Inform, Inspire, Embolden. Reconcile!

Book Review: Paths To A Nation

Paths To The Nation: Islam, Community, and Early Nationalism in Eritrea, 1941-1961, By Joseph L. Venos. Review By Bereket Habte Selassie the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Introduction

As I read this piece of work, with great interest, I was struck by two significant facts. First, of the top four leaders of Eritrean national movement/struggle, generally considered to be founding fathers of the Eritrean nation—Ibrahim Sultan Ali, Woldeab Woldemariam, Abdulkadir Kebire, and Idris Mohammed Adam—three are Muslims.

Second, to the generation of Eritreans who came of age during the armed phase of the Eritrean struggle for independence (1961-1991), mostly schooled in a secular ethos, religious identification was consigned, at least rhetorically, to a subordinate place—ceding first place to nationalism. As the work under review illustrates, that did not mean that people lost their religious sentiments or stopped practicing their religion; far from it. What it did mean is that the pioneers of Eritrean national movement, being keenly aware of Eritrean history and demography, clearly placed emphasis on the common agenda of a united struggle under a nationalist banner. This fact was epitomized by the story, described in this work, in which Christian and Muslim leaders met for a common meal at the home of a leading Muslim businessman and alternately ate chicken, one chicken slaughtered and blessed by a Muslim, and another chicken slaughtered and blessed by a Christian.

These leaders knew that in the historical and social context of Eritrea (and Ethiopia), what they were doing was nothing short of revolutionary. It went against the grain; it changed an ingrained tradition of separation between Christians and Muslims, separation that extends to meals and other interfaith social interaction, including more seriously, prohibition of interfaith marriage. The origin of such separation, being peculiarly Ethiopian (and later Eritrean) prohibition, goes back to the fifteenth century. [1]. The common meal in which the pioneers participated, breaking a long-held taboo, symbolized the determination of the founding fathers to put nationalist interests above everything else. It sent a clear message to the adherents of the two Abrahamic religions that Eritreans needed to develop a common nationalist consciousness transcending (not replacing) religious sentiments. It is also important to consider this story of a common struggle of Eritreans against Ethiopian occupation in a historical context in which a Christian Emperor backed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church was at the head of a government. A complicating fact in this respect is that half of Eritreans are adherents of the same Orthodox faith, while half of them are Muslims.

History, Demography and Nationalism in Eritrea

The symbolic common meal mentioned above eventually became a common practice among Eritrean freedom fighters. Indeed, we find that the separate eating of Muslims and Christians only existed in Ethiopia and highland Eritrea. Eritreans who had lived in Egypt and Sudan, including those who became freedom fighters, were not faced by the taboo. Christians ate meals prepared by Muslims and vice versa. But among the vast majority of Eritrean Christians and Muslims not impacted by the secular/revolutionary ethos, the old taboos and prohibitions continued. And Ethiopian government propaganda repeatedly defined the freedom fighters as agents of Arab interests. To traditional Christians unaffected by the secular national ethos “Arab” meant anti-Christian.

Eritrean nationalism is based on the creation, in 1890, of a territory as an Italian colonial state. Like the rest of colonial Africa, its identity as a nation-state was defined by the boundaries created after Italy declared it as a colony upon occupying the whole territory, giving it a new name—Eritrea. Enclosed within this artificially fixed boundary are nine ethno-linguistic groups, equally divided between Christians and Muslims. This historical fact of colonially created nation states in the African continent, defined by artificial boundaries, was confirmed in the Cairo Resolution of the OAU passed in 1964. The political fact of an artificially created nation state was buttressed in all cases by industrial development with the concomitant building of infrastructure reinforcing the rapidly changing economic and social landscape guided by the economic objectives of the colonizing state. An important factor in the construction of nationalism is the rapid expansion of literacy and the development of a mass newspaper readership, or radio listening audience. In this process of colonial national construction language assumes a critical role as a means of communication with a national leadership using it skillfully. Hence the importance of language in modern political discourse, and the fact that there is much debate on language in national politics. And Eritrea is no exception to the rule in this respect.

A matter of critical relevance in the case of Eritrean national politics is the fact that Eritrean Muslims, with their primary school education obtained in in Qur’anic schools, claim Arabic as their language of education and communication. Thus, as Venosa’s work amply demonstrates, leaders like Ibrahim Sultan Ali fought tooth and nail for the preservation and promotion of what they called Islamic resources and institutions. They were referring, of course, to the Holy Qur’an as well as texts and practices based on it, including all the religious and cultural heritage that they perceived to be under attack by the rapidly advancing imperial Ethiopian hegemonic project. In such struggle, they were not interested in relying only on the international basis of the Ethiopian-Eritrean federation under which Eritrean autonomy was guaranteed. The internationalization of Eritrea’s case for legitimate autonomy was not sufficient for Ibrahim Sultan and his colleagues of the Muslim League. As Venosa ably demonstrates, the Muslim League went out of its way in emphasizing the critical need of safeguarding Islamic resources and institutions in the fight for Eritrean self determination and survival as a national entity. In other words, the League leaders, and especially Ibrahim Sultan considered Islamic resources and institutions as a bulwark in gaining and maintaining Eritrean self determination.

Did such a stand pose a threat to the necessary coexistence or cooperation between Muslims and Christians in Eritrea? Could it be a double-edged sword?

We go back to that symbolic dinner over chicken, and to the development during the colonial era of shared experience, of a common sense of nationhood—of Eritrean nationalism. Ibrahim Sultan and his comrades of the Muslim League were men who had such shared experience with Christian leaders like Woldeab Woldemariam. Venosa brings out this fact very clearly. Imperial Ethiopia’s hegemonic project heavily counted on the Christian segment of the Eritrean population to divide and conquer. The division of Eritreans into the unionists predominantly Christian, and those in favor of independence predominantly Muslims but with a significant Christian members posed a challenge to the supporters of independence. To obviate the problem that this posed independence leaders from the two sides agreed to establish an Independence Bloc linking Christians and Muslims, which was a historic response to the challenge.

All this and more is narrated by this excellent history of Eritrea’s quest for independence against heavy odds—against a country lead by a world-renowned Christian Emperor generally favored by Western powers led by the United States of America.

The Value of Venosa’s Work

In my considered opinion, Paths Toward the Nation is an excellent scholarly work that is worth publishing. The aim of the manuscript is indicated in the sub-title—Islam, Community, and Early Nationalism in Eritrea. In a well-researched and written narrative of the evolution and struggle for survival of Eritrean nationalism, the author seeks to provide the historical grounding of Eritrean nationalism. In that narrative, the role of Islam and Islamic institutions and resources in the seeding, growth and protection of that nationalism against a critical challenges posed by the hegemonic project of the Ethiopian empire-state led by a famous and powerful Emperor is clearly and cogently discussed. In the introductory section of the work, the author states:

By illustrating how the Islamic religion and Muslim community activism was put in the service of Eritrea’s independence movement, this book also explores the often-overlooked relationship between religious identity and nationalism in one particular area of the Horn of Africa.” In other words, while the narrative is focused on one particular corner of the world (the Horn of Africa), Eritrea’s story of struggle for national self determination represents a global trend in which a particular identity—religious identity is put at the service of a people’s right to self determination. In such a quest, the power of the idea of freedom prevailed over sectarian division (be it based on ethic or religious ground). The triumph of the idea over sectarian division, a division that was encouraged and fostered by Ethiopia’s hegemonic project, represents a ringing testimony to the power of the idea and of nationalism as the organizing force of that idea. This is indeed one of the lessons of Venosa’s work. For the idea, like all ideas, may be regarded as “self-evident (to borrow the phrase of America’s founding fathers), but it is not self-enforcing. It requires leaders who believe in it to the point of staking their lives to ensure its triumph. Such were the leaders of the Eritrean Muslim League, one of whose leading members (Abdulkadir Kebire) was assassinated by agents of the Ethiopian government. Much of the work is devoted to describing the role of the Muslim League and its principal leader like Ibrahim Sultan Ali, as well as his Christian comrade in arms, Woldeab Woldemariam.

In this respect, Venosa’s work represents a significant contribution to the study of Eritrea’ national struggle for independence by delving into a detailed analysis of the role of Islam’s struggle to maintain its identity as a religious and national force. Islamic identity thus directly and indirectly made a tremendous contribution to the success of maintaining Eritrea’s national identity and autonomy at a time when Ethiopia’s hegemonic project had relied on the division of Muslims and Christians in Eritrea’s demographic make-up. In thus bringing out and laying emphasis on Islam’s role the message of the book is loud and clear and will play a chastening role among Eritrean Christians who might not have thought of Islam’s role in that sense. The manuscript is thus addressed as much to Muslims who are proud of the contributions made by their parents’ generation to Eritrea’ independence, but also to Christians who have an equal need to be proud of their fellow citizens who happen to be adherents of a religion different than their own. In brief the manuscript when published should have a universal national appeal.

