Columbus discovered America version of our history. Our tradition, our culture, our religion play very little in their version of history. The ghedli version puts premium on struggle, sacrifice, perseverance and standing up to giants.

      In the truly complete version of our history, the culture of endless sacrifice, a struggle that yields little freedom, an endless demand for perseverance from the downtrodden will be challenged and put into perspective. The starting point of that version is not going to be Nehnan Ilamanan or the memoirs of Geberemedhin but YG’s de-romanticizing series. Not because ghedli is all bad, but because the people’s history of eritrea demands that we loosen up some of the halos around ghedli.

      With all due respect Sal, the sea has something to do with fish even if the fish is a freak of mutation. The sea gave birth to it, the sea nurtured it and armed it with other fishes, like you brother, who are willing to let their fathers rot in prison than stand up for justice. If we accept a version of our history where gheli is put in pedestal without any challenge, your brother will pass as a hero when in fact, for all his contributions, he is a coward. Frankly, our reality is more of a study in sociology than psychology of one man.

      As brilliant as you are, I don’t think you will succeed making the effect the cause. Isais is and will always remain a creation of ghedli. The final stage for ghedli romantics.

      With respect.

      • Saleh AA Younis


        Nice, that was a decent Al Pacino impression:

        I think it is healthy for any people, including Eritreans, to look at their history from as wide a perspective as possible. In fact, one of the major grievances of the Ghedli members themselves is that history was written from the perspective of one member (EPLF, the winning member) of the Ghedli. So, the first correction is that there is no “Ghedli” version of history: there is an ELF version, an EPLF version, etc. In fact, the memoirs of Ghebremedhin are an effort from one side (ELF) to state its version of history. And yg’s version is another perspective. Since we haven’t developed the rigors of academia, peer review, etc, all we consumers of history have is our intellect and out critical faculties to sift through these different versions. And, from my standpoint, if the ghedli version of Eritrean history is distortion, why, yg’s version is a grotesque disfiguration. Since I have written about this extensively, it would be merely redundant now to restate them so, yeah, we move on.

        ETesfu, I think it would be helpful for us to describe what the “ghedli culture” is before we blame it for producing Isaias Afwerki. The Ghedli, to me, refers to the actors (ELF and EPLF) and the people they relied upon to exist. The ELF and EPLF were, when all was said and done, military organizations guided by communist ideology. Military organizations–anywhere in the world–are secretive hierarchical entities organized along increasingly bigger units–squad, platoon, company, batallion, brigade, etc. Military “discipline” means total obedience to whoever the leader is: the squad to the squad leader; the platoon to the platoon leader. Period. And if the leader says, “this ain’t no democracy” he is stating a simple statement of fact. And the people who were sustaining these organizations understood that they were in no position to demand accountability–anymore than, say, an American citizen would demand of the CIA to describe in detail what it did and why it did it. The deal was: “we will liberate you, and you keep our secrets.” In the Diaspora, many people found this deal unacceptable and they withheld support from the military organizations.

        Within a military organization the most you can hope for is a collective decision-making body. In the US, they are called the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in South America, they are called a military junta. In the Eritrean revolution–mimicking the communist structure of placing the “vanguard” party above all else–they were called “the central committee.” If Isaias Afwerki is a product of the Ghedli, then every single person who was in the field as long as he was would be exactly like him, wouldn’t he. I mean if the field was this monster-churning factory, every Isaias contemporary would be as bad as him. Is that the case? Well, Adhanom Gebremariam, a contemporary, told me in an interview once: “yep, that is true.” “If it wasn’t Isaias the Dictator, it would have been Derue [Haile Weldetensae] The Dictator; if it wasn’t Derue, it would have been Ramadan Mohammed Nur The Dictator… I could have been a dictator! In fact, of the lot, I always thought he was the better, certainly better than Ramadan who was a total ideologue…If it wasn’t Isaias, some other Supreme Leader would have emerged. Remember, after Stalin, Brezhnev continued the process. And even when Gorbachev came, he had every intention of continuing the legacy: it was the implosion of the system that forced him to change.” Except, I don’t believe Adhanom and (more importantly) Adhanom doesn’t believe Adhanom: otherwise, why was Adhanom part of the G-15? Who I agree with is Herui T. Bairou who said (in the same interview): “Isaias is a self-made person who knew what he wanted when the others lived in a mist of idealism.”

        Again, I don’t want to re-litigate the yg issue but he DID blame not just the ghedli but the Eritrean people (that the christians don’t trust the muslims and vice versa; that we didn’t know what we want; that there is no evidence that we couldn’t have gotten what we wanted from imperial ethiopia), etc, etc.


        • etesfu


          I agree with you that ELF- EPLF were military organizatitions with communist ideolgy.But most of revolutionay parties or so called freedom fighters have a tendency to produce a dictatory as a leader.and as you said military discipline require total obidience and this tend to create a culture in the organization that one man can have absolute control on the direction where that organization is heading and people at lower end to accept this culture as normal.
          This culture may be good to achive independence or libration of the land .But in my opinion more focus should have been given to the political side of the struggel.i.e protecting the organizations form creating an environment where no single person should have total control on the party.
          Instead of covering up the mistake done during the time for independence we should talk about it in open and learn from it in trying to achive what really is important to the people, free people and democratically elected government.

        • Serray

          Selam Sal,

          You did it again. Your last paragraph:

          “Again, I don’t want to re-litigate the yg issue but he DID blame not just the ghedli but the Eritrean people (that the christians don’t trust the muslims and vice versa; that we didn’t know what we want; that there is no evidence that we couldn’t have gotten what we wanted from imperial ethiopia), etc, etc.”

          I hate having this discussion at a tailgate of one of the most brilliant articles I ever read. When does stating a fact became blaming the people? Look no further than Awate front page to see that there IS a trust issue between christians and muslims? Mind you, YG was talking about a period after the referendum where our fathers and their mahber andnet held an opposite view of what our Muslims brothers did.

          By all accounts the eritrean revolution succeeded, do you think this is what we wanted? At the end of the day, your opinions are just that, yours opinions, they are not facts. How gheli transformed itself into an efficient repression machine is a subject of debate. YG believes that it is so because it was led by people who didn’t know freedom if it bites them in the ass. You believe in a romanticized version of ghedli and give all its evils to one man. Like I said, yours is one opinion and YG’s another….but DON’t say he blames the people, it is not right and it is not fair, specially coming from you who is subject to the same accusation by the pfdj deadheads.

          I wish YG joins us because his empty chair is giving you an unfair advantage. Second hander like myself are not a match for YG.

          • Saleh AA Younis


            Don’t sell yourself short, you are a great polemicist. yg is a great writer and thinker and for years, when we @ awate did the year-end retrospective with our “The Best Of…”, we would excerpt half a dozen of his paragraphs from his articles. So my admiration for his mental prowess is “ab botu’u alo”, as we say. But so is my belief that when it came to his De-romanticizing Ghedli series, he fell for every banana peel that the Ghedli-haters (mostly Ethiopian and Ethiophile scholars) left for him. According to yg:

            1. The Eritrean revolution was started by Arabists and Islamists. He questions whether the Eritrean revolution was waged for nationalistic or non-nationalistic causes.
            2. The Eritrean revolution had no clear goal;
            3. The Eritrean revolution, excepting for an insignificant period (5 years), was made of a conscript force;
            4. The Eritrean revolution had no popular support–particularly among the peasantry in rural Eritrea;
            5. The Eritrean revolutionaries have a burden of proof to show that they couldn’t have gotten what they got while remaining with Ethiopia;

            Now, this favorite word of dismissing critics by accusing them of being “romantics” is a clever one because it is nice way of showing yourself as a gritty realist. But it also helps if one gets the fundamentals of the Eritrean revolution right.


  • Ghezae Hagos

    Selam BeAlti Arwe Wuqato,

    It is with enormous interest that I read your entries. You have such a captivating presence and undying fountain of wisdom and talent. Undoutedly, you quickly became one of the best bloggers at I also would like to say, after our initial spat, I came to understand and admire brother Haile. Another good writer.

    I would like to encourage both and others (like Senay and Serray nice to see you here both, Hameed and others) to take their talents to wider audience to write pieces of their own.

    Wuqato Arwe wrote,

    “Simply because, Eritrea is not a nation-state; Eritrea is not a country with limited geographical boundaries, rather, Eritrea is a stretch of blocks run by a thug who calls himself guerilla-leader-turned-president.

    Eritrea suffers from lack of a sense of normalcy where in your piece you limited the sense of abnormality to the temperament of Isaias. I disagree. If we really think about it, the abnormality is more pervasive in our collective mind set or sense of reality as we are desensitized whereby abnormal is taken for a normal daily occurrence.”

    Eritrea has stopped being a nation state. The only thing going for it is recognition of being a political unit; otherwise nothing. Our leaders don’t act like leaders; our people don’t act like citizens. Our refugees don’t act like refugees. Our artists don’t act like artists. Our opposition don’t act like opposition. We got nothing, man!

    You strike a chord with the abnormalcy case. YG had written eloquently on this. We don’t have political crisis. We have an existential crisis, so he wrote. Great entry, sis.

    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

      Dear Ghezae,

      Many thanks for those kind words. The feeling is mutual. I have always read your superb articles with interest where your proficiency of the English language is an envy to an on-looker. And your encyclopedic knowledge of historical, cultural and legal settings is a pride to all of us as well.