Over all, Eritreans in the post-liberation period are faced with the challenge of building a nation comprising the two principal components—Christians and Muslims. The primary value of the manuscript under review is that it puts into relief the foundations of a national ethos under which Muslim leaders engaged in the resistance against an oppressive alien occupation put Islamic institutions and resources at the disposal not only of their fellow Muslims, but also directly and indirectly at the disposal of their Christian fellow citizens. At a time when some members of the two sides among the current leaders are facing the challenge of confusion and uncertainty, the example of Ibrahim Sultan and Woldedab Woldemariam stands as a monument to remind them and all Eritreans to focus on the bottom line of a common interest and shared destiny. The legacy of the pioneers, described in this compelling story is to remind Eritreans of the legacy of the liberation struggle laying stress on what unites Eritreans under a common citizenship obtained as a result of common sacrifice.

In the current discourse among Eritreans in the Diaspora, the historic division among the freedom fighters in which a splinter group breaking away from the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) formed what eventually became the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), some adherents of the ELF claim that the leaders of the EPLF sought to justify their decision to form a separate organization in nationalist terms, were actually motivated by personal ambition. Their Manifesto, Nihnan E’lamanan (We and Our Objective) was, on the face of it, the critics contend, nationalist, when in fact it was aimed at arousing the highland Christians to confront and challenge the Muslim-dominated ELF. In promoting their separatist agenda, the EPLF leaders accused the ELF leaders of practicing Islamist-based politics in which Christians were targeted for attack and in some cases for liquidation. The claims and counter-claims—the accusations and counter-accusation—continued even after the defeat and withdrawal of the ELF from the field in 1981. The ghost of the past of division and recrimination haunts Eritrean politics even today albeit in somewhat attenuated form and sense.

Is religion the main axis of division among Eritreans? If so, does a study like the work under review contribute to its rationalization and bringing it under control?

Conclusion

As noted at the outset, the pioneers of Eritrean nationalism were both Christian and Muslim. The principal value of Joseph Venosa’s manuscript is to provide a well-researched and brilliantly articulated narrative of the role of Muslim leaders in the use of Islamic resources and institutions in the fight to assert, preserve and promote Eritrean self determination against the onslaught of imperial Ethiopian hegemonic project. The manuscript is well-researched. The bibliography lists over ninety books in addition to periodicals and on-line sources. It also refers to several interviews of scholars and political actors many of whom took part in the struggle for independence.

Thus, I have no hesitation in commending Venosa’s work to the highest consideration of the publishers of Ohio University Press for publication.

Pinterest
  • Abi

    Hi blink
    “ማን ቢስምሽ ታሞጠሙጫለሽ ” አሉ ክቡር ልዑል ራሥ አቢ (የኤርትራ ጠቅላይ ግዛት ገዥ)

    • blink

      Dear Abi
      Before you speak ,the doctor knows you have an eye problem , because you are trying to enter his eye clinic through the window. People like saay are so nice , I mean so nice to a degree of wonder. Saay will always remained people like you ,”who forgot to go to gym for 56 years in a row now”. That surprised me always. Saay 🔌🕶

  • saay7

    MerHaba blink:

    “Reconcile” means (1) to have friendly relations; (2) to co-exist harmoniously. I would like to have the former with everyone; and I will settle for the latter.

    You gave Abi as the example of the Ethiopian that one can’t reconcile with. I respectfully disagree: an Ethiopian who celebrates Eritrea’s independence day (he calls it Ethiopia’s independence from Eritrea day) is a fine candidate for reconciliation. It means he ACCEPTS my right to live independently. It doesn’t bother me a bit if he mocks my decision to be independent and once in a while tries to press my buttons–because I will press back. Maybe. Or maybe I will just ignore it and focus on what is really important–life.

    saay

  • Brhan

    Thank you Awate for the posting and Dr. Bereket for the review.

    I am looking forward to read the book.

    I believe that translating the review into Arabic and Tigrinya and presenting it also as an audio version will benefit many Eritreans. I call myself and others to volunteer in this regard.

    Thanks

  • Pingback: Australia: Eritrean Community Network Hosts Dr. Joe Venosa | Awate()

  • Ermias

    Ahm, your eyes are brown because you are full of S..T! Did you expect SGJ to throw a big party because of your unconfirmed report? The AT people are exemplary pros so don’t expect to trick anyone. We have seen this movie before.

  • tafla

    Aman,

    Can you please clarify further? maybe I missed where this conversation started. Is this about the Millenium dam (GERD)? What are the indications that Ethiopia is pursuing an aggressive policy towards Egypt?

    • AMAN

      The media
      The picture it is crating and putting in the people’s psyche.
      The realities and the media portrayals are not going hand in hand.

  • AMAN ( Clarification )

    Execuse me for the misunderstanding
    Let me make my points clear to you.
    I have no problem with Ethiopian making and its internal make up or
    its domestic policy. What I want you to explain to me is :
    The choice and reach of the foreign policy it pursued towards our
    African neighbor Egypt vis a vis Yemen and other Arab oriented
    countries.
    Because sometimes I fear that Ethiopia’s policy towards Egypt is
    extended and far reaching especially when you consider the long
    relationships of the two countries with their Afro-Middle-Eastern
    political sphere or orientation.
    So it is meant only to check if in case it is an Ethiopian far reaching
    policy that need to be moderated.
    Because considering the record of international relations Egypt has
    and especially with the US and Israel, I sometimes find it hard to explain
    to myself the relationship Egypt and Ethiopia currently have.
    If Israel doesn’t have problem accomodating Egypt, why shouldn’t Ethiopia ?
    And the same with USA.
    Because, as I have said it earlier it could be an over reach caused by fear
    of Ethiopia’s PAST regimes and rulers of their nation making endeavour
    that caused obssesive discomfort. Whereas once you know the true nature
    of Arab Middle east politics this fear of Egypt instituted by past governments
    has no ground.
    ( Sorry for some redundancy while attempting to make my points clear to
    everyone).

  • AMAN

    Because unlike Yemenis Egyptians are Africans with long history of
    civilization to the world. And Ethiopians have long cultural and historical
    relationship with Egypt than with Yemen. But Yemen unlike Egypt besides
    African unfriendly Arabic political orientation has nothing to offer except
    tribal confederation of political system to Ethiopia. No wonder tplf/woyane
    government looks Yemen as its political mentor and shys away from Egypt.
    But for me it is a backward foreign policy politics that emanates from lack
    of understanding and experience of Tplf/Eprdf which only the past feudal
    regime introduced it as a working foreign policy procedure to weaken the
    ancient cultural bond and relationship with the northern Ethiopian neighbor
    (Egypt) and the influence it exerts to the domestic policy of HIS nation building
    and government. So as a result he accepted the worst influence of ( YEMEN)
    trying to crtail (EGYPT).
    Note:
    Also refer SANNA AXIS influence……bringing Yemen instead of Egypt to group.

    • Yodita

      Aman

      Surely you are aware of the unflinching position of Egypt to strangulate the Nile countries, with particular emphasis on Ethiopia, as it wants absolute control of the Nile waters. It is ok for Egypt to sell some Nile water to Israel in broad day light but for Ethiopia to use the waters in its own territories, over Egypt’s dead body. It is an open secret that Egypt had left no stone unturned to relentlessly sabotage Ethiopia’s rise to health, education and development and had, up to recent times, put a wedge on all its efforts in all the platforms of foreign relations that the two countries were involved in. Over the years, Egypt had acquired mastery in hacking Ethiopia’s attempt to rise wherever and whenever it can possibly do so!

      Notwithstanding Ethiopia;s present rulers’ (Weyane) unholy strangulation of Eritrea by refusing to withdraw from Badme and allowing IA to remain in power thus weakening the Eritrean collective energy (I might add proverbial) of work, study and dynamism relegating it to go circa 50 years backwards (doing the same evil thing Egypt did to Ethiopia), they (the present Ethiopian rulers) are to be highly commended for what they are achieving vis-a-vis their arch foe the Egyptians. The cards on the table, regarding the Nile (ingrained in Egypt’s psyche since time immemorial) have changed for good. The late PM Meles accurately diagnosed that POVERTY and IGNORANCE were the real enemies of the people – by defeating these cancerous phenomena, sky was the limit of what a nation can achieve. Such it is turning out to be.

      Your point that “And Ethiopians have long cultural and historical relationship with Egypt than with Yemen.”,
      please allow me to say is “full of beans”!!