      Your indefatigable fight against tyranny and your unbridled stand against the sadist regime in Eritrea is an early indication of the making of a leader-to-reckon with in you in a free and democratic Eritrea. Please grace us more with your intelligent articles and comments.


      • Ghezae Hagos

        Dear sis,

        No, thank you..

        Many of your comments are exactly my sentiments only said better. And I have been gorging myself with your extremely well-written, and exceedingly persuasive arguements. Your admirer (not so secret).

    • ” YG had written eloquently on this.”

      Selam :- Ghezae Hagos,duh ! what YG wrote is just wishy washy. Typical YG supporter,next are the Arokobay chili-pepers lawyers. Wey gud.


      • Ghezae Hagos

        Selam Exciter,

        YG could be described in many flattering and unflattering terms. Wishy-washy is not one of them.

        No one (from us the internet tigers and scribblers) has underscored the sense of urgency than him. It is not so much his Ghedli articles that made me his disciple. It was rather his call for sanctioning the PFDJ regime, putting it on List of State Sponsor ofTerrorism which the official opposition was too lethargic and too dumb to catch up with and his expert diagonsis of the PFDJ mentality (akin to Sal’s present piece). Simply, the guy is genius.

  • Ghezae Hagos

    Selam Sal,

    I ‘enjoyed’ reading your piece; it is very wrong for us to ‘enjoy’ tragedies and farces because they are not to be enjoyed real; what we should mean is the opposite. You get my drift.

    The stalling strategy works flawlessly. Though in the hands of any other regime is mark of stupidity, it seems to work well in the nation of multitude of tragedies an blunders . After few weeks, another blunder will twist our necks for attention..The case of Naigzghi (R.I.P.) will seem luckier if not, too old, and as you said forgotten. If God sends us some Eritreans who did bad things to hell, I think he will be surprised to learn few weeks into it..we are doing jut fine. We adapt.

    The only thing I don’t you seem to misdiagonise is the case of saying ours is another authoritarian/totalitarian system. I think Eritrea currently has the worst leader and the worst regime in the world. Add to that, the Diaspora’s enormous support for such evil regime, there is something about peculiar about our malady.

  • Serray

    Selam SAAY,

    Simply incredible. Even meles’s fan, sarcasm, gave it two yes’es.

    I have a theory about why he is doing this. It is more than a power play, he wants to show some people what he is capable of; not his regular cheerleaders, but some people he thinks haven’t given him 100 percent recently. Some people in his inner circle. If we had an opposition that is not totally dependent on outsiders, this would have been of tremendous value.

    Isais is surrendered by sick and dying people; one of them kicked the bucket when he was in New York suddenly and some say that’s why he gave that lame speech at the UN. As it happens to people past their prime, some might be reevaluating their position vs our peoples freedom. They might be worried about their legacy and he is telling them, “I own that, too, so stay put”. They spend their youth in medda, their middle ages serving a sick dictator and now he is telling them he is going to make a mockery of their death.

    For people who always valued the dead more than the living (people who believe that eritrea is great because so many have died to bring it into existence) this could be a huge blow. This also hits home, the families. Our yesterdays freedom fighters and todays fascists are fond of the people very, very, close to them; if not the rest of us. Denying a hero burial is a package deal, the family of the dead lose as well. The value to the opposition in this is that these people are at the end their rope, they have nothing to lose now.