      • Papillonn

        Yodita ሓፍተይ

        Brilliant, brilliant, and a million times brilliant. ኣቦታትና ከምዝብልዎ ናብ ዘይሰምዓኪ ደርቢ ኣይትማህለሊ It never cease to amaze me the fact that, this guy and others in Awate are still regurgitating what Shabait is shoving down their throats. What a pity!

        • Yodita

          ፓፒዮን ሓፍተይ ናተይ

          ክብረት ይሃበለይ።

      • Horizon

        Dear Yodita,

        Your stand on Ethiopia’s rights on the Nile is honorable, and a thousand thanks for that.

        When Ethiopia comes out vindicated (which she will) on the issue of the Nile and the GERD, not only Ethiopia, but Eritrea too will benefit. Even IA had said that Eritrea could import (have, I say) electricity from Ethiopia. Electricity from the GERD will boost not only the development of Ethiopia, but that of Eritrea too. Electricity is one of the engines that move industry, and Eritrea cannot fulfill her developmental dreams on 200 MW of electricity, she is producing today, or on electricity production based on fossil fuel. It will be too expensive for her, and solar and wind energy, I believe, can only be supplementary, and not the basis of electricity generation for industrial use. Eritrea will therefore be full beneficiary of the GERD.

        Those who say that the GERD is an Ethiopian dam and therefore an Ethiopian problem, and it does not concern
        Eritrea are myopic people, who do not understand what regional economic integration, especially that of Ethiopia and Eritrea, is likely going to be. If the good will is there, and when this toxic politics is over, it will take just a push of a button to set in motion Eritrean factories that have come to a grinding halt, and light Eritrean homes from one corner of Eritrea to the other.

        Dear Yodita, unfortunately, withdrawing from Badme is not going to change the behavior of DIA or that of the PFDJ. That is for sure. They will exploit it for their unholy objectives to perpetuate their rule. I doubt that they will demobilize the army, apply the constitution, and bring freedom, the rule of law etc. If these things existed in their nature, Badme could not have been the reason not to implement them.

        Unfortunately, the no-war-no-peace situation is a double-edged sword that hurts the Eritrean people too, which I am sure Ethiopia does not want to happen, if she could. I think that the key is in the hands of IA. Unless he is forced to open the door he himself has closed, no amount of bribing is going to make him change his mind. It is unfortunate that innocent people should suffer.

        • Hope

          Please,
          Do NOT insult Intelligence.It was and has been Ethiopia’s choice and policy,in fact,officially, to strangulate Eritrea and Eritreans—to this minute.Just read your PM’s latest rhetoric and anti-peace declarartion(flip-flopping position–,the student and immitator of his ex-boss).
          -Ethiopa for sure is doing it on day light,to strangualte Eritrea and Eritreans.
          -Do NOT put the cart before the Horse and blame IA
          -PIA firmly declared his position on Nile-positively
          -Eritrea stood firmly on the Ethiopian Unity–better than the TPLF–histroy is the Proof
          -Eritrea firmly re-assured th eInternational Community about the Badme withdrawal and,BTW,the procedure is going to be monitored by the International Community including the Algiers Agreement Guarantors
          -You know exactly as to why Ethiopia/Weyane does not want to withdraw from Badme
          -It has been Ethiopia’s/Weyane’s Policy against Economic Integration–so as to stangulate Eritrea,case in point,the IGAD saga
          Finally,you are dealing with Eritreans,not with the Yemenis or the Sudanese–etc—and you cannot trick Eritreans-.
          There is ONE fact though: Eritrea and Eritreans will prevail and outshine–as history is the witness,the judge,the predictor—

          • Horizon

            Hope.

            Nobody can trick nobody, because we are dealing with educated people and grownups. You people have become irresponsibly insensitive, when you speak of other people. Why would a Yemenis or a Sudanese be any different from an Eritrean, that we can trick them easily? What makes an Eritrean
            any different from other human beings? For Christ sake, try to be rational. Can’t you see that your irrationality has not helped you up to now.

            I wish Eritrea and Eritreans would prevail and outshine, as you said. Nevertheless, I hope you understand that it requires more than wishful thinking. You have already squandered more than
            twenty years, and that is not a good sign. The young and educated working force are being driven out of the country, you have closed the door for investment and the few factories you have, shrunk your markets by avoiding all sorts of cooperation with your neighbors etc, then, what are you relying on when you say that you are going to do miracles, while with your actions you are doing exactly the opposite? Are you talking about the billions of dollars from minerals? Why don’t you wait until it is realized, and until then, create the right situation for your people to work and prosper? Come down from your high horse and work with others, if you really want Eritrea to shine. Be sure, self-reliance (the North Korea way), is not going to do the trick. Call us beggars, slaves, whatever; we are cooperating with all the world, and we are building our infrastructures. Be sure, at the end of the day, we are not going to regret at all.

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Sis Yodita,
          You don’t show up that often. But when you show up, your words are words of wisdom, words of knowledge, words of rationalism, and words of reality. Please stick with us. Many are are learning even if they don’t acknowledge it.
          Hawki,
          Amanuel Hidrat

          • Yodita

            Amanuel Hidrat Hawey,

            Your very kind words are very generous and empowering and please accept my heart-felt thanks. May God bless your untiring endeavour and hasten our return to our beloved country sooner than later!

        • dawit

          Have you heard this Amharic proverb ኣበእሻ ምቀኛ ፡ ምቀኛ የራሱ መጋኛ። which literally means by trying to hurt your neighbor you will end up hurting yourself. What else can explain Ethiopian policies throughout its recent history towards Eritrea? Without such mentality the two nations would have surpassed in development nations like Japan and Koreas that developed with little natural resources since the end of WW II. Unless we get rid of envy and jealousy of our neighbors it is same story ውሃ መልስ ውሃ ቅዳ or ተሓጺብኻስ ናብ ጭቓ. The two countries missed their opportunities to develop their nations in 1998 when they fell in the trap of border war for a strip of desert land at Bademe. It has been hard to untangle the knots they created. 1991-2008 was the golden years for the two nations. Still they could go back to the conditions of that period if they have the will as they said if there is a will there is a way. Otherwise the peace and development of the Horn of Africa is a pipe dream. All I see of Nile dam fiasco is a protracted war between the region and Egypt that may last for generations. God help us. It is another trap that will put us on regional crises from East Africa, to North Africa and the Middle East.

  • AMAN

    I have one question for Awate forumers and readers that I always wnated someone
    to enlighten me. And that is :
    Why do some Eritreans go astray like some Ethiopians and past Ethiopian regimes
    in their policy towards Egypt and Yemen. Is Embrassing Yemen to oppose Egypt or
    to put it in other words to fall to Yemenia domination out of fear or just to oppose
    Egypt a wise foreign policy choice for Ethiopian governments and people. I would
    rather choose Egypt than Yemen and their respective government policies toward
    us Eritreans and Ethiopians.
    So why would Ethiopians and some Eritreans always fall to the worst choices as
    time goes by ? In this case accepting Yemen as good friend and opposing Egypt
    as foe ?……..?………….?
    Need help somebody explain it to me as it just puzzles me all the time why ?!
    Thankyou Awate

    • dd

      Awko yetegha bikeskisut aysemam .

  • tes

    This will be a great contribution in enlightening the current generation in shaping future Eritrea. Eritreans and Eritrea need more history writers and critical analysists more than any time as confusion is growing in reading the history, especially of that of 1950’s and 1970’s. This are the two critical year spans that shaped and complicated the courses and a step taken in 1970’s that created today’s Eritrea under dictatorship. With great thanks!

  • AmanEl

    Thankyou Dr. Bereket and the author Dr.Joe Venosa. It is timely to come up with such great works to enlighten all of us and our societies as the world is transforming itself in every sector in this new millennia age of Globalization and communities becoming closer and closer to one another each passing day.

    Because when it comes to our Eritrean Muslim community there war big misunderstandings and faults by Ethiopian and US administrations or governments fro quite sometime.

    1. Because our Eritrean Muslim brothers are more enlightened and secular in their attitude compared to many others in world countries contrary to the knowledge and understanding of Ethiopian and US administration officials and their view held for so long.
    2.With the attitude the US adopted in the post 2001 event it is it the one to be blamed for unfairly radicalizing them by emboldening Ethiopian feudal remnants to commit brutal aggression on their life and country.

  • Saba

    That is good:) Stick to your opinions but do not insult, instead debate them. That is how you can share your opinion.

  • Ali-S

    Dr. Berekhet,

    What drew my attention in your post, in addition to the fantastic book (that I have still to read) and your very sober review, was how timely the post is to the debate that we are having in an attempt to find the middle ground where all of us can join hands for a better Eritrea. I think the review said more about you and the good and responsible spirit of an elder doing his best to the guide the mob towards mutual respect, an optimistic outlook and a positive attitude.

    I believe, a great part of the success of the RabiTa in mobilizing Eritreans of all faiths to come together and unite against the conspiracies of the unionists had a lot to do with the argument that you described [or the author noted] in the review. Without the sophisticated conception of the role of religious [in this case Islamic] activism in providing the rationale for a nationalist agenda, it is impossible to explain the irony of an organization calling for religious mobilization to be viewed as a unifying factor for all Eritreans at at time when negative religious polarization was at its peak. Eritrean leaders of the time including Weldeab and others, must have understood the RabiTa as motivated more by the need to provide a counterexample against claims of “shared culture and history” of the unionists, that by the literal slogan of uniting Muslims against Christians.

    Similarly, in todays Eritrea and at a time when the threat of the unionists of yesteryears is real, the argument still holds true. Repeatedly and persistently highlighting the cultural and religious diversity with special emphasis on the role and history of Islam and Muslims in Eritrea, plays a critical role in stressing our uniqueness as a nation and a second line of defence against the resurgence of disintegrating forces in our politics.

    Please come back with more in this time that we are desperate for wisdom and guidance.

    • SM

      Kudos to you,Doc/Prof.
      Thank you!Please stay healthy until we meet in the New Eritrea and beyond,thereby to revise the Constitution you drafted and to see you Lecturing at the New Asmara University School of Post – graduate Studies/School of Law.
      God willing/Insha’Allah.
      God bless you,father,Intelectual,Freedom Fighter,Veteran….

  • Saleh Johar

    Okay… there is hope. Please think twice before you use such harsh words just for the heck of it. Eyob may tell you: k’af yeweTa effaf. Personally I accept your apology. As for Awate Forum, the moderators still have the responsibility of keeping this forum clean.
    Take care

    • Hope

      You see,Johar,I am glad you udnerstood our concern and our frustartion—-of being intruded and being hijacked as well.
      Debate and dialog should follow certain guidelines.—–apecially,I cannot tolerate people who belittle our dignity as people and as a Nation.
      No matter what,be a tiny Nation or a big ONE,or corrupted ,rogue Nation,—-we deserve to have the respect we deserve.

      • dine

        the reason that i apologize for SJ is because i mean it , not that am afraid of deleted from the account. so take it easy SABINA.

  • Saleh Johar

    Usually I ignore such evil remarks. This time I want to take you on for the heck of it. I am expecting an honest, intelligent reply from you–leave your hate aside for now, please describe your insult objectively– I know it is difficult to be objective when hate fills your heart, just try.

    You wrote, “..forget the bigot like SJ and what they have to say…”

    Why on earth are you calling me a bigot? Please explain.

    NB: I had the ability to delete your comment, but I never do that out of anger or to protect myself. That should tell teach you a lesson. But if you do not explain yourself and defend your stone that you threw on me, I might be tempted to delete your account from this form simply because we do not allow people to insult others and go away with it.

    • Saba

      I give you credit for tolerating it and allow the post and it is a powerful message to the person who posted it. For all of us, the rule is “do not insult”. if no explanation is given, i advise you to delete the post, not the account if it is the first time.

      • Saleh Johar

        Saba. We always stick by our principles and policies but we are still not spared from the abuse. No. This is not his first violation, he is running out of his red-cards 🙂

        I just wanted to bring the abuse to the attention of the rest of you. People like him are tolerated a few times and they think this is a ripe field to spread hate. They take our patience and tolerance for granted.

        • Saba

          It is good that you share it with readers of awate.com. Insults, personal attacks will never help the debate. After surviving the attacks of “AS is a pen name for SJ”, you know how to tolerate and moderate such insults, and i am confident that you are a fair moderator. i can imagine that It is not easy to run a website, as we all are busy with our personal life and job.

    • dine

      salah johar
      first of all, i just want to apologize for the word that i used, 2nd i think Eyob is mean to Arabs because of some derogatory words u use in the middle of conversation with him, 3rd i don’t hate u or eritreans Muslims on the contrary eritreans muslims r one of my favorite people, they were my host in the first days of my stay in Egypt. i have nothing but love for them and you Saleh G Johar.

  • Saba

    Thank you Dr. Bereket for bringing this book to our attention. I am always amazed by the vision and hard work of the founding fathers. They were able to demonstrate that one can practice his/her faith while actively contributing to the nation. It is striking how these founding fathers guided the nation during that period.
    I consider the horn of Africa is a good example of a peaceful coexistence of the 3 Abrahamic religions. In part, this could be explained by the civilization of the Da’amat/aksumite kingdom, as they have accepted Christianity in early third century and also they allowed the first Hejira.
    Today some elites forget the importance of working together for our country Eritrea and tend to focus ONLY on their religion. A couple of months ago i had a heated debate with my friends, about “what comes first, your country or your religion?”
    About the tradition of eating food prepared with certain religious practices, i do not think it is restricted only to Ethiopia and Eritrea traditions, as i see the concept of “halal” in other regions.
    Doctor, i do not think you can contribute to the “cyber opposition” as it has a toxic environment. May be you can contribute to an opposition party if a new third party comes into play. But i see your contribution more to the general public as a guide by highlighting history and comparing it with contemporary events.

  • Eyob Medhane

    Jona,

    You are a good man, and no, you are not wrong. There are 20 times more Muslims in Ethiopia than in Eritrea. The difference is Ethiopian muslims are just muslims. Where as elites among Eritrean muslims are Arabists, who want to impose Arabic and Arabism on Habesha people. They are using racism and bigotry that Isayas implanted on Kebessa Eritreans (Like the song you mentioned )to isolate Eritrean highlanders from their kin in Ethiopia and make them extinct to make it easy for them to hand over the current Eritrea proper and its sea to their Arab benefactors…

    • Saleh Johar

      Eyob, how old are you? Seventy? Your rhetoric sounds like that of Haile Sellassie of the sixties. C’mon, your pronouncements are racist in case you missed it. Or, maybe it is not so when you are racist towards Arabs! Can’t you get into your head that Eritrea is not all Habesha, but part of it! And do not mistake the few Habesha-centric, bigoted Eritreans as representative of the rest of us Habesha, with a capital H 🙂

      • Tsere Misr

        Greetings,
        After all that sermon on
        the mount on ad hominem comments, you yourself succumb to it. Your absolutely
        correct in that Eritrea is not all Habesha but part of it. Exhibit A is your
        own avatar.

        • Ahm

          Unconfirmed report Isaias is dead. It was a shoot out apparently. May be time to grab his kidneys quickly before they go off.

    • dine

      Eyob
      what is wrong with u with this Arab thing, do u know that most of the Arabs r good people like other people regardless what u hear from the media and do u know that they r relatively similar to us (Habesh) culturally(christian and Muslim), psychologically and language , and also do u know most part of culture is driven from religion. so forget the bigot like SJ what they have to say but concentrate on the real issue, besides most of eritreans r over 18 they can take care of themselves.

    • Hope

      Gashie Eyob,
      You got it wrong.Read PIA et al’s: “Nihnan Elamanan–We and our Goal” as a new political movement.
      The credit (of the issue of Eritrean Struggle-with its revised methodolg)y,should be given to where it belongs to.
      Either you have NO clue or you are just bluffing for the sake of bluffing.PIA/EPLF’s stratgey was and is to have a fiercely Independent and Neutral Eritrea. The current facts speak for themselves that the Eritrean Red Sea is free from Arabism—-If you are becoming paranoid about the potential Eritro-Egyptian Alliance….,welll—think twice and take a “d e e p ” breath and tell us why your Weyanes have become the tool of the West—-

    • Brhan

      Hello Eyob,
      Can you explain to me what does ” Arabism” means?

      Thanks

      • Abi

        Hi Brhan
        Thanks for digging out this article. I got a chance to up vote Eyobe.

    • blink

      Dear Eyob
      Welcome back man , it is always a surprise for me and others that you spin things like ….
      A woman in a bikini reveals about 90% of her body…. and yet most men are so polite they only look at the covered parts.
      Does that surprise me ,who followed this forum for a long time. I will dial SG just to ask him one question, I will not tell you the question nor the answer.