    Just a theory

  • Selam :- Brother SAAY, a very much appreciative article as usually. “By God, I do not know about this issue. This issue can be considered forgotten!” Those are the words that Isayas, the despot dictator, always said after being questioned and the worst thing is that he uses the name of God. Normally, when people use the name of God for their dirty political encryption, then it means that they don’t know any borders for the suffering of every human. So, Isayas Afewerki demonstrated that in May 1993 before our Declaration of Independence, when he forced the tegaldelti (fighters) to work on without salary. When thousands of fighters demonstrated against his plan, every one knows what happened to them. In 1994, when the PFDJ was founded, Isayas Afewerki said that the new party would need new, fresh blood. It is interesting that he didn’t start from himself but he questioned Mesfin Hagos and others and he tried to kick them out. But he didn’t accomplish it completely. When you look back, this was the beginning of Isayas to hoodwink his own comrades and the race for the power was started. Unfortunately, the G-15 was obfuscated by the war against Ethiopia that was started by the provocations of Isayas in 1998. Before they started with the Berlin Manifesto in 2001, their fate was sealed. Everything Isayas did until then was something like a “Broken-Windows-Experiment”. When you use the human resources for your success. Like the Algiers Agreement of 2000, when Isayas fooled Haile Woldentsae Drue. In fact, the final agreement between him and Isayas was that the Ethiopians withdraw completely from the Eritrean territory and go back to the status quo ante but it is funny because that was exactly what the Ethiopian prime minister was saying during the occupation of Badme by the PFDJ. Then we lost Badme to the Ethiopians and Haile Drue’s idea was to return to the status quo ante like the Ethiopians wanted before the crises escalated and the war started. Finally, the Ethiopians recaptured Badme and the situation was different. They wanted a buffer zone of 25 kilometres into Eritrea. It is interesting that before Haile Drue arrived in Alger for the final negotiations, Isayas called the Algerian president Bouteflika and accepted the option of Ethiopia and Haile Drue was upset about it and wanted to return immediately but it wasn’t possible. As far as the case with the death of Naizghi Kiflu, one shouldn’t wonder because Naizghi Kiflu was one of the first who wanted the high position in Eritrea. After the PFDJ fake constitution has been made in 1997, the likes of Naizghi mocked about Isayas’ legitimation of an Eritrean citizenship:
    Article 3 Citizenship
    (1) Any person born of an Eritrean father or mother is an Eritrean by birth.
    So, the case was over. Isayas’ mother and father aren’t Eritrean but Ethiopian of Tigray origin. This is why the constitution has never been implemented by Isayas. He saw it as an abasement.
    “Finally, why is Isaias Afwerki doing what he is doing?”
    As our Eritrean highlander say:”Haseka Dembe Nab’Zlemlemellu” – “The earth worm goes to where the ground is soft”
    Because he has the people around him who are compatible with his behavior and it doesn’t matter if they are Eritrean or Ethiopian because one man alone can’t do so many things without help. Mengistu Hailemariam wasn’t alone when he crashed the Ethiopian king Haile Selase, he got the support of the Amharan peasants and farmers. The truth is, when it gets hard, no one is ready to take the responsibility.


    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      I am really having problems with the legitimacy based on a blood line notion. I don’t think it is relevant at all whether Isaias hails from Tigrai or any other part of the entire region for that matter. The fact of the matter is, he was born and brought up in Eritrea. He is an Eritrean.

      In fact, if we are to trace the genesis of the the pioneers of Asmara that is, the first dwellers in the city, most of them trace their roots to Ethiopia. Simpley because, the “true” Eritreans back in the days when Asmara was about to come of age didn’t have any reason to dwell in Asmara for they had a village or a county they could trace back to their ancestors where the “strangers” or the “others” didn’t have anywhere to go or claim as their root-village in Eritrea but dwell in Asmara.

      Regrettably some folks and certain websites spend their entire energy in tracing Isaias’ blood line when he is in fact a full blown Eritrean as any other Abrehet or Gebre.

      • selam :- Sister b’Alti W’qatto Arwe, in my opinion the background doesn’t count but where some one is born because every one born in Eritrea is Eritrean for me. So, I never made this kind of constitution. It shows that this constitution is senseless and a farce. The most important fact is that one respects the Eritrean laws and its people. But when it comes to Isayas Afewerki, then one has to question to which kind of people he belongs because according to what he has done, no one in the 21st century can say that he is human. The truth every one of his comrades knew from the beginning but no one tried to make it public because every one of his followers speculated on taking high positions. Finally it was over. By the way no healthy Eritrean can come to the idea to deport innocent Ethiopians from Eritrea the same as no one can come to the idea to deport innocent Eritreans from Ethiopia. The truth is that such things were never the culture value of Eritrea. The likes of Isayas brought that to us.


      • haile

        Don’t be naive b’Alti W’qatto Arwe: one of the causes of the current Eritrea-Ethiopia non stop conflict between Issaias who has 85% Ethiopia blood line (his 15% Eritrean blood line comes from Tslma Seraye)but was raised in Eritrea and Meles Zenawi who is 100% Eritrean(mother from Adi-Quala and his father Zenawi from Gundet Eritrea but moved to Adwa when he was young) and Meles was raised in Adwa. The political competition is between the two dictators: Isaias strategy is by weakening Ethiopia he has the delusion of dominating both Eritrea and Ethiopia and Meles long range strategy is by weakening Eritrea he can establish a weak vassal state that will be either part of Greater Tigrai if Tigrai secced from Ethiopia, or if Tigrai stays with Ethiopia Eritrea to be a non threathnening little weak state that Meles and company can manipulate. You may be thinking this absurd–check the blood line of the inner circle of Isaias and Meles: Isaias’s core enablers are from Tigrai; Meles’s are from Eritrea. Do you think this happened by chance? No.

  • Every time he does outrageous thing and gets away with it, he has accomplished in displaying his power.