  • jona

    always ethiopia christian country and eritrean muslims didn’t want ? i may be wrong but i heard there are 20 times more muslims in ethiopia than there are in eritrea? and the afar are mulsims but they prefer to be with their afar brothers in ethiopia and so on many prefered that but why is this all drama…eritrea already a country even though it is a failer.. but i know the reason it wasn’t coz ethiopia was muslim or other things it was about power hungry ppl just like isias who wanted to rule in iron dictatorship…i remember this song like cha belo neawesh something about amhara being donkey?? all the ghedli and their followes sang and danced on racist songs even the majority of amhara have nothing to do with derg or the king..it is all about ignorance ppl and just we were used by power hungry ppl. any way now that ethiopia and eritrea are different countries why did we fail to live in peace? i know the answer weyane bla bla but come on it is just how things work in africa.. new country come more problems emerge with it …

  • saay7

    Selamat Dottore:

    How fortuitous! While you are high on up on your ivory tower (stay there, please don’t descend down), us chegwar danga have been discussing the vaporware that is known as “neo-andnetism” and how it will be crushed. I was thinking that would happen via two ways:

    (1) The unrelenting nationalism of Eritreans;
    (2) The benign neglect of future Ethiopian leaders who will (very wisely) focus on long-marginalized Ethiopians (South and Southeast) who will tell the Neo-Andnet Eritreans, “can I help you? Remind me why you think you are so special, again?”

    I had not considered the role of scholarship. The whole self-doubting, self-loathing existence of Neo-Andnet is based on the premise that Eritrea’s founding fathers and the generations of fighters for Eritrea’s independence (what they dismissively refer to as the “Ghedli generation”) were bigots, Islamists, Arabists, Ethiopia-haters. Books like the one you reviewed describing the founders as enlightened nationalists will just continue to crush that little edifice the neo-andnet tried to build.

    Stay well.

    saay

    • Eyob Medhane

      Sal,

      It seems that the growing voice of those who see ‘Ghedli’ for what really it is bugging you, isn’t it? You are rejoicing the validation of your thoughts by the likes of Bereket Habteselassie who has no principle and is loyal to no one and and nothing. Not even even God (if he believes that there is God) and some the latest ferenj, who is ready to tell you “against all odds, even the stones are burning, they didn’t do it for you” or some other crappy phrases, which you will turn into a slogan later on. Wasn’t Bereket the high priest for the “…Christian Emperor backed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was a head of the government..”After he sucked my country dry, he moved on to look for someone else to suck again. I know that he’s very fond of quoting Amharic sayings every time he had to speechify or mumble something, in that context, I would say to him what an Ethiopian call, when the encounter his type of person with a lot of age, but very little integrity. They would call him “የሽማግሌ ቀላል”. Once he told a story about the great Afeworq Gebreyesus, and towards the end of the story, he added “..In those days, men had integrity than later..” I guess, despite him being probably in his early eighties, he still has none. It’s ironic that he told to the audience the story of Afeworq Gebeyesus to justify that because he (Bereket) is old can say what ever he wants. The problem is what ever he has to say is just opportunistic mumbling, unlike Afeworq’s witty and and interesting response to the judges in the story he told in this clip..

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBfbrt3NnZI

      • saay7

        Eyob:

        Write back when you have an argument. Almost all of what you have written above is ad hominem attack on a shmagle. If the good doctor probably would use a choice amharic proverb like Hulum kelku ayalfm (ሁሉም ከልኩ ኣያልፍም) to explain your Peter Principle (people rise to their level of incompetence.) Eyobai, I told you before not to write when your sugar level is low but you never listen.

        saay

        • Eyob Medhane

          Sorry Sal,

          I just stepped out of my usual self restrained zone. 🙂 But every time I read and listen to this guy, my blood boils…

          But for now, I just contain my comment to you..with quoting my self YG style 🙂 “… some the latest ferenj, who is ready to tell you “against all odds, even the stones are burning, they didn’t do it for you” or some other crappy phrases, which you will turn into a slogan later on…..” Now, that should be my argument…

      • Saleh Johar

        The good doctor was in Ethiopia long before you were born. He has been in the struggle since almost five decades. Bzben wbe zetsememe, wbe-wbe kbl mote! That is an old saying, if you can’t find someone to explain it to you, I will volunteer. It has to do what chickpeas 🙂

        • Eyob Medhane

          Gash Saleh,

          በውቤ ዘመን ያበደ: ውቤ ወቤ እያል ይሞታል..Here you go, I found some Habesha with capital H translate it for me. You are missing my point Gash Saleh. The guy was talking about “..Christian emperor hegemony..” which he himself was a part of. He got everything there is to be gained, and then turns around and of course bites the hands that fed him. His types are called የበላበትን ውጭት ሰባሪ. Comparing with a clip that I have provided, which he told a story of an old Ethiopian man, whose logical and wise argument convinced judges with integrity to absolve him of the crime he was accused of and saying “..men of those days had integrity than later..” can’t really apply to his type of character, as he wanted it to be applied. That is what I wanted to say. My not being born when he was wining and dining with people, he unashamedly later on his days chastise them as “..Christian hegemony powers backed by Orthodox church..” has absolutely nothing to do with anything other than reaviling the Bereket person’s character or lack there of…

          • Hope

            But leaving aside Prof Bereket’s persona and his private role during those times,I think what he said is right,albeit ,he was part of the “hegemony”.
            The same Prof is good at “apologizing” for his past mistakes.Your logic otherwise would be consistent with that of the School of YG,where he forfeited the Ghedli era and its role for Eritrean Independence,since it has not “achieved” its intended goal(Freedom vs Liberation of the Land).
            Meaning that,since the good doctor “messed up” during the Janhoy era,he has NO right to talk about Truth—-

      • Abi

        Hi Eyobe
        I miss your comments like this one. Absolutely fantastic!!!!!

        • Kim Hanna

          Selam Abi,
          .
          I do miss his crystal clear response on other matters too. He was the only one that used to checkmate saay, whenever the later goes bonkers on Ethiopia. I think, Eyob tamed or mellowed saay, to become a little more reasonable when it came to Ethiopia.
          .
          Mr. K.H

          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear Mr.K.H,

            I 2ND you on this.. specially if he visit Jebena as he use to do…. I Promise…

          • Kim Hanna

            Selam Kokhob Selam,
            .
            I am so glad you are gaining on it and participating more. While talking about Eyob, I was just remembering the great, great guys and gals we are missing at the Forum. Big folks like Rodab, Haile T.G, Papillion and Serray just to name a few. My favorite, really, was T. Kifle. He could, chew gum, talk, walk and write at the same time.
            .
            Mr. K.H

          • saay7

            KH and Abi:

            He did? News to me. I loved the guy but he was an unreformed reactionary when it came to Eritrea, the cause of its armed struggle, and why it prevailed. It was always ” Arabs verb Eritrea” or “Eritrean elite verb Arabs.” This (Arab) would ocassionally be modified by Arabists, Gulf Arabs, Egypt, and for good measure highland, highlander’s and odes to Ethiopian mythology. Outside the Likud Party you can’t find anybody who hates Arabs more than Eyob. Maybe Abi. It always used to surprise me that there was never even an attempt to qualify it with “Arab rulers”, “Arab elite”: nope, it was always Arab Arab Arab.

            Yeah I miss him. Because he could converse easily about any subject–music, sports, history, economy. But he had a huge blind spot (don’t we all) and his, disappointingly, was about something easily verifiable: the minuscule role of Arabs in the development of Eritrean nationalism and their fades-in-comparison-to-Societ-Bloc (including Yemen and Libya) support for Ethiopia.

            And oh. When he wasn’t hating on Arabs, he would become completely unhinged when Dr Bereket Habteselasse is mentioned. Of course the good Dr served with Mehret in the Constitutional Commission of Eritrea and I can’t wait to read his tribute to her.

            Maybe then Eyob will reappear.

            saay

          • Abi

            Selam Saay7
            Very Saaytanish as expected.
            Why don’t you just say ” I miss you Eyobay” and ask him very politely to come back? You lost a mentor in everything Ethiopian. I see you appear less and less since Eyobe left. You are depressed.
            Regarding bereket and the constitution, as far as I know, both are dead. በረከት የሌለው ህገ መንግሥት!
            Arabs? Let’s not go there.
            You are trying to minimize the arabs role in your collective madness. Very Eritrean!
            I had a good guffawing ( thanks Gheteb) when you mentioned Eritrean Elites! Saay what?!?!?!?!?
            Aren’t they responsible for each and every problem in Eritrea?
            I challenge you to show me ONE article written by an Eritrean Elite during the “Synagogue” days that remotely suggests IA and company are taking the country into the ditch. Elite? Please! Like bereket?
            በረከቱን ያብዛላችሁ ሌላ ምን እላለሁ
            አነሰም ካላችሁ ሌላ እመርቃለሁ::

          • Ismail AA

            Selam Lij abi,
            “Semun” gebtongal. “werqu” yetngaw new. Yaw yenantew yeneberew kehone mreqaw yqrbgn.