    If you and me were to acquire power like he did, we would do the same thing – our wiring will change slowly. The only reason other leaders don’t do such things is because the power they can get is limited by the power of others. Isaias’s power was much more limited by other EPLF leaders before independence compared to his power now.

    SAAY, so Ali Abdu is your brother for real? That’s probably why you never mention him in your articles . . . hahaha. Come on now, be fair! By the way, he is the weirdest follower – he literally wants to be Baba Isaias!

    So, I am usually surprised by how weak Eritreans are and not by how outrageously Isaias acts.

    • rodab

      Silly. Stop talking about family matters.

  • Berhane

    I am really confused. The author of the article is obviously talented. But I wonder if he is objective, realistic and honest.
    Are we saying the man who led the Eritrean people to independence and still leading the nation for more than twenty years is stupid, psychopath etc. How is it possible that a mentally deranged person can accomplish such glorious deeds, like to lead his people to freedom and stay in power for so long?.
    Are we saying that the Eritrean people are so useless that they can not deal with a stupid leader for twenty years? This is an insult to all Eritreans including those who are praising the article
    He may have some weaknesses but he is neither stupid nor psychopath. The facts on the ground demonstrate that fact.
    I believe all the people commenting are intellectuals. All what you write is insult, though sounds well researched. But this does not help us in any way. Tell us how you would do better for Eritrea compared to what he is doing. Otherwise insulting a leader does not make you better than him. Rather it makes you look jealous, resentful and full of hatred. These are not good qualities for a person who aspires to be a better leader. If you want to be leaders then fight , the idea, ie, if you have a better one not the individual

    • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).


      Back in the early 90s, a reporter of a reputable magazine after interviewing Isaias quipped when he said, “Looking at his hands (Isaias’), one would take him for a professional piano player as opposed to a guerilla leader who had spent his adult life in the bushes and mountains.” Evidently, either Isaias has a remarkable ability in dodging bullets and shrapnel or he never got engaged in any full blown war which heralded an independent Eritrea as others got their limbs ripped off and their eye sights lost to a pitch darkness.

      Twenty years on, the question still remains: What has Isaias done for Eritrea? Really. What would be the things that would make the rest of us jealous of Isaias as you seem to insinuate? Really. If anything, the ever stalled Eritrean Constitution is yet to be implemented; the economy is in shambles; freedom of press, freedom to gather and worship is absolutely unthinkable; political prisoners are indefinitely hauled in an undisclosed locations where some of them are six feet under and the living are yet to have their cases heard in a court of law; the country is literally hemorrhaging of her productive segment as they cross to either Sudan or Ethiopia in hundreds every month. To add insult to injury, his erstwhile right hand-man’s remains is denied of resting in peace in his home country. Need I say more.

      • Henok

        “Are we saying the man who led the Eritrean people to independence and still leading the nation for more than twenty years is stupid, psychopath etc. How is it possible that a mentally deranged person can accomplish such glorious deeds, like to lead his people to freedom and stay in power for so long?”

        Brother Berhane,
        Can you please explain to me the reason why Naizgh body is not allowed to enter Eritrea? I don’t think a person with healthy mind would do such thing. By the way your argument about Isias leading Eritrea to independence does not make sense. A person can be healthy today & lunatic next day:)

      • Beilul

        b’Alti W’qatto Arwe

        Get real! now you are just taking it too far. You are implying that Isaias didnt engage in the war. Dont be stupid. Stop spreading xxxxx just for the sake of it. If you are going to argue, fine argue. But stop saying stupid xxxx like that. It is is non constructive and a waste of time.


        “Otherwise insulting a leader does not make you better than him. Rather it makes you look JEALOUS, RESENTFUL, AND FULL OF HATRED”….welcome to the opposition….

      • Berhane

        b’Alti W’qatto Arwe

        Denying that Isaias led EPLF is like denying that the sun does not exist. A leader is not necessarily a good fighter. The fact that the journalist did not see scars does not prove that he did not lead EPLF. EPLF was and is a formidable organization. An organization that brought about the independence of Eritrea was not head less. The head was and is Isaias .If you are to convince the masses, first and foremost you should not tell lies especially to the people who know the facts. You may criticize Isaias on his weaknesses, but to say he did not lead his people to independence is simply not true.
        I am not an advocate of Isaias and I am not to tell why you should be jealous about Isaias. But you sound jealous. I like the changes he has made in the villages of Eritrea, if this ould make you jealous. I will not go to details so that you may not call me a propagandist. I admit there is a lot to desire in terms of social justice in Eritrea. Lets appreciate the good and criticize when it is needed. All what I am saying is battering one man is not going to bring any change

    • haile


      “Tell us how you would do better for Eritrea compared to what he is doing”

      Here is my two cents worth:

      1) The country would have a constitution
      2) No one would be arrested with out due process of the law
      3) If a person of adult age decides to break the law (as in runing the heck out of the country) then his/her elderly parents would not be dragged out to jail and forced to pay a fortune
      4) No Eritrean by birth individual would be stripped off his/her Citizenship
      5) No Eritrean would be denied a burial site of his/her birth right
      6) No Eritrean would be subjected to endless forced labor by any one
      7) Citizens have the right to elect their leaders

      I could add more but I hope this would suffice for now. Since you think that we are all stupid because the leader has lost his mind, then would you kindly tell us which one’s of the above wouldn’t you change and why? I think the Niezghi issue is the one that broke the camel’s back!

      • Berhane


        You have summarized the burning issues in this web site. I agree with you in most of the items. But by insulting the individual day in day out is not getting you anywhere. Change tactics and strategies to convince the mass. Otherwise your articles are becoming repetitive and hence boring. I did not call you stupid. I am against calling names. In fact I admire your style of writing and your potential. But you are wasting your talent in one obsession on a single man.
        Naizghi is dead and let us not use his body to farther our political gains. It is very uneritrean. By the way it is only Awate .com that seems to care of what happened to the body. Is it ironic?

    • Hameed

      Dear brother Berhane,

      To cut it short and bring it to your attention so as to get an answer to your confusion. What do you think about the “zanga zanga man” I mean what do you think about Gaddafi who ruled the Libyan people for more than forty years? The world knows well the Libyan leader and I hope you too. Who do you think is insulting the Eritrean people: those who worship Nisu or those who say foul?

      Brother first we recognize that a person is mad by his attitude, then we take him to hospital for confirming our suspicion and treatment. Who do you think will take Isaias to psychiatrist for treatment?

      • Berhane


        I am not interested in Ghadafi’s history. I will leave it to the Libyans. If you can’t take a person to a psychiatrist, it is not right to put your diagnosis. You don’t qualify to that

    • Soira

      first of all berhane, isaias afwerki didn’t lead the Eritrean people to independence rather the more than 60k+ martyrs and the thousands of hafash wudubat accomplish that task, therefore stop giving one man all the credit ( he played his part just like every Eritrean). second , you asked how does the mentally deranged person stay in power for more than 20+, the answer is simple by brute force such jailing, torture, murder etc etc. He has silenced the entire nation into submission, and those who were brave enough to challenge reside in eraero and countless jails throughout the country. Third, you asked how we can do better, well behane nebsi, we would implement the Eritreans constitution, reactivate the Eritrean baito and we would allow the Eritrean people to hold their own destiny instead of being lead by the decree of one man. The Eritrean people can do much better than what we are witnessing from the insane man with twisted heart. Berhane hizbi Eritrea lomi lebimu eyu, be isaias way by his weitotat aygagian eyu. Ezi wedehanka

    • Aklilu Zere

      Dear Berhane:

      Do you think the great people of Germany were stupid to believe and be led by Hitler? Are they blameless? Was Hitler a sane creature? Do you think Pol Pot of Cambodia was a healthy person to kill two million of his people? He was a simple teacher who always repected people before he became a monster. He had a humble and monkish looks too. What about emperor Nero who killed Aggrapina, his own mother? What about Isaias denying burial to one of his own closest comrade?

      Do you think we are different people than the Germans, Cambodians or the Romans?

      Dear Berhane: People, “The masses” are not to blame. But this does not mean they are completely free of any blame. And of course they will always act like other masses.

      Who is to blame are the dictator and his henchmen who unambiguously dealt a pact with the devil (in this case ,absolutre power without an iota of responsibility). Ant I hope you are a living witness to their incessant atrocities.

      So please read carefully the messege but be careful not to shoot the messenger.


    • Berhane,

      First, I appreciate visiting this website and reading Sals Argument. I encourage you to continue to do so. You will always get something as ” a take home” food for thought to say the least. But let me go to your comment. You started your comment by saying “I am really confused.” By reading the rest of your comment I understand that you are really confused, because you are either (a) indocterinated by the brainwash manual of PFDJ or (b) blindfolded not to see the reality on the ground. Whatever the reason might be, you start to open your eyes and try to see what is going on with our nation and its people.

      Sal is one of the few writers who does not indulge to character assassination. What Sal tried to help us is, to go back and see the sequential historical setbacks from the action of the leader and how he handled it. By doing that, he showed us that Isaias is the sole decision maker in his government, and his decision on the issue of Naizghi Kiflu will not be different from those of the past. The examples he set forth in his arguments is a matter of fact that no one will dispute it. If you want to dispute it “Eneho Feres Eneho meda.”