          • Abi

            ሰላም አያይ ኢስማኤል
            በረከቱ አንሶ ምርቃት ካሰኘህ
            የአብርሀም አባት እሱ ይታደግህ
            ያለኝን ሰጠሁህ እኔ ምን ላድርግህ?

          • iSem

            Abi:
            There was one attempt from the elites in 2001, from the G-11, but you would not recognize that because it was full of praises to IA, I do not even blame IA for not acting, he could not have recognized it as warning, as a call to taking the country to the cliff because it was sang full praise to him

          • saay7

            Hi Abi:

            I can show you not just one but a few written by Eritrean intellectuals that show that Isaias is taking Eritrea into a ditch….

            …but they are written in Arabic. Not every one writes in English you know.

            saay

          • Abi

            Hi Saaytanish
            A very Saaytanic response. Good One!
            I’m glad to know both people you mentioned. Of course with great respect to both of them.
            You need a one liner? Sure, I got one for you
            ሰው ጥራ ቢሉት እራሱ መጣ

            ቆጥረህ ቆጥረህ ቆጥረህ ሁለት ላይ ቆምክ:: ይሁና መቼስ ሰው ባለው ነው የሚያጌጠው::

          • saay7

            Former Leul now Ras Abi:

            Your first proverb is applicable and gets full grade.

            Your second proverb appears to have disregarded my statement that there were many critical pieces of IA/EPLF/PFDJ between 1991-98 but because they were written in Arabic and the internet wasn’t invented yet, as far as Abi is concerned, they don’t exist.

            So 1 out of 2. Or 50%. Or an F. Or a 0.00 GPA.

            I recommend summer classes 😂

            saay

          • Abi

            Saaytanish
            Are you suggesting private tutorials?
            Arabic is for Quran only. Anything else does not count.
            Are you also saying that the English language was not invented during those years? Or you are saying those intellectuals thought all Eritreans read and understood Arabic?
            Where are you going with this ?
            እግዚኦ ያሰኛል

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Saay,

            I don’t know what you are talking about with Abi but I think there was internet back then.

            For example Dehai was already created by 1994 and there were many, many Eritreans discussing matters concerning Eritrea, such as draft constitution etc.

            Berhe

          • saay7

            Berhe:

            Dehai was not the Internet the way we understand it. It was a mailing list, where subscribers posted emails that we now magically call articles.

            saay

          • iSem

            Hi Sal and BY:
            You both know this and you are both correct but if you want to be a purist, the Internet existed decades before the WWW, and the first browser was not created by Nestscape and Marc Andersen, it was created in 1988 by Tim Berger Lee along with WWW, and HTML. Since Internet existed that is why people were able to send email to the list, so Dehai was created during the infancy of the WWW, not during the infancy of the Internet. Internet referers to the hardware and the protocol stack, and name resolution schemes that allows us to time awate.com istead of numbers, while WWW is the applications, the browsers
            Both of you are right, depending what you mean by the internet, it existed and did not exist in 1994

          • saay7

            ISem:

            For all but the geekiest of the geeks, the Internet didn’t exist at the time. I remember people who used to print out the dehai discussions and discuss them in coffee shops. In the early 1990s, how many had access to a computer? To internet? And could afford it?

            Almost Nobody except those who worked in universities. I remember I shared an AOL account with my boss then (AOL allowed several screen names in one account for 19.95 a month.)

            saay

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Saay,

            I was in university when I joined dehai and it was in 1995 or late 1994. I think at the time, there were about 250 users. A friend from Toronto use to actively recruiting people in university. When the number reached 1000 I don’t know when, there sort of celebration.

            It was more than email exchange, and infact a lot of topics were discussed. I think I only replied once throughout my whole stay there. I didn’t read all the topics discussed but the who’s who in the ERITREAN intellectual elite were there.

            I think after I read your translation of IA interview from the Tigrinya magazine to your magazine (???) the exponent that I knew you are one of the heavy weight ERITREAN intellectual, and I don’t think I missed your writings since.

            I didn’t know Saleh Gadi until I read his article about the shadow 🙂 may be it was during the war and the debacle he had to go through losing his identity card.

            I remember vaguely when a friend was trying to get in touch with memhir Musa or his son, when someone from Dehai may be it was SGJ.

            I only other awatista that I remember was Beyan Negash. I don’t remember Amanuel Hidrat I’m dehai days but I remember him from Asmarino.

            Others that I remember were, dr. Ghidewon, dr. Araya, Efrem (I think the founder).

            There was one guy who use to have Tigre (is it Tigrayit now) lessons there. And the heavy weight from Toronto was Amanuel Melles. And iSem favorite, the sleepless from Seattle:).

            I had a Palestinian / Jordanian room mate and I remember asking me, what’s Eritrea’s population, amazed at the number of members with internet access.

            Last week I read Rewanda is going digital in the school system, totally connected (or trying a pilot project). Such a land locked country way from from the sea is probably the best connected country in the region. In 1994 it went through genecide and close to million people perished.

            And Eritrea with all the good will and hope and the support from the people, international community that it has, it couldn’t find its place. The last 19 years from 1998 is total write off, worst than the time it was fighting the liberation.

            So I think Abi has a point. All these ERITREAN intellectuals were enablers of the dictator.

            Berhe

          • saay7

            Berhe:

            It looks like we joined Dehai the same time, Class of 1994-95.

            It really was (and still is, if it exists) a ListServ of Stanford University that the founder leveraged. I believe it is still hosted at Stanford.

            Abi is as usual wrong about this 🙂

            saay

          • Berhe Y

            Hi Saay,

            Not to end up for long argument but I don’t see a diuference in much how things are today. The technology got better (as in GUI instead of text base content) speed got better (high speed internet instead of modem), and the hosting choices are much better (google-groups, yahoo-groups and others) instead of dedicated or shared servers who hosting servers. But one needs access to the internet, have to email account / guest account to join the mail groups, as we still to today.

            With today internet, articles can be posted and become public for everyone to read or still can be private / invitation only.

            There were quite few people who read what’s coming and where the country was heading (like SGJ) but for the most part, all the rest of us were enablers of the regime.

            For example the tegadelity demonstrations, the shooting in may habar, the special courts, the constitution drafting process, the provocative war with Yemen, the shutting down of Sudan embassy and broke diplomatic ties, in retrospect a lot of people either were silent or supportive of the regime. I remember Ruth Iyob (may sister of Mihret Iyob) was jailed while pregnant for reporting (I think for some French media) for reporting ERITREAN forces involvement in the Congo I think. A lot of people were supporting the regime action while few defended her rights as journalist.

            The price we are paying for now for our silence.

            Berhe

          • saay7

            Berhe:

            I am not going to argue computer technology with a compute geek. But it was a ListServ: that is, we were just emailing. Emailing a group. And if someone was not a member of the list (and to be a member you had to be recommended by 2 people and pay a fee) so it was a club of mostly college students college professors and professionals.

            And every issue u raised was discussed pro and con. Yes mostly pro because it was the honeymoon period. For example we discussed the arrest of AFP reporter Ruth Simon (the sister of Hannah Simon the ambassador) and it was a heated discussion with some of us (me included) criticizing not only the gov but those who are not criticizing it for its violation of Eritreans civil liberties.

            Yes the language was respectable (it was a call for reform just like G13 and G15 language was) but it was during the honeymoon and completely understandable.

            saay

            Saay

          • MS

            Dear BerheY
            Agree with all points. Correction: that was Ruth Simon

          • Berhe Y

            Dear MS,

            Thank you for the correction.

            What an irony, she is his ambassador to France now and openly defending the regime.

            Specially being one of the first victims of the regime, and she has no sympathy for the thousands of Eritreans made to become refugees in France an other places.

            Berhe

          • Kebessa

            Berhe Y,
            No, that’s Hanna. Ambassador Hanna Simon.

          • Berhe Y

            Hi Kebessa,

            Thanks for the correction again. I apologize to Ruth Simon, for accusing her wrongly, by mistake.

            Berhe

          • iSem

            Hi BY:
            You are sounding like a lay person regarding the Internet, Sla is right and as I said earlier, the improvement you are mentioning is the web and not the internet, but the internet also improved as the hardware and OSF came along (OSPF inside joke)
            I do not want to tell u read your TCPIP book the same thing u told the other guy:-)
            No, Ruth and Hanna, there are other victims before them, but serving the regime who murdered ur loved one is a common theme in EPLF, I can mention 5 from the top of my head. At least Ruth is out now, there is the ambassador to India, who brother was a vet EPLF fighter and accomplished photographer, he disappeared in Sep 2001 and Alem Tsehaye still serves the government

          • Berhe Y

            Hi iSem,

            The problem is with you Windows people you consider something is new when MS (not Mahmuday but Micorsoft) adapts technology, years, and years later.