      But sal goes far to define and characterize the leader by the nature of his behavior and the way he act against his people and the international community. If those traits he showed us does not make him a psychopath person, then what is he? In fact, if Sal could agree with me to further diagnose Isaias’s behavior, then I would tell that he is stricken by “obsessive compulsive disorder.” So Berhane see the light that leads you to safely travel the journey of your people.

      • Berhane


        You have already started insulting me “Indoctrinated, Blindfolded”. I don’t argue with people who are bent on insulting. Insulting is a weakness, it is not strength.

    • haqi

      If you are confused just read the section “My mom”. It is a heart felt sharing for the sake and love of compadres like you and I and let me know what you understood of yourself …..your own family…your extended family…your community and the nation.
      As to your questions I could not outdo Haile’s response itemized and solid points.

  • haile

    Well, this article by saay has been proven spot on to the last dot. PFDJ functionaries are now begining to reel back from the state of shock they were thrown in, and their new argument goes as follows: “It is ok to present the Niezghi story “as is”, that is to just mention it and only mention that he has not been buried. Going beyond that and “linking” the issues with other matters or meetings (as in Mekhetes) would only go to show you do not care about Eritrea’s “National Security”, that also you are doing the bidding of “woyane”, it is a “national security” issue. Period”

    So, for example if you were to think of asking such a question as to “why” in the wrong meeting (such as during those times when you are being lectured about those alleged “development drive back home” a.k.a. mekhete) then you are now told that you are against Eritrea’s “national Security” or in Tigrinia Sheyati A’du).

    There you are, Saay was just a matter of just one day in predicting this coming! You will be hearing this arguments from now on, you read it at awate comment section!

  • Heffoon Battick

    Allahuma Arham Walidat Saleh Wa Arzukaha al-firdose Al-Alla

    Well done as ever

  • Eritrawi

    May be he wants him to be buried like all our Muslim brothers and sisters, that the world is the world it does not mater where you been buried.

    • Eritrawi,
      You need help! It is amazing that our people are Messed up. It is really unhealthy

  • SideLiner


    As usual, it is an excellent piece. However, I was expecting more of as why he wasn’t given a proper burial, at least, buried in his home town respectfully. We may not know exactly the reasons behind it, but we could have entertained some of the possibilities.

  • Zhaile

    Hi Sal,

    It seems you studied Issayas’s manual of dealing with crisis and you are using it in reverse to write your article. I like the starting with step five. Quite original. I have to confess my bad habit of jumping to the end of a long article and reading it almost in reverse. In this case you spared me the trouble. But this article I read it all. No Kidding.

  • Sarcasm

    Yes,yes, we all know what he is capable of doing. But saleh, you seem curiously reluctant to discuss the means to topple the bumbling dictator. Might not your energy be better spent devising strategy to get rid off Isayas instead of endlessly listing his many crimes? Oh that’s right, you don’t want his system to disappear because you’re afraid that the big bad Weyane are going to “destroy” Eritrea. Amusing really.

    • Dear Sarcasm:

      Anyone who entertains to give a reply to you is either a fool or sick because doing or thinking so is akin to communicating with a nasty ghost. Saying this I shall confess I am a fool.


      • Kokhob Selam

        Allow me to disagree with you for the first time Aklilu. by saying so you have given him a lesson that will go deep in his mind so how can you call Aklilu fool. And you are not allowed to call Aklilu fool even you are Aklilu because for some of you belong to us. I admire you very much.

  • Kokhob Selam

    This article itself could return back to normal a supporter who will read it from open hear and mind.

  • Soira

    I am always amazed, shocked, stunned when Eritreans describe isaias afwerki as a totalitarian, authoritarian, dictator, when in fact he doesn’t fit any of those descriptions. Isaias afwerki is in fact a Psychopath, sadist, sociopath and a serial killer who happens to own a country and five million people for his personal pleasure. The sad part is there are more than a dozen of mini serial killers (comparing to isaias) with in the mafia org thus why do we expect normalcy from such people. Pls read wekipedia definition of Psychopath and it fits the devil perfect
    Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. Psychopaths have a total lack of empathy and remorse and are generally regarded as selfish, insensitive, dishonest, arrogant, aggressive, impulsive, irresponsible, and hedonistic

    • DanK

      Right on the point.

  • Saleh,
    I wish if I could find another word to describle your article. So, I have to share the adjective with Haile and say: superb. I hope you would grace us one day with an allround pschoanalytic piece on this unique brand of totalitarian despots. Thanks Saleh.

  • eyob Ghebreziabhier

    the meaning of the English word ‘reflection’ in tigryna is not ‘netsebraq’ but ‘mstw-al’ from the verb es-tew-e-le.

    • John

      HakideA…tegagiKa, it is netsebrak.