            Web (www) can’t not exist with out the Internet. But the Internet can exist without the web. Before web, people were able to communicate (chat, send email, transfer files, remote access their networks) etc..just like they do today. Blackberry survived a whole generation (without having web application in their smart phone (or a real lousy one)) just on texts and small screen.

            The Internet (the expansion of bandwidth) made possible for the web to make to every house hold and every device

            When I was a summer student at Bell North, we had mail called Cocos before exchange, we had browser called Mosiac before Netscape / Explorer, we had GUI based Editor called Page Maker before Word,…etc).

            BTW, WWW was invented in the 80 and it was functional in the early 90s…

            Soon the Windows people will tell us, MS invented the cloud (as it’s making headways now) but the cloud already exists today (citrix, amazon, IBM) and many others.

            Saay, I didn’t get about the arabic writers argument you are having with Abi. I was just responding that, there was platform that allowed people to criticize the government before 1998, in Arabic as well as English. May be even in Tigrian as well…I don’t know.

            Berhe

          • iSem

            Hi BY: I am making the opposite MS thing, read my first post,
            You are getting it, I was trying to explain the difference between Internet and Web, still Mosiac was not the first browser. The first browser was called Nexus
            To be exact the Web was invented when Tim B Lee created a browser and HTML to solve his frustration about the standard issue, He wrote the fundamentals of what we call web now: HTML, URI(URL), HTTP and a browser, in a nutshell these are what constitutes the web
            So when Sal said the internet did not exist in 1994, he is saying the internet as in a term the non techi ppl use it, like posting articles, Now before Sal gets bored and resigns we can take this outside( I mean offline:-)
            And when he made it open sources (thanks TIM), the companies like Netscape and MS and the rest developed it

          • saay7

            Hey iSem:

            Esmellah aleik:)

            The important thing to remember here is when people like Abi say that there were no Eritrean intellectual critics of IA they are wrong because their idea of “Eritrean intellectual” is limited (people who went to school at HSI university) and their idea of expressing opposition is anachronistic (articles posted on the internet, preferably in english.) The place to find opposition/critical pieces was in newsletters (handwritten or using IBM selectric), and these newsletters often had covers with, ummm, creative illustrations. In fact I just saw one by Sagem criticizing the regimes 1994 treatment of Jehovahs Witnesses.

            saay

          • iSem

            Hi Sal:
            As you once said, “cousin Sem is focused on PFDJ when you introduced me to cousin Gheteb”, so because of that I am guilt of Abi’s fallacy too and when I told him, there was one attempt, the G-11, the intellectuals who visited Asmara. I was thinking about some people in some places and not the entire Eritreans
            But yes, even before 1994, the late Seyoum O warned of the making of despot, in a video we discussed two years ago here.
            Abi’s sweeping attack on the Eri intelligence is legendary, and I keep mentioning HS and his crimes, and it does not stick because he has made up his mind that the Arabs (Muslims because there are no Christian Muslims) started the ghedli
            There are two divergent worlds in the Eritrea debate and they do not talk to each other and it is not language.
            And now it makes sense that PFDJ is anti Arabic, in the name of equality of languages, the literature in the Arabic about Eri is intensive and it will be bad for PFDJ. But still articles are jsut one way and for our people less important, the radio programs that criticized EPLFfor a long time and from the beginning of time abotu how IA operates, before Uሁ በል ፋሉላይ ንዓናይ ንስሪዕትካ

            a relative of mine used to recite this when the EPLF ganged up on him
            እትው ውጽእ ‘ውን ነሩ ኣብ ቃንኘው
            ተኽዲንካ ናይ CIA ሽንሽን
            …….
            maybe you remember it, they say it was in the Omdruman Radio by either Seyoum or Negussie Mensaay

          • saay7

            Selam iSem:

            Honestly I don’t understand why people get genuinely offended and upset when Abi recites from Abis Greatest Hits. All I do is substitute what he is saying by whatever conspiracy theory it is I watched recently (The Rothchilds control the world, the trilateral commission is watching you, 9-11 is an inside job) and just move on by saying: that’s your truth but not the truth.

            Actually people like Abi and Gheteb are good for Awatistas: with the right approach they can help you achieve transcendental consciousness more commonly known as Fantiness.

            saay

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Sem,

            Seyoum was the author of it as well as the one who read it at radio Umderman in Khartoum. I was in Khartoum at that time. We were contrarian in our political outlooks. We had a heated argument on the way he characterize to the tegadelti who were challenging our leaders in the policy they were taking – all intended to the improvement of the organizations.

            Regards
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • iSem

            Thanks Emma:
            How about the CIA shinshen, do you remember the lines.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Hi Sem,

            No Sem. They all escaped my memory. I have one line memory and that is “Emaroyey tebelkas Emaro timesker.” Seyoum is a gifted writer and orator. He commands the tigrigna language. His vocal in reading tigrigna was so magnetic to listeners. Greatly missed. He was a true nationalist who gave every thing to our national cause starting from his school age. Because he was a brilliant student and always at the top in high school, when I met his schoolmate Azeb in Khartoum recalls , how his teachers were shoked when he left his school to join ELF. She also recalls that he was a tough debater. Rest In Peace a patriot.

          • Kim Hanna

            Selam Berhe Y,
            .
            You guys are so technical I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t want it explained to me either.
            .
            I have one technical question for you. The other day SAAY said he is quoting a portion of an article he posted elsewhere. Other than Facebook or things like that, do you know where that elsewhere is???
            .
            Mr. K.H

          • Berhe Y

            Hi K.H.

            You are right, sorry to bore you with the details. Hey saay is super Geek guy and he is pretending that he is not:).

            If I have some idea where that might be, I would be lying. He is probably the best guy to ask. If I have to guess:

            his own blog:
            his own website:
            some website responding or posting his article (e.g. New York Times, I always envision him writing for the NYT).
            Linkedin
            disqus other than AT

            If none of these, please do google it with quotes with the exact phrase or look up advanced google searches..etc..

            Berhe

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Berhe,

            Indeed, Saay is a natural geek and he can retrieve minute details from years earlier. But his memory chips are as dead as a stone if he doesn’t want to massage and ignite them. Maybe you can help, but I was looking for the archives of dehai and my main postings are not traceable. I appealed to Saay’s chips, no result. Can you help?

            And yes, I asked you to connect me with Ghideon Musa Aron, and you did. But now we lost touch. He never communicates with me–maybe because they do not have internet connection in Eritrea 🙂

          • Berhe Y

            Hi Saleh,

            Actually it was a friend who connected you. I don’t know why I remembered the conversation.
            I haven’t seen him in a long time. I see him on FB and he is posting lots of pictures of Eritrea. He does take nice photos.

            If saay can help you, I doubt I can. I did remember long time ago I was able to search the dehai archives. Looking at it quickly now (been years since I checked), looks like they have changed stuff around and migrated to dedicated hosting.

            I will try if I can find something but it will be really hard if they do not make it accessible in apache..

            Berhe

          • Abi

            Hi Kim
            Try Ethiopian Herald

          • saay7

            Mr. KH, Berhe & SGJ:

            Here’s where else this SAAY guy has written:

            1993 – 1995: The Eritrean exponent. A supposedly quarterly magazine (but only 6 editions published.) Magazine distribution: 12 people. (This is before the internet.)
            1995 – 2000: Dehai.org. A ListServ, group mailing list. 1995-1998 was heavy on civil liberties and humor. 1998-2000 was heavy-duty flag waving. (the only part of me many people know.) Also had an aritcle published at Eritrean Studies Review which was all about Susan Rice and Clinton policy in Africa.
            2000: Asmarino.com. I had a column entitled “Once Upon A Dawn” but everyone calls it “TwgaHmo” (Once it dawns) because that was the name of the first article and my divorce proceedings (pass me the tissue please) from Harbeyna EPLF.
            2001 – 2016: columnist for a column entitled Al Nahda (The Renaissance, which sounded like a good idea in 2001 but then everyone started using that name.)
            2016- present: commenter at Awate Forum. Twitter and Facebook.

            So, you can see the trend: as a government employee once told me after he lost my paperwork because I had moved and not told him, “Sir! Sir! Sir! It is not my fault that you have nomadic tendencies!” I am a nomad by nature.