    • Abraham

      fast farward to Eyob, did we meet in Asmara back 2001 @ City Cafe? where u were taking linguistic then? Did u join the revolution from German?

  • senay

    When someone in authority or high position displays an extreme act of stupidity, rational people (be it detractors or believers) tend to rationalize the act with several what-if scenarios simply to satisfy their ego or to safe their face. But simply concluding that, he is just stupid, would be considered irrational or an affront to their psyche.

    On one fine Friday evening, after the Badme debacle, a group of us were cheat-chatting with a group of University of Asmara students who came to the USA on scholarship (most of them were in PHD and some in masters program) were discussing the current events and we were rationalizing every move of that time for the sake of self preservation our ego. Defeat was unacceptable and there has to be an alternative narration to explain the humiliation. One of the students said this that I always remember “you guys give them too much credit. When you see what they do from within, you would be amazed by their colossal incompetence”

    So, Sal, I agree with you that power is addictive, so is stupidity. We are where we are, because we spent so much time rationalizing utter stupidity.

    Thus, in a spirit of women’s day, I won’t bore you with details why they are stupid but Instead I will simply humor you.

    Lt. Colonel Nega (wedi brille) picked handful young girls from Sawa fashion school and brought them to Asmara to celebrate women’s day with him PFDJ style. In the middle of the binge drinking craze and wejah-jah, one of the young lady managed to escape from the crowd and run to the bus station to go home and see her family. Her stomach was blotted from a mixture of alcohol and second-hand smoke and her bus ride was uncomfortable. On the bus on her way home, she struggled to control her discomfort and decided to let a silent-one out. But to her embarrassment it came out sounding like a fine-tuned wata (TyyyyyyyT). She was severely embarrassed.

    To her rescue, a local chapter NUEW leader was seating across from her and said “ don’t be embarrassed my sister, uncontrolled flatulence is caused by female circumcision. As it was elaborated on this week’s “hateta”, female genital mutilation is the cause of many social embarrassment among women. But now, thanks to our government, female circumcision is eradicated forever and future generation of women will be spared from such embarrassing moment”

    you see, even embarrassing moments can be rationalized with irrational reasoning.

  • b’Alti W’qatto Arwe (As in a girl with a dragon tattoo).

    Dear Sal,

    As a prodigal student of yours I read your piece with an ample interest. I must say however, this time around, your diagnosis of the entire Eritrean otherwise complex dynamics seems way of the mark. Before I elaborate on that, let me say few points about something related to that effect.

    The family of Dawit Isaak are terrified by the prospect of upsetting Isaias further more as they try to distance themselves from the people who are trying to galvanize public opinion in a bid for Dawit to have a fair trial. Dawit Isaak is the living. The family of Naizgi Kiflu are terrified by the prospect of upsetting Isaias so that Naizgi Kiflu would still have the sense of peaceful final days to his otherwise troubled soul. Naizgi Kiflu is the dead.

    As one reflects upon the unfortunate circumstances of the said families, one would feel like as if one is reading the final pages of Mario Puzo’s classic novel. Or one would feel like coming out of a movie house after watching “Miller’s Crossing” or “Road to Perdition” to mention but a few. Simply because, Eritrea is not a nation-state; Eritrea is not a country with limited geographical boundaries, rather, Eritrea is a stretch of blocks run by a thug who calls himself guerilla-leader-turned-president.

    Eritrea suffers from lack of a sense of normalcy where in your piece you limited the sense of abnormality to the temperament of Isaias. I disagree. If we really think about it, the abnormality is more pervasive in our collective mind set or sense of reality as we are desensitized whereby abnormal is taken for a normal daily occurrence.

    When three hundred plus Eritrean souls died in the high seas as they were about to make it to the free world, we went about doing our daily business as if it was as you put it a fly trapped in a spider’s web. When our fellow young sisters and brothers are raped and their organs taken out in the Sinai desert, we went about doing our daily business as if as you put it a mouse is being chased by a kitten. As the Brit teacher put it (in his book Ciao Asmara) after a dire experience in Eritrea, what is this country doing to us? Either we are not normal or we are abnormal.


  • rodab

    PIA badly damaged himself on this one. He is totally naked and out in the cold on his own. There is no room for saying it is the regime or the PFDJ …. no, no, it is solely Isayas himself. Nothing has been as clear as this one in previous blunders.

  • Selam saleh,

    It is very impeccable analysis as usual. It is simple and spoon food type feeding. I am sure you will win many souls from the cult believers. Excellent and keep the flow.

  • haile

    Superb and flawless. Many people will be able to make sense of what has been happening and start to move on with their lives. You have done a great service to the masses, may you be repaid many folds, Amen!