            SGJ:

            The Dehai postings from 1995-2000 are forever gone. There are two explanations for this: sloppy archiving system. Or PFDJ’s hostile takeover of Dehai. I tend to believe the former. Why? Think about it: the website shaebia.org, which is actually the historic name of the PFDJ, the one that is supposed to be the mouthpiece of the ruling party, has been dead and inactive probably because someone forgot the password.

            saay

          • iSem

            Hi Berhe:
            Who is the sleepless from Seattle.
            You forgot, the two duo and dwelling from ELF, Merhawi and Tsehaye and the greate Ismail Omer Ali, my favor
            You should list to the interview Bashay, a poet and ELF veteran, most likely Emma peer and class mate. Abi may have a point regarding the intels., given how the students during those days acted and how they turned out to be. And the interview will tell you how HS treated the students when they demonstrated, he did not disappear them Nakkura

          • Berhe Y

            iSem,

            I thought you wrote her a poem or something (someone Efrem/Mussie :).

            Like I said I missed a lot between classes, projects, chasing and parting:).

            Berhe

          • saay7

            Ras Neber Abi:

            I wouldn’t bet a fortune on this, but just enough to make it interesting: 1991-1998, there were more Eritreans who were fluent in Arabic than those fluent in English. (I hope you were sitting down and not operating heavy equipment when u read that.)

            And organizations like ELF-RC had strongly critical pieces of IA/EPLF/PFDJ via their newsletters. In English, Tigrinya and Arabic.

            So, your premise (and that of Eyob) that there was nobody criticizing IA/PFDJ before 2001 and the only reason criticism started is because of the outcome of the 98-00 eri-Ethio war is not supported by the facts.

            saay

            saay

          • iSem

            hi Saay:
            This is not fair, this favourtism (mind the “u” ), you have all these traits in Abi, but you glossed it over because you are sooooooooo enamored with his one liners and qnne;-)
            The hate of Arabs, their role, their pivotal role in the ghedli, their heavy handy even now, even their role in burning Weki-Duba and Ad Ibrahim and Ona, all these are embedded in Abi’s thinking

          • saay7

            ISem:

            You may have a point but then who is perfect? Some people, I am not naming names, also rail against the Rashaida and how they are not Eritreans, every chance they get, too. 🙂

            Saay

          • iSem

            Hi Sal:
            let me say for the record and I said it before, you are so bad;-)
            But those who rail against the Rashaidas, I mean those you are referring to here (what did our mutual Additional Math teacher used to say gele gele sebat…) adore, love, choose whichever is stronger word Arabic, Muslims and Islam , Quran, the two speakers of Tigriayt (Tigre and Shimagle). Since those you are not naming, their gender is unknow, I will call them they, They have deep love to those said.
            Those who u are not naming also respect and love Idrissai and Jimie and kerra and Fatna and Halima and Fatinga. Not to forget, they also love the Hagoses and Negashes and Dehabs and Lemlems, I mean those who answer, rebi ymsegen and say timali hanti libewelde qerriE
            So the case of Rashaida is nuanced and cannot be lumped together with Abi’s anti Ghedli, anti -Arabic, anti Erirean rhetoric. Arabas lead Ghedli and Eritreans were robots, remotely controlled, that is a one liner for your that summarizes
            I think they (the zeddis) should be deported and then apply again to come back to beloved Eritrea and then we can identify the criminals and only allow the good ones, those who do not hide the criminals, those who do not traffic humans and harvest organs. Like Trump, a president who runs on these platform will be Eritrean’s next president. And do not ask me about data, I followed your advice to Emma ( I think) and I asked 30 Eritreans: 10 were Tigriniya, 10 were Tigre, 7 were Blen and 1 was Nara and 2 were Afara. Only 5 were females.
            Also u asked me does Eritera respect the rights of immigrants and minorities, my tardi reply is YES, it should, but also it Eritrea does has natives, although no one rained from the sky and it needs to respects their rights to,

          • saay7

            Selamat iSem:

            Gele gele sebat ab gele gele botat are calling for the “deportation” of an entire social group. Some other people were also, without any qualifier, using the generic “the Rashaida” to tarnish and entire group for the crimes of a few during the horrible Sinai human smuggling years. And when we at Awate Team pointed out the unfairness of this, some other people accused us of caring for the Rashaida but not the Tigrinya who are “being made extinct.” This clearly demonstrated our Islamist tendencies they wrote and “yes indeed!” said gele gele sebat.

            saay

          • iSem

            Hi Saleh:

            You know I call u Saleh when I am mad at you:)

            No, an proves those who said “almost the entire Rashaida are complicit for the Sinai thing are the same who accused awate do not care about the Tigriniya

          • saay7

            Hi iSem:

            I don’t think you should post when angry or driving: I don’t understand what you just wrote.

            And leave my friend Saleh alone 🙂

            saay

          • iSem

            Hi Sal:
            FINE
            🙂

          • Kim Hanna

            Selam saay,
            .
            “News to me”, really?
            Trust me there is no news. Please throw away the old formula, if we say it is positive it must be negative.
            I wish there was time, to write a M.S size post. But then, I don’t have his ability either.
            .
            Perhaps Eyob may not have been a major contributor within you, but from where I sit, I had seen it, heard it, read it and felt it. It is a positive change.
            That was one of my reasons for giving a well deserved “mereqat” to Eyob Medhanie. He was that good.
            .
            Arabs and Socialists/Communists argument again, eh?. Suffice to say each did its required religious duties. Enough said. Let me just add a little coloring.
            To minimize the contributions Egypt, Syria, Iraq….THE SUDAN made to the liberation of Eritrea is a ‘Geheteb kind of talk, using Adulisian kind of language, sorry, I got carried away.
            .
            Regarding Bereket, I have gone for years without thinking about him. He is such a disturbing figure to me. You know what, I would rather enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner with my new friend ‘Geheteb conversing about the world affairs than lay eyes on the good Dr.
            .
            OH! EYOB! I CAN’T do this job. HELP!!
            .
            Mr. K.H

          • saay7

            Hey KH:

            Sometime in 2007-8 awate.com was evaluating its mission statement (which is also its slogan) and decided that “Reconcile” doesn’t just mean among Eritreans but with Ethiopians as well. So my mellowing out over the years is due to:

            1. Mission statement interpretation and interaction with all our Ethiopian friends* here at awate;
            2. Aging. If you can’t reverse you might as well do it gracefully.
            3. Sudden realization that polemical writing is saying the same things over and over again. This violates rule 2.

            saay

            * actually when it comes to Ethiopia, i have learned more from Amde than Eyob. And of course we feel about Fanti the same way some of you feel about YG. Have you ever seen Dave Chappell “Race Draft” modeled after the NBA draft where different races trade their celebrities? Let’s trade Fanti for YG 🙂

          • Abi

            Saaytanish
            No trade required. I will trade Fanti for a song.

          • saay7

            Ras Abi:

            Your first sentence and second sentence need a mediator.

            Saay

          • Abi

            Saaytanish
            Good catch.
            Please disregard the first sentence. The remaining will qualify for a one liner.

          • Fanti Ghana

            Selam Saay,

            You should have paid more attention to your econ 101 class. Why do you need to spend as high as YG for something you almost have?

            Try YG for 200 camels or so, and Abi will throw in Fanti as moQshush.

          • saay7

            Hey FANTI:

            Well, [insert Samuel L Jackson voice here] allow me to retort:

            I maintain I know Econ 101, the macro and the micro, and I know all the formulas for valuation. Consider:

            Fanti Ghana wrote one article where he gave hope to Eritreans by saying that what you are going through is temporary and you will find your footing. And Eritreans fell in love with him.

            YG wrote 1,001 articles telling Eritreans that they made a series of terrible mistakes. And Ethiopians fell in love with him.

            One gave hope to Eritreans. One wrote a gazillion articles chastising Eritreans. Eritreans fell in love with Fanti although he said nothing negative about Ethiopians. Ethiopians fells in love with YG because he wrote and wrote and wrote negative things about Eritreans.

            You are way way too modest Fanti. And because of that you don’t know your value.

            saay

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Dr. Bereket,

    I am glad to see you back and hear a promising note in your book review of Dr. Venosa. In your review the following sentence struck my mind: “the message of the book is loud and clear and will play a chastening role among Eritrean Christians who might not have thought of Islam’s role in that sense.” That sense was the role of Islam in the “historical grounding of Eritrean Nationalism.” I salute you for your good reflection as to the role of Islam in the Evolvement of Eritrean Nationalism.

  • Awet

    Hello, Venosa’s book is coming out next month (May). Here is the info: http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/Paths+toward+the+Nation

  • ZULA

    If this book is the end product of Dr. Venosa’s phd dissertation entitled “Faith in the Nation: Examining the Contributions of Eritrean Muslims in the Nationalist Movement, 1946-1961”, I just want to congratulate Dr Venosa in his work and this contribution a well-documented Eritrean history.

    I would also like to thank Dr. HabteSelassie for highlighting and reviewing this important artifact.

